UK privacy office investigating Google+ username policy

European-commission-google-investigationUS users aren’t the only ones up in arms over Google+’s account name policy. The Register reports that the UK Information Commissioner’s Office will be “looking into” the anti-anonymity terms of service Google has recently enacted. While there is no formal investigation to announce, “the ICO is nonetheless using official man-hours probing Mountain View’s recent changes to its profiles and username sign-ups.”

What it seems like the ICO has a potential problem with isn’t Google+’s nickname regulations in particular, but rather with the notion that this will determine how users can sign up for Gmail, Blogger, and other Google Web properties. The changes affect new users who want to sign up for accounts on these sites as well. For example, if you have a Gmail account with an anonymous handle, then you’ll be able to keep it and won’t be subject to termination. But new registrations will be required to use their actual names.

It wouldn’t be terribly surprising if the ICO chose to investigate Google. The company has been the subject of various international inquiries about its alleged privacy infringements. The fact that the only change Google has said it will make is to better notify users of false names instead of deleting their accounts has likely attracted UK privacy advocates.

Computing

Microsoft says hackers were able to view Outlook.com emails

Microsoft's Outlook.com email platform saw a massive breach that caused confidential data to be accessed by hackers for months. It now appears the problem might have been much worse than initially thought, and worse than Microsoft admitted.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Gaming

Sony will censor offensive PlayStation Network IDs with temporary usernames

Offensive PlayStation Network IDs will be replaced with temporarily placeholders until the owner chooses a new username. Previously, Sony instantly banned the PSN accounts associated with IDs that violated the terms of service.
Social Media

Looking to officially rid your inbox of Facebook messages? Here's how

Deleting messages from Facebook Messenger is almost as easy as scrolling through your News Feed. Here, we show you how to delete an entire conversation or a single message, both of which take seconds.
Social Media

LinkedIn: Now you can express love, curiosity, and more with new Reactions

LinkedIn is following in the footsteps of Facebook (three years later!) with the rollout of new reactions that give users more ways to express themselves when responding to posts in their feed.
Social Media

Twitter’s experimental Twttr app is even more popular than the real thing

Twttr, the new app that lets regular Twitter users test new features, is proving more popular than the main app, according to the company. The revelation suggests some of the innovations may land for all Twitter users soon.
Social Media

Messenger and Facebook, together again? Facebook tests integrating chats

Longing for the old days where Facebook and Messenger were one app? Facebook is testing an integrated chat option. While Messenger remains more feature-rich, the test brings some chat functionality back into the Facebook app.
Social Media

How to download Instagram Stories on iOS, Android, and desktop

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.
Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down worldwide for 2 hours this morning

Chaos erupted on the internet this morning, as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp all went down from 6:30 a.m. to approximately 9 a.m. Thousands of users were unable to access the sites or send or receive Whatsapp messages.
Mobile

Skype screen sharing for mobile will let you share your swipes on dating apps

Skype is prepping the launch of screen sharing for mobile so you can share your swipes on dating apps, shop with buddies, or, perhaps, show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. It's in beta just now, but anyone can try it.
Social Media

Facebook toys with mixing Stories and News Feed into one swipeable carousel

Facebook's News Feed could look a lot like Stories if a prototype the social media giant is working on rolls out to users. The design change mixes Stories and News Feed posts into a full-screen slideshow that users swipe left to navigate.
Social Media

No more moon showers as Facebook Messenger’s dark mode gets official rollout

Facebook Messenger launched a dark mode last month, but to activate it you had to message the crescent moon to someone. Now it's been rolled out officially, and it can be accessed in a far more sensible way — via settings.
News

Twitter has revealed a launch date for its handy hide replies features

Twitter has revealed a launch date for a feature that lets users hide replies to their tweets. The hope is that it will help the original poster filter out offensive or irrelevant content from conversation threads.