Judge says cops can trick you into befriending them on Instagram

In what might be the slowest tech news week of the year, there’s a weird tidbit out of New Jersey. A U.S. District Judge has ruled that cops are allowed to create fake identities on Instagram to follow suspects. As we’ve seen in the past, criminals occasionally post evidence of their crimes on social media applications, and image-heavy Instagram is no different.

The ruling came about after police officers befriended a serial burglar — Daniel Gatson — on Instagram. The person had posted shots of certain wares, described in the opinion as “large amounts of cash and jewelry, which were quite possibly the proceeds from the specified federal offenses.” He protected his Instagram account, so you had to request to follow him to see the content, and the officers created a fake account to get that access.

They used the picture evidence to obtain a search warrant for Gatson’s home. In return, Gatson tried to get the evidence thrown out, saying it violated his Fourth Amendment Rights. The judge wasn’t buying it, because Gatson approved the agent’s friend request. “No search warrant is required for the consensual sharing of this type of information,” the Court said in its opinion.

This is, of course, not the first time that social media and the law have intersected. Agents, officers, and lawyers have used Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites to gather intel and evidence in cases, resulting in varying degrees of public outrage. The DEA was scolded by Facebook this past October after it came to light that the agency had taken an arrested woman’s photos from her phone and used them to create a fake profile in the hopes of gathering intel from her contacts. The case hasn’t gone to trial yet.

In August last year, Oakland prosecutors were able to up a man’s charge from vehicular manslaughter to murder using some of his morbid tweets. Some courts have even ruled that a plaintiff had to hand over his Facebook password to a defendant so content on the site could be used as evidence.

But a legal expert who spoke to Ars Technica about the case said they believe this might be the first incident involving Instagram.


This or that? AdMob founder’s startup Maybe can tell you

Getting feedback on decisions isn’t always easy as it sounds, especially when it involves visual options or more in depth questions. That’s a problem that former AdMob founder and CEO Omar Hamoui is trying to target with his new startup Maybe.

Floop for iPhone: Instant, real-time polling with visual feedback

Floop, a recently launched iPhone app coming out of stealth mode on Friday, lets you instantly poll the world, your friends or your neighbors, and track the results through real-time visual feedback. Floop is a sophisticated tool with amazing potential, but also some hurdles to jump.

How Tied to Apple Is Your Sense of Self?

Among my friends and family, I am The Apple Guy, a title which stemmed from a single computer purchase years ago. So how did a brand become so inextricably tied up in who I am as a person, and what are the consequences of that link?

Spike Brings UFC Video Archive Online

Spike TV and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) just launched Ultimatefighter.com, a site that features every single episode of the last 10 seasons of The Ultimate Fighter. It offers fans the option of watching just the fights without any of the trash talking, and each and every fight is annotated, making it possible to skip straight to key moves and moments. The site also features exclusive content not aired on TV, but won’t carry any episodes of upcoming season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter — which is scheduled to start this weekend — until it’s aired in its entirety on Spike TV.

Erik Flannigan, EVP of digital media for MTV Networks (s VIA), which counts Spike among its portfolio of channels, told me today during a phone conversation that this release window is part of Spike’s strategy to treat The Ultimate Fighter as an outcome-based reality show that is enjoyed best on TV. Flannigan also said that the window helps to bridge the off-season gap, but added that Spike could possibly add live streams of UFC fights to Ultimatefighter.com in the future.

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iTablet: Can Apple Succeed Where So Many Others Have Failed?

Source: Piper Jaffray

InfoWorld’s Randall C. Kennedy thinks not. Sounding a sour note about Apple’s (s aapl) anticipated tablet plans, InfoWorld’s Randall C. Kennedy says that even clever engineering can’t overcome fundamental limitations of tablet computing,

“Tablet PCs suck,” says Kennedy, categorically, elaborating that tablets are underpowered, only marginally portable, and awkward to use in anything but a traditional seated position at a desk or table. Read More about iTablet: Can Apple Succeed Where So Many Others Have Failed?

Opinion: Why Venture Capital Needs to Back More “Now” Innovations

hourglass-time-flickrbogenfreundThe rate of innovation in clean tech, next-generation transportation, green products and sustainable business initiatives has never been higher. This year, nearly $4 billion in venture capital investment has been poured into green innovation, making it the most active sector of VC investment today. Pushing these new technologies into the market will most certainly help consumers and companies function with a lighter footprint in the future. But what about now?
Consider these market predictions:

Encouraging? Yes. But this pace of progress won’t help us reach the emission reduction levels needed to avoid the serious climate change impacts forecast for 2050. The solution? Focus on the “Now.” Read More about Opinion: Why Venture Capital Needs to Back More “Now” Innovations

Apple’s Untapped Marketing Tool: Price

apple_priceApple’s (s aapl) advertising is clever, visually attractive, hip, and funny. It does a great job of showing off what its products can do, and how your life could change as a result. What Apple ads don’t talk about is money. As someone who’s already more than willing to part with my little disposable income in order to nab Apple gear, I’m fine with that. But what about everyone else?

There are no doubt reasons Apple doesn’t talk about price. I’ll mention a few of them later on in this post. The thing is, especially at the low end of its product line, Apple stands to gain a lot by trumpeting its price tags to the masses. Read More about Apple’s Untapped Marketing Tool: Price

Why I’m Buying the New Mac Mini: Value Reconsidered

macmini1Yesterday, Apple (s aapl) introduced new hardware across its desktop offerings, and with one exception, the changes were pretty much hailed and welcomed by all. That one exception received, and continues to receive, fairly harsh criticism from all sides, including from our very own Tom Reestman, who argued that Apple really under-delivered with yesterday’s update to their tiny all-in-one. Tom’s main problem is with the value prospect of the new machine, since, as he rightfully points out, you don’t get very much bang for your buck when you drop $600 on the entry-level machine.

What’s Wrong With It

It is underpowered, it is overpriced, and, worst of all, as Gizmodo points out, it is not easily upgradeable after the fact, so most users would be advised to bite the bullet and pay Apple’s extortionate rates for in-house upgrades, or risk breaking something. The hard drive options are almost insulting, with the max available upgrade being 320GB. That seems pretty clearly intended to force your covetous gaze towards the higher-priced iMacs, if you ask me.

Even though I agree with Tom, and I truly believe everything I just said, I will still be buying a new Mac mini today…despite already owning an iMac and a MacBook. Maybe I’m masochistic, or just a compulsive shopper, right? While both of those things may be true, neither is the reason for my purchase. Read More about Why I’m Buying the New Mac Mini: Value Reconsidered