5 Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Facebook Embroiled In Yet Another Privacy Controversy

Instagram has been part of Facebook for only eight months, but it is showing itself to be just as capable of inciting anger among its users over privacy issues. Instagram users went ballistic after the company updated its terms of service agreement with language that suggested it could make money from users' photos without any sort of payment.

Instagram denied this and assured users that it has no intention of engaging in such shady practices. However, there still appears to be some ambiguity over Instagram's desire to use user content in advertisements for the service. The most depressing part of all of this is that Instagram power user Kim Kardashian is reportedly considering shutting down her account. Say it ain't so, Kim!

Microsoft Takes Heat Over Windows RT Branding Decision

Microsoft's decision to use Windows branding for its ARM-powered Surface tablet has created confusion in the marketplace, a Dell executive acknowledged earlier this month, as reported by the Australian Financial Review. Jeffrey Clarke, the Dell vice president who oversees the company's PC unit, says he tried to warn Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that using the "Windows RT" label with the Surface tablet could lead consumers to believe that it can run all Windows apps, which it cannot. Ballmer, keeping with longstanding Microsoft tradition, responded that the importance of the Windows brand necessitated its use with the Surface tablet, as reported by the Australian Financial Review.

Adobe Shockwave Player Vulnerability Remains Unpatched

When the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issues a security bulletin, the vulnerability typically has serious implications. US-CERT, which first informed Adobe about a vulnerability in its Shockwave Player in October 2010, issued a bulletin outlining the consequences of the still-unpatched flaw.

"By convincing a user to view a specially crafted Shockwave content (e.g., a web page or an HTML email message or attachment), an attacker may be able to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user," US-CERT said in the bulletin.

Adobe says it's not aware of any active exploits or attacks stemming from the vulnerability, which it plans to fix in its next major release of Adobe Shockwave Player, due in February.

Cisco Gives Official Date For Umi Dirt-Napping

Cisco is reaching out to customers of its failed Umi telepresence venture to let them know it's shutting down the service at the end of January. Cisco is offering full hardware refunds to customers as well as service refunds on prepaid service contracts. Cisco is also offering to recycle product hardware.

That's the right thing to do, but Cisco wouldn't be finding any of this necessary if it had done more research on whether enough customers would be willing to pony up $600 for Umi hardware and pay an ongoing $25 monthly fee for the service. Especially when free alternatives offering a nearly identical user experience were already available.

Apple Loses Pair Of Court Rulings In Samsung Patent Case

A patent that Apple wielded to win a court ruling against Samsung in August has been rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, potentially giving Samsung grounds for getting the ruling overturned. In its preliminary ruling, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Apple's "pinch-to-zoom" patent because Apple wasn't the first company to file a patent claiming the technology.

Earlier this week, a U.S. district judge denied Apple's bid to have 26 Samsung smartphone models permanently banned from being sold in the U.S., over design patent issues.