A roundup of the latest high-tech news “Hot Off the Wire” from The Associated Press and Local Tech Wire:

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Mainstream online video destinations don’t do enough to keep explicit content from kids, the Parents Television Council said in a report released Wednesday.

The advocacy group, which monitors decency issues, evaluated the child appropriateness of four online video portals: Hulu, Comcast’s Fancast, AOL’s Slashcontrol and AT&T’s U-verse. None received a better grade than a D.

The study looked at home pages and 602 videos over a three-week period. The council found that standards are more lenient online than on broadcast television, that content ratings were vague and that content that may be unsuitable for children under 14 could be watched by young children.

The president of the Parents Television Council, Tim Winter, said the report proved that the four websites “are failing to protect kids on the Web.”

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said in a statement that through a program called Smart Limits the company provides various tools that enable parents to limit the kinds of videos children can view on computers, TVs and cell phones.

AOL disputed some of the report’s findings. A spokeswoman for the company said that parental controls can be put in place for Slashcontrol and that it’s a site with a primarily adult audience.

Hulu (which is owned by NBC Universal, News Corp., The Walt Disney Co. and Providence Equity Partners) and Comcast didn’t respond to requests for comment on the study.

The study excluded sites that display their own content exclusively and those that focus on user-generated videos.

 Microsoft revamps online game service, more social

The Associated Press

Microsoft Corp. is creating a new online games hub and making it more social by linking it to players’ Facebook and Windows Live accounts.

The new hub integrates the company’s so-called “casual game” properties, MSN Games, Windows Live Messenger and games on its search engine Bing, so that people can challenge one another to simple but addictive games such as “Bejeweled” and “Plants vs. Zombies,” regardless of which of the sites they play on.

Microsoft’s Xbox Live online games service already has found success with an entirely different breed of games — the likes of “Halo” and “Call of Duty.”

With the new hub, announced Monday, players can log in with their Facebook or Windows Live accounts, invite friends to play or challenge them to a round of bridge. They can also post about their achievements in status updates and check out online “leaderboards” of the highest-scoring players.

Air Force warns troops about Facebook feature

The Associated Press

The Air Force is warning its troops to be careful when using Facebook and other popular networking sites because some new features could show the enemy exactly where U.S. forces are located in war zones.

In a warning issued on its internal website earlier this month, the Air Force said that “careless use of these services by airmen can have devastating operations security and privacy implications.” The message was also sent to senior commanders, who were asked to get the word out to their forces.

The sites are a concern for U.S military services, which have 95,000 troops in Afghanistan and roughly 50,000 in Iraq. The Army, which provides the bulk of the battlefield forces, said it intends to circulate a similar warning about location services to key personnel next week.

The applications, which are offered by a variety of services including Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt, can identify a person’s location, even pinpoint it on a map. In most cases, however, users have to go into the program manually and check in –or list a location – in order for that location to show up.

 

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