Amazon Hits 100M Prime Subscribers, Inks Deal with Best Buy

For the first time, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos revealed the number of Amazon Prime subscribers: 100 million people. In 2015, the company last hinted about the number, saying there were “tens of millions” of Prime members. With this revelation, Bezos is letting shareholders know that Prime is healthy, and that the large number of subscribers will allow the company to continue to invest in technology and thrive. Bezos also recently announced that Amazon is teaming with Best Buy to sell Amazon Fire TV-powered sets. Continue reading Amazon Hits 100M Prime Subscribers, Inks Deal with Best Buy

Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

As part of the company’s recent push to develop new hardware, Facebook is reportedly working toward designing its own custom chips to be used in its consumer devices, data centers and AI software. The social media giant is currently developing devices such as smart speakers and VR headsets, and building its own chips could provide more control over design and development of these projects. Facebook’s strategy follows similar approaches by other tech giants, including Google and Apple. Continue reading Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

Netflix Marks Strong Q1 Subscriber Growth, Beating Forecasts

Netflix’s latest quarter showed subscriber growth exceeding its own forecast and Wall Street expectations. Wall Street analysts predicted Netflix would add 6.5 million new subscribers in Q1; in fact, it added 7.41 million subscribers in that quarter, of which 5.46 were international. In response to the news, shares rose 4.9 percent to $322.85 in after-hours trading. This follows a 1.2 percent decline during regular hours on Monday, representing shareholder concern over the imminent announcement of stalled growth. Continue reading Netflix Marks Strong Q1 Subscriber Growth, Beating Forecasts

Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

Led by tech titans Facebook and Microsoft, more than 30 tech companies have signed a Cybersecurity Tech Accord as part of their efforts to protect customers from cyberattacks and “the misuse of their technology.” According to the agreement, tech companies pledge not to assist governments that initiate attacks against “innocent civilians and enterprises.” Among the signatories are companies that power Internet technology and information infrastructure, including Cisco, Cloudflare, Dell, HP, LinkedIn, Nielsen, Nokia, Oracle, Symantec and VMware. Continue reading Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

Southern California’s Silicon Beach Expanding into Playa Vista

The recently developed Playa Vista neighborhood on Los Angeles’ Westside near Marina del Rey is now home to numerous technology companies including Electronic Arts, Facebook, IMAX, Microsoft, Yahoo and YouTube. In fall 2018, Alphabet’s Google will move into a 319,000-square foot office space, adjacent to 12 acres of land the company bought in 2014. Playa Vista is also adjacent to the 600-acre Ballona Wetlands, home to hundreds of bird species, and against the Westchester Bluffs. Currently 5,000 to 6,000 people work there. Continue reading Southern California’s Silicon Beach Expanding into Playa Vista

Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

Testifying before Congress, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg listed all the ways his company has erred, from fake news to hate speech and data privacy — and then apologized for not taking “a broad enough view of our responsibility.” He isn’t the only Silicon Valley leader to take stock of the state of the Internet and worry about its future. Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, has warned about what social media is “doing to our children’s brains,” calling it a “dangerous form of psychological manipulation.” Continue reading Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

NAB 2018: IBM Watson on Refining AI for Closed Captioning

Closed captioning isn’t just for the hard-of-hearing anymore. According to Digiday, 85 percent of Facebook video is viewed without sound. That signals a trend of viewers who prefer to watch closed captioning, putting the heat on solutions providers to come up with compliant systems that are also accurate and speedy. With artificial intelligence, says IBM Watson Media senior offering manager David Kulczar, closed captioning can be enhanced to go beyond transcription, and automatically identify background audio descriptions. Continue reading NAB 2018: IBM Watson on Refining AI for Closed Captioning

NAB 2018: Distinct Traits of Gen Z, The YouTube Generation

Call them Gen Z, or Plurals or Centennials. But whatever you do, don’t call these 14- to 19-year-olds millennials. During one of NAB’s Future of Cinema sessions, ETC Immersive Media Initiative lead Phil Lelyveld described Gen Z and what makes them distinct from the much more familiar millennials. For starters, he said, they spend only 13.2 hours a week watching TV, the lowest number of any preceding generation. Lelyveld also noted that the exact definition, by age, of Gen Z is undetermined, but behaviors are clear. Continue reading NAB 2018: Distinct Traits of Gen Z, The YouTube Generation

NAB 2018: Pew Examines Gap Between TV and Online News

At NAB in Las Vegas, Pew Research Center research associate Mike Barthel looked at “tradition in transition,” or how television news is faring in an increasingly online digital environment. He pointed to a 2012 Pew Research article that predicted that, “in a changing news landscape, even television is vulnerable.” Yet, surprisingly, six years later, more people still get their news from local TV rather than the web. The gap continues to close, however, from 19 points in 2016 to a mere seven-point gap in 2017. Continue reading NAB 2018: Pew Examines Gap Between TV and Online News

Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Testify Before Congress Next Week

In light of Facebook’s latest revelation that data from as many as 87 million users — not the 50 million figure originally reported — was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted he made a “huge mistake” by not paying more attention to the potential for abuse. Facebook further revealed that marketers, using a now-disabled feature that distributed profile data connected to email addresses and phone numbers, could have harvested data from “most people on Facebook.” Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear before federal committees next week. Continue reading Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Testify Before Congress Next Week

Snapchat Releasing New Tools: Group Video Chats, Mentions

Snapchat is making moves to become more conversational, more “sticky,” and to keep users engaged for longer periods of time, according to Variety. The social sharing company announced a new chat feature that allows up to 16 users to video chat through its app, and added mentions to its Snapchat Stories, allowing users to easily tag others (much like they would via Twitter). The chat feature will roll out across the globe this week and will come with filters and the ability to join by audio only as desired. Users can also reply via text messages.

Continue reading Snapchat Releasing New Tools: Group Video Chats, Mentions

Changes to Facebook News Feed Plan to Curb Misinformation

Under pressure from lawmakers, regulators, and some of its two billion monthly active users to fight misinformation, Facebook is tweaking how information is presented on its News Feed. Users in the U.S. will now be able to easily see a news publisher’s Wikipedia page along with a given story and can see how frequently it’s been shared on the social network. Facebook is under renewed criticism following reports that Cambridge Analytica “improperly accessed data on millions of Facebook users,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

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California Law Would Require Social Platforms to Report Bots

State legislators in California are pushing for a law that would require Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to identify bots, automated accounts that can be created or used by individuals or organizations. Most recently, bots, reportedly out of Russia, generated hundreds of posts on gun control in the wake of the shooting in Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Russia-linked bots also played a role sharing Donald Trump’s tweets almost 500,000 times in the final weeks of the 2016 election. Continue reading California Law Would Require Social Platforms to Report Bots

Facebook Rolls Out Plan in Effort to Increase Platform Security

Last week, Facebook executives detailed their plan to protect future elections from meddling on the social media platform, elaborating on Facebook’s “use of human moderators, third-party fact checkers, and automation to catch fake accounts, foreign interference, fake news, and to increase transparency in political ads,” reports Wired. This comes in response to what happened nearly three years ago, when “a Russian propaganda group infiltrated Facebook and other tech platforms in hopes of seeding chaos in the 2016 U.S. election.”

Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Plan in Effort to Increase Platform Security

Facebook’s New Centralized Page for Editing Privacy Settings

In response to the recent outcry regarding how Facebook handles personal user data, the social media giant announced a new centralized page for users to control their privacy and security settings. Instead of having to visit multiple pages across the platform to change all privacy settings, users will now be able to use one centralized page. Users will also be able to review data the platform has collected about them over time. Facebook will officially introduce the system to users across the world in the coming weeks.

Continue reading Facebook’s New Centralized Page for Editing Privacy Settings

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