Google Earmarks $1 Billion for Tech Education via Nonprofits

Google just set aside $1 billion for a new program dubbed “Grow with Google,” which will fund education and professional training nonprofits to help prepare Americans for technology jobs. The program will offer a website that will help people looking for jobs to get training and professional certificates, and for businesses to improve their online presences. Google says the goal is to allow anyone with an Internet connection to become tech-proficient and eligible for jobs from app development to IT support. Continue reading Google Earmarks $1 Billion for Tech Education via Nonprofits

Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

At Facebook’s annual Oculus Connect developers’ conference, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a new standalone VR headset and stated that his goal is to get one billion people into virtual reality and ensure that VR is a “force for good.” With the latter comment, Zuckerberg tacitly recognized the tsunami of criticism that Facebook has received for live-streaming suicides and murders, and a recent virtual reality tour of the aftermath of the Puerto Rico hurricane, during which he and an employee reveled in the technology, to the chagrin of viewers. Continue reading Facebook Aims for One Billion VR Users, Debuts Oculus Go

Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

Snapchat debuted “context cards” this week, a new feature that helps its users easily make a restaurant reservation or book an Uber ride without having to exit the app. The new feature is designed to keep users engaged with the app and its contextual location-based search. By swiping up from geotagged images while viewing certain stories, users will get related data such as contact info, directions and reviews. Early partners include Bookatable, Foursquare, Michelin, OpenTable and TripAdvisor. Ultimately, more time on Snapchat could mean more advertising revenue for the popular messaging app. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

Studies Show Smartphones, Social Media Cause Brain Drain

According to data collected by Apple, the typical iPhone owner uses his or her phone 80 times a day, which equals 30,000 times over the year. Now scientists are researching what happens to our minds when our phone is a constant companion that dominates our perception and cognition. What they’ve discovered is that, as our brains become dependent on the phones, our intellect becomes weaker, an effect that continues even when we aren’t using them. There are some in Silicon Valley that are increasingly concerned by the unintended consequences of smartphone and app use. Continue reading Studies Show Smartphones, Social Media Cause Brain Drain

Steemit: Social Media Platform Pays Contributors for Content

Users of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter enjoy moments of entertainment in exchange for giving up personal data to social media platforms that monetize the information. Steemit, a social news and networking site on top of a blockchain database, has a plan to change that paradigm, paying users in cryptocurrency for every post. The virtual currency, dubbed Steem, can be cashed out into hard currency — or amassed for those who believe in Steemit’s future. The new company started as a 44-page white paper released in March 2016, arguing that content creators should be paid. Continue reading Steemit: Social Media Platform Pays Contributors for Content

Samsung Takes on Rift With Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Microsoft and Samsung have partnered on a new virtual reality headset, HMD Odyssey, that relies on the former’s Windows Mixed Reality, Windows 10 software for immersive computing on devices and headsets. Samsung is not the first company to base its VR headsets on Windows 10: Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo Group are all building such VR devices. But Samsung is Microsoft’s most important partner thus far as the computing company faces Apple, Google, Facebook and other major rivals in the virtual reality/augmented reality arena. Continue reading Samsung Takes on Rift With Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Investigations Into Social Media Accounts With Ties to Russia

Four Russian-linked Facebook accounts that bought ads during the U.S. election period were active, posting divisive messages, as late as this past August. “Secured Borders,” “Blacktivist,” “Heart of Texas” and “Being Patriotic” collectively had almost one million followers, before Facebook removed them for misrepresenting their identities. On “Secured Borders,” which had 133,000 followers, messages included those calling for the killing of Muslims and dubbing illegal immigrants “rapists, murderers and child molesters.” Google, Facebook and Twitter are expected to testify before Congress about Russian ties to ad buying, search manipulation and fake news. Continue reading Investigations Into Social Media Accounts With Ties to Russia

Google Will Let Publishers Decide the Number of Free Clicks

Google is developing new tools for publishers and will end the “first click free” policy to help them boost subscriptions. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Financial Times keep their online articles behind a paywall, but savvy readers get around that by googling a headline or search terms, and then clicking for free access. Google’s new program, “flexible sampling,” allows publishers to determine how many free clicks they want to provide. The “first click free” policy required them to provide three free articles per day. Continue reading Google Will Let Publishers Decide the Number of Free Clicks

Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

AT&T, trade group USTelecom and broadband service provider CenturyLink filed separate appeals yesterday requesting that the FCC’s net neutrality rule barring ISPs from slowing or blocking content be overturned. The rule, supported by tech companies such as Google and Facebook, was enacted during the Obama era when the FCC was under Democratic control. “Now under Republican leadership, the FCC is already considering a plan to replace and weaken the rules,” reports Bloomberg. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to remove strong legal authority that critics say over-regulates telephone and cable providers and that defenders say is needed to enforce fair treatment of web traffic.” Continue reading Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

Video streaming device maker Roku begins trading today on Nasdaq, setting its IPO price at $14 per share, which would give it a $1.3 billion stock market value. The 15-year-old company is competing with the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google that all offer streaming video boxes featuring popular apps such as Netflix and Hulu. Roku’s devices provide access to Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and dozens of online channels, but competition is a major consideration with today’s tech investors. Snap Inc., for example, the year’s biggest tech IPO, has watched its shares plummet in value as Facebook’s Instagram rolled out Snapchat-like functionality. Continue reading Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

Amazon’s NFL Deal Creates New Paradigm for Sports Rights

On September 28, Amazon will live-stream the first of 11 NFL “Thursday Night Football” games to its Prime Video members in over 200 countries and territories (excluding China). The last game, between Pittsburgh and Houston, will live-stream on Christmas Day. The event marks the beginning of an era in which technology titans, including Google and Facebook, vie with traditional broadcasters for the rights to major sports deals. The sports leagues are drawn to the global reach of the major technology companies. Continue reading Amazon’s NFL Deal Creates New Paradigm for Sports Rights

Facebook Debuts Cross-Platform Metrics Tools for Marketers

Advertisers will be able to improve their marketing campaigns with two new tools for measuring Facebook and TV metrics both separately and together. The new Facebook Cross-Platform Brand Lift, which will debut in 2018, and the Nielsen Total Brand Effect with Lift, already available in the U.S. and U.K., are particularly aimed at marketers moving from digital to cross-media advertising. The platform also allows Facebook to compete with Google’s Brand Lift for TV, which debuted a number of years ago. Continue reading Facebook Debuts Cross-Platform Metrics Tools for Marketers

Facebook, Microsoft, Telxius Transatlantic Cable Is Complete

The new underwater cable between North America and Europe, built through a partnership between Facebook, Microsoft and Telxius (a subsidiary of Telefónica), is now complete. Dubbed Marea (Spanish for “tide”), the new 4,000-mile subsea cable runs at a depth of 17,000 feet under the Atlantic from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain and has been under construction since August 2016. Marea will offer a capacity of 160 terabits per second, and will help meet the demand for high-speed Internet and cloud services. Continue reading Facebook, Microsoft, Telxius Transatlantic Cable Is Complete

Facebook Messenger Debuts In-App Fandango Ticket Sales

In the U.S., Facebook Messenger now automatically launches Fandango information and ticketing, along with suggestions for GIF-sharing and so-called quick replies, within the app. The feature is based on M, Facebook’s AI-powered virtual assistant technology. The M assistants have thus far offered a variety of actions in Messenger, including sending stickers, launching Uber or Lyft, beginning a poll and sharing a location. Facebook Messenger users can change their settings in order to mute these suggestions. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Debuts In-App Fandango Ticket Sales

Facebook Messenger Day Now Attracts 70 Million Daily Users

Messenger Day, Facebook’s version of Snapchat Stories that launched six months ago, may not be experiencing the same growth as similar offerings from Instagram or WhatApp, but it now touts 70 million daily users. Messenger Day enables users to share photos and video slideshows. While its latest daily usage is significant, it only took Instagram Stories two months to reach 100 million users, and two weeks less for WhatsApp Status to attract 175 million (both have since surpassed the 250 million daily user mark). Continue reading Facebook Messenger Day Now Attracts 70 Million Daily Users

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