Facebook Introduces New Hardware for Use in Data Centers

Facebook unveiled new hardware for use in its data centers, designs for which will be made available to outside companies through its Open Compute Project. The announcements were made during this week’s OCP U.S. Summit in Santa Clara. One announcement centered on a new GPU server designed to better serve the company’s AI initiatives. Big Basin — successor to the company’s Big Sur high-performance compute platform — will help Facebook train machine learning models that are 30 percent larger than those running on current servers. Continue reading Facebook Introduces New Hardware for Use in Data Centers

Eye-Catching Products Displayed at Mobile World Congress

Consumer electronics companies from all over the world debut their newest gadgets at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and this year some of the most notable new devices were not phones. The interactive HoloCube by Merge, for example, is an AR system that displays games and educational content on a toy cube. Roborace built a self-driving car that can reach speeds of 200 mph. Additional gadgets that made a splash this year include a new 12-inch Samsung tablet, the 5x Dual Camera Zoom prototype from Oppo, and Giroptic’s 360-degree, live-streaming camera. Continue reading Eye-Catching Products Displayed at Mobile World Congress

Instagram Adds Photo Carousels to Encourage More Posting

Photo-sharing social media platform Instagram is trying to lower the standard for an Instagram-worthy picture by allowing users to post multiple photos at once. The new photo carousels allow users to share up to 10 photos and videos in a single post. Carousels look similar to single-photo posts in Instagram feeds, but users can swipe left and right to see the other pictures. The new feature could also benefit advertisers who want more space to share their products. Instagram has been trying to encourage more posting on their platform in the past year.  Continue reading Instagram Adds Photo Carousels to Encourage More Posting

Facebook Looking to Publish More Long-Form Original Series

Facebook is on the hunt for more TV-like original programming for the video tab in its mobile app. The company is looking for weekly shows no longer than 30 minutes per episode. Facebook isn’t interested in hard news content, but rather scripted and unscripted shows in subject areas including sports, science, pop culture, lifestyle, gaming and teens. Original programming would not only help keep users on the social media platform longer; it could also generate a significant amount of ad revenue. Continue reading Facebook Looking to Publish More Long-Form Original Series

Facebook Rolls Out Menus to Simplify Use of Messenger Bots

Facebook is updating its Messenger platform to make it easier for users to interact with bots. The interface now has a nested menu that categorizes all of the bot’s capabilities. Facebook also created a new option to allow developers to hide the chatting screen so that customers don’t even have to conduct conversations with bots anymore. This update seems to limit the capabilities of bots and future voice-computing software. It arrives as one launch partner of the bot platform is returning to email rather than using Messenger for customer notifications. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Menus to Simplify Use of Messenger Bots

More Teens Are Hanging Out Virtually with Group Video Chats

Teenagers of Generation Z who are spending less time hanging out with their friends in physical environments are going virtual, increasingly turning to group video chats as a substitute. Apps such as Houseparty, Fam, Tribe, Airtime and ooVoo, as well as more traditional messaging apps with a video chat feature like Facebook Messenger and Kik, are making “virtual chilling” possible as busier schedules and helicopter parenting interfere with more traditional forms of socializing. Continue reading More Teens Are Hanging Out Virtually with Group Video Chats

FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

After a 2-to-1 vote, the FCC put a halt to a portion of the privacy rules passed in October. New FCC chair Ajit Pai said those rules required high-speed Internet providers, such as AT&T and Comcast, to secure their customers’ data against hacking and other unauthorized uses. This stay of new government rules may be a foreshadowing of a broader repeal of privacy protections, believe some experts. In line with that, Pai also stated that the Federal Trade Commission, not the FCC, should “oversee broadband and Internet industries.” Continue reading FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

Copyright Holders Demand DMCA Update, Addition of Filtering

According to the Recording Industry Association of America and 14 other groups, the 19-year-old Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) needs to be updated. They’re telling the U.S. Copyright Office that new piracy controls are required. Currently, ISPs that “expeditiously” remove copyrighted content when alerted by rights holders get legal immunity or so-called safe harbor. But the RIAA and others say this process is not sufficient, as the pirated copy reappears instantly, requiring yet another takedown notice. Continue reading Copyright Holders Demand DMCA Update, Addition of Filtering

Facebook Drops Price of its Rift VR Headset to Spur Adoption

In an effort to jumpstart sales, Facebook-owned Oculus VR is slashing $100 off the price of its Rift virtual reality headset and its Touch motion controllers. The Rift headset will be lowered to $499, while the Touch drops to $99. Consumers will still need a computer with enough power to support the Rift. When the headset launched last spring, consumers were surprised by the $599 price tag. According to Jason Rubin, Oculus VR head of content, recent surveys indicate that cost has been the primary obstacle to sales. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes VR will take at least 10 years to become our next computing platform. Continue reading Facebook Drops Price of its Rift VR Headset to Spur Adoption

Netflix Foreign Sales Catching Up to North American Revenue

At the opening of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings gave a keynote address, indicative of the importance of his company’s many international partnerships with cellphone and cable operators. As a result of those relationships, Netflix is able to build out its subscriber base without much advertising and more readily enter new markets. Hastings’ appearance in Barcelona jibes with the company’s stated goal of focusing on subscribers outside the U.S. Continue reading Netflix Foreign Sales Catching Up to North American Revenue

Snap Opens Online Store for Spectacles and Readies its IPO

Snap Inc. will open the doors to a new online store dedicated to expanding sales of its connected sunglasses. Spectacles.com launches just as the company’s New York City pop-up store closes, and anyone in the U.S. can buy a pair of Spectacles, priced at $130. At the same time, Snap’s founders will start marketing its upcoming IPO to mutual funds and hedge funds in London. Snap released Spectacles, its first hardware product, before filing for its IPO. They were initially sold in a handful of vending machines. Continue reading Snap Opens Online Store for Spectacles and Readies its IPO

Google Develops AI That Can Detect Hateful Internet Speech

Google technology incubator Jigsaw has released software designed to help Web publishers moderate the unruly comments on their sites. The software is called Perspective and it is available free of charge to publishers that apply for access. Jigsaw used machine learning to help train Perspective to identify toxic comments. Each comment is assigned a score, so that human moderators or even readers can filter out responses that score above a certain toxicity level. Perspective is part of Jigsaw’s Conversation AI initiative. The team wants to help foster more civil discourse and eradicate Internet trolls.  Continue reading Google Develops AI That Can Detect Hateful Internet Speech

Half of Web Traffic Now Encrypted as Websites Adopt HTTPS

A new report from rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) found that half of today’s Web’s traffic is now protected by encryption. The increased adoption of HTTPS is largely a result of efforts from big tech companies, like Google and Facebook, and an increased awareness of government surveillance. Google started factoring whether a website was on HTTPS or HTTP into its algorithm. WordPress, one of the biggest Web hosting providers, switched to HTTPS last year. Continue reading Half of Web Traffic Now Encrypted as Websites Adopt HTTPS

Verizon to Pay $350 Million Less for Yahoo Internet Businesses

Verizon and Yahoo announced yesterday plans to move forward with the sale of Yahoo’s core Internet businesses. In the wake of major data breaches at Yahoo, the purchase price has been lowered by $350 million for a new deal valued at $4.48 billion. The companies plan to split future costs related to the data breaches. “The revised agreement,” notes The New York Times, “paves the way for the deal to proceed to a shareholder vote as early as April, although securities regulators are still assessing how Yahoo disclosed information about the breaches to investors.” Verizon is looking to compete with Facebook and Google in digital advertising and, according to The Wall Street Journal, plans to fold Yahoo’s ad tech and websites “into AOL, which Verizon acquired in 2015.” Continue reading Verizon to Pay $350 Million Less for Yahoo Internet Businesses

BuzzFeed News Tries to Expose Readers to Outside Viewpoints

BuzzFeed has introduced a new feature that is intended to help readers understand ideas that differ from the views held in their network of friends. The “Outside Your Bubble” feature will appear at the bottom of BuzzFeed News articles and a staff member will curate content for the feature from social media platforms and other sources. Because of the algorithms behind social media and search results, many people are living in “filter bubbles,” where they are only exposed to ideas that are similar to their own. Continue reading BuzzFeed News Tries to Expose Readers to Outside Viewpoints

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