In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds

In response to a classified edict from the National Security Agency or the FBI, Yahoo scanned all of its users’ incoming emails for a specific “set of characters,” keeping the scans and the software system it built to do so a secret. Millions of emails were scanned, but neither federal agency nor Yahoo will say if they found what they were looking for. Experts say this is the first case of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to search all arriving emails, rather than stored messages or a small number of email accounts. Continue reading In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds

Facebook Launches Marketplace, Battles Sale of Illegal Items

This last Monday, Facebook began gradually introducing a new feature, Marketplace, which, similar to Craigslist, lets users buy and sell items. The app will be first introduced to users in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom, and will also be available on the desktop in the next few months. Because most Facebook users access the site via mobile phones, Marketplace will provide better location data for matching buyers and sellers than Craigslist. Since the launch, however, Facebook has been dealing with illegal items for sale. Continue reading Facebook Launches Marketplace, Battles Sale of Illegal Items

U.S. Cloud Computing Titans Invest in European Data Centers

Major American tech companies are building multiple data centers in Europe, with the end goal of dominating the cloud computing market there. The leading provider, Amazon Web Services, will soon open data centers in France and Britain. The second largest cloud computing provider, Microsoft reports it has spent $1 billion in the last year on data centers, for a total expenditure of $3 billion since 2005. Google, already in Belgium and Finland, will complete a new expansive data center in the Netherlands by the end of 2016. Continue reading U.S. Cloud Computing Titans Invest in European Data Centers

One Million Friends Video-Chatting with New Houseparty App

Life on Air, whose Meerkat debuted at South by Southwest last year and put live streaming on the map, introduced Houseparty, an iOS and Android app for video chatting with friends. Dubbed a “synchronous social network” by the company, the app has operated under the radar for 10 months and now boasts nearly one million users. The question now is if the company can maintain the momentum or whether it will suffer a repeat of its experience in introducing a new sensation — and then losing ground to more sophisticated competitors. Continue reading One Million Friends Video-Chatting with New Houseparty App

Facebook at Work Enters Crowded Field But Offers Familiarity

Facebook at Work will be unveiled in London on October 10, marking the first time that Facebook has launched a global product outside of the U.S. The work “conversation” platform was developed in Facebook’s London office, and some major European companies — including Telenor and the Royal Bank of Scotland — took part in the closed beta. Facebook vice president of EMEA Nicola Mendelsohn will lead the event, with other Facebook leaders and “special guests” in attendance, although it’s not clear if Mark Zuckerberg will be there. Continue reading Facebook at Work Enters Crowded Field But Offers Familiarity

Tech Behemoths Establish Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft established the Partnership on AI to create ground rules for protecting people and their jobs in the face of rapidly expanding artificial intelligence. The organization is also intended to address the public’s concern about increasingly capable machines, and corporations’ worries about potential government regulation. One of the organization’s first efforts was to agree upon and then issue basic ethical standards for development and research in artificial intelligence. Continue reading Tech Behemoths Establish Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

With Breach, Yahoo Pays the Price For Skimping on Security

Six years ago, the Chinese military hacked Google, Yahoo and other technology companies. Google, whose co-founder Sergey Brin vowed “never again,” hired hundreds of security engineers to make good on that promise. Yahoo, under the leadership of Marissa Mayer, however, focused on other problems the ailing company faced and reportedly failed to take more stringent security measures. Now, Yahoo reports another serious breach, undetected for two years, with 500 million users’ credentials stolen. Yahoo and the FBI are investigating. Continue reading With Breach, Yahoo Pays the Price For Skimping on Security

Disney Said to Be Considering Possible Bid for Twitter Merger

Following the CNBC report that Google and Salesforce.com were among those being considered for a Twitter takeover, TechCrunch added that Microsoft and Verizon have also expressed interest. Today, headlines indicate that Disney is considering a possible bid. Bloomberg reports that Disney is working with an adviser on a potential deal, in what would be the company’s latest investment in a string of tech-related media businesses including Hulu, Vice and MLB’s BAMTech. The Wall Street Journal suggests that “a Twitter acquisition would be Disney’s biggest technology deal yet” and “could benefit ESPN as cord-cutting becomes more widespread.” Continue reading Disney Said to Be Considering Possible Bid for Twitter Merger

Japan Emerges as Hub for Virtual Reality Culture, Innovations

Japan is on track to become a virtual reality powerhouse, largely due to the imminent release of Sony PlayStation VR. Mixed-reality theme parks, VRcades, augmented reality, and VR retail applications are all gaining traction. Gumi, GREE and Colopl, which has made about 30 VR investments, are a few of the major domestic VR investors. One VR startup, FOVE, a pioneer in eye tracking, has already raised $11 million; its chief executive Yuka has been featured in Forbes and SoftBank’s Taizo Son, chairman/founder of mobile gaming company GungHo, is one of its investors.

Continue reading Japan Emerges as Hub for Virtual Reality Culture, Innovations

Facing Slow Growth, Twitter Said to Be Considering Takeover

Twitter is reportedly in early discussions with Google, Salesforce.com and others about a possible takeover of the San Francisco-based company. “Twitter is considering divesting itself of … Vine, the mobile six-second video service, and MoPub, a mobile advertising business,” according to The New York Times. Stalled growth has been a challenge for Twitter, which has largely failed to keep up with competitors in recent years. Facebook’s “offerings like Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger continued to outpace Twitter in user growth and profitability, while five-year-old Snapchat has become the newest darling of the social media world.” Continue reading Facing Slow Growth, Twitter Said to Be Considering Takeover

YouTube Seeks Volunteers to Moderate Site for Perks, Access

In an effort to become more of a social media platform, YouTube launched YouTube Community in mid-September to allow video creators to run a social network on their channel’s page. On the “Community” tab on Channel pages, video creators can share content, including text, GIFs and images with their fans. Community has been in public beta (with some YouTube celebrity creators), but hasn’t yet rolled out. Now, YouTube is asking volunteers to moderate content in exchange for perks such as access to workshops and products. Continue reading YouTube Seeks Volunteers to Moderate Site for Perks, Access

Presidential Race Gets Streaming Treatment Across Platforms

Election coverage focused on presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will get a major boost from social media, streaming technology and even virtual reality. Facebook plans to live-stream the upcoming debates with help from ABC News, while a Twitter-Bloomberg partnership will bring live streams of the debates to Twitter. YouTube, meanwhile, is slated to live-stream the debates from PBS, Telemundo and The Washington Post. And starting last night, NBC with AltspaceVR began streaming election coverage in virtual reality. Continue reading Presidential Race Gets Streaming Treatment Across Platforms

Chan Zuckerberg Fund Invests $3 Billion in Medical Research

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan announced they plan to invest more than $3 billion over the next 10 years to develop tech focused on research to combat disease. “The first investment by the couple’s for-profit philanthropic arm, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC, will be $600 million to create a research lab of engineers and scientists based in San Francisco,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “This focus on building on tools suggests a road map for how we might go about curing, preventing and managing all diseases this century,” said Zuckerberg. Continue reading Chan Zuckerberg Fund Invests $3 Billion in Medical Research

Adblock Expands Service with Fresh Take on Acceptable Ads

Adblock, the company that blocks online advertising, is now introducing a service that allows website operators to run ads. Adblock Plus’s new service is an extension of the Acceptable Ads program debuted in 2011. A so-called acceptable ad, vetted by Adblock, is smaller, less brash and intrusive and thus, in principle, less irritating. The number of ads in this marketplace, which just debuted in beta, is limited because of how time-consuming it is to vet ads. The service will come out of beta later in 2016. Continue reading Adblock Expands Service with Fresh Take on Acceptable Ads

Fandango Tests Selling Movie Tickets Directly via Facebook

Fandango has built a business helping moviegoers purchase tickets online and via a smartphone app. Now the ticket retailer owned by NBCUniversal is partnering with Facebook to sell tickets directly from the social network. It began this past weekend when fans were given the opportunity to buy tickets to “The Magnificent Seven,” “Kevin Hart: What Now?” and “Storks” through each film’s Facebook page. The move is part of a larger strategy to attract millennials; the company’s next step to reach a younger audience is a Snapchat interface. Continue reading Fandango Tests Selling Movie Tickets Directly via Facebook

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