Google Absorbs EU Fine, Alphabet’s Other Bets Burn Money

Despite the impact of new European regulations, Google just reported sales and profit that exceeded analysts’ expectations. The Silicon Valley company’s shares hit an all-time high, rising 3.9 percent to $1,267 in after-hours trading. The result is proof that advertisers aren’t put off by European regulations or allegations that Google abuses its dominant position in the marketplace. Its parent company Alphabet, however, continues to see losses in its “Other Bets” category, which includes Waymo autonomous vehicles. Continue reading Google Absorbs EU Fine, Alphabet’s Other Bets Burn Money

Facebook Suspends Analytics Firm Over Data Use Concerns

Facebook just suspended Boston-based analytics firm Crimson Hexagon, which has harvested data from its site and Instagram, to investigate whether the company violated Facebook policies. Crimson Hexagon, which says it has one trillion social media posts, had contracts to analyze public Facebook data with the U.S. government and a Russian nonprofit tied to the Kremlin, as well as other clients, say sources. Facebook has “little oversight” over Crimson Hexagon once it harvests the data. Continue reading Facebook Suspends Analytics Firm Over Data Use Concerns

Moviegoers Can Now Buy AMC Theatre Tickets on Facebook

AMC Theatres now allows Facebook users to purchase movie tickets in the U.S. directly via the social media platform. “Facebook recently launched a new ticketing platform that allows users to search movies by location and showtime,” reports Variety. “Once a movie and showtime is selected, users have the option to choose the AMC ticketing platform, and are redirected to the AMC Theatres page to finish their transaction.” Facebook already has ticket agreements with online services Atom Tickets and Fandango, but this marks the platform’s first theater chain partnership. Continue reading Moviegoers Can Now Buy AMC Theatre Tickets on Facebook

At G20 Meeting, Europeans Push Enactment of a Digital Tax

At a meeting in Argentina of G20 finance ministers and central bankers, the Europeans pushed to advance global rules to tax the digital economy, contrary to the point of view of the U.S. delegation. The group’s final communiqué reiterated the body’s commitment to “address the impacts of the shift to a digital economy on the international tax system by 2020,” but gave no further details. Earlier this year, the European Commission proposed rules to make digital companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google pay more taxes. Continue reading At G20 Meeting, Europeans Push Enactment of a Digital Tax

WhatsApp Hopes Changes Will Reduce Virality and Violence

One day after Facebook said it would remove misinformation that could provoke violence, the company announced tweaks to WhatsApp, saying it would limit the number of groups to which a message could be forwarded on that platform. This specific move — which was requested by the Indian government — came after fake news widely forwarded via WhatsApp led to mob violence and the death of 20 people wrongly suspected of child kidnapping. WhatsApp has over 200 million monthly active users in India. Continue reading WhatsApp Hopes Changes Will Reduce Virality and Violence

Technology Titans Join Forces on New Data Transfer Project

Tech giants Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have announced the Data Transfer Project (DTP) to help people move data more easily between online services. DTP was formed last year with plans “to create an open-source, service-to-service data-portability platform” that any online service could join. While numerous services allow individuals to download data, only few allow uploading data to multiple accounts. If successful in creating universal data portability, the project could dramatically impact the tech industry and its current business models. Continue reading Technology Titans Join Forces on New Data Transfer Project

Facebook Combats Fake News After Hoaxes End in Violence

In the wake of posts that have incited violence in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India, Facebook has tweaked its fake news policy and agreed to remove posts that could lead to physical harm. In the incidents that sparked this change, rumors spread on Facebook led to physical attacks on ethnic minorities. The attacks have involved the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Muslims in Sri Lanka, and other attacks in India and Mexico. Changes do not apply to Instagram or WhatsApp, despite the latter’s involvement in incidents in India. Continue reading Facebook Combats Fake News After Hoaxes End in Violence

Congress Scrutinizes Social Media Liability for User Content

Social media platforms such as Google and Facebook are exempt from liability for user-posted content, a protection that top Republican legislators want to end. House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) quizzed Twitter representatives about the exemption, asking why they should be “treated differently than,” for example, a hotel that faces limited responsibility for illegal actions on its property. Goodlatte is one lawmaker who also looked at the purported silencing of conservative points of view on the platforms. Continue reading Congress Scrutinizes Social Media Liability for User Content

Facebook Explores Robotics and NLP, Opens More AI Labs

To strengthen its AI Research division (FAIR) and focus on robotics, Facebook is adding five highly regarded computer scientists to its Menlo Park, California headquarters, as well as facilities in Pittsburgh, Seattle and London. The new hires include Carnegie Mellon University professors Jessica Hodgins and Abhinav Gupta, who will head a lab focusing on robotics, a newer area for Facebook. University of Washington’s Luke Zettlemoyer, an expert on natural language processing (NLP), will join the Seattle AI research team. Continue reading Facebook Explores Robotics and NLP, Opens More AI Labs

Facebook Strategizes Ways to Draft Off Instagram’s Growth

Instagram is threatening to overshadow its parent company Facebook. The platform now has 1 billion users, more than Facebook had when it bought Instagram for $715 million, and, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, is worth more than $100 billion. Most critically, Instagram appeals to a younger demographic, which Facebook needs to keep growing. Other Facebook users are also gravitating to Instagram’s more lighthearted photo and video app, in the wake of Facebook’s involvement in privacy and political scandals. Continue reading Facebook Strategizes Ways to Draft Off Instagram’s Growth

Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

Microsoft is calling for regulation of facial recognition technology, with president Bradford Smith writing a blog post detailing its potential misuse, and comparing it to medicine and cars, both of which are highly regulated. He urged Congress to act, saying that, “government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology,” and that, “a world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards.” Continue reading Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

The British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) levied the toughest fine possible — 500,000 pounds (or about $660,000) — against Facebook for allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal data of millions of people without their consent. The ICO, the agency that enforces the United Kingdom’s data protection laws, began investigating Facebook’s possible misuse of personal data in May 2017, but revelations of the Cambridge Analytica incident spurred it to complete its examination. Continue reading Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Tech Giants Face More Questions Regarding Privacy Issues

Six years after Facebook deactivated facial recognition from its platform in Europe in response to regulators’ concerns about its consent system, the social media company has again introduced such tools in the European Union, as part of an update of its user permission process. Privacy groups and consumer organizations, along with a few officials, have responded, saying it violates people’s privacy. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked Amazon and Apple to provide information on how they handle personal data. Continue reading Tech Giants Face More Questions Regarding Privacy Issues

Growing Strength of Amazon Advertising Biz Draws Concern

Amazon’s advertising and e-commerce businesses are growing in strength, challenging the dominance of Google and Facebook. That’s because Amazon holds the key to a very important piece of information for advertisers — what people buy — and the tech behemoth is beginning to leverage that data. Amazon still makes most of its revenue via e-commerce and Amazon Web Services, but in the first three months of 2018, revenue for advertising jumped 139 percent to $2 billion. This shift has advertisers concerned. Continue reading Growing Strength of Amazon Advertising Biz Draws Concern

Social Media Platforms Ramp Up Removal of Fake Accounts

On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, millions of fake profiles take on the identities of authentic celebrities and public figures in music, movies and politics. Such profiles can be a cover for crimes, as when Australian authorities busted a 42-year old man who impersonated Justin Bieber and racked up 900 child sex offenses. Such social media imposters are so rife that Oprah Winfrey has warned her Twitter followers, and her chief marketing officer Harriet Seitler reported that, due to sheer volume, her team only reports the impostors if the miscreants are trying to scam fans. Continue reading Social Media Platforms Ramp Up Removal of Fake Accounts

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