Katy Perry Is First to Achieve 100 Million Followers on Twitter

Singer Katy Perry, who joined Twitter in early 2009 and just released a new album called “Witness,” has become the first to achieve the 100 million follower milestone on the social platform. “The second most-followed Twitter account belongs to Justin Bieber, who currently has 96.7 million followers,” according to Variety. “Next in line are Barack Obama (90.8 million), Taylor Swift (85.1 million) and Rihanna (74.1 million).” While these figures do not specify the number of spam accounts or bots, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said bogus bots represent less than 5 percent of accounts. Perry also broke her own YouTube record last month when single “Bon Appetit” reached 16.8 million views in just 24 hours. Continue reading Katy Perry Is First to Achieve 100 Million Followers on Twitter

Facebook’s New Mission Statement Emphasizes Global Issues

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg just released a 6,000 word document outlining the company’s new role in “social infrastructure,” to address terrorism, disease, climate change and other global woes. He suggested ways that the 13-year old company can work with governments, nonprofit organizations and other companies. Zuckerberg revealed that the company is building products and developing tools to fight the spread of fake news, and use AI to detect terrorism propaganda as well as promote global political engagement. Continue reading Facebook’s New Mission Statement Emphasizes Global Issues

Yahoo: Second Data Breach Involves 1 Billion User Accounts

In September, Yahoo revealed a 2014 security breach that involved 500,000 of its users’ accounts. Now the company has announced an even larger data breach from 2013 involving more than one billion accounts, including those of more than 150,000 government and military employees. “The two attacks are the largest known security breaches of one company’s computer network,” reports The New York Times. “The newly disclosed 2013 attack involved sensitive user information, including names, telephone numbers, dates of birth, encrypted passwords and unencrypted security questions that could be used to reset a password.” Continue reading Yahoo: Second Data Breach Involves 1 Billion User Accounts

Daily Fantasy Sports: FanDuel and DraftKings Agree to Merge

Former rivals DraftKings and FanDuel announced they plan to merge their daily fantasy sports operations into one company, to be run by DraftKings CEO Jason Robins. FanDuel chief exec Nigel Eccles will become chairman. The board will include three directors each from DraftKings and FanDuel, plus an independent director, while headquarters will be divided between New York and Boston offices. The deal, which aims to increase innovation by freeing up money, is expected to close during the second half of next year. Continue reading Daily Fantasy Sports: FanDuel and DraftKings Agree to Merge

Global Tech Firms Wary of China’s Broad Cybersecurity Law

China has adopted a broad and controversial cybersecurity law that places new requirements on tech companies, which foreign businesses fear may be used to negatively affect competition. The law, designed to tighten state control over technology and information while ramping up online security, addresses areas such as data storage, technical support, censorship and government certification of hardware. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The law drew criticism from foreign business groups due to the expansive list of sectors that are defined as part of China’s ‘critical information infrastructure,’ making sectors including telecommunications, energy, transportation, information services and finance subject to security checks.” Continue reading Global Tech Firms Wary of China’s Broad Cybersecurity Law

Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

Digital music services have a problem introducing new songs: Fans prefer music they’ve heard before, and can easily skip a song they don’t know. A radio station can promote a new song by repeatedly playing it, but up until now digital services haven’t had many tools to boost new song popularity. Now, Pandora has debuted a toolset that lets an artist introduce a new song with an audio message to fans. It worked for R&B singer Jill Scott, who was able to boost the popularity of a new song by 30 percent that way. Continue reading Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

President Obama and MIT Media Lab Director Talk Future of AI

Wired editor-in-chief Scott Dadich recently sat down with President Barack Obama and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito in the White House to discuss the numerous possibilities and potential implications of artificial intelligence and machine learning. “It’s worth thinking about because it stretches our imaginations and gets us thinking about the issues of choice and free will that actually do have some significant applications for specialized AI,” said Obama. “If properly harnessed, it can generate enormous prosperity and opportunity. But it also has some downsides that we’re gonna have to figure out in terms of not eliminating jobs. It could increase inequality. It could suppress wages.” Continue reading President Obama and MIT Media Lab Director Talk Future of AI

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

Hackers Steal Data From Half a Billion Yahoo User Accounts

In what could mark the largest-ever theft of personal data, Yahoo has confirmed that more than 500 million of its user accounts were hacked in late 2014. The Internet company is pointing the blame at state-sponsored hackers who reportedly stole names, email addresses, birth dates, phone numbers and encrypted passwords after breaking into the Yahoo network. The company does not believe the hack impacted unprotected passwords or financial data such as payment card or bank account info. The breach was discovered after Yahoo began investigating a claim by hackers who were attempting to sell 280 million usernames and passwords. Continue reading Hackers Steal Data From Half a Billion Yahoo User Accounts

Federal Policy on Self-Driving Cars Focuses on Safety Issues

The newly released Federal Automated Vehicles Policy reveals that the Obama administration is largely taking a hands-off approach to the technologies used to create autonomous vehicles, instead zeroing in on safety. In fact, the majority of the 116-page policy addresses safety issues, with the goal of preventing accidents such as the recent fatal crash of a Tesla vehicle on autopilot. The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets — including Alphabet, Ford Motor Company, Uber, Lyft and Volvo — gave the policy a thumbs-up. Continue reading Federal Policy on Self-Driving Cars Focuses on Safety Issues

Samsung Formally Recalls Galaxy Note7 Phones in the U.S.

In response to 92 reports of batteries overheating, in some cases leading to explosions and fires, Samsung and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have issued a formal recall of the Galaxy Note7. “Consumers have the option of a refund or a replacement device with a new battery,” reports Recode. “Samsung is offering customers $25 extra if they stick with either a new Note7 or opt to exchange their phone for a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge.” Replacement devices are expected to be available in retail stores by September 21. Less than 15 percent of the one million Note7 phones sold in the U.S. have been returned since Samsung launched the exchange program two weeks ago. Continue reading Samsung Formally Recalls Galaxy Note7 Phones in the U.S.

FAA Issues Drone Operation Rules, Privacy Issues Unresolved

The operation of drones has sparked heated debate and industry angst regarding issues of safety, privacy and regulation. Now, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued its first detailed rules that clarify nationwide licensing requirements for pilots and bans operation of drones at nighttime. But it still hasn’t touched the hot button topics of privacy protections, high altitude flying, drones heavier than the currently-approved 55-pounds and other issues. In that vacuum, local governments are coming up with their own regulations. Continue reading FAA Issues Drone Operation Rules, Privacy Issues Unresolved

FTC Demands Clearer Disclosure for Internet Celebrity Promos

The Federal Trade Commission is now cracking down on Internet celebrities pitching products without disclosing whether or not they’re being paid. Using familiar hashtags such as #ad, #sp, or #sponsored aren’t always enough to ensure viewers realize the content is a paid promotion, says the FTC, whose Ad Practices Division is beginning to hold advertisers responsible for compliance. The result is likely to dampen the impact of a favorite digital influencer enthusing over a specific product. Continue reading FTC Demands Clearer Disclosure for Internet Celebrity Promos

New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

New York passed a bill in June legalizing daily fantasy sports, enabling popular services such as DraftKings and FanDuel to operate in the state. Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law. “Daily fantasy sports have proven to be popular in New York, but until now have operated with no supervision and no protections for players,” explained Cuomo. “This legislation strikes the right balance that allows this activity to continue with oversight from state regulators, new consumer protections, and more funding for education.” Continue reading New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

Facebook Considers Laser Tech to Deliver High-Speed Internet

Engineers at Facebook’s Connectivity Lab have developed a large laser detector that could help deliver Internet to new areas by opening “airwaves to new high-speed data communications systems that don’t require dedicated spectrum or licenses,” reports PC World. Reaching new regions typically involves cost-efficient wireless networks, which also require radio spectrum and often have speed limitations. Instead, engineers are looking into “sending data from point-to-point over laser beams” that would not involve “any special spectrum or permission, and multiple systems can work in the same area without interfering with each other.” Continue reading Facebook Considers Laser Tech to Deliver High-Speed Internet

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