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Streaming Video Services Moving Toward Audience Ratings

Netflix rarely releases viewership numbers, arguing that, because it doesn’t court advertisers, it can safely sit on its own data. That mindset is changing, however, as competition heats up in free ad-supported streaming TV services. Tubi and Viacom’s Pluto TV have released viewership numbers — 20 million for the former and 15 million for the latter — but they don’t use independent measurement firms such as Nielsen or Comscore. Advertisers continue to be wary without such third-party verification. Read more

The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has just opened an inquiry into whether Amazon unfairly uses data gleaned from third-party sellers. The investigation has no deadline and could go on for years. At issue is whether Amazon has an unfair advantage by selling its own goods on the site, in competition with its third-party sellers. Amazon stated it will “cooperate fully” with the investigation as well as “continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.” Read more

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Showcases Brain-Computer Interface

Elon Musk and his startup Neuralink’s scientists showed off a new brain-computer interface they say will advance therapeutic devices treating various neurological conditions with a new level of precision. The technology, in development for two years, will soon be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for testing on human subjects. The company thus far has received $158 million in funding and has about 100 employees. Musk stated that one goal of the announcement is to recruit more talent. Read more

Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Facebook’s Instagram began testing a new approach with users in Canada two months ago and this week expanded its efforts to include users in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The experiment removes emphasis on the “Like” feature to minimize the pressure to compete, while hopefully creating a more personal and enjoyable experience. Users are still able to see who liked other people’s posts or watched their videos, but there is no longer a running tally of the number of likes and views (however, users can still privately see the counts for their own posts). Read more

Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Republican and Democratic lawmakers excoriated tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google this week on Capitol Hill. Chief among the critics were Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who oversees the Constitution subcommittee, and Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) who leads an antitrust subcommittee. Although the companies acknowledged the upheaval their technology has created in many industries, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded that, “every time Americans trust you, they seem to get burned.” Read more

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