Facebook Discloses Breach of User Photos to Third-Party Apps

Facebook said it discovered a bug that allowed unauthorized access to third-party apps of private photos, impacting about 6.8 million users. Facebook engineering director Tomer Bar said the company fixed the issue that allowed such apps “access to a broader set of photos than usual.” Starting with the Cambridge Analytica harvesting of user data, Facebook has had a string of problems related to data privacy, most recently with a serious hack in September that compromised the Facebook accounts of millions of users. Continue reading Facebook Discloses Breach of User Photos to Third-Party Apps

Facebook Renews Four Series, Aims to Distribute Premium TV

Facebook, which just renewed four original series that have proven popular, also highlighted the success of Facebook Watch, which debuted in the U.S. in August 2017. The renewed shows are Kerry Washington’s “Five Points,” influencer Huda Kattan’s reality show “Huda Boss,” fairy-tale-inspired series “Sacred Lies,” and drama “Sorry For Your Loss” with Elizabeth Olsen. Facebook Watch now attracts 400+ million users around the world who spend at least one minute on the site, with 75 million doing so on a daily basis. Continue reading Facebook Renews Four Series, Aims to Distribute Premium TV

Unofficial YouTube Channels Openly Deliver Pirated Content

Some YouTube “creators” are brazenly uploading copyrighted content to unofficial channels and asking viewers for donations to continue their illegal activities. One example is Kitchen Nightmares Hotel Hell and Hell’s Kitchen, an unofficial channel that runs full episodes of chef Gordon Ramsay’s signature TV shows, asking viewers to support its onerous work “downloading, converting, editing, rendering and uploading” to make the illegal content available. The information was also listed on the pirates’ Patreon page. Continue reading Unofficial YouTube Channels Openly Deliver Pirated Content

Computer-Generated Photoreal Influencers, Avatars Are Here

Computer-generated influencers have arrived. The glamorous all-digital Miquela Sousa (also known as Lil Mequela), which was created by Los Angeles-based startup Brud, has been the star of an Ugg advertising campaign, appearing on billboards around the world. Brud believes it can create CGI social media stars that are easier to manage and monetize than human celebrities. It’s not alone in its efforts; Soul Machines, which has debuted dozens of digital humans, is launching its Digital DNA platform to make it easier to create virtual avatars. Continue reading Computer-Generated Photoreal Influencers, Avatars Are Here

Apple Job Postings Suggest Development of Its Own Modems

Several new Apple job listings give the strong impression that the Silicon Valley company is getting ready to make its own modem, in direct competition with Qualcomm. The posted job listings are for engineers that can design and develop a layer 1 cellular PHY chip, which implies physical networking hardware. Two other job posts are for cellular modem systems architects, one for Santa Clara and the second for San Diego, where Qualcomm is headquartered. Apple also posted a job opening in San Diego for RF design engineers. Continue reading Apple Job Postings Suggest Development of Its Own Modems

RCS Standard Will Bring Multimedia Capabilities to Messaging

SMS messaging is popular, be it Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. But these messaging services aren’t interoperable: a Facebook user can’t use Messenger to reach someone on iMessage, for example. A solution is on the horizon with RCS — Rich Communication Services — an online protocol adopted by the GSM Association to replace SMS, and one that adds significant multimedia capabilities. The GSMA, a trade group that represents 750+ mobile operators and others in the mobile ecosystem, came up with Universal Profile, a standard that underlies RCS. Continue reading RCS Standard Will Bring Multimedia Capabilities to Messaging

DeepMind’s AlphaZero Defeats Leading Chess Game Engine

Alphabet’s London-based DeepMind loosed AlphaZero, its AI-powered system that can master games without human intervention, on Stockfish, the highest rated chess game engine, and crushed it. DeepMind developed the self-training method, dubbed deep reinforcement learning, specifically to attack strategy board game “Go,” and an earlier iteration of the system beat one of the world’s best “Go” players, although it needed human guidance. AlphaZero trained itself in chess in three days, rejecting red-marked moves after a mere 1,000 simulations. Continue reading DeepMind’s AlphaZero Defeats Leading Chess Game Engine

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

At a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai faced tough questions about how his company handles data privacy and disinformation by foreign actors. Republicans on the Committee also grilled him about a perceived anti-conservative bias, which Pichai staunchly denied, saying Google uses a “robust methodology” on all topics “without regards to political ideology.” Unconvinced, these lawmakers pointed to videos and emails from Google executives expressing dislike of right-leaning ideas. Continue reading Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

Netflix and Amazon Face Formidable Video Rival in YouTube

Netflix is strategizing ways to court the hundreds of thousands of people in places like India that are glued to watching YouTube on their mobile phones. Only a few months, ago, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said sleep was Netflix’s biggest competitor. But since his company is also eyeing India for its next 100 million Netflix subscribers, that country’s focus on YouTube is concerning. Netflix and Amazon, both of which have spent billions to produce original content, still find it difficult to crack emerging markets. Continue reading Netflix and Amazon Face Formidable Video Rival in YouTube

NAGRA Helping Cable, Telecom Operators Deploy Android TV

Android TV, first unveiled in 2014 and updated by Google in 2017, is making a splash, and NAGRA is one of a handful of companies enabling mid-sized cable and telecom operators to add the offering. According to the company’s senior director of product marketing Simon Trudelle, NAGRA is currently helping to deploy eight active 4K Android TV projects, the most recent being the United Group, a telecom/media operator in South East Europe. NAGRA provides advanced content protection technology for its hybrid TV platform. Continue reading NAGRA Helping Cable, Telecom Operators Deploy Android TV

Netflix Users Watching More Licensed Than Original Content

According to 7Park Data, the majority of content — 63 percent — viewed via Netflix is licensed content. Whereas viewing of original content rose from 24 percent a year ago, it still only accounts for 37 percent of its U.S. streams this October. Of the licensed content, NBC’s “The Office” is the most viewed TV show on Netflix, with “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” in second place. The dominance of licensed content is worrisome for Netflix given that Disney, Fox and WarnerMedia will soon pull their programs. Continue reading Netflix Users Watching More Licensed Than Original Content

Tech Companies Challenge Intel by Building Their Own Chips

Amazon revealed last month that it had spent the previous few years building a chip for use in its worldwide data centers. It’s not alone; Apple and Google also seek to design and manufacture their own chips, as part of a cost-saving strategy. Intel, which thus far hasn’t had much competition, will feel the impact as its own customers undercut the company’s annual $412 billion in sales. Amazon’s massive need for chips means it will likely continue to buy from Intel, with which it will enjoy a better bargaining position. Continue reading Tech Companies Challenge Intel by Building Their Own Chips

The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Location data has become big business. According to recent research from The New York Times, at least 75 companies receive reams of precise, anonymous location data from apps with enabled location services. Some of these companies state they track up to 200 million mobile devices, to collect such data, which they sell, use or analyze for customers such as advertisers, retail companies and financial outlets including hedge funds. The location-targeted advertising industry is valued at $21 billion this year. Continue reading The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Amazon’s Prime Video Channels to Double Revenue by 2020

BMO Capital Markets released a report that quantifies the impact of Amazon’s Prime Video Channels service on the pay-TV industry. It revealed that Channels will generate $1.7 billion in revenue in 2018, compared to last year’s $700 million. Further, BMO Capital predicts that revenue will more than double to $3.6 billion in 2020. That’s good news for Channels’ partners, who stand to earn an estimated $1.2 billion this year, and $2.5 billion in 2020, based on Amazon sharing an average 70 percent of subscription fees. Continue reading Amazon’s Prime Video Channels to Double Revenue by 2020

Epic’s New Game Store Poses Threat to Steam’s Dominance

During The Game Awards last week, Epic Games debuted a new digital marketplace that offers a favorable 88/12 percent revenue split to game creators. By opening a new marketplace, the company may be establishing a game store competitor to Valve’s Steam, which has dominated PC game distribution for over ten years. Epic chief executive Tim Sweeney has also pledged to better support creators. Although the store’s first list of games is small, it will be part of Epic Launcher, the software required to update and play “Fortnite.” Continue reading Epic’s New Game Store Poses Threat to Steam’s Dominance

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