Facebook Advances Encryption Plans For Messaging Apps

Although U.S. Attorney General William Barr has advocated against encryption, Facebook is advancing its plans to add the technology to all its messaging platforms. Barr wants Facebook to allow at least some government access to those platforms, in the name of public safety. WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart and Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky responded to Barr that, “undermining encryption in their products for law enforcement would create a ‘backdoor’ vulnerability that malicious actors also could leverage to harm users.” Continue reading Facebook Advances Encryption Plans For Messaging Apps

YouTube Takes Next Steps to Enforce Harassment Policies

YouTube has written guidelines to flag videos and comments that insult or demean others over race, gender or sexual orientation directed at anyone including private individuals, public officials and YouTube creators. The company will rely on “raters” to screen videos that have been flagged. YouTube earlier introduced policies to restrict exploitation of children, extremist content and hate speech, but those policies were scrutinized in June when a volatile situation arose between a commentator and a journalist. Continue reading YouTube Takes Next Steps to Enforce Harassment Policies

Netflix Tests Feature to Skip Browsing and Begin Streaming

Netflix started a global test of a new feature — dubbed Watch Now — that allows users to skip browsing titles and begin streaming immediately. The new feature will appear as a button on the profile selection page that opens when the Netflix app launches on a smart TV or streaming device. Netflix is well known for testing features with specific local markets, device categories or audiences. Watch Now is being tested for a month or two with a small worldwide audience on TVs and TV-connected devices including Roku and Fire TV. Continue reading Netflix Tests Feature to Skip Browsing and Begin Streaming

TV Maker Vizio to Sell Ads on SmartCast Operating System

Television manufacturer Vizio is forming Vizio Ads to sell advertising on its Internet-connected SmartCast TV operating system. To do so, the company plans to hire “about two dozen” ad salespeople across the U.S. next year. Senior vice president Mike O’Donnell, who revealed that six salespeople have already been hired, stated that Vizio Ads will be housed with Vizio’s TV data unit Inscape, both of which reside in the company’s “platform business.” Currently, advertising is sold by companies whose programming streams on SmartCast. Continue reading TV Maker Vizio to Sell Ads on SmartCast Operating System

Magic Leap Launches New Enterprise-Focused AR Headset

Magic Leap formally released Magic Leap 1, its much-anticipated augmented reality headset. The name was changed from the beta version, Magic Leap One Creator Edition, that has been selling at $2,295. Magic Leap 1, priced at $2,995, is targeting enterprise customers since the price is too high for most consumers. Accordingly, the headset was released with enterprise-oriented apps, including 3D visualization, communication, collaboration, location-based services, learning/assistance and “copresence.” Continue reading Magic Leap Launches New Enterprise-Focused AR Headset

Netflix Tops Golden Globe Nominations With 34 Total Nods

Netflix scored 17 film nominations for the 77th Golden Globes, a major jump since its first movie Globes nod in 2016 for “Beasts of No Nation.” This go-round, Netflix campaigned hard — and successfully — with six nominations for Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” including Best Drama, Actress (Scarlett Johansson), Actor (Adam Driver), Supporting Actress (Laura Dern), Screenplay (Baumbach) and Score (Randy Newman). “The Irishman” and “The Two Popes” were also nominated for Best Drama. Additionally, the company received 17 nominations in television for a total of 34 nominations. Continue reading Netflix Tops Golden Globe Nominations With 34 Total Nods

Comcast to Invest $2 Billion in Peacock Streaming Service

Comcast chief financial officer Mike Cavanagh announced that the Philadelphia-based telecom giant plans to invest $2 billion in NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock during 2020 and 2021, with the expectation that it won’t be profitable for five years. Cavanagh, who spoke at the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York City, added that the spending will represent, at its height, only about 1 percent of Comcast’s annual revenue. Comcast pay-TV subscribers will have free access to Peacock, scheduled to debut in April 2020. Continue reading Comcast to Invest $2 Billion in Peacock Streaming Service

TikTok Intros Top 100 Video List, Pushes ‘Hotbed of Talent’

TikTok released its TikTok 100, the top videos in areas including beauty and style, sports, pets and dance trends. According to The New York Times, among the niche memes are #TikTokChecks (where users show off locations/objects as “markers of their identity”), VSCO girls (a “subculture consisting of scrunchies, Hydro Flasks and environmentalism”) and “walk a mile” (people creating high heels out of odd objects, to an Iggy Azalea riff. Among its successes, TikTok has made an impact on the music industry and played a role in the breakout success of Lil Nas X. Continue reading TikTok Intros Top 100 Video List, Pushes ‘Hotbed of Talent’

T-Mobile, Sprint Defend Proposed Merger in Federal Court

The Democratic attorneys general of 13 states and the District of Columbia are suing to block the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. According to legal experts, a suit in which so many states reject of the federal government’s settlement — and move to block it, without any federal support — is unprecedented. Merged, T-Mobile and Sprint, the third and fourth largest telecom carriers, would rival AT&T and Verizon Communications. The federal government approved the deal earlier this year, after demanding some concessions. Continue reading T-Mobile, Sprint Defend Proposed Merger in Federal Court

Study Reveals Power, Reach of Paid Influence Campaigns

The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, an independent group that advises the organization, conducted a test to see how well big tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter are doing in filtering out paid influence campaigns that use automated bots and other means to manipulate social media. It did so by hiring 11 Russian and five European companies in the business of selling fake social media engagement and found that a small amount of money could cause a lot of damage. Continue reading Study Reveals Power, Reach of Paid Influence Campaigns

Amazon and Facebook to Lease More Space in Manhattan

Less than a year after Amazon pulled out of a deal to build its second headquarters (HQ2) in Manhattan, it inked a lease for 335,000 square feet in the neighborhood to house more than 1,500 employees. Facebook is also reportedly in talks to lease 700,000 square feet in a nearby neighborhood. If that plan goes through, the social media platform, which has other real estate holdings in the city, would become one of its largest corporate tenants, which include JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Continue reading Amazon and Facebook to Lease More Space in Manhattan

Qualcomm Targets 5G, Mixed Reality With Snapdragon XR2

Qualcomm debuted Snapdragon XR2, which the company is dubbing “the world’s first 5G XR platform.” This second generation mixed reality chipset follows the debut of Snapdragon XR1 in May 2018, which provided “the minimum criteria for immersion” in mixed reality and was intended to lower the price of components for XR headsets (it was used in AR glasses such as Google Glass Enterprise). Qualcomm is presenting Snapdragon XR2, however, as more powerful than the Snapdragon 835 that powered the Oculus Quest VR headset. Continue reading Qualcomm Targets 5G, Mixed Reality With Snapdragon XR2

Amazon Licenses Original Interactive Audio Series for Alexa

Amazon has inked an exclusive license for “Tala’s World,” a seven-episode young adult adventure series produced by audio startup Xandra, which has produced Alexa skills for HBO, Sesame Workshop and Ubisoft. In the new adventure series, listeners help elf-like character Blobby find his missing best friend Tala by making decisions, collecting clues, and interrogating suspects. Available exclusively on Alexa, Amazon recently released the first episode and plans to release the second episode on December 13. Continue reading Amazon Licenses Original Interactive Audio Series for Alexa

Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

The use of biometrics — and the resulting data — are growing exponentially. Pro-consumer website Comparitech analyzed 50 different countries to create a more detailed picture of where and why biometrics are collected and how the data is being stored. Although the U.S. is one of the countries whose biometric collection is “extensive and invasive,” in related news, the Department of Homeland Security mothballed a plan to require facial recognition screening for every person before leaving or entering the country. Continue reading Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

Qualcomm Introduces Snapdragon Chipsets for 5G Devices

Qualcomm debuted two chipsets for smartphones: the flagship Snapdragon 865 with an add-on X55 5G modem, aimed at high-end smartphones, and the mid-tier Snapdragon 765 or 765G, with integrated 5G capabilities. The Snapdragon 865 is the obvious successor to last year’s 855, which was integrated into 2019 devices including the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Samsung Galaxy S10 phones and the Google Pixel 4 handset. The Snapdragon 865 offers an updated AI engine that the company says is twice as powerful as the 855’s engine. Continue reading Qualcomm Introduces Snapdragon Chipsets for 5G Devices

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