Audiotapes Reveal Zuckerberg’s Take on Big Tech Breakup

In March, Senator Elizabeth Warren debuted her plan to break up big tech companies, from Amazon to Facebook. Her campaign paid for a billboard in San Francisco with the message in capital letters. Now, almost seven months later, leaked audiotapes reveal what Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg thinks about her plans. In the tapes, Zuckerberg tells employees that, “if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge.” Continue reading Audiotapes Reveal Zuckerberg’s Take on Big Tech Breakup

More Details Emerge About Facebook’s Upcoming News Tab

Facebook is slated to launch a News Tab as early as the end of October, but according to sources only a few of the publishers whose headlines appear there will get paid. The News Tab, which will appear on the toolbar at the bottom of the Facebook mobile app, will feature links for up to 200 publications, but sources say the social media giant never intended to pay all those news outlets. Sources note that it is similar to how Facebook built its Watch section, which includes videos it doesn’t pay for. Continue reading More Details Emerge About Facebook’s Upcoming News Tab

Sony Makes Push for Its PlayStation Now Streaming Service

Sony Interactive Entertainment cut the monthly fee of its subscription service PlayStation Now in half, from $20 per month to just under $10. It’s also added four new games: “God of War,” “Infamous Second Son,” “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” and “Grand Theft Auto V.” Because three of those come from Sony-owned studios, PS Now will be the only way to stream them live. PS Now, which debuted in 2014, has enjoyed a compounded annual growth rate of 40 percent. Its 700,000 subscribers pay for access to 800 games. Continue reading Sony Makes Push for Its PlayStation Now Streaming Service

Tether, Most Widely Used Cryptocurrency, Is Under Scrutiny

Although Bitcoin accounts for 70 percent of all the global digital assets’ market value, Tether is the world’s most widely used cryptocurrency, said CoinMarketCap, which revealed that Tether, despite the fact that it’s market capitalization is 30 times smaller than Bitcoin, has the highest daily and monthly trading volume. Tether surpassed Bitcoin in April and, said CoinMarketCap, has done so consistently since early August, at about $21 billion per day, with monthly trading volume 18 percent higher than Bitcoin’s. Continue reading Tether, Most Widely Used Cryptocurrency, Is Under Scrutiny

Facebook Pressured Over Fact-Checking and Hate Speech

After Facebook vice president Nick Clegg said that the social media company would not fact-check politicians’ speech and allow them more latitude with using offensive speech, the company’s former head of content standards Dave Willner called the move “foolish, wrong, and a significant betrayal of the original democratizing ideals of Facebook.” He noted that hate speech is not acceptable from anyone. Facebook will also permit opinion pieces or satires found to be inaccurate by fact-checkers to remain online. Continue reading Facebook Pressured Over Fact-Checking and Hate Speech

Google and IBM Create Advanced Text-to-Speech Systems

Both IBM and Google recently advanced development of Text-to-Speech (TTS) systems to create high-quality digital speech. OpenAI found that, since 2012, the compute power needed to train TTS models has exploded to more than 300,000 times. IBM created a much less compute-intensive model for speech synthesis, stating that it is able to do so in real-time and adapt to new speaking styles with little data. Google and Imperial College London created a generative adversarial network (GAN) to create high-quality synthetic speech. Continue reading Google and IBM Create Advanced Text-to-Speech Systems

Apple Aims for Traditional Theatrical Exhibition of Its Movies

According to sources, Apple is in talks with cinema chains to open its feature-length films in a traditional theatrical release, with an exclusive stay in theaters before becoming available on Apple TV+. Apple might choose, however, to first debut its films in art house cinemas in New York and Los Angeles. The company reportedly is pursuing this strategy to draw in major directors and producers, as well as avoid the tension Netflix created when it released its movies without an exclusivity window. Continue reading Apple Aims for Traditional Theatrical Exhibition of Its Movies

TV Execs Push to Include Out-of-Home Viewing in Ratings

Local TV station executives are increasingly aware that viewers watch content on all kinds of devices. Accordingly, NBCUniversal and Hearst have stopped using traditional ratings and switched to total viewer impressions, which will count all the ways a show is viewed. Other local TV groups vowed to do the same by 2020. At the same time, national TV executives also plan to add in those who view shows outside the home, in offices, hotels and the like, into final ratings. Nielsen has long dominated ratings of linear TV viewership. Continue reading TV Execs Push to Include Out-of-Home Viewing in Ratings

Incoming EU Commissioners Plan Tax for Digital Companies

Impatient with the slow pace of overhauling corporate taxation to better represent the real profits of international digital companies, European Union commissioners propose that the EU agree on a tax if no global decision is reached by end of 2020. Up until now, individual countries have crafted different approaches to taxation. In France, former digital affairs minister Mounir Mahjoubi said he may file an amendment to a budget bill forcing these same Internet behemoths to reveal how much profit they make in the country. Continue reading Incoming EU Commissioners Plan Tax for Digital Companies

Facebook Unveils New Collection of Virtual Reality Advances

At Oculus Connect, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and AR/VR head Anthony Bosworth showed the next version of the Oculus Quest, which will offer hand-tracking without controllers or external sensors. Also unveiled is Horizon, a new form of social VR to rival VRChat and Rec Room; it will go into a closed beta in early 2020. Horizon provides tools for the user to build her own environments where people can congregate for multiplayer games. Other long-term plans include AR glasses, Live Maps and “shared spaces.” Continue reading Facebook Unveils New Collection of Virtual Reality Advances

Twitch Makes a Bigger Play to Become All-Purpose Streamer

The live-streaming gaming platform Twitch is hugely popular but has a goal to get even bigger. At the annual TwitchCon event, the company showed off an advertising campaign promoting itself as an all-purpose live-streaming platform. This move takes place just as the site’s biggest star, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, defected to Mixer, a rival streaming service owned by Microsoft. On the gaming front, the company also faces competition from Caffeine, a social broadcast platform that received $100 million from 21st Century Fox. Continue reading Twitch Makes a Bigger Play to Become All-Purpose Streamer

Californians for Consumer Privacy Make Bid for Enforcement

Californians for Consumer Privacy, which led the push for the privacy law that passed in the state, has a new plan to establish a data protection agency to make sure the law is enforced. The goal is to amend the law via a ballot initiative; it will take the valid signatures of more than 620,000 registered voters to put it on the ballot. The California Consumer Privacy Act now gives consumers the right to see what personal data has been collected, to delete it and to prevent companies from selling it. Continue reading Californians for Consumer Privacy Make Bid for Enforcement

Amazon Unveils New IoT Devices for On-the-Go Consumers

Amazon is strategically moving its Alexa digital voice assistant into a wide range of products, for use in many settings. Among the newly introduced smart products powered by Alexa are earbuds, a ring, eyeglass frames and even a lamp. The idea, said Amazon hardware head Dave Limp, is to allow Alexa to follow the consumer throughout her day, via such smart lifestyle devices. To enable this, Amazon also debuted its own low bandwidth 900MHz network, Amazon Sidewalk, to connect Internet of Things devices. Continue reading Amazon Unveils New IoT Devices for On-the-Go Consumers

BitTorrent Rolls Out Beta Test of Live Mobile Streaming App

BitTorrent introduced a public beta test of its Live Android app (also known as BLive), described as a live streaming app that offers social networking and instant messaging as well as virtual gifting via BTT and TRX, two cryptocurrencies operated by BitTorrent and sister company TRON. BitTorrent will take a cut of 70 percent from these gifts. The company explained that it is initially releasing BitTorrent Live with server-based architecture, but plans to replace it in the future with P2P-based live streaming. Continue reading BitTorrent Rolls Out Beta Test of Live Mobile Streaming App

Google Offers Deepfakes for Researching Detection Methods

Google, in cooperation with its internal tech incubator Jigsaw, released a large number of deepfakes, which have been added to the FaceForensics benchmark run by the Technical University of Munich and the University of Naples Federico II. The deepfakes will be available for free to researchers developing detection techniques. Previously, Google released text-to-speech models as part of the AVspoof 2019 competition to develop systems to distinguish between real and computer-generated speech. Continue reading Google Offers Deepfakes for Researching Detection Methods

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