Facebook Unveils First Design Changes to Enhance Privacy

Under the dark cloud of various privacy-related scandals, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced the first of a series in design changes meant to shift the social media platform away from town square-style communication and toward more direct, private communication between users and groups. On Tuesday at Facebook’s annual developer conference, the company showcased a redesign of its mobile app and desktop site, both of which add new features to promote group-based communication rather than a focus on the News Feed.

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MLB Plans to Live Stream Games to YouTube, YouTube TV

This week, YouTube announced a new partnership with Major League Baseball that will allow the video streaming site to exclusively live stream a total of 13 MLB games to both YouTube and YouTube TV for free to viewers in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Dates and times are forthcoming, but the games will stream on the MLB YouTube channel along with a temporary pop-up channel on YouTube TV specific to MLB. While YouTube and MLB have worked together in the past, they’ve never struck a deal related to exclusive streaming.

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Creative Commons Intros Search Engine With 300M Images

After more than two years of beta testing, the nonprofit organization Creative Commons publicly launched its search engine, which includes more than 300 million images indexed — a huge jump from the 9.5 million images that were available at beta launch. The engine aims to provide an easy way for users to search the organization’s archive of free content, available in the public domain to use under Creative Commons licenses. Since its beta, the engine has been updated with a redesign and faster, more relevant search functionality.

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Twitter’s New Content Deals with Univision, WSJ and Others

Twitter hosted its second-ever Digital Content NewFronts event this week, showcasing a series of new and renewed video content deals. The social media mainstay announced 13 video content deals, including a new one with Univision that will cover Spanish-language sports, entertainment, and news, including 2020 election coverage. It also announced a deal with The Wall Street Journal for an original show called “What’s Now,” and other deals with major players like the NFL, Bleacher Report, CNET and others.

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MTV VMAs, Twitter Team Up For Fan-Controlled Streaming

For the first time ever, the MTV Video Music Awards will take place in Newark, New Jersey. With the new location comes a new video strategy courtesy of a partnership with Twitter, announced at the social media company’s Digital Content NewFronts event on Monday. When viewers tune into the VMAs in late August of this year, they’ll be greeted by the Stan Cam — a live and interactive viewing experience through which they can vote on the feeds they most want to see, giving them access to celebrities and behind-the-scenes footage. Continue reading MTV VMAs, Twitter Team Up For Fan-Controlled Streaming

Spotify at 100 Million Paid Subscribers, Expands Podcasting

Music streaming giant Spotify exceeded analysts’ quarterly expectations when it announced it hit the coveted 100 million paid subscriber mark, a first for any music streaming company. That news, combined with a growing podcast business, enabled the company to narrow its loss in the most recent quarter, during which Spotify acquired podcast companies Gimlet Media and Anchor, as well as announced plans to acquire podcast producer Parcast. Spotify plans to spend as much as $500 million on non-music deals this year.

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Apple Facing Criticism for Restricting Parental Control Apps

“Can you really trust that Apple wants people to spend less time on their phones?” asked Fred Stutzman, founder and chief executive of Freedom, an app designed to limit screen time. Freedom had 770,000 downloads before Apple removed it from the App Store in August, and other app makers have similar stories. According to analysis from The New York Times and app-data firm Sensor Tower, Apple removed or restricted at least 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen time and parental-control apps as well as clamping down on similar but lesser known apps.

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Global Regulators Looking Into Facebook Privacy Practices

Regulators have reached a tipping point with Facebook after years of half-measures regarding the social media giant’s security-related missteps. Now, regulators across four continents are attempting to reign in Facebook’s behavior. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission hasn’t come to a decisive conclusion regarding what constraints to implement, but the agency is looking to address a wide range of issues, including violations reported almost monthly, according to a source close to the investigation.

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Walmart Plans to Launch Original Content For Vudu Service

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart is known for selling many things, including TVs. However, it’s not typically known for what consumers watch on those TVs. That could soon change. This week, Walmart will unveil a sampling of a new slate of original programming to advertisers in New York with the goal of driving viewership to its Vudu streaming service. Unlike other streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon, Walmart doesn’t plan to sell subscriptions. Instead, it wants to use shows to advertise products directly.

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GoPro Launches $199 Hero Camera Targeting Younger Users

GoPro just released a more affordable camera at a price point of $199 aimed at a younger audience and action-video newcomers. Simply called “Hero,” the camera looks just like other models in the Hero line and works with all of the same accessories, but it’s a simplified version. “While it doesn’t have all of the advanced features of the $399 Hero6 or the $299 Hero5, the new Hero does have many of them, making it an excellent budget choice for those eager to start playing with action cameras,” reports Wired.

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Snapchat Releasing New Tools: Group Video Chats, Mentions

Snapchat is making moves to become more conversational, more “sticky,” and to keep users engaged for longer periods of time, according to Variety. The social sharing company announced a new chat feature that allows up to 16 users to video chat through its app, and added mentions to its Snapchat Stories, allowing users to easily tag others (much like they would via Twitter). The chat feature will roll out across the globe this week and will come with filters and the ability to join by audio only as desired. Users can also reply via text messages.

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Changes to Facebook News Feed Plan to Curb Misinformation

Under pressure from lawmakers, regulators, and some of its two billion monthly active users to fight misinformation, Facebook is tweaking how information is presented on its News Feed. Users in the U.S. will now be able to easily see a news publisher’s Wikipedia page along with a given story and can see how frequently it’s been shared on the social network. Facebook is under renewed criticism following reports that Cambridge Analytica “improperly accessed data on millions of Facebook users,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

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ESPN Sets April 12 as Launch Date for New Streaming Service

ESPN+ is slated to launch on April 12th. ESPN’s new streaming service will cost $4.99 per month and will include “streaming access to live sports, original content, and on-demand programming delivered [via] a redesigned and personalized ESPN app, as well as ESPN.com,” reports TechCrunch. In August of last year, Disney made key announcements regarding plans for streaming video services: a Disney-branded platform slated for 2019, an ESPN-branded service for early 2018, and a majority stake in streaming tech company BAMTech, founded by MLB Advanced Media.

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Apple Planning to Use Its Own Chips in Macs as Early as 2020

Perhaps beginning as soon as 2020, Apple plans to use its own chips in Mac computers, which would mean replacing the currently used Intel processors, according to sources familiar with the project. “The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices — including Macs, iPhones and iPads — work more similarly and seamlessly together,” reports Bloomberg, which adds that the multistep process has been approved by executives.

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Huawei P20 Pro Phone Features Three Rear-Facing Cameras

When Huawei briefed a team from Engadget on its new P20 Pro smartphone, it dubbed the device’s Leica Triple Camera system “the most advanced camera on a phone yet,” according to a recent review on the site. The team was skeptical, but in the end, they’ve come to write about the “miraculous photos this phone is capable of taking,” even though users may need patience as they figure out the many settings and controls. “You really have to pin down the shooting options that work for you,” according to Engadget.

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