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Microsoft Announces Launch of Azure Blockchain Services

In the past year, Microsoft has demonstrated a focus on blockchain technology. It previously launched a blockchain developer kit along with its Azure Blockchain Workbench. Just last week, ahead of its Build developer conference, Microsoft announced the launch of Azure Blockchain Services, a “fully managed service that allows for the formation, management, and governance of consortium blockchain networks” which are “meant to help businesses build applications on top of blockchain technology,” according to TechCrunch.

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Facebook Is Developing Cryptocurrency Payments System

Facebook is currently recruiting financial firms and online merchants to launch a “cryptocurrency-based payments system on the back of its gigantic social network,” reports The Wall Street Journal. At its center is a digital coin that users would be able to send to one another and use to make purchases on Facebook and on the broader Internet. This has the potential to significantly disrupt, or even up-end, “the traditional, lucrative plumbing of e-commerce and would likely be the most mainstream application yet of cryptocurrency.”

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Spotify Tests Voice-Enabled Ads on Mobile Devices in U.S.

If you — like millions of others — log into Spotify via a free mobile account (and if you’re in the U.S. and have enabled voice controls), you might start noticing something new: voice-enabled ads. As part of increased investment in voice technology, the streaming service started a test period of these new ads, which encourage listeners to say verbal commands to take action based on the ad’s content. For now, Spotify is focused on promoted in-app content like branded playlists and podcasts, instead of directing listeners outside the app.

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Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

With an emphasis on privacy, Facebook made a series of compelling announcements at its annual F8 developer conference this week. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg detailed six core principles that will be embedded across the company’s services: private interactions, improved data encryption, interoperability, general safety, reducing permanence and secure data storage. The principles arrive following a difficult period for the social giant, as it continues to face criticism regarding privacy-related scandals while contending with increased scrutiny from global regulators. Read more

Facebook Using Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Bias/Abuse

At this week’s annual Facebook F8 developer conference in San Jose, California, company CTO Mike Schroepfer discussed the progress being made by internal teams dedicated to reducing the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and abuse on the social platform using various artificial intelligence techniques. In the course of a single quarter, according to Schroepfer, Facebook takes down more than a billion “spammy” accounts, more than 700 million fake accounts, and tens of millions of items containing violent content or nudity.

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