Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

Under pressure from European Union antitrust head Margrethe Vestager, Google will make it easier for users to choose a competitive search engine. Since Google’s record $4.8 billion fine didn’t “do the trick” to fix the problem, she proposed a “choice screen mechanism.” Beginning March 2020, Google will now offer this screen that allows users to pick a default search engine, and list rival search engines for little or no money. Google said the solution had been “developed in consultation with the European Commission.” Continue reading Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings that included testimony about how tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have collected significant quantities of data that give them a dominant market power that endangers consumer privacy. House Republicans, however, noted that strong data protection regulations in Europe, as well as other privacy regulations, could hurt competition among these companies. The hearing is the latest effort in the House’s antitrust investigation into digital giants. Continue reading House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

Facebook Falls, Amazon Rises, and Apple Holds Top Spot

In Interbrand’s latest Best Global Brands report, Facebook fell out of the top ten, dropping to 14th due to an estimated declined value of 12 percent. Amazon moved up to 3rd and The Walt Disney Company moved up to 10th. Apple remains in the top spot, with Google right behind. Previously, Facebook had grown in value each year of its existence up until 2017, when it came in 8th place on the list. But with incidents like the Cambridge Analytica scandal on its heels, the company’s value has dipped. 

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Amazon Offers Same-Day Shipping For Low-Cost Products

Amazon is stepping up its e-commerce domination with same-day shipping, even for products that cost less than $5, according to analysts at Edgewater Research. Rather than having to combine your “add-on” item to a larger purchase in order to reach a $25 minimum order to qualify for Amazon Prime shipping deals, the company is providing members with free same-day shipping, even if the only item is a $2 roll of dental floss. Amazon’s willingness to lose money on such a model illustrates its desire to compete with stores like CVS, Target and Walmart, where consumers often go for convenient purchases. Continue reading Amazon Offers Same-Day Shipping For Low-Cost Products

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

Google Updates Algorithm, Guidelines to Aid Original Stories

Publishers complain that their news scoops, when posted online, are quickly nabbed and recycled by other publications, leading to a loss in traffic. To stem the flow, Google made changes to its algorithm and its guidelines to favor original reporting. Google vice president of news Richard Gingras said that the company would make it easier for readers to “find the story that started it all.” He later added that the shift also benefited Google Search and Google News in its efforts to “retain the trust of [its] users.”

Continue reading Google Updates Algorithm, Guidelines to Aid Original Stories

Tension Over Algorithm Roils Amazon Retail, Search Teams

Amazon’s search algorithm can make or break a product. Sources are now saying that the tech behemoth adjusted its system late in 2018 so that products that bring it bigger profits get the most visibility. That could include Amazon’s own brands over products that might be more relevant and popular. The tweak in the algorithm took place against the backdrop of ongoing tensions between the executives running Amazon’s retail businesses, who wanted the switch, and those at A9, the company’s search team, who did not. Continue reading Tension Over Algorithm Roils Amazon Retail, Search Teams

Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

Democrats and Republicans have come together to examine big tech companies. Last Friday, a bipartisan group of attorneys general in eight states and the District of Columbia began an antitrust probe of Facebook, and, on Monday, another such group announced its intention to investigate Google. Sources said attorney general Ken Paxton (R-Texas) is leading the Google investigation. The Federal Trade Commission, Justice Department, and House and Senate committees are also scrutinizing the tech companies. Continue reading Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Apple has created new rules for kids apps in the App Store that will ban external analytics software and restrict the ability to sell advertisements. Considering the market dominance of the Apple App Store, developers of kids apps are worried that, starting next month when the rules go into effect, they will struggle to stay afloat. Apple said the new rules were in response to some children seeing inappropriate ads on apps and its aim to protect them from data trackers. Some privacy advocates have applauded the move. Continue reading Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

State Attorneys General Team Up to Investigate Tech Firms

After several states began pursuing an antitrust probe of the big technology companies, sources reported that representatives of several state attorneys general met with top Justice Department officials to air their concerns about the lack of competition in the technology sector. Now, according to sources, a bipartisan group of states plans to initiate a joint antitrust investigation, to be launched as soon as next month. Sources say the investigation will focus on whether dominant platforms stifle competition. Continue reading State Attorneys General Team Up to Investigate Tech Firms

FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

Federal Trade Commission chair Joe Simons stated that, in the face of anti-competitive and antitrust behavior, he would be willing to break up the big tech companies, although, “it’s not ideal because it’s messy.” He’s head of a task force to examine these behemoths, including a close look at whether Facebook acquired startups, such as Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, to stifle competition. The FTC approved both purchases. The FTC is working in parallel with the Justice Department’s antitrust unit. Continue reading FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

ASCAP, BMI Urge Government to Update Consent Decrees

ASCAP and BMI, the two largest U.S. performing rights organizations, have operated under separate 1941 consent decrees. The decrees, designed to protect competition, dictate how ASCAP and BMI (but not rivals SESAC and Global Music Rights) license music. In February, ASCAP and BMI, who are fierce competitors, urged the consent decrees to be updated or ended, and, last year, Justice Department assistant attorney general for the antitrust division Makan Delrahim vowed to examine the decrees to “determine their validity.” Continue reading ASCAP, BMI Urge Government to Update Consent Decrees

Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Under pressure from legislators and others, Facebook has taken steps to protect itself. According to sources, the company ceased talks to buy video-focused social network Houseparty to forestall increased antitrust concerns. In response to calls to break up Facebook, the company took internal measures to make that more difficult to do by reorganizing its departments and rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp. Elsewhere, the European Union is expected to issue decisions by the end of the year related to privacy issues involving Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Some Execs Oppose Rebranding of Popular Facebook Apps

Facebook is adding its name to Instagram and WhatsApp as part of a decision to unify its apps by branding them with the parent company’s name. The Facebook moniker will be visible on marketing and within the apps. Some Facebook employees purportedly oppose the move. The rebranding will bring the two popular apps in line with the naming conventions of Oculus, Portal and Workplace. The move to rebrand the two apps was first discovered in March, but at the time Facebook said it was just “testing the change” on a handful of users. Continue reading Some Execs Oppose Rebranding of Popular Facebook Apps

FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg purchased startups to forestall the competition they might pose. Sources said that the FTC is already reaching out to the founders of some of these startups. S&P Global estimates that Facebook has purchased about 90 companies over the past 15 years. Facebook isn’t alone in this behavior. A U.K. antitrust panel reported that the top five tech companies have acquired more than 400 companies over the last decade. Continue reading FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

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