Twitter Asks Developers to ID ‘Good Bots’ Using New Badge

Twitter is testing a new feature that allows bots to self-identify with a label on their account profiles. Although the feature will allow users to differentiate automated accounts that perform legitimate services — such as retweeting news, providing customer service, PSAs or community alerts — it will not flag the problematic “bad bots” that spread misinformation and spam. Last year, Twitter requested developers specify if an account was a bot, who was powering it and its intended use. The new automated accounts to designate “good bots” will be issued to more than 500 accounts for testing and feedback before they are made available to all developers. Continue reading Twitter Asks Developers to ID ‘Good Bots’ Using New Badge

Pixalate Raises $18.1M to Combat Click Tricks and Ad Fraud

Analytics firm Pixalate has announced $18.1 million in growth capital for connected TV and mobile advertising initiatives. The new round brings total capital raised to $22.7 million for the 9-year-old firm, which specializes in fraud prevention, privacy protection and legal compliance via offices in Santa Monica, Palo Alto and London. The move comes as Pixalate rises to meet the challenges of enterprise clients fending off bot attacks, ad fraud and other malicious threats. Malware incursions by intruders like Puppeteer siphon tens of millions of dollars in annual ad revenue, according to Pixalate. Continue reading Pixalate Raises $18.1M to Combat Click Tricks and Ad Fraud

Google Expands Workspace Features and Opens to All Users

Google is providing full access to Workspace (formerly G Suite) for its 3+ billion existing users in consumer, enterprise and education markets. Users turn on Google Chat in Gmail to enable the full experience. Although Google Drive and Docs have already been free, Workspace brings features such as smart suggestions in emails and documents. Google is also debuting Google Workspace Individual, a paid version aimed at small business owners, offering “booking services, professional video meetings, personalized email marketing” and more. Continue reading Google Expands Workspace Features and Opens to All Users

Ex-Facebook Scientist Reveals Slow Action on Fake Accounts

A recently fired Facebook data scientist, Sophie Zhang, sent a 6,600-word memo giving specific examples of how the social media company ignored or was slow to act on solid information on fake accounts undermining global politics and elections. That included her proof that, in Azerbaijan and Honduras, government leaders and political parties used fake accounts to shift public opinion. She found similar evidence of coordinated campaigns to impact candidates or elections in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Spain and Ukraine. Continue reading Ex-Facebook Scientist Reveals Slow Action on Fake Accounts

Russia Pushes More Disinformation via Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter reported that the Internet Research Agency in Russia, which reportedly interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, is again using fake accounts and created Peace Data, a fake left-wing website. With the likely goal of influencing the 2020 election, it is believed to be spreading disinformation about Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden. U.S. intelligence agencies have warned for months about Russian meddling. Both social platforms have already taken steps to address such disinformation; most recently, Facebook announced plans to block political ads one week before the November election and Twitter is adding more context to Trending Topics. Continue reading Russia Pushes More Disinformation via Facebook and Twitter

Twitter Debuts Reply Feature to Prevent Chronic Harassment

After testing earlier this year, Twitter has introduced settings that allow users to control who can reply to tweets. Twitter is responding to widespread pressure to combat chronic hate speech, misogyny and harassment. Twitter director of product management Suzanne Xie wrote that, “we’ve seen people use these settings to have conversations that weren’t really possible before,” adding that, “starting today, everyone will be able to use these settings so unwanted replies don’t get in the way of meaningful conversations.” Continue reading Twitter Debuts Reply Feature to Prevent Chronic Harassment

Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

Byte, a video-sharing app created by Dom Hofmann, debuted Friday and hit No. 1 for free iOS apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store. Byte, which targets rival ByteDance’s TikTok, is a reboot of the former Vine video-sharing service Hofmann co-founded in 2012 and sold to Twitter that year. Twitter couldn’t find a way to make Vine profitable and shuttered it in 2016. In its short life, Vine became a “cultural touchpoint” as users took on the creative challenge of the six-second format. Byte is also the top free iOS app in Canada. Continue reading Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

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

Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Up until now, massive conglomerates have dominated robotics, but that’s about to change, as the cost of hardware production plunges (due to globalization) and computing and cloud solutions become cheaper, more powerful and easy to ramp up. That’s given rise to Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions, in which vertical-specific hardware and software are bundled and sold in monthly subscription packages. At the same time, California enacted a new law that would require a bot to reveal its “artificial identity.” Continue reading Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Lawmakers Aim to Control Malicious Content Enabled by AI

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee began a series of hearings to look into “emerging technological breakthroughs” to control malicious content posted on digital platforms by AI-enabled software including bots. Facebook head of global policy management Monika Bickert testified that the company has prioritized the development of such tools. Chief information officers at numerous tech companies are paying attention, worried that lawmakers are considering regulating the use of AI. Continue reading Lawmakers Aim to Control Malicious Content Enabled by AI

Bots Take On Gamers to Help Advance Artificial Intelligence

At DeepMind, Alphabet’s AI labs, researchers built virtual video-game players that master the game by playing other bots. Most of the time, the bots played a capture-the-flag video game better than human game testers who are professional. DeepMind researcher Max Jaderberg said that the work, first described in the company blog last year, is moving towards “developing the fundamental algorithms” that could in the future lead to a “more human intelligence.” Not every lab, however, can afford the compute power required. Continue reading Bots Take On Gamers to Help Advance Artificial Intelligence

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. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

AI-Powered Tools Assist Human Reporting at News Outlets

Robot reporters are on the rise, in use at Bloomberg News, The Associated Press, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times among other news outlets. The Cyborg system helps Bloomberg reporters produce thousands of articles on company earnings and analyze/write financial reports very quickly. Not only do business reporters find this kind of writing dull, but Cyborg’s speed helps it compete with rival Reuters. The other news outlets above use robots to report on sports, although the LAT relies on them for earthquakes. Continue reading AI-Powered Tools Assist Human Reporting at News Outlets

New York Settles with Devumi, Purveyor of Social Media Bots

The state of New York reached a settlement, announced attorney general Letitia James, with Devumi, a company that sold fake followers on Twitter and other social media platforms. Her investigation was prompted by a New York Times report about how the then-Florida-based Devumi raked in millions of dollars selling social media bots to at least 200,000 customers, among them businesses, politicians, reality TV stars, professional athletes, comedians, models and pornographic actors in New York and other states. Continue reading New York Settles with Devumi, Purveyor of Social Media Bots

Have You Been Hacked? Very Likely In Light of Mega-Breach

Security researcher Troy Hunt, who offers a way to search if your email addresses or passwords have been breached, maintains Collection #1, the largest breach ever, which holds 772,904,991 unique emails and 21 million unique passwords, all of which have been recently posted to a hacking forum. Those numbers represent a “cleaned-up” version of the raw data, which comprise 2.7 billion rows of email addresses and passwords, including over one billion unique combinations of hacked emails and passwords. Continue reading Have You Been Hacked? Very Likely In Light of Mega-Breach

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