Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

All politics may be local, but you can expect less of it to be social. As of August 31, Facebook began reducing political content that appears in its News Feed. The move comes as the social media giant attempts to beat back a barrage of criticism for spreading misinformation through the use of algorithms that appear to reward click-generating controversies over level-headed dialogue. The new content modification is “in response to common feedback from our community,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Continue reading Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

President Joe Biden signed an executive order with 72 proposals and actions for a “whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy.” Among them, President Biden encourages the FCC to restore net neutrality rules undone by former President Donald Trump, to “consider limiting early termination fees and prevent Internet service providers from making deals with landlords that limit tenant choices,” and to revive the President Barack Obama era Broadband Nutrition Label and its better price transparency. Continue reading Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

Facebook Rolls Out Its Neighborhoods Feature in Four Cities

Facebook tested “Neighborhoods” in Canada and is now rolling it out in four U.S. cities: Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; Newark, New Jersey; and San Diego, California. The new feature will be playing catch-up with similar social apps, including Nextdoor (which had 50 percent annual growth in daily active users last year), Amazon’s Neighbors by Ring, and crime-tracking app Citizen. Facebook’s Neighborhoods, which asks the user to introduce himself and list interests, aims to personalize the user’s experiences and ads. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Its Neighborhoods Feature in Four Cities

Netflix Rolls Out ‘First Laughs’ Comedy Clips for Mobile Users

Netflix just added First Laughs to its iPhone app, offering comedy clips from movies, TV shows and its own stand-up comedy specials, with the full-screen vertical video running via an auto-playing feed. The company stated it will debut up to 100 curated clips per day. Fast Laughs also includes social features and lets users add titles to their watch list or start watching a program immediately. The length of each video segment will run from about 15 seconds to up to 45 seconds or longer. The idea of watching content on the go echoes TikTok and the now defunct Quibi. Continue reading Netflix Rolls Out ‘First Laughs’ Comedy Clips for Mobile Users

Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

Australia’s parliament passed the first law of its kind, requiring Facebook and Google to pay local publishers for news content on their platforms. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg noted that, “the code is a significant microeconomic reform, one that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament.” In fact, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison had discussed the new law with leaders of Canada, France, India and the United Kingdom. Facebook recently pledged to spend at least $1 billion over the next three years to license news content. Continue reading Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

Facebook and Google Respond Differently to Australian Law

Against strong pushback from Facebook and Google, Australia is on the cusp of passing a law proposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that would force both companies to pay publishers for the content on their sites. The two companies have taken significantly different paths in response to the looming law. Google debuted a three-year global agreement with News Corp to pay for content, and Facebook stated it would restrict users and publishers from viewing and sharing news links, effective immediately. Continue reading Facebook and Google Respond Differently to Australian Law

More First-Time Entrepreneurs Launching Online Businesses

More Americans are opening small online businesses, and many of them are subscribing to Shopify for tools to build their websites, accept online payments and ship and track orders. This boom is fueling Shopify’s growth, but analysts say two factors could slow it down: fewer e-commerce businesses as the pandemic dies down and the failure of many of the nascent small businesses that are subscribers. Meanwhile, Amazon has acquired Shopify rival Selz, an Australia-based company that supports small- and medium-sized e-commerce businesses. Continue reading More First-Time Entrepreneurs Launching Online Businesses

Australia Plans Law That Would Make Big Tech Pay for News

Microsoft is urging the United States to adopt Australia’s proposal that Big Tech companies pay newspapers for content, in direct opposition to the positions of Google and Facebook. In Australia, that proposal is before a parliamentary committee. Google, which is responsible for 95 percent of searches in that country, has threatened to pull its search engine should the proposal become law. Microsoft is betting that, especially if the Australians pass the law, other countries will join in demanding payment for publishers. Continue reading Australia Plans Law That Would Make Big Tech Pay for News

Huawei Appeals FCC Edict Naming It a National Security Risk

Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications company, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit asking for a review of last year’s FCC ruling that found it a national security risk. As a result of the FCC’s ruling, U.S. telecommunications operators were blocked from buying Huawei’s 5G equipment. Huawei has previously challenged numerous actions taken against it in recent years. The Trump administration blocked Huawei from accessing U.S. technology and encouraged allies to do the same. Continue reading Huawei Appeals FCC Edict Naming It a National Security Risk

U.S. and China Already in an Arms Race for 6G Technologies

Although most people do not have access to 5G networks yet, the U.S. and China are already in a race to be the first nation to develop and patent 6G, expected to be up to 100 times faster than 5G’s peak speed. Experts note that 6G is currently a “theoretical proposition” and the technology is at least 10 to 15 years away. However, the possibility that 6G can usher in “the next industrial revolution” — from flying taxis to real-time holograms — has made it a potent focus of a geopolitically-influenced race. China is currently considered the leader in 5G. Continue reading U.S. and China Already in an Arms Race for 6G Technologies

Canada Confronts Clearview AI Over Facial Recognition App

Canada has denounced facial recognition app Clearview AI and, despite the lack of legal authority, demanded that the company delete all Canadian faces from its database. Canada’s privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien stated that the company puts all of society “continually in a police lineup.” Clearview AI has scraped 3+ billion photos from social media networks and other public sites. Canada is the first country to take such a strong stand against the app that is currently in use by 2,400+ U.S. law enforcement agencies. Continue reading Canada Confronts Clearview AI Over Facial Recognition App

Productions Return Slowly in California But Boom in Canada

California Film Commission executive director Colleen Bell said Hollywood production is slowly but steadily coming back. In March, all projects approved under the California film and TV tax credit program requested force majeure to retain their tax credits, and now 10 of them have resumed production since June 12. Still, the number of on-location film permits in Los Angeles declined 7.6 percent from October to November while production in Vancouver and Toronto are at pre-pandemic levels although movie theaters are shuttered. Continue reading Productions Return Slowly in California But Boom in Canada

Canadian Law Would Impose Levy on All Streaming Services

Canada would like to levy a portion of online streaming services’ revenue to help fund domestic TV and music production. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and others would be required to meet Canadian benchmarks, such as more content to serve its French-speaking and indigenous populations. According to Canada’s broadcast regulator, streaming services’ annual revenue is about $5 billion in Canadian dollars or $3.77 billion U.S. Canada seeks “nearly C$1 billion” a year from streaming services. Continue reading Canadian Law Would Impose Levy on All Streaming Services

Netflix Growth Lags in Q3, Largely Due to More Competition

Netflix revealed it added 2.2 million subscribers in the third quarter, although it predicted in July it would add 2.5 million. The slowdown follows two quarters of growth that was much larger than anticipated and added 26 million net subscribers, nearly its entire subscription growth for 2019. On the news, shares fell 6.4 percent in after-hours trading. To boost growth, Netflix created a new promotion that will offer everyone in a country access to free service for a weekend; the promotion will first launch in India. Continue reading Netflix Growth Lags in Q3, Largely Due to More Competition

Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

Disney’s new streaming businesses — Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ — have now accrued more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. With the release of blockbuster “Hamilton” on Disney+, that service hit 60.5 million subscribers after only nine months. That was a (low-end) number that Disney originally hoped to achieve at the end of five years. Disney has also announced that it would release its $200 million feature “Mulan” on Disney+, on a premium basis rather than movie theaters, in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe. Continue reading Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

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