Major Surge in Online Sales for Black Friday, Cyber Monday

This year’s Black Friday was a marked contrast to those of previous years, due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid crowds. Brick-and-mortar stores were the losers, with Morgan Stanley analysts estimating a 20 percent drop in sales compared to last year. Instead, according to Adobe Analytics, shoppers spent $9 billion online on Friday, capturing a 21.6 percent increase from the previous year, and the second biggest number ever for online sellers. Meanwhile, consumers shelled out $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday for a new single-day sales record. Continue reading Major Surge in Online Sales for Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Facebook Struggles to Contain Health Misinformation, QAnon

According to global civic movement Avaaz, over the past year Facebook enabled 3.8 billion views of misinformation related to health, almost four times the views of sites such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This has occurred despite Facebook’s partnership with these organizations to expose users to reliable information. In another effort to squelch misinformation, Facebook removed 790 QAnon groups and restricted another 1,950 groups, 440 pages and 10,000+ Instagram accounts. Continue reading Facebook Struggles to Contain Health Misinformation, QAnon

AMC to Open Two-Thirds of Its U.S. Theaters by September 3

AMC Theatres introduced a plan to open about 100 locations as early as August 20 and two-thirds of its 600 theaters by September 3. An earlier plan to open was abandoned after strong backlash. Now, customers and employees will be required to wear masks, seating in auditoriums will be limited and the company will implement social distancing and increased cleaning. Furthermore, AMC stated that masks, which would be sold at the theater for one dollar, must “cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly around your face and chin.” Continue reading AMC to Open Two-Thirds of Its U.S. Theaters by September 3

Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force (“The Task Force”) submitted its suggested safety guidelines for the reopening of film, television and streaming industries to New York governor Andrew Cuomo and California governor Gavin Newsom. The Task Force, comprised of studios, guilds and producers, published a 22-page “Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines” white paper that includes the need for cast and crew physical distancing “whenever possible.” Industry leaders based the proposals on discussions with health experts and guidelines issued by the CDC and OSHA.  Continue reading Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

Study Reveals Growing COVID-19 Anxiety Over Public Spaces

People have been locked down due to the coronavirus for two months, but a mid-May survey from Performance Research, in partnership with Full Circle Research Co., revealed that many are still anxious about health and safety in larger public spaces. In fact, the survey indicates that, despite a strong desire to gather with others and resume normal activities, the level of anxiety for many has been building since an earlier survey taken in March. Such a trend could impact movie theaters, theme parks, sports venues, concert halls, stage performances and more.

Continue reading Study Reveals Growing COVID-19 Anxiety Over Public Spaces

Apple and Google Offer Contact Tracing Tech to Developers

Apple and Google unveiled jointly developed contact tracing technology to help the government track the spread of COVID-19. The app notifies a user if she has been exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. The technology’s protocol relies on the phone’s Bluetooth signal to identify those who have been near an infected person. So far, North Dakota, Alabama and South Carolina in the U.S. and 22 countries have asked for and received access to the technology. The app was previously released in beta. Continue reading Apple and Google Offer Contact Tracing Tech to Developers

Big Tech Offers Financial Aid, More to Help During Pandemic

Tech companies are stepping up to offer much-needed resources and financial support during the global coronavirus pandemic. TikTok recently announced three funds with plans to provide $250 million for COVID-19 relief efforts in addition to $125 million in advertising credits for health organizations and small businesses. Apple and Google have joined forces to introduce contact-tracing apps for COVID-19, while both tech giants are using a number of their apps and services to help share valuable information with the public and assist with relief efforts. Other tech companies are also offering financial help, donating medical supplies and leveraging their popularity and services to provide support. Continue reading Big Tech Offers Financial Aid, More to Help During Pandemic

Amazon Warehouses Impacted by Spread of the Coronavirus

An Amazon warehouse, AVP1, in Hazle Township, Pennsylvania is the locus of at least 21 positive COVID-19 cases, becoming what appears to be the most severe among the company’s 10 such warehouses in its U.S. fulfillment network. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opened an investigation into working conditions at AVP1 and Amazon issued a directive to let shipments from this site remain untouched for 24 hours. As cases are reported in numerous Amazon warehouses, chief executive Jeff Bezos made a surprise visit to a Dallas, Texas warehouse. Continue reading Amazon Warehouses Impacted by Spread of the Coronavirus

Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. federal government, via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local governments, is receiving analyses of people’s movements — based on location data from millions of mobile phones — in “certain areas of geographic interest.” The data, provided by the mobile advertising industry, is being used to understand how such movements may be impacting the spread of coronavirus. MIT researchers are also debuting a project to track COVID-19 patients via a phone app. Continue reading Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

Big Tech Responds to Coronavirus, Improving Its Public Image

With the advent of the coronavirus, companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google quickly responded, featuring links to “high-quality information” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). Big Tech has now donated thousands of N95 masks to healthcare providers and continues to highlight accurate news. Facebook committed $100 million in small business grants and Amazon put out the call for 100,000 new employees. Overall, Big Tech isn’t just doing good but doing well, with business holding steady. Continue reading Big Tech Responds to Coronavirus, Improving Its Public Image

Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations

In response to precautions being taken to avoid spread of the coronavirus, AMC Theatres announced that, as of yesterday, it is closing its U.S. locations for at least 6-12 weeks while remaining flexible to comply with CDC and government guidelines. “AMC Stubs A-List members will automatically have their accounts paused” for the period of closure (without billing or payments), while film fans “are encouraged to continue the AMC movie-watching experience through AMC Theatres On Demand.” AMC joins Regal Cinemas, which announced earlier that it would be closing all its theater locations “until further notice.” Continue reading Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations

CNN App Combines VOD and Live TV on One Second Screen

The CNNgo app for tablets and desktops may just be what the future of television will look like. The app opens automatically to a live feed of the current show airing on CNN, and along the bottom, viewers can browse video, text, tweets, and photos related to the live programming. Another menu shows segments about different topics from the past couple of hours or days. The app abandons the traditional linear and often problematic model of consuming television news. Continue reading CNN App Combines VOD and Live TV on One Second Screen