Snapchat Offers Tools for Parents, AR Studio for Advertisers

In the wake of a Congressional inquiry regarding the safety of minors using online platforms, Snapchat is preparing to debut “family engagement” tools, according to Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. Speaking at WSJ Tech Live, Spiegel said the features will allow parents greater control as to how children use the service. Spiegel emphasized privacy as built-in to Snapchat, noting “we never market our service to people under the age of 13.” Keen to market to millennials and Gen Zers, Snap also announced this week it’s launching Arcadia, a global creative studio focused on developing augmented reality advertising and experiences for brands. Continue reading Snapchat Offers Tools for Parents, AR Studio for Advertisers

Bipartisan Congressional Effort Afoot for Tougher Tech Laws

Riding the momentum of Washington hearings and media criticism, legislators are pushing forward various bills to regulate Big Tech. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) led fellow Senators in pushing legislation that would prevent tech platforms from favoring their own products and services, lending weight to efforts already progressing in the House. House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders have put forward their own proposal to prevent social-media companies from boosting circulation of harmful content. At the forefront are initiatives to limit the collection of personal info from minors, as well as restrictions on marketing to children. Continue reading Bipartisan Congressional Effort Afoot for Tougher Tech Laws

Alphabet CEO Calls for Government Action in Tech Innovation

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent Alphabet, is urging the U.S. government to step up innovation and more actively police cyberthreats. In a year beset with security breaches attributed to Russian and Chinese hackers, Pichai says it’s time to draft a Geneva Convention for technology, outlining international legal standards, safeguards and behavioral norms for the connected age. Pichai also made an appeal for state-sponsored innovation in the face of competition from China, where the Communist Party under President Xi Jinping has outlined plans to advance artificial intelligence and develop a proprietary semiconductor sector. Continue reading Alphabet CEO Calls for Government Action in Tech Innovation

Lawmakers See Solution in Regulating Facebook’s Algorithm

U.S. lawmakers agitated by the recent testimony of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and related media reports are homing in on the social network’s News Feed algorithm as ripe for regulation, although First Amendment questions loom. The past year has seen Congress introduce or reintroduce no fewer than five bills that expressly focus on software coding that decides who sees what content on social media platforms. In addition to the U.S., laws advancing the idea of regulating such algorithms are gaining momentum in the European Union, Britain and China. Continue reading Lawmakers See Solution in Regulating Facebook’s Algorithm

Facebook Vies with Whistleblower to Spin Latest News Cycle

Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg in a round of Sunday morning news appearances advocated his company’s position in the midst of senatorial attack, discussing new safety tools and emphasizing the company’s repeated requests for congressional guidelines. Means to deflect users from harmful content, curb political content and put programming power in the hands of parents were among the new measures by which to impede vulnerabilities. Instagram in particular will invite adult supervision over accounts belonging to minors. Clegg stressed Instagram Kids for 13-and-under as part of the solution. Continue reading Facebook Vies with Whistleblower to Spin Latest News Cycle

Facebook Whistleblower Fuels Interest in Tougher Tech Laws

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s Senate testimony Tuesday appears to have fueled congressional desire to pass new regulations on Big Tech. At a hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online,” the inquiry expanded well beyond teens’ mental health, ranging from obsequious algorithms to Chinese surveillance of Uyghur populations, COVID-19 vaccine disinformation and speech leading to January’s Capitol insurrection. Calling Facebook “morally bankrupt,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said “Big Tech is facing its Big Tobacco moment,” and urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify. Continue reading Facebook Whistleblower Fuels Interest in Tougher Tech Laws

Whistleblower Contends Facebook Values Profits Over Safety

Whistleblower Frances Haugen said on “60 Minutes” Sunday night that Facebook was cognizant of problems with apps, including Instagram, that allowed misinformation to be spread and caused societal harm, especially among young girls. Haugen revealed on the CBS news show to be the source of documents leaked to The Wall Street Journal that led to congressional inquiry. She also filed eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging Facebook hid research from investors and the public. The former product manager worked for nearly two years on the civic integrity team before exiting the social network in May. Continue reading Whistleblower Contends Facebook Values Profits Over Safety

FTC Is Considering the Need for Stricter Online Privacy Rules

The Federal Trade Commission is looking into establishing stronger online privacy protections that would hold businesses such as Facebook, Google and Twitter more responsible for how they handle consumer data. The early discussions, under the leadership of new chair and vocal Big Tech critic Lina Khan, are addressing the possibility of introducing FTC regulation due to what is perceived as gridlock in Congress in creating a federal law. Privacy and civil rights groups have advocated for a single federal law — similar to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — rather than state laws (or no regulation at all). Continue reading FTC Is Considering the Need for Stricter Online Privacy Rules

Facebook Hits Pause on Instagram App for Users 13 & Under

Facing a Congressional hearing on the potential harmful effects of Instagram on teenage girls, Facebook announced it is pausing work on Instagram Kids, intended for children 13 and under. Facebook says it still plans to build a more age-appropriate Instagram but is holding off in the face of what has become a public relations crisis for the company. “This will give us time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today,” explained Instagram head Adam Mosseri. Continue reading Facebook Hits Pause on Instagram App for Users 13 & Under

XCheck System Is Scrutinized by Facebook Oversight Board

Facebook’s semi-independent Oversight Board is scrutinizing the company’s XCheck (or cross-check) system, which permits famous or powerful users to be held to more lenient behavior rules than other users. The inquiry, which calls out “apparent inconsistencies” in the social media firm’s decision-making, follows an investigative report by The Wall Street Journal. XCheck was initially designed as a quality control system for sanctions against high-profile users, including celebrities, politicians and journalists. It eventually grew to encompass millions of accounts, some of whom were “whitelisted,” which rendered them immune from disciplinary actions. Continue reading XCheck System Is Scrutinized by Facebook Oversight Board

Facebook Apologizes for Providing Researchers Flawed Data

Facebook apologized to researchers this week for data released years ago but only recently outed as inaccurately representing how U.S. users interact with posts and links. Reaching out via email and on a conference call with 47 people, the social media giant attempted to mitigate the harm caused by academics and analysts who have already spent about two years studying what they now say, and Facebook seems to agree, is flawed data about how misinformation spreads on its platform. The problem was identified as Facebook having underreported by about half the number of U.S. users and their data. Continue reading Facebook Apologizes for Providing Researchers Flawed Data

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

Federal Judge Rules AI-Enabled Machines Are Not Inventors

U.S. District judge Leonie Brinkema just ruled that an artificial intelligence-enabled computer cannot be listed as an inventor on patents and that only humans can be inventors under U.S. law. That’s because, according to Federal law, an “individual” must take an oath that he/she is the inventor and the term “individual” is legally defined as a natural person. The ruling was in response to University of Surrey law professor Ryan Abbott’s effort, the Artificial Inventor Project, to get a computer listed as an inventor. Continue reading Federal Judge Rules AI-Enabled Machines Are Not Inventors

Twitter Chooses Crypto Developer to Lead Its Bluesky Project

Twitter has selected startup founder and cryptocurrency developer Jay Graber to head up its open-source project Bluesky. Although Twitter funds Bluesky, it will operate independently of the social giant. Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey stated that Bluesky is his “biggest focus right now,” and Graber explained that she is “excited to take on this role and build the future of social media.” Dorsey established Bluesky to create protocol technology that would break down the boundaries between various social media services. Continue reading Twitter Chooses Crypto Developer to Lead Its Bluesky Project

Intel Chief Promotes Chipmaking Plan to U.S., Global Leaders

Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger and board members met with the Biden administration to promote his company’s plan to build more semiconductor factories with subsidies from the U.S. government. Currently, Asian-owned chip factories, which receive hefty incentives, dominate chip production. There’s also an “unprecedented” global shortage of chips, which is impacting the auto and consumer appliance industries. Gelsinger was hired this year to improve the fortunes of the beleaguered Intel. Continue reading Intel Chief Promotes Chipmaking Plan to U.S., Global Leaders