Facebook Product Experimentation Team Open for Business

According to sources, Facebook’s new division dubbed the New Product Experimentation Team (or NPE Team) is looking into the possibility of creating apps and podcasts for travel, newsletters and workplace services. The NPE Team is tasked with “building the future of Facebook,” as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg hopes to keep the social media platform central to peoples’ daily lives. Other social networks such as Myspace and Friendster failed when they did not evolve beyond their initial offerings. Continue reading Facebook Product Experimentation Team Open for Business

Facebook Takes Additional Steps to Address Data Concerns

Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg warned antitrust regulators that data is not a simple resource that can be easily monopolized but a more complicated commodity that can be shared and kept simultaneously. He urged officials to “relinquish” the idea that data is a finite resource that can be used in finite ways. Facebook and Google are facing scrutiny by the U.S. Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and European Commission. Meanwhile, Facebook is also testing a data portability tool. Continue reading Facebook Takes Additional Steps to Address Data Concerns

Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract For The Web Is a Plan to Save It

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, co-founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, has a new “global action” plan to save the Internet from what he dubs a “digital dystopia.” His Contract for the Web would require governments, companies and individuals to pledge and act to protect the Internet from abuse and “ensure it benefits humanity.” “We need to turn the Web around now,” said Berners-Lee, who noted that, “people’s fear of bad things happening on the Internet is becoming, justifiably, greater and greater.” Continue reading Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract For The Web Is a Plan to Save It

Facebook and Academics Use AI to Generate Game Worlds

Facebook, the University of Lorraine and the University College London published a paper that detailed how they researched a way to use artificial intelligence to create complex game worlds. Building video game environments has always been time-consuming, but this group’s approach — using content from the fantasy text-based multiplayer adventure “LIGHT” — demonstrated how machine learning algorithms can learn to “assemble different elements, arranging locations and populating them with characters and objects.” Continue reading Facebook and Academics Use AI to Generate Game Worlds

Big Tech, DARPA Ramp Up Deepfake Research, Detection

Movies and TV shows have combined real and CG images for decades, for the purpose of entertainment. But we’re seeing the rise of deepfakes, which mix fake and real elements in still images or videos with a malignant or harmful aim. Many Big Tech companies that have benefited from letting users post and share photos are now turning their attention to battling deepfakes. According to cybersecurity startup Deeptrace, the number of deepfakes online has nearly doubled to 14,678 from December 2018 to August 2019. Continue reading Big Tech, DARPA Ramp Up Deepfake Research, Detection

Google Reconsiders Micro-Targeted Ads Ahead of Election

Google is tweaking its policies in advance of the 2020 presidential election. The company has decided to restrict just how minutely political advertisers can target an online audience. While advertisers will still be able to target ads based on age, gender, location and content of the websites that users visited, they will no longer be able to target audiences based on public voter records or political affiliations described as “left-leaning,” “right-leaning” or “independent.” Meanwhile, social giant Facebook is considering a similar move. Continue reading Google Reconsiders Micro-Targeted Ads Ahead of Election

WhatsApp and Twitter Manipulated for Political Campaigns

Evidence of social media manipulation for political gain is increasing. In Brazil, in response to an investigation into the spread of misinformation during the last presidential campaign, WhatsApp revealed it banned 400,000+ accounts between August 15 and October 28, 2018, which had “breached its terms of service,” with mass mailings. In the U.K., during a debate between the prime minister and head of the opposition party, the former’s party rebranded its Twitter account with the aim of misleading the public. Continue reading WhatsApp and Twitter Manipulated for Political Campaigns

Yahoo Japan and Line to Merge, Plan For New ‘Super App’

SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son has developed a plan to create an Internet company that could rival Big Tech companies Amazon and Google. Son wants to combine Yahoo Japan with Line Corp., a public company that SoftBank and South Korean corporation Naver Corp. plan to take private. The two would then be merged in a joint venture dubbed Z Holdings, scheduled to close by October 2020 given shareholder approval. The combined companies would share engineering resources and data and invest in artificial intelligence. Continue reading Yahoo Japan and Line to Merge, Plan For New ‘Super App’

TikTok Is a Hit in India: 400 Million Downloads in Two Years

Although U.S. lawmakers are suspicious of the popular Chinese app TikTok, in India, people are mad for it, particularly those who are young, unemployed and new to the Internet. To stoke the growing enthusiasm, TikTok owner’s ByteDance has pledged to invest $1 billion and build a data center. TikTok India director of sales/ partnerships Sachin Sharma reported that users range from farmers to rich people showing off their Lamborghinis. TikTok is ideal for a market that avoids English and is uncomfortable with search. Continue reading TikTok Is a Hit in India: 400 Million Downloads in Two Years

Big Tech Firms Pursue Financial Services Despite Setbacks

When Walmart started a bank in the early 2000s, states passed laws to ban branches and Congress drafted a law to ban retailers from opening banks. Almost ten years later, Walmart threw in the towel, with its president for financial services Jane Thompson vowing the company would never try it again. That hasn’t stopped Google from announcing it will begin to offer checking accounts next year. Uber wants to open Uber Money, a bank for its drivers (and perhaps riders) and Facebook debuted Facebook Pay. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Pursue Financial Services Despite Setbacks

Microsoft Pairs Azure Cloud Platform, Graphcore AI Chips

Microsoft will begin providing customers of its Azure cloud platform with chips made by U.K. startup Graphcore, with the goal of speeding up the computations for artificial intelligence projects. Graphcore, founded in Bristol in 2016, has attracted several hundred million dollars in investment and the attention of many AI researchers. Microsoft invested in Graphcore last December, with the hope of making its cloud services more compelling. Graphcore’s chips have not previously been available publicly. Continue reading Microsoft Pairs Azure Cloud Platform, Graphcore AI Chips

Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Magic Leap, Microsoft and Snap are among the Big Tech companies working on creating smart glasses that we can wear everywhere — and that may even replace our smartphones. Currently, glasses are too big (and expensive), but in time are expected to achieve a sleeker form factor and come down in price. Smart glasses promise to dramatically shift how we engage with the world, and some advocates believe we will eventually be able to replace every screen we use with a single pair of glasses. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Facebook Debuts Payments System For Its Platform, Apps

Facebook unveiled Facebook Pay, a system to enable payments across its own platform as well as Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. The user will be able to send money to people, shop and donate to fundraisers. According to the company, Facebook Pay, which is completely separate from the company’s newly released Calibra wallet and Libra cryptocurrency network, is built on “existing financial infrastructure and partnerships.” Facebook Pay for Facebook and Messenger will debut in the U.S. this week. Continue reading Facebook Debuts Payments System For Its Platform, Apps

In U.S. and Europe, Some Oppose the Breakup of Big Tech

Many public figures have called for the breakup of leading technology companies, but the European Commission’s head of competition Margrethe Vestager is not one of them. She stated that breaking up such companies should be a remedy if it’s “the only solution to [their] illegal behavior.” “We don’t have that kind of case now,” she said, although she didn’t exclude a future possibility. In the U.S., conservatives and libertarians, who often oppose antitrust measures, are also pushing back against the move to break up Big Tech. Continue reading In U.S. and Europe, Some Oppose the Breakup of Big Tech

California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

California attorney general Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court to obtain Facebook documents and email correspondence between chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Becerra revealed that, over an 18-month period, Facebook has “ignored or resisted” his dozens of requests for these documents. Meanwhile, internal Facebook documents recently made public revealed the company was more interested in defeating rivals than improving customer privacy. Continue reading California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

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