EU Legislation to Ban AI for Surveillance and Social Ranking

In upcoming legislation from the European Commission, the European Union plans to ban artificial intelligence used for mass surveillance or ranking social behavior, with the rules applying equally to “companies based in the EU or abroad.” The measure could be unveiled as early as next week. Under the law, EU member states would be required to create “assessment bodies” to test, certify and inspect AI systems. In Germany, Hamburg authorities are seeking to stop Facebook from collecting user data from WhatsApp. Continue reading EU Legislation to Ban AI for Surveillance and Social Ranking

Facebook Counters AI Bias with a Data Set Featuring Actors

Facebook released an open-source AI data set of 45,186 videos featuring 3,011 U.S. actors who were paid to participate. The data set is dubbed Casual Conversations because the diverse group was recorded giving unscripted answers to questions about age and gender. Skin tone and lighting conditions were also annotated by humans. Biases have been a problem in AI-enabled technologies such as facial recognition. Facebook is encouraging teams to use the new data set. Most AI data sets comprise people unaware they are being recorded. Continue reading Facebook Counters AI Bias with a Data Set Featuring Actors

Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

Facebook’s R&D group NPE Team (New Product Experimentation) debuted the public beta of Hotline, a web-based application that allows creators to speak to an audience that can pose questions via text or audio. The first to try out Hotline was real estate investor Nick Huber who, via a livestream, talked about investing in industrial real estate as a secondary income. NPE Team identified Huber as an ideal Hotline user who would use it to expand professional skills or finances. Hotline is led by Facebook product developer Erik Hazzard. Continue reading Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

A new report from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of U.S. adults use social media, a number that has been stable over the past five years. The survey drilled down into use of a variety of individual sites and apps, finding that YouTube and Facebook still are dominant, with 81 percent and 69 percent respectively of those surveyed reporting using those sites. YouTube and Reddit were the only platforms that saw “statistically significant” growth since 2019. Forty percent said they ever use Instagram. Continue reading Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

Facebook, Apple, Niantic Develop AR Glasses for Consumers

New augmented reality glasses intended for consumers are on the horizon. Facebook plans to release a version in partnership with EssilorLuxottica’s Ray-Ban brand and is developing AR glasses that work with sensor-enabled wristbands. Meanwhile, Niantic and Qualcomm have teamed to manufacture AR glasses, and Apple is working on an AR headset for consumers, to be followed by AR glasses. Snap is also developing AR glasses aimed at consumers. Google, which debuted Google Glass in 2013, is also said to be planning another attempt at the consumer market. Continue reading Facebook, Apple, Niantic Develop AR Glasses for Consumers

Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Spotify acquired Clubhouse rival Betty Labs, which produces live sports audio app Locker Room, for an undisclosed amount of money. Although Locker Room will stay live in the App Store, Spotify will rebrand it with a new name and broaden its focus to include music and culture as well as sports. In addition to the iOS version, Spotify will eventually add an Android version. LinkedIn and Facebook are also developing live audio features as the trend continues to gain traction. These apps would compete with existing platforms Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Discord. Continue reading Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Cameo Connects Celebs with Fans, Reaches $1B+ Valuation

Chicago-based Baron App Inc. launched Cameo four years ago to enable celebrities to sell messages and personalized videos to fans, for anywhere from $5 to $2,500+. The company recently tripled its 2019 valuation of about $300 million to $1+ billion, with a $100 million funding round led by e.ventures and participation by SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund 2, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, United Talent Agency and Alphabet’s venture-capital arm GV. Baron App previously raised $50 million for Cameo in 2019. Continue reading Cameo Connects Celebs with Fans, Reaches $1B+ Valuation

Forecast: Global E-Commerce to Reach $1.4 Trillion by 2025

Euromonitor International conducted a study in October on the rise of e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic and found that 74 percent of worldwide retail and consumer brand experts believe the trend will become permanent. The study projected that between 2020 and 2025 half of the absolute value growth for the global retail sector will be digital, equating to $1.4 trillion. Of that, the United States and China will be responsible for 55 percent of the value growth. Latin America also experienced significant e-commerce growth in 2020. Continue reading Forecast: Global E-Commerce to Reach $1.4 Trillion by 2025

Advertisers Strategize as Apple Rolls Out Its Privacy Initiative

Apple will finally roll out its app-tracking transparency initiative to protect user privacy. With new software, users will be asked in a pop-up window whether they want a given app to be able to track their activities. Advertisers, ad-tech companies and app developers are preparing ways to weather the change, which could include tweaked payment models and new advertising strategies. Many experts expect users to reject tracking. Facebook plans to debut its own pop-up window telling users the benefits of tracking. Continue reading Advertisers Strategize as Apple Rolls Out Its Privacy Initiative

Verizon to Launch Media Hub with Yahoo Branded Products

Verizon Media Group has three million subscribers across its Yahoo-related products such as Yahoo Fantasy and Yahoo Finance. In the future, explained Verizon Media head of consumer Joanna Lambert, the company’s media products will all be rebranded under the Yahoo rubric and reside in a subscription hub dubbed Yahoo Plus. Lambert said its non-Yahoo brands will, over time, also be centralized around Yahoo. For example, RYOT has already been rebranded Yahoo Ryot Lab and the women’s media brand MAKERS will be known as MAKERS by Yahoo. Continue reading Verizon to Launch Media Hub with Yahoo Branded Products

Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

Prior to a House hearing on social media’s role in extremism and disinformation, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg submitted written testimony on Section 230, suggesting that “platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it.” Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act holds that platforms are not liable for content posted by their users. In a bipartisan effort, lawmakers are pushing for change. “Our nation is drowning in disinformation driven by social media,” suggested Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania). “We will legislate to stop this.” Continue reading Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

Coalition of Privacy, Consumer Groups Attacks Targeted Ads

A coalition of 30+ privacy, consumer and anti-monopoly groups launched this week with one purpose in mind: to stop targeted and behavioral advertising, a practice the coalition describes as “surveillance advertising.” In a letter, the coalition said that, “social media giants are eroding our consensus reality and threatening public safety in service of a toxic, extractive business model.” Further, it said, Big Tech acts “to stoke discrimination, division, and delusion.” Facebook and Google are the dominant digital advertising behemoths. Continue reading Coalition of Privacy, Consumer Groups Attacks Targeted Ads

New NFL Deal Is Part of Amazon’s Plans to Increase Content

Amazon inked a deal to make its Prime Video service home to the National Football League’s “Thursday Night Football” by 2023. Amazon paid an “average annual fee” of about $1 billion, making it the company’s biggest such deal to date. Currently, Amazon ranks third in digital advertising, after Google and Facebook, but the exclusive NFL games will likely supercharge viewing and advertising. Recently, Amazon also signed deals to put its free ad-supported IMDb TV into more homes and ordered a spin-off of popular show “Bosch.” Continue reading New NFL Deal Is Part of Amazon’s Plans to Increase Content

Facebook’s Red Team X Finds Bugs in Third Party Products

Facebook’s Red Team is tasked with spotting vulnerabilities on the platform before hackers do. Many tech companies have similar red teams but, at Facebook, Red Team manage Nat Hirsch and his colleague Vlad Ionescu saw an opportunity to do more after COVID-19 hit. Established last spring and headed by Ionescu, Facebook’s Red Team X both works independently with its internal, original Red Team and looks into weaknesses of third-party products that represent a potential threat to its own platform. Continue reading Facebook’s Red Team X Finds Bugs in Third Party Products

New TikTok Personalized Ad Policy Ends Choice to Opt Out

Beginning April 15, TikTok’s policy on personalized ads is changing. According to notices that TikTok users are seeing on their feeds, personalized ads will be mandatory — and users will no longer have the ability to opt out of such ads based on their actions — although the users will still be able to opt out of ads based on data TikTok gets from its advertising partners. Not included in this policy change are users in the European Union who are protected from personalized ads by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that requires user consent for such ads. Continue reading New TikTok Personalized Ad Policy Ends Choice to Opt Out

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