Oculus Quest to Launch With YouTube VR’s Million Videos

When Facebook’s Oculus Quest debuts on May 21, Google’s YouTube VR and its more than one million public VR videos will be available as an app. The app — first launched in 2016 — is already released for Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View. YouTube VR will allow Quest headset wearers to search for videos via voice and find VR (and non-VR) YouTube content with a “VR-optimized interface.” The VR movie theater Bigscreen will also launch on Oculus Quest and the Rift S headsets. Continue reading Oculus Quest to Launch With YouTube VR’s Million Videos

Microsoft Debuts Project to Adopt Blockchain for Digital IDs

Last year, Microsoft described the idea of a “self-sovereign digital identity,” and has now introduced a project that would shift login credentials to blockchain. With this model, users — not Microsoft — would be responsible for their own digital identities and the portable credentials would, in principle, allow access to numerous applications. Advocates of blockchain champion the concept as more private, preventing anyone from following the user’s activity on the Internet and limiting the opportunity for hacks. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts Project to Adopt Blockchain for Digital IDs

Microsoft Warns Windows Bug May Be Abused by Hackers

Facebook, Intel and Microsoft announced bugs in their software this week. Facebook patched WhatsApp to prevent hackers from using it to install spyware on mobile phones. Intel described its efforts to fix a problem with its chipsets that allow attackers to access private data. Now Microsoft warned that it just patched a bug similar to the WannaCry ransomware crypto-worm that attacked computers around the globe in 2017. The company said that, to its knowledge, no one yet had exploited the Windows vulnerability. Continue reading Microsoft Warns Windows Bug May Be Abused by Hackers

Amazon, Google Overlap in E-Commerce, Digital Ads, More

Amazon and Google have become more competitive over the years, and at the latter’s annual Google Marketing Live conference this week, the company introduced new products to target online shoppers. At the same time, many shoppers now begin their search on Amazon, which has also been making inroads into Google’s traditional bailiwick of digital advertising. Marketing analytics firm Jumpstart reported that, in 2015, about 54 percent of product searches began on Google, and 46 percent on Amazon; those numbers flipped by 2018. Continue reading Amazon, Google Overlap in E-Commerce, Digital Ads, More

Spotify Testing New ‘Storyline’ Feature, Similar to ‘Stories’

Somewhat similar to its “Behind the Lyrics” feature, music streaming giant Spotify is now launching “Storyline,” a new feature meant to offer artists a platform to share insights, inspiration and more about their creative processes and the meanings of lyrics, songs and albums. The new feature is also similar to the “Stories” format that has been popularized by social apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and others, opening up a potential avenue for Spotify to create original content via a popular format.

Continue reading Spotify Testing New ‘Storyline’ Feature, Similar to ‘Stories’

Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

According to a new report from research firm IDC, consumer interest has waned recently for smartphone-dependent VR devices, while tethered and standalone models are growing more popular. IDC surveyed 1,643 VR users across France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and learned that the number of “high-performance” VR headsets increased 60 percent from 2017 to 3.9 million devices in 2018. The study identified different categories of users, based on their amount of time spent with VR devices, including a “hardcore” group (12 percent) that spent 16 or more hours monthly with VR. Continue reading Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Hackers have reportedly been injecting Israeli spyware onto smartphones via the popular Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp. The surveillance software, named Pegasus, was developed by Israeli firm NSO Group and can access an iPhone with a single missed voice call on WhatsApp. NSO claims that it carefully vets its customers; the company’s software is intended for government agencies to combat crime and terrorism. While it is currently unknown how many users may have been affected at this point (the problem was first discovered in early May), WhatsApp says it has created a patch to address the vulnerability. Continue reading WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Facebook’s Instagram Working on Effort to Step Up Security

Since 2016, Facebook has referred questionable posts to fact-checking teams at news organizations to determine if they contain misinformation. Now, Instagram (owned by Facebook), has started a similar policy, using image recognition to identify posts with possible misinformation. Those posts are then sent to Facebook’s fact-checkers for review and if determined problematic, they’re no longer recommended on the Explore tab or hashtag pages. While the posts are not removed and remain in users’ main feeds or Stories carousels, Instagram is introducing a new policy to remove accounts after repeated violations.

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Amazon to Pay U.S. Publishers For International Expansion

Amazon is currently pitching U.S.-based publishers like The New York Times and BuzzFeed on deals that would reward them for expanding internationally. As it currently works, Amazon pays Internet publishers that use affiliate links on their sites. When consumers click, visit Amazon, and make a purchase, the publishers get paid. Amazon seeks to expand its own international presence via the publishers getting more readers outside of the U.S., and it’s willing to cut deals to give publishers money up front rather than waiting until purchases.

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Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

As part of a range of efforts to show that it has taken regulator and governmental concerns seriously, Facebook has set up an operations center in its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland ahead of the upcoming European Union’s parliamentary election, which is scheduled for May 23-26 across 28 countries. Employees will monitor and clear Facebook of misinformation, fake accounts, and any signs of foreign meddling aimed at swaying election results. Facebook recently set up a similar post in Singapore for elections in India.

Continue reading Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

Facebook Is Developing Cryptocurrency Payments System

Facebook is currently recruiting financial firms and online merchants to launch a “cryptocurrency-based payments system on the back of its gigantic social network,” reports The Wall Street Journal. At its center is a digital coin that users would be able to send to one another and use to make purchases on Facebook and on the broader Internet. This has the potential to significantly disrupt, or even up-end, “the traditional, lucrative plumbing of e-commerce and would likely be the most mainstream application yet of cryptocurrency.”

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Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

With an emphasis on privacy, Facebook made a series of compelling announcements at its annual F8 developer conference this week. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg detailed six core principles that will be embedded across the company’s services: private interactions, improved data encryption, interoperability, general safety, reducing permanence and secure data storage. The principles arrive following a difficult period for the social giant, as it continues to face criticism regarding privacy-related scandals while contending with increased scrutiny from global regulators. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

Facebook Using Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Bias/Abuse

At this week’s annual Facebook F8 developer conference in San Jose, California, company CTO Mike Schroepfer discussed the progress being made by internal teams dedicated to reducing the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and abuse on the social platform using various artificial intelligence techniques. In the course of a single quarter, according to Schroepfer, Facebook takes down more than a billion “spammy” accounts, more than 700 million fake accounts, and tens of millions of items containing violent content or nudity.

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Facebook Unveils First Design Changes to Enhance Privacy

Under the dark cloud of various privacy-related scandals, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced the first of a series in design changes meant to shift the social media platform away from town square-style communication and toward more direct, private communication between users and groups. On Tuesday at Facebook’s annual developer conference, the company showcased a redesign of its mobile app and desktop site, both of which add new features to promote group-based communication rather than a focus on the News Feed.

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MLB Plans to Live Stream Games to YouTube, YouTube TV

This week, YouTube announced a new partnership with Major League Baseball that will allow the video streaming site to exclusively live stream a total of 13 MLB games to both YouTube and YouTube TV for free to viewers in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Dates and times are forthcoming, but the games will stream on the MLB YouTube channel along with a temporary pop-up channel on YouTube TV specific to MLB. While YouTube and MLB have worked together in the past, they’ve never struck a deal related to exclusive streaming.

Continue reading MLB Plans to Live Stream Games to YouTube, YouTube TV

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