Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

Seventeen groups, including Common Sense Media, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming that Facebook has deliberately duped children into making in-app purchases on games including “Angry Birds,” “PetVille” and “Ninja Saga.” The purchases were often made without parental permission, and Facebook makes it “nearly impossible” for parents seeking refunds. The accusation originates in a 2012 class-action lawsuit. Continue reading Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

CBS Turns to AI-Powered Tool for Parsing Viewer Feedback

CBS has partnered with New York startup Canvs to use its AI-powered tool Canvs Surveys that automates the coding of natural language responses. CBS began using it in Q4 2018. The broadcaster has now expanded its use to process natural-language feedback to all its major events, including Super Bowl LIII and the Grammy Awards, as well as its entire slate of programming. CBS chief research/analytics officer Radha Subramanyam said the AI system processes the data far more efficiently than humans. Continue reading CBS Turns to AI-Powered Tool for Parsing Viewer Feedback

Facebook Teams with Viasat to Offer Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspots

In Facebook’s latest effort to bring Internet access to rural communities and less developed areas, the social giant is teaming with Carlsbad, California-based Viasat to deliver high-speed satellite-powered Wi-Fi hotspots. Starting in remote regions of Mexico, the two companies are eyeing a potential global project for the future. Last April, Viasat and local partner Prosperist introduced the “Community” Wi-Fi hotspot service in Mexico, which recently became available to more than one million citizens. Community uses the ViaSat-2 satellite system, which the company describes as the highest-capacity satellites currently in orbit. Continue reading Facebook Teams with Viasat to Offer Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspots

Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

New estimates from eMarketer indicate that advertisers in the U.S. will spend more on digital advertising through the likes of Facebook and Google in 2019 than traditional media such as television, radio and newspapers. Advertisers are expected to spend in excess of $129 billion on digital advertising this year as compared to the more than $109 billion they will spend on traditional advertising. The shift would mark the first time in history that digital advertising would comprise more than half of the U.S. ad market. Continue reading Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

GAO Report Suggests GDPR-Like Internet Data Privacy Law

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an auditing agency, issued an independent report that encouraged Congress to develop an Internet data privacy legislation similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The House Energy and Commerce Committee requested this GAO report two years ago; a February 26 hearing will discuss the report’s findings and the possibility of drafting such legislation. Prospects for such a law now is weaker due to partisan divides over federal regulation. Continue reading GAO Report Suggests GDPR-Like Internet Data Privacy Law

Twitch Streamers in the U.S. Generated $87 Million in 2017

A new study from Recreate Coalition suggests that Amazon’s live-streaming video platform Twitch is gaining in popularity with content creators. The study “estimates that revenue-earning American Twitch streamers grew to nearly 9,800 in 2017 (a 59 percent increase from 2016) and made an estimated $87.1 million (representing a 30 percent YOY increase),” reports TechCrunch. “In terms of year over year growth in number of creators themselves, Twitch falls just behind Instagram and YouTube, and ranks second behind Instagram in YOY revenue growth for those creators.” Continue reading Twitch Streamers in the U.S. Generated $87 Million in 2017

Facebook Watch Courts Content Creators at VidCon London

Facebook is increasing its efforts to boost content on Facebook Watch, promising content creators they can connect with communities and make serious money via ads. Even though Facebook is behind powerhouse YouTube, the company has also staked out an impressive presence at the first VidCon London, running February 14-17, and is holding an invitation-only Facebook Creator Day in London just prior to that. Self-help guru Jay Shetty, who has 20+ million Facebook followers, is the platform’s face at the event. Continue reading Facebook Watch Courts Content Creators at VidCon London

LinkedIn Launches Beta of Its Live Video Broadcast Feature

Microsoft’s LinkedIn is the latest social platform to pursue the growing popularity of online video. The network, now touting nearly 600 million global users, is launching a live video feature that allows individual users and organizations to broadcast video in real-time to select groups or the LinkedIn community. “LinkedIn Live” will initially be offered as an invite-only beta test in the U.S. with plans for a contact form in upcoming weeks for others interesting in trying the new feature. LinkedIn is partnering with several developers of live streaming services to help creators produce more polished video content. Continue reading LinkedIn Launches Beta of Its Live Video Broadcast Feature

German Antitrust Ruling Restrains Facebook Data Collection

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the country’s competition authority, issued an antitrust argument to restrict Facebook’s data collection. Stating that Facebook currently provides users with a stark choice between allowing the company to collect unlimited data or not using the site, the Federal Cartel Office stated that Facebook must allow users to refuse the company’s bid to collect their data and automatically merge it with data from Instagram, WhatsApp and non-Facebook sites. The decision impacts 32 million German users. Continue reading German Antitrust Ruling Restrains Facebook Data Collection

Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

The number of Snapchat app users will remain the same this quarter, news that was a relief to investors and helped propel Snap shares up 22 percent, to $8.62 in after hours trading. Since it went public in March 2017, Snapchat has competed with Facebook’s Instagram, which adopted many Snapchat features. Snap also redesigned the app, to the dismay of some advertisers and users. In Q4, Snap, with 186 million daily active users, was on a par with the previous quarter, although down one million from the same period a year ago. Continue reading Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

WhatsApp Combats Fake News as India Preps for Elections

In India, where fake news on Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging platform has led to violence, company executives publicly described a plan to stop the flow of misinformation. India is WhatsApp’s largest market, and WhatsApp’s announcement comes as India prepares for its biggest election. Based on machine learning, said software engineer Matt Jones, the new system will use data of past activity to bar automated fake accounts and troublemakers at three stages: when registering, while messaging and when reported by others. Continue reading WhatsApp Combats Fake News as India Preps for Elections

Twitter Releases Daily Active Users Total For the First Time

Twitter shared details regarding its total number of daily users for the first time, and it turns out the platform has more than 60 million fewer daily users than Snapchat, and significantly less users than Facebook’s messaging service WhatsApp. However, since Twitter currently has 126 million daily active users (DAU), that means about 39 percent of its monthly active users (MAU) are now using the app on a daily basis, which should prove to be an important metric to investors as it shows that Twitter is in fact growing. Continue reading Twitter Releases Daily Active Users Total For the First Time

Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Alphabet’s revenue is booming, but its costs are also increasing, the result of its efforts to diversify beyond online advertising. Thus, although Internet search showed very strong returns, Alphabet shares fell in after-hours trading due to its shrinking margins and slower revenue growth. In addition to its Google search engine, Alphabet comprises YouTube and Waymo self-driving car divisions. The parent company’s increased spending on those two divisions in Q4 pushed margins down to 21 percent from 24 percent a year earlier. Continue reading Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

Ireland, where many U.S. tech firms have European headquarters, is investigating Facebook in seven separate cases. Ireland’s data protection commissioner Helen Dixon reported that these probes are among 16 cases looking into Apple, LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram. She added that the Irish and EU investigations are “centered on the activities of very big Internet companies with tens and hundreds of millions of users,” which would be “a very large factor when looking at the scale of a fine.” Continue reading Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

Apple Agrees to Pay Large Amount in Back-Taxes to France

Apple revealed it has reached a deal with French authorities to pay back-dated taxes, reportedly in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Apple’s French division did not disclose the specific amount, but French media has reported it to be around 500 million euros, or $571 million U.S. “As a multinational company, Apple is regularly audited by fiscal authorities around the world,” explained Apple France in a statement. “The French tax administration recently concluded a multi-year audit on the company’s French accounts, and those details will be published in our public accounts.” Continue reading Apple Agrees to Pay Large Amount in Back-Taxes to France

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