E-Commerce: Facebook Reveals AI-Powered Shops Feature

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced updates to Shops, a new version of an existing Facebook feature that lets retailers upload product catalogs to their Facebook page or Instagram profile. Users can access Shops on the retailer’s page or, by clicking on an ad, will land on the retailer’s Facebook-located Shop. Zuckerberg stated that Shops will eventually be available on Messenger and WhatsApp as well. The company relies on several AI systems, including GrokNet, which can “segment, detect and classify images.” Continue reading E-Commerce: Facebook Reveals AI-Powered Shops Feature

EU Commissioner Holds Facebook Liable For Disinformation

European commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton advised Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that, if he and his company do not redouble efforts to rid the platform of disinformation, they will be subject to tougher rules. “When you are the [chief executive], at the end of the day, you are the only one to be responsible, no one else,” said Breton at an online event organized by the Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE).  The two had a face-to-face meeting two months ago in Brussels. Continue reading EU Commissioner Holds Facebook Liable For Disinformation

Companies Examine Feasibility of Working-from-Home Model

More people are working from home now and some of them may not return to offices once the coronavirus pandemic eases its grip. Twitter, for example, said most of its employees could work from home indefinitely. OpenText Corporation in Canada announced plans to close more than half of its 120 global offices, and New York media company Skift will vacate its Manhattan headquarters when its lease expires in June. Big Tech companies, however, have invested significantly in their spaces and their switch to remote working is uncertain. Continue reading Companies Examine Feasibility of Working-from-Home Model

Facebook’s Purchase of Giphy to Provide Valuable User Data

Facebook has acquired the GIF platform Giphy for $400 million. Giphy’s 100+ million active daily users send over 1 billion GIFs a day. Facebook stated that Giphy’s content database will be integrated into its apps including Instagram, although it didn’t state a timeframe. Since every social app offers at least some GIF integration, including many that rely on a GIF keyboard and Giphy’s database, Facebook’s purchase is both a competitive edge and another way to harvest the kind of data that attracts advertisers. Continue reading Facebook’s Purchase of Giphy to Provide Valuable User Data

Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

Apple has purchased NextVR, a virtual reality video service that offered 360-degree access to live events, including sporting events from NBA, WWE and NHL. With a VR headset, users could enjoy the feeling of “presence” in NextVR’s panoramic stereoscopic 3D scenes. The company also offered 2D smartphone access and planned to support augmented reality devices. The service never became popular, however, and a failed 2019 funding round followed by the coronavirus-related cancellation of sporting events left it struggling to survive. Continue reading Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

French Law to Fine Social Media Platforms for Hate Speech

France’s National Assembly passed a law that will fine social media companies up to €1.25 million ($1.36 million) for failing to remove “manifestly illicit” hate-speech posts within 24 hours of notification. Companies can be fined up to 4 percent of their global annual revenue if the violations are “serious and repeated.” The law, which will take effect July 1, also gives France’s audiovisual regulator the right to audit these companies’ systems for removing content. Critics claim “pre-emptive censorship.” Continue reading French Law to Fine Social Media Platforms for Hate Speech

Facebook Leads Creation of Tech Industry Advocacy Group

Facebook is a founding member of American Edge, an emerging political advocacy group. Because it is registered as a non-profit, American Edge can raise money and publish ads without disclosing its donors. “We’re working with a diverse group of stakeholders to help build support for our industry, and while we’re leading an effort to start this coalition, it’s one of many we are contributing to and supporting,” said spokesperson Andy Stone. The group, however, has not yet officially launched. Continue reading Facebook Leads Creation of Tech Industry Advocacy Group

Huawei Phone Sales Slump Without Google Apps, Software

Banned from buying U.S. technology, Huawei Technologies is still struggling to replace Google apps, which it utilized for ten years. Although all demand for smartphones is down during the coronavirus pandemic, Huawei’s phones are seeing a 35 percent slowdown of shipments outside of China. According to Canalys, that’s more than double the drop faced by its rival Samsung Electronics and four times that of Apple. The slide threatens to topple Huawei from its No. 2 position in global cell phone brands. Continue reading Huawei Phone Sales Slump Without Google Apps, Software

Australia and France Seek Changes to Big Tech News Model

Last summer, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission put together a 623-page report that pointed to Facebook and Google as the reason for the precipitous decline in local news and public policy reporting. Commission chair Rod Sims, who wrote the report, stated that, “global tech companies are not beyond national laws, especially when there is so much at stake.” He and French regulator Isabelle de Silva are challenging those two tech behemoths for carrying news organizations’ content without paying them. Continue reading Australia and France Seek Changes to Big Tech News Model

Facebook Oversight Board Announces New Member Names

Facebook released the names of the members of its new Oversight Board, which has the power to overrule company chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. Law professor Kate Klonick dubs it a “historic moment,” and “the first time a private transnational company had voluntarily assigned a part of its policies to an external body like this.” Facebook’s four co-chairs spent much of 2020 choosing the other 16 members. They and Facebook will choose another 20, but from then on, the members will be selected without Facebook input. Continue reading Facebook Oversight Board Announces New Member Names

Apple’s Revenue Rises, Buoyed by Services and Accessories

Despite a decline in iPhone sales, Apple’s revenue rose 1 percent in its fiscal Q2 (ending March 28) to $58.3 billion, with profit falling about 3 percent to $11.25 billion or $2.55 a share. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple projected more than $63 billion, but the numbers still exceeded analysts’ expectations of almost $55 billion in revenue. Due to an uncertain economy in the wake of the pandemic, Apple would not project Q3 sales, the first time it declined to do so since it began offering such guidance in 2003. Continue reading Apple’s Revenue Rises, Buoyed by Services and Accessories

Chip Sales Surge as Screen Time Increases During Pandemic

As a result of the global shutdown, personal and business Internet usage is way up. SimilarWeb reported that users spent an additional 5 billion hours of screen time in March — a 13 percent leap over February — on the 100 most popular sites, including Facebook and Google. Likewise, Amazon, Netflix and YouTube are thriving. That’s led to a surge in demand for chipsets. Micron Technology chief executive Sanjay Mehrotra said his company is shifting production of its chips away from smartphones and towards data-center products. Continue reading Chip Sales Surge as Screen Time Increases During Pandemic

Facebook Ad Sales Pick Up, Resulting in Strong Q1 Revenue

With the coronavirus pandemic, advertising plummeted on many online sites, including social media giant Facebook. The company’s chief financial officer David Wehner declared that factor “largely attributable” to the 16 percent decline in average price of ads purchased in March. But gaming and e-Commerce companies picked up the slack by spending more, taking advantage of less competition in the company’s ad auctions. As a result, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told analysts the company would “remain in growth mode.” Continue reading Facebook Ad Sales Pick Up, Resulting in Strong Q1 Revenue

Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

In the economic crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic, Big Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are thriving. Amazon and Facebook are viewed as essential services, and Apple and Google are working on tools that will help the nation’s state health departments trace COVID-19 infections. While funding for startups shrivels, these companies are hiring. Only months ago, these companies were embattled by regulators and privacy advocates. Now their lobbyists are working to delay California’s new privacy law. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

Judge Greenlights Facebook’s $5B Agreement With the FTC

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge Timothy Kelly approved a deal reached last summer whereby Facebook will pay a $5 billion fine to settle with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook will also be restricted in some of its business decisions and will be subject to ongoing oversight. Facebook chief privacy officer for product Michel Protti noted that the agreement “has already brought fundamental changes to our company.” Continue reading Judge Greenlights Facebook’s $5B Agreement With the FTC

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