Quibi Shutters Video Platform That Targeted Mobile Viewers

After launching only six months ago, Quibi is shuttering its doors. According to sources, Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg called investors to give them the news. As a startup, Quibi raised $1.75 billion but, since its debut, failed to sign up subscribers, garnered low download numbers and faced a well-funded lawsuit from interactive video company Eko, which claimed credit for its video streaming technology. Quibi also contended with the coronavirus pandemic while promoting a mobile platform. Katzenberg envisioned Quibi as “quick bites” of 5- to 10-minute videos formatted for the mobile screen. Continue reading Quibi Shutters Video Platform That Targeted Mobile Viewers

FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Affirming the FCC’s authority over social media companies, chair Ajit Pai has launched an official effort to “clarify” how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act applies to them. “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech — but they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he said. President Trump has often called for social media companies to be stripped of Section 230 protections. Continue reading FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Silicon Valley Firms Remain Flexible with Remote Workforce

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S., companies sent their employees home to work. Since then, the return-to-work date changed from “a few weeks” to September, and then January. Now, with the virus still problematic in many parts of the country, Google became the first to tell employees they’ll be back July 2021, followed by Airbnb, Slack and Uber and, more recently, Ford Motor Company. Microsoft, Target and The New York Times also plan to return in summer 2021, while Dropbox has made remote working the default for employees. Continue reading Silicon Valley Firms Remain Flexible with Remote Workforce

Google Tests Making YouTube an E-Commerce Marketplace

Google has plans to turn YouTube into a major marketplace and has already asked creators to tag and track products on their videos via YouTube software. Google will then link that data to shopping tools and analytics. According to sources, Google is also partnering with Shopify to test an integration for selling items on YouTube. A spokesperson, who confirmed the company is testing the features “with a limited number of video channels,” added that creators will maintain control over the products displayed. Continue reading Google Tests Making YouTube an E-Commerce Marketplace

Judge Rules That Apple Can Block ‘Fortnite’ From App Store

In the latest update to the ongoing battle between Apple and Epic Games, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California ruled that Apple does not have to reinstate Epic’s game “Fortnite” in its App Store. Epic Games, to avoid Apple’s 30 percent commission on apps sold in its store, offered its users a way to download the game on its own site. In retaliation, Apple banned “Fortnite” from the App Store. Gonzalez Rogers said Apple could continue to ban “Fortnite” because Epic violated its contract. Continue reading Judge Rules That Apple Can Block ‘Fortnite’ From App Store

Twitter Makes Changes to Help Curb Election Disinformation

In advance of the U.S. presidential election, Twitter will temporarily change some of its basic features as well as the site’s look on October 20. Users will get a timeout before they can retweet a post from another account and if a user tries to share content flagged as false, a notice will warn them that Twitter designated the content as inaccurate. Twitter will also “add a label” to any claims of election victory until it is called by election authorities. Twitter hasn’t accepted political advertisements for a year. Continue reading Twitter Makes Changes to Help Curb Election Disinformation

Government Report Urges Breakup of Big Tech Monopolies

After a 16-month investigation, the House Judiciary Committee presented a 449-page report stating that Big Tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google abused their monopoly positions and calling for reform of the antitrust laws. Lawmakers stated the companies had evolved from startups to “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons” and stated their breakup would restore competition. This marks the biggest antitrust effort since the government sued Microsoft in the 1990s. Continue reading Government Report Urges Breakup of Big Tech Monopolies

Facebook Opposes Apple Plan to Limit Targeted Advertising

Apple plans to limit the ability of Facebook and other companies to target ads via its identifier for advertisers (IDFA) by giving iPhone users the option to block tracking when opening an app. Meant to protect users’ privacy, the change was originally slated to be part of iOS 14, introduced last month. But Apple postponed the change until 2021 “to give developers time to make necessary changes.” In response, Facebook chief revenue officer David Fischer stated that the change will “hurt developers and businesses the most.” Continue reading Facebook Opposes Apple Plan to Limit Targeted Advertising

Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security

Facebook’s lawyers, relying on research by the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, prepared a 14-page document that lays out its defenses against government threats to force a break from its messaging service WhatsApp and photo- and video-sharing platform Instagram. Congress and other federal antitrust regulators continue to investigate Facebook, as well as Google, Amazon and Apple, and the House Antitrust Subcommittee is expected to release its findings this month. Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 were vetted by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security

Facebook Detects Malware That Was Being Used for Ad Fraud

Facebook shut down malware out of China that stole user credentials to serve ads for diet pills, sexual health products and counterfeit goods including designer handbags, shoes and sunglasses. The hackers used the consumer’s associated payment method to purchase the ads, at the cost to victims of $4 million. The social media company first exposed these attacks in 2018 and traced them to ILikeAd Media International, filing a civil suit against the firm and the two Chinese nationals who allegedly developed the malware. Continue reading Facebook Detects Malware That Was Being Used for Ad Fraud

Big Tech Faces Scrutiny by Regulators in the U.S and Abroad

The House Antitrust Subcommittee is about to release a report of its 15-month investigation of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. The lawmakers gathered 1+ million documents from the companies in question and their rivals. The subcommittee, chaired by Congressman David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), also met with the four companies’ chief executives. Meanwhile, the European Union plans to ban tech companies from “preferencing” their own services and apps, and China is planning its own antitrust investigation of Google. Continue reading Big Tech Faces Scrutiny by Regulators in the U.S and Abroad

Facebook Makes New Natural Language Model Open Source

Facebook and AI startup Hugging Face open-sourced their new natural language processing model, Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG), which finds and interprets contextual information on the fly. RAG is now available as a component of the Hugging Face transformer library, integrated with the new Datasets library to offer the indexed knowledge source RAG relies on. According to Facebook, RAG can alter or add to its internal knowledge, letting researchers control the model without needing to retrain it. Continue reading Facebook Makes New Natural Language Model Open Source

Amazon Explore Platform Delivers Unique Virtual Experiences

Amazon debuted Explore, a platform for live classes, sightseeing tours, personal shoppers and other virtual experiences hosted by local experts. The video is one-way but the audio is two-way so the user can ask questions and make requests of the video’s host. Among the offerings are a $129 bagel cooking class and, for $70, a 45-minute virtual tour of a Lima, Peru mansion. At launch, Explore offers 86 experiences across 16 countries, but the platform has potential for significant growth. Other companies offering virtual experiences include Airbnb and fitness company ClassPass. Continue reading Amazon Explore Platform Delivers Unique Virtual Experiences

Vocal Facebook Critics Form Their Own Rival Oversight Board

About 25 experts in various fields formed the Real Facebook Oversight Board, an alternative to the one Facebook has promised to launch soon. Hosted by Recode founder and The New York Times contributing opinion writer Kara Swisher, the Real Facebook Oversight Board will hold its first meeting — via Facebook Live — on October 1, to analyze the social media platform’s content moderation, policies and other issues as the 2020 presidential election looms. Meanwhile, Facebook’s board is expected to begin reviewing cases in October. Continue reading Vocal Facebook Critics Form Their Own Rival Oversight Board

Apple Under Increasing Pressure to Change App Store Fees

Apple’s 30 percent commission on digital goods and services in its App Store has raised the ire of numerous companies, including Netflix and Spotify, which have formed a coalition to promote legal and regulatory changes for app marketplaces. Apple and Epic Games are battling the issue in court, and Spotify filed an antitrust suit in Europe last year, with claims that it unfairly harms competitors. Apple is, however, giving a brief COVID-19-related reprieve on fees to some companies selling virtual experiences. Continue reading Apple Under Increasing Pressure to Change App Store Fees

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