EU Hearing Explores Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age

The ETC’s Philip Lelyveld was one of five subject matter experts invited to speak before the European Union’s “Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age” hearing at the European Political Strategy Centre in Brussels on February 22, 2018. The EU is working to understand and deal with the problem of ‘fake news’ and Russian interference in democratic processes in Europe. This one-day event is part of an ongoing multi-organization effort within the EU. Lelyveld was invited to present a ‘Hollywood’ perspective. Continue reading EU Hearing Explores Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age

Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

Many lawmakers in Washington — from Senators Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz — are concerned about the amount of power that big tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have accrued. Some have even floated the idea of an antitrust law to curb their influence. But the U.S. Supreme Court just heard a case — Ohio v. American Express — that may actually give the technology giants even more power, say the experts. The case looks at how to analyze “harmful conduct” by companies that serve “multiple groups of users.” Continue reading Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

Facebook will end Explore, an experiment launched last fall in six countries that separated posts from news sites and publishers from other content. Publishers in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka said they were blindsided by the experiment, and that it led to a surprising amount of misinformation or fake news. The test put a “digital divide” between family/friends and brands and news sources. Facebook admits they should have communicated the experiment better to publishers. Continue reading Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

Twitter to Hire Experts, Accept Proposals to Stop Bad Actors

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey has brought his own company to task, for what he said is a less-than-stellar performance in handling malicious activity. More specifically, he said that he did not move quickly enough to take action against the Russian efforts to create divisions between Americans. Dorsey, who has previously expressed contrition for his slow reaction, has now made it clear that the company needs to take actions to prevent this from happening again, rather than just reacting after the fact. Continue reading Twitter to Hire Experts, Accept Proposals to Stop Bad Actors

States Take Action Opposing Federal Repeal of Net Neutrality

The FCC’s recently passed order to end Obama-era net neutrality — dubbed “Restoring Internet Freedom” — has been entered into the Federal Register. But many who oppose the move are just getting started on a variety of efforts intended to curtail or even block the Trump administration’s repeal of net neutrality. A group of 22 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia re-filed legal challenges that contend the FCC cannot make “arbitrary and capricious changes” to existing policies. Continue reading States Take Action Opposing Federal Repeal of Net Neutrality

Fox News Ready to Announce Streaming Subscription Service

Fox News is reportedly planning to launch a standalone subscription service by the end of this year, as more viewers abandon their cable and satellite TV packages. Despite a record 2017 for Fox News, its highest-rated year in terms of television audience, the network is expected to announce Fox Nation today, which will feature original programming. The new digital venture enters a growing field of web-only streaming TV offerings from the likes of HBO, Cinemax, CBS and Showtime. Additionally, CBS is planning CBS Sports HQ and ESPN is launching its ESPN Plus service this spring. Continue reading Fox News Ready to Announce Streaming Subscription Service

Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

By no later than July 2018, Facebook plans to introduce two smart speakers with 15-inch touchscreens. Code-named Aloha and Fiona, the two smart speakers, say sources, are aimed to let family and friends stay in touch with video chat and other social features. With the launch, Facebook joins Amazon, Alibaba, Apple, Google and Microsoft, all of which have debuted smart speakers into the global marketplace. According to Canalys, smart speaker sales are on track to double to over 50 million units in 2018. Continue reading Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

Game Streamer Twitch Debuts Always-On Chat Room Feature

Amazon-owned game streaming platform Twitch introduced a new feature yesterday called “Rooms.” First announced at TwitchCon in October, the always-on chat room feature is now available for web and mobile (for now, creators can host up to three public or private Rooms). Individuals with a Twitch account have the ability to create custom chat rooms accessible from the Stream Chat feature on channel pages. Channel owners can specify which users get access, such as followers, moderators or subscribers. The rooms can also be created based on shared interests, such as spoilers. Continue reading Game Streamer Twitch Debuts Always-On Chat Room Feature

Brands Pressure Platforms to Resolve Hate, Fake News Issue

Social media platforms that placed ads on pages espousing extremism and hate have vowed to take steps against this, but the brands involved, from AT&T to Kellogg, are also getting flak for appearing on the sites and inadvertently funding the purveyors of fake news and hate speech. That has happened because brands now depend on automated ad technology to reach targeted demographics, but they are now re-evaluating that strategy; Unilever is considering leaving YouTube and Facebook unless they gain control of the situation. Continue reading Brands Pressure Platforms to Resolve Hate, Fake News Issue

Facebook to Include Breaking News Section in Watch Platform

As part of Facebook’s broader news strategy, company exec Campbell Brown announced at the Code Media conference that the social platform plans to introduce a breaking news feature to its video streaming platform Facebook Watch. The company launched Watch in August to compete in the original video space across mobile, TV apps and desktop. Content partners earn 55 percent of ad revenue and Facebook gets 45 percent. Watch is different than Facebook’s video tab in that it offers exclusive content, personalized recommendations, subscription options and more. Continue reading Facebook to Include Breaking News Section in Watch Platform

MoviePass Sells $128M in Tickets for Oscar-Nominated Films

Startup MoviePass, which charges subscribers $10 per month for the option to watch one film per day in a participating theater, said it has passed 2 million subscribers. The company also reported that it was responsible for $128.7 million of the domestic box office for this year’s Oscar nominated films. MoviePass chief executive Mitch Lowe has described the math behind the company’s claim. He also has an explanation for how the company will survive its biggest economic challenge: that it loses money on any customers who sees at least two movies a month. Continue reading MoviePass Sells $128M in Tickets for Oscar-Nominated Films

NBC, Intel and Snap to Stream Live Video of Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics is going to get wide coverage from NBC, which plans to live broadcast the events in PyeongChang, South Korea across all time zones and without delays. In contrast to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this one will feature even more video on social media platforms. NBC and Intel plan to stream 30 events in virtual reality, including the opening ceremony, and Snapchat is launching a tool for NBC to feed snippets of live coverage into its app. Continue reading NBC, Intel and Snap to Stream Live Video of Winter Olympics

Two Editors Describe New Model to Reinvigorate Local News

Local news is already in sad shape, and Facebook and Google now aim to cover it rather than national news. But two editors of digital outlets are proposing a different model for invigorating local news, especially in urban areas that where the local press has been destroyed by digital technology. In this model, very good journalists would cover the news that no one else is covering — and ignore everything else that isn’t local news, including the Super Bowl, movie reviews and the stock market report. Continue reading Two Editors Describe New Model to Reinvigorate Local News

Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

Silicon Valley tech companies are taking a second, serious look at some of the harm that digital technology can cause. First is the so-called productivity paradox, which reveals that the integrati0n of digital technology in the work place has not resulted in big gains in output per worker, as had been expected. In fact, digital technology can actually be a drag on productivity. The companies are also looking at the harmful impact of digital technology on children, and the potential for addictions. Continue reading Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

YouTube, targeting content that promotes conspiracy theories as well as state-sponsored content, says it will begin to label all videos coming from state-funded broadcasters. That may even include the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), but in fact is intended to target such bad actors as RT, the Russian state news organization identified by U.S. intelligence as the Kremlin’s main international propaganda unit. Last year, YouTube reportedly had 5.5 million views across 20 channels of RT content. Continue reading YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

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