Facebook Strikes Significant Deals With MLB, Warner Music

Facebook and Major League Baseball have agreed to an exclusive deal through which Facebook now has rights to stream 25 afternoon MLB games live on its social media platform. This marks the first time a major sports league in the U.S. has agreed to broadcast regular season games exclusively on Facebook — and the decision was unanimous among MLB owners. Though neither party disclosed financial details, people close to the matter say it is valued between $30-$35 million. Facebook also signed a major licensing deal with Warner Music Group. Continue reading Facebook Strikes Significant Deals With MLB, Warner Music

Facebook Debuts Real-World AR Effects Tied to New Movies

Facebook has confirmed that it is currently testing an augmented reality camera that goes beyond its earlier functions (and limitations) of selfie masks and inserting 3D objects into locations. Beta users can now test the use of real-world location markers that set off augmented reality experiences right where they stand. The closed beta includes promotions tied to the films “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Ready Player One,” and near future plans include adding tracker-based AR to its AR Studio tool that will be open to all developers.

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Google Promotes AMP Technology as New Internet Standard

Google has started a project to convince the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the primary international standards organization for the web, to adopt technology that is the foundation of its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). With AMP, webpages enjoy almost immediate loading, distribution on multiple platforms and better visibility on Google and its many properties. Google created AMP to make web pages as fast as the kinds of “instant articles” found on Apple News and Facebook, where pages are pre-loaded in the app. With AMP, however, Google wants to apply those benefits to the entire web. Continue reading Google Promotes AMP Technology as New Internet Standard

Nearly 20 Percent of Adults Have Access to a Smart Speaker

Nearly one in five U.S. adults — 47.3 million, or 20 percent of the country’s adult population — has access to a smart speaker, according to Voicebot.ai research. In this case, “access to a smart speaker” means having a smart speaker in the home, even if the adult is not the primary user. Unlike smartphones and other personal technologies, not every person in the home is likely to have one. Thus, it’s likely most apt to compare smart speakers to TVs, which took 13 years to reach the 50 million mark versus just two years for smart speakers.

Continue reading Nearly 20 Percent of Adults Have Access to a Smart Speaker

Invasive Use of Facial Recognition Tech Already Widespread

Facial recognition is getting better by leaps and bounds, and some of the examples of how it is being used are disturbing. In Russia, the website FindFace matches submitted photos to VK, that country’s Facebook knock-off. Trolls are using it to identify and harass women who appear in adult videos. China uses cameras with facial recognition to tag jaywalkers, and, in Dubai, police wear Google Glasses to identify people. In the U.S., the government facial recognition system can already identify the faces of half of all American adults. Continue reading Invasive Use of Facial Recognition Tech Already Widespread

Facebook, Google Improve Transparency After P&G Cuts Ads

Last year, Procter & Gamble cut its digital advertising by more than $200 million, after its call for transparency wasn’t satisfactorily answered. The company, whose brands include Crest, Pampers and Tide, believed that much of the spending on digital ads was not effective and that it could find more productive means of reaching consumers. The company cut $100 million in last year’s June quarter, for $100 million, with $100 million more from July through December, and included “several big digital players.” Continue reading Facebook, Google Improve Transparency After P&G Cuts Ads

Trump Administration, 35 States Oppose Online Tax Exemption

The Trump administration has joined numerous state officials entreating the Supreme Court to overrule a 1992 case that exempts online sellers from adding taxes to their prices. Arguments on the 1992 case, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, begin next month. South Dakota is leading the group asking the court to overrule the precedent-deciding case; it is joined by 35 states, the District of Columbia, organizations representing retailers, and, now, the Trump administration. Opposing are catalog mailers and online sellers. Continue reading Trump Administration, 35 States Oppose Online Tax Exemption

Snap Planning to Release Updated Spectacles Later This Year

Snap Inc. is planning to launch a second version of its video recording glasses this fall followed by a more ambitious version in 2019 that will include two cameras and other features. In addition to new colors and water resistance, the second version aims to fix bugs and provide needed performance improvements. The potential price tag would be around $300, which is more than double the $130 cost of the first version. News of additional versions comes just months after Snap announced it lost $40 million on the original. Continue reading Snap Planning to Release Updated Spectacles Later This Year

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

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