Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Grilled by European Parliament

In his appearance before the European Parliament, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was peppered non-stop for 75 minutes with questions about his company’s misuse of user data, its role in elections and its outsized global dominance, which led some to call for its breakup. The meeting ended with Parliament members griping that Zuckerberg had evaded questions and repeated statements he had already made, although the format only allowed Zuckerberg a few minutes at the end to reply to the many questions. Continue reading Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Grilled by European Parliament

Facebook Suspends Quiz App Linked to Cambridge University

Facebook is scrutinizing another quiz app, myPersonality, created by University of Cambridge academics following the Cambridge Analytica debacle. According to New Scientist, the myPersonality app collected data from six million people, about 40 percent of whom agreed to share their Facebook information. The app creator countered that Facebook had known about myPersonality for years. But the app is also being investigated by Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office for whether the data was properly anonymized. Continue reading Facebook Suspends Quiz App Linked to Cambridge University

Twitter Grows its Daily Users, Debuts Automated Anti-Troll Tool

Twitter has been investing in monitoring, removing offensive and inappropriate content and debuting tweaks, a job started by former chief financial officer Anthony Noto. The company is also rolling out an automated tool that will be on the lookout for “troll-like” behavior. This attention to the concerns of marketers has paid off, as Twitter just posted its second profitable quarter as a public company. But chief financial officer Ned Segal believes there is more to do to make the platform more stable and successful. Continue reading Twitter Grows its Daily Users, Debuts Automated Anti-Troll Tool

Amazon Plans to Beta Test New Display Ad Re-Targeting Tool

Amazon has introduced a new display ad offering that lets retailers in its marketplace follow shoppers as they browse the Internet and attempt to lure them back to buy on Amazon. The tool gives sellers broader reach by letting them bid on ads that will appear on other websites and apps, although Amazon doesn’t specify where. But sellers only pay Amazon when potential customers click on the ads. According to sources, the company is currently inviting a handful of merchants to test the new digital ads later this month. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Beta Test New Display Ad Re-Targeting Tool

EU Data Law Soon Goes into Effect, May Spark Privacy Debate

On May 25, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect. Although the law bans companies from forcing its users to give up personal data as a condition of service, it allows for exceptions, such as when the information is necessary to fulfill a contract. Those exceptions are the new battlefield over privacy issues, including what “freely given” consent means. At the crux is “behavioral advertising,” worth billions of dollars annually, that targets users based on their Internet activity. Continue reading EU Data Law Soon Goes into Effect, May Spark Privacy Debate

Facebook Suspends 200 Apps Due to Possible Misuse of Data

Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has suspended about 200 apps based on the possible misuse of user data. The social giant will conduct a thorough investigation of each app, and promises that any guilty of misuse of Facebook user data will be permanently banned from the platform. So far, Facebook has reviewed thousands of apps from outside developers that have access to Facebook user data, but some question whether such an ongoing audit is worthwhile. While bad actors can be banned, there isn’t much that can be done once the data leaves Facebook’s servers. Continue reading Facebook Suspends 200 Apps Due to Possible Misuse of Data

Amazon Stops Purchasing Competitive Google Shopping Ads

Amazon has ceased purchases of ads at the top of Google search results, a much-prized position for which advertisers and retailers pay handsomely to place eye-catching images. Google runs online auctions for these slots, dubbed products listing ads (PLAs) and Amazon, which began bidding in late 2016, found itself in competition with rival Walmart there. On April 28, Merkle, a marketing firm that analyzes Google Shopping ad data, first noticed that Amazon was missing from those coveted slots. Two sources confirmed the news. Continue reading Amazon Stops Purchasing Competitive Google Shopping Ads

Facebook Restructures With Executive Shuffle, New Divisions

Facebook is undergoing the biggest reorganization in the company’s history. Messenger, WhatsApp, and Facebook’s core app will get new leaders, while the company’s product and engineering organizations will be reorganized into three main divisions: the “Family of Apps” group, run by chief product officer Chris Cox, will include social apps Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp; the “New Platforms and Infrastructure” group, managed by CTO Mike Schroepfer, will cover AI, AR, VR, and blockchain tech; and the “Central Product Services” group, headed by VP of growth Javier Olivan, will handle shared features across products and apps, including advertising, analytics, and security. Continue reading Facebook Restructures With Executive Shuffle, New Divisions

Facebook Establishes Team to Integrate Privacy into Products

In the wake of criticism over data privacy issues and in anticipation of the European Union’s stricter data regulations, Facebook has formed a new team devoted to privacy. The 300-person team, headed by product director David Baser, is tasked with integrating stronger privacy features into all Facebook products. The first such tool is Clear History, which the company introduced at last week’s F8 conference. This feature allows users to opt out of Facebook collecting and matching their browsing history to their profile. Continue reading Facebook Establishes Team to Integrate Privacy into Products

Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

At Google’s I/O conference, chief executive Sundar Pichai reflected on the backlash against Silicon Valley companies while, at the same time, promoting the company’s advances and ambitions in artificial intelligence. Among those were specific positive solutions, such as an AI-powered software that helps diagnose eye disease, and a demonstration of what Google Assistant — in a variety of voices and accents — can do for ordinary consumers, and how Smart Compose in Gmail will suggest complete sentences to make the process speedier. Continue reading Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

At its Build developer conference this week, Microsoft is showing products that highlight its changed direction under the aegis of chief executive Satya Nadella. Among them is a DJI drone loaded with Microsoft software to identify oil pipeline faults without an Internet connection. Although Microsoft is helping customers enhance their existing gear, the company promised “big things ahead” to those entirely in the Microsoft ecosystem. Uninvolved in recent data scandals, some deem Microsoft to be the tech industry’s moral conscience. Continue reading Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

TaTaTu: Blockchain-Based Entertainment and Social Platform

TaTaTu is a new blockchain-based platform that integrates entertainment viewing with social media. The brainchild of producer Andrea Iervolino, TaTaTu rewards viewers for watching content including movies, TV shows, sports, and gaming — and adds rewards when their friends also watch. The first platform, without social media, will be released in three weeks; the complete version will debut Q1 2019. AMBI Media Group will be amongst the first content providers (Iervolino is AMBI Media’s co-founder and CEO). Additional partnerships will be announced soon. Continue reading TaTaTu: Blockchain-Based Entertainment and Social Platform

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation Nears Activation

On May 25, the European Union will activate its General Data Protection Regulation that gives users more control over the data collected and shared about them over the Internet. The law includes real punishment: 4 percent of its global revenue for any company that break the regulation. The impact to the user experience will not be apparent, especially for U.S. visitors there. But a European Union citizen is likely to see fewer ads that follow them around the Internet after an e-commerce purchase. Continue reading The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation Nears Activation

Payments Feature Could Make Instagram a Commerce Player

Instagram has quietly introduced a native payments feature that allows users to make purchases without having to leave the photo- and video-sharing app. Once the user registers a debit or credit card and creates a security PIN, native payments are possible through a select number of partners. Facebook-owned Instagram is testing the waters with the ability to book appointments and reservations via businesses such as salons or restaurants, but also envisions the ability for users to purchase movie tickets directly through the app in the future. Continue reading Payments Feature Could Make Instagram a Commerce Player

Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

Facebook has debuted Oculus Go, its standalone $199 VR headset that the company hopes will launch more widespread engagement with virtual reality. Unlike the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go does not require a high-end smartphone or computer, has no wires or cables, and is ready to use out of the box. Early reviews give the VR headset a thumbs-up for its simplicity and convenience, and such features as speakers built into the strap. Also at its F8 developer conference, Facebook debuted a new version of Oculus Rooms. Continue reading Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

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