Niantic Gathers Telecom Dream Team to Advance AR Content

Niantic, the company that successfully created augmented reality experiences of Pokémon, Harry Potter and other intellectual properties, revealed its plans to offer its own consumer AR platform, with hardware, software and support for third-party developers. The Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance is a coalition of cell phone partners, including Deutsche Telekom, EE, Globe, Orange, SK Telecom, SoftBank Telus and Verizon that will distribute “exclusive 5G-ready AR content,” publicly demonstrating 5G consumer AR experiences. Continue reading Niantic Gathers Telecom Dream Team to Advance AR Content

Russia Pushes More Disinformation via Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter reported that the Internet Research Agency in Russia, which reportedly interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, is again using fake accounts and created Peace Data, a fake left-wing website. With the likely goal of influencing the 2020 election, it is believed to be spreading disinformation about Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden. U.S. intelligence agencies have warned for months about Russian meddling. Both social platforms have already taken steps to address such disinformation; most recently, Facebook announced plans to block political ads one week before the November election and Twitter is adding more context to Trending Topics. Continue reading Russia Pushes More Disinformation via Facebook and Twitter

Australia’s Draft Law Bids Facebook, Google to Pay for News

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is drafting a bill that would require Facebook and Google to negotiate with media publishers and pay for content that appears on their sites. Facebook has responded by threatening to block users and news organizations from sharing local and international news stories on its site. Google, which said its free service would be “at risk,” stated that the law would give media companies “special treatment” that would allow them to make demands that would be difficult to meet. Continue reading Australia’s Draft Law Bids Facebook, Google to Pay for News

Apple Privacy Controls Are Likely to Impact Digital Publishers

Apple is upgrading its operating system with privacy controls that reportedly have some advertisers worried. Set to debut in the fall, Apple’s iOS 14 will require apps to ask its users if they want their Internet activity tracked. Many digital publishers are concerned that most users will opt out, which would prevent them from personalizing ads and thus result in a slump in revenue. Facebook has spoken out, pointing out that it will no longer be able to collect a users’ advertising identifiers (IDFA) without their permission. Continue reading Apple Privacy Controls Are Likely to Impact Digital Publishers

New TikTok Chief Executive Departs Over U.S.-China Battle

TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer quit the company only months after assuming the role. The company’s general manager Vanessa Pappas will become the interim chief. Sources stated that Mayer, formerly of Disney, decided to leave TikTok after President Trump issued a ban on the popular social platform unless its Chinese parent company ByteDance sold its assets to a U.S. company within 90 days. Mayer’s resignation letter stated that he had reflected on “what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for.” Continue reading New TikTok Chief Executive Departs Over U.S.-China Battle

Epic Games Wins a Partial Victory in Legal Battle With Apple

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Epic Games can maintain access to Apple’s Developer Tools but that its game “Fortnite” will stay out of its App Store. “Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem,” wrote the judge. Epic Games founder and chief executive Tim Sweeney is battling Apple and Google over their app store commissions. Apple’s response to the ruling was to state it looked “forward to making our case to the court in September.” Continue reading Epic Games Wins a Partial Victory in Legal Battle With Apple

Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

Amazon built its largest office building in the world in Hyderabad, a city of 10 million in southern India also known as Asia’s Silicon Valley. Amazon spokesperson Minari Shah said, “Hyderabad is a known software tech talent center, and the government has been an enabler for us to have a campus this size.” Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft also have bases in that city. In the United States, Amazon said it will hire 3,500 white-collar employees, including 2,000 in New York, continuing with plans it made prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Continue reading Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

Next Tuesday, Facebook will begin the global rollout of a new tab in its main app called Facebook Shop, which allows users to browse product catalogs and buy items directly on the social media platform. The new feature, previously in beta with a small group of U.S. users, joins a similar feature launched on Instagram last month. Prior to Facebook Shop, businesses could add catalogs to their Facebook pages, but the new feature is a dedicated marketplace for multiple retailers. Instagram’s Checkout feature will also soon be broadly available. Continue reading Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

‘Unhinged’ Earns $4 Million Box Office on Opening Weekend

On Friday, Solstice Studios’ “Unhinged,” a $33 million psychological thriller starring Russell Crowe, enjoyed a wide release in 1,823 locations across the country. Because most theaters are operating at 50 percent capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic, opening weekend box office was modest — $4 million — but considered a success given the unique circumstances. Solstice Studios chief executive Mark Gill predicted that “Unhinged” will earn “at least $30 million” in North America. The movie has already generated $8 million internationally. Continue reading ‘Unhinged’ Earns $4 Million Box Office on Opening Weekend

FTC Interviews Mark Zuckerberg as Part of Its Antitrust Probe

The Federal Trade Commission often interviews witnesses under oath as part of investigations that lead to lawsuits. It’s telling, then, that, according to sources, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testified remotely and under oath over a two-day FTC “investigative hearing.” Those sources also pointed out that Zuckerberg’s testimony doesn’t guarantee the case is headed toward an antitrust lawsuit but could be used by the FTC and state attorneys to build their case. State officials also participated in the hearing. Continue reading FTC Interviews Mark Zuckerberg as Part of Its Antitrust Probe

Big Five Tech Companies Dominate the Rise in Stock Market

The S&P 500 achieved record heights via the 37 percent rise in shares of the Big Five tech companies in the first seven months of 2020. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook, the five largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., now account for 20 percent of the entire stock market’s total value. Meanwhile, according to Credit Suisse, all other stocks, fell a combined 6 percent. Apple’s valuation hit $2 trillion, the first U.S. company to do so, and only 21 weeks after its $1 trillion valuation. Continue reading Big Five Tech Companies Dominate the Rise in Stock Market

Unsecured Databases Leak 235 Million Social Media Profiles

On August 1, security research firm Comparitech, led by Bob Diachenko, discovered a massive data leak of nearly 235 million Instagram, TikTok and YouTube user profiles. The leak was due to an unsecured database, which is quickly becoming a widespread cause of similar breaches. An audit of the dark web found about 15 billion stolen logins from 100,000 such unsecured database breaches. The data leak discovered by Diachenko and his team was spread across several datasets, including two of 100 million each of Instagram users. Continue reading Unsecured Databases Leak 235 Million Social Media Profiles

Facebook Struggles to Contain Health Misinformation, QAnon

According to global civic movement Avaaz, over the past year Facebook enabled 3.8 billion views of misinformation related to health, almost four times the views of sites such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This has occurred despite Facebook’s partnership with these organizations to expose users to reliable information. In another effort to squelch misinformation, Facebook removed 790 QAnon groups and restricted another 1,950 groups, 440 pages and 10,000+ Instagram accounts. Continue reading Facebook Struggles to Contain Health Misinformation, QAnon

Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok

Oracle Corporation is making a bid to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok, and President Trump has voiced his approval. Oracle cofounder and chair Larry Ellison held a fundraiser for Trump at his house earlier this year, and Oracle chief executive Safra Catz worked on Trump’s transition team in 2016. According to sources, Oracle has engaged in some preliminary conversations with minority TikTok owners, but it is unknown if the talks have advanced. Microsoft has also been in talks with TikTok and Twitter has explored a purchase. Continue reading Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok

Quality of Deepfakes and Textfakes Increase Potential Impact

FireEye data scientist Philip Tully showed off a convincing deepfake of Tom Hanks he built with less than $100 and open-source code. Until recently, most deepfakes have been low quality and pretty easy to spot. FireEye demonstrated that now, even those with little AI expertise can use published AI code and a bit of fine-tuning to create much more convincing results. But many experts believe deepfake text is a bigger threat, as the GPT-3 autoregressive language model can produce text that is difficult to distinguish from that written by humans. Continue reading Quality of Deepfakes and Textfakes Increase Potential Impact

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