FTC Probe of Facebook Unlikely to Conclude by Election Time

About a year ago, the Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons predicted that the antitrust probe of Facebook would be done before the presidential election, a goal that now seems unlikely. If it runs into next year, a new president could change the FTC’s priorities. For now, the Facebook investigation continues, with staff members prepping depositions of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and examining its purchase of Giphy, a search database for short videos. Continue reading FTC Probe of Facebook Unlikely to Conclude by Election Time

Facebook Targets E-Commerce with Updated Instagram Shop

Facebook debuted a major redesign of its Instagram Shop platform, which had already been accessible from a button in the Explore tab but now offers more functionality. The new version of Instagram Shop will first be available in the U.S., with a global rollout “in the coming weeks” said the company. In Shop, consumers will find special collections, a “Suggested for You” section and curated offerings from Instagram’s @Shop account. A double arrow symbol means the user can buy the product without leaving the app. The move is seen as Facebook’s stronger push into e-commerce. Continue reading Facebook Targets E-Commerce with Updated Instagram Shop

Google’s Area 120 Debuts Shoploop Video Shopping Platform

Google’s Shoploop, developed in its R&D unit Area 120, is a video shopping platform for consumers to discover, evaluate and purchase products within the app. Shoploop general manager Lax Poojary explained that the experience is “more interactive than just scrolling through images, titles and descriptions on a traditional e-commerce site.” The Shoploop videos, which are under 90 seconds, currently focus on beauty products. Consumers can save products or follow product creators for additional videos. Continue reading Google’s Area 120 Debuts Shoploop Video Shopping Platform

Privacy Shield: Top EU Court Strikes Down Data Transfer Pact

The European Union’s top court voided a transatlantic data-sharing pact this week, ruling that EU residents’ data, when moved to the U.S., are not sufficiently protected from that government’s surveillance. The legal battle began in 2013, when privacy activist Max Schrems complained to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, pointing to Edward Snowden’s leaks as proof that U.S. law did not protect against scrutiny. Countries outside of the European Union and companies that want to move EU data abroad must now meet strict EU data laws. Continue reading Privacy Shield: Top EU Court Strikes Down Data Transfer Pact

European Union Court Overturns 2016 Decision Against Apple

The European Union overturned a 2016 decision that ordered Apple to make good on $14.9 billion in unpaid taxes to Ireland. Apple selecting Ireland as its European base to avoid taxation was the genesis that eventually led to the decision. The European Commission’s top antitrust regulator Margrethe Vestager accused the arrangement of being an illegal subsidy not available to Apple’s rivals and demanded that Ireland recover 10 years of back taxes. Amazon and Google have pending court appeals to overturn similar EU decisions. Continue reading European Union Court Overturns 2016 Decision Against Apple

India Hails Google’s New Fund but Plans to Regulate Big Tech

About half of India’s 1.3 billion people are not yet online, and Google hopes to improve its profile there with a new $10 billion Google for India Digitization Fund. The tech tech giant plans to invest in the country over the next five to seven years via equity investments and partnerships. But a recent government-ordered report urged India to create a data regulator position to oversee “the sharing, monetization and privacy of information collected online.” The report names Google (among other companies) as “squeezing new entrants and startups.” Continue reading India Hails Google’s New Fund but Plans to Regulate Big Tech

Parrot Analytics Develops a New Model for Streaming Metrics

Measuring the success of streaming video content has been challenging, but startup Parrot Analytics said it has created a solid metric — which it dubs Demand Expressions (DEx) — that not only counts viewers but also their levels of enthusiasm. From that data, the company said it can also extract information to accurately determine how many subscribers the show will attract. Chief executive Wared Seger noted the challenge of creating a “new standard” that will measure across “different shows, on different platforms, at different times.” Continue reading Parrot Analytics Develops a New Model for Streaming Metrics

Facebook Audit Finds Company’s Civil Rights Efforts Wanting

Facebook commissioned an audit, and civil rights attorney Laura Murphy with Relman Colfax attorneys delivered an 89-page report that praised the company for adding rules against voter suppression and creating a team to study algorithmic bias. But it also excoriated Facebook for “vexing and heartbreaking decisions [it] has made that represent significant setbacks for civil rights.” Meanwhile, Facebook is still working to address misinformation on its platform. It recently removed accounts belonging to Roger Stone, which were linked to fake accounts active around the 2016 presidential election. Continue reading Facebook Audit Finds Company’s Civil Rights Efforts Wanting

Loon and Telkom Kenya Provide Internet Service via Balloons

Loon, a California-based unit of Alphabet, and Telkom Kenya debuted 4G Internet service in central and western Kenya, a 31,000-square-mile area that includes the capital Nairobi. In preparation, over the last few months Loon launched 35 balloons 12 miles into the sky, above commercial airplanes. Previously, Loon provided Internet service via balloons in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria destroyed all the cell towers in 2017. Telecom executives are watching to see if Loon’s technology is reliable and profitable. Continue reading Loon and Telkom Kenya Provide Internet Service via Balloons

Big Tech Firms Cease Processing User Data From Hong Kong

When China imposed a National Security Law in Hong Kong on June 30, tech companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Dubai’s Telegram Group ceased processing requests for user data from that city in protest. A Facebook spokesperson said the company believes “freedom of expression is a fundamental human right.” Facebook-owned WhatsApp paused reviews “pending further assessment,” including consulting with human rights experts, of the Chinese law. In addition, TikTok stated it will stop offering its social media app in Hong Kong. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Cease Processing User Data From Hong Kong

European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

After failing to have much of an impact on Google with its $8+ billion fine, the European Union devised new regulations, the Digital Services Act (DSA), to rein in Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The new strategy is to create basic rules for data-sharing and digital markets operations. The U.S. is preparing another case against Google, and the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is calling for a “new pro-competition regulatory regime” to control Facebook, Google and other Big Tech companies. Continue reading European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

Pricey Infrastructure Necessary for Success in Cloud Gaming

In the past two years, nearly every major gaming and technology company has debuted a cloud gaming service, from Microsoft’s xCloud and Sony’s PlayStation Now to Google’s Stadia, Nvidia’s GeForce Now and Tencent’s Start. Even Amazon and Facebook are reported to be considering launching cloud gaming units. Behind the scenes, many experts said that, as cloud gaming grows in popularity, the result could be a so-called infrastructure arms race. Worldwide, there are approximately 2 billion gamers. Continue reading Pricey Infrastructure Necessary for Success in Cloud Gaming

Facebook at a Crossroads as More Advertisers Join Boycott

As the advertiser boycott of Facebook grows over its policy to allow hate speech, Facebook is showing the first signs of concern. Last week, its top advertisers — including Coca-Cola, Pfizer and Unilever — paused advertising to signal their displeasure over the social media platform’s stance. In a virtual meeting, said sources, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg doubled down, telling these advertisers that he won’t back down. Now communications chief Nick Clegg stresses the company is trying to curb hate speech. Continue reading Facebook at a Crossroads as More Advertisers Join Boycott

Facebook Unveils Three Prototype Holographic VR Headsets

Facebook just revealed a holographic optical architecture for a future VR headset that will be both thinner and lighter, replacing the current bulkier glasses and headsets. The technology, described in “Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality,” a Siggraph 2020 research paper, uses a “pancake optics” design that combines layers of holographic film with a laser projection system and directional backlights. The results can be either flat imagery or volumetric holograms. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Three Prototype Holographic VR Headsets

Big Tech Firms Face More EU Scrutiny, Facebook Loses Case

The European Union increased its efforts to regulate major U.S. technology companies, including Amazon, Apple and Google, with a new tool that allows it to investigate any potential antitrust issue and force changes without proving illegality. EU antitrust head Margrethe Vestager warned that the tech behemoths potentially risk being broken up as a “last resort” if they don’t adhere to the rules. Meanwhile, a German high court ruled against Facebook finding it abused its social media dominance to illegally harvest user data. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Face More EU Scrutiny, Facebook Loses Case

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