German Antitrust Ruling Restrains Facebook Data Collection

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the country’s competition authority, issued an antitrust argument to restrict Facebook’s data collection. Stating that Facebook currently provides users with a stark choice between allowing the company to collect unlimited data or not using the site, the Federal Cartel Office stated that Facebook must allow users to refuse the company’s bid to collect their data and automatically merge it with data from Instagram, WhatsApp and non-Facebook sites. The decision impacts 32 million German users. Continue reading German Antitrust Ruling Restrains Facebook Data Collection

Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

The number of Snapchat app users will remain the same this quarter, news that was a relief to investors and helped propel Snap shares up 22 percent, to $8.62 in after hours trading. Since it went public in March 2017, Snapchat has competed with Facebook’s Instagram, which adopted many Snapchat features. Snap also redesigned the app, to the dismay of some advertisers and users. In Q4, Snap, with 186 million daily active users, was on a par with the previous quarter, although down one million from the same period a year ago. Continue reading Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

WhatsApp Combats Fake News as India Preps for Elections

In India, where fake news on Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging platform has led to violence, company executives publicly described a plan to stop the flow of misinformation. India is WhatsApp’s largest market, and WhatsApp’s announcement comes as India prepares for its biggest election. Based on machine learning, said software engineer Matt Jones, the new system will use data of past activity to bar automated fake accounts and troublemakers at three stages: when registering, while messaging and when reported by others. Continue reading WhatsApp Combats Fake News as India Preps for Elections

Twitter Releases Daily Active Users Total For the First Time

Twitter shared details regarding its total number of daily users for the first time, and it turns out the platform has more than 60 million fewer daily users than Snapchat, and significantly less users than Facebook’s messaging service WhatsApp. However, since Twitter currently has 126 million daily active users (DAU), that means about 39 percent of its monthly active users (MAU) are now using the app on a daily basis, which should prove to be an important metric to investors as it shows that Twitter is in fact growing. Continue reading Twitter Releases Daily Active Users Total For the First Time

Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Alphabet’s revenue is booming, but its costs are also increasing, the result of its efforts to diversify beyond online advertising. Thus, although Internet search showed very strong returns, Alphabet shares fell in after-hours trading due to its shrinking margins and slower revenue growth. In addition to its Google search engine, Alphabet comprises YouTube and Waymo self-driving car divisions. The parent company’s increased spending on those two divisions in Q4 pushed margins down to 21 percent from 24 percent a year earlier. Continue reading Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

Ireland, where many U.S. tech firms have European headquarters, is investigating Facebook in seven separate cases. Ireland’s data protection commissioner Helen Dixon reported that these probes are among 16 cases looking into Apple, LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram. She added that the Irish and EU investigations are “centered on the activities of very big Internet companies with tens and hundreds of millions of users,” which would be “a very large factor when looking at the scale of a fine.” Continue reading Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

Apple Agrees to Pay Large Amount in Back-Taxes to France

Apple revealed it has reached a deal with French authorities to pay back-dated taxes, reportedly in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Apple’s French division did not disclose the specific amount, but French media has reported it to be around 500 million euros, or $571 million U.S. “As a multinational company, Apple is regularly audited by fiscal authorities around the world,” explained Apple France in a statement. “The French tax administration recently concluded a multi-year audit on the company’s French accounts, and those details will be published in our public accounts.” Continue reading Apple Agrees to Pay Large Amount in Back-Taxes to France

Twitter and Facebook Uncover Deceptive Global Campaigns

In the wake of Russia using social media to spread misinformation, Bangladesh, Venezuela and Iran are following suit, the first two in order to assert government talking points and the latter to spread fake news on everything from the war in Syria to September 11 conspiracy theories. These social media disinformation campaigns come at a time that several countries, including India and the Ukraine, are preparing for national elections. Disinformation reportedly played a role in the recent contentious election in Brazil. Facebook and Twitter indicate they are investigating such misuse of their platforms and taking down offending accounts. Continue reading Twitter and Facebook Uncover Deceptive Global Campaigns

Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

An investigation reveals that Facebook has been secretly paying users ages 13 to 35 since 2016 to install an iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app that gives the company access to all of their smartphone and Internet activity. The Research app is similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and may also be a violation of Apple policy. Legislators on both sides of the aisle were infuriated at the news, decrying the surveillance technology. Facebook’s earlier Onavo app was also criticized as spyware.

Continue reading Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

Facebook, Google Continue to Experience Digital Ad Growth

Despite the widespread pushback against their privacy policies and lack of regulation, Facebook and Google are enjoying booming ad sales. According to industry analysts, robust consumer spending and the continued evolution from brick-and-mortars to online shopping is what’s keeping digital ad sales healthy. At online advertising agency Merkle, associate director of research Andy Taylor noted that, despite its woes, Facebook — especially Instagram — continues to do well among advertisers. Continue reading Facebook, Google Continue to Experience Digital Ad Growth

Facebook Unveils Tools to Prevent the Spread of Fake News

Facebook is unveiling new tools to prevent the spread of fake news and misinformation, including making more information available about political ads on its platform. The tools will first debut in India next month and then to the European Union in March. Facebook is also tweaking its moderation, announcing plans for an outside group or board to review its content decisions, giving it authority to reverse internal content decisions. The board will be comprised of 40 members worldwide chosen by Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Tools to Prevent the Spread of Fake News

Snapchat Considers Shift in Its Model With Permanent Snaps

Snap Inc. is reportedly mulling the introduction of longer lasting or permanent content to its popular Snapchat app, which has found a significant audience with a model based on disappearing photos and videos. Changing its most iconic feature would mark a major departure for Snap, but could lead to a much needed revenue source for the company if it doesn’t alienate its current users. Snapchat, which launched in 2011, is particularly popular with teens and millennials. Snap is also said to be considering an option that would allow for identifying users who create public posts. Continue reading Snapchat Considers Shift in Its Model With Permanent Snaps

Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

The potential of augmented reality is massive but despite software development kits including Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore, Amazon Sumerian and Microsoft’s Mixed Reality ecosystem, actual implementations have been limited. That’s because the current cloud infrastructure constrains actual consumer-facing AR projects. The popularity of “Pokémon Go” in summer of 2016 was an example of that; at the first Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, 20,000 players experienced slowdowns and outages due to constrained network bandwidth. Continue reading Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption. Continue reading Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook Expands Its Takedown Powers Over Fake Content

Facebook has changed its policy to make it much easier to take down fraudulent pages and groups, in its efforts to suppress fake news and propaganda. Up until now, a troll has been able to create multiple fake pages and Facebook has had to close each page or group individually. Facebook stated, it “may now also remove other Pages and Groups with similar names that are maintained by the same person, even if that specific Page or Group has not met the threshold to be unpublished on its own.” Continue reading Facebook Expands Its Takedown Powers Over Fake Content

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