Shopify Shop Pay to Roll Out on Instagram, Facebook Shops

Social commerce platform Shopify is coming to Instagram and Facebook Shops, enabling users to complete purchases via Shop Pay, which has 60 million global users. Shop Pay stores credit card and shipping information to speed online checkout, Until now, it has only been available on Shopify clients’ e-commerce stores. Shop Pay also lets users track packages or pay in installments. Facebook currently also offers PayPal, which has 377 million active accounts, including 16 million added in the most recent quarter. Continue reading Shopify Shop Pay to Roll Out on Instagram, Facebook Shops

Facebook Parries Apple’s Privacy Policy with Its Own Prompt

In response to Apple’s changes that require users’ consent to track their behavior, Facebook — which claims the privacy change will make targeted advertising too difficult — has responded with its own solution. The social media company plans to introduce an in-app prompt that asks users to give permission to use data collected from apps and third-party websites and provides information on how the data is used for personalized ads. That screen will appear with the Apple prompt detailing its new privacy policy. Continue reading Facebook Parries Apple’s Privacy Policy with Its Own Prompt

Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has identified Apple as one of the company’s biggest rivals, even as it posted record-breaking revenue and profit in Q4. The two companies have clashed over data collection, app-store fees and, most recently, Apple’s plan to enable users to opt-out of data collection by third-party apps. That disadvantages Facebook, which has become an online advertising giant. Zuckerberg noted that Apple’s move will interfere with Facebook’s ability to target ads to its 1.85 billion daily users. Continue reading Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple

Bipartisan Efforts Underway to Regulate Big Tech Companies

Senator Amy Klobuchar, once an avid supporter of Big Tech companies and now Senate antitrust panel leader, is expected to play a role in bipartisan efforts to impose regulations on those companies’ market power and data privacy policies. Facebook and Google face federal and state allegations of anticompetitive behavior and Amazon and Apple are under investigation for antitrust violations. President Biden and others in his administration have vowed to hold Big Tech accountable for users’ speech on their sites. Continue reading Bipartisan Efforts Underway to Regulate Big Tech Companies

TikTok Evolved to Become Major Cultural Platform This Year

TikTok debuted in the U.S. in August 2018 and by April 2020 had amassed 2+ billion downloads. By fall of this year it racked up an estimated 850 million monthly active users. While many people still think of TikTok as an app for children and young people, it has become a “rich social and entertainment network” that has impacted online dance culture, the fashion and music industries, and much more. Thousands of TikTok creators recently recreated Pixar’s “Ratatouille” animated feature in 60-second contributions of songs, dances, set designs and puppets. Continue reading TikTok Evolved to Become Major Cultural Platform This Year

Walmart and TikTok Team Up for Shopping via Live Streaming

Walmart and TikTok partnered to create a shoppable one-hour live-stream event let week — the Holiday Shop-Along Spectacular — that allowed TikTok creators to feature Walmart fashion items that users can buy without leaving the app. This is the first time that TikTok has hosted such a shoppable live stream in the U.S. Following the event, the items will continue to be featured and available for sale on Walmart’s TikTok page. Walmart is not sharing revenues with TikTok. Meanwhile, Instagram is also bringing shopping to Reels. Continue reading Walmart and TikTok Team Up for Shopping via Live Streaming

ETC Executive Coffee: USC Students Meet with Dolby Execs

In the final Fall 2020 installment of ETC@USC’s Executive Coffee with… series on November 12, Dolby Laboratories proposed two discussion topics: 1) Virtual and augmented reality; what are they good for, and what concerns you about them? And 2) Privacy, security and controlling your own data. Richard Doherty, senior director of technology strategy, Office of the CTO at Dolby Labs led a group of 14 Dolby employees in a discussion with seven USC students studying cinema, engineering, music, communication and business. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: USC Students Meet with Dolby Execs

Lawsuits Against Facebook Also Target Data Sharing via APIs

This week, the Federal Trade Commission and 46 state attorneys general filed lawsuits against Facebook for anticompetitive practices. But it is also looking at how Facebook leveraged user data to both lure and control third party developers, relying heavily on data sharing via application programming interfaces (APIs). MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy director Sinan Aral noted that the upcoming cases could set a precedent for any platform that shares data via an API and has conditions on that data sharing.

Continue reading Lawsuits Against Facebook Also Target Data Sharing via APIs

FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

After an 18+ month investigation, the Federal Trade Commission and regulators from 46 states have officially accused Facebook of anticompetitive behavior by purchasing rivals. The separate lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Facebook currently owns three major messaging apps and the suits call for the company’s purchase of Instagram (for $1 billion in 2012) and WhatsApp (for $19 billion in 2014) to be undone. Since the acquisitions, both messaging apps have exploded in popularity. Continue reading FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

Facebook Plans to Buy Customer Service Startup Kustomer

Facebook disclosed plans to buy Kustomer, a customer relationship management startup, in a deal valued by sources at close to $1 billion. Crunchbase stated the New York-based Kustomer has raised about $170 million in venture capital funding. Kustomer would help Facebook provide customer support on its main platform and its services such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. The deal, subject to regulatory scrutiny, comes as Facebook is already being investigated for its acquisition of startups as anticompetitive behavior. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Buy Customer Service Startup Kustomer

Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

Snap is introducing a video-sharing feature called Spotlight designed to help its Snapchat app better compete with TikTok and Instagram Reels. Spotlight allows the creation of content that could go viral, a marked difference from its long-time focus on communication between friends and curated posts. Snap will spend $1+ million a day to reward those who post the best content and highlight top snaps to its 249+ million daily users in a feed they can swipe or tap. With Spotlight, Snap hopes customers increase the time they spend on the app. It also opens the door to advertising. Continue reading Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

Sources said that state and federal investigators plan to bring antitrust charges against Facebook, with a focus on whether its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp created an anticompetitive environment. Investigators examined how Instagram and WhatsApp changed after they were acquired and whether customers had fewer privacy protections. When Facebook purchased WhatsApp in 2014, it vowed to customers and regulators to preserve its strong privacy protections, but later tried to integrate user data into its other services. Continue reading Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

Twitter is launching Fleets, a feature that allows users to post photos or text that will disappear after 24 hours. Snapchat pioneered the ephemeral post, followed by Instagram and Facebook. Rollout of the Stories-like feature is moving forward, but has been scaled back as Twitter addresses “some performance and stability problems.” The platform’s “global town square” continues to be its “marquee product” but, said Twitter director of design Joshua Harris, the Fleets feature creates a space with less pressure for users who lurk but don’t post. The company is also testing Spaces, a new audio feature similar to Clubhouse, a startup that debuted earlier this year. Continue reading Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

TikTok Popularity Surge Continues as U.S. Ultimatum Looms

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for more time to work out the preliminary deal to sell its U.S. operations to Oracle and Walmart. November 12 is the deadline for the deal to be completed. The company also stated it had been in discussions with the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), but “feedback had stopped” in recent weeks despite the approaching deadline. App Annie reports that TikTok’s substantial growth is expected to continue throughout 2021. Continue reading TikTok Popularity Surge Continues as U.S. Ultimatum Looms

Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

In an otherwise glum economic picture, Big Tech companies have boomed. The general economy is improving, while Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are reporting profits that suggest they may be capable of generating the kind of wealth that a single industry hasn’t seen in generations. In fact, those four companies had a quarterly net profit of $38 billion, despite regulator scrutiny and other obstacles. Amazon saw an almost 200 percent rise in profits, and Facebook had a stupendous quarter, despite the advertiser boycott. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

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