Government Considering Lawsuits Against Facebook, Google

According to sources, the Federal Trade Commission — after investigating concerns about Facebook’s efforts to stifle competition — may be readying an antitrust lawsuit by the end of the year. The same sources said, however, that the FTC doesn’t always bring a case after making preparations to do so and that no final decision has been made. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators has put Google in the crosshairs regarding its dominance in the chain of technologies connecting digital publishers with advertisers. Continue reading Government Considering Lawsuits Against Facebook, Google

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

TikTok Takes a Stand, Stating Intent to Sue Trump Over Ban

Next week, TikTok plans to file a suit against the Trump Administration over its executive order to block the app, claiming that it has been “unfairly and incorrectly treated as a security threat.” TikTok spokesperson Josh Gartner noted that, “for nearly a year we have sought to engage in good faith to provide a constructive solution … what we encountered instead was a lack of due process.” TikTok is also trying to encourage its 1,500 U.S.-based employees, while putting aside plans to hire 10,000 more and open new offices. Continue reading TikTok Takes a Stand, Stating Intent to Sue Trump Over Ban

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

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

Instagram Reels, Rival to TikTok, Launches in 50+ Countries

Facebook’s Instagram debuted Reels, its short-video feature designed to compete with Chinese app TikTok. Instagram previously aped Snapchat’s disappearing photos with its own Instagram Stories, which has since become hugely popular. TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer called out Reels as a “copycat product,” but Instagram director of product Robby Stein said that Instagram plans to distinguish Reels from the competition by “adapting to users.” The launch takes place amid tumult over TikTok’s future in the U.S. Continue reading Instagram Reels, Rival to TikTok, Launches in 50+ Countries

Influencers Test Rival Apps Due to TikTok’s Uncertain Future

With Trump administration threats to ban Chinese app TikTok, that platform’s creators are worried about its future viability. Potential TikTok rivals such as Byte and Triller are wooing TikTok influencers (and other users), even offering cash to make the switch. Short-form video app Clash, for example, debuted its services months earlier than planned and Facebook’s Instagram is about to debut its TikTok-like service Reels. The rising tension between the countries also impacts U.S. app developers that aim to launch in China. Continue reading Influencers Test Rival Apps Due to TikTok’s Uncertain Future

Big Tech Executives Are Grilled During Congressional Hearing

At a congressional hearing this week, the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google endured frustration and hostile criticism from bipartisan lawmakers. House Antitrust Subcommittee chair David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) started by saying that, “Our founders would not bow before a king. Nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy,” referring to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai. The companies are collectively worth almost $5 trillion. Continue reading Big Tech Executives Are Grilled During Congressional Hearing

Facebook Lures TikTok Creators to Its Reels With Big Payday

Instagram has offered lucrative deals to some of TikTok’s top video creators to switch to its new competing service Reels, which parent company Facebook plans to debut early next month. According to sources, potential payments for some creators could be “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Similar to TikTok, Reels is a platform that allows users to share short-form video content. Some TikTok creators have amassed large followings, and have been paid by brands to promote products, wear branded clothing or use specific songs. Continue reading Facebook Lures TikTok Creators to Its Reels With Big Payday

Latest Twitter Hack Puts Spotlight on Internal Security Issues

Since 2015, Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and the company board have been warned annually about internal cybersecurity risks. In fact, there are about 1,500 employees plus contractors with the power to make changes in 186 million daily user accounts, and the company had experienced breaches due to internal sources. Then, on July 15, hackers tricked employees to compromise 130 Twitter accounts, including those of Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Elon Musk, stealing data from eight unidentified accounts. Continue reading Latest Twitter Hack Puts Spotlight on Internal Security Issues

Facebook Greenlights Equity Teams to Study Algorithmic Bias

Facebook-owned Instagram created an “equity and inclusion team” to look at how Black, Hispanic and other U.S. minority users are impacted by the company’s algorithms and machine-learning systems. An Instagram spokesperson revealed that Facebook is planning a similar team. Only last year, Facebook wouldn’t allow employees to study the issue of bias introduced by algorithms, so the move is a reversal. Meanwhile, the advertiser boycott against Facebook, in part for how it deals with racial issues, is still in effect. Continue reading Facebook Greenlights Equity Teams to Study Algorithmic Bias

Musicians Experiment With Live Streaming During Coronavirus

Since COVID-19 shut down in-person concerts, live-streaming versions from the likes of Diplo, John Legend and Keith Urban have become the norm. At first the streamed concerts were mostly free and aimed at soothing nerves or raising money for charity. Since then, concerts have become more professionally produced while artists also experiment with interactive Q&A sessions, specialized mini-concerts and performing in video games. Some artists, like Erykah Badu, built their own platforms — and venues, media organizations like Billboard and NPR, and even retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Navy Exchange started participating. Continue reading Musicians Experiment With Live Streaming During Coronavirus

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

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