Facebook’s New Tool Offers Transparency on Data Sharing

Facebook has long collected information about its users’ browsing behavior, even when they weren’t using its platform. Now, it’s introduced a tool, Off-Facebook Activity, that lets users see and control the information gathered outside of the social network. The tool gives users a summary of the third-party websites and apps that share data with Facebook. The company noted that people generally have 80+ apps on their phones and use about half of them per month, making it difficult to track the data’s use. Continue reading Facebook’s New Tool Offers Transparency on Data Sharing

Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

A bipartisan group of Congress members castigated Facebook for hiring contractors to transcribe audio clips and urged regulation to prevent it in the future. The transcriptions were made to help Facebook improve its artificial intelligence-enabled speech recognition, and are part of a move to improve the capabilities of voice assistants (Amazon, Apple and Google are among companies that have taken similar approaches). Last year, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) circulated a draft law that would impose steep fines and even prison for executives who failed to protect users’ personal data. Continue reading Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

Federal Trade Commission chair Joe Simons stated that, in the face of anti-competitive and antitrust behavior, he would be willing to break up the big tech companies, although, “it’s not ideal because it’s messy.” He’s head of a task force to examine these behemoths, including a close look at whether Facebook acquired startups, such as Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, to stifle competition. The FTC approved both purchases. The FTC is working in parallel with the Justice Department’s antitrust unit. Continue reading FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Under pressure from legislators and others, Facebook has taken steps to protect itself. According to sources, the company ceased talks to buy video-focused social network Houseparty to forestall increased antitrust concerns. In response to calls to break up Facebook, the company took internal measures to make that more difficult to do by reorganizing its departments and rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp. Elsewhere, the European Union is expected to issue decisions by the end of the year related to privacy issues involving Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Draft Executive Order Gives FCC, FTC Sway Over Internet

According to sources, the White House drafted an executive order that would give the Federal Communications Commission the power to determine how Facebook, Twitter and other large tech companies curate their websites. The FCC would be tasked with developing regulations on how (and when) the law protects social media platforms when they remove or suppress content, and also charges the Federal Trade Commission with taking the new regulations into account when investigating or suing these companies. Continue reading Draft Executive Order Gives FCC, FTC Sway Over Internet

Verizon to Sell Tumblr to WordPress Owner Automattic Inc.

Verizon announced that it is selling New York-based Tumblr to WordPress parent company Automattic Inc. Terms of the deal have not been formally announced, although some reports suggest that Automattic paid less than $3 million. Verizon purchased Tumblr in 2017 following its Yahoo acquisition; Yahoo paid $1.1 billion for the blogging platform four years earlier. Today, Tumblr is an active social networking hub and home to 475 million blogs. While it has a dedicated community, it does not share the same cultural impact as platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Continue reading Verizon to Sell Tumblr to WordPress Owner Automattic Inc.

Some Execs Oppose Rebranding of Popular Facebook Apps

Facebook is adding its name to Instagram and WhatsApp as part of a decision to unify its apps by branding them with the parent company’s name. The Facebook moniker will be visible on marketing and within the apps. Some Facebook employees purportedly oppose the move. The rebranding will bring the two popular apps in line with the naming conventions of Oculus, Portal and Workplace. The move to rebrand the two apps was first discovered in March, but at the time Facebook said it was just “testing the change” on a handful of users. Continue reading Some Execs Oppose Rebranding of Popular Facebook Apps

FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg purchased startups to forestall the competition they might pose. Sources said that the FTC is already reaching out to the founders of some of these startups. S&P Global estimates that Facebook has purchased about 90 companies over the past 15 years. Facebook isn’t alone in this behavior. A U.K. antitrust panel reported that the top five tech companies have acquired more than 400 companies over the last decade. Continue reading FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

Costs of Teaming With Social Media Influencers on the Rise

Recent reports from influencer marketing services indicate that brands and marketers are concerned with the growing costs of working with social influencers. According to a Mediakix survey, more than one-third of marketers in the U.S. explained that the rising cost in this space has become a significant challenge to marketing. A report from Klear points out that nano-influencers on YouTube (with 500 to 5,000 followers) earn an average of $315 per video, and power-influencers (with 30,000 to 500,000 followers) charge an average of $782 per video. Continue reading Costs of Teaming With Social Media Influencers on the Rise

AWE Nite LA: Immersive Technologies & the 2020 Election

The impact of social media and the Internet on today’s political arena is undeniable, but how will the emerging world of deep fakes, virtual influencers and augmented technologies tip the scales in 2020? During an AWE Nite LA meetup this week at the Phase Two co-working space in Los Angeles, the ETC’s Phil Lelyveld moderated a panel on the impact of emerging technologies on the 2020 presidential election. Panelists included machine learning expert Stanley Bishop, journalism professor Robert Hernandez, filmmaker and Artie founder Armando Kirwin, and bot creator Sally Slade. Continue reading AWE Nite LA: Immersive Technologies & the 2020 Election

Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Facebook’s Instagram began testing a new approach with users in Canada two months ago and this week expanded its efforts to include users in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The experiment removes emphasis on the “Like” feature to minimize the pressure to compete, while hopefully creating a more personal and enjoyable experience. Users are still able to see who liked other people’s posts or watched their videos, but there is no longer a running tally of the number of likes and views (however, users can still privately see the counts for their own posts). Continue reading Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Republican and Democratic lawmakers excoriated tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google this week on Capitol Hill. Chief among the critics were Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who oversees the Constitution subcommittee, and Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) who leads an antitrust subcommittee. Although the companies acknowledged the upheaval their technology has created in many industries, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded that, “every time Americans trust you, they seem to get burned.” Continue reading Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

YouTube, Facebook Lure Creators With Monetization Tools

YouTube and Facebook are looking to compete with other social platforms by offering creators more direct monetization tools. At VidCon in Anaheim, YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan revealed that the number of YouTube personalities earning five to six figures annually has jumped 40 percent year-over-year. YouTube’s new tools will help these YouTubers earn money directly from their followers. Ahead of VidCon, Facebook hosted its “Facebook Creator Day” in Malibu, during which it showcased monetization tools, including virtual stars that can be gifted to creators and a program that enables fans to pay creators for exclusive content. Continue reading YouTube, Facebook Lure Creators With Monetization Tools

Snapchat Intros Celeb Creator Shows, Shares Ad Revenue

Snapchat began streaming first-person ‘Creator Shows’ this week featuring celebrities and social influencers in the same vertical video approach of the platform’s collection of original series. Notable celebs such as Kevin Hart, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Serena Williams can now stream their short-form videos on Snapchat and monetize their efforts through an ad-revenue sharing model (specific terms have not been revealed, but sources note that Snap’s standard deal with media companies is typically a 50 percent split). Continue reading Snapchat Intros Celeb Creator Shows, Shares Ad Revenue

Proposed Law Would Make Media Platforms Liable for Posts

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) introduced legislation to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to hold big tech companies such as Facebook and YouTube liable for content published on their platforms. Tech companies now have protection under Section 230 from being found liable for what users post. Known as the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, the proposed legislation has sparked backlash from both sides of the aisle. According to Hawley’s office, his bill is aimed to limit political bias. Continue reading Proposed Law Would Make Media Platforms Liable for Posts

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