Politicians Ban Social Media Platforms From Removing Posts

Brazil and the U.S. state of Texas both banned social media companies from removing certain posts containing political viewpoints. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro’s ban is temporary, and focuses on content in which he claims the only way he will lose next year’s election is if the vote if rigged. Legal experts say this is the first time a national government stopped an Internet company from taking down content that violates their rules. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill forbidding social media platforms from removing posts because of political views. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are among those expected to fight the Texas legislation. Continue reading Politicians Ban Social Media Platforms From Removing Posts

Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

All politics may be local, but you can expect less of it to be social. As of August 31, Facebook began reducing political content that appears in its News Feed. The move comes as the social media giant attempts to beat back a barrage of criticism for spreading misinformation through the use of algorithms that appear to reward click-generating controversies over level-headed dialogue. The new content modification is “in response to common feedback from our community,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Continue reading Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

Google Updates Search to Boost Safe, Mobile-Friendly Sites

By the end of this month, Google will update its site with a new “page experience” designed to limit user frustration that results from slow-loading sites. Google will assess websites via three core web metrics, giving preference and higher placement to those that offer 1) secure connections, 2) lack of intrusive elements such as pop-ups and 3) are mobile-friendly. Publishers have expressed concern about this expected update, but some experts, such as RustyBrick chief executive Barry Schwartz, say the “overall impact” will be minimal. Continue reading Google Updates Search to Boost Safe, Mobile-Friendly Sites

Google AI-Enabled MUM Aims to Reinvent, Empower Search

Google revealed its work on a new AI-enabled Internet search tool dubbed MUM (Multitask Unified Model), which can “read” the nuances globally of human language. The company says that users will be able to find information more readily and be able to ask abstract questions. MUM is not yet publicly available but Google independently used it for a COVID-19 related project. Vice president of search Pandu Nayak and a colleague designed an “experience” that gave in-depth information on vaccines when users searched for them. Continue reading Google AI-Enabled MUM Aims to Reinvent, Empower Search

China Boosts Control by Buying Stakes in ByteDance, Weibo

China is strengthening its control of Internet content companies by increasing regulatory scrutiny, buying stakes in companies and filling board seats among other actions. Most recently, a state-backed company purchased 1 percent of the shares of ByteDance, parent company of TikTok, which gave it the right to appoint a director to its board. Weibo also sold a 1 percent stake to a state investor and gave it a seat on its board of directors. China has discussed owning shares of social media companies since 2016. Continue reading China Boosts Control by Buying Stakes in ByteDance, Weibo

Twitter to Study Misinformation by Letting Users Flag Tweets

Twitter is testing a new feature in a few markets that will allow users to flag posts that contain misinformation, similar to how they can already report spam or abuse. The company — which doesn’t have a strong fact-checking unit — plans to use the feature to study misinformation on the platform rather than review the user-identified tweets for legitimacy or respond to the reporting user with updates. Currently, Twitter only fact-checks tweets on elections, COVID-19 and other “select categories.” Continue reading Twitter to Study Misinformation by Letting Users Flag Tweets

Twitter Chooses Crypto Developer to Lead Its Bluesky Project

Twitter has selected startup founder and cryptocurrency developer Jay Graber to head up its open-source project Bluesky. Although Twitter funds Bluesky, it will operate independently of the social giant. Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey stated that Bluesky is his “biggest focus right now,” and Graber explained that she is “excited to take on this role and build the future of social media.” Dorsey established Bluesky to create protocol technology that would break down the boundaries between various social media services. Continue reading Twitter Chooses Crypto Developer to Lead Its Bluesky Project

Netflix Blocks Home IP Addresses in Geo-Fencing Crackdown

Netflix now blocks residential IP addresses in its efforts to stymie VPN and proxy users from bypassing geographical restrictions. But some ordinary Internet users without a VPN have been impacted and now report “missing content” on Netflix. When Netflix began this crackdown six years ago, it was in response to copyright holders complaining about piracy. But the ban hit a lot of legitimate VPN users and VPN pirates found other ways to get around geographic blocking including using residential IP addresses as proxies. Continue reading Netflix Blocks Home IP Addresses in Geo-Fencing Crackdown

Congress Pushes Bill to Spend Billions on Broadband Access

Congress advanced legislation to spend $65 billion to expand high-speed Internet access across the country. The government estimates 14 million U.S. households don’t have broadband, but other sources believe the figure is 40 million or higher. The measure’s allocation of $65 billion for broadband, which in part would subsidize low-income households, would be the biggest ever spent in the United States. Approved by the Senate as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure measure, the measure now faces a vote in the House. Continue reading Congress Pushes Bill to Spend Billions on Broadband Access

Gawker Is Revived with New Design, Familiar Irreverent Tone

Gawker — the former online site covering news related to celebrities, media figures and tech entrepreneurs — is live again, headed by Leah Finnegan who has held editing positions with The Outline, The New York Times and The Huffington Post. Started by journalist Nick Denton in 2002, Gawker became an irreverent digital destination and the base of Gawker Media, which also included Deadspin for sports, Gizmodo for technology and Kotaku for gaming. The company was brought down by a 2016 invasion-of-privacy lawsuit filed by Hulk Hogan (and bankrolled by Silicon Valley’s Peter Thiel). Continue reading Gawker Is Revived with New Design, Familiar Irreverent Tone

Comcast Adds Record Q2 Broadband and Cable Customers

Comcast posted Q2 results that beat Wall Street expectations: revenue of $28.55 billion versus the $27.18 billion predicted by Refinitiv, and adjusted earnings per share of 84 cents, versus Refinitiv’s prediction of 67 cents. Comcast said its NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock is now at 54 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Comcast’s high-speed Internet service added 354,000 customers (its highest ever for Q2), versus StreetAccount’s estimate of 270,000. Comcast also had its second best Q2 for total customer relationships, adding 294,000. Continue reading Comcast Adds Record Q2 Broadband and Cable Customers

Amazon Has Strong Q2, Earnings Helped by Cloud, Ad Sales

Amazon posted its third consecutive $100 billion quarter during Q2 this year; revenue grew 27 percent year-over-year to $113.08 billion. Refinitiv revealed earnings of $15.12 versus $12.30 per share, and revenue of $113.08 billion versus $115.2 billion. However, Amazon predicts slightly slower growth for the upcoming quarters. In Q3, the company estimates its operating profit would land somewhere between $2.5 billion and $6 billion. According to chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky, “most of Amazon’s 2021 spend and building openings are planned for the second-half of the year.” Continue reading Amazon Has Strong Q2, Earnings Helped by Cloud, Ad Sales

California Opts to Build Statewide Middle-Mile Fiber Network

California passed AB126 to build a statewide, open-access fiber network, with a vote of 78-0 in the California Assembly and 39-0 in the Senate. The fiber network will operate as a “middle mile” network carrying data from Internet backbone networks to urban and rural connection points where local ISPs take it the “last mile” to residences. The network will offer “non-discriminatory access to eligible entities on a technology and competitively neutral basis, regardless of whether the entity is privately or publicly owned.” Continue reading California Opts to Build Statewide Middle-Mile Fiber Network

Government Accountability Office Calls for Faster Broadband

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report stating that the FCC’s current broadband minimum benchmark speeds — 25Mbps for downloading and 3Mbps for uploading — are too slow for many small business needs today. This benchmark was implemented in 2015 under FCC chair Tom Wheeler and was not updated by the next chair, Ajit Pai. Wheeler updated it from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream during his four-year term, an increase opposed by Republicans and the broadband industry. Continue reading Government Accountability Office Calls for Faster Broadband

EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, is calling for greater global alignment on tech regulation, noting “we do not have a global competition enforcer, but we have global companies.” Vestager added she was “really encouraged” by the Biden administration’s efforts to take similar actions in the U.S. with the 72 actions listed in his recent executive order that focused on Big Tech’s collection of data, surveillance practices and acquisitions of startups. Continue reading EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

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