Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

Senate Intelligence Committee hearings will begin today to examine a host of issues regarding big technology firms, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, and weigh whether the issues might be addressed by legislative or executive actions. Those companies already stand accused of not controlling the use of their platforms to disseminate misinformation and, in general, not taking enough responsibility for content. Meanwhile, conservatives accuse the platforms of bias in policing content. Continue reading Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

India Concerned Over Dominance of U.S. Internet Companies

Some Indian leaders are resisting the dominance of U.S. Internet platforms and services such as Facebook’s WhatsApp, Google’s Android mobile operating system and Amazon’s e-commerce business, calling it a form of colonialism and vowing to regulate these foreign companies, especially regarding what they do with users’ personal data and how they might undercut prices offered by local businesses. India’s smartphone market, second largest in the world, is dominated by offerings from China, Taiwan and South Korea. Continue reading India Concerned Over Dominance of U.S. Internet Companies

Mozilla’s Upgraded Firefox to Block Tracking Codes by Default

Mozilla announced that future versions of its Firefox browser will automatically block tracking codes placed by advertisers, third parties or any other company that is not the website publisher. Also blocked will be trackers that take too long to load. Best of all for users, they will not have to download or install new software or change settings to enjoy this increased privacy. According to Mozilla, the new feature is already being tested and will be included in a Firefox version later in 2018. Continue reading Mozilla’s Upgraded Firefox to Block Tracking Codes by Default

Facebook Remains Popular Among U.S. Groups Except Teens

According to the latest eMarketer projections, the number of Facebook users in the United States will increase by only 0.9 percent this year to a total of 169.5 million. While the platform’s growth has leveled in the U.S., it remains the top social network among millennials, Generation X and baby boomers. However, interest in Facebook among U.S. teens continues to decline. Snapchat surpassed Facebook among teens in 2016 — and eMarketer predicts that Snapchat will attract 1.2 million new users ages 12 to 17 by 2022, while Facebook will lose 2.2 million teens during the same time frame. Continue reading Facebook Remains Popular Among U.S. Groups Except Teens

Rotten Tomatoes Diversifies Critic Pool to Strengthen Service

In an effort to make its Tomatometer ranking of movies and TV shows even stronger, popular review aggregation service Rotten Tomatoes made a move this week to add more female and minority reviewers. By revising its criteria for new critics, the service aims to include a wider range of voices, including those from the increasing number of reviewers gaining audiences via podcasts and YouTube. In order to be more inclusive, Rotten Tomatoes has adjusted its requirements that have thus far been based largely on employment duration and scale of publishing. As a result of the changes, 200 new critics were added to the site yesterday. Continue reading Rotten Tomatoes Diversifies Critic Pool to Strengthen Service

Facebook Suspends Apps, Removes its Own From Apple Store

Facebook has suspended 400 apps, about double the number it previously said it removed due to “concerns around the developers who built them or how the information people chose to share with the app may have been used.” The company is now investigating these apps and developers. Elsewhere, after Apple ruled that Facebook’s data-security app violated its data collection policies, Facebook pulled the app from the store. Facebook used the app to track the competition and learn more about new product categories. Continue reading Facebook Suspends Apps, Removes its Own From Apple Store

Roku Expands Reach of Video Channel to the Web and Mobile

Earlier this month, streaming device maker Roku introduced The Roku Channel — its streaming destination for free, ad-supported movies and TV shows — to non-Roku devices for the first time. The rollout started on the web and select Samsung smart TVs, before plans for a wider cross-platform launch. In addition to updating the navigation for Roku players and Roku TVs to access free TV content, the company plans to bring its service to PCs, smartphones and tablets for those consumers who have not purchased Roku devices. Continue reading Roku Expands Reach of Video Channel to the Web and Mobile

Why This Reviewer Hails Mastodon as a Refuge From Twitter

For people who may be growing tired of Twitter, there is Mastodon, an open-source community-run microblogging website that first appeared in 2017. The social media platform lets users post “toots” and “boost” other users’ posts. The decentralized network exists as numerous “instances,” each of which has its own rules and administrators and which together form a “federation.” There is no central server, so if one “instance” stumbles in some way (for example, forgets to pay for the Internet), none of the other instances are harmed. Continue reading Why This Reviewer Hails Mastodon as a Refuge From Twitter

Netflix Is Testing Promotional Videos That Play During Binges

While Netflix bingers may be accustomed to the occasional “Are you still watching?” interruption, some subscribers are now experiencing 10- to 20-second promotional videos, and complaints have suggested that the videos cannot be skipped or muted. Similar to traditional commercials, the videos appear between episodes, reminding users about various series available on the streaming service. The company explained on Sunday that it is merely testing the promotional videos and they can actually be skipped. Netflix did not indicate how many of its more than 100 million subscribers are experiencing the tests. Continue reading Netflix Is Testing Promotional Videos That Play During Binges

Amazon’s Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deals to Rival YouTube

Amazon is boosting content on Twitch by inking exclusive live-streaming deals with media companies and influencers, to better compete with its rival, YouTube. According to sources, Twitch now offers minimum guarantees of up to “a few million dollars a year” plus a piece of future advertising sales and subscription revenue. In return, Amazon demands a minimum number of live-streaming hours per week. Among the deals signed is one with prankster Tanner Braungardt, who has 4 million YouTube subscribers. Continue reading Amazon’s Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deals to Rival YouTube

Verizon Announces 5G Wireless Deals With Apple and Google

Apple and Google will be the first video providers for Verizon’s superfast 5G wireless service, slated to launch later this year in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California. According to those familiar with Verizon’s plan, customers of the home broadband service will have the option to access live television via a free Apple TV box or a free subscription to the YouTube TV app. Verizon plans to introduce online services using 5G technology that matches or exceeds the speeds of landline offerings. Continue reading Verizon Announces 5G Wireless Deals With Apple and Google

India Drafts Regulations to Protect Domestic Tech Companies

Although India is one of the world’s biggest, largely untapped open markets, the government there is attempting to control the influence of such U.S. tech companies as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and others. Mimicking China’s regulations to control and protect its population’s data and domestic startups, Indian lawmakers are proposing regulations that are worrying to U.S. tech behemoths that have been eyeing the country — and creating plans to enter it — as a potential source of billion-dollar profits. Continue reading India Drafts Regulations to Protect Domestic Tech Companies

Consolidation Is Reducing the Number of Indie Ad Tech Firms

As Google and Facebook lock up their dominance over advertising dollars, smaller ad tech companies are withering. In 2015, according to CB Insights, venture capital financing for these smaller companies peaked at $2.92 billion. This year, the total dollars going to these firms is slated to be half of that number. As a result, the number of smaller independent firms is diminishing, plummeting 21 percent since 2013. LUMA Partners reported that, by Q2 2018, there were only 185 such companies left. Continue reading Consolidation Is Reducing the Number of Indie Ad Tech Firms

Samsung Tackles Home Networking With SmartThings Router

Samsung has launched its SmartThings Wifi router to provide consumers with fast, secure home networking and a reliable smart home hub. Currently available in the U.S. for $120 per single unit or $280 for a 3-pack, the new router leverages artificial intelligence for Wi-Fi management and faster speeds — in addition to mesh networking for optimized Wi-Fi coverage. According to Samsung, a single unit covers up to 1,500 square feet; deploying multiple units helps ensure strong signals throughout the home while minimizing dead zones. Continue reading Samsung Tackles Home Networking With SmartThings Router

New Research Underlines the Ongoing Strength of P2P Piracy

Anti-piracy company Irdeto has revealed that P2P piracy is booming and still more popular than streaming in several countries. P2P traffic — mostly of the BitTorrent variety — continues to be a significant source of content for streaming portals hosting pirated content. Irdeto’s report comes at a time when Hollywood has focused its attention on streaming sites and services that distribute pirated content. Irdeto’s research examines web traffic to 962 piracy sites in 19 countries where P2P was the “dominant piracy tool.” Continue reading New Research Underlines the Ongoing Strength of P2P Piracy

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