Facebook and Twitter Execs Answer Questions on Capitol Hill

In Washington DC, as Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey were concluding testimony on efforts to repel foreign interference ahead of the midterm elections, Attorney General Jeff Sessions dropped a bombshell. He stated plans to convene state attorneys general on September 25 to look at what the Justice Department said is the intentional “stifling [of] the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.” Google, which had been invited to testify, did not send a representative. Continue reading Facebook and Twitter Execs Answer Questions on Capitol Hill

Sanders’ Proposed Tax Bill Aimed at Amazon and Jeff Bezos

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) introduced a bill to tax big companies whose employees need federal benefits to stay afloat. In doing so, he targeted Amazon founder/chief executive Jeff Bezos, who, said Sanders, “could play a profound role” by ensuring his employees earn a living wage. “This would not only improve lives for thousands of people at Amazon; it would send a message to every corporation in America that that’s where we should be going as a nation,” said the senator, whose bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California). Continue reading Sanders’ Proposed Tax Bill Aimed at Amazon and Jeff Bezos

HPA Tech Retreat: Call for Proposals and Roundtable Topics

The Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) just called for proposals for the 2019 HPA Tech Retreat, which will take place February 11–15 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, California. Proposals submitted during this process make up the main portion of the conference, which focuses on the intersection of creative media and technology. The HPA Tech Retreat is made up of the Tech Retreat Extra (TR-X), the Supersession, breakfast roundtables, an Innovation Zone, and the main conference. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Call for Proposals and Roundtable Topics

Instagram Eyes E-Commerce With Standalone Shopping App

Facebook’s photo- and video-sharing service Instagram is reportedly developing a standalone app designed specifically for shopping. The app, possibly to be named IG Shopping, is expected to help users browse products from merchants and businesses and then make purchases directly within the app. The Verge initially broke the news based on information from sources familiar with the matter, but Instagram has yet to confirm the app or a potential launch date. According to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, over 25 million businesses presently have Instagram accounts, 2 million of which are advertisers. Continue reading Instagram Eyes E-Commerce With Standalone Shopping App

EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

The EU’s European Commission announced its plans to make Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services operating within the European Union to dedicate at least 30 percent of their catalogs to content produced locally. A final vote approving the new law, described as “a mere formality” by Roberto Viola of the European Commission, is expected in December. The European Union plans to publish a report that details the percentages of European projects that are tied to multiple streaming platforms. Netflix is reportedly already close to the 30 percent quota. Continue reading EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

Amazon Briefly Worth $1 Trillion, Targets India With Hindi Site

Amazon’s shares rose to $2,050.50 on Tuesday, pushing the company’s value to over $1 trillion, making it the second U.S. firm to reach that pinnacle since Apple did so early last month. By the end of the day, shares fell to $2,039.51, below the $1 trillion mark. Amazon, which employs more than 550,000 people, generates more than $178 billion in annual revenue and captures 49 cents from every dollar spent on e-commerce. To continue its growth, Amazon is now offering its local Indian website and apps available in Hindi. Continue reading Amazon Briefly Worth $1 Trillion, Targets India With Hindi Site

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

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