FinTech Giant PayPal Explores $45B Acquisition of Pinterest

PayPal is on an expansion path according to media reports of an offer to purchase of Pinterest at $70 per share in a $45 billion deal, mostly in stock. PayPal as of its most recent quarterly report, issued July 28, had $311 billion in receipts for Q2. PayPal’s share price fell 5 percent on the news, ending at $258.36 per share Wednesday. The move marks a decisive interest by PayPal to stake its claim in the space where content meets e-commerce. Pinterest, meanwhile, has launched a $20 million Creator Rewards fund and added more video features to its site. Continue reading FinTech Giant PayPal Explores $45B Acquisition of Pinterest

Microsoft Closing LinkedIn in China, Retooling for Jobs-Only

LinkedIn will shut down its platform in China by the end of the year, the result of “a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements.” The Microsoft-owned company says it plans to offer a new app for China that focuses exclusively on job postings. Gone will be the social networking features that helped make LinkedIn a success in the U.S. and elsewhere. China’s Internet is monitored by a system of censorship filters called “the Great Firewall,” making it difficult for free expression platforms to do business there. Continue reading Microsoft Closing LinkedIn in China, Retooling for Jobs-Only

EU Report Tracks Decline in Voluntary Hate-Speech Removal

A voluntary hate-speech removal agreement among tech platforms in the European Union is trending in the opposite direction, according to the sixth evaluation report of the EU’s Code of Conduct, which produced a mixed picture. Social networks reviewing 81 percent of notifications within 24 hours removed an average of 62.5 percent of content flagged as hate speech, which is lower than the averages recorded in 2019 and 2020, according to the European Commission. The self-regulation policy was begun in 2016 with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube agreeing to remove speech that falls outside their community guidelines in under 24 hours.  Continue reading EU Report Tracks Decline in Voluntary Hate-Speech Removal

Clearview Facial Recognition Adds Deblur and Mask Removal

Undeterred by lawsuits and demands to stop scraping social media, facial recognition firm Clearview AI is plowing ahead with efforts to expand its database and introduce new tools. Company co-founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That said Clearview has collected more than 10 billion images from social media and the Internet, while the company is adding new tools to help users, often law enforcement, obtain matches. Most recently, the company developed a deblur tool in addition to mask removal, which uses machine learning to recreate the covered part of a person’s face. However, use of such tools raises concerns that individuals could be wrongly identified or biases could result. Continue reading Clearview Facial Recognition Adds Deblur and Mask Removal

TikTok Introduces New Strategies, Tools to Attract Advertisers

TikTok feted brands and agencies with its premiere TikTok World event. The virtual presentation introduced new features designed to help advertisers become adept at leveraging TikTok’s creators, content and community. Despite its sizzle and viewership, TikTok lags behind other social media companies in terms of ad revenue. TikTok began accepting ads about a year ago and generates roughly $1.3 billion annually in U.S. ad sales. Compare that to the $5.5 billion Statista predicts for YouTube this year, or eMarketer’s $48 billion assessment for Facebook and Instagram, $2.6 billion for LinkedIn and $2.2 billion for Twitter. Continue reading TikTok Introduces New Strategies, Tools to Attract Advertisers

Top Social Platforms Losing Some Traction as News Sources

A third of U.S. adults continue to get their news regularly from Facebook, though the number has declined from 36 percent in 2020 to 31 percent in 2021. This reduction marks an overall drop in the number of Americans who say they get their news from any social media source — a figure that dropped by 5 percentage points year-over-year (from 53 percent in 2020 to just under 48 percent this year). TikTok was the only major platform to gain during this period. The general decline comes as social media companies face criticism for not doing enough to stem the flow of misinformation on their platforms, Pew Research notes. Continue reading Top Social Platforms Losing Some Traction as News Sources

LinkedIn to Swap Fleeting Stories for Creative Video Feature

Last year, Microsoft’s LinkedIn added Stories as “a fun and casual way to share quick video updates.” According to senior director of product Liz Li, the company is now going back to the drawing board to create a “reimagined video experience across LinkedIn that’s even richer and more conversational.” In the meantime, LinkedIn announced it is shutting down its Stories feature, having received feedback that users did not want disappearing videos but rather lasting videos that showcase their expertise and personality. Continue reading LinkedIn to Swap Fleeting Stories for Creative Video Feature

Azure Drives Impressive Quarterly Sales, Profits for Microsoft

Microsoft experienced a successful quarter, due in large part to significant growth in Azure cloud services. The company reported overall Q4 sales of $46.2 billion, up about 21 percent year-over-year, for a $16.5 billion profit, an increase of 47 percent year-over-year. Similar to other Big Tech companies, Microsoft’s numbers exceeded Wall Street expectations. According to chief financial officer Amy Hood, Microsoft expects overall sales of $44.2 billion for the current quarter. Microsoft’s stock is currently up 40 percent over the last year, and its valuation is now $2+ trillion, second only to its rival Apple. Continue reading Azure Drives Impressive Quarterly Sales, Profits for Microsoft

Spotify Introduces Live Audio App and Plans Its Creator Fund

Music streaming service Spotify launched its live audio app, Greenroom, for iOS and Android. Built on Locker Room — the app focused on sports content created by Betty Labs and acquired by Spotify in March — the Greenroom app is similar to Clubhouse in that it allows users to host live conversations about music, sports and other topics. Branded with Spotify colors and a new logo, Greenroom features native recordings, which can be distributed as podcasts. Although users can sign in with Spotify credentials, it is not required to use the app. Continue reading Spotify Introduces Live Audio App and Plans Its Creator Fund

LinkedIn Offers Feature for Brands to ‘Boost’ Organic Pages

LinkedIn added a “Boost” option that brands can use to maximize the reach of their posts. Any high-performing organic Page update can be turned into paid ads in this manner, explained LinkedIn, adding that if the brand sees “early traction” to an organic update, it can “capitalize on that, without having to create a new ad.” “With the click of a button and a few payment details, you can easily give your most engaging or time-sensitive content a little boost to quickly expand your audience reach,” the company added. Boost is touted as an ideal tool for content related to industry thought leadership, customer spotlights, and new product launches or special events. Continue reading LinkedIn Offers Feature for Brands to ‘Boost’ Organic Pages

Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Pinterest allows users to “pin” photos and videos onto boards, helping them to “discover ideas through images,” especially those pinned by people or companies that they follow. It uses neural networks, which make millions of calculations quickly, to surface and suggest the images that people will like. According to Pinterest senior vice president of engineering Jeremy King, this tool is responsible for “nearly 100 percent” of the company’s growth. In Q1, Pinterest’s AI-powered formula drew in almost 480 million people. Continue reading Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Microsoft’s Q3 Sales Jump, Driving Near $2 Trillion Valuation

Microsoft quarterly numbers exceeded analysts’ expectations and drove stock up 50 percent, bringing the company close to a $2 trillion valuation, second only to Apple’s. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to remote working and remote learning drove strong uptake of the company’s cloud computing services and video game units. Although chip shortages are slowing down hardware sales, chief executive Satya Nadella reported that digital adoption curves “aren’t slowing down … they’re accelerating.” Continue reading Microsoft’s Q3 Sales Jump, Driving Near $2 Trillion Valuation

Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced an upcoming suite of new audio products including a push into podcasting and Live Audio Rooms, an audio-only version of the Rooms videoconferencing product, intended to rival the popular Clubhouse audio app. Live Audio Rooms will roll out this summer as a test to public figures and groups. Users will be able to record and distribute their conversations and eventually charge for access to the rooms via a one-time fee or subscription. Meanwhile, Clubhouse closed a new Series C funding round. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Microsoft to Buy AI and Speech Recognition Provider Nuance

Microsoft is on track to acquire Nuance Communications, an AI and speech recognition software company, for about $16 billion. The company intends to expand its offerings in medical computing; Nuance already has speech and text data related to healthcare, an established customer base and the transcription tool Dragon. According to Microsoft, the purchase will “double the size of the healthcare market where it competed to almost $500 billion.” With the purchase, Microsoft could also develop advanced AI solutions for the workplace across numerous industries. Microsoft’s last big purchase was LinkedIn, for $26.2 billion in 2015.  Continue reading Microsoft to Buy AI and Speech Recognition Provider Nuance

Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

A new report from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of U.S. adults use social media, a number that has been stable over the past five years. The survey drilled down into use of a variety of individual sites and apps, finding that YouTube and Facebook still are dominant, with 81 percent and 69 percent respectively of those surveyed reporting using those sites. YouTube and Reddit were the only platforms that saw “statistically significant” growth since 2019. Forty percent said they ever use Instagram. Continue reading Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable