Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

Australia’s parliament passed the first law of its kind, requiring Facebook and Google to pay local publishers for news content on their platforms. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg noted that, “the code is a significant microeconomic reform, one that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament.” In fact, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison had discussed the new law with leaders of Canada, France, India and the United Kingdom. Facebook recently pledged to spend at least $1 billion over the next three years to license news content. Continue reading Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

Section 230 Faces Bipartisan Scrutiny and Potential Updates

At the very end of his presidency, Donald Trump tried to strike down Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which essentially provides online platforms with immunity from liability based on third-party content. He failed, but Congress has received 20 proposals to update or change the section. On February 5, three Democratic senators introduced a bill to make social media firms accountable for enabling cyberstalking, harassment and discrimination. More recently, Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) plan to reintroduce the PACT Act, a proposal to jumpstart change. Continue reading Section 230 Faces Bipartisan Scrutiny and Potential Updates

Australia Plans Law That Would Make Big Tech Pay for News

Microsoft is urging the United States to adopt Australia’s proposal that Big Tech companies pay newspapers for content, in direct opposition to the positions of Google and Facebook. In Australia, that proposal is before a parliamentary committee. Google, which is responsible for 95 percent of searches in that country, has threatened to pull its search engine should the proposal become law. Microsoft is betting that, especially if the Australians pass the law, other countries will join in demanding payment for publishers. Continue reading Australia Plans Law That Would Make Big Tech Pay for News

Facebook Developing a Product to Rival Chat App Clubhouse

According to sources, Facebook is developing an audio chat product to compete with Clubhouse, a social networking app that has gained popularity with young people who gather and chat about various topics. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, reportedly interested in audio products, has appeared on Clubhouse to chat about augmented reality and virtual reality. Facebook is also known for cloning popular products. Facebook’s audio product is, added the sources, in an early stage of development. Continue reading Facebook Developing a Product to Rival Chat App Clubhouse

Facebook Parries Apple’s Privacy Policy with Its Own Prompt

In response to Apple’s changes that require users’ consent to track their behavior, Facebook — which claims the privacy change will make targeted advertising too difficult — has responded with its own solution. The social media company plans to introduce an in-app prompt that asks users to give permission to use data collected from apps and third-party websites and provides information on how the data is used for personalized ads. That screen will appear with the Apple prompt detailing its new privacy policy. Continue reading Facebook Parries Apple’s Privacy Policy with Its Own Prompt

Facebook Plans Changes to Groups, Controls for Advertisers

When Facebook launched Groups in 2019, it was intended to be, per chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, the “heart of the app.” This last August, however, its own data scientists warned about “blatant misinformation and calls to violence” in the site’s top “civic” Groups. Facebook was aware of the problems for years but accelerated plans to make actual changes after rioters broke into and vandalized the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The Groups in question, dedicated to politics, together reached “hundreds of millions of users.” Continue reading Facebook Plans Changes to Groups, Controls for Advertisers

Apple Reports Record-Breaking Profits for Fiscal First Quarter

In its first fiscal quarter, ending December 2020, Apple earned record-breaking profits with $111.4 billion in sales driven by high-end iPhone sales and a pandemic-related demand for laptops and tablets. Investors are worried if high-flying companies including Tesla and Facebook can sustain rapid growth. Tesla posted a sixth straight quarter of profits and Facebook also reported record net income. But Apple’s strong numbers came under attack from Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who sees the company as a rival. Continue reading Apple Reports Record-Breaking Profits for Fiscal First Quarter

Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has identified Apple as one of the company’s biggest rivals, even as it posted record-breaking revenue and profit in Q4. The two companies have clashed over data collection, app-store fees and, most recently, Apple’s plan to enable users to opt-out of data collection by third-party apps. That disadvantages Facebook, which has become an online advertising giant. Zuckerberg noted that Apple’s move will interfere with Facebook’s ability to target ads to its 1.85 billion daily users. Continue reading Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple

Google Files First Formal Counter to Justice Department Suit

Google issued its first formal rejoinder to the Justice Department’s charges that the company has used its position, including deals with other Big Tech companies, to maintain its dominance in online search. Google denies, in a sentence-by-sentence rebuttal, charges of violating antitrust laws or engaging in anticompetitive behavior. Evidence was uncovered that Google and Facebook agreed to “cooperate and assist” one another should they be investigated for working together on online advertising. Continue reading Google Files First Formal Counter to Justice Department Suit

Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

Facing a bipartisan push from Congress to change Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a liability shield against lawsuits for Internet platforms, tech companies have said they are now ready to discuss it. For 20+ years, Internet platforms have adamantly defended Section 230 but, in recent weeks, both Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey have voiced support for “updating” and/or “expanding” the law. Democrats and Republicans have threatened to repeal Section 230. Continue reading Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

After an 18+ month investigation, the Federal Trade Commission and regulators from 46 states have officially accused Facebook of anticompetitive behavior by purchasing rivals. The separate lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Facebook currently owns three major messaging apps and the suits call for the company’s purchase of Instagram (for $1 billion in 2012) and WhatsApp (for $19 billion in 2014) to be undone. Since the acquisitions, both messaging apps have exploded in popularity. Continue reading FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

Sources said that state and federal investigators plan to bring antitrust charges against Facebook, with a focus on whether its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp created an anticompetitive environment. Investigators examined how Instagram and WhatsApp changed after they were acquired and whether customers had fewer privacy protections. When Facebook purchased WhatsApp in 2014, it vowed to customers and regulators to preserve its strong privacy protections, but later tried to integrate user data into its other services. Continue reading Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

At a Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey reported that their companies made improvements in blocking misinformation during the 2020 presidential election, compared to their inability to stop Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said both companies will face modifications to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects them from liability for user-posted content, and the two chief execs expressed cautious support for the idea. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter chief exec Jack Dorsey and Alphabet/Google chief exec Sundar Pichai faced a combative Senate Commerce Committee this week. Republicans want to update Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that shields Internet platforms from liability for user-generated content. They also claim the platforms censor conservative views. Democrats also want to look at Section 230 but are more focused on whether the platforms are guarding against disinformation as the presidential election looms. Continue reading Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Affirming the FCC’s authority over social media companies, chair Ajit Pai has launched an official effort to “clarify” how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act applies to them. “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech — but they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he said. President Trump has often called for social media companies to be stripped of Section 230 protections. Continue reading FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

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