Instagram Paying Media Companies to Create Popular Reels

Instagram is opening its wallet to media companies that can generate viral Reels, even as it cuts back on personalization. The step is the latest development as the Meta Platforms social app continues to experiment with its configuration, including algorithms and UI. On Thursday, the company said it will discontinue the full-screen feed it has been beta testing and will also be scaling down plans to increase force-fed recommendations. This rather abrupt reversal is said to be in response to the public criticisms of potential updates by users and notable influencers. Continue reading Instagram Paying Media Companies to Create Popular Reels

Gen Z Turning to TikTok and Instagram for Search and News

TikTok is at the center of yet another attention-grabbing trend: Gen Z has begun using it as a search engine, edging out Google. TikTok says a third of its billion or so global users are Gen Z, and these 10-to-25-year-olds are now using the short-form video platform for more than just entertainment and are increasingly turning to it as a source of information. Meta Platforms’ Instagram is also making a strong showing among information seekers in Gen Z — an important demographic among advertisers, as they are still forming brand loyalties and shopping habits. Continue reading Gen Z Turning to TikTok and Instagram for Search and News

Nvidia Turbo Charges NeMo Megatron Large Training Model

Nvidia has issued a software update for its formidable NeMo Megatron giant language training model, increasing efficiency and speed. Barely a year since Nvidia unveiled Megatron, this latest improvement further leverages the transformer engine architecture that has become synonymous with deep learning since Google introduced the concept in 2017. New features result in what Nvidia says is a 5x reduction in memory requirements and up to a 30 percent gain in speed for models as large as 1 trillion parameters, making NeMo Megatron better at handling transformer tasks across the entire stack. Continue reading Nvidia Turbo Charges NeMo Megatron Large Training Model

Profits Down as FTC Sues Meta to Block Purchase of Within

Meta Platforms’ revenue dropped 1 percent in the second quarter, totaling $28.8 billion, just missing Wall Street’s expectation. It was the first year-over-year revenue drop since the company went public 10 years ago. Meta logged $6.69 billion in Q2 profit, down 36 percent over the same period in 2021. Costs increased by 22 percent, largely due to ongoing heavy investment in the metaverse, where the company’s ambitions took a hit Wednesday when the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to prevent Meta from buying Los Angeles-based virtual reality firm Within. Continue reading Profits Down as FTC Sues Meta to Block Purchase of Within

New Facebook and Instagram Updates Mimic TikTok’s Model

Meta Platforms is adjusting Facebook’s algorithms to offer more discovery and personalization features, according to the company. Users will now automatically land on a Home tab instead of the old News Feed. A revamped Feed will emphasize videos, photos and algorithmically curated posts. While observers have been quick to label the change yet another attempt to chase TikTok’s addictive, influencer-driven feed, Meta assures users this doesn’t mean goodbye to friends and family. “You can curate a Favorites list of the friends and Pages you care about most and filter their content in this new tab,” the company says. Continue reading New Facebook and Instagram Updates Mimic TikTok’s Model

Ad Market and Musk Credited for Twitter’s Missed Earnings

Twitter’s second quarter revenue of $1.18 billion underperformed 2021 by only one percent but fell short of estimates by more than 10 percent, disappointing Wall Street, which projected revenue of $1.32 billion for the period. Advertising crept up two percent, to $1.08 billion, but overall Twitter had a quarterly net loss of $270 million, largely attributed to recessionary headwinds and uncertainty about Elon Musk’s proposed takeover. In its earnings report, Twitter said its lawsuit against Musk has been granted an expedited trial for October 2022. Continue reading Ad Market and Musk Credited for Twitter’s Missed Earnings

Instagram Rolls Out Invitation-Only Creator Marketplace Test

Facebook’s photo- and video-sharing app Instagram is implementing a creator marketplace test on an invitation-only basis to brands active in the United States. Brands invited to participate in this early phase can use the Meta Business Suite of tools to filter creators by age, gender, interests and number of followers. They’ll also be able to filter based on the demographics of a creator’s engaged audience. Announced last year, the Instagram creator marketplace is designed to facilitate connections between brands and the creators they may find it useful to connect with regarding partnerships and marketing campaigns. Continue reading Instagram Rolls Out Invitation-Only Creator Marketplace Test

Magic Leap Will Target the B2B Market with New AR Headset

The business-oriented Magic Leap 2 AR headsets will debut in three models on September 30 in global territories including the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and Saudi Arabia. The Magic Leap 2 Base starts at $3,299. There is a midrange Magic Leap 2 Developer Pro, working up to the Magic Leap 2 Enterprise, which sells for $4,999. Smaller and lighter than its 2018 predecessor, Magic Leap 2 comes with a hip-worn AMD processor, offers a wide field of view, and has a dimmer that can be applied to background visuals to make virtual objects pop. In the U.S., Magic Leap 2 will be available through IT solutions reseller Insight.  Continue reading Magic Leap Will Target the B2B Market with New AR Headset

Instagram Targets a Pro Broadcast Look with ‘Live Producer’

Meta Platforms is testing a new tool called Instagram Live Producer, designed to help creators achieve a more professional look from their desktops using streaming software, with initial support for Streamlabs, OBS Studio and StreamYard. The company says this new integration “opens up production features outside the traditional phone camera, including additional cameras, external microphones and graphics,” and is currently only available to “a small group of partners.” Previously, creators could only broadcast live video on Instagram Live from smartphones. Instagram Live Producer enables functionality more like Twitch or YouTube. Continue reading Instagram Targets a Pro Broadcast Look with ‘Live Producer’

Meta’s New Sphere AI Tool Filters Web Content for Accuracy

Meta Platforms has unveiled Sphere, an AI-powered tool designed to verify open web content. “Building on Meta AI’s research and advancements, we’ve developed the first model capable of automatically scanning hundreds of thousands of citations at once to check whether they truly support the corresponding claims,” Meta says, noting that Sphere has “a dataset of 134 million public webpages — an order of magnitude larger and significantly more intricate than ever used for this sort of research.” Sphere is open sourced, which means third parties may be able to tailor its fact-checking algorithms for specialized use, such as legal, medical and architectural. Continue reading Meta’s New Sphere AI Tool Filters Web Content for Accuracy

Under Antitrust Scrutiny, Google Could Spinoff Its Adtech Biz

Battling new antitrust action by the U.S. Department of Justice, Google is offering to separate part of its adtech business into a discrete unit. The new Alphabet company would focus on app dissemination and programmatic auctions for advertising space and could potentially be worth billions of dollars. It is not known whether the move would satisfy the DOJ, which is reportedly prepping a fresh antitrust suit in the wake of a 2020 action. Google is also the target of antitrust investigations by state attorneys general and under EU and UK inquiries for anticompetitive measures. Continue reading Under Antitrust Scrutiny, Google Could Spinoff Its Adtech Biz

UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority opened an antitrust investigation last week into Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard takeover, analyzing whether the deal could harm competition “for example, through higher prices, lower quality, or reduced choice.” The inquiry was announced the same day the CMA said it is looking into Amazon’s use of data from third-party sellers. In January, Microsoft shared plans to purchase Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion — a record-setting price for a tech acquisition — with a planned fiscal 2023 close. The CMA has set September 1 as the deadline for its initial decision. Continue reading UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

Funding for Startups Faces Downturn After 10-Year Bull Run

Following a decade-long boom, funding for startups is in decline, according to PitchBook, which says investments in fledgling U.S. tech firms has dropped by 23 percent in Q2 to $62.3 billion, the biggest fall since 2019. In another dire indicator, startup sales and IPOs have fallen to $49 billion the first six months of 2022, plunging 88 percent compared to the same period in 2021. The slump comes amidst an overall stock market downturn that has seen the technology sector take a particularly brutal hit that appears to have affected private startup valuations. Continue reading Funding for Startups Faces Downturn After 10-Year Bull Run

Apple’s Lockdown Mode Combats State-Sponsored Spyware

Apple is previewing a new security capability for its upcoming iOS 16 release that is designed to help high-value targets fend off state-sponsored cyberattacks. Politicians, journalists, industrial leaders can all benefit from Lockdown Mode, says Apple, which also shared details of a $10 million research grant to help civil society organizations battle mercenary spyware threats. Emphasizing Lockdown Mode is “an extreme, optional protection for the very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security,” Apple says it will debut this fall, including for the iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura. Continue reading Apple’s Lockdown Mode Combats State-Sponsored Spyware

Meta Plans Hiring Cuts as It Gears Up for ‘Fierce Headwinds’

Meta Platforms is preparing for a steep economic downturn that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is trying to get in front of by cutting costs and refocusing priorities. Engineering hires will be cut by 30 percent this year, with fewer than 7,000 additions as opposed to the original target of 10,000. The pivot comes at a time when Meta is seeking to expand on several fronts. The company reportedly needs to increase by fivefold the computing power of its data centers in order to accommodate the artificial intelligence technology that will be necessary to support its new “discovery” push.  Continue reading Meta Plans Hiring Cuts as It Gears Up for ‘Fierce Headwinds’