Facebook and Google Respond Differently to Australian Law

Against strong pushback from Facebook and Google, Australia is on the cusp of passing a law proposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that would force both companies to pay publishers for the content on their sites. The two companies have taken significantly different paths in response to the looming law. Google debuted a three-year global agreement with News Corp to pay for content, and Facebook stated it would restrict users and publishers from viewing and sharing news links, effective immediately. Continue reading Facebook and Google Respond Differently to Australian Law

FAA Greenlights First Automated Commercial Drone Service

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the first fully automated commercial drone flights, giving permission to Marlborough, Massachusetts-based American Robotics. The FAA’s decision limits automated drone operation to rural areas and altitudes below 400 feet. In Israel this June, Pizza Hut will test delivering pies via drones to makeshift “government-approved landing zones,” such as parking lots. From there, delivery drivers will take the pizzas the last mile to customers’ homes. Continue reading FAA Greenlights First Automated Commercial Drone Service

VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

New Zealand-based Weta Digital, a visual effects company that has worked on such high-profile films as “Avatar” and “Avengers: Endgame,” is making a play to create its own original content. Co-founded by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, Weta Digital recently added firepower to its board of directors, including former Disney chief operating officer Tom Staggs, and is also searching to make strategic purchases in the special effects and animation business since animation can be produced remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

Google Will Pay News Publishers $1 Billion to License Stories

Google is debuting Google News Showcase and vowed to pay publishers $1+ billion over the next three years to license news content for the new product. Publishers will be able to select images and summaries for story panels, which are teasers for full articles. Clicking on a story panel will bring the user directly to the news publisher’s website to read the entire story. According to sources, Google is in talks with publishers in the U.S. and other countries and has already signed deals with almost 200 publications. Continue reading Google Will Pay News Publishers $1 Billion to License Stories

Australia’s Draft Law Bids Facebook, Google to Pay for News

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is drafting a bill that would require Facebook and Google to negotiate with media publishers and pay for content that appears on their sites. Facebook has responded by threatening to block users and news organizations from sharing local and international news stories on its site. Google, which said its free service would be “at risk,” stated that the law would give media companies “special treatment” that would allow them to make demands that would be difficult to meet. Continue reading Australia’s Draft Law Bids Facebook, Google to Pay for News

Weta Digital Opens Virtual Production Service in New Zealand

Visual effects company Weta Digital — founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk — joined forces with production facility Avalon Studios and live event, production and broadcast specialist Streamliner Productions to develop an LED-stage virtual production service based in Wellington, New Zealand. That country has done a good job of controlling COVID-19, making it an appealing destination for new TV and film productions. Similar to ILM’s StageCraft platform, Weta Digital’s system is based on Epic Games’ real-time Unreal Engine. Continue reading Weta Digital Opens Virtual Production Service in New Zealand

New Disney Hub on Spotify Designed for Families and Kids

Spotify recently announced a new partnership with Disney that brings a collection of Disney playlists to the streaming music platform. The Disney Hub on Spotify — currently available for fans in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.K. and U.S. — features soundtracks and other music related to Disney movies and TV shows. Among the current categories are Disney Hits, Disney Favorites, Disney Classics, Disney Sing-Alongs, Disney Princess, Marvel Music and The Best of Star Wars. Continue reading New Disney Hub on Spotify Designed for Families and Kids

Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Facebook’s Instagram began testing a new approach with users in Canada two months ago and this week expanded its efforts to include users in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The experiment removes emphasis on the “Like” feature to minimize the pressure to compete, while hopefully creating a more personal and enjoyable experience. Users are still able to see who liked other people’s posts or watched their videos, but there is no longer a running tally of the number of likes and views (however, users can still privately see the counts for their own posts). Continue reading Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Facebook Removes More Fake Accounts and Hate Speech

In Q1 2019, Facebook removed 2.2 billion fake accounts from its popular social platform. That compares to 583 million fake accounts the company deleted in Q1 2018; in Q4 that year, it removed “just more” than 1 billion. Facebook said that “the vast majority” is removed within minutes of being created, so they do not count in its monthly/daily active user metrics. In its biannual report, Facebook also said its automated detection software used to delete “illicit content” was improving, removing more than half of the targeted speech. Continue reading Facebook Removes More Fake Accounts and Hate Speech

YouTube Aims For Trending Videos to Come From Own Site

On the heels of a controversial quarter, YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki sent a newsletter to YouTube users and creators announcing that half of all featured videos on the site’s trending tab will come from YouTube itself. This assurance is meant to alleviate worries from some of YouTube’s most popular content creators who have concerns over copyright challenges, advertising policies, and video monetization, particularly related to YouTube’s favoring of more traditional content (movie trailers, TV clips) on its trending tab.

Continue reading YouTube Aims For Trending Videos to Come From Own Site

Global Regulators Looking Into Facebook Privacy Practices

Regulators have reached a tipping point with Facebook after years of half-measures regarding the social media giant’s security-related missteps. Now, regulators across four continents are attempting to reign in Facebook’s behavior. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission hasn’t come to a decisive conclusion regarding what constraints to implement, but the agency is looking to address a wide range of issues, including violations reported almost monthly, according to a source close to the investigation.

Continue reading Global Regulators Looking Into Facebook Privacy Practices

Huawei Inks 40 Contracts to Build and Operate 5G Networks

Huawei Technologies has inked 40 commercial contracts for 5G technology, leading its Q1 revenue to leap 39 percent to 179.7 billion yuan ($26.8 billion). The Chinese company also stated that it has shipped about 70,000 5G base stations, making it a leading supplier of 5G gear. Huawei’s net-profit margin rose a bit to 8 percent. The company also introduced what it calls the world’s first 5G-communication hardware for the auto industry. Its MH5000 module is built on its newly launched Balong 5000 5G chip. Continue reading Huawei Inks 40 Contracts to Build and Operate 5G Networks

Intelligence Agencies Agree to Rein In Huawei Technologies

In July, said sources, heads of intelligence agencies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and U.S. met in Canada and agreed that they needed to “contain” China’s telecom manufacturer Huawei Technologies. The advent of 5G mobile networks has heightened the already-existing risk of using Huawei gear. The group discussed Chinese cyberespionage and expanding military, and ways to protect telecom networks. Despite the lack of a consensus, the group did agree that an outright Huawei ban is impractical. Continue reading Intelligence Agencies Agree to Rein In Huawei Technologies

Facebook Extends Watch Video Platform to a Global Audience

Facebook announced that its Facebook Watch video platform is rolling out worldwide starting today. The VOD platform, designed for episodic content and a potential competitor to YouTube, initially launched in the U.S. one year ago. In what should be good news to content creators and publishers, Facebook is also making its Ad Breaks program for monetizing video content available in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, with plans to launch in 21 other countries in September. Continue reading Facebook Extends Watch Video Platform to a Global Audience

Instagram Users Can Feature Popular Music in Their Stories

Instagram Stories, which currently touts 400 million daily users, now offers a new feature that enables users to add clips of popular songs to their photos and videos. The feature is initially available to Android and iOS users in six countries (including the U.S.), with plans to roll out to additional regions soon. Facebook’s recent deals with major and indie music labels will enable Instagram users to select up to 15 seconds of music from the likes of Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Demi Lovato and Maroon 5 to create soundtracks for each post. Continue reading Instagram Users Can Feature Popular Music in Their Stories

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