Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

Snap is introducing a video-sharing feature called Spotlight designed to help its Snapchat app better compete with TikTok and Instagram Reels. Spotlight allows the creation of content that could go viral, a marked difference from its long-time focus on communication between friends and curated posts. Snap will spend $1+ million a day to reward those who post the best content and highlight top snaps to its 249+ million daily users in a feed they can swipe or tap. With Spotlight, Snap hopes customers increase the time they spend on the app. It also opens the door to advertising. Continue reading Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

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

Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

Twitter is launching Fleets, a feature that allows users to post photos or text that will disappear after 24 hours. Snapchat pioneered the ephemeral post, followed by Instagram and Facebook. Rollout of the Stories-like feature is moving forward, but has been scaled back as Twitter addresses “some performance and stability problems.” The platform’s “global town square” continues to be its “marquee product” but, said Twitter director of design Joshua Harris, the Fleets feature creates a space with less pressure for users who lurk but don’t post. The company is also testing Spaces, a new audio feature similar to Clubhouse, a startup that debuted earlier this year. Continue reading Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

Government Extends Deadline for ByteDance to Divest TikTok

Although ByteDance’s TikTok missed a Thursday deadline to complete its deal with Oracle and Walmart, the Commerce Department did not enforce the shutdown order, citing last month’s preliminary injunction from U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone. That suit was brought by three TikTok stars who charged that the government exceeded its authority by threatening the “robust exchange of informational materials.” President Trump initiated the effort to get TikTok to divest itself of its U.S. operations based on national security concerns. Now the deadline has been extended to November 27. Continue reading Government Extends Deadline for ByteDance to Divest TikTok

WhatsApp Debuts Disappearing Messages, Expands in India

In response to the pressure for privacy on social media apps, Facebook-owned WhatsApp debuted a setting to automatically delete messages after seven days. This is intended to make users feel more secure in communicating one-on-one and in group chats. As WhatsApp product manager Zafir Khan noted, “records of most in-person conversations don’t exist forever, so conversations on WhatsApp shouldn’t have to either.” He added that, nowadays, people are “using WhatsApp messaging for very deep and intimate conversations.” Continue reading WhatsApp Debuts Disappearing Messages, Expands in India

Advertisers Reinvent the Cookie to Better Track Streaming TV

Reaching viewers on streaming media is now a double-edged sword: advertisers want better metrics and the ability to target their messages even as the issue of privacy has also come to the fore. What’s becoming clearer is that any tools to provide metrics will need to obtain viewers’ consent. Until now, advertising has depended on tracking cookies and retargeting to follow people from website to website, which sparked the rise of ad blockers. Now, new privacy regulations in Europe and California are forcing a change. Continue reading Advertisers Reinvent the Cookie to Better Track Streaming TV

How Businesses Should Prep for the Coming Ubiquitous 5G

Telecommunication companies and others are spending billions of dollars to make 5G ubiquitous, for smartphones and the Internet of Things. Speed is one benefit of 5G but also important is that its high bandwidth enables more capacity, which allows manufacturing plants and facilities to capture more data and communications. That is a game changer for a manufacturing plant with hundreds of thousands of signals from robots, HVAC and lighting systems and machinery that communicate to an asset management system. Continue reading How Businesses Should Prep for the Coming Ubiquitous 5G

Facebook’s WhatsApp Will Offer Business-Focused Services

Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014 but has not yet earned revenue from it. The encrypted messaging service, free to its 2+ billion global users, now has a plan to monetize services. Rather than storing and handling customer data on their own, businesses will soon be able to do so via Facebook’s servers. In addition to hosting, businesses will also be offered options to market products through WhatsApp catalogs and Facebook shops and checkout carts, all for small fees. Continue reading Facebook’s WhatsApp Will Offer Business-Focused Services

IBM Advocates for Confidential Computing Security Standard

IBM and others are advocating the adoption of Confidential Computing, a standard that they state will provide deeper levels of security and privacy in the cloud. With encryption that can only be unlocked by keys held by the client, Confidential Computing guarantees that the company hosting data and applications can’t access the underlying data, regardless of whether it is stored in a database or passing through an application. That prevents hackers from accessing encrypted data when it moves to the application layer. Continue reading IBM Advocates for Confidential Computing Security Standard

New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

On the heels of a cyberattack on Twitter this summer, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) called for a dedicated regulator to oversee big social media platforms. In a 37-page report, the department described the July 15 attack in which accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others were hacked and used to promote a cryptocurrency scam. Three people have since been charged with posing as employees to launch that attack, which relied on relatively simple tactics. Continue reading New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

At its annual Zoomtopia event, Zoom announced the debut of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for free accounts in four stages. The first phase, which launches next week, will be a 30-day technical preview to gather feedback. Chief executive Eric Yuan stated the company will improve its integration of “office chatroom products” from Slack Technologies and Microsoft and also introduced its Zapps platform that allows users to bring third-party apps into video calls and a new integrated platform for classes and events. Continue reading Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

Government Report Urges Breakup of Big Tech Monopolies

After a 16-month investigation, the House Judiciary Committee presented a 449-page report stating that Big Tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google abused their monopoly positions and calling for reform of the antitrust laws. Lawmakers stated the companies had evolved from startups to “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons” and stated their breakup would restore competition. This marks the biggest antitrust effort since the government sued Microsoft in the 1990s. Continue reading Government Report Urges Breakup of Big Tech Monopolies

Facebook Opposes Apple Plan to Limit Targeted Advertising

Apple plans to limit the ability of Facebook and other companies to target ads via its identifier for advertisers (IDFA) by giving iPhone users the option to block tracking when opening an app. Meant to protect users’ privacy, the change was originally slated to be part of iOS 14, introduced last month. But Apple postponed the change until 2021 “to give developers time to make necessary changes.” In response, Facebook chief revenue officer David Fischer stated that the change will “hurt developers and businesses the most.” Continue reading Facebook Opposes Apple Plan to Limit Targeted Advertising

Smaller Rivals Lose Google Search Engine Auction in the EU

To comply with a 2018 EU antitrust decision, Google now provides Android OS users in Europe a “choice” screen that lists competing search engines to pick as the device’s default. The problem is that numerous smaller search engines that have popular followings in Europe didn’t win spots in large European countries in the latest auction and therefore don’t appear on that list of choices. DuckDuckGo, for example, a U.S.-based search engine that doesn’t collect personal data, only won the auction in four small European countries. Continue reading Smaller Rivals Lose Google Search Engine Auction in the EU

Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

Amazon announced new smart home devices during its fall hardware event last week, including an expanded Fire Stick collection, redesigned Echo speaker lineup, and Ring in-home drone. Amazon is also launching its Luna cloud gaming service, and introducing Car Cam and Car Alarm to Ring’s lineup. Alexa’s capabilities have expanded, from being able to read books to children to a new security feature, Guard Plus, that can detect sounds around a user’s house and trigger dog-barking to scare off intruders. In times of COVID-19, said Amazon head of devices and services Dave Limp, “our homes have become our offices, our classrooms, movie theaters and more.” Continue reading Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

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