Twitter Bans Accounts Promoting QAnon Conspiracy Theories

Twitter removed about 150,000 accounts disseminating QAnon right-wing conspiracies for violating the social platform’s policies and distributing harassment and misinformation that could potentially lead to harm. The company added that it will no longer recommend QAnon-related accounts and content, including that contained in email. Twitter also stated it will make efforts to limit these theories from appearing in trending topics and search, as well as users posting links affiliated with the theories. Continue reading Twitter Bans Accounts Promoting QAnon Conspiracy Theories

TikTok Still Under Scrutiny by U.S. Government, Corporations

Amazon recently instructed its employees to delete TikTok, the short-video app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, then quickly reversed the decision, saying the first email — which stated that concerns about “security risks” — had been distributed in error. But Amazon’s worry reflects that of the Trump administration, which has called some Chinese apps “a threat to national security.” TikTok grew out of U.S. company Musical.ly, and ByteDance’s acquisition prompted the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to review the deal. Continue reading TikTok Still Under Scrutiny by U.S. Government, Corporations

Deepfakes Go Mainstream for Corporate Training, Other Uses

Although deepfakes have mainly been associated with fake news, hoaxes and pornography, they’re now also being used for more conventional tasks, including corporate training. WPP, with startup Synthesia, has created localized training videos by using AI to change presenters’ faces and speech. WPP chief technology officer Stephan Pretorius noted that the localized videos are more compelling and “the technology is getting very good very quickly.” In COVID-19 times, deepfakes can also lower costs and speed up production. Continue reading Deepfakes Go Mainstream for Corporate Training, Other Uses

Facebook at a Crossroads as More Advertisers Join Boycott

As the advertiser boycott of Facebook grows over its policy to allow hate speech, Facebook is showing the first signs of concern. Last week, its top advertisers — including Coca-Cola, Pfizer and Unilever — paused advertising to signal their displeasure over the social media platform’s stance. In a virtual meeting, said sources, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg doubled down, telling these advertisers that he won’t back down. Now communications chief Nick Clegg stresses the company is trying to curb hate speech. Continue reading Facebook at a Crossroads as More Advertisers Join Boycott

Government Surveillance Bill Is Sidelined by Privacy Question

The House of Representatives, after closed-door negotiations, came to an agreement to bring an amendment to vote that would protect Americans from FBI and CIA surveillance of their web browsing history without a warrant. The amendment, introduced by Zoe Lofgren (D-California) and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), would be a “significant reform to Section 215 [of the USA Patriot Act] that protects Americans’ civil liberties,” said Lofgren. However, after full details of the proposal were released, debate over who would specifically be protected led to the amendment’s downfall. Continue reading Government Surveillance Bill Is Sidelined by Privacy Question

Social Media Campaign Aims to Link Coronavirus to 5G Tech

One conspiracy theory making the rounds on the Internet connects the coronavirus outbreak to 5G technology. Although actors Woody Harrelson and John Cusack are among those endorsing the misinformation, researchers indicate the majority of online activity around this theory is coordinated and possibly state sponsored. That’s the conclusion of Marc Owen Jones, a researcher at Qatar’s Hamad bin Khalifa University, who analyzed 22,000 Twitter interactions and found a large number displaying “inauthentic activity.” Continue reading Social Media Campaign Aims to Link Coronavirus to 5G Tech

‘Zoombombing’ on the Rise, Zoom Works to Improve Security

As use of Zoom Video Communications’ conferencing services have soared, the company’s chief executive Eric Yuan has had issues scaling up the popular app. The nine-year-old tool, once a favorite in the business world, is now ubiquitous among a wide swathe of consumers, educators and others. Issues with privacy and hacking have arisen, and Yuan admitted he “messed up” on security, especially with the claim — proven false — that Zoom offered end-to-end encryption. Yuan said the full encryption feature will be available in a few months. Meanwhile, some users are switching to other platforms. Continue reading ‘Zoombombing’ on the Rise, Zoom Works to Improve Security

TikTok Now Political Forum For Youth, Tech Execs Decry App

The younger demographic that gravitates to TikTok is turning it into a political force, forming political coalitions — called hype houses — for their favored candidates, fact-checking others, posting news updates and commenting in real-time. Hype houses come in conservative, liberal, bipartisan and undecided flavors, and are amassing hundreds of thousands of followers. Reddit chief executive and co-founder Steve Huffman, however, is concerned about TikTok’s privacy policies, calling the app “fundamentally parasitic.” Continue reading TikTok Now Political Forum For Youth, Tech Execs Decry App

USC Students Respond to Media Questions at ETC Meeting

A panel of six undergraduates from the USC Iovine and Young Academy and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences spent an hour answering questions about their media habits. The questions were asked by ETC member company executives at the December 12, 2019 All Members Meeting held in Burbank at Disney. Where do students get their media recommendations? What’s a good length for a viewing experience? What do they think about having their personal data gathered, and about data analytics in general? What do they pay to subscribe to? Watch this 9-minute highlight video to find out. Continue reading USC Students Respond to Media Questions at ETC Meeting

USC Students Respond to Media Questions at ETC Meeting

A panel of six undergraduates from the USC Iovine and Young Academy and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences spent an hour answering questions about their media habits. The questions were asked by ETC member company executives at the December 12, 2019 All Members Meeting held in Burbank at Disney. Where do students get their media recommendations? What’s a good length for a viewing experience? What do they think about having their personal data gathered, and about data analytics in general? What do they pay to subscribe to? Watch this 9-minute highlight video to find out. Continue reading USC Students Respond to Media Questions at ETC Meeting

Facebook and Academics Use AI to Generate Game Worlds

Facebook, the University of Lorraine and the University College London published a paper that detailed how they researched a way to use artificial intelligence to create complex game worlds. Building video game environments has always been time-consuming, but this group’s approach — using content from the fantasy text-based multiplayer adventure “LIGHT” — demonstrated how machine learning algorithms can learn to “assemble different elements, arranging locations and populating them with characters and objects.” Continue reading Facebook and Academics Use AI to Generate Game Worlds

Big Tech, DARPA Ramp Up Deepfake Research, Detection

Movies and TV shows have combined real and CG images for decades, for the purpose of entertainment. But we’re seeing the rise of deepfakes, which mix fake and real elements in still images or videos with a malignant or harmful aim. Many Big Tech companies that have benefited from letting users post and share photos are now turning their attention to battling deepfakes. According to cybersecurity startup Deeptrace, the number of deepfakes online has nearly doubled to 14,678 from December 2018 to August 2019. Continue reading Big Tech, DARPA Ramp Up Deepfake Research, Detection

Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Gaming company Activision Blizzard suspended an eSports player who, during a live broadcast, expressed his support for the pro-democracy protest movement in Hong Kong. Professional “Hearthstone” player Chung Ng Wai has been suspended for a year and forced to give up $10,000 in prize money. The move led to a significant backlash from gamers and politicians via social media and online forums. The public relations dilemma is similar to what played out this week following NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s support of free speech, which led to the decision by China’s state-run television not to broadcast two NBA games. Continue reading Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Federal Appeals Court Offers Mixed Ruling on Net Neutrality

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit yesterday upheld the federal government’s repeal of net neutrality in the latest ruling that impacts how companies connect people to the Internet. However, the appeals court also ruled that the FCC had overstepped in its decision to prevent state and local governments from establishing their own related rules. The mixed ruling will likely lead to continued debate over net neutrality regulation, especially on the state level. It is also seen as a victory for the Trump administration, which has supported deregulation, and FCC chair Ajit Pai, who believes the repeal is good for the economy and fosters innovation. Continue reading Federal Appeals Court Offers Mixed Ruling on Net Neutrality

Epic Opens Digital Store with Favorable Split for Publishers

For 10+ years, video game developers have given up 30 percent of their revenue from digital stores run by Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony and Valve, which also take a percentage of in-game purchases via a revenue-sharing model that has become the industry standard. Now, Epic Games founder/chief executive Tim Sweeney, whose company put out the immensely popular “Fortnite,” opened a digital store that collects only 12 percent of sales. Sensor Tower reports that an average of $114.5 million was spent between the combined top game publishers in Android and Apple stores last quarter. Continue reading Epic Opens Digital Store with Favorable Split for Publishers

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