Department of Justice Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

As anticipated, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet’s Google, accusing the company of “unlawfully maintaining monopolies” involving its search and related advertising services. The DOJ is also questioning the terms of Google’s Android operating system, which the Department believes essentially forces phone makers to pre-load Google apps and set Google Search as a default feature. The concern is that the practice unfairly hinders competition and enables Google to generate significant revenue from its search-related advertising business. Continue reading Department of Justice Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

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 Makes New Natural Language Model Open Source

Facebook and AI startup Hugging Face open-sourced their new natural language processing model, Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG), which finds and interprets contextual information on the fly. RAG is now available as a component of the Hugging Face transformer library, integrated with the new Datasets library to offer the indexed knowledge source RAG relies on. According to Facebook, RAG can alter or add to its internal knowledge, letting researchers control the model without needing to retrain it. Continue reading Facebook Makes New Natural Language Model Open Source

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

Government Considering Lawsuits Against Facebook, Google

According to sources, the Federal Trade Commission — after investigating concerns about Facebook’s efforts to stifle competition — may be readying an antitrust lawsuit by the end of the year. The same sources said, however, that the FTC doesn’t always bring a case after making preparations to do so and that no final decision has been made. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators has put Google in the crosshairs regarding its dominance in the chain of technologies connecting digital publishers with advertisers. Continue reading Government Considering Lawsuits Against Facebook, Google

Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Facebook launched Watch Together, a feature for Messenger and videoconferencing platform Messenger Rooms, to allow users to watch videos in real time with family and friends on Apple and Android mobile devices. Users choose videos to view through Facebook’s video hub, Facebook Watch. The push to promote yet more video comes at a time when, due largely to COVID-19, more people than ever are at home watching content. Facebook Messenger allows up to eight people on a video call, and Messenger Rooms tops out at 50 people. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Social Media Platforms Prep for Flood of False Election Info

As the 2020 U.S. presidential election looms, social media platforms are launching strategies to combat false claims and misinformation. Internet companies anticipate a tsunami of this type of content in the lead-up to the election. Google, for example, said it would block some autocomplete search suggestions in an effort to combat misinformation, and Twitter said it would more aggressively label or remove tweets that undermine confidence in the election or promote disputed information. Twitter and Facebook plan to ban new political ads the week leading up to the election. Facebook, meanwhile, is also working to prevent climate misinformation. Continue reading Social Media Platforms Prep for Flood of False Election Info

Antitrust Officials Focus on Google’s Advertising Ecosystem

In its antitrust investigation of Google, the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys general are looking at whether the Big Tech company engages in “tying,” a practice of bundling products together with the aim of blocking competition. According to sources, the government officials have questioned executives at competing companies about Google’s Network, the division that sells end-to-end digital advertising services, and whether it offers advertisers enticing terms to buy into its complete ecosystem. Continue reading Antitrust Officials Focus on Google’s Advertising Ecosystem

Some DOJ Lawyers Warn of a ‘Rush’ to Bring Google Lawsuit

The Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr plan to bring an antitrust lawsuit against Google as soon as this summer, but not all of the DOJ staffers are happy with what they say is an “aggressive timeline.” Critics believe that the case isn’t ready for trial and that they need more time to determine if the “millions of pages of documents” contain enough evidence to win the case. But Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen stated that the case is “a major priority” and the DOJ is “going full-tilt.”

Continue reading Some DOJ Lawyers Warn of a ‘Rush’ to Bring Google Lawsuit

European Union Adopts New Strategy to Contain Tech Firms

The European Union has led the movement to leverage antitrust laws in an effort to limit the power of Big Tech companies from the United States. Now, convinced that the impact of these efforts did not go far enough to change behavior, they are pursuing a different tack, this time drafting regulations that address specific business practices. But even as the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google were grilled in a Congressional hearing last week, they reported skyrocketing revenue and billions in profit. Continue reading European Union Adopts New Strategy to Contain Tech Firms

Big Tech Companies Are Thriving Despite the Current Climate

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wares and services of Big Tech companies such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook have become more indispensable than ever. As such, they are thriving. Amazon, for example, reported $88.9 billion in sales, with profits doubling to a record $5.2 billion in the quarter ending June, even though it spent $4 billion on its supply chain and worker safety in that time frame. Apple marked an 11 percent increase in quarterly sales, and Facebook sales rose 11 percent to $18.7 billion. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Are Thriving Despite the Current Climate

Big Tech Executives Are Grilled During Congressional Hearing

At a congressional hearing this week, the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google endured frustration and hostile criticism from bipartisan lawmakers. House Antitrust Subcommittee chair David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) started by saying that, “Our founders would not bow before a king. Nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy,” referring to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai. The companies are collectively worth almost $5 trillion. Continue reading Big Tech Executives Are Grilled During Congressional Hearing

Amazon, Google, Qualcomm Support Global Antitrust Institute

Last year, the Global Antitrust Institute, part of the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, organized and paid for a weeklong conference in California for antitrust regulators from 30 foreign countries, including Australia, Brazil, China and Japan. At the conference, these officials attended classes that were described as continuing education to learn more about the economic foundation of competition regulations. According to attendees and critics, however, the message of the conference also benefited Big Tech companies. Continue reading Amazon, Google, Qualcomm Support Global Antitrust Institute

Google Ramps Up Online Shopping, Faces Scrutiny in Europe

Google has tried to compete with Amazon in online shopping four times since 2013. But, with shoppers stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company now sees another opportunity. To lure sellers, Google said it would waive sales commissions, which range from 5 percent to 15 percent, and let retailers use third-party payment and order management services like Shopify. In the European Union, meanwhile, Google is facing the demand that it “make major concessions” related to its $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit, including how it uses customer data for search and advertising. Continue reading Google Ramps Up Online Shopping, Faces Scrutiny in Europe

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

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