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

Facebook Audit Finds Company’s Civil Rights Efforts Wanting

Facebook commissioned an audit, and civil rights attorney Laura Murphy with Relman Colfax attorneys delivered an 89-page report that praised the company for adding rules against voter suppression and creating a team to study algorithmic bias. But it also excoriated Facebook for “vexing and heartbreaking decisions [it] has made that represent significant setbacks for civil rights.” Meanwhile, Facebook is still working to address misinformation on its platform. It recently removed accounts belonging to Roger Stone, which were linked to fake accounts active around the 2016 presidential election. Continue reading Facebook Audit Finds Company’s Civil Rights Efforts Wanting

Big Tech Firms Cease Processing User Data From Hong Kong

When China imposed a National Security Law in Hong Kong on June 30, tech companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Dubai’s Telegram Group ceased processing requests for user data from that city in protest. A Facebook spokesperson said the company believes “freedom of expression is a fundamental human right.” Facebook-owned WhatsApp paused reviews “pending further assessment,” including consulting with human rights experts, of the Chinese law. In addition, TikTok stated it will stop offering its social media app in Hong Kong. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Cease Processing User Data From Hong Kong

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

Big Tech Firms Face More EU Scrutiny, Facebook Loses Case

The European Union increased its efforts to regulate major U.S. technology companies, including Amazon, Apple and Google, with a new tool that allows it to investigate any potential antitrust issue and force changes without proving illegality. EU antitrust head Margrethe Vestager warned that the tech behemoths potentially risk being broken up as a “last resort” if they don’t adhere to the rules. Meanwhile, a German high court ruled against Facebook finding it abused its social media dominance to illegally harvest user data. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Face More EU Scrutiny, Facebook Loses Case

Google’s Area 120 Releases Pinterest-Like AI-Enabled ‘Keen’

Google’s internal incubator Area 120 debuted Keen for web and Android. Keen co-founder CJ Adams stated that the app acts as a curator for topics and is intended to be an alternative to “mindlessly” browsing feeds. A “keen,” which can be about any topic, said Adams, allows the user to collect content and share it with others. In essence, Keen is proposed as a rival to Pinterest and any other social media feed that customizes its content for individual users. Similar to Pinterest, Keen also uses a pinboard-style design. Continue reading Google’s Area 120 Releases Pinterest-Like AI-Enabled ‘Keen’

DOJ Favors Withdrawing Section 230’s Immunity for Big Tech

The Justice Department recommended, in a 25-page report, that lawmakers repeal portions of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which has given website operators broad immunity for what people post on their services. The proposed repeal would take away that immunity, forcing social media platforms and similar sites to be responsible for the videos, words, images posted by their users, while assuring that their moderation is consistent. The DOJ’s recommendation will have to be enacted by Congress. Continue reading DOJ Favors Withdrawing Section 230’s Immunity for Big Tech

New Facebook Feature Provides Option to Avoid Political Ads

Facebook debuted a feature, first to a small group, to allow U.S. users to opt out of seeing political, electoral and social issue ads in Facebook and Instagram feeds. After months of refusing to take action on these ads, even those with lies, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg admitted that, “everyone wants to see politicians held accountable for what they say — and I know many people want us to moderate and remove more of their content.” Facebook also announced its intent to register 4 million new voters in the next few months.

Continue reading New Facebook Feature Provides Option to Avoid Political Ads

TikTok Becomes a Revenue Giant as App Spawns Subgenres

According to reports, young people are now equally splitting their time between popular video-sharing platforms YouTube and TikTok. Since starting to watch TikTok, consumers ages 4-15 have increased their social app use by 100 percent in 2019 and 200 percent this year. Parent company ByteDance is making so much money on TikTok’s advertising and in-app purchases that it may be valued between $150 billion and $180 billion in an IPO. ByteDance just hired former Disney exec Kevin Mayer as TikTok’s new CEO, giving the company an American face. Continue reading TikTok Becomes a Revenue Giant as App Spawns Subgenres

Twitter Is Developing a New, Transparent Verification System

Tech blogger and app researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered that Twitter is developing a new verification service. The original 2016 service placed a blue-and-white checkmark next to a verified personal account, brand or company. The service was halted in 2017 after it verified an account of Jason Kessler, an organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. According to Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey, the company planned to expand the service in 2018 but didn’t have the bandwidth to do so. Continue reading Twitter Is Developing a New, Transparent Verification System

Facebook Examines Content Policies, Removes Hate Groups

After weeks of demonstrations and unrest in the U.S. and abroad, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that, although the company has policies on handling content related to violence and civil unrest, “there may be additional policies or integrity measures to consider around discussion or threats of state use of force when a country is in this state.” The social giant will also review its policies with regard to countries with violent conflicts and civil unrest. Facebook removed almost 200 accounts linked to white supremacist groups. Continue reading Facebook Examines Content Policies, Removes Hate Groups

Aussie Court Rules Publishers Liable for Facebook Comments

An Australian court ruled that newspapers and TV stations that post articles on Facebook will be considered publishers of the comments that Facebook users post, and therefore liable for them. Defendants in the original lawsuit — among them News Corp. and the Sydney Morning Herald — are considering an appeal. These two outlets noted that, “today’s decision means the media cannot share any story via Facebook without fear of being sued for comments which they did not publish and have no control over.” Continue reading Aussie Court Rules Publishers Liable for Facebook Comments

Instagram Users Can Be Sued for Embedding Images in Posts

Instagram users have embedded images in their posts, believing that they were protected against copyright claims. Facebook now explains that, “while our terms allow us to grant a sub-license, we do not grant one for our embeds API.” In other words, a user who embeds someone’s Instagram post on her website has to ask the poster in advance for a separate license to the post’s images. Those who don’t could be subject to a lawsuit. Professional photographers will be able to better negotiate with publishers based on these terms. Continue reading Instagram Users Can Be Sued for Embedding Images in Posts

Pinterest Adds Today Tab for Topics, Shop Tab for Products

Pinterest, the website and mobile app that describes itself as a “visual discovery engine,” showcased “Today,” a tab on the user’s Pinterest home page that features topics and ideas curated by Pinterest staff and trending pins selected by algorithms. “Today” is a response to changing customer behavior during the coronavirus pandemic. The platform’s global monthly active users reached 367+ million, up from about 300 million last September. During the last few months, searches and boards have both leapt up 60 percent compared to last year. Continue reading Pinterest Adds Today Tab for Topics, Shop Tab for Products

YouTube Is Pursuing Upfront Ad Deals for its Pay-TV Service

YouTube is pitching its pay-TV service to advertisers with the aim of getting them to spend money they ordinarily allocate to traditional and, increasingly, streaming TV platforms. Marketers, however, still think of YouTube as a mobile (and desktop) video platform with a lot of lower-quality user-generated content rather than a TV service such as Hulu. YouTube and YouTube TV garner 100 million U.S. viewers each month, with watch time up 80 percent year-over-year in March. Continue reading YouTube Is Pursuing Upfront Ad Deals for its Pay-TV Service

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