Twitter Users Can Follow 300+ Subjects via Topics Feature

On November 13, Twitter is launching Topics, a feature aimed at new or intermittent users that allows them to follow more than 300 subjects. By following a topic, the user will see tweets from experts in that arena. Twitter began testing the feature on Android in August. Topics team lead Rob Bishop noted, “the main reason that people come to Twitter is to keep up on the things that they’re interested in … [but] the challenge is it’s really quite difficult to do that on Twitter day to day.” Continue reading Twitter Users Can Follow 300+ Subjects via Topics Feature

Facebook Has Strong Q3, Settles Cambridge Analytica Suit

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg predicted a “tough year” ahead with the lead-up to the 2020 presidential elections, but the company showed strong Q3 earnings. FactSet said Facebook enjoyed $17.7 billion in total sales and $6.1 billion profit, exceeding Wall Street expectations. In after hours trading, shares rose 5 percent, having already risen more than 43 percent to date. Facebook also agreed to pay U.K.’s privacy regulator a £500,000 ($643,000) fine for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Continue reading Facebook Has Strong Q3, Settles Cambridge Analytica Suit

Zuckerberg Responds to Sorkin’s Open Letter of Criticism

Yesterday we reported that Jack Dorsey announced Twitter would ban all political ads, placing pressure on Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider Facebook’s laissez-faire approach to such content. As the CEOs’ opposing philosophies are generating a great deal of media buzz, screenwriter and director Aaron Sorkin published an open letter to Zuckerberg, criticizing the chief executive for not doing his part to stop the spread of misinformation on the social network. In response, Zuckerberg used lines from the Sorkin-penned 1995 film “The American President” to essentially call Sorkin a hypocrite. Continue reading Zuckerberg Responds to Sorkin’s Open Letter of Criticism

Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey revealed yesterday that the social platform would ban all political advertisements. Dorsey believes such content has “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” and that manipulated videos and the spread of misinformation are creating challenges at an “overwhelming scale.” The move adds another layer to the debate over online advertising, social media and free speech — especially in the political arena — and increases the pressure on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider his laissez-faire approach. Continue reading Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Twitter Tackles Abusive Tweets, Ad Glitches Hurt Revenue

Twitter’s shares dropped 20 percent with the news that revenue and profit in Q3 were below Wall Street expectations. The company added six million more users in Q2 — for a total of 145 million — likely due to changes that allow users to follow content of greatest interest to them. Twitter also reported that its machine learning-enabled tools now remove fully half of all the abusive tweets on its platform without relying on anyone to report them. This change is much welcomed given the platform’s persistent problem of abuse. Continue reading Twitter Tackles Abusive Tweets, Ad Glitches Hurt Revenue

Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Ahead of next year’s U.S. Presidential election, social platform Twitter is planning to introduce a new policy that intends to help curb manipulated media including altered videos known as “deepfakes.” Twitter plans to create its first ever such policy regarding deepfakes and will seek feedback from the public in doing so. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services has joined Facebook, Microsoft and others in the Deepfake Detection Challenge (DFDC) and will serve as a tech partner and committee member helping to oversee the challenge. Continue reading Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Disinformation From Iran and Russia Deleted by Facebook

Facebook revealed that it found and took down four disinformation campaigns, three of which originated in Iran and one in Russia, all of them aimed at users in the United States, Latin America and North Africa. The posts, which crossed ideological lines and covered multiple categories, touched on Middle Eastern conflict and racial strife and mentioned New York’s Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Russian campaign, comprised of 50 accounts, focused on the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Continue reading Disinformation From Iran and Russia Deleted by Facebook

Quibi Video Platform Inks Deals With ESPN and 60 Minutes

Quibi, the short-form video platform co-founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, signed two new content partners. The Walt Disney Company’s ESPN will provide a daily sports highlights show, which will debut with Quibi’s April launch and be part of that platform’s Daily Essentials. According to Katzenberg, Daily Essentials will curate content and “make it convenient” to viewers. CBS News’ “60 Minutes” will also create “60 in 6,” a version of original news stories condensed into six-minute long episodes specifically for Quibi. Continue reading Quibi Video Platform Inks Deals With ESPN and 60 Minutes

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

Facebook’s Libra Hit by PayPal Pullout, Apple Chief’s Roast

PayPal just pulled out of Facebook’s cryptocurrency initiative Libra, introduced in June. At the time of release, Facebook partnered with 27 companies, including Mastercard, Uber and Visa, as well as PayPal. Libra is designed to be used internationally within Facebook’s own properties, such as Messenger and WhatsApp. Apple chief executive Tim Cook described Libra as a “blatant power grab,” saying that currencies should be the domain of countries and added that Apple had no plans to launch its own digital currency. Continue reading Facebook’s Libra Hit by PayPal Pullout, Apple Chief’s Roast

Google Offers Deepfakes for Researching Detection Methods

Google, in cooperation with its internal tech incubator Jigsaw, released a large number of deepfakes, which have been added to the FaceForensics benchmark run by the Technical University of Munich and the University of Naples Federico II. The deepfakes will be available for free to researchers developing detection techniques. Previously, Google released text-to-speech models as part of the AVspoof 2019 competition to develop systems to distinguish between real and computer-generated speech. Continue reading Google Offers Deepfakes for Researching Detection Methods

New NFL-Facebook Contract Will Run Through 2020 Season

The NFL and Facebook renewed their video deal through the 2020 season. In the original deal, inked in 2017, the NFL provided recaps from all 256 regular season games plus other content for Facebook Watch. The NFL will continue to supply the season recaps, along with original content, content related to the NFL’s 100th anniversary and material from the NFL Films archive featured on “NFL Throwback.” Facebook says that, in 2017 and 2018, over 22 million people watched at least a minute of an NFL recap. Continue reading New NFL-Facebook Contract Will Run Through 2020 Season

Hackers Increasingly Use SIM-Swapping to Hijack Accounts

Last week, hackers took over the Twitter account of that company’s chief executive Jack Dorsey, using SIM-swapping, a technique that lets hackers access social media, email, financial accounts and other sensitive data. SIM-swapping, by which hackers take over the target’s phone, is being used to steal money and take over the “online personae” of celebrities, politicians and other notable people. In response, Twitter temporarily turned off the feature that allows users to send tweets via text message. Continue reading Hackers Increasingly Use SIM-Swapping to Hijack Accounts

Tech Firms, U.S. Officials Strategize 2020 Election Security

As the 2020 U.S. presidential election nears, government officials met in Silicon Valley with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter to discuss how to prevent the foreign interference that took place during the 2016 election. The companies’ security teams and representatives from the FBI, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security attended the daylong meeting at Facebook’s headquarters. The group talked about detecting potential threats and methods of strategic collaboration. Continue reading Tech Firms, U.S. Officials Strategize 2020 Election Security

Grand Jury Indicts Two Streaming Sites for Pirated Content

Beginning in 2007, the Las Vegas, Nevada-based Jetflicks debuted a streaming service that provided commercial-free popular TV shows the day after they aired, most recently charging $9.99 per month. That’s until an undercover FBI agent helped make a bust of the streaming service that enabled piracy. Last week, a grand jury indicted eight people for allegedly operating two of the biggest illegal streaming sites in the country. Jetflicks claims it had 37,000+ subscribers and hosted 183,000 TV episodes. Continue reading Grand Jury Indicts Two Streaming Sites for Pirated Content

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