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

Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

Under pressure from European Union antitrust head Margrethe Vestager, Google will make it easier for users to choose a competitive search engine. Since Google’s record $4.8 billion fine didn’t “do the trick” to fix the problem, she proposed a “choice screen mechanism.” Beginning March 2020, Google will now offer this screen that allows users to pick a default search engine, and list rival search engines for little or no money. Google said the solution had been “developed in consultation with the European Commission.” Continue reading Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

On-Demand Television Is Giving the Music Industry a Boost

“Stranger Things,” “Breaking Bad” and “Transparent” are just a few examples of popular television shows that have been a boon to the music industry in recent years. During an era when physical music sales are at a low, artists and labels are eager to license their music to play during TV episodes for royalties and publicity. According to numbers provided by UK music collecting society PRS for Music — home of the Performing Right Society (PRS) and the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS), the use of music across on-demand platforms has increased 238 percent over the past five years.

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EU Private Risk Assessment Reveals 5G Security Concerns

According to a privately circulated risk assessment prepared by European governments, the European Union (EU) has identified security threats coming from foreign telecommunications equipment vendors, raising particular concerns about Huawei Technologies Co. A public report was released and warned of hostile states or state-backed companies posing a threat to new 5G networks rolling out across the globe. These promise faster connection speeds and the ability to link many devices (cars, pacemakers, and more) to the Internet. 

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Facebook Pressured Over Fact-Checking and Hate Speech

After Facebook vice president Nick Clegg said that the social media company would not fact-check politicians’ speech and allow them more latitude with using offensive speech, the company’s former head of content standards Dave Willner called the move “foolish, wrong, and a significant betrayal of the original democratizing ideals of Facebook.” He noted that hate speech is not acceptable from anyone. Facebook will also permit opinion pieces or satires found to be inaccurate by fact-checkers to remain online. Continue reading Facebook Pressured Over Fact-Checking and Hate Speech

Amazon Music to Introduce HD Service for CD-Quality Sound

Amazon is debuting an HD version of its music service, which means its digital sound quality will henceforth be on a par with that found on CDs. Music executives, some who have pushed for different tiers of subscription beyond Apple Music and Spotify’s typical $9.99-per-month, said Amazon’s move is “a sign of the music-streaming market’s maturation.” Although Tidal offers an HD sound service, Amazon Music, at the No. 3 spot by subscription numbers, will be the first major service to offer comparable quality audio. Continue reading Amazon Music to Introduce HD Service for CD-Quality Sound

Exposed Database of Facebook User Data Is Found Online

More than 419 million records of Facebook users in the United States, United Kingdom and Vietnam — including Facebook IDs and user phone numbers — were recently found online (although Facebook disputes that number). The exposed server was reportedly not password-protected, which suggests the database was accessible to anyone. The server contained user data across multiple databases that could potentially enable spam calls and SIM-swapping attacks. According to Facebook, the breach involved user data collected prior to the introduction of new security measures. The company has since taken the exposed data set offline.  Continue reading Exposed Database of Facebook User Data Is Found Online

BBC Is Creating Voice Assistant That Understands Accents

The BBC is developing a voice assistant named Beeb that it promises will understand British accents. Other virtual assistants have struggled with regional accents, but the BBC team will be recording staff voices from multiple U.K. locations to address that issue. While there are no plans to introduce a standalone CE device similar to Google Home or Amazon Echo, the BBC plans to debut Beeb next year to help people interact with online services offered via the company’s website and its smart TV iPlayer app. The assistant’s software will also be available to manufacturers interested in including it in their own consumer devices. Continue reading BBC Is Creating Voice Assistant That Understands Accents

Facebook Ad Campaigns to Carry Movie Reminders, Times

Facebook is introducing two new features in the U.S. and U.K. that will allow entertainment studios to post movie reminders and showtimes as standard components for ad buys on the platform’s News Feed. There will be no additional cost to include the new information. Since interest in many films is generated early when trailers and ads first appear, Facebook believes movie fans would be greatly served with reminders when those films hit theaters. Users tap the “Interested” button on the movie’s Facebook ad to register for the reminder. The notification arrives when the film launches, and includes a link for showtimes and purchasing tickets. Continue reading Facebook Ad Campaigns to Carry Movie Reminders, Times

FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg purchased startups to forestall the competition they might pose. Sources said that the FTC is already reaching out to the founders of some of these startups. S&P Global estimates that Facebook has purchased about 90 companies over the past 15 years. Facebook isn’t alone in this behavior. A U.K. antitrust panel reported that the top five tech companies have acquired more than 400 companies over the last decade. Continue reading FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

Apple Ends Practice of Humans Monitoring Siri Recordings

Apple will no longer allow human contractors to listen in on users’ Siri recordings to “grade” them, and will not resume the program until it has completed a “thorough review.” The company also stated that, as part of a future update, users will be able to opt out of the quality assurance program. Apple told users that Siri data might be used to improve their experience, but not that humans would be listening to it. Most of the compromised confidential information was recorded via an accidental trigger of Siri. Continue reading Apple Ends Practice of Humans Monitoring Siri Recordings

Costs of Teaming With Social Media Influencers on the Rise

Recent reports from influencer marketing services indicate that brands and marketers are concerned with the growing costs of working with social influencers. According to a Mediakix survey, more than one-third of marketers in the U.S. explained that the rising cost in this space has become a significant challenge to marketing. A report from Klear points out that nano-influencers on YouTube (with 500 to 5,000 followers) earn an average of $315 per video, and power-influencers (with 30,000 to 500,000 followers) charge an average of $782 per video. Continue reading Costs of Teaming With Social Media Influencers on the Rise

European Union Hits Qualcomm With Another Antitrust Fine

For the second time in 18 months, the European Union levied a fine on Qualcomm, this time for €242 million ($272 million). European commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager stated that Qualcomm drove a competing supplier of baseband chips out of business, an antitrust violation. The EU started its formal investigation into Qualcomm in 2015, when U.K. chip manufacturer Icera accused it of “predatory pricing” between 2009 and 2011, to drive it out of business. Nvidia subsequently purchased Icera. Continue reading European Union Hits Qualcomm With Another Antitrust Fine

New Disney Hub on Spotify Designed for Families and Kids

Spotify recently announced a new partnership with Disney that brings a collection of Disney playlists to the streaming music platform. The Disney Hub on Spotify — currently available for fans in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.K. and U.S. — features soundtracks and other music related to Disney movies and TV shows. Among the current categories are Disney Hits, Disney Favorites, Disney Classics, Disney Sing-Alongs, Disney Princess, Marvel Music and The Best of Star Wars. Continue reading New Disney Hub on Spotify Designed for Families and Kids

France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

France’s Senate has approved taxing Amazon, Google and other large technology companies, despite the threat of a U.S. probe into discrimination. In fact, the vote came hours after U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said he would investigate the French legislation based on the same law President Trump used in the trade clash with China. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire responded that, “France is a sovereign state. It makes sovereign decisions on tax matters and will continue to make sovereign decisions on tax matters.” Continue reading France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

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