Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security

Facebook’s lawyers, relying on research by the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, prepared a 14-page document that lays out its defenses against government threats to force a break from its messaging service WhatsApp and photo- and video-sharing platform Instagram. Congress and other federal antitrust regulators continue to investigate Facebook, as well as Google, Amazon and Apple, and the House Antitrust Subcommittee is expected to release its findings this month. Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 were vetted by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security

Facebook Unveils Business Suite Tools for Small Companies

In response to COVID-19, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg debuted the Facebook Business Suite aimed at small businesses, which are bearing much of the brunt of the pandemic. Yelp data revealed that business closures from mid-July to end of August rose 23 percent; since March, 60 percent of the business closures have been permanent. According to Facebook, the Business Suite is initially available to small businesses but will expand to larger businesses next year. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Business Suite Tools for Small Companies

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 Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

Next Tuesday, Facebook will begin the global rollout of a new tab in its main app called Facebook Shop, which allows users to browse product catalogs and buy items directly on the social media platform. The new feature, previously in beta with a small group of U.S. users, joins a similar feature launched on Instagram last month. Prior to Facebook Shop, businesses could add catalogs to their Facebook pages, but the new feature is a dedicated marketplace for multiple retailers. Instagram’s Checkout feature will also soon be broadly available. Continue reading Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

FTC Interviews Mark Zuckerberg as Part of Its Antitrust Probe

The Federal Trade Commission often interviews witnesses under oath as part of investigations that lead to lawsuits. It’s telling, then, that, according to sources, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testified remotely and under oath over a two-day FTC “investigative hearing.” Those sources also pointed out that Zuckerberg’s testimony doesn’t guarantee the case is headed toward an antitrust lawsuit but could be used by the FTC and state attorneys to build their case. State officials also participated in the hearing. Continue reading FTC Interviews Mark Zuckerberg as Part of Its Antitrust Probe

China & U.S. Both Stand to Lose in Current Technology Battle

The current U.S.-China tensions over technology may result in both countries being impeded from achieving their targets: China’s aim to build a modern technocratic state and the U.S.’s efforts to continue to build lucrative businesses with China’s huge market. U.S. Internet companies are already barred by China’s Great Firewall, and now the U.S. is targeting Huawei Technologies, ByteDance’s TikTok and Tencent Holdings’ WeChat. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proposed a “Clean Network” free of Chinese apps and other technology. Continue reading China & U.S. Both Stand to Lose in Current Technology Battle

Facebook Targets E-Commerce with Updated Instagram Shop

Facebook debuted a major redesign of its Instagram Shop platform, which had already been accessible from a button in the Explore tab but now offers more functionality. The new version of Instagram Shop will first be available in the U.S., with a global rollout “in the coming weeks” said the company. In Shop, consumers will find special collections, a “Suggested for You” section and curated offerings from Instagram’s @Shop account. A double arrow symbol means the user can buy the product without leaving the app. The move is seen as Facebook’s stronger push into e-commerce. Continue reading Facebook Targets E-Commerce with Updated Instagram Shop

Loon and Telkom Kenya Provide Internet Service via Balloons

Loon, a California-based unit of Alphabet, and Telkom Kenya debuted 4G Internet service in central and western Kenya, a 31,000-square-mile area that includes the capital Nairobi. In preparation, over the last few months Loon launched 35 balloons 12 miles into the sky, above commercial airplanes. Previously, Loon provided Internet service via balloons in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria destroyed all the cell towers in 2017. Telecom executives are watching to see if Loon’s technology is reliable and profitable. Continue reading Loon and Telkom Kenya Provide Internet Service via Balloons

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

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

Facebook Papers Reveal Progress on AI Shopping Assistant

In May, Facebook debuted Shops, which allows companies to set up digital stores across Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, and also described its goal to develop an AI assistant to recommend products. The assistant would learn about a user’s preferences by analyzing images in his wardrobe and allow him to virtually try on clothing. Based on papers Facebook will present at the Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition 2020, it appears the company is deep in development of this assistant. Continue reading Facebook Papers Reveal Progress on AI Shopping Assistant

Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

In May, according to App Annie, the encrypted messaging app Signal was downloaded one million times worldwide, a result of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the more recent protests over George Floyd’s death and police brutality. Sensor Tower reports that Signal currently has 32.4 million installs. Privacy advocates have always been attracted to Signal’s ability to limit the information it can give to authorities. Signal’s end-to-end encryption is considered more secure than what is offered by Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage. Continue reading Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

Microsoft Planning for Teams to Become Ubiquitous Platform

Microsoft 365 corporate vice president Jeff Teper wants Microsoft Teams — the company’s fastest growing business app — to overtake Windows, currently on 1+ billion active devices. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft Teams is experiencing significant growth, with 75 million daily active users as of April 29, a 70 percent leap in six weeks. In April, 200+ million participants used Teams in a single day. Meanwhile, Microsoft is still promoting Skype, which in March passed 40 million daily active users (up 70 percent from the previous year), but for a different customer base. Continue reading Microsoft Planning for Teams to Become Ubiquitous Platform

E-Commerce: Facebook Reveals AI-Powered Shops Feature

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced updates to Shops, a new version of an existing Facebook feature that lets retailers upload product catalogs to their Facebook page or Instagram profile. Users can access Shops on the retailer’s page or, by clicking on an ad, will land on the retailer’s Facebook-located Shop. Zuckerberg stated that Shops will eventually be available on Messenger and WhatsApp as well. The company relies on several AI systems, including GrokNet, which can “segment, detect and classify images.” Continue reading E-Commerce: Facebook Reveals AI-Powered Shops Feature

Executive Spotlight: Interview with Vubiquity’s Darcy Antonellis

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant operational changes as businesses adjust to new, often experimental or untested processes. ETC has taken this unprecedented time to interview executives from our member companies who generously agreed to share their experiences, information and ideas about how they are adapting to the crisis. The following is the first in a limited series to be published Tuesdays and Thursdays over the coming weeks. We begin with a conversation with Darcy Antonellis, division president of Amdocs Media and CEO of Vubiquity, an Amdocs Company. Vubiquity delivers premium content to viewers on any screen, device or platform. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: Interview with Vubiquity’s Darcy Antonellis

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