Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Facebook’s Instagram began testing a new approach with users in Canada two months ago and this week expanded its efforts to include users in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The experiment removes emphasis on the “Like” feature to minimize the pressure to compete, while hopefully creating a more personal and enjoyable experience. Users are still able to see who liked other people’s posts or watched their videos, but there is no longer a running tally of the number of likes and views (however, users can still privately see the counts for their own posts). Continue reading Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Republican and Democratic lawmakers excoriated tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google this week on Capitol Hill. Chief among the critics were Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who oversees the Constitution subcommittee, and Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) who leads an antitrust subcommittee. Although the companies acknowledged the upheaval their technology has created in many industries, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded that, “every time Americans trust you, they seem to get burned.” Continue reading Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

YouTube, Facebook Lure Creators With Monetization Tools

YouTube and Facebook are looking to compete with other social platforms by offering creators more direct monetization tools. At VidCon in Anaheim, YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan revealed that the number of YouTube personalities earning five to six figures annually has jumped 40 percent year-over-year. YouTube’s new tools will help these YouTubers earn money directly from their followers. Ahead of VidCon, Facebook hosted its “Facebook Creator Day” in Malibu, during which it showcased monetization tools, including virtual stars that can be gifted to creators and a program that enables fans to pay creators for exclusive content. Continue reading YouTube, Facebook Lure Creators With Monetization Tools

New YouTube Policy Enables Easier Copyright Claim Fixes

YouTube just made it easier for video creators to handle manual claims of copyright infringement. With the updated policy, copyright owners will have to say where in the video their material occurs, making it easier for creators to determine whether the claim is legitimate and then to edit out content if it is. In the past, creators would have to search through their videos to find the offending material, uncertain as to where it was, making it difficult to find and fix or dispute. Continue reading New YouTube Policy Enables Easier Copyright Claim Fixes

Social Media Summit Excludes Top Social Media Platforms

President Trump convened a Social Media Summit without Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet or YouTube, which he has accused of stifling conservative voices. Instead, he invited supporters such as former White House advisor Sebastian Gorka, James O’Keefe from Project Veritas, and activist Ali Alexander. Speakers included Trump supporters Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, known as Diamond & Silk, who have a large Facebook following, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri). Continue reading Social Media Summit Excludes Top Social Media Platforms

Snapchat Intros Celeb Creator Shows, Shares Ad Revenue

Snapchat began streaming first-person ‘Creator Shows’ this week featuring celebrities and social influencers in the same vertical video approach of the platform’s collection of original series. Notable celebs such as Kevin Hart, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Serena Williams can now stream their short-form videos on Snapchat and monetize their efforts through an ad-revenue sharing model (specific terms have not been revealed, but sources note that Snap’s standard deal with media companies is typically a 50 percent split). Continue reading Snapchat Intros Celeb Creator Shows, Shares Ad Revenue

Amazon-Google Truce Offers More Cross-Platform Access

Google and Amazon, which reached a truce in April after months of wrangling, opened the door to multiple cross-platform compatibilities: Amazon Fire TV streaming platforms will now carry Google’s YouTube, YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps — and Google Chromecast platforms and Android TVs will carry Amazon Prime Video. In addition, users will be able to request YouTube content on the Fire TV via the Alexa voice assistant. Not available yet is the ability of Google Assistant to work with Amazon Prime Video on Chromecast. Continue reading Amazon-Google Truce Offers More Cross-Platform Access

BBC and ITV Join Forces to Launch Rival to U.S. Streamers

In the U.K., Amazon and Netflix now own about two-thirds of that country’s video streaming market and, for the second time, the BBC and ITV are trying to pool their assets to launch their own streaming platform. Their first effort to do so, in 2007, was squelched by regulators. The new platform, dubbed BritBox (a version of which has been available in North America), is expected to make its U.K. debut later in 2019, with the two broadcasters’ popular shows and new content. But the BBC and ITV are still struggling to resolve issues of budget, audience data sharing and content exclusivity. Continue reading BBC and ITV Join Forces to Launch Rival to U.S. Streamers

Twitter Will Warn Users of Politicians’ Inappropriate Tweets

Twitter announced that it plans to hide messages that are posted by politicians who violate the company’s abuse or harassment policies. Such tweets will be hidden behind a warning label, but will not be removed from the service, since Twitter still considers them a matter of public interest. The notices will inform readers if a tweet violates rules regarding harassment or violent threats, and then readers will have the option of clicking through to access the questionable message. The move could complicate the current debate over political bias on Twitter in addition to the balance other social platforms are struggling with between free speech and offensive content. Continue reading Twitter Will Warn Users of Politicians’ Inappropriate Tweets

Ad Execs Wrestle Over Objectionable Content, Privacy Laws

At this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, attendees aired their concerns about online data privacy and brand safety. The latter has been highlighted over the last years as advertisements have appeared next to objectionable content on Facebook, Google’s YouTube and other digital platforms. McDonald’s, Clorox, Nestlé, Epic Games and AT&T are among the advertisers that froze ads due to this ongoing problem. Some attendees asked for federal privacy regulations to protect consumers and avert state-by-state legislation. Continue reading Ad Execs Wrestle Over Objectionable Content, Privacy Laws

Proposed Law Would Make Media Platforms Liable for Posts

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) introduced legislation to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to hold big tech companies such as Facebook and YouTube liable for content published on their platforms. Tech companies now have protection under Section 230 from being found liable for what users post. Known as the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, the proposed legislation has sparked backlash from both sides of the aisle. According to Hawley’s office, his bill is aimed to limit political bias. Continue reading Proposed Law Would Make Media Platforms Liable for Posts

More Marketers Test Targeted Ads on Streaming Platforms

The automobile recommendation site Cars.com used to run its advertisements on TV, aimed at a broad swathe of consumers. But since early 2019, the online company began running its ads on streaming TV platforms such as Amazon Fire TV and Roku to target their ads more precisely to people shopping for cars. Targeted advertising is taking off as a trend because many factors now make it possible to more narrowly aim them to relevant viewers. Some of the data now available includes income, purchase history and web-browsing behavior. Continue reading More Marketers Test Targeted Ads on Streaming Platforms

Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

The federal government is listening to complaints about how the major digital platforms exploit their size and the paucity of regulations — and companies are lining up to tell their tales of woe. Yelp public policy chief Luther Lowe says firms that once quietly grumbled are now talking to the Department of Justice about anti-competitive behavior by the big tech companies, all of which vigorously deny the accusations. Two Instagram executives stated that, although some would like to break up social giant Facebook, that won’t help the problem. Continue reading Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

Hulu Strategizes Ad Sales as Marketers Migrate Back to TV

Streaming video service Hulu, co-owned by The Walt Disney Company and Comcast and controlled by Disney, began lowering its CPM advertising rates (the amount charged to reach 1,000 viewers) to lure marketers to commit dollars to its site, according to several sources. Hopeful to boost ad sales, the company is implementing this strategy as major broadcast television networks are expected to secure increased ad commitments for the fall prime time schedules. Although viewers are migrating to streaming video services, marketers have been returning to broadcast TV, which is a known and trusted outlet. Continue reading Hulu Strategizes Ad Sales as Marketers Migrate Back to TV

Google Scientists Generate Realistic Videos at Scale with AI

Google research scientists report that they have produced realistic frames from open source video data sets at scale. Neural networks are able to generate complete videos from only a start and end frame, but it’s the complexity, information density and randomness of video that have made it too challenging to create such realistic clips at scale. The scientists wrote that, to their knowledge, “this is the first promising application of video-generation models to videos of this complexity.” The systems are based on a neural architecture known as Transformers, as described in a Google Brain paper, and are autoregressive, “meaning they generate videos pixel by pixel.” Continue reading Google Scientists Generate Realistic Videos at Scale with AI

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