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Why Are Tech Companies Trying to Kill Us?
November 13, 2017
This is the question that keeps me up at night after seeing the news of Russian influence through social media, and the rapid rise of road deaths due to smartphone use. I wonder if the executives in these firms understand not only that dead customers don't generate revenue, but also that some of the victims could end up being their own kids, spouses or parents.
Facebook Messenger Jumps to Business Websites
November 8, 2017
Facebook on Tuesday announced that it was preparing a plugin to its popular Messenger platform that will allow a website's visitors to chat with a human or bot without leaving the location. Customer Chat is one of a number of changes in the version 2.2 update of Messenger platform revealed at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. The chat plugin will be available on desktop and mobile devices.
Taking the News Out of Facebook's News Feed Could Hurt Publishers
October 25, 2017
A new feature that Facebook recently has been testing in a handful of countries could hurt publishers everywhere if it should roll out globally. The feature removes users' Liked pages from their main News Feed and aggregates them in a separate space called "Explore." In the six countries where Facebook has been testing the idea, traffic to news outlets reportedly has dropped 60-80 percent.
PayPal Lets Messenger Users Send Money to Buddies
October 20, 2017
PayPal has announced the immediate availability of its peer-to-peer payment service on Facebook Messenger, making it easy to exchange money between friends and family. PayPal also introduced its first-ever customer service bot. Payments can be made in Messenger by pressing the blue plus icon when composing a message and then tapping the green payments button.
Report Probes Social Media's Threat to Democracy
October 13, 2017
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube may pose a threat to American democracy, suggests a new report from The Omidyar Group. The report follows recent disclosures about targeted dark post advertising, fake news and other abuses propagated by Russian troll farms during the 2016 election. Among the questions the report raises is whether the U.S. government may need to step in.
FTC Tightens Screws on Social Media Influencers
October 12, 2017
Social media influencer advertising has become a major factor in e-commerce. Marketers of both big and small brands long have committed large chunks of their advertising budgets to endorsements by well-known personalities. Social media influencer campaigns are based on that tried-and-true formula, but the implication is that the endorsements are voluntary.
Zuckerberg Pays Virtual Visit to Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico
October 10, 2017
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday used virtual reality tech to "teleport" to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and soon was dubbed a "heartless billionaire" by critics who felt he had exploited the dire situation in the U.S. territory. That likely isn't what Zuckerberg intended when he provided the Facebook Spaces video demonstration.
Twitter to Test Drive Double-Wide Tweets
September 28, 2017
Twitter has announced a limited test to double the maximum tweet size to 280 characters. Twitter has been struggling to boost user engagement, and its tweet character limitation has been the subject of a longstanding debate among customers and company insiders. One reason for the possible change is to correct for the information imbalance between Asian and western language characters.
Russia, Fake News and Facebook: 24/7 Manipulation
September 11, 2017
Back when the Internet first came to be, there was the belief that the result would be more facts, less censorship, more intelligent discourse and less successful manipulation. Being able to converse with each other would lead people to be more honest, and our world increasingly would resemble a utopian ideal of peace and prosperity. Now, decades later, "fake news" has proliferated.
What Tech Companies Are Doing Wrong With Extremists
August 21, 2017
It is starting to worry me how little the responses by tech firms will do to fix the problem of extreme views instead of just driving them underground. This is largely due to the excessive focus firms now have on how they are run. Companies tend to be run tactically, with officials more likely to make decisions that will seem to make a problem go away but do not deal with the cause of the problem.
Facebook Takes Another Stab at Neutralizing Fake News
August 4, 2017
Stung by charges that it allowed fake news stories to proliferate during the 2016 election cycle, Facebook on Thursday began rolling out broadly a feature meant to regain the trust of its members. The tool effectively will surround questionable stories with related news stories offering different perspectives -- a strategy intended to help readers discern where the truth lies.
Facebook Adds Hardware, Software Vetting and 4K to 360 Live
July 26, 2017
Facebook has announced several updates to its live-streaming platform, including a new hardware and software vetting program used to create 360-degree video. Through its new Live 360 Ready Program, Facebook will review hardware and software and approve products that work well with its Live 360 offering. Products deemed "ready" for Live 360 will be allowed to display a Facebook Live logo.
Facebook to Launch Paywall in Response to Publisher Pushback
July 26, 2017
Facebook last week confirmed its plan to launch a paywall for content providers, a move that could ease longstanding tensions with traditional publishers who objected to giving away their print stories for free. Campbell Brown, former CNN and NBC News journalist and current head of Facebook's news partnerships unit, announced the plan at a New York digital media forum.
Has Photobucket Painted Itself Into a Corner?
July 20, 2017
Various celebrities over the years have "broken the Internet" when risqué photos or shocking revelations surfaced, with or without their knowledge or approval. Photo hosting service Photobucket may have surpassed Kim Kardashian's most notorious stunts, though. The company recently changed its user agreement for the hosting of images on third-party sites, and truly may have broken the Internet.
Facebook Launches 'Discover Growth' Global B2B Ad Campaign
July 20, 2017
Facebook on Wednesday launched "Discover Growth," a global ad campaign targeting B2B marketers. The 30-day U.S. ad campaign, which will target direct-response marketers as well as traditional brands, will run both on and off the Facebook platform. The on-platform campaign reportedly will consist of one ad per day on Facebook, Instagram and the Facebook Audience Network.
Google Launches Go-To Job Aggregation Site
June 21, 2017
Google has announced the launch of new job search aggregation technology. The new initiative will allow Google users to search for jobs either on mobile devices or personal computers, and to use a set of filters to obtain highly targeted results pulled from many different sites across the Web. Google aims to use its machine learning capabilities to make an immediate impact on people's lives.
Tech Titans Pledge Continued Paris Accord Support
June 3, 2017
Reacting to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, several high-tech industry leaders have pledged renewed environmental efforts. "Disappointed with today's decision. Google will keep working hard for a cleaner, more prosperous future for all," tweeted CEO Sundar Pichai. "We will double our efforts to fight climate change," tweeted Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
Facebook's Original Programming Plans Take Shape
May 31, 2017
Facebook last week signed agreements with several content firms -- among them Vox, Buzzfeed, ATTN and Group Nine Media, according to reports. The deals are widely viewed as part of the company's strategy to attract millennials to its live-streaming Web content. Facebook will offer multi-tiered programming, according to a report that cited sources familiar with the plans.
A Better World President MarySue Hansell: Getting Real With a Virtual Do-Good Game
May 30, 2017
"We saw that there was a lack of kindness, a lack of empathy ... and we thought it would be nice if we could use technology to do something about it," said MarySue Hansell, president of A Better World. "We thought Facebook offered a wonderful opportunity to use a large technical platform to create a virtual world that would have a big impact, with a game that emphasizes positive thinking."
Leaked Docs Spotlight Complexity of Moderating Facebook Content
May 23, 2017
The public got a rare view into how Facebook tries to keep offensive and dangerous content offline in a report published Sunday. Leaked confidential documents exposed the secret rules by which Facebook polices postings on issues such as violence, hate speech, terrorism, pornography, racism and self-harm, as well as such subjects as sports fixing and cannibalism.
What Internet-Connected War Might Look Like
May 10, 2017
A technician hurriedly slings his backpack over his shoulders, straps on his M9 pistol, and bolts out of the transport with his squad of commandos in a hail of gunfire. As soon as his team reaches the compound, he whips out a laptop and starts deploying a rootkit to the target server, bullets whizzing overhead all the while. Army Cyber Institute's recruits are training to do just that.
New Deals Turn Twitter's Content Stream Into a River
May 2, 2017
Twitter has announced a partnership with Bloomberg to launch a 24-hour streaming news service -- one of a dozen new content deals Twitter has entered to drive user engagement. CEO Jack Dorsey and a group of top executives announced the slate of programming agreements -- which include concerts from Live Nation, sports from Major League Baseball and the WNBA, and a morning news show from BuzzFeed.
Instagram Snaps Up Rivals' Users
April 28, 2017
Instagram has reached a milestone of 700 million members while enjoying the fastest-ever growth rate in its history. The network has grown by more than 100 million members in the last four months. Its burgeoning growth can be credited to new features like Stories, live video and disappearing messages, the company said. User engagement with Stories has grown to more than 200 million people per day.
Internet Giants Ramp Up Fake News Defenses
April 27, 2017
Three major Internet brands this week announced initiatives to combat "fake news" online. Google revealed that it had tweaked its search processes to help bring high-quality content to the top of search result pages. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced a new online publication that aims to fight fake news by pairing professional journalists with legions of volunteer community contributors.
Our Sci-Fi Future: Silly vs. Terrifying
April 25, 2017
The future is now, or at least it is coming soon. Today's technological developments are looking very much like what once was the domain of science fiction. Maybe we don't have domed cities and flying cars, but we do have buildings that reach to the heavens, and drones that soon could deliver our packages. Who needs a flying car when the self-driving car is just down the road?
Google Mulls Ways to Banish Bad Ads
April 22, 2017
Google reportedly has been working on a plan to install an ad blocker onto its Chrome browser. It also has been considering a collaboration with Microsoft, Facebook and other firms to develop a set of standards that would determine which types of advertising to block from websites. That effort presumably would aim at blocking abusive ads without jeopardizing ads from legitimate firms.
Facebook's Latest Moon Shot: I Think, Therefore I Type
April 21, 2017
Facebook on Wednesday told its F8 conference audience about two new cutting-edge projects that could change the way humans engage with devices. Over the next two years, the company will work on a new technology that will allow anyone to type around 100 words per minute -- not with fingers, but using a process that would decode neural activity devoted to speech. What Facebook envisions is a technology that would resemble a neural network.
Facebook Builds a VR Space, but Will Anyone Come?
April 19, 2017
Facebook has announced the beta launch of Facebook Spaces, a new app that allows users to connect with friends and colleagues in an interactive virtual reality environment. It provides a way for social media users to hang out as they might otherwise in person -- even bridging great distances -- noted Rachel Franklin, head of social VR at Facebook. An avatar represents each user in the VR world.
Cleveland Murder Intensifies Scrutiny of Facebook Live
April 18, 2017
Video footage of a senseless murder in Cleveland, posted after the fact on Facebook Live, has attracted national attention to the role of the platform in criminals' minds. Authorities Tuesday morning announced that Steve Stephens -- the 37-year-old suspect wanted for the cold-blooded shooting of Robert Godwin Sr. -- shot himself to death after a short pursuit by Pennsylvania State Police.
Burger King Ad Creates Whopper of a Mess for Google Home
April 13, 2017
Burger King in essence hijacked the voice-activated Google Home speakers in some consumers' homes. In a 15-second television ad, the camera zooms in on a young man wearing the company uniform who says, "OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?" The trigger phrase for Google's AI Assistant activated Home speakers situated nearby, prompting them to read Wikipedia's description of the Whopper.
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What effect is social media having on the current discussion of sexual misconduct?
It's enabling many more people to engage in serious discussions.
It's functioning mostly as an echo chamber.
It's giving everyone a voice.
It's creating much more divisiveness.
It's enabling a cultural re-education.
It's making my news feed so unpleasant I'm staying away.