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Leaked Audio Reveals Zuckerberg Spinning Hard
October 2, 2019
An attendee at a two-hour question-and-answer session during a Facebook company meeting held in July leaked a recording of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's comments that reveal deep insights into his thinking. Zuckerberg apparently decided the Q&A format would be an effective way to rally Facebook employees against rising criticism from competitors and the U.S. government.
Facebook's New Portals: More Ways to Follow
September 19, 2019
Facebook has announced three additions to the Portal family: a new Portal, Portal Mini and Portal TV. The devices let users make calls using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The Portal has a new design that resembles a picture frame. The Portal Mini is similar but smaller. The Portal TV blends the functionality of a set-top box with social media and video conferencing.
Instagram May Roll Out App for 'Real Friends' Sharing
August 28, 2019
A new application may be in the works that allows Instagram users to share real-time information with their closest friends. Called "Threads," the app allows users to set up automatic sharing with their closest Instagram buddies of such information as location, movement and battery life, as well as text, video and photo messages generated using Instagram's tools.
Facebook Gives Privacy-Minded Users Some Control Over Activity Tracking
August 21, 2019
Facebook has announced the release of Off-Facebook Activity, a tool that will let members see which apps and websites supply information about their online activity, and clear that information from their Facebook accounts if they wish. Once members have cleared their off-Facebook activity, Facebook will remove their identifying information from the data it collects.
YouTube as Political Influencer Takes the Spotlight
August 16, 2019
YouTube, which operates as one of Google's subsidiaries, is under increased scrutiny after a report earlier this month highlighted the role it played in the recent presidential election in Brazil. Among concerns is YouTube's installation of a new AI system that can suggest additional videos to watch. The goal arguably is not much different from the way newspapers offer links to other stories.
Cloudflare Cuts Service to 'Cesspool of Hate'
August 6, 2019
Cloudflare has cut service to 8chan, an online forum it called a "cesspool of hate." The move was motivated by the role 8chan played in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas; Christchurch, New Zealand; and Poway, California. "The rationale is simple: They have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths," wrote Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince.
UCSF Researchers Synthesize Speech From Brain Waves
August 1, 2019
Researchers led by speech neuroscientist Edward Chang at the University of California San Francisco have achieved success at decoding speech attempts in real time by reading the activity in the speech centers of test subjects' brains. Three persons capable of normal speech, who were being treated for epilepsy at the UCSF Medical Center, participated in the study.
Timely Antitrust Investigation
July 26, 2019
The Justice Department is opening antitrust investigations into some of the biggest tech companies around, including Facebook, Google, Amazon and others. This is nothing that either the public or the companies involved should fret about. This is part of the evolution of the tech sector. We've been through this kind of thing before. Each economic era follows a similar trajectory.
Bug in Facebook Messaging App Exposes Kids to Strangers
July 24, 2019
A flaw in a Facebook app designed for children under 13 years old allows kids to chat online with people unapproved by their parents. The messaging app for kids is designed to give parents control over who their kids text and video chat with online, but a bug in the software lets a contact approved to chat with one child to talk to another without the approval of the second child's parents.
Facebook Unfazed by $5B FTC Settlement
July 18, 2019
The Federal Trade Commission this week announced its approval of a $5 billion settlement with Facebook, ending a long-running investigation into the company's privacy practices. The commission's 3-2 vote was along party lines. The United States Department of Justice must finalize the settlement before the matter is closed. The DoJ's action will end the investigation that began early last year.
Twitter Tweaks Desktop Design
July 17, 2019
Twitter has unveiled a fresh new look for its desktop website that mimics the look and feel of its mobile platforms. The company has been testing a new version of its desktop website since the beginning of the year. The most noticeable change is the organization and layout of the Twitter home screen itself. The upgraded design simplifies navigation with a new and larger left-hand sidebar.
Mnuchin Sounds Alarm Over Facebook's Money-Minting Plan
July 17, 2019
The Treasury Department has "very serious concerns" about Facebook's new Libra cryptocurrency, according to Secretary Steve Mnuchin. "Libra could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity, like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs, human trafficking."
The Growing Menace of Weaponized Deepfakes
June 27, 2019
The U.S. House Intelligence Committee recently heard expert testimony on the growing threat posed by "deepfakes" -- altered videos and other AI-generated false information -- and what it could mean for the 2020 general elections, as well as the country's national security overall. The technologies collectively known as "deepfakes" can be used to manipulate and falsify images and videos.
LinkedIn Tweaks Its Algorithms to Skew Feeds to User Interests
June 26, 2019
LinkedIn has disclosed algorithm changes designed to favor conversations catering to niche professional interests. The criteria for posts showing up in members' feeds can be summed up as "people you know, talking about things you care about," said LinkedIn Senior Director of Product Management Pete Davies. LinkedIn tested 100 variations of its feed models through online A/B testing last year.
In Zuck We Trust: Facebook to Launch Own Cryptocurrency
June 19, 2019
Facebook's plans to mint its own digital coin will test the company's consumer credibility. After being savaged for months for its cavalier attitude toward users' privacy, the social network will be asking those same users to trust its new cryptocurrency. The currency, called "Libra," will be stashed in a digital wallet, the first product of new Facebook financial services subsidiary Calibra.
Facebook's Libra Cryptocurrency May Revolutionize E-Commerce
June 19, 2019
Facebook has released details about Libra, its long-rumored cryptocurrency. The company outlined plans "for a new decentralized blockchain, a low-volatility cryptocurrency, and a smart contract platform that together aim to create a new opportunity for responsible financial services innovation." The aim is to help people worldwide gain access to a cheaper, more connected global financial system.
Instagram Targets Account Hijacking
June 18, 2019
Account hijacking has become a nettlesome problem at Instagram so it has decided to do something about it. The social media company has begun testing a simpler method for users to reclaim their compromised accounts. It allows users locked out of their hacked accounts to ask for a six-digit code to be sent to the email address or phone number originally used to open the account.
For Brands the Future Is Facebook
June 7, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg recently said that the future of Facebook is private. Interestingly, connecting the dots between all the announcements made at Facebook's 2019 developers conference draws a bright picture of what the future looks like for brands, small e-commerce stores, and new businesses using the Facebook family of apps. It includes a whole new world of opportunities.
Dodging Facebook's 'Like' Trap for Small Businesses
June 7, 2019
Despite complaints about user privacy and the sharing of personal data, Facebook remains the de facto social media powerhouse. It may have started out as a place to connect with friends, but with 2.23 billion users worldwide it isn't hard to see why it matters to marketers. For the past decade Facebook has been a proven way for small businesses to connect with customers -- at least in theory.
YouTube Punishes Homophobic, Racist Pundit Following Internet Furor
June 6, 2019
YouTube on Wednesday demonetized the account of right-wing commentator Steven Crowder following widespread indignation over its initial response to his attacks on Vox host Carlos Maza. Crowder for years has attacked Maza, host of Vox's Strikethrough series. Crowder's homophobic and racist comments often spurred mass social media attacks and other abuse against Maza.
EU's Counterattack on Junk News May Help Protect Elections
May 22, 2019
Government efforts to minimize the effects of junk and fake news circulating on social media ahead of this week's EU parliamentary elections may have succeeded, suggest results of a study conducted by Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Project. The European Commission undertook targeted actions to counter junk news last year.
Facebook's Ad Library API Draws Fire
May 1, 2019
Facebook has come under fire for its Ad Library API, which lets users perform customized keyword searches of all active and inactive ads related to politics or issues of national importance stored there. Released in beta last summer, the archive became available to everyone in March, following pressure from Mozilla ahead of the EU's upcoming parliamentary elections.
What Social Can Learn From CRM
April 25, 2019
There's been a chorus of calls from all corners for social media regulation -- from pundits like me to the halls of Congress and even from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself. The social media community seems tied up in knots over what to do about the abuse happening within their communities, but if you look elsewhere you might see signs of solutions that could solve some fundamental problems.
Snapchat Refreshes App to Revive Prospects
April 9, 2019
New augmented reality features, an SDK for Stories, and a games platform highlighted Snapchat's first developer's conference. AR features announced at Snap's first Partner Summit: solving math problems by pointing the app's camera at them; AR effects for monuments, pets and people; buying what the camera sees through Amazon; and identifying songs through Shazam.
Zuckerberg Tries, Tries Again
April 6, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg's most recent effort to change the conversation about Facebook seems like just another attempt at self-justification. In a recent op-ed, he places the onus squarely on the shoulders of government to regulate how social media works. "I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability," Zuckerberg wrote.
What Lies Beneath Facebook's Sudden Embrace of Government Regulation
April 5, 2019
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for greater government oversight and even regulation of the Internet in an op-ed piece published last weekend. Zuckerberg, who famously built the social network by playing by his own rules, said it was time for government and regulators around the world to step up and help rein in the Internet. The main point was to regulate what he called "harmful content."
Report: YouTube Too Fixated on Engagement to Curb Toxic Content
April 3, 2019
YouTube executives have been unable or unwilling to rein in toxic content because it could reduce engagement on their platform, according to a report that maintained the company has spent years chasing one goal: engagement. The problem YouTube now faces is how to create an effective mechanism to handle problematic content, observed Cayce Myers, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech.
How to Rein In Powerful Companies Without Ruining the US Tech Industry
March 18, 2019
Elizabeth Warren's desire to curtail Facebook, Amazon and other companies that have misused their massive power -- or may do so in the future -- is well founded. The U.S. appears to be trending toward civil war, and I'd place social media in general on the wrong side of this trend. However, we need a plan that will cure the problem without killing the patient.
Can Facebook Solve Its Worsening Privacy Problem?
March 14, 2019
The good news is that of the many troubles Facebook has, privacy seems to be front and center for both CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. The question is, will the actions they take to address the company's privacy issues be enough? If not, this is the kind of problem that can and will cause long-term damage to the Facebook brand. Its leaders need to come up with an immediate fix.
New Chrome Extension Aims to Make the Web Less Toxic
March 14, 2019
Jigsaw has released Tune, an experimental Chrome extension that lets users hide comments its algorithms identify as toxic. It is available for Mac, Windows, Linux and the Chrome OS. Tune builds on the same machine learning models that power Jigsaw's Perspective API to rate the toxicity of comments. Tune users can adjust the volume of comments from zero to anything goes.
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Salesforce Industries Summit
How will the pandemic influence your holiday shopping habits this year?
I will shop online exclusively, for my own safety and to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
I will do some shopping online, and some in-person because I want to support merchants in my area.
I will shop online definitely, and I will consider local retailers -- but only if they provide curbside service.
I will only shop in-person because the risks associated with e-commerce outweigh my chance of catching COVID-19.
I will not do any holiday shopping this year due to circumstances related to the pandemic.
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