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Facebook Tweaks Trending Topics Out of Abundance of Caution
May 26, 2016
Facebook this week said it would make several procedural changes to its Trending Topics feature to quell concerns that the results could be steered in a particular political direction, even though it has found no evidence of bias. The company will retrain workers in the Trending Topics department and institute additional oversight and control to make sure trending stories are selected fairly.
Twitter Loosens Tweet's Leash
May 25, 2016
Twitter on Tuesday announced a number of changes to tweets, including what will be included in a message's 140-character count. The changes will be rolled out in the coming months. When replying to a tweet, tagged @names at the beginning of the reply no longer will be included in the character count. Photos, GIFs, videos, polls and quote tweets won't be counted against the character limit.
Microsoft Tightens Screws on Terrorists Posting Online
May 23, 2016
Microsoft last week announced plans to crack down on terrorist content, perhaps in response to the Obama administration's intense effort to get Silicon Valley's help in preventing organizations like ISIS from using social media as a recruiting and fundraising tool. Microsoft has amended its terms of use to prohibit the posting of terrorist content on its various platforms.
Hacker Hawks 2-Year-Old Cache of 117M LinkedIn User IDs
May 23, 2016
A hacker reportedly has offered to sell the account information of 117 million LinkedIn users, which was stolen in a 2012 hack. The data includes users' email addresses and passwords.The hacker, who goes by the handle "Peace," reportedly offered the data on The Real Deal -- a site on the dark web -- for 5 bitcoins -- about $2,200. LeakedSource last week announced it had more than 167 million stolen records.
Tweets May Soon Breeze Past 140-Character Limit
May 19, 2016
In an effort to better monetize its platform and boost user traffic, Twitter may relax the 140-character limit on individual tweets by no longer counting photos and Web links. The tweak could take place within two weeks, according to a report that cited an unnamed source who asked for anonymity because the decision had not yet been made public. CEO Jack Dorsey hinted at the move earlier this year.
Zuckerberg Aims to Smooth Conservatives' Ruffled Feathers
May 18, 2016
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg invited a group of 15 media executives and right-leaning pundits, including talk show host Glenn Beck, to meet with him Wednesday to discuss accusations that the social media network biased it's trending news topics to omit conservative viewpoints. In addition to Beck, Zuckerberg extended invitations to Arthur Brooks, president of the AEI; Dana Perino, Fox News co-host; and others.
Facebook Looks Into Bias Claims
May 17, 2016
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week announced that the company would investigate allegations that its Trending Topics feature had an anticonservative bias. "We have found no evidence that this report is true," he said, referring to a news report that kicked off the storm. "If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it."
Facebook Tampers With Gears of Journalism, Ex-Curators Charge
May 11, 2016
Facebook hired promising journalists in their 20s and early 30s to work on its secretive trending news project but did not treat them -- or journalism -- well, according to a recent report. The curators served as training modules for Facebook's algorithm, they said. They selected trending news, and decided which news sites each chosen topic would link to.
Tweet Tracker Spurns US Intelligence Agencies
May 10, 2016
Twitter reportedly has blocked U.S. intelligence agencies from accessing information from Dataminr, a firm that tracks tweets in real time to provide actionable information for financial, media, security and other types of institutional clients. The block suggests Twitter is unwilling to cooperate with government agencies on intelligence gathering. Twitter owns a 5 percent stake in Dataminr.
Sliding Revenues
May 4, 2016
Apple's earnings disappointment thudded into view last week in the middle of briefings at Oracle's Modern Marketing Experience conference. It gave me a lot to think about -- especially the difference between a one-time earnings disappointment and something more serious. I have a feeling that Apple is only the most visible instance of the wheels beginning to wobble on the truck of tech.
WhatsApp Goes Through Judicial Revolving Door in Brazil
May 3, 2016
A Brazilian court on Tuesday overturned a different court's Monday order that blocked WhatsApp, the messaging site owned by Facebook, amid a criminal investigation into drug trafficking in the state of Sergipe. The earlier judicial demand that WhatsApp provide data considered critical to the investigation came soon after a ramp-up in the level of encryption built into the app.
New Facebook Stock Class to Keep Zuckerberg in Driver's Seat
April 29, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday announced its board of directors is proposing a new class of shares that will allow its founder to pursue a number of different initiatives while maintaining long-term control over the company. The news came on the heels of a blockbuster first quarter earnings report. The plan calls for Facebook to offer non-voting Class C capital stock, which will allow CEO Mark Zuckerberg to pursue his long-term vision.
Crafting an Online Strategy, Part 4: Homegrown Marketing
April 27, 2016
As a maker in an e-commerce world, you have to get the word out about what you're creating. Whether you're crafting candles or jewelry, marketing leads to sales. It's one thing to set up a booth at a craft fair and meet customers face to face, but it's another thing entirely to market online. Becoming comfortable with digital marketing techniques needs to be one of your primary priorities.
Facebook Messenger Lets 50 Friends Get In on a Call
April 25, 2016
Facebook last week announced that it had rolled out group calling worldwide in its Messenger app. Members engaged in a group conversation can tap the phone icon on their screen to initiate a group call. They can manage individual participants on the next screen. Members of a group who miss the initial call can tap the phone icon in the group chat to join the call while it's in progress.
Sports Fans and Social Media, Part 2: Perils, Pitfalls and Best Practices
April 22, 2016
This fall will see a 10-game pilot of professional football streamed on social media -- Twitter, to be specific. It's a continuation of the NFL's search for gold in the veins of digital broadcasting and an opportunity for sports brands to forge new and deeper relations with fans. For teams looking to bolster their brands, social networks have evolved into a critical channel.
Sports Fans and Social Media, Part 1: It's a Brand New Ball Game
April 19, 2016
Twitter and the NFL are betting that a partnership announced this month could help refine the roughly defined relationship between social media and the world of sports. The NFL set out to reclaim fans who chewed through their cable TV cords and strayed from the flock of football faithful. Twitter's motive in agreeing to stream 10 gridiron games during the 2016 season was growth and retention.
Facebook Envisions Virtual Social Future
April 15, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday demonstrated at its F8 developer conference how socializing could take place in a virtual world. Two employees some 30 miles apart showed how they could share the same virtual space. Through the use of 360-degree photos, they visited London, drew together with virtual pens, and took selfies and posted them to their Facebook news feeds.
Zuckerberg Launches Remodeled Messenger
April 12, 2016
CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday launched the company's new Messenger platform beta at its annual F8 conference. The Messenger announcement was the first major initiative in the long-term vision he presented. Zuckerberg outlined a major push to incorporate AI and bots into the Messenger platform. "Messenger is going to be the next big platform for sharing privately," he said.
Illicit Weapons Traders Flock to Facebook
April 8, 2016
Facebook has served as an online marketplace for armed militias in Libya and other war-torn countries, according to a news report published Wednesday. An array of light weapons bought and sold after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi unleashed a torrent of unregulated commerce in Libya, which previously had controlled online communications strictly, according to a study by Armament Research Services.
Reddit's Blocking Tool Balances Free Speech With Right to Ignore
April 8, 2016
Reddit this week announced that it has extended the reach of its blocking tool, which was introduced in 2011 to let users fight harassment. The tool previously focused on blocking private messages; now it can block comments to users' posts. Clicking the Block User button while viewing a reply will hide the blocked user's profile, comments, posts and messages without that user's knowledge.
New Features Boost Sharing via Facebook Live
April 7, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday announced enhanced Facebook Live video capabilities with additional features to allow members to share live video with friends and family by broadcasting events or sharing video in groups. Users can go live in Facebook groups so that a group of users or friends or family members can be sent specific video feeds. The feature has an interactive quality.
Facebook AI Fills In the Photo Blanks for Blind Users
April 6, 2016
Facebook on Monday introduced automated alt text, a new tool that describes what's in an image to help visually impaired users engage more on the site. People using screen readers on iOS devices will hear a description of the items contained in a photo when they swipe past pictures on a Facebook page. The feature is available for iOS users in the U.S., the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Twitter Upsets Rivals to Win Thursday Night Football Streaming Rights
April 6, 2016
The National Football League on Monday named Twitter its exclusive global partner to live-stream 10 Thursday Night Football games during the 2016 season. Twitter reportedly beat out some of the top content and social media providers. It will live-stream the games for free to more than 800 million registered and unregistered users over mobile phones, tablets, connected TV sets and PCs.
Oculus' Controversial ToS a Stark Reminder of Its Facebook Parentage
April 4, 2016
Oculus last week updated its terms of service to accompany the release of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, raising privacy and content ownership concerns. Software will be installed to monitor how the device is used, and the usage data will be sent back to Oculus and its parent company, Facebook, according to the terms of service. Collected data could be shared with third parties.
Facebook Plots Secret Chat for Messenger
April 1, 2016
Facebook has been working on mobile pay and secret chat features for its Messenger app, according to a report published this week, based on clues found in extracted software code on Messenger for iPhone. Commands embedded in the software hint at secret conversations, similar to what's found in WhatsApp, and commands to pay in person and pay in Messenger when picking up an item.
For Many Users, Instagram Algorithm Is Not a Pretty Picture
March 30, 2016
Instagram on Monday moved to calm concerns among some users about a proposed change in the way content appears in their feeds. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Cindy Crawford fueled the anxiety by urging their followers to enable a feature on their mobile devices that would notify them whenever those celebrities post to Instagram. The company assured users that their feed weren't changing yet.
Microsoft Apologizes for Corrupted Chatbot's Nasty Comments
March 28, 2016
Microsoft last week apologized for its Tay chatbot's bad behavior. It took the machine learning system offline, only 24 hours into its short life, after Twitter trolls got it to deny the Holocaust and elicit pro-Nazi and anti-feminist remarks. "We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for," said Peter Lee, corporate vice president at Microsoft Research.
Scientists Track Sloshed Tweeters in Real Time
March 21, 2016
Applied machine learning techniques can identify tweeters' behaviors in real time and locate them to within 100 meters, according to a paper Rochester University computer scientists published earlier this month. The team focused on discovering patterns of alcohol use in urban and suburban settings to better understand where and how people drink.
Instagram's New Algorithm Promises Most Favorable Sorting
March 17, 2016
Instagram on Tuesday announced plans to dump chronological posts in favor of algorithmic recommendations. Users miss about 70 percent of the content that flows through their feeds, which the company attributed to its growth and its system for ordering content. The new algorithm, which will begin rolling out in the coming months, will weigh the content by relevancy to the user.
WhatsApp Case May Be New Encryption Battleground
March 15, 2016
A new front may have opened up between the Department of Justice and Silicon Valley in the ongoing legal battle over government access to encrypted data, this time involving WhatsApp, the electronic messaging and voice system owned by Facebook. DoJ officials reportedly have been debating how to proceed in a criminal case in which a court-ordered wiretap has been hindered by WhatsApp encryption.
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Google just announced Home, a voice-activated speaker similar to Amazon's Echo. What do you think of these devices?
I have an Echo and I love it.
I have an Echo but rarely use it.
I plan to buy an Echo or Home.
Google's Home will be much better than Echo.
They're expensive novelties.
They're intrusive and creepy.