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Facebook’s mission changed, but its motives didn’t

In January, Facebook announced that it would be changing its feed algorithm to promote users’ well-being over time spent browsing content. That’s a relatively new approach for a company whose ethos once centered around “move fast, break things.” It wasn’t all that long ago (approximately a year and a half before the algorithm change) that Facebook VP Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, published an internal memo called “The Ugly,” which was circulated throughout the company. In it, Boz made it clear to employees that connecting people (i.e. growth) is the main focus…

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Clipisode launches a ‘talk show in a box’

A company called Clipisode is today launching a new service that’s essentially a “talk show in a box,” as founder Brian Alvey describes it. Similar to how Anchor now allows anyone to build a professional podcast using simple mobile and web tools, Clipisode does this for video content. With Clipisode, you can record a video that can be shared across any platform – social media, the web, text messages – and collect video responses that can then be integrated into the “show” and overlaid with professional graphics. The video responses…

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The real threat to Facebook is the Kool-Aid turning sour

These kinds of leaks didn’t happen when I started reporting on Facebook eight years ago. It was a tight-knit cult convinced of its mission to connect everyone, but with the discipline of a military unit where everyone knew loose lips sink ships. Motivational posters with bold corporate slogans dotted its offices, rallying the troops. Employees were happy to be evangelists. But then came the fake news, News Feed addiction, violence on Facebook Live, cyberbullying, abusive ad targeting, election interference and, most recently, the Cambridge Analytica app data privacy scandals. All the…

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Another chapter on Facebook’s privacy woes is being written in Latin America

The abuse of Facebook’s platform for political purposes is a problem that doesn’t stop at the U.S border. Governments around the world are continuing to wrestle with the implications of Cambridge Analytica’s acquisition of Facebook user data from the heart of Europe to the capitals of Latin America’s most populous nations.  In South America, several chapters are still being written into the public record of Facebook’s privacy privations. Some Latin American democracies are also beginning to investigate whether the data harvesting techniques associated with Cambridge Analytica (CA) were used in…

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Niantic to settle Pokémon GO Fest lawsuit for over $1.5M

Back in July of last year, Niantic organized an outdoor festival focusing on its augmented reality game, Pokémon GO. In theory, players would come from all around for a day of wandering Chicago’s Grant Park, meeting other players and catching new/rare Pokémon. It… did not go as planned. Widespread cellular connectivity and logistical issues brought the game (and thus the event itself) to a halt before the doors even opened. People booed. People threw things at the stage. People sued. While Niantic quickly announced that they’d be refunding all ticket…

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How Facebook Can Better Fight Fake News: Make Money Off the People Who Promote It

Facebook and other platforms are still struggling to combat the spread of misleading or deceptive “news” items promoted on social networks. Recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s slow corporate response have drawn attention away from this ongoing, equally serious problem: spend enough time on Facebook, and you are still sure to see dubious, sponsored headlines scrolling across your screen, especially during major news days when influence networks from inside and outside the United States rally to amplify their reach. And Facebook’s earlier announced plan to combat this crisis through…

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Tesla says fatal crash involved Autopilot

Tesla has provided another update to last week’s fatal crash. As it turns out, Tesla said the driver had Autopilot on with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum. However, it seems the driver ignored the vehicle’s warnings to take back control. “The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” Tesla wrote in a blog post. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters…

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UberRUSH is shutting down

Uber is closing the doors on its on-demand package delivery service for merchants, RUSH, in New York City, San Francisco and Chicago, TechCrunch has learned. In an email to users, Uber said it plans to close RUSH operations June 30, 2018. “At Uber, we believe in making big bold bets, and while ending UberRUSH comes with some sadness, we will continue our mission of building reliable technology that serves people and cities all over the world,” Uber’s NYC RUSH team wrote to customers. Uber has since confirmed the wind-down. “We’re…

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Chinese police foil drone-flying phone smugglers at Hong Kong border

Dozens of high-tech phone smugglers have been apprehended by Chinese police, who twigged to the scheme to send refurbished iPhones into the country from Hong Kong via drone — but not the way you might think. China’s Legal Daily reported the news (and Reuters noted shortly after) following a police press conference; it’s apparently the first cross-border drone-based smuggling case, so likely of considerable interest. Although the methods used by the smugglers aren’t described, a picture emerges from the details. Critically, in addition to the drones themselves, which look like…

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Alexa gets a DVR recording skill

Slowly but surely, Alexa’s becoming a more competent catchall video assistant. Back in January, Amazon launched its Video Skill API designed to offer more control over apps from cable and satellite companies. An update this week brings the ever-important ability to use the smart assistant to start recoding. The skill joins a number of functions already available from top providers, including Dish, TiVo, and DIRECTV and Verizon — each of whom will likely be updating their Alexa skill set to reflect the new feature. The whole thing works pretty much as…

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