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Alphabet shuts down Loon internet balloon company

Google’s parent firm, Alphabet, is done exploring the idea of using a fleet of balloons to beam high-speed internet in remote parts of the world. The firm said on Thursday evening that it was winding down Loon, a nine-year-old project and a two-and-a-half-year-old spin-off firm, after failing to find a sustainable business model and partners […]

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Facebook’s Oversight Board will review the decision to suspend Trump

Facebook announced Thursday that its newly established external policy review group will take on one of the company’s most consequential acts: The decision to suspend former President Trump. On January 7, Facebook suspended Trump’s account indefinitely. That decision followed the president’s actions the day prior, when he incited a violent mob that stormed the U.S. […]

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Apple said to be working a high-priced standalone VR headset as debut mixed reality product

Apple is reportedly working on developing a high-end virtual reality headset for a potential sales debut in 2022, per a new Bloomberg report. The headset would include its own built-in processors and power supply, and could feature a chip even more powerful than the M1 Apple Silicon processor that the company currently ships on its […]

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Facebook and Instagram’s AI-generated image captions now offer far more details

Every picture posted to Facebook and Instagram gets a caption generated by an image analysis AI, and that AI just got a lot smarter. The improved system should be a treat for visually impaired users, and may help you find your photos faster in the future. Alt text is a field in an image’s metadata […]

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India asks WhatsApp to withdraw new privacy policy over ‘grave concerns’

India has asked WhatsApp to withdraw the planned change to its privacy policy, posing a new headache to the Facebook-owned service that identifies the South Asian nation as its biggest market by users. In an email to WhatsApp head Will Cathcart, the nation’s IT ministry said the upcoming update to the app’s data-sharing policy has […]

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WhatsApp-Facebook data-sharing transparency under review by EU DPAs after Ireland sends draft decision

A long-running investigation in the European Union focused on the transparency of data-sharing between Facebook and WhatsApp has taken the first major step toward a resolution. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) confirmed Saturday it sent a draft decision to fellow EU DPAs toward the back end of last year. This will trigger a review process […]

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Signal and Telegram are also growing in China – for now

As fears over WhatsApp’s privacy policies send millions of users in the West to Signal and Telegram, the two encrypted apps are also seeing a slight user uptick in China, where WeChat has long dominated and the government has a tight grip on online communication. Following WhatsApp’s pop-up notification reminding users that it shares their […]

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Facebook blocks new events around DC and state capitols

As a precaution against coordinated violence as the U.S. approaches President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Facebook announced a few new measures it’s putting in place. In a blog post and tweets from Facebook Policy Communications Director Andy Stone, the company explained that it would block any events slated to happen near the White House, the U.S. […]

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Daily Crunch: WhatsApp responds to privacy backlash

WhatsApp delays enforcement of a controversial privacy change, Apple may get rid of the Touch Bar in future MacBooks and Bumble files to go public. This is your Daily Crunch for January 15, 2021. The big story: WhatsApp responds to privacy backlash Earlier this month, WhatsApp sent users a notification asking them to consent to […]

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WhatsApp delays enforcement of privacy terms by 3 months, following backlash

WhatsApp said on Friday that it won’t enforce the planned update to its data-sharing policy until May 15, weeks after news about the new terms created confusion among its users, exposed the Facebook app to a potential lawsuit, triggered a nationwide investigation and drove tens of millions of its loyal fans to explore alternative messaging […]

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Confusion over WhatsApp’s new T&Cs triggers privacy warning from Italy

Confusion over an update to Facebook-owned chat platform WhatsApp’s terms and conditions has triggered an intervention by Italy’s data protection agency. The Italian GPDP said today it has contacted the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to raise concerns about a lack of clear information over what’s changing under the incoming T&Cs. In recent weeks WhatsApp […]

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WhatsApp faces legal challenge over privacy in its biggest market

WhatsApp is facing a legal challenge in India, its biggest market, after a petition was filed Thursday before Delhi High Court over the upcoming change in the Facebook-owned app’s data-sharing policy. The petition alleges the new terms that WhatsApp requires its roughly 450 million users in the country to accept is a violation of their […]

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E2E encrypted email providers also see sign-ups surge as chat app users flock to Signal and Telegram in search of privacy

Privacy concerns that have been driving app users to alternative chat apps like Signal and Telegram in recent weeks, since Facebook-owned WhatsApp announced a T&Cs change, appear to also be generating some uplift for end-to-end encrypted email providers. Two Europe-based Protonmail and Tutanota have reported an uptick in sign ups in recent weeks. Protonmail founder […]

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Snapchat permanently bans President Trump’s account

Quite a bit has happened since Snap announced last week that it was indefinitely locking President Trump’s Snapchat account. But after temporary bans from his Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts as well as a permanent ban from Twitter, Snap has decided that it will also be making its ban of the President’s Snapchat account permanent. […]

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Facebook’s EU-US data transfers face their final countdown

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has agreed to swiftly finalize a long-standing complaint against Facebook’s international data transfers which could force the tech giant to suspend data flows from the European Union to the US within in a matter of months. The complaint, which was filed in 2013 by privacy campaigner Max Schrems, relates to […]

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App stores saw record 218 billion downloads in 2020, consumer spend of $143 billion

Mobile adoption continued to grow in 2020, in part due to the market forces of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to App Annie’s annual “State of Mobile” industry report, mobile app downloads grew by 7% year-over-year to a record 218 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, consumer spending grew by 20% to also hit a new milestone of […]

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Study finds around one-third of Americans regularly get their news from Facebook

Around a third of Americans regularly get their news from Facebook, according to the latest study from Pew Research Center, whose surveys aim to better understand the current media landscape in the U.S. In the updated report, Pew Research found that around half of U.S. adults, or 53%, said they “often” or “sometimes” use social […]

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Facebook revamps ‘Access Your Information’ tool to better break down, explain data usage

Facebook today is rolling out an update to its Access Your Information tool with the goal of making the tool easier to both use and navigate, as well as better explain how and why that data is used. The new version of the tool has been visually redesigned, and now further breaks down the viewable […]

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Amazon is removing products promoting the QAnon conspiracy

Amazon has begun the process of removing QAnon-related products from its platform. A spokesperson for the company said that the process may take a few days. Any sellers that attempt to evade the company’s systems and list products will be subject to action, including a blanket selling ban across Amazon stores. News of the ban was […]

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YouTube and WhatsApp inch closer to half a billion users in India

WhatsApp has enjoyed unrivaled reach in India for years. By mid-2019, the Facebook-owned app had amassed over 400 million users in the country. Its closest app rival at the time was YouTube, which, according to the company’s own statement and data from mobile insight firm App Annie, had about 260 million users in India then. […]

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Facebook says it will remove references to ‘stop the steal’ across its platform

In the wake of last week’s violence at the U.S. Capitol, Facebook today announced it will be taking additional steps to remove content referencing the phrase “stop the steal” on its platform. The phrase is associated with the right-wing campaign that falsely alleges the democratic U.S. elections have been rigged and aims to keep Trump […]

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Facebook hires a VP of civil rights

Facebook has hired Roy Austin to become its first-ever VP of Civil Rights and Deputy General Counsel to create a new civil rights organization within the company, Facebook announced today. Austin is set to start on January 19 and will be based in Washington, DC. Austin most recently served as a civil rights lawyer at […]

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Stripe reportedly joins the tech platforms booting President Trump from their services

It might be easier at this point to ask which tech platforms President Donald Trump can still use. Payment-processing company Stripe is the latest tech company to kick Donald Trump off of its platform, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. That means the president’s campaign website and online fundraising arms will no […]

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These 6 browser extensions will protect your privacy online

The internet is not a private place. Ads try to learn as much about you to sell your information to the highest bidder. Emails know when you open them and which links you click. And some of the biggest internet snoops, like Facebook and Amazon, follow you from site to site as you browse the […]

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The deplatforming of President Trump

After years of placid admonishments, the tech world came out in force against President Trump this past week following the violent assault of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. From Twitter to PayPal, more than a dozen companies have placed unprecedented restrictions or outright banned the current occupant of the White House […]

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Daily Crunch: Facebook bans Trump for two weeks

Online platforms take action against President Trump, Lenovo tries out a swiveling screen and Roblox raises $250 million. This is your Daily Crunch for January 7, 2021. The big story: Facebook bans Trump for two weeks After a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol yesterday, a number of online platforms moved to suspend accounts connected […]

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Mark Zuckerberg announces Trump banned from Facebook and Instagram for ‘at least the next two weeks’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced via his platform that Donald Trump will be blocked from using both Facebook and Instagram “for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.” The company blocked his accounts temporarily on Wednesday following Trump’s posting on content that incited his followers to violence, […]

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Elon Musk dunks on Facebook and recommends Signal in wake of US Capitol insurrection attempt

Elon Musk, the tech billionaire set to likely soon become the world’s richest man, and one of the most influential voices in the world of tech entrepreneurship, continued his recent trend of criticizing Facebook with a Twitter post late Wednesday night, following the attempted insurrection by pro-Trump rioters at the U.S. Capitol building. Musk shared […]

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US says India, Italy and Turkey digital taxes are discriminatory, but won’t take any actions for now

Digital services taxes adopted by India, Italy and Turkey in recent years discriminate against U.S. companies, the U.S. Trade Representative said on Wednesday. USTR, which began investigations into the three nation’s digital services taxes in June last year, said it found them to be inconsistent with international tax principles, unreasonable and burdening or restricting U.S. […]

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Facebook and Instagram block #StormTheCapitol, lock Trump out of posting for 24 hours

After removing a video in which President Trump praised a violent group of his supporters who broke into the U.S. Capitol building, Facebook is rolling out a new set of rules in response to the day’s shocking events. Both Facebook and Instagram also announced that the president would be locked out of posting to his […]