Category Archives: facebook

Facebook To Invest $300 Million In News, Focusing On Local

(AP) — Facebook says it is investing $300 million over the next three years in news initiatives, with a focus on local news partnerships and other programs. The money will go toward reporting grants for local newsrooms, expanding Facebook’s program to help local newsrooms with subscription business models and investing in nonprofits aimed at supporting local news. It will also be used for Facebook’s other, broad news initiatives such as news literacy programs and third-party fact-checking. The move comes at a difficult time for the news industry, which is facing falling profits and print readership. Facebook, like Google, has also been partly blamed for the ongoing decline in newspapers’ share of advertising dollars as people and advertisers have moved online. Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships, acknowledges the company “can’t uninvent the internet,” but says it wants to work with publishers to help them succeed on and off the social network. “The industry is going through a massive transition that has been underway for a long time,” she said. “None of us have quite figured out ultimately what the future of journalism is going to look like but we want to be part of helping find a solution.” Facebook has increased its focus on local news in the past year after starting off 2018 with the announcement that it was generally de-emphasizing news stories and videos in people’s feeds on the social network in favor of posts from their friends.

At the same time, though, the company has been cautiously testing out ways to boost local news stories users are interested in and initiatives to support the broader industry. It launched a feature called “Today In” that shows people local news and information , including missing-person alerts, road closures, crime reports and school announcements, expanding it to hundreds of cities around the U.S. and a few in Australia. The push to support local news comes as Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, California, tries to shake off its reputation as a hotbed for misinformation and elections-meddling. The company says users have been asking to see more local content that is relevant to them, including news stories as well as community information such as road closings during a snowstorm. The $300 million investment includes a $5 million grant to the nonprofit Pulitzer Center to launch “Bringing Stories Home,” a fund that will provide local U.S. newsrooms with reporting grants to support coverage of local issues. There’s also a $2 million investment in Report for America as part of a partnership aiming to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across the country over the next five years. The company is not disclosing how all of the money is being distributed. The idea behind the investments, Brown said, is to look “holistically at how a given publisher can define a business model. Facebook can’t be the only answer, the only solution — we don’t want the publisher to be dependent on Facebook.” Fran Wills, CEO of the Local Media Consortium, which is receiving $1 million together with the Local Media Association to help their member newsrooms develop new revenue streams, said she is optimistic the investment will help. “I think they are recognizing that trusted, credible content is of benefit not only to local publishers but to them,” she said. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Facebook To Invest $300 Million In News, Focusing On Local

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook says it is investing $300 million over the next three years in news initiatives, with a focus on local news partnerships and other programs. The money will go toward reporting grants for local newsrooms, expanding Facebook’s program to help local newsrooms with subscription business models and investing in nonprofits aimed at supporting local news. It will also be used for Facebook’s other, broad news initiatives such as news literacy programs and third-party fact-checking. The move comes at a difficult time for the news industry, which is facing falling profits and print readership. Facebook, like Google, has also been partly blamed for the ongoing decline in newspapers’ share of advertising dollars as people and advertisers have moved online. Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships, acknowledges the company “can’t uninvent the internet,” but says it wants to work with publishers to help them succeed on and off the social network. “The industry is going through a massive transition that has been underway for a long time,” she said. “None of us have quite figured out ultimately what the future of journalism is going to look like but we want to be part of helping find a solution.” Facebook has increased its focus on local news in the past year after starting off 2018 with the announcement that it was generally de-emphasizing news stories and videos in people’s feeds on the social network in favor of posts from their friends. At the same time, though, the company has been cautiously testing out ways to boost local news stories users are interested in and initiatives to support the broader industry. It launched a feature called “Today In” that shows people local news and information , including missing-person alerts, road closures, crime reports and school announcements, expanding it to hundreds of cities around the U.S. and a few in Australia. According to Facebook, the feature is currently only available in a handful of cities in the greater Bay Area, including Berkeley, Oakland, Sonoma, Napa, Fairfield, Foster City and Santa Cruz. The push to support local news comes as Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, California, tries to shake off its reputation as a hotbed for misinformation and elections-meddling. The company says users have been asking to see more local content that is relevant to them, including news stories as well as community information such as road closings during a snowstorm. The $300 million investment includes a $5 million grant to the nonprofit Pulitzer Center to launch “Bringing Stories Home,” a fund that will provide local U.S. newsrooms with reporting grants to support coverage of local issues. There’s also a $2 million investment in Report for America as part of a partnership aiming to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across the country over the next five years. The company is not disclosing how all of the money is being distributed. The idea behind the investments, Brown said, is to look “holistically at how a given publisher can define a business model. Facebook can’t be the only answer, the only solution — we don’t want the publisher to be dependent on Facebook.” Fran Wills, CEO of the Local Media Consortium, which is receiving $1 million together with the Local Media Association to help their member newsrooms develop new revenue streams, said she is optimistic the investment will help. “I think they are recognizing that trusted, credible content is of benefit not only to local publishers but to them,” she said. © Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Facebook: Devolver Digital’s Instagram Page Led to Pulled ‘Gris’ Ad

An image on Devolver Digital’s Instagram account is the reason why Facebook recently removed an ad for indie platformer “Gris” from its platform, a representative told Variety on Tuesday. “Facebook rejected a ‘Gris’ launch trailer ad for this ‘sexually suggestive’ scene so this year is going great so far,” Devolver Digital tweeted on Monday. The publisher […]

CES 2019 Preview: Technology to Watch in the Coming Year

More than 180,000 industry insiders are expected to swarm Las Vegas for CES, the annual mega-conference dedicated to consumer tech. Variety has put together a cheat sheet that identifies five key technologies to watch; developments on these fronts will have an impact on entertainment in 2019 — and beyond. This year’s CES also will expand […]

2018: The Year Silicon Valley Creeped Out the World

SAN JOSE (AP) — We may remember 2018 as the year when technology’s dystopian potential became clear, from Facebook’s role enabling the harvesting of our personal data for election interference to a seemingly unending series of revelations about the dark side of Silicon Valley’s connect-everything ethos.

The list is long: High-tech tools for immigration crackdowns. Fears of smartphone addiction . YouTube algorithms that steer youths into extremism. An experiment in gene-edited babies .

Doorbells and concert venues that can pinpoint individual faces and alert police. Repurposing genealogy websites to hunt for crime suspects based on a relative’s DNA. Automated systems that keep tabs of workers’ movements and habits. Electric cars in Shanghai transmitting their every movement to the government.

It’s been enough to exhaust even the most imaginative sci-fi visionaries.

“It doesn’t so much feel like we’re living in the future now, as that we’re living in a retro-future,” novelist William Gibson wrote this month on Twitter. “A dark, goofy ’90s retro-future.”

More awaits us in 2019, as surveillance and data-collection efforts ramp up and artificial intelligence systems start sounding more human , reading facial expressions and generating fake video images so realistic that it will be harder to detect malicious distortions of the truth.

But there are also countermeasures afoot in Congress and state government — and even among tech-firm employees who are more active about ensuring their work is put to positive ends.

“Something that was heartening this year was that accompanying this parade of scandals was a growing public awareness that there’s an accountability crisis in tech,” said Meredith Whittaker, a co-founder of New York University’s AI Now Institute for studying the social implications of artificial intelligence.

The group has compiled a long list of what made 2018 so ominous, though many are examples of the public simply becoming newly aware of problems that have built up for years. Among the most troubling cases was the revelation in March that political data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica swept up personal information of millions of Facebook users for the purpose of manipulating national elections.

“It really helped wake up people to the fact that these systems are actually touching the core of our lives and shaping our social institutions,” Whittaker said.

That was on top of other Facebook disasters, including its role in fomenting violence in Myanmar , major data breaches and ongoing concerns about its hosting of fake accounts for Russian propaganda .

It wasn’t just Facebook. Google attracted concern about its continuous surveillance of users after The Associated Press reported that it was tracking people’s movements whether they like it or not.

It also faced internal dissent over its collaboration with the U.S. military to create drones with “computer vision” to help find battlefield targets and a secret proposal to launch a censored search engine in China. And it unveiled a remarkably human-like voice assistant that sounds so real that people on the other end of the phone didn’t know they were talking to a computer.

Those and other concerns bubbled up in December as lawmakers grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai at a congressional hearing — a sequel to similar public reckonings this year with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech executives.

“It was necessary to convene this hearing because of the widening gap of distrust between technology companies and the American people,” Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said.

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf said he and other engineers never imagined their vision of a worldwide network of connected computers would morph 45 years later into a surveillance system that collects personal information or a propaganda machine that could sway elections.

“We were just trying to get it to work,” recalled Cerf, who is now Google’s chief internet evangelist. “But now that it’s in the hands of the general public, there are people who … want it to work in a way that obviously does harm, or benefits themselves, or disrupts the political system. So we are going to have to deal with that.”

Contrary to futuristic fears of “super-intelligent” robots taking control, the real dangers of our tech era have crept in more prosaically — often in the form of tech innovations we welcomed for making life more convenient .

Part of experts’ concern about the leap into connecting every home device to the internet and letting computers do our work is that the technology is still buggy and influenced by human errors and prejudices. Uber and Tesla were investigated for fatal self-driving car crashes in March, IBM came under scrutiny for working with New York City police to build a facial recognition system that can detect ethnicity, and Amazon took heat for supplying its own flawed facial recognition service to law enforcement agencies.

In some cases, opposition to the tech industry’s rush to apply its newest innovations to questionable commercial uses has come from its own employees. Google workers helped scuttle the company’s Pentagon drone contract, and workers at Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce sought to cancel their companies’ contracts to supply tech services to immigration authorities.

“It became obvious to a lot of people that the rhetoric of doing good and benefiting society and ‘Don’t be evil’ was not what these companies were actually living up to,” said Whittaker, who is also a research scientist at Google who founded its Open Research group.

At the same time, even some titans of technology have been sounding alarms. Prominent engineers and designers have increasingly spoken out about shielding children from the habit-forming tech products they helped create.

And then there’s Microsoft President Brad Smith, who in December called for regulating facial recognition technology so that the “year 2024 doesn’t look like a page” from George Orwell’s “1984.”

In a blog post and a Washington speech, Smith painted a bleak vision of all-seeing government surveillance systems forcing dissidents to hide in darkened rooms “to tap in code with hand signals on each other’s arms.”

To avoid such an Orwellian scenario, Smith advocates regulating technology so that anyone about to subject themselves to surveillance is properly notified. But privacy advocates argue that’s not enough.

Such debates are already happening in states like Illinois, where a strict facial recognition law has faced tech industry challenges, and California, which in 2018 passed the nation’s most far-reaching law to give consumers more control over their personal data. It takes effect in 2020.

The issue could find new attention in Congress next year as more Republicans warm up to the idea of basic online privacy regulations and the incoming Democratic House majority takes a more skeptical approach to tech firms that many liberal politicians once viewed as allies — and prolific campaign donors.

The “leave them alone” approach of the early internet era won’t work anymore, said Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat poised to take the helm of the House’s antitrust subcommittee.

“We’re seeing now some of the consequences of the abuses that can occur in these platforms if they remain unregulated without meaningful oversight or enforcement,” Cicilline said.

Too much regulation may bring its own undesirable side effects, Cerf warned.

“It’s funny in a way because this online environment was supposed to remove friction from our ability to transact,” he said. “If in our desire, if not zeal, to protect people’s privacy we throw sand in the gears of everything, we may end up with a very secure system that doesn’t work very well.”

© Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Breaking Up (With Facebook) Is Hard To Do: Here’s How

(AP) — Every relationship has a breaking point. Even yours with Facebook. There’s a way out, though the social network will try to win you back with promises to do better. Maybe even flowers. For some users, though, the past two years of privacy scandals, election manipulation by Russian trolls, executive apologies and even the political disagreements with friends and relatives have become too much. The latest: an alarming New York Times report detailing the massive trove of user data that the company has shared with such companies as Apple, Netflix and Amazon. A growing number of people say they are deleting Facebook, or at least considering it. While Facebook has tried to address some of these problems, it’s not enough for some users. Hard as it might seem to quit, especially for those entwined with it for years, it can be done. Mostly. GOODBYE FOREVER Before deleting your account, rescue your posts and photos. Facebook lets you download the data you’ve shared with Facebook since you joined. This includes your posts and photos, as well as the “activity log” — the history of everything you’ve done on Facebook, such as likes and comments on posts, use of apps and searches. The download also includes your profile, messages, list of friends and ads you’ve clicked on. This process should give you a good — perhaps scary — idea of what Facebook has on you. What you won’t get are photos other people shared with you, even if you’ve been tagged. You need to save those individually. And some stuff will remain, including what others have posted about you, your chats with others and your posts in Facebook groups (though your name will be grayed out). To delete all this, you’ll need to sift through your “activity log,” accessible through your profile page, and delete each item individually. Once you’ve saved everything and gone through your activity log, sign in one last time. Go to http://bit.ly/198wIoI and click on the blue button. Facebook says the process could take a few days. Your delete request will be cancelled if you log back in during this time. Facebook says it may take up to 90 days for all the data associated with your account to be wiped, but you can’t change your mind after the first few days are up. If you used your Facebook account for third-party apps and sites, you’ll need new usernames and passwords for each. TRIAL SEPARATION If you’re not quite ready for a divorce, deactivating your account is an option. To do this, go to your account settings. Deactivating means other people won’t be able to see your profile, but if you log back in, the whole thing is canceled and you are “active” again. Ditto if you log into an outside app or site using your Facebook account. FOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT) Depending on whether you were a full-time Facebook addict or an occasional lurker, the psychological separation could prove harder or easier than the physical one. Facebook has become a one-stop shop for so many things. You can keep up with friends and family, find out about or create local events, buy and sell stuff, keep up with the news, raise money for a cause or join groups of like-minded people such as parents, porch gardeners and people with a rare disease. There are other places to do many of these things. There’s Eventbrite for events, Letgo for buying and selling stuff, Peanut for moms to connect, Meetup to find and meet like-minded people, GoFundMe for raising money and Twitter, or, gasp, your local newspaper’s website for the news. The difference is there’s no single other place to do all these things, and your friends might not be there. If you find your mind wandering back to Facebook as you go through your day, thinking how you might craft a post about a thought you’ve just had or an article you came across, it’s OK. Let it go. It’s all part of the breakup process. And while you may not see updates about near-forgotten schoolmates or that random person you met six years ago, the people who matter most will stick around. For them, there’s email, the phone, and meeting in person for coffee. ABOUT THOSE OTHER APPS If your boycott of Facebook has more to do with your view of the company than with tiring of the Facebook service, you might consider deleting Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger as well — they are all owned by Facebook. Deleting your Facebook account won’t affect your Instagram or WhatsApp account. If you want to keep using Messenger, you can create an account using your phone number instead of your Facebook profile. Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Stocks Tumble Below 23,000; Twitter, Netflix, Amazon Hit Hard

SAN JOSE (CBS SF/AP) — The Dow continued its tumble Thursday, dropping below 23,000 at one point as several tech giants including San Francisco-based Twitter were hit hard by the sell-off. By mid-morning trading, Twitter shares had fallen nearly 13 percent while Netflix was down 5 percent, Amazon had dropped more than 4 percent and Alphabet (Google) was off 2.15 percent. Investors were uneasy over the struggle between President Donald Trump and Congress to keep the government from at least a partial shutdown on Friday. The benchmark S&P 500 index has slumped more than 6 percent in the last six days and is now 15 percent below the peak it reached in late September. After steady gains through the spring and summer, stocks have slumped in the fall as investors worry that global economic growth is cooling off and that the U.S. could slip into a recession in the next few years. Oil prices fell sharply again. Markets are also concerned about twin threats that could make the situation even worse: the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China, which has lasted most of this year and shows few signs of easing, and rising interest rates, which act as a brake on economic growth by making it more expensive for businesses and individuals to borrow money. Investors are responding to a weakening outlook for the U.S. economy by selling stocks and buying ultra-safe U.S. government bonds. The bond-buying has the effect of sending long-term bond yields lower, which reduces interest rates on mortgages and other kinds of long-term loans. That’s generally good for the economy. At the same time, the reduced bond yields can send a negative signal on the economy. The bond market has correctly predicted several previous U.S. recessions by buying long-term bonds and sending yields down. Stocks took sharp losses right after trading started, bounced back, and later fell again. At 11:30 a.m. Eastern time, the S&P 500 index was down 23 points, or 1 percent, to 2,493. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 253 points, or 1.1 percent, to 23,070. The Nasdaq composite shed 89 points, or 1.4 percent, to 6,547. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies dropped another 20 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,328. Smaller company stocks have been crushed during the recent market slump because slower growth in the U.S. will have an outsize effect on their profits. Relative to their size, they also tend to carry more debt than larger companies, which could be a problem in a slower economy with higher interest rates. The Russell 2000 is down almost 24 percent from the peak it reached in late August and it’s down 12 percent for the year to date, twice the loss of the S&P 500 index, which tracks large companies. On Wednesday, stocks gave up an early gain and ended up with big losses after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the fourth time this year and signaled it was likely to continue raising rates next year, although at a slower rate than it previously forecast. Questions about future interest rate moves are adding to the confusion for investors. Speaking at a news conference late Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged that the Fed’s decisions are getting trickier because they need to be based on the most up-to-date figures on jobs, inflation, and economic growth. In the last three years the Fed has been able to tell investors weeks in advance that it was almost certain to increase rates. That means there will be more uncertainty, and markets hate uncertainty. Oil prices continued to retreat. They’ve dropped about 40 percent since early October as the slowing global economy and rising production have knocked prices down. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 4.8 percent to $45.86 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, used to price international oils, dipped 4.3 percent to $54.80 a barrel in London. Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the two-year Treasury note rose to 2.67 percent from 2.65 percent, while the yield on the 10-year note stayed at 2.77 percent. The gap between those two yields has been shrinking this year. When the 10-year yield falls below the two-year yield, investors call it an “inverted yield curve.” That is often interpreted as a sign a recession is coming, although it’s not a perfect signal, and when recessions do follow inversions in the yield curve, it can take a year or more. In France, the CAC 40 lost 1.8 percent and Germany’s DAX fell 1.4 percent. The British FTSE 100 slipped 0.7 percent. Indexes in Italy, Portugal and Spain took bigger losses. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 2.8 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gave up 1 percent. Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.9 percent. As investors adjusted to the prospect of a weaker economy and lower long-term interest rates, the dollar fell to 111.47 yen from 112.36 yen. The euro rose to $1.1419 from $1.1368. The British pound rose to $1.2646 from $1.2621. That sent the price of gold higher, and it gained 0.4 percent to $1,261 an ounce. Health care and household goods companies were taking some of the largest losses after weak results from companies including Walgreens and Conagra. Both of those companies reported disappointing sales, and Conagra sank 11.6 percent to $25.73 while Walgreens Boots Alliance lost 4.2 percent to $70.24. © Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.