Lawsuits: OnlyFans bribed Instagram to put creators on “terrorist blacklist”

Lawsuits: OnlyFans bribed Instagram to put creators on “terrorist blacklist”

Enlarge (credit: SOPA Images / Contributor | LightRocket)

Through the pandemic, OnlyFans took over the online adult entertainment world to become a billion-dollar top dog, projected to earn five times more net revenue in 2022 than in 2020. As OnlyFans’ business grew, content creators on rival platforms complained that social media sites like Facebook and Instagram were blocking their content but seemingly didn’t block OnlyFans with the same fervor, creating an unfair advantage. OnlyFans’ mounting success amid every other platform’s demise seemed to underscore its mysterious edge.

As adult entertainers outside of OnlyFans’ content stream looked for answers to their declining revenue, they realized that Meta had not only allegedly targeted their accounts to be banned for posting supposedly inappropriate content but seemingly also for suspected terrorist activity. The more they dug into why they had been branded as terrorists, the more they suspected that OnlyFans paid Meta to put the mark on their heads—resulting in account bans that went past Facebook and Instagram and spanned popular social media apps across the Internet.

Now, Meta has been hit with multiple class action lawsuits alleging that senior executives at Meta accepted bribes from OnlyFans to shadow-ban competing adult entertainers by placing them on a “terrorist blacklist.” Meta claims the suspected scheme is “highly implausible,” and that it’s more likely that OnlyFans beat its rivals in the market through successful strategic moves, like partnering with celebrities. However, lawyers representing three adult entertainers suing Meta say the owner of Facebook and Instagram will likely have to hand over documents to prove it.

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#facebook, #first-amendment, #instagram, #meta, #onlyfans, #policy

Amid backlash from privacy advocates, Meta expands end-to-end encryption trial

Meta is ever so slowly expanding its testing of end-to-end encryption

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Meta is ever so slowly expanding its trial of end-to-end encryption in a bid to protect users from snoops and law enforcement.

End-to-end encryption, often abbreviated as E2EE, uses strong cryptography to encrypt messages with a key that is unique to each user. Because the key is in the sole possession of each user, E2EE prevents everyone else—including the app maker, ISP or carrier, and three-letter agencies—from reading a message. Meta first rolled out E2EE in 2016 in its WhatsApp and Messenger apps, with the former providing it by default and the latter offering it as an opt-in feature. The company said it expects to make E2EE the default setting in Messenger by sometime next year. The Instagram messenger, meanwhile, doesn’t offer E2EE at all.

Starting this week, the social media behemoth will begin testing a secure online storage feature for Messenger communication. For now, it’s available only to select users who connect using either an iOS or Android device. Users who are selected will have the option of turning it on.

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#biz-it, #encryption, #meta, #privacy

Meta’s flailing Portal repurposed as a wireless portable monitor

Meta’s flailing Portal repurposed as a wireless portable monitor

Enlarge (credit: Meta)

Meta’s Portal displays have always felt pretty niche. The 10- to 14-inch screens were heavily marketed as video-calling devices for apps like Facebook Messenger and Zoom. Even with the addition of music apps like Spotify and productivity apps like Microsoft Teams and a calendar, the products struggled to become something that felt necessary in tech-gadget-filled homes.

Rumor has it that Meta is pivoting the Portal from consumers to businesses, but first, the product is getting at least one more chance to prove it can add value to people’s homes. On Wednesday, Meta announced that the Portal Plus Gen 2 and Portal Go now support Duet Display, an app that can turn a display into a secondary monitor for Macs and PCs.

The Portal Plus is the same size as some of the best portable monitors, so it makes sense to repurpose it for that function. Because it’s built for video image quality, it has a decent resolution for a portable display—2160×1440.

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#meta, #portable-monitor, #smart-display, #smart-home, #tech

Teen’s jailing shows exactly how Facebook will help anti-abortion states

Teen’s jailing shows exactly how Facebook will help anti-abortion states

Enlarge (credit: Charles McQuillan / Stringer | Getty Images News)

For the first time since Roe v. Wade was overturned, there’s a clear example showing exactly how Facebook will react to law enforcement requests for abortion data without user consent.

Forbes reports that a 17-year-old named Celeste Burgess in Nebraska had her Facebook messages subpoenaed by detective Ben McBride, who suspected that Burgess’ reported stillborn birth was a medication abortion. In the officer’s affidavit, he explains that he asked that Meta not notify the teen of the request for her Facebook data because she might tamper with or destroy evidence. Court records show that Meta complied with the logic.

Meta did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment on this case, but previously, Meta has said that “we notify users (including advertisers) about requests for their information before disclosing it unless we are prohibited by law from doing so or in exceptional circumstances, such as where a child is at risk of harm, emergencies, or when notice would be counterproductive.”

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#abortion, #facebook, #meta, #nebraska, #policy

Big Tech just got one step closer to squashing key US antitrust bill

Big Tech just got one step closer to squashing key US antitrust bill

Enlarge (credit: jimfeng | iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Sponsors of a key bipartisan antitrust bill have tried for months to secure a Senate vote and potentially pass “the first major bill on technology competition” to come before the Senate “since the dawn of the Internet.”

Now, The Wall Street Journal reports, that bill will remain “in limbo” as Congress has failed to schedule a vote before its recess. This could signify that Big Tech companies will prevail—through intense lobbying and criticism—and prevent the bill from passing a Senate floor vote. In just one week this summer, one industry group reportedly spent $22 million in ads against the bill.

The bill is controversial because it targets large companies like Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, and Apple. It stops them from self-preferencing business practices, like promoting their products above others or forcing smaller businesses to buy ad space to compete. Critics, like Google, say the law could threaten everything from the quality of online services to national security, but supporters, like bill co-sponsor Representative David Cicilline (D-RI), say much of the criticism boils down to “lies coming from Big Tech.”

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#alphabet, #amazon, #antitrust-law, #apple, #facebook, #google, #meta, #policy

Record-short days could speed up debate on leap seconds

An atomic clock based on a fountain of atoms.

An atomic clock based on a fountain of atoms. (credit: National Science Foundation)

Meta recently joined the ranks of tech giants calling for the end of the leap second, the fascinatingly complex way humans account for tiny changes in the Earth’s rotation timing. The owner of Facebook and Instagram adds to a chorus that’s been growing for years, and the debate could come to a head at a global conference in 2023—or even sooner if the Earth keeps having record-short days.

Facebook, like many large-scale tech companies, is tired of trying to time a global network of servers against leap seconds, which add between 0.1 and 0.9 seconds to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) every so many years. There have been 27 leap seconds added since 1972. In a post on Meta’s engineering blog, Oleg Obleukhov and Ahmad Byagowi say 27 is quite enough for non-solar-scientist types—”enough for the next millennium.”

International timekeeping bodies add leap seconds at unpredictable intervals because the things that cause them—the braking action of tides on rotation, moon position, the distribution of ice caps on mountaintops, mantle flow, earthquakes—are unpredictable. When the Earth’s speed varies too much from atomic time-keeping, a leap second is called for by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS).

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#earth, #leap-second, #leap-second-smearing, #leap-seconds, #meta, #policy, #science, #tech

Despite $100 price increase, Meta Quest 2 still offers historically cheap VR

Screenshot of promotional video for VR equipment.

Enlarge / You could be this gleeful, too, if you were in the Meta Quest 2! (credit: Facebook)

If there’s one rule about computer and video game hardware, it’s that prices always come down after launch. The Meta Quest 2 became the exception that proves the rule this week, as Meta announced a coming $100 price increase for the popular standalone VR headset, to $400.

The increase, which Meta blamed on “rising costs,” suggests the company may be trying to rein in subsidized hardware pricing that has contributed to nearly $1 billion in monthly losses for its virtual reality division in the most recent quarter.

But when you look at the short history of consumer-grade home virtual reality headsets, the Meta Quest 2 is still a historically cheap VR entry point, even after the price increase. That’s especially true when you account for inflation and the extra hardware needed to power most other comparable headsets on the market.

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#ars-shopping, #gaming-culture, #meta, #oculus, #virtual-reality, #vr

Meta to double the dose of force-fed filler on Instagram, Facebook in 2023

Meta to double the dose of force-fed filler on Instagram, Facebook in 2023

Enlarge (credit: SOPA Images / Contributor | LightRocket)

Hundreds of thousands of people recently signed a Change.org petition asking Instagram to stop eating up space in their feeds by recommending so many Reels from accounts they do not follow. Shortly after, Instagram-owner Meta confirmed that these users aren’t just imagining that there’s a sudden avalanche of Reels ruining their online social lives. The short videos currently make up about 15 percent of Instagram and Facebook user feeds—and soon, even more often, they’ll be shoving to the side all the updates from friends that users choose to follow.

Despite all the negative feedback, Meta revealed on an earnings call that it plans to more than double the number of AI-recommended Reels that users see. The company estimates that in 2023, about a third of Instagram and Facebook feeds will be recommended content.

“One of the main transformations in our business right now is that social feeds are going from being driven primarily by the people and accounts you follow to increasingly also being driven by AI recommending content that you’ll find interesting from across Facebook or Instagram, even if you don’t follow those creators,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg says.

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#facebook, #instagram, #meta, #policy, #tiktok

Zuckerberg: Apple, Meta are in “deep, philosophical competition”

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (credit: Facebook)

Meta and Apple are entering a period of “very deep, philosophical competition” that will define the future of the Internet, according to comments by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg obtained by The Verge.

Both Apple and Meta are planning to invest heavily in mixed reality over the next decade, but they have diametrically opposed visions for what the AR/VR/XR landscape should ideally look like.

The Verge obtained an audio recording of an all-hands employee meeting at Meta, in which Zuckerberg answered an employee question about the company’s future competition with Apple in great detail. His comments shed some light on how Meta, at least, sees the rivalry.

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#apple, #ar, #augmented-reality, #mark-zuckerberg, #meta, #metaverse, #mixed-reality, #tech, #tim-cook, #virtual-reality, #vr, #xr

FTC says Meta’s Supernatural purchase could ruin the VR fitness market

Artist's conception of the FTC fighting back against Meta's latest proposed acquisition.

Enlarge / Artist’s conception of the FTC fighting back against Meta’s latest proposed acquisition.

The Federal Trade Commission has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Meta in an attempt to stop the Facebook parent company from purchasing Within, which makes the popular virtual reality fitness app Supernatural.

Meta’s plans to spend a reported $400 million on Within have reportedly been under FTC scrutiny after the proposed acquisition was announced last October. That proposed deal, according to the suit, “would substantially lessen competition, or tend to create a monopoly, in the relevant market for VR dedicated fitness apps and the broader relevant market for VR fitness apps.”

Cornering the VR fitness market?

Meta has been on something of a VR acquisition spree in the last two years, scooping up game developers including Sanzaru Games (Asgard’s Wrath), Ready at Dawn (Lone Echo), Twisted Pixel (Wilson’s Heart), Downpour Interactive (Onward) and BigBox VR (Population: One). But the planned purchase of Within seems to be setting off antitrust alarm bells at the FTC because of the overlap with Beat Saber maker Beat Games, which Meta purchased in 2019.

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#facebook, #ftc, #gaming-culture, #meta, #policy, #virtual-reality, #vr

Meta thinks Facebook may need more “harmful health misinformation”

Meta thinks Facebook may need more “harmful health misinformation”

Enlarge (credit: Caroline Brehman / Contributor | CQ-Roll Call, Inc.)

The US continues to struggle with pandemic management. Where cases are rising right now, some cities and counties are considering reinstating mask mandates, and many hospitals are confronting a chronic nursing shortage.

Despite new concerns and a recent uptick in daily deaths recorded in the US and globally, however, Meta is already thinking about what a return to normal might look like. That includes recently speculating that normalcy might mean it’s time to go back to the company’s heydays of allowing health misinformation to spread through posts on Facebook and Instagram.

On Tuesday, Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, wrote in a statement that Meta is considering whether or not Facebook and Instagram should continue to remove all posts promoting falsehoods about vaccines, masks, and social distancing. To help them decide, Meta is asking its oversight board to weigh whether the “current COVID-19 misinformation policy is still appropriate” now that “extraordinary circumstances at the onset of the pandemic” have passed and many “countries around the world seek to return to more normal life.”

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#anti-vax, #covid-misinformation, #covid-19, #facebook, #instagram, #meta, #oversight-board, #policy

Facebook users’ lawsuit forces Mark Zuckerberg to give six-hour deposition

Facebook users’ lawsuit forces Mark Zuckerberg to give six-hour deposition

Enlarge (credit: Pool / Pool | Getty Images North America)

In 2018, when Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified for a Senate hearing following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, his most frequent response to questions was some iteration of the evasive phrase “my team will get back to you.”

Four years later, plaintiffs in a subsequent California class action lawsuit claim that Meta’s team of designees on various topics have been just as unprepared to answer questions as Zuckerberg was before the Senate. Because of that, the plaintiffs are putting Zuckerberg back on the stand, hoping that six hours of deposing the billionaire and depositions from other high-level Meta executives will end a “long overdue discovery” process that the plaintiffs say has already dragged on too long.

“Much discovery work remains to be done,” the plaintiffs wrote this week in a joint case statement that includes a request for “approximately 35 more depositions.” In addition to Zuckerberg, former Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will be deposed for possibly longer than five hours, and current Meta Chief Growth Officer Javier Olivan will be deposed for as long as three hours. All depositions have been scheduled through September 20, which the statement says will result in Meta missing a September 16 court deadline for discovery, dragging proceedings on further.

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#cambridge-analytica, #data-privacy, #facebook, #mark-zuckerberg, #meta, #policy

Meta highlights NFT, blockchain hopes as it shutters its Novi crypto wallet

Meta highlights NFT, blockchain hopes as it shutters its Novi crypto wallet

Enlarge (credit: Meta)

Meta will shut down its pilot of the Novi digital wallet, one of the last remnants of the company’s beleaguered cryptocurrency push, in September, Bloomberg reported this week.

Novi users in parts of the US and Guatemala will no longer be able to log in starting on September 1.

And as of July 21, they won’t be able to add to the wallets. In fact, Novi’s website urges users to empty their accounts “as soon as possible.” Novi says it will “attempt to transfer your balance to the bank account or debit card you’ve added to Novi” if you still have money in your account after the pilot ends.

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#cryptocurrency, #meta, #nfts, #tech

Landmark EU rules will finally put regulation of Big Tech to the test

Landmark EU rules will finally put regulation of Big Tech to the test

Enlarge (credit: the_burtons | Moment)

Imagine an online world where what users want matters, and interoperability reigns. Friends could choose whichever messaging app they like and seamlessly chat cross-app. Any pre-installed app could be deleted on any device. Businesses could finally access their Facebook data, and smaller tech companies could be better positioned to compete with giants. Big Tech could even face consequences for not preventing the theft of personal info.

As the US struggles to pass legislation to protect Internet consumers, in the EU, these ideals could become reality over the next few years. EU lawmakers today passed landmark rules to rein in the power of tech giants such as Alphabet unit Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook (Meta), and Microsoft, establishing a task force to regulate unfair business practices in Big Tech.

Amazon said that the company plans to evolve with Europe’s “regulatory landscape” and review what the new legislation means for Amazon, its customers, and its partners. None of the other Big Tech companies mentioned immediately responded to a request for comment for this story.

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#alphabet, #apple, #european-union, #facebook, #google, #meta, #microsoft, #policy

IDC: “All eyes will be on Apple” as Meta’s VR strategy “isn’t sustainable”

Screenshot of promotional video for VR equipment.

Enlarge / The Oculus Quest 2.

A recent media release from market research firm IDC predicts that Meta (the parent company of Facebook) may not be able to compete in the mixed-reality business in the long run if its strategy remains unchanged.

The media release offers a bird’s-eye view of the virtual reality hardware marketplace. In the release, IDC research manager Jitesh Ubrani said that, while “Meta continues to pour dollars into developing the metaverse, [the company’s] strategy of promoting low-cost hardware at the expense of profitability isn’t sustainable in the long run.”

A similar concern was raised by tech industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo late last month. Kuo predicted that Meta would make moves to scale down investment in virtual reality, creating an opening for Apple and other competitors. He also wrote that Meta’s practice of selling VR headsets at a loss is unsustainable.

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#apple, #ar, #bytedance, #idc, #meta, #oculus, #oculus-quest-2, #pico, #tech, #vr, #xr

Facebook could be sued for addicting children under California bill

Facebook could be sued for addicting children under California bill

Enlarge (credit: Yiu Yu Hoi | The Image Bank)

Before the summer ends, California may pass the first US bill that would hold social media companies liable for product features that research has found are harmful to children. If passed, the law could have far-reaching consequences, potentially impacting how kids throughout the US use social media sites like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat.

On Tuesday, the bill—the Social Media Platform Duty to Act—cleared what The Wall Street Journal called “a crucial vote in the State Senate.”

Although much of prior reporting on the bill focused on its earlier goal to grant a parent’s right to sue over harm to individual children, WSJ reports that the amended version of the bill would instead “permit the state attorney general, local district attorneys, and city attorneys in California’s four largest cities to sue social media companies” for unfair business practices known to harm children.

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#california, #facebook, #instagram, #meta, #policy, #tiktok

Meta sparks anger by charging for VR apps

BURLINGAME, CALIFORNIA - MAY 04: Meta employee Ryan Carter (L) helps a member of the media with an Oculus virtual reality headset demonstration during a media preview of the new Meta Store on May 04, 2022 in Burlingame, California. Meta is set to open its first physical retail store on May 9. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Enlarge / BURLINGAME, CALIFORNIA – MAY 04: Meta employee Ryan Carter (L) helps a member of the media with an Oculus virtual reality headset demonstration during a media preview of the new Meta Store on May 04, 2022 in Burlingame, California. Meta is set to open its first physical retail store on May 9. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (credit: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images)

Meta is facing a growing backlash for the charges imposed on apps created for its virtual reality headsets, as developers complain about the commercial terms set around futuristic devices that the company hopes will help create a multibillion-dollar consumer market.

Facebook’s parent has pledged to spend $10 billion a year over the next decade on the “metaverse,” a much-hyped concept denoting an immersive virtual world filled with avatars.

The investment is spurred by a desire to own the next computing platform and avoid being trapped by rules set by Big Tech rivals, as it has been by Apple and Google with their respective mobile app stores.

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#facebook, #gaming-culture, #meta, #policy, #vr

Facebook removed posts on abortion pills even when they didn’t break any rules

Facebook removed posts on abortion pills even when they didn’t break any rules

Enlarge (credit: Mario Tama | Getty Images)

The status of legal access to abortion is now prohibited, restricted, or uncertain in more than half of the US. However, abortion pills are still deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration, and it’s still legal for consulted certified prescribers to mail abortion pills to patients in any state. Thousands took to social media to post and raise awareness of options for mail-ordering abortion pills, only to have their posts deleted within minutes, sparking user protests of censorship.

Facebook and Instagram confirmed in an Associated Press report that posts offering to mail abortion pills to people in states suddenly without access would continue to be removed.

These posts violate company policies that prohibit the gift or sale of pharmaceuticals or drugs on the platforms, a Meta spokesperson told AP.

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#facebook, #instagram, #meta, #policy

Apple’s AR/VR headset will arrive in January 2023, analyst projects

An early augmented reality demo by Apple, using a smartphone instead of a headset.

Enlarge / An early augmented reality demo by Apple, using a smartphone instead of a headset. (credit: Apple)

Tech industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has offered the most specific prediction about a release date for an Apple augmented reality/virtual reality headset yet: January 2023.

Kuo has often made accurate, informed predictions about Apple’s plans in the past, based partly on information from sources in the company’s supply chain. On Thursday, he published a lengthy analysis of the VR headset industry and predicted that Apple’s device will “likely” arrive in January.

Kuo called the headset “the most complicated product Apple has ever designed,” noting that many current Apple suppliers are involved in the supply chain for the product. He also supported other recent leaks and speculation that the upcoming headset will not be exclusively or primarily focused on augmented reality (which places virtual options in real-world space) rather than virtual reality (which immerses the wearer in an entirely virtual space).

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#apple, #ar, #augmented-reality, #meta, #ming-chi-kuo, #mixed-reality, #tech, #tim-cook, #virtual-reality, #vr, #xr

Meta and Microsoft team up to create metaverse standards; Apple, Google sit out

Young man or teenager in a white t-shirt wearing virtual reality Headset during the VR experience in Neon fluorescent ultra violet purple and blue colors.

Enlarge (credit: Getty)

Parties interested in turning Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite buzzword into a reality announced on Wednesday that they have formed The Metaverse Standards Forum. Meta is a founding member, naturally, and big tech names like Adobe, Microsoft, and Nvidia are also founding members. Initial membership notably lacks participation from Apple and Google, however.

The forum, according to today’s announcement, is meant to “foster the development of open standards for the metaverse.”

“The Forum will explore where the lack of interoperability is holding back metaverse deployment and how the work of Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) defining and evolving needed standards may be coordinated and accelerated,” the group said in its announcement.

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#meta, #metaverse, #tech

Facebook is receiving sensitive medical information from hospital websites

Facebook is receiving sensitive medical information from hospital websites

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

A tracking tool installed on many hospitals’ websites has been collecting patients’ sensitive health information—including details about their medical conditions, prescriptions, and doctor’s appointments—and sending it to Facebook.

The Markup tested the websites of Newsweek’s top 100 hospitals in America. On 33 of them we found the tracker, called the Meta Pixel, sending Facebook a packet of data whenever a person clicked a button to schedule a doctor’s appointment. The data is connected to an IP address—an identifier that’s like a computer’s mailing address and can generally be linked to a specific individual or household—creating an intimate receipt of the appointment request for Facebook.

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#facebook, #healthcare, #meta, #policy, #privacy, #science, #tracking

Report: Meta has stopped developing its Apple Watch rival 

Rumored meta smart watch on white background

This purported Meta Watch prototype image appeared in a Facebook app in October. (credit: Facebook via Bloomberg)

Development of a Meta smartwatch is on pause, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing an anonymous “person with knowledge of the matter.”

Facebook’s parent company never confirmed it was making a smartwatch to rival the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch. It also declined to comment on Bloomberg’s story. However, Bloomberg claimed that Meta has been working on a smartwatch, codenamed Milan, “for at least two years.”

The publication said Meta was aiming to release its smartwatch next spring for about $350, but workers “were told this week that the device is no longer on track for production.”

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#facebook, #meta, #smartwatches, #tech

Big Tech pulls out all the stops to halt “self-preferencing” antitrust bill

Big Tech pulls out all the stops to halt “self-preferencing” antitrust bill

Enlarge (credit: FT | Reuters | Unsplash)

Amazon and Alphabet are spearheading what is shaping up to be the most intense political campaign by corporate America in recent history as part of a last-ditch attempt to stop Congress from passing laws to curb their market power.

The companies are targeting a “self-preferencing” bill which would prevent large online platforms from using their dominance in one field to give other products an unfair advantage — for example, Alphabet using its Google search engine to promote its travel or shopping products.

If the bill goes through, it is likely to lend momentum to a wave of legislation aimed at strengthening America’s competition rules, in what could be the biggest update of the country’s antitrust rules in a generation.

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#amazon, #antitrust, #apple, #google, #meta, #policy, #tech

The first “Meta Store” is opening in California in May

The first Meta Store won't necessarily be your one-stop shop for all things sold by Meta—as this artistic interpretation points to one thing <em>not</em> sold by the store until further notice.

Enlarge / The first Meta Store won’t necessarily be your one-stop shop for all things sold by Meta—as this artistic interpretation points to one thing not sold by the store until further notice. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

On May 9, Meta will double down on its metaverse sales pitch by… making people drive to California to sample its wares at a single physical location.

The uncreatively named Meta Store will showcase every physical product the company sells under its various branded umbrellas, particularly the Meta Quest 2 VR system (formerly Oculus Quest 2). The company’s first retail store will be housed in a 1,550-square-foot space on Meta’s Burlingame, California, campus, which houses a number of Meta’s VR- and AR-specific development efforts, and it will allow the public to test and purchase any of Meta’s physical products.

But it’s not a comprehensive Meta sales location, as its shelves will not include access to the reams of user data accumulated by the company’s network of criss-crossed sites—though we’ll keep our eyes peeled in case the Meta Store decides to unveil a Cambridge Analytica-themed aisle in the future.

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#amazon-books, #amazon-go, #amazon-go-grocery, #biz-it, #facebook, #meta, #meta-quest, #meta-quest-2, #meta-store, #microsoft-store, #oculus-quest, #oculus-quest-2, #oculus-rift

#DealMonitor – Ex-Corona-App Luca bekommt 30 Millionen – Meta übernimmt presize.ai – Handshake kauft Talentspace 


Im #DealMonitor für den 14. April werfen wir einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Luca
+++ Der noch junge Investor Embedded Capital, The Delta und Target Global, ein Berliner Geldgeber mit starken Russland-Beziehungen, investieren 30 Millionen Euro in die ehemalige Corona-App Luca – siehe auch FinanceFWD. Das Berliner Unternehmen, das von Patrick Hennig und Philipp Berger gegründet wurde, positioniert sich künftig als Gastro-App mit Finanzfunktionen. “Konkret soll Luca zu einer digitalen Geldbörse werden, in der die Nutzer Personalausweis, Impfzertifikat und Zahlungsmittel hinterlegen können”, heißt es im Bericht. Insgesamt 13 Bundesländer hatten die Luca-App, die von Smudo (Die Fantastischen Vier) mitkonzipiert wurde, im vergangenen Jahr für zusammengerechnet mehr als 20 Millionen Euro angeschafft und genutzt. Die App verfügt über 40 Millionen registrierte Nutzer:innen. Was wohl auch das massive Interesse der Investoren an der Anwendung erklärt.

Kraftling 
+++ Der Food-Investor Zintinus und der Münchner Geldgeber G-Fund investieren 1,8 Millionen Euro in Kraftling. Die Jungfirma aus Köln, die 2018 von Friedrich Kalthoff und Maximilian Wermke gegründet wurde, setzt auf energiegeladene Saft-Kick-Drinks. “Das Investment fließt in den Ausbau von Marketingaktivitäten sowie in Vertriebsaktivitäten im Handel und dem Ausbau des Kraftling-Teams”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

presize.ai
+++ Der Facebook-Mutterkonzern Meta übernimmt das Münchner Startup presize.ai – siehe Gründerszene. Die Jungfirma, die 2019 von Awais Shafique, Tomislav Tomov und Leon Szeli gegründet wurde, bietet seinen Nutzern mit einer mobilen Body-Scanning-Technologie die Möglichkeit, basierend auf einem Smartphone-Video ihres Körpers, die passende Größe bei Online-Bestellungen zu finden. In der achten Staffel der Vox-Show “Die Höhle der Löwen” investierte Carsten Maschmeyer 650.000 Euro in das junge Unternehmen. Außerdem investierten auch Plug & Play, UnternehmerTUM und mehrere Angel-Investoren in presize.ai. Insgesamt flossen rund 2 Millionen in presize.ai. Der Kaufpreis ist nicht bekannt. Der Snapchat-Betreiber Snap übernahm allerdings im Frühjahr 2021 das Berliner Startup Fit Analytics, das Kunden von Online-Shops hilft, die passende Kleidergröße zu finden. Snap zahlte damals 124,5 Millionen US-Dollar für die Jungfirma. Mehr über presize.ai

Talentspace 
+++ Das amerikanische Unternehmen Handshake, eine s eine Karriereplattform für Studierende, übernimmt das Berliner Startup Talentspace. Das Unternehmen, das 2017 von Marco Eylert, Jason Reich und Markus Dücker gegründet wurde, wandelte sich im Zuge der Corona-Pandemie vom Event-Veranstalter zum Software-Unternehmen. “We don’t have an exact figure to understand the cost of the transaction, but Handshake hinted that it is between $10 million to $50 million”, schreibt TechCrunch zum Exit.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#9am-health, #aktuell, #embedded-capital, #facebook, #g-fund, #handshake, #hr, #kraftling, #luca, #meta, #presize-ai, #talentspace, #target-global, #venture-capital, #zintinus

Meta announces plans to monetize the Metaverse, and creators are not happy

A purchase confirmation dialog in Horizon Worlds.

Enlarge / A purchase confirmation dialog in Horizon Worlds. (credit: Meta)

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, announced some initial plans on Wednesday to allow content creators to monetize in its would-be Metaverse platform, Horizon Worlds. Meta’s planned revenue share for contributors’ creations could add up to nearly 50 percent.

Horizon Worlds is a network of shared 3D spaces that is currently exclusively available on Oculus Quest headsets. (Meta has plans to bring it to mobile, game consoles, and desktop VR in the coming months and years.)

There are already people creating spaces for Horizon Worlds, including a virtual yoga studio and a Second Life-like fast-food brand integration in the form of the “Wendyverse.” But to date, Horizon Worlds has not offered the tools for creators to make a living creating that content like they could on similar services like Roblox.

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#apple, #ar, #facebook, #horizon-worlds, #mark-zuckerberg, #meta, #metaverse, #oculus, #oculus-quest, #tech, #vr

Facebook says Ukraine military accounts were hacked to post calls for surrender

A Ukrainian soldier holding a Kalashnikov-style rifle and other Ukrainian soldiers sit on an armored military vehicle.

Enlarge / Ukrainian soldiers sit on an armored military vehicle in Sievierodonetsk on April 7, 2022, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (credit: Getty Images | Fadel Senna)

Facebook today reported an increase in attacks on accounts run by Ukraine military personnel. In some cases, attackers took over accounts and posted “videos calling on the Army to surrender,” but Facebook said it blocked sharing of the videos.

Specifically, Facebook owner Meta’s Q1 2022 Adversarial Threat Report said it has “seen a further spike in compromise attempts aimed at members of the Ukrainian military by Ghostwriter,” a hacking campaign that “typically targets people through email compromise and then uses that to gain access to their social media accounts across the Internet.” Ghostwriter has been linked to the Belarusian government.

“Since our last public update [on February 27], this group has attempted to hack into the Facebook accounts of dozens of Ukrainian military personnel,” Meta wrote today. Ghostwriter successfully hacked into the accounts in “a handful of cases” in which “they posted videos calling on the Army to surrender as if these posts were coming from the legitimate account owners. We blocked these videos from being shared.”

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#facebook, #ghostwriter, #meta, #policy, #russia, #ukraine

Project “Zuck Bucks”: Meta plans virtual coin after cryptocurrency flop

Project “Zuck Bucks”: Meta plans virtual coin after cryptocurrency flop

Enlarge (credit: Financial Times | Getty)

Meta has drawn up plans to introduce virtual coins, tokens and lending services to its apps, as Facebook’s parent company pursues its finance ambitions despite the collapse of a project to launch a cryptocurrency.

The company, led by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, is seeking alternative revenue streams and new features that can attract and retain users, as popularity falls for its main social networking products such as Facebook and Instagram—a trend that threatens its $118 billion-a-year ad-based business model.

Facebook’s financial arm, Meta Financial Technologies, has been exploring the creation of a virtual currency for the metaverse, which employees internally have dubbed “Zuck Bucks,” according to several people familiar with the efforts.

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#facebook, #mark-zuckerberg, #meta, #metaverse, #policy

Meta can’t buy TikTok, so it hired GOP operatives to run a smear campaign

Meta can’t buy TikTok, so it hired GOP operatives to run a smear campaign

Enlarge (credit: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto)

If you can’t beat ’em, smear ’em.

That appears to be Facebook’s approach when it comes to countering the threat from TikTok, according to a new report in The Washington Post. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has hired Targeted Victory, a large Republican consulting firm, to place stories in op-eds in local newspapers and on local TV newscasts around the US, according to the report.

TikTok poses perhaps the most existential challenge to Meta and Facebook yet. The video-based social media platform has gained users at a swift pace, and it’s especially popular among younger users, a demographic that Facebook and Meta’s other platforms have struggled with in recent years.

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#facebook, #gop, #meta, #policy, #social-media, #tiktok

Posting “death to the Russian invaders” on Facebook now OK in some countries

Smoke rises from a Russian tank destroyed by Ukrainian forces in the Luhansk region on February 26, 2022. (Photo by Anatolii Stepanov / AFP via Getty Images)

Enlarge / Smoke rises from a Russian tank destroyed by Ukrainian forces in the Luhansk region on February 26, 2022. (Photo by Anatolii Stepanov / AFP via Getty Images) (credit: Anatolii Stepanov / AFP)

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grinds on, Meta is temporarily changing its policies to allow users on Facebook and Instagram to post calls for violence against—and even the deaths of—Russian soldiers and political figures, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to Russian invaders,’” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said on Twitter. “We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.”

The temporary policy exception was recently sent to Facebook and Instagram moderators, and emails detailing the change were revealed by Reuters. The exceptions mark the social media company’s latest attempt to adapt to the shifting geopolitical situation.

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#facebook, #hate-speech, #instagram, #meta, #policy, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine, #social-media, #violence

EU and UK open antitrust probe into Google and Meta over online ads

KRAKOW, POLAND - 2018/08/20: Social media apps with European Union flag are seen in this photo illustration.
The European Commission is planning issue a regulation that allows to fine social media platforms and websites if they don't delete extremist post within one hour. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Enlarge / KRAKOW, POLAND – 2018/08/20: Social media apps with European Union flag are seen in this photo illustration.
The European Commission is planning issue a regulation that allows to fine social media platforms and websites if they don’t delete extremist post within one hour. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Regulators in Europe and the UK have opened an antitrust probe into a deal between Google and Meta on online advertising, in the latest effort to tackle the market power of the world’s biggest technology companies.

The move follows US antitrust investigators who are also probing an agreement informally known as “Jedi Blue.” The search engine giant and Facebook’s parent company have been accused of working together to carve up advertising profits, acting together to buttress their businesses.

The EU and UK probes represent the latest assault on Big Tech from global regulators that are also preparing to unleash new rules designed to challenge the primacy of groups such as Google, Meta and Amazon. In response, US tech groups have launched lobbying efforts in Washington and Brussels in an effort to protect their interests.

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#advertising, #alphabet, #antitrust, #eu, #facebook, #google, #meta, #podcasts, #uk

Big Tech spent decades skirting geopolitical issues. That’s no longer an option

Big Tech spent decades skirting geopolitical issues. That’s no longer an option

Enlarge (credit: Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto)

Big Tech companies, for the most part, have been able to have their cake and eat it, too.

By pitching themselves as neutral platforms that prioritize free expression—while at the same time bowing to local pressure to remove or restrict certain content—they’ve enjoyed rather broad access to nearly all the world’s markets. Even Russia, which for decades during the Soviet era fought to keep Western media out, has let them in.

That may be about to change, though. 

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#big-tech, #facebook, #meta, #policy, #russia, #social-media, #twitter, #ukraine

Metaverse vs. employment law: The reality of the virtual workplace

Metaverse vs. employment law: The reality of the virtual workplace

Enlarge (credit: Meta)

In December, 43-year-old doctoral researcher Nina Jane Patel put on a headset and entered Meta’s virtual world to see what was happening that day. “Within seconds of being there, there were three avatars near me,” she says. “Suddenly they were taking selfies… I couldn’t see at first that they were groping the avatar’s upper body… They were yelling at me, ‘Don’t pretend you don’t like it, this is what you came for.’”

The incident took place in the metaverse, an immersive virtual world accessed via wearable technology in which tech groups expect us to spend a far greater proportion of time in the future, both playing and, crucially, working.

When it comes to employment laws, however, it is unclear what rules of engagement apply in a universal digital realm. What counts as harassment in the metaverse? Can an avatar be discriminated against, or worse? Will national legislation protect employees or does working in the metaverse require a new rule book altogether?

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#employment-law, #facebook, #meta, #metaverse, #policy, #virtual-reality

California’s strict child-data bill would limit Big Tech data collection

California’s strict child-data bill would limit Big Tech data collection

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

California lawmakers plan to introduce a new bill to protect children’s data online this Thursday, mirroring the UK’s recently introduced children’s code, as part of growing momentum globally for stricter regulation on Big Tech.

The California age-appropriate design-code bill will require many of the world’s biggest tech platforms headquartered in the state—such as social media group Meta and Google’s YouTubeto limit the amount of data they collect from young users and the location tracking of children in the state.

If passed into law, it will also place restrictions on profiling younger users for targeted advertising, mandate the introduction of “age-appropriate” content policies, and ban serving up behavioral nudges that might trick them into weakening their privacy protections.

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#alphabet, #apple, #big-tech, #california, #facebook, #google, #meta, #policy, #privacy

Meta establishes four-foot “personal boundary” to deter VR groping

Cartoon representation of personal boundaries between virtual avatars.

Enlarge / In the metaverse the actual boundaries will be invisible, but the results will be the same. (credit: Meta)

In the real world, the idea of personal space is ingrained from a young age and enforced mainly by unspoken interpersonal contract and subtle social pressure. In the world of virtual reality, on the other hand, Facebook parent Meta is now using software enforce a four-foot zone of “personal space” for each avatar in its metaverse-style social spaces.

As detailed in a recent blog post, Meta’s Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues spaces now include a default personal boundary that “prevents avatars from coming within a set distance of each other, creating more personal space for people and making it easier to avoid unwanted interactions.”

The system in effect sets up an invisible cylinder with a two-foot radius that surrounds each avatar; if user movement would cause two cylinders to overlap, “the system will halt their forward movement as they reach the boundary” without any other overt feedback. Two users will be able to jointly reach outside their personal boundary for interactions like a high-five or fist-bump, Meta writes. Having the system on by default will “help to set behavioral norms—and that’s important for a relatively new medium like VR,” Meta writes.

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#gaming-culture, #horizon, #meta, #virtual-reality

Meta may be forced to shutter Facebook, Instagram in EU

Meta may be forced to shutter Facebook, Instagram in EU

Enlarge

Meta says it may have to abandon the European Union.

The note was buried in the company’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Meta said that if officials on both sides of the Atlantic can’t reach an agreement on data transfers and warehousing, the company may have to pull its Facebook and Instagram platforms from Europe.

“If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted… we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe,” Meta said in its 10-K filing.

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#eu-data-transfers, #european-union, #facebook, #gdpr, #instagram, #meta, #policy, #privacy-regulations

Facebook loses users for first time ever, market cap drops by $200 billion

A worker picks up trash in front of the new logo in front of Meta's headquarters on October 28, 2021, in Menlo Park, Calif.

Enlarge / A worker picks up trash in front of the new logo in front of Meta’s headquarters on October 28, 2021, in Menlo Park, Calif. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

If last year was bad for Meta, this year might be worse.

The company’s earnings call last night painted a dismal picture. Its flagship Facebook platform lost about a million daily active users last quarter, the first time that has happened. Instagram and WhatsApp may still be growing but not by much—last quarter, the company added just 10 million users across all its apps. Meta lost $10 billion on its Reality Labs division, which handles VR and AR, the stuff it has been betting its future on. And the company said that it expects Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to slash the coming year’s revenue by $10 billion, or about 10 percent.

The market did not react kindly to the news. Meta’s stock has taken a massive hit and is currently trading down around 24 percent below yesterday’s close, wiping around $200 billion off its market cap.

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#app-tracking-transparency, #facebook, #meta, #policy, #targeted-advertising, #tiktok

Big Tech increases funding to US foreign policy think tanks

Big Tech increases funding to US foreign policy think tanks

Enlarge (credit: Financial Times)

The world’s largest technology companies are pouring money into the biggest foreign policy think tanks in the US, as they seek to advance the argument that stricter competition rules will benefit China.

Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple are behind an increase in funding to four of Washington’s most prestigious research groups: the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Center for a New American Security, Brookings, and the Hudson Institute.

Total donations from Big Tech companies to the four think tanks have risen from at least $625,000 in 2017-18 to at least $1.2 million in 2019-20, according to a Financial Times analysis of financial disclosures. These figures could be as high as $1.2 million in 2017-18 to $2.7 million in 2019-20.

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#alphabet, #amazon, #apple, #big-tech, #china, #facebook, #google, #lobbying, #meta, #policy

Meta’s cryptocurrency ploy all but dead with Libra/Diem seeking to sell assets

With an image of Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Jerome Powell on a screen in the background, Facebook/Meta co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on October 23, 2019, in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / With an image of Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Jerome Powell on a screen in the background, Facebook/Meta co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on October 23, 2019, in Washington, DC. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

After years of effort, Meta’s cryptocurrency initiative has collapsed under the weight of regulatory scrutiny.

The Diem Association, formerly known as the Libra Association, is considering selling its assets and returning money to investors, according to a Bloomberg report. There’s not much to sell, though. The company doesn’t have much in the way of physical assets—just some intellectual property. Perhaps the most valuable part of the association is its engineers. Diem is reportedly looking for a “new home” for them.

Mark Zuckerberg first announced the project in 2019, back when his company was named Facebook and the project was named Libra. He said the cryptocurrency would serve as the foundation for payments within Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Zuckerberg managed to convince dozens of companies to become founding members of the backing organization, including Visa, MasterCard, Uber, Lyft, eBay, Spotify, and Andreessen Horowitz.

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#blockchain, #calibra, #cryptocurrency, #diem, #facebook, #libra, #meta, #policy

FTC has a “plausible claim” that Facebook is an illegal monopoly, judge says

A worker picks up trash in front of the new logo in front of Meta's headquarters on October 28, 2021, in Menlo Park, Calif.

Enlarge / A worker picks up trash in front of the new logo in front of Meta’s headquarters on October 28, 2021, in Menlo Park, Calif. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust suit against Facebook may proceed, a federal judge has ruled. The company had filed a motion to dismiss the case, which the judge denied.

US District Judge James Boasberg had invited the FTC to refile the case after throwing out its initial attempt when he found it lacking. “Second time lucky?” Boasberg wrote in yesterday’s opinion. Apparently.

“The core theory of the lawsuit remains essentially unchanged,” he said of the FTC’s refiling. “The facts alleged this time around to fortify those theories, however, are far more robust and detailed than before, particularly in regard to the contours of Defendant’s alleged monopoly.”

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#antitrust-lawsuit, #facebook, #ftc, #lina-khan, #meta, #policy

Facebook’s data center plans rile residents in the Netherlands

Facebook’s data center plans rile residents in the Netherlands

Enlarge (credit: Robin Utrecht | Abaca Press | Alamy)

When Susan Schaap, 61, travels from her Dutch hometown of Zeewolde to the nearest city of Leylystad, the 30-minute drive takes her through vast tulip fields, interrupted only by wind turbines and sometimes sheep. But if Facebook parent company Meta’s plans are approved, her view would be replaced by the Netherlands’ largest ever data center.

Meta’s data center is “too big for a small town like Zeewolde,” says Schaap, who has become one of the project’s most vocal opponents. “There are 200 data centers in the Netherlands already,” she argues, and the move would give huge swathes of farmland to just one company, “which is not fair.”

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#big-tech, #data-centers, #eu, #facebook, #meta, #netherlands, #policy

Lawsuit: Facebook recommendations helped extremists meet and plan murder

Members of the Boogaloo Bois gather for the 12th annual Second Amendment March sponsored by Michigan Open Carry Inc. and Second Amendment March outside of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, on September 23, 2021.

Enlarge / Members of the Boogaloo Bois gather for the 12th annual Second Amendment March sponsored by Michigan Open Carry Inc. and Second Amendment March outside of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, on September 23, 2021. (credit: Getty Images | Jeff Kowalsky)

The sister of a slain federal security officer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Facebook owner Meta. The lawsuit alleges that the killing of Dave Patrick Underwood in May 2020 “was not a random act of violence” but rather “the culmination of an extremist plot hatched and planned on Facebook by two men who Meta connected through Facebook’s groups infrastructure and its use of algorithms designed and intended to increase user engagement and, correspondingly, Meta’s profits.”

The lawsuit says that Meta “helped build” the antigovernment “boogaloo” community, which includes white supremacists, militia promoters, and far-right conspiracy theorists. This community “supported [the] criminal planning” of Underwood’s murderer and his accomplice, the complaint says, accusing Facebook of negligence.

The lawsuit was filed yesterday by Angela Underwood Jacobs in California Superior Court for Alameda County, and it seeks damages of at least $25,000. The lawsuit notes that Dave Underwood “was a Federal Protective Services Officer working under a contract with the Department of Homeland Security to provide security” at a federal building and courthouse in Oakland. On May 29, 2020, during protests over the police killing of George Floyd, the 53-year-old Underwood was stationed in a guard post outside the building and was killed in a drive-by shooting. He was shot in the neck and right flank and endured “extreme pain and suffering” before dying in the emergency room, the lawsuit said.

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#boogaloo, #facebook, #meta, #policy

Report: Meta pulls the plug on its AR/VR operating system ambitions

The Oculus Quest 2, Meta's most popular VR headset today.

Enlarge / The Oculus Quest 2, Meta’s most popular VR headset today. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has pulled the plug on its current efforts to develop an operating system for AR and VR devices, The Information reported today.

Citing “two people familiar with the decision,” the article claims that Meta will return to the status quo of running Oculus devices—and perhaps future mixed reality devices—on a modified version of Google’s Android operating system for mobile phones.

The project, which was internally called XROS, had reportedly been underway for years and “involved hundreds of employees.” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was talking up its potential only a few short months ago. The reasons for Meta’s decision to pull the plug are not publicly known at this time.

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#apple, #ar, #facebook, #mark-zuckerberg, #meta, #mixed-reality, #tech, #virtual-reality, #vr, #xr

Big Tech split leads to demise of Internet Association

Street sign for K Street, the Wall Street of political influence in the US capital.

Enlarge / Street sign for K Street, the Wall Street of political influence in the US capital. (credit: Bjarte Rettedal | Getty Images)

Growing tensions between Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, and Apple lie behind the death of the Internet Association (IA), the nine-year-old lobby group that was Big Tech’s voice in Washington, according to insiders and industry observers.

The Washington-based group, which dubbed itself the “unified” voice of the internet industry, will shut at the end of the year after both Microsoft and Uber, among others, pulled their financial support, leaving an insurmountable funding gap.

“Our industry has undergone tremendous growth and change,” it said in a statement, adding that its closure was “in line with this evolution.”

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#alphabet, #apple, #big-tech, #facebook, #google, #internet-association, #lobbyists, #meta, #microsoft, #policy

2021 was the year the world finally turned on Facebook

2021 was the year the world finally turned on Facebook

Enlarge (credit: Jens Buettner/picture alliance)

Wish 2021 had been a better year? Facebook probably does, too. The company has long been maligned by politicians, media observers, and consumer advocates, but it wasn’t until 2021 that it felt like the tide truly began to turn.

Though Facebook had faced scandals in the past, from Cambridge Analytica to the Myanmar genocide, this year’s string of missteps and revelations may have tipped the company and its reputation past the point of no return.

For Facebook, trouble started shortly after the new year. On January 6, the company found itself enmeshed in the insurrection at the US Capitol. Both Facebook and Instagram played a key role in radicalizing users who later attended the deadly rally. While the company had acted swiftly in November 2020 to shutter the “Stop the Steal” group formed to undermine the results of the presidential election, it let splinter groups and individuals spawn a “harmful movement” that spread across its platforms. For two months, those groups operated more or less unfettered.

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#facebook, #features, #frances-haugen, #mark-zuckerberg, #meta, #policy, #social-media, #whistleblower

Meta investors are sick of the scandals and want more oversight

A worker picks up trash in front of the new logo in front of Meta's headquarters on October 28, 2021, in Menlo Park, Calif.

Enlarge / A worker picks up trash in front of the new logo in front of Meta’s headquarters on October 28, 2021, in Menlo Park, Calif. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

After a year of stunning and damning revelations, Meta, formerly Facebook, is facing calls from investors to allow an independent assessment of the company’s audit and risk oversight committee.

Investors and a public interest nonprofit have sent a letter to Meta’s corporate secretary requesting that its proposal be included in the company’s annual proxy to be voted on by shareholders. 

“Shareholders request the board commission an independent assessment of the Audit and Risk Oversight Committee’s capacities and performance in overseeing company risks to public safety and the public interest and in supporting strategic risk oversight on these issues by the full board,” says the letter, which was obtained by Axios.

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#facebook, #investors, #mark-zuckerberg, #meta, #policy, #shareholder-resolutions

Woman lost @metaverse Instagram handle days after Facebook name change

Woman lost @metaverse Instagram handle days after Facebook name change

Enlarge (credit: Liu Guanguan/China News Service)

Thea-Mai Baumann had posted to Instagram using the @metaverse handle for nearly a decade when her account was disabled on November 2.

“Your account has been blocked for pretending to be someone else,” the app told her. 

Baumann wasn’t exactly sure what had happened, but the timing was curious. The account block came just days after Facebook had announced its new name, Meta. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the name reflected the company’s new focus on its vision of the metaverse, a virtual world meant to facilitate commerce, communication, and more. Baumann’s @metaverse handle was suddenly a hot commodity.

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#digital-rights, #facebook, #instagram, #meta, #metaverse, #policy, #social-media

Apple reaches quiet truce over iPhone privacy changes

A privacy notice appears on an iPhone 12 under the new iOS 14.5.1 operating system. Developers of an application have to ask for the user's permission to allow cross-app tracking.

Enlarge / A privacy notice appears on an iPhone 12 under the new iOS 14.5.1 operating system. Developers of an application have to ask for the user’s permission to allow cross-app tracking. (credit: Picture Alliance | Getty Images)

Apple has allowed app developers to collect data from its 1 billion iPhone users for targeted advertising, in an unacknowledged shift that lets companies follow a much looser interpretation of its controversial privacy policy.

In May Apple communicated its privacy changes to the wider public, launching an advert that featured a harassed man whose daily activities were closely monitored by an ever-growing group of strangers. When his iPhone prompted him to “Ask App Not to Track,” he clicked it and they vanished. Apple’s message to potential customers was clear—if you choose an iPhone, you are choosing privacy.

But seven months later, companies including Snap and Facebook have been allowed to keep sharing user-level signals from iPhones, as long as that data is anonymised and aggregated rather than tied to specific user profiles.

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#facebook, #ios, #iphone, #meta, #policy, #privacy, #targeted-advertising, #tech, #tracking

Landmark $150B lawsuit seeks to hold Facebook accountable for Rohingya genocide

A woman clings to the back of a younger man.

Enlarge / A young Rohingya man carries an older Rohingya woman in a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Some 750,000 Rohingya people have fled Myanmar as a result of the genocide. (credit: Michał Fiałkowski/iStock Editorial)

Rohingya refugees have filed a lawsuit against Meta, formerly known as Facebook, for its alleged role in the ethnic cleansing currently underway in Myanmar, sometimes known as Burma. The lawsuit says the social media giant is on the hook for “at least $150 billion” for “wrongful death, personal injury, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of property.”

This lawsuit claims that Meta’s Facebook product is defective and that the company acted negligently. The complaint was filed this week in San Mateo County Superior Court, the jurisdiction in which Meta is headquartered, on behalf of a Rohingya refugee living in Illinois. It’s seeking class-action status to encompass all of the more than 10,000 Rohingya refugees who have resettled in the US since 2012. 

The lawsuit is among the first to leverage allegations made by former Facebook employees and whistleblowers, including Frances Haugen, who shared over 10,000 documents with Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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#ethnic-cleansing, #facebook, #lawsuit, #meta, #myanmar, #policy, #rohingya-people

Meta’s failed Giphy deal could end Big Tech’s spending spree

Meta’s failed Giphy deal could end Big Tech’s spending spree

Enlarge (credit: Daniel Grizelj | Getty Images)

Instagram? Sure! WhatsApp? Go nuts. But don’t mess with GIFs. That’s the strange position taken by Britain’s competition watchdog in choosing to block Meta’s takeover of GIF repository Giphy. Meta, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) ruled, must now sell all the GIFs—just 19 months after it reportedly paid $400 million for them. It’s a bold move—and a global first.

Never before has a tech giant been ordered to press undo on a completed deal rather than pay a fine or make promises about how the newly merged businesses would operate. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, isn’t pleased. A spokesperson says the company disagrees with the decision and that it is considering all options, including an appeal. Usually a cautious bunch, lawyers agree that the CMA’s decision is a significant moment in the global regulatory wrangling of Big Tech, as it means deals that slipped through in the past may now have a new bar to clear. “There’s been a realization that quite small deals over the years have not been scrutinized very extensively,” says Richard Pepper, a partner at the law firm Macfarlanes.

That realization means regulators everywhere will now be on high alert for what the legal world calls “killer acquisitions”—where an established company buys an innovative startup in an attempt to squash the competition it could pose in the future. The CMA’s decision is also significant because Facebook’s Instagram takeover was waved through by its predecessor, the Office of Fair Trading, back in 2012, in what was the most high-profile probe into the deal outside the US. “The same worldwide enforcers that allowed Facebook to suck up Instagram and WhatsApp are now very wary of even small purchases by the major platforms,” says Eleanor Tyler, a legal analyst at Bloomberg Law, a legal research company. “What this shows is a change in attitude, and that’s critical.”

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#antitrust, #big-tech, #competition-uk-cma, #facebook, #giphy, #meta, #policy