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Chinese AI Chipmakers Joining Forces

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

China’s major AI chipmakers, including HiSilicon, Cambricon Technologies, Horizon Robotics and DeePhi Tech,have signed up under the glorious TSMC umbrella

According to Digitimes they are expected to make a killing in 2018 from their launch of various AI (artificial intelligence) chipsets, mostly ASICs and NPU (neural processing unit) chips, for a variety of applications in the second half of 2017.

TSMC will make the chips and its AI chip foundry services are expected to grow exponentially in 2018 along with volume shipments of the AI chips by the China makers, according to industry sources.

Huawei’s HiSilicon chip design arm worked out the Kirin 970 as the new flagship SoCwith built-in AI computing capabilities and it was adopted in Huawei’s Mate 10 and M10 Pro smartphone models launched in mid-October 2017. Official production of the Kirin 970 chips kicked off in mid-2017 using TSMC’s 10nm FinFET process at a monthly capacity of 4,000 pieces of 12-inch wafers, placing Huawei among TSMC’s top-5 customers.

Huawei is working on sprucing up AI capabilities on smartphones and wants to capture a 40 percent share of the China smartphone market. Huawei requires stable and sufficient supply of AI chips and even has to seek second supply sources other than TSMC, the sources said.

Cambricon Technologies released three new AI processor IPs in November 2017: the Cambricon-1H8 for lower consumption computer vision application, the higher-end Cambricon-1H16 for more general-purpose applications, and the Cambricon-1M autonomous driving applications.

While licensing AI processor IPs to end device vendors, Cambricon is selling chips to those in the cloud market. The company has newly debuted MLU100 AI chips to support inference application by datacenters and small- to medium-size servers, and MLU200 chips to support training applications at AI R&D centers of enterprises. These two AI chips will be manufactured using TSMC’s 16nm process.

Horizon Robotics officially rolled out two Gauss-based AI processors, 1.0 Journey and 1.0 Sunrise, in December with the former for image processing and the latter supporting smart city applications with low power consumption. The company plans to introduce Bernoulli-based processor in 2018 and Bayes-based processor in 2019 with higher-performance AI chips.

Horizon has recently raised around US$100 million in series A+ financing led by Intel Capital to support its development of a prototype driverless car and driving technology innovations. The company aims to have its AI chips applied to more than 100 million IoT (Internet of Things) devices by 2020 before realizing the goal as a leading supplier of autonomous driving chipset solutions by 2025.

DeePhi Tech plans to debut two system chipsets in 2018, one for AI cloud services and the other for AI terminal devices applications, with the latter to adopt the firm’s in-house-developed Aristotle architecture and manufactured using TSMC’s 28nm process.

Courtesy-Fud

Germany Implements New Online Hate Speech Law

January 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

In Germany, social media companies were hoping to avoid the fireworks marking the start of the new year.

On Jan. 1, the country began enforcing strict rules that could see platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube being fined up to €5 million (about $6 million) if they don’t remove posts containing hate speech within 24 hours of receiving a complaint, BBC reported Monday.

The new hate speech rules, passed last June, require companies to maintain an “effective and transparent procedure for dealing with complaints” that users can access readily at any time. Upon receiving a complaint, social media companies have to remove or block “obviously illegal content” within 24 hours, although they have up to a week when dealing with “complex cases.”

Social media companies haven’t been viewed too favorably in many countries due to the massive volume of hate content on their platforms. To fight that, Facebook in June said it removes 66,000 posts every week, saying it wants to do better but admitting the task is not easy. Last month, Twitter escalated its fight against hate, enforcing an updated policy that bans users from promoting violence and hate in their usernames and bios, and threatening to remove accounts if users tweeted hate speech, symbols, and images.

German isn’t the only country that wants social media companies to do more about hate speech. While the European Union acknowledged Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft for being better at the job, it said it managed to block twice the volume of hate content at a faster rate than those companies did in the beginning of the year.

“We’re committed to being part of the solution to illegal hate speech and extremist content online — around the world, and in Germany, working within its new legal framework,” a YouTube spokesperson told CNET in an emailed statement. “We’ll continue to invest heavily in teams and technology to allow us to go further and faster in removing content that breaks our rules or German law, and by working with government, law enforcement, civil society groups and other companies.”

Britain Wants Social Media Giant To Do More To Fight Extremism

January 2, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Britain may enact new tax laws for tech giants like Google and Facebook unless they do more to combat online extremism by taking down material aimed at radicalizing people or helping them to prepare attacks, the country’s security minister said.

Ben Wallace accused tech firms of being happy to sell people’s data but not to give it to the government which was being forced to spend vast sums on de-radicalization programs, surveillance and other counter-terrorism measures.

“If they continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivizing them or compen­sating for their inaction,” Wallace told the Sunday Times newspaper in an interview.

His quotes did not give further details on tax plans. The newspaper said that any demand would take the form of a windfall tax similar to that imposed on privatized utilities by former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government in 1997.

Wallace accused the tech giants of putting private profit before public safety.

“We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers,” he said. “They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically elected government.”

 Facebook executive Simon Milner rejected the criticisms.

“Mr Wallace is wrong to say that we put profit before safety, especially in the fight against terrorism,” he said in an emailed statement. “We’ve invested millions of pounds in people and technology to identify and remove terrorist content.”

YouTube, which is owned by Google, said it was doing more every day to tackle violent extremism.

“Over the course of 2017 we have made significant progress through investing in machine learning technology, recruiting more reviewers, building partnerships with experts and collaboration with other companies,” a YouTube spokeswoman said.

Twitter 280-Character Limit Is Popular, According To Report

December 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Perhaps Twitter’s character expansion was a good gamble after all when it doubled its signature 140-character limit.

In November, Twitter expanded the length allowed for tweets to 280 characters from the original 140 characters. When it happened, the company was roundly criticized and mocked, not just for the new length limit, but also for the silliness of the whole exercise or out of concern that Twitter wasn’t focused on more important issues like tamping down on harassment. The event became such a topic of conversation that #Twitter280 began trending.

Now, early data indicates the change is being well received after all.

“If a tweet can hook you in the first few words, we’ll read all of it,” said Frank Speiser, co-founder of the social media analysis firm SocialFlow, which conducted a study of Twitter’s usage. In a nutshell, he found: “We want to read longer tweets.”

SocialFlow tracked approximately 30,000 thousand tweets between Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 and found tweets longer than 140 characters were being retweeted 26.52 times on average, compared with 13.71 times for shorter ones. It also discovered that longer tweets were being liked on average 50.28 times, compared with 29.96 times for shorter tweets.

BuzzFeed reported on SocialFlow’s findings earlier on Friday.

The findings come about a month after the social network officially decided to let its 330 million users tweet up to 280 characters after a “successful” trial run with a select group of users in September. Now, it appears many Twitter users, including President Donald Trump, are regularly using long tweets to get their messages out.

A Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the company’s November blog post when the 280-character limit was broadly released. The company said then its internal data indicated people who wrote longer tweets were retweeted more often, got more followers and generally “spent more time on Twitter.”

Is EA Screwing Up The Planned Move To Games As A Service

December 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Every now and then, a major publisher goes through a bit of a rough patch in PR terms; the hits just seem to keep on coming, with company execs and representatives seemingly incapable of opening their mouths without shoving their feet right inside, and every decision being either poorly communicated or simply wrongheaded to begin with. At present it’s EA that can’t seem to put a foot right, from Battlefront 2’s microtransactions to lingering bad feeling over the closure of Visceral; every major company in the industry, though, has had its fair share of turns in the barrel.

These cycles come around for a couple of reasons. Part of it is just down to narrative; once something goes wrong for a company, they are scrutinised more closely for a while, and statements that might have slipped under the radar usually are blown up by the attention. Another part of it, though, is genuinely down to phases that companies go through; common enough periods in which the balance between the two audiences a major company must serve, its consumers and its investors, is not being managed and maintained expertly enough.

Most companies encounter this difficulty from time to time, because the demands and desires of shareholders are often damned near diametrically opposed to those of customers. The biggest problems arise, however, when a firm ends up having to take a Janus-faced approach, presenting a different picture in financial calls and investor conferences to the one it tries to convey in its customer-facing PR and marketing efforts.

That’s broadly speaking the situation EA has found itself in once again; forced to be conciliatory and diplomatic in talking to customers about everything from loot boxes to its commitment (or lack of same) to single-player experiences, while simultaneously being bullish with investors who want to see clear signs of progress in the shift towards a set of business paradigms core consumers volubly dislike.

CFO Blake Jorgensen’s comments at Credit Suisse’s conference earlier this week are archetypal of this genre of corporate communication; from a blunt denial that the company’s microtransaction strategy on Battlefront 2 is changing overall to a throwaway comment about Visceral’s closure being related to declining popularity (by which, being a CFO, he meant revenue) of linear game experiences, Jorgensen spoke to investors in a way that was quite markedly different from how the rest of the company has addressed its actual customers on these issues.

You can argue quite reasonably that this approach is dishonest in spirit if not in substance; even if the words of each statement are chosen carefully so the investor messages don’t technically contradict the consumer messages, the intent is so clearly tangential that consumers have every right to feel rather miffed. I think it’s worthwhile, however, to look beyond that to the motivation and strategy behind this – not just in terms of EA’s month of bad PR, but looking beyond that to the industry as a whole, because pretty much every major publisher is undertaking a similar strategic shift in a direction they know perfectly well is going to annoy many of their core customers, and they’re all going to have their own turn in the barrel as a consequence.

At the heart of this issue lies the fact that for many investors and executives, the business model that has sustained the games industry for decades has started to look frustratingly quaint and backwards. “Games as a Product”, whereby a game is made and sold, perhaps followed up by a handful of add-ons that are also made and sold (essentially smaller add-on products in their own right), is a model beloved of core consumers – but business people point out, not entirely unfairly, that it has many glaring flaws.

Some of those flaws are very real – the product model creates a high barrier to entry (you can’t attract new customers without convincing them through expensive marketing to spend $50 to $60 on trying out your game), hence limiting audience growth, and has not scaled effectively with the rising costs of AAA development. More controversially, they dislike the fact that the product model creates a relatively low cap on spending – after buying a game, there’s only so much money a consumer can spend on DLC packs (each of which has its own associated development costs) before they hit a hard limit on their purchases.

Hence the pressure to move to a “Games as a Service” model, which neatly – if not uncontroversially – solves each of these issues. The service model can be priced as low as zero to create a minimal barrier to entry, though for major titles with a big brand attached publishers still show a preference for having their cake and eating it, charging full AAA pricing for entry to an essentially freemium-style experience. An individual player’s spending may be theoretically limitless, as purchases of cosmetic or consumable items could run to many thousands of dollars in some cases – hence also allowing the game’s revenue to scale up to match the huge AAA development and marketing budgets that went into its creation.

You can “blame” mobile games for this if you wish, but in a sense they were merely the canary in the coalmine; the speed with which the mobile gaming market converged on the F2P model and the aggression with which it was pursued was a clear sign that the rest of the industry would eventually try to move in a similar direction. The reality is that mobile games shone a light on something a few industry types had been saying for years; that there was a massive, largely untapped audience for games out there, who would never climb over the barriers to entry to the traditional market but who could potentially be immensely valuable customers of games with lower barriers to entry.

The correct height for those barriers turned out to be “free games for devices you already own”, and yet this market did turn out to be enormously valuable; and now much of the industry is eyeing up the model that works on smartphones, looking at their own rising costs and shrinking slice of the pie, and wondering how to get from over here to over there.

The problem is that making that crossing – from being a successful creator or publisher of core games to being a successful company in a smartphone-style paradigm – is damned tricky to do when the business model you (and your investors!) want to have is anathema to many of the customers you actually have right now. Not all of them, by any means – plenty of core gamers are actually pretty relaxed about these models, for the most part – but enough of them to make a lot of noise and to potentially put a major dent in the bottom line of a company that genuinely manages to drive them away.

Hence, much of the approach we’ve seen in 2017 (and prior) has really been akin to the parable about putting a frog in cold water and gradually raising the heat; companies have slowly, softly been adding service-style features and approaches to their games, hoping that the slowly warming water won’t startle its occupants too much.

When things spill over as they have done for EA in the past month, it tends to indicate that someone got impatient; that investors were too demanding or executives pushed too hard, and the water started to heat up too rapidly. The course will be corrected, but the destination remains the same. Short of a really major pushback and some serious revenue damage across the board from these approaches – which bluntly seems unlikely to materialise – the move towards games as a service is inexorable, and 2018 will bring far, far more of the same. Whether you view that as the industry’s salvation or its ruin is really a matter of personal perspective, but it’s a new reality for AAA titles that we’re all going to have to make some kind of peace with.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Facebook Says Extremist Content Removal Going Well

November 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook announced that it was removing 99 percent of content related to militant groups Islamic State and al Qaeda before being told of it, as it prepared for a meeting with European authorities on tackling extremist content online.

Eighty-three percent of “terror content” is removed within one hour of being uploaded, Monika Bickert, head of global policy management, and Brian Fishman, head of counter-terrorism policy at Facebook, wrote in a blog post.

The world’s largest social media network, with 2.1 billion users, has faced pressure both in the United States and Europe to tackle extremist content on its platform more effectively.

“It is still early, but the results are promising, and we are hopeful that AI (artificial intelligence) will become a more important tool in the arsenal of protection and safety on the internet and on Facebook,” Bickert and Fishman wrote.

“Today, 99 percent of the ISIS and al Qaeda-related terror content we remove from Facebook is content we detect before anyone in our community has flagged it to us, and in some cases, before it goes live on the site.”

The blog post comes a week before Facebook and other social media companies like Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter meet with European Union governments and the EU executive to discuss how to remove extremist content and hate speech online.

 “Deploying AI for counter-terrorism is not as simple as flipping a switch … A system designed to find content from one terrorist group may not work for another because of language and stylistic differences in their propaganda,” Facebook said.

The European Commission in September told social media firms to find ways to remove the content faster, including through automatic detection technologies, or face possible legislation forcing them to do so.

Facebook Has A Unique Way To Fight Revenge Porn

November 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is prompting people to share their nude photos. But this isn’t what it sounds like.

The goal of the social network’s plan is to make sure people’s nude photos aren’t used for revenge porn by a disgruntled ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The way it’ll work is people will share their photos with Facebook via its Messenger app and the company will then “hash” the images, which is a process that converts the photos into a unique digital code. Once Facebook has that code, it can block the images from ever being uploaded to its site. The company will store the images for a short time and then delete them.

The company is piloting the technology in Australia with a small government agency headed by e-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

We see many scenarios where maybe photos or videos were taken consensually at one point, but there was not any sort of consent to send the images or videos more broadly,” Inman Grant told the ABC.

Other tech companies have used similar types of hashing technology in efforts to rid the internet of child pornography. Google, Microsoft, and Twitter have used unique digital codes to detect exploitative images, some of which have led to the arrests of people distributing the photographs on the web.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

Twitter 280-Character Tweets Go Worldwide

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microblogging website Twitter Inc, known for its iconic 140-character tweets, officially announced that it would roll out 280-character tweets to users across the world.

Twitter said it ran a test on 280-character tweets in September that showed users spent less time editing their tweets and were less likely to abandon them.

User posting in languages including Japanese, Korean and Chinese, which do not face the issue of “cramming”, will continue to have a limit of 140 characters, Twitter said.

The company did not say when it would start allowing users to post 280-character tweets.

Snapchat Launches Re-design

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Snap Inc is redesigning its disappearing-message app Snapchat hoping to attract a broader audience, going back to the drawing board as Wall Street clobbered it for another quarter of slowing user growth.

The Venice, California-based firm, whose March stock market debut was the hottest of any tech stock in years, reported revenue and user growth for the third quarter well below Wall Street expectations as it struggles to compete with Facebook Inc’s Instagram.

Snap has disappointed investors each quarter of its brief existence as a public company.

User growth in the last three months was well below what investment analysts expected. Daily active users rose to 178 million in the third quarter from 173 million in the second quarter. Analysts had expected 181.8 million, according to research firm FactSet.

Chief Executive Evan Spiegel said the company was launching the redesign after hearing for years that Snapchat was difficult to understand or hard to use.

“We are going to make it easier to discover the vast quantity of content on our platform that goes undiscovered or unseen every day,” Spiegel told analysts on a conference call.

The 27-year-old CEO said there was a “strong likelihood” the redesign would be disruptive in the short term, but said Snap was willing to take the risk for long-term gain.

Such a radical change so soon after an IPO is unusual.

Snap is not the only social media company looking to revive growth by changing its look. Microblogging service Twitter Inc said on Tuesday it would roll out 280-character tweets to users across the world, double the length of its iconic 140-character tweets.

Asked on the analyst call what Snapchat’s redesign would look like, Spiegel said the company had been studying the evolution of mobile content feeds such as Twitter streams and the Facebook News Feed and saw room for a “personalized content service.”

Spiegel said the company next year would also build more tools for people to share with broad audiences beyond their friends, the type of public broadcasting common on Instagram and Twitter.

“It seems like a significant amount of change in a short period of time,” analyst Rich Greenfield of BTIG told Spiegel on the call. He asked what led to the shifts.

Spiegel said Snap needed to evolve rapidly. “We’re just not afraid to make changes in the long-term interest of the business,” he said.

Snapchat Popularity Waning, Growth Slows

November 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Snapchat’s growth has come to a near crawl.

Snap, the company behind the social network, saw daily active users climb by 5 million in the third quarter — just 3 percent growth from the second quarter and 17 percent from a year ago — bringing the total to 178 million.

That trails the 300 million daily users on rival Instagram stories. Instagram’s parent, Facebook, boasted a year-over-year 16 percent growth rate, but off a base of more than 2 billion users.

The numbers illustrate the fact that Snapchat still faces stiff competition from Facebook and Instagram. While Snapchat has been successful in attracting younger users, it remains a mystery to a broader audience. Its array of filters and the idea of disappearing messages presents an intimidating barrier for people trying it out.

On the other hand, Facebook’s Instagram Stories continues to grow at an impressive clip.

“One thing that we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said Tuesday in a prepared statement, adding that the company is planning a redesign to make the application easier to use.

“We don’t yet know how the behavior of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application,” Spiegel said. “We’re willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial long-term benefits to our business.”

More bad news: Snap also took a $40 million charge to write-down unsold Spectacles.

The company reported a loss of $443.2 million, or 36 cents a share. Excluding one-time items, Snap lost 14 cents a share, narrower than the average analyst estimate of a loss of 15 cents a share, according to Yahoo Finance.

A year ago, the company lost $124.2 million, or 15 cents a share.

Snap’s revenue rose more than 60 percent to $207.9 million, but still fell far below analysts’ expectations of $239.5 million.

Twitter Introduces Revamped Rules Regarding Abusive Behavior

November 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter is changing the rules for how it expects its users to behave following criticism of how the platform enforces its policies.

The new rules, which Twitter unveiled last Friday, don’t alter the fundamentals of its previous rules but rather seek to clarify its policies and enforcement. The updates incorporate feedback from the company’s global Trust and Safety Council to include more details and examples to provide greater context.

“We have worked on this clarified version of our rules for the past few months to ensure it takes into account the latest trends in online behavior, considers different cultural and social contexts, and properly sets expectations around what’s allowed on Twitter,” the company said in a statement.

The update comes roughly two weeks after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that the social network would be rolling out changes to how it monitors content and protects its 328 million users from online bullying and harassment. Abuse is nothing new to Twitter users, but the platform has been under increased pressure since October’s  #WomenBoycottTwitter protest, which urged people to forgo tweeting for a day to prod Twitter into improving how it vets content.

Friday’s revisions address areas including self-harm, graphic violence, adult content and spam. But the greatest attention will be on abusive behavior. The company explains that when evaluating alleged abuse, it will consider whether the “behavior is targeted, if a report has been filed and by whom, and if the tweet itself is newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest.”

The company has come under criticism for how it handles abusive behavior on the site, particularly in relation to how it deals with tweets from President Donald Trump. Many have wondered why some of his tweets aren’t being deleted by the social media platform, despite their apparent violation of Twitter’s rules.

One particular tweet in October was interpreted by many as a threat of violence against North Korea’s leadership. Twitter acknowledged that Trump’s tweet had caused an uproar but said it was allowed to stay because of its “newsworthiness.”

Twitter’s media policy Help Center page has been updated with examples of content the company considers to be “graphic violence” or “adult content.” Twitter said the policy will be updated again on Nov. 22 to incorporate examples of prohibited hateful imagery

Twitter said it will discuss its enforcement options in a separate update on Nov. 14.

Google’s Brass Fixates On Cheeseburger Emoji

October 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google’s technical achievements are well known : Google Search, Google Maps, the Pixel 2 XL. And yet, it doesn’t seem to know the simple formula for assembling a cheeseburger.

The company’s problematic approach to making up everyone’s favorite meaty sandwich was pointed out on Twitter by writer Thomas Baekdal, who noted that in Google’s version of the cheeseburger emoji the cheese sits underneath the patty. Quelle horreur!

Fortunately, Google immediately put its top man on the job. Company CEO Sundar Pichai, retweeted the image posted by Baekdal on Sunday, promising: “will drop everything else we are doing and address on Monday.”

Great, you might think, that’s that taken care of. But not quite. Pichai will make the fix on one condition: “if folks can agree on the correct way to do this.” This suggests that he himself is not quite sure where the cheese should go in the order and seems to think it’s open to debate, which it obviously is not.

Let us help you out here, Sundar. The cheese goes on top of the meat. On the top.

Facebook Announced New Transparency Measures For Political Ads

October 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc confirmed that it has plans to increase transparency about its role in political advertising on Friday, ahead of congressional hearings this week on social media companies and Russia’s meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

Rob Goldman, Facebook’s vice president for ads, said in a blog post that the company would launch a publicly searchable archive next year containing details about the advertisements it runs related to U.S. federal elections.

Details will include the size of spending and the demographics of the audience the ads reached, Goldman said. The archive, beginning with ads carried in 2018, will cover a rolling four-year period, he said.

 Internet political ads have boomed in recent years as U.S. politicians looked for different ways to reach potential supporters, and as companies including Facebook have created tools to allow targeted marketing.

Online ads, though, are generally viewable only to the intended audience, raising concerns among transparency advocates, researchers and lawmakers about how to hold politicians accountable for what they say.

The planned archive reflects a change in corporate policy for the world’s largest social network, which had previously resisted the idea.

In June, Facebook told Reuters that it would go on treating political ads like all others and that creating an online repository would violate the confidentiality of those advertisers.

Since then, Facebook, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google have all said that Russia-based operatives bought ads and used fake names on their services to spread politically divisive messages in the months before and after the 2016 U.S. election.

Moscow has denied interfering in the election.

Next week, general counsels for Facebook, Google and Twitter will testify before public hearings of three U.S. congressional committees about the alleged interference and proposed legislation to require them to disclose election-related ads.

Goldman wrote in his post: “Transparency helps everyone, especially political watchdog groups and reporters, keep advertisers accountable for who they say they are and what they say to different groups.”

Facebook said its archive will eventually expand beyond the United States and show ads from elections in other countries and jurisdictions.

In the future, advertisers on Facebook will also be required to include a disclosure in election-related ads, to read: “Paid for by,” the company said.

Twitter Beats Revenue Expectations, Shows Signs Of Momentum

October 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter still has a long way to go.

For a second straight quarter, the social network said Thursday its user growth remained essentially flat. With 330 million users logging in at least once a month — way behind rival Facebook, which counts more than 2 billion monthly users — Twitter has become an afterthought. Kinda.

Twitter’s become one of the most high-profile tech companies there is. President Donald Trump turns to it daily to share his thoughts, and leaders from all manner of industries, countries and social movements rely on it to broadcast their ideas, statements, and activities.

So what’s the problem?

One of the biggest issues Twitter faces is harassment. Nonstop, daily vicious attacks that for some can become all-encompassing parts of their lives. And while the attacks have hit celebrities like the comedian Leslie Jones, they’ve ravaged the lives of everyday people as well.

 It all came to a head when actress Rose McGowan’s account was briefly suspended in October after she tweeted that disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein harassed her. Following the high-profile #WomenBoycottTwitter protest in response, CEO Jack Dorsey last week announced changes to the company’s harassment policies

The changes include giving users who get unwanted sexual advances more power to report them. The company is also prohibiting “creep shots” and hidden camera content under a “nonconsensual nudity” category and will take unspecified actions against organizations that have repeatedly promoted violence. Twitter also vows it will hide hate symbols behind a “sensitive image” warning.

For the third quarter, Twitter recorded net income of $78 million, or 10 cents per share, on revenue of $590 million.

Analysts had expected, on average, earnings of 7 cents per share on revenue of $586.7 million.

“This quarter we made progress in three key areas of our business: we grew our audience and engagement, made progress on a return to revenue growth, and achieved record profitability,” said Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, in a statement.

Twitter Reverses Course, Decides To Label Political Ads

October 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc confirmed that it would add labels to election-related advertisements and say who is behind each of them, after a threat of regulation from the United States over the lack of disclosure for political spending on social media.

Twitter, acting a month after Facebook Inc launched a similar overhaul of political ads, said in a blog post it would start a website so people could see identities of buyers, targeting demographics and total ad spend by election advertisers.

Silicon Valley social media firms and the political ads that run on their websites have generally been free of the disclaimers and other regulatory demands that U.S. authorities impose on television, radio and satellite services.

 Calls for that to change have grown, however, after Twitter, Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google said in recent weeks that Russian operatives and affiliates bought ads and used fake names on their services to spread divisive messages in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Russia has denied interfering in the election.

Citing Russia-linked ads, Facebook last month said it for the first time would make it possible for anyone to see any political ads that run on Facebook, no matter whom they target.

The attempts at self-regulation by Facebook and Twitter have not satisfied lawmakers.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar said in a statement that Twitter’s announcement was “no substitute for updating our laws.” A Democrat, she is co-sponsoring legislation that would make disclosures mandatory.

Twitter said its changes would take effect first in the United States and then globally.

The new approach to ads would be visible in people’s Twitter feeds, where election ads would have the label “promoted by political account,” the company said.

“To make it clear when you are seeing or engaging with an electioneering ad, we will now require that electioneering advertisers identify their campaigns as such,” Bruce Falck, Twitter’s general manager of revenue product, said in the blog post.

Twitter said it would limit targeting options for election ads, although it did not say how, and introduce stronger penalties for election advertisers who violate policies.

The company said it would also allow people to see all ads currently running on Twitter, election-related or otherwise.

Twitter’s latest move would not tackle its longstanding problem with fake or abusive accounts that some users and lawmakers also blame for influencing last year’s U.S. election. Unlike Facebook, Twitter allows anonymous accounts and automated accounts, or bots, making the service more difficult to police.

 Transparency by itself “is not a solution to the deployment of bots that amplify fake or misleading content or to the successful efforts of online trolls to promote divisive messages,” Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

Twitter said last month it had suspended about 200 Russia-linked accounts as it investigated online efforts to influence last year’s election.

The general counsels for Facebook, Google and Twitter are scheduled to testify next week before the Senate and House intelligence committees.

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