Facebook to Delay Smart Speaker Unveiling Amid User Data Scandal

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Facebook has chosen not to unveil its latest smart connected devices at the company’s F8 developer conference in May, in part because of the ongoing data-privacy scandal that has engulfed the social network, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bloomberg reports that Facebook’s new home products, which include a video-capable smart speaker featuring the company’s own digital assistant, are now being held back from public view, pending a deeper review into the devices’ processing of user data. Although the hardware wasn’t expected to launch until the fall, Facebook had planned to preview the devices at its annual developer summit, according to the paper’s sources.

The devices are part of Facebook’s plan to become more intimately involved with users’ everyday social lives, using artificial intelligence — following a path forged by Amazon.com Inc. and its Echo in-home smart speakers. As concerns escalate about Facebook’s collection and use of personal data, now may be the wrong time to ask consumers to trust it with even more information by placing a connected device in their homes. A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment.

In the last few weeks, Facebook has come under increasing scrutiny over its user data practices, after reports emerged that political advertising firm Cambridge Analytica procured information on 50 million social network users without seeking permission.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify in front of Congress on privacy in the coming weeks, but the chief executive has so far refused a British request to appear before a parliamentary committee and answer questions about the social network’s involvement in data misuse.

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GoPro licenses camera tech to other companies amid sales struggles

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There's no question that GoPro is hurting: sales are struggling, its drone plans are dead and it's not clear that the company can survive purely on sales of action cameras like the Hero6. What's it going to do? Offer its technology to other companies…
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Facebook Messenger Adds New Admin Privileges Amid Backlash Over Company’s Mishandling of User Data

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Facebook today announced the rollout of a new feature in Messenger called “Admin Privileges.” With this toggled on, the company said that it will give specific users in a group chat “more control” over who partakes in the chat, and should help boost the app’s privacy.

If you have admin privileges you’ll be able to approve or decline new members before they join the chat, remove members already in a chat, and promote or demote any other person as an admin. The company said that the feature should help large groups who need to get in touch but may not be connected to on Facebook, like for a friend’s surprise party.


There are also new joinable links that any member can create and send out to potential new members, which an admin will then be able to approve. These admin privileges will be turned off by default:

The great thing about admin privileges in Messenger is they work in the background; if your group chat doesn’t need that level of control, it won’t get in the way of your group messaging. You’ll have the option to decide if you’d like admin approval for approving new members, but this preference is off by default in your group chat settings.

Today’s Facebook Messenger update launches at the same time that Facebook is facing immense scrutiny for its involvement with consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which itself has been tied to President Trump’s 2016 election campaign. According to recent reports, the firm improperly amassed information from 50 million Facebook users without their consent and used that data to “target messages to voters.”

In the wake of these reports, investigations have been opened into Facebook’s actions and several politicians have asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify about the events. A new “#DeleteFacebook” campaign has now launched on Twitter, which WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton took part in. Facebook owns WhatsApp, but Acton left the company earlier in 2018 to start his own non-profit organization.

A Facebook spokesperson mentioned that the company was “deceived” by Cambridge Analytica and didn’t know about its actions. One Facebook shareholder, Fan Yuan, has filed a lawsuit against the company alleging it had some knowledge of Cambridge Analytica’s data siphoning and made “materially false and/or misleading” claims regarding the company’s handling of user data.

“The entire company is outraged we were deceived,” the statement continued. “We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information and will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens.”

As the scandal continues to grow, the Federal Trade Commission has also begun looking into whether Facebook potentially “violated an agreement with the agency.” Zuckerberg has yet to comment on the issue.

Back in January, Facebook announced a series of privacy-focused updates, which were planned for a rollout ahead of a May 25 deadline for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation in the EU. At the time, Facebook also revealed a new overhaul for the news feed that would favor friends and family posts over publishers. Zuckerberg said that this update would lessen the time its users spend on Facebook, but cause the time to “be more valuable.”

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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Apple’s services business booms amid continued reports of weak iPhone X demand

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Apple’s services business is booming, and it could serve to offset reported softness in demand for the iPhone X, as well as smooth out the valleys in seasonal earnings drops expected to arrive this quarter.
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Facebook Stock Plummets Amid Massive Data Breach Scandal

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Facebook’s stock plummeted Monday after the social media company revealed that it had shared user data with a political analysis firm. By noon Pacific Time, Facebook’s stock had tumbled nearly 7.5 percent. That presents a market capitalization loss of over $ 43 billion for the firm. The controversy began when The New York Times and several publications […]
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Amid the greatest NCAA basketball upset ever, a Twitter hero emerges

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Happy Saturday, everyone! While many things in the world are very bad today, if you were on the Internet last night, you probably caught wind of a pretty cool historic moment in college basketball: UMBC — University of Maryland, Baltimore County — knocked off the overall number one seed in the annual NCAA men’s basketball championship tournament in an absolute landslide.

So, naturally, I absolutely had to find the tech angle here, and if you owned a smartphone, you probably saw a series of extremely excellent tweets from UMBC’s twitter account, which went absolutely ballistic last night. So, we wanted to recognize the other star of the show: UMBC’s twitter account. You probably would too if, as a 21-point underdog, beat what most consider the best team in the country. Most tweet compilations are not great, but this one is very great.

University of Virginia was absolutely crushed during the second half of the game after dominating the world of college basketball for the entire regular season and throughout the conference tournament on the way to the overall number one seed — a system in place where teams are placed in the tournament based on favorable matchups as a reward for their performance. The system is still ripe for upsets, and there have been a lot this year, but this one is arguably one of the biggest upsets of all time.

So, without further ado:

Alarming bucket of truth, that one. We’ll end with this one:

Happy March Madness, all! May fortune favor (the rest) of your brackets.

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VR escort film pulled from SXSW amid allegations of misconduct

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Two days ago, director Michael Jacobs described his first VR short, GFE (an acronym of "girlfriend experience"), to me on camera. The film is a "documentary fantasy," Jacobs said, with a focus on "demystifying escort work and bringing a sense of empo…
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Walmart will offer grocery delivery in more than 100 metro areas amid pressure from Amazon, Target and Instacart

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The company already offers grocery pickup at 1,200 of its stores.

Walmart already doubled down on its grocery pickup service. Now it’s doing the same for grocery delivery.

The big question: Can it succeed at both?

The giant brick-and-mortar retailer just announced that it is expanding its online grocery delivery service from six U.S. metro areas today to more than 100 in total by the end of the year, which should make it available to more than 40 percent of the U.S. population.

The announcement comes amid an onslaught of competition in the grocery delivery space, highlighted by Amazon’s rollout of Prime Now delivery, Target’s $ 550 million acquisition of delivery startup Shipt and Instacart’s streak of signing on big grocery partners.

But it is a bit surprising considering that Walmart has already invested a lot of time and money into its grocery pickup business, which is available at 1,200 stores and allows customers to pick up their online orders without exiting their cars. The company will add the service at another 1,000 stores by the end of this year.

The grocery pickup service doesn’t cost anything extra for shoppers. And that value proposition makes sense because the average Walmart customer has less disposable income than those of Amazon or Target.

But the grocery delivery service? It comes with a $ 9.95 delivery fee. So I asked a Walmart spokesperson who the intended customer is: Walmart’s existing customer or a different customer base the company aspires to reach?

It’s a bit of both, she said, but the rest of her answer made it sound like the latter.

“Online Grocery Deliver will make Walmart more accessible to some customers where it wasn’t before (customers who didn’t want to drive out of the city center to a suburban Walmart, customers who physically can’t get to a Walmart, or customers who only have their groceries delivered these days!).”

Today, Walmart uses partner companies Uber and Deliv to handle deliveries in its six current markets. The company says it will add more partners as it expands, which raises the possibility of a tie-up with Instacart, which recently announced a delivery relationship with Walmart subsidiary Sam’s Club.

On one hand, the idea of Instacart partnering with the enemy of all of its regional grocery chains sounds farfetched. On the other hand, it’s 2018 and Amazon owns Whole Foods — which means anything is possible in the grocery space.


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NC Hospital Adds Futuristic Bluetooth Beacons, New Wayfinding App Amid Digital Transformation

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People visiting the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, which is based in North Carolina, can now use an iPhone app to find their way around the hospital, but that’s not all. With a new iOS and Android wayfinding app, the hospital said patients and visitors can now get around the hospital in 21st century fashion. […]
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Qualcomm is pushing back its pivotal shareholder meeting this week amid a regulatory review

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 Massive chipmaker Qualcomm, currently targeted by aggressive acquisition attempts by Broadcom, is now delaying a pivotal meeting with shareholders this week that would determine its fate going forward by at least a month to comply with regulators regarding the deal. The CFIUS — the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States — has requested that Qualcomm delay the… Read More
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