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Technology • Internet & Web
Australia passes new law requiring Facebook and Google to pay for news
Australia passes new law requiring Facebook and Google to pay for news
Credit: unsplash.com/Obi Onyeador

Australia's government has passed a new law that will require tech giants such as Facebook and Google to pay publishers for using their news content. Market regulator Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) publishers have had little negotiating power until now because they are so reliant on tech monopolies like Google and Facebook.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook reverses ban on news pages in Australia
Josh Frydenberg
Josh Frydenberg Credit: julian meehan (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and communications minister Paul Fletcher announced on Tuesday a compromise had been reached as the legislation that would force Facebook and Google to pay news publishers for content was being debated in the Senate. Frydenberg said Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg had told him the ban would end "in the coming days" after the pair talked.

Australian authorities will introduce four further amendments, including one that means the government may not apply the code to Facebook if it can demonstrate a "significant contribution" to local journalism.

The proposed law was also seen by some as heavily influenced by the lobbying operations of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corp - which owns many of Australia's major newspapers.

Technology • Internet & Web
Australian government pulls health ads from Facebook after news ban
Facebook logo
Facebook logo Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler – Logo via Facebook (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Australian government in Canberra announced on Sunday that it will no longer run ads on Facebook. The announcement came at the launch of Australia's vaccination campaign against the coronavirus. Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government would advertise vaccinations on the internet, just not on Facebook.

The dispute is triggered by a planned law to regulate the digital news market. The bill had been passed by the Australian lower house last week. The Senate is scheduled to vote on it by the end of this week.

Technology • Internet & Web
Canada aims to introduce legislation forcing platforms to pay for news content
Canada aims to introduce legislation forcing platforms to pay for news content
Credit: unsplash.com / Solen Feyissa

Facebook is coming under increasing pressure over its dispute with the Australian government. Canada announced similar action against the platform as Australia. Canadian Culture Minister Steven Guilbeault sharply criticized Facebook and stressed that his country will not be brought to its knees. The occasion is the company's decision to block all news content in Australia

Technology • Internet & Web
CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter to testify in misinformation hearing
CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter to testify in misinformation hearing
Credit: unsplash.com/Prateek Katyal

Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey will testify in a hearing on misinformation and disinformation on online platforms before US House lawmakers on March 25.

"Whether it be falsehoods about the Covid-19 vaccine or debunked claims of election fraud, these online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety," so the Committee's chairs. "For far too long, big tech has failed to acknowledge the role they’ve played in fomenting and elevating blatantly false information to its online audiences. Industry self-regulation has failed. We must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation."

Technology • Internet & Web
Australian ministers say Facebook's news ban is "an assault" on democracy
Australian ministers say Facebook's news ban is "an assault" on democracy
Credit: unsplash.com/Brett Jordan

After Facebook blocked Australian users from accessing and sharing news on its platform, the Australian government heavily criticised the move, calling "an assault" to democracy while still moving forward in passing a law that would force Big Tech giants to pay for news.

“Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote on Facebook. “They may be changing the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it.”

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook blocks Australian users from finding or sharing news in response to law that would force platforms to pay news publishers
Facebook blocks Australian users from finding or sharing news in response to law that would force platforms to pay news publishers
Credit: unsplash.com / William Iven

On Wednesday, Facebook announced users in Australian will no longer be able to find nor share news from neither local or international sources as a response to a proposed Australian legislation that would force platforms to pay publishers for news content.

William Easton, the managing director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand, wrote in a blog post that the "proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content."

“It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter,” he added.

Technology • Internet & Web
Clubhouse likely to face competition from Twitter and Facebook
Clubhouse likely to face competition from Twitter and Facebook
Credit: unsplash.com / Adem AY

The up-and-coming audio app Clubhouse is getting competition: Twitter is expanding the test run of its Spaces service. And Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also commissioned the development of a competing Clubhouse product, writes the New York Times, citing anonymous sources. Facebook is known for mimicking popular features of other social media services in its apps. However, the project is still in the early stages, the newspaper writes.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook starts deleting misinformation about vaccinations
Facebook starts deleting misinformation about vaccinations
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

In a blog post published Monday, Facebook announced that they will remove "additional refuted claims" about the coronavirus and vaccinations in general, following consultations with the World Health Organization (WHO). Effective immediately, Facebook also plans to include disproven claims that the coronavirus is man-made, that vaccinations don't really protect, and that surviving the disease itself is much safer than getting vaccinated.

Business
Salesforce says "9-to-5 workday is dead", creates flexible remote work policy
Mike Rosenbaum, Executive Vice President Platform, speaking at a keybote
Mike Rosenbaum, Executive Vice President Platform, speaking at a keybote Credit: Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Cloud-based software company Salesforce has announced a new remote work system that will allow for more flexible schedules and options, joining other tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft to offer remote-work policies.

"As we enter a new year, we must continue to go forward with agility, creativity and a beginner’s mind — and that includes how we cultivate our culture. An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-to-5 workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks," so Salesforce in their statement published to the company blog.

Salesforce is introducing three different categories of work: flex (1-3 days per week for team collaboration, customer meetings, and presentations when it's safe to return to the office), fully remote (for employees who don’t live near an office or have roles that don’t require an office) and office-based (for a small population of their team who will work from an office location 4-5 days per week if they’re in roles that require it).

Regional News • Asia
Myanmar's military blocks Facebook claiming it destabilizes the country
Myanmar's military blocks Facebook claiming it destabilizes the country
Credit: unsplash.com / Leya Lakwatsera

The new military leadership in Myanmar has ordered a temporary block on the online network Facebook, through which its opponents called for civil disobedience after Monday's coup. Local telecommunications providers were ordered Wednesday by the Ministry of Transport to block access to Facebook until the end of the week. The platform was contributing to the destabilization of the country, it said in justification

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook to prompt users to accept tracking for personalized ads
Facebook to prompt users to accept tracking for personalized ads
Credit: Facebook

Facebook announced on Monday it will begin rolling out a notification for iPhone users globally about how data is used for personalized ads, in an attempt to get ahead of upcoming Apple privacy changes that Facebook claims will hurt its advertising business.

A prompt will tell users that providing access to their activity will give them personalized ads and will support businesses that rely on ads to reach customers.

The social media giant has been waging a public fight against Apple's plan to ask iPhone users whether to allow apps to track them across other websites and apps, warning that Apple's notification "suggest there is a tradeoff between personalized advertising and privacy," and will harm small businesses that rely on Facebook ads. Apple said its pop-up privacy notifications would start appearing on most iPhones in the next few months.

Regional News • Oceania
Google threatens to shut down search in Australia if digital news code goes ahead
Google logo
Google logo Credit: Google

Google has threatened to remove its search engine from Australia and Facebook has threatened to remove news from its feed for all Australian users if a code forcing the companies to negotiate payments to news media companies goes ahead.

The move would mean the 19 million Australians Google users would no longer be able to use Google Search.

At a Senate hearing in Canberra on Friday, Google Australia Managing Director Mel Silva said the draft legislation "remains unworkable," and would be "breaking" the way millions of users searched for content online.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Facebook refers final decision of Trump account suspension to its oversight board
Facebook refers final decision of Trump account suspension to its oversight board
Credit: Facebook

Facebook has referred the final decision of Trump's account suspension to its oversight board, an external institution set up to review the company's "most difficult and significant decisions." The board's final decision can not "be overruled by CEO Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else at Facebook."

"We believe our decision was necessary and right," so Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs and communications. "Given its significance, we think it is important for the board to review it and reach an independent judgment on whether it should be upheld."

Technology • Internet & Web
WhatsApp delays enforcement of privacy terms by 3 months, following backlash
WhatsApp delays enforcement of privacy terms by 3 months, following backlash

WhatsApp announced Friday a three-month delay of a new privacy policy originally slated to go into effect on February 8th following widespread confusion over whether the new policy would mandate data sharing with Facebook. WhatsApp stated it wouldn’t enforce the planned update to its data-sharing policy until May 15.

"We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15," the firm said in a blog post.

"There's been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts," said the company, which earlier this week ran full-page ads on several newspapers in India, where it has amassed over 450 million monthly active users.

Technology • Internet & Web
Telegram and Signal have unprecedented growth after a controversial change in WhatsApp's privacy terms
Telegram and Signal have unprecedented growth after a controversial change in WhatsApp's privacy terms
Credit: Signal Foundation

Messaging applications Telegram and Signal see impressive user growth in the wake of confusion over updated terms of service notification from Facebook-owned encrypted messaging service WhatsApp.

Telegram said on Wednesday it had surpassed 500 million active users globally, while Signal took the number 1 spot on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store's top free apps lists this week.

Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp before selling it to Facebook and then co-founding the Signal Foundation, told Reuters that "We’ve seen unprecedented growth this past week." He also said Signal was working to improve its video and group chat functions, allowing it to compete better with WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, and other conferencing apps that have become vital to day-to-day life over the past year. Privacy advocates have jumped on the WhatsApp changes, pointing to what they say is Facebook's poor track record of supporting consumers' interests when handling their data, with many suggesting users migrate to other platforms.

Business • Economy
Angela Merkel criticizes Trump's social media ban
Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel Credit: Bundesregierung/Denzel (Public Domain)

German government criticizes the permanent blocking of Trump's social media accounts. Merkel pointed out that freedom of expression as a fundamental right should only be restricted by legislation and not by companies.

In principle, the German government condemns statements inciting hatred and violence and is in favor of regulating social networks.

Business • Media & Advertising
In Possible New Marketing Trend, Luxury Fashion Brand Bottega Veneta Shuts Down Its Social Media Accounts
In Possible New Marketing Trend, Luxury Fashion Brand Bottega Veneta Shuts Down Its Social Media Accounts
Credit: Screenshot Bottega Veneta

Earlier this week, Kering-owned luxury fashion brand Bottega Veneta closed down its Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts without warning and with no explanation. It is unclear whether this is a mere marketing stunt or whether Bottega Veneta's decision may be a bellwether for an emerging trend.

Social media doesn’t work to attract the right people to a luxury brand, according to an analysis of a luxury insiders’ survey among some 500 executives working in or supporting the luxury industry.

“We have not found any marketing tool that produces leads qualified for our luxury products and service,” was among the comments in that survey. And another said, “So far nothing is working. Social media is seeing no actual move to act.”

Two possible reasons are currently discussed publically:

  • Social media is mass, not class. Luxury does not fit in the hodgepodge of divergent messages that is social media.
  • People who can actually afford luxury brands are over-marketed to and not likely to pay attention to the brand's social media posts. Bombarding them with irrelevant posts on social media is not how to be respectful of them and personalize every interaction.

GQ’s Rachel Tashjain speculated: “Perhaps the Bottega deletion is the ultimate act of stealth luxury – it will now be a brand that travels strictly by word of mouth.”

Technology • Internet & Web
WhatsApp user data will be automatically shared with Facebook following change of terms

WhatsApp has been informing its approximately two billion users via a pop-up message in the app that there have been changes to the terms of use.

Following an update to the terms of use and privacy policy, WhatsApp users must now agree that all information in the app may be used by the entire company. This includes user-stored data such as phone numbers, address book, profile names, profile pictures, status messages, and more.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook criticizes Apple’s iOS privacy changes in newspaper ads
Facebook criticizes Apple’s iOS privacy changes in newspaper ads
Credit: via @DaveStangis (Twitter)

Facebook published full-page newspaper ads in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post on Wednesday criticizing Apple’s upcoming iOS privacy changes.

"We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere," the headline read. "At Facebook, small business is at the core of our business," the ad continues and claims that Apple's changes will be "devastating to small businesses," and ends by writing that"small businesses deserve to be heard. We hear your concerns, and we stand with you."

Apple responded by saying it was "standing up" for people who use its devices and that user "should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not."