Enterprise

Facebook CEO doesn’t care about fake political ads, employees say

Employees express displeasure

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Image source: Anthony Quintano

Do you still get your news from Facebook? Amidst all the baby photos and memes, the social media network remains one of the most voluminous content aggregators today. Unfortunately, since its launch all those years ago, Facebook’s credibility has consistently been called into question. Can you rely on everything you see on Facebook?

Of course, Facebook’s open framework allows just about anyone to share anything, even it’s untrue. Who remembers the whole debacle with fake news from years ago? Authenticity is still a sensitive issue in today’s social media networks. Inauthentic content can notoriously steer political conversations, especially during elections.

Unfortunately, despite the inherent risk, Facebook itself doesn’t seem to care. The social network’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has issued a conclusive statement on his site’s policy regarding content freedom.

For context, the US is on the cusp of its next presidential elections. Incumbent President Donald Trump is awaiting the winner of a heated Democratic race. Currently, the Democratic party includes former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Earlier this month, Trump’s reelection campaign released a 30-second video ad. The video allegedly depicts Biden bribing Ukraine a total of US$ 1 billion in aid if the latter drops a current investigation against his son. Various news sources, like CNN, have refused to broadcast the “demonstrably false” content. Facebook, however, ran the ad, regardless.

In retaliation, Warren, one of Biden’s competitors, ran a demonstrably false ad of her own: a video proclaiming that Zuckerberg and Facebook support Trump’s reelection. Unlike Trump’s ad, however, Facebook refused to run the ad, showing a blatant contrast in approaches.

Amidst all the controversy, Zuckerberg issued a revealing speech at Georgetown University. In his speech, he doubles down on his website’s allegedly rigid campaign against disinformation. “We’ve found a different strategy works best: focusing on the authenticity of the speaker, rather than the content itself,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy.”

The defensive call to action was unsatisfactory for a lot of people, especially his own coworkers. Soon after the speech, Facebook’s own employees issued an internal letter addressed to the company’s leaders. Instead of dwelling on the value of free speech, the letter focuses the discussion on sponsored content. “Free speech and paid speech are not the same thing,” the letter said.

According to the letter, paid misinformation “increases distrust [on Facebook] by allowing similar paid and organic content to sit side-by-side” and “undoes integrity product work.” The disgruntled employees suggest a more rigorous screening of political ads (like those for corporate ads), louder visual separation from other content, and restricted targeting.

“This is still our company,” the letter concludes.

Years after the brouhaha against fake news, Facebook is still in the same mire. How can we trust Facebook content?

SEE ALSO: US: Facebook will turn into “dream come true for child pornographers”

Enterprise

Touring the first Google Store in New York City

An exquisite experience of technology, commerce, and design

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After pop-up shops and showrooms, Google finally opened its first physical retail store in the city that never sleeps.

Located on 15th and 9th by Chelsea Market in Manhattan, the Google Store in NYC offers a hip and smart experience echoing the vibe of its trendy community location.

Earlier this week GadgetMatch was invited to a special preview. Here is what we saw.

A spectacle of architecture and technology

The new Google Store features floor to ceiling glass that allows a glimpse of its sophisticated exteriors.

A Google campus bike is parked outside the store.

Come on, let’s have a look.

My senses are… overwhelmed

The Google Store is intended to be both a space where one can experience the entire range of Google hardware, and a shop for those wanting to take it all home.

The Nest Gallery Wall. Images/GadgetMatch

From Pixel phones and Nest products to Fitbit wearables and even Pixelbooks — there’s a lot to explore and experience.

An interactive exhibit

There’s a 17-foot-tall circular glass structure near the main entrance called the Google Imagination Space. It’s a set of custom interactive screens featuring rotating exhibits of the best of Google’s products and technologies.

It was designed and engineered with local New York partners so you can probe the possibilities of Google Translate and the capabilities of machine learning. You can try a real-time translation of your speech into 24 languages simultaneously when you speak to the exhibit. If you want to know the technology behind it, the exhibit will also showcase the hows.

The Nest Living Room

The Google Store lets you play on their sandboxes. One is the Nest Sandbox, decorated as a simulated living room filled with Nest products.

You can explore how Nest provides useful solutions that you can apply — should you decide to build your own Nest smart home.

It’s definitely social-media-worthy, in case you ever want to drop by.

Stadia Sandbox

Of course, there’s a dedicated space for those who love playing games. You can freely experience and game on Stadia through the Stadia Sandbox.

The whole vibe speaks futuristic and contemporary!

Workshop space

While Apple has a video wall called The Forum as a center stage for creativity, Google has a Workshop Space that caters to various events such as family storytime, Nest cooking demos, Pixel photography lessons, YouTube concerts, and the likes.

Commitment to sustainability

Sustainability is always at Google’s core — whether it’s their technology, hardware, or even a physical store. Every element of the Google Store was meticulously considered and selected. From the materials, building processes, mechanical systems, and more.

For instance, each lighting fixture is energy-efficient — working with the U.S. Green Building Council to achieve a LEED Platinum rating, the highest certification within the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system.

All the help that you need

There’s also a Here to Help support desk, complete with associates that will help assist your needs, answer all your questions regarding technology, and aids you on an on-site repair of your Pixel smartphone.

The Google Store opens its doors for business starting June 17, 2021 at 10 a.m. Eastern. You may visit it at 76 Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City.

All photos by GadgetMatch.

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Enterprise

Amazon is acquiring MGM Studios for $8.5 billion

Amazon isn’t giving up on the streaming wars

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Amazon Prime Video is going head-on against Netflix, Apple TV+, and HBO Max. And to get a headstart, the e-commerce giant is acquiring MGM Studios for a whopping US$ 8.45 billion.

The film studio is behind the Rocky, Legally Blonde, and James Bond franchises.  Also included are more than 17,000 TV shows. Once the deal closes, the short-term impact will be unfettered access for Amazon’s Prime Video platform.

Bond is the fifth most valuable movie franchise of all time, with its 24 films to date grossing more than $7bn, behind only the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe. MGM’s library includes unscripted TV shows like The Voice and Shark Tank and modern TV shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and Vikings.

It is the second-largest takeover deal ever struck by Amazon. In 2017 it paid US$ 13.7 billion for the upmarket US grocer Whole Foods. Amazon said it’d “preserve MGM’s heritage and catalog of films” and provide customers with greater access to existing works.

However, this transaction isn’t uncommon. Disney’s US$ 66 billion acquisition of Fox assets gave the world’s largest media company the extra content muscle to successfully join the streaming wars with the launch of Disney+. It later went onto acquire India streaming company Hotstar for an undisclosed amount. Back then, Hotstar had close to 400 million monthly active users, and many of them view the free, ad-supported content.

Amazon doesn’t report any metrics about Prime Video’s usage, for instance, and the only reference to content expense is in a footnote to its financial statements. Hence it’s unknown how many active users it has. Since the streaming service is clubbed with Amazon’s e-commerce business, it’s also a very affordable purchase for a user.

“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” said Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios. “It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.”

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Enterprise

The US has finally lifted the formal securities ban on Xiaomi

Because Xiaomi is not state-owned

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Xiaomi said that a US court had removed it from a list of companies classified as “Communist Chinese military companies (CCMC).” The company was one of several Chinese firms to be blacklisted in the final days of the Donald Trump administration.

“The company reiterates that it is an open, transparent, publicly-traded, independently operated and managed corporation,” Xiaomi Chairman Lei Jun said in the statement.

The court filing marks a reversal in policy after Joe Biden’s administration took over the President’s office. Three Chinese telecom companies were delisted from American stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

The relief comes after Xiaomi filed a lawsuit against the government in February. A judge proceeded to temporarily block the order against Xiaomi, saying it was “deeply flawed.” The two parties came together on a mutual agreement, ending the spat out of court and marking a fresh ray of hope in Sino-US ties.

The blacklist is different from the US Entity list, which includes Huawei and DJI. The blacklist means American investors will be prohibited from buying their securities and will have to divest their holdings by the end of the year.

Even though Xiaomi does not have any considerable presence in the US, being in the good books is worth a lot. Huawei’s ban has massively damaged its reputation outside of China, and even apps like TikTok have come under fire in countries like India due to Chinese ties.

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