Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for November 2017

Facebook Targeting Discrimination

leave a comment »

Facebook’s multicultural challenges continue.

USA Today is reporting that Facebook is responding to criticism from black lawmakers in the U.S., and has indicated it will temporarily block advertisers from excluding racial and ethnic groups when placing ads on the social network:

The move is the most serious response yet to concerns Facebook’s “multicultural affinity marketing” feature can be used to discriminate against minorities, particularly in sensitive areas where historically they have faced discrimination such as housing, credit and employment.
– via USA TODAY

Facebook says it’s suspending the targeting capability while conducting an audit of how advertisers exclude groups. The audit will include groups beyond multicultural affinity such as the LGBT community and religious groups, the company said.
– via USA TODAY

USA Today goes on to report that the results will be shared with the groups focused on discrimination in ads, and will work with those groups to make improvements and also publish the measures it’s taking.

In an unrelated report from Facebook, TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook unveiled a “slew” of philanthropy-minded features at the second Facebook Social Good Forum yesterday in NYC.

Facebook is eliminating its 5% fee on donations so 100% of money sent through its Donate buttons go to the desired non-profit. Previously it took 5% to pay for credit card processing and verifying the 750,000 charities on its platform, but will now nobly eat that cost. However, personal fundraisers can still incur fees from 6.9% to 8.8%. It’s setting up a $50 million per year Facebook Donations Fund to match giving on its app to causes like natural disaster relief. Facebook is expanding charitable giving tools to 13 countries in Europe plus Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. It’s launching a Fundraiser API to sync Facebook fundraisers to offsite campaigns, starting with Susan G. Komen, JDRF, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Movember, with plans to connect to 500 non-profits by end of Spring 2018. Its new Community Help API delivers data from Facebook’s crisis volunteering feature to disaster response organizations to assist them with routing resources. After signing up 4 million blood donors in India, Facebook will expand the program to Bangladesh in 2018.
– via TechCrunch

Also…

Finally, it’s launching a new Mentorship feature through partnered non-profits starting with iMentor for education and The International Rescue Committee for crisis recovery. People over 18 in need of addiction recovery, career advancement or other personal help will be matched with vetted mentors who will guide them through an on-Facebook curriculum of education materials.
– via TechCrunch

Written by turbotodd

November 30, 2017 at 8:48 am

Posted in 2017, facebook, philanthropy

WeWork to Acquire Meetup

leave a comment »

Crunchbase is reporting that WeWork continues with its acquisition spree in a planned acquisition of community meeting platform, Meetup.

Meetup declined to comment. WeWork declined to comment. Meetup hasn’t taken part in a funding event since 2014, and it has, over the years, only taken about $19 million in investments according to Crunchbase. Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) led two of its rounds, participating in the rest, also according to Crunchbase. CEO Heiferman also said the acquisition would allow the firm to double in size. In the same meeting, he mentioned a $30 million figure. It was not clear if that was an acquisition price, or a reference to expected investment into his company from the acquiring entity. The startup, which has 35 million Meetup members and over 300,000 “IRL” community meetups to date, is still hiring for several jobs, according to its website. However, the acquisition also comes on the heels of several Meetup employees being asked to voluntarily resign, which was confirmed to Crunchbase News by an internal source on condition of anonymity.
– via Crunchbase News

And this from The Wall Street Journal:

With the deal, WeWork hopes to increase its usage rate during non-working hours. Most traditional clients use spaces on weekdays while Meetup-organized events mostly happen on nights and weekends. Meetup helps organizations and clubs host events and grow membership. More than 100,000 people have attended meetups at WeWork locations so far this year, the companies said Tuesday.
– via WSJ

The Journal article goes on to point out that Meetup has indicated more than 15,000 events are held each day thorugh its platform.

Written by turbotodd

November 28, 2017 at 9:44 am

Posted in 2017, meetings, meetup

Cyber Monday Record Breaker

leave a comment »

TechCrunch is reporting that Cyber Monday was the largest-ever single day of online sales in the U.S., coming in at $6.59 billion purchased online.

Purchases made by smartphone also broke a new record, coming in at $1.59 billion in sales.

The figures come from Adobe, which has been tracking shopping online in the last few days as retailers officially kick-off of holiday shopping season, the most important time of the year for their businesses. These early days are seen by many as a bellwether for how the next six weeks will play out.
– via TechCrunch

Overall, Adobe said traffic was up 11.9 percent for the day (season average: 5.7 percent). As with other days in the long weekend, mobile has been very much a part of the story: 47.4 percent of visits (39.9 percent smartphones, the rest tablets), and 33.1 percent of revenues. Notable in the mobile story is that of smartphone-based browsing and purchases. The record-high of $1.59 billion in sales made via smartphones was a whopping 39.2 percent year-on-year increase: an outsized number compared to the rest of the increases across the board that ran between 10 and 20 percent.
– via TechCrunch

And Amazon accounted for the most sales of any single platform:

According to Hitwise, the e-commerce giant accounted for 45.1 percent and 54.9 percent of all transactions respectively on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Hitwise puts the actual numbers at 5.6 million and 7.1 million transactions.
– via TechCrunch

Written by turbotodd

November 28, 2017 at 8:57 am

Facebook AI to Detect Suicidal Posts

with 2 comments

TechCrunch is reporting on Facebook’s new “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology which will scan all posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts, and when necessary send mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or even contact local first-responders.

Facebook also will use AI to prioritize particularly risky or urgent user reports so they’re more quickly addressed by moderators, and tools to instantly surface local language resources and first-responder contact info. It’s also dedicating more moderators to suicide prevention, training them to deal with the cases 24/7, and now has 80 local partners like Save.org, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Forefront from which to provide resources to at-risk users and their networks.
– via TechCrunch

TechCrunch’s Josh Constine goes on to observe that this evolution could trigger “some dystopian fears about how else the technology could be applied” (scanning for political dissent or petty crimes, for example), but that Facebook had no comment on the possibility of such scans.

So how did they get to this point?

Facebook trained the AI by finding patterns in the words and imagery used in posts that have been manually reported for suicide risk in the past. It also looks for comments like “are you OK?” and “Do you need help?” “We’ve talked to mental health experts, and one of the best ways to help prevent suicide is for people in need to hear from friends or family that care about them,” Rosen says. “This puts Facebook in a really unique position. We can help connect people who are in distress connect to friends and to organizations that can help them.”
– via TechCrunch

Written by turbotodd

November 27, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Hacking Black Friday

leave a comment »

Uber’s back in the sheit again. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bloomberg reports that hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber, a breach that the company concealed for more than a year.

As a results, Uber fired its chief security officer and one of his deputies for hiding the breach, including a $100,000 ransom payment. Uber has hired cybersecurity firm Mandiant to investigate the hack.

Back at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, CEO Meg Whitman has announced she’ll step down as CEO early next year, and President Antonio Neri will take her place.

“Today, Hewlett Packard moves forward as four industry-leading companies that are each well positioned to win in their respective markets,” Whitman said in a statement. “Now is the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins of HPE. I have tremendous confidence that they will continue to build a great company that will thrive well into the future.”
– via CNBC

Okay, so there’s the relevant tech news for the day…let’s now get down to the important matters at hand, hacking Black Friday.

If you’re getting ready to mix it up either online or at the brick ’n’ mortars looking for the best deals, I’ve been in search of some tips ’n’ tricks to hopefully help you make your travails just a little more painless.

Katie Jackson from Today had some choice bits:

1) Review Amazon price histories on camelcamelcamel.com to get a sense of recent pricing.

2) Always use a new pricing (remembering dynamic pricing can be impacted by browsing patterns based on existing cookies). In fact, Jackson suggests going into “incognito” mode for your holiday shopping.

3) Use today to start scouting stores. That way you know where the stuff you’re looking for is located as you trample your fellow humans bright and early Friday morning so you can be FIRST to get that gold-plated Tickle Me Elmo (KIDDING! Be KIND to your fellow shoppers!)

C:NET suggests starting early (Amazon’s already started discounting items like the Kindle Fire 7 Kids Edition and the Kindle Paperwhite)

And yes, visit TheBlackFriday.com to see scans of the Black Friday ads that will help you scout the best deals.

Good luck, and for those of you in the U.S., have a very Happy Thanksgiving and a most fruitful Black Friday!

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2017 at 9:34 am

Hacking Black Friday

leave a comment »

Uber’s back in the sheit again. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bloomberg reports that hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber, a breach that the company concealed for more than a year.

As a results, Uber fired its chief security officer and one of his deputies for hiding the breach, including a $100,000 ransom payment. Uber has hired cybersecurity firm Mandiant to investigate the hack.

Back at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, CEO Meg Whitman has announced she’ll step down as CEO early next year, and President Antonio Neri will take her place.

“Today, Hewlett Packard moves forward as four industry-leading companies that are each well positioned to win in their respective markets,” Whitman said in a statement. “Now is the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins of HPE. I have tremendous confidence that they will continue to build a great company that will thrive well into the future.”
– via CNBC

Okay, so there’s the relevant tech news for the day…let’s now get down to the important matters at hand, hacking Black Friday.

If you’re getting ready to mix it up either online or at the brick ’n’ mortars looking for the best deals, I’ve been in search of some tips ’n’ tricks to hopefully help you make your travails just a little more painless.

Katie Jackson from Today had some choice bits:

1) Review Amazon price histories on camelcamelcamel.com to get a sense of recent pricing.

2) Always use a new pricing (remembering dynamic pricing can be impacted by browsing patterns based on existing cookies). In fact, Jackson suggests going into “incognito” mode for your holiday shopping.

3) Use today to start scouting stores. That way you know where the stuff you’re looking for is located as you trample your fellow humans bright and early Friday morning so you can be FIRST to get that gold-plated Tickle Me Elmo (KIDDING! Be KIND to your fellow shoppers!)

C:NET suggests starting early (Amazon’s already started discounting items like the Kindle Fire 7 Kids Edition and the Kindle Paperwhite)

And yes, visit TheBlackFriday.com to see scans of the Black Friday ads that will help you scout the best deals.

Good luck, and for those of you in the U.S., have a very Happy Thanksgiving and a most fruitful Black Friday!

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2017 at 9:34 am

Posted in 2017, black friday, retail, uber

Reach Out and Touch Someone

leave a comment »

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing to block AT&T’s $85 billion deal to buy Time Warner, reports CNBC.

And here’s how a press release from the Department of Justice explained its action:

The United States Department of Justice today filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block AT&T/DirecTV’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Inc. The $108 billion acquisition would substantially lessen competition, resulting in higher prices and less innovation for millions of Americans. The combination of AT&T/DirecTV’s vast video distribution infrastructure and Time Warner’s popular television programming would be one of the largest mergers in American history.  Time Warner’s network offerings include TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, HBO and Cinemax, and its programming includes Game of Thrones, NCAA’s March Madness, and substantial numbers of MLB and NBA regular season and playoff games.   According to the complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the combined company would use its control over Time Warner’s valuable and highly popular networks to hinder its rivals by forcing them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more per year for the right to distribute those networks.  The combined company would also use its increased power to slow the industry’s transition to new and exciting video distribution models that provide greater choice for consumers, resulting in fewer innovative offerings and higher bills for American families.
– via www.justice.gov

Bloomberg reports that “a defiant Randall Stephenson told antitrust enforcers that AT&T would see them in court…”

The CEO [Stephenson] briefly addressed what he called “the elephant in the room” — whether the lawsuit had anything to do with Trump’s very public and intense dislike of CNN. “Frankly, I don’t know,” he said. “But nobody should be surprised that the question keeps coming up, because we’ve witnessed such an abrupt change in the application of antitrust law here.”
– via Bloomberg.com

Recode’s lead explained the rationale behind DOJ’s trying to stop the deal this way: “The Comcast-NBCUniversal deal was bad. So the AT&T-Time Warner deal is worse — because it’s even bigger.”

The argument goes that “if it’s worrisome for a regional distributor to buy a big content company, it’s an even worse one for a distributor with a national footprint.”

Looks like this one’s headed to the courthouse.

Written by turbotodd

November 21, 2017 at 9:34 am

%d bloggers like this: