Instagram is inviting users to add popular songs to their Stories. “Thanks to Facebook’s recent deals with record labels, users will be able to choose from thousands of songs from artists including Bruno Mars, Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris, and Guns N’ Roses,” TechCrunch writes. “The launch could make Instagram Stories more fun to post and watch in a way that copyrights won’t allow on Snapchat.”
A third-party quiz app potentially exposed the data of 120 million Facebook users, Gizmodo reports, citing the findings of a researcher named Inti De Ceukelaire. Of course, “Facebook’s race to prove it’s a good and trustworthy company over the last few months kicked off when it was revealed that a quiz app sold user data to a political firm,” Gizmodo notes.
Twitter is rolling out what it’s calling an Ads Transparency Center (ATC). The ATC is essentially “a new way to help [users] identify who is advertising on the social media service,” Engadget writes. “Similar to Facebook's View Ads, set to launch this week (as well as a new change to active Page ads), Twitter's transparency tools will let users search for and see who is buying ads.”
Expanding its massive footprint, Amazon just agreed to buy online pharmacy PillPack. “The move is the strongest indication yet of Amazon’s intent to push further into the health-care industry,” CNBC reports. “It threatens to remove one of the few distinguishing factors pharmacy chains have relied on to fend off Amazon, the sale of prescription drugs.”
A new Google Maps -- including a revamped Explore tab and a new “For you” section featuring a “Your match” score -- is launching this week. As 9To5Google reports: “The redesigned Explore tab notes the region or city you’re currently in and offers quick shortcuts to find Restaurants, Bars, Events, and More, which presents a granular list featuring Food & Drink, Things to do, Shopping, and Services.”
Upon further review, Facebook has decided not to build massive WiFi-spreading drones. The move represents a “major retreat from what had been an ambitious and high-profile initiative at the company,” Insider writes. “Now, rather than building so-called HAPS (High Altitude Platform Stations) … Facebook will focus on developing the underlying technologies.”
Despite an initial backlash, Google is moving forward with its Duplex artificial intelligence software. “It’s beginning public testing of the software, which debuted in May and which is designed to make calls to businesses and book appointments,”CNet writes. “Duplex instantly raised questions over the ethics and privacy implications of using an AI assistant to hold lifelike conversations for you.”
Twitter is now inviting users to secure their accounts with a physical USB security key. Regarding the two-factor authentication process, Engadget writes: “It's the latest expansion of Twitter's verification support, which, as of last year, also includes third-party apps like Google Authenticator and Duo Mobile.”
CNBC surveys Amazon’s habit of luring executives away from its tech rivals. Of note, “Amazon has hired more executives from Microsoft than from any other tech giant in recent years,” CNBC reports, citing data from salary information startup Paysa. “In the three years between 2015 and 2017, at least 30 director or higher level executives went straight from Microsoft to Amazon.”
Ready to fund the next Facebook, Sequoia Capital just raised the first $6 billion of what it hopes will ultimately be an $8 billion fund. “The closing of Sequoia’s latest funding round comes as established technology investors build bigger funds to deal with the repercussions of SoftBank assembling the largest ever private pool of capital,” the Financial Times reports. SoftBank’s Vision Fund is worth about $100 billion.