Since reports revealed last March that Facebook had allowed Cambridge Analytica to access the personal information of 87 million of its users, there's been a fair amount of fallout. CEO Mark Zuckerberg was questioned during multiple Congressional hearings, more stringent privacy bills have been proposed and adopted, and comprehensive privacy regulations have at least been considered. But so far, not a lot has happened to Facebook itself, though that might be about to change.
Facebook teased a Messenger redesign at its F8 conference back in May and then started slowly rolling out the simpler interface last October. Now, The Verge reports, the redesign is becoming available more widely, with both the App Store and Google Play Store listings displaying the new interface. The new design features fewer tabs, makes it easier for you to chat with friends and introduces contextual icons that let you know what's going on in a conversation.
Last year during the NBA finals, some of the league's refs took to Twitter in order to discuss calls made during a game and answer fans' questions. Feedback was positive, ESPN reports. Positive enough for the NBA and the National Basketball Referees Association to decide to do it again this season but during even more games. For the first two #RefWatchParty events this season, referees will engage with fans when the Golden State Warriors take on the Los Angeles Lakers on the 21st and during the San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers game on the 23rd.
Huawei has faced increasing resistance from the US government and other countries, and now Oxford University has joined the growing number of groups distancing themselves from the company. The university, for now, will no longer accept research grants or donations from Huawei, The Guardian reports, with the ban stemming from "public concerns raised in recent months surrounding UK partnerships with Huawei."
Yesterday, MasterCard announced a new feature that would protect its customers from the automatic billing that kicks in after a free trial. The policy will require merchants to notify users about the end of the free trial, the cost of continuing with a subscription and how to cancel the subscription. And it seems like a pretty good feature, especially if you tend to forget to end subscriptions after free trials. But MasterCard has now updated its blog post about the new policy and it looks like it will only apply to physical products, not digital services.
Let's play a game of "would you rather." Would you rather an investigation upend criminal details about your past that land you in jail and put your business dealings under public scrutiny, or would you rather that investigation unearth the fact that you paid someone to create a fake Twitter account that talks about how sexy you are? Well, if you're Michael Cohen, you don't have to choose.
The ACLU has sued the federal government, naming the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, ICE, US Customs and Border Protection, US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the State Department as defendants. The civil rights organization is seeking information regarding the government's practice of monitoring immigrants' and visa applicants' social media accounts, information that it says these agencies have been withholding.
A group of Amazon shareholders has filed a resolution requesting the company stop selling its facial recognition technology to government agencies until a review can determine whether it has the potential to violate civil rights. Organized by the non-profit Open MIC and filed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, the resolution is supported by a total of five shareholder groups that hold $1.32 billion of Amazon shares.
If you've missed The Office and Steve Carell's Michael Scott, Netflix's latest series announcement may be a bit of welcome news. In a video, which you can see below, Netflix has revealed a new workplace comedy called Space Force, which will center on the (fictional) folks tasked with getting President Trump's Space Force up and running.
Sprint has announced that it will cease selling users' location data to third parties, following similar moves made by Verizon (Engadget's parent company), T-Mobile and AT&T. The four major US carriers are responding to a report published by Motherboard last week that revealed just how easy it was for anyone to purchase another person's mobile location information. While the companies said selling location data to aggregators was intended for legitimate services like spotting fraud and offering roadside assistance, Motherboard reporters demonstrated how simple it was to secure a phone's location with a few hundred dollars and the right contact.
Facebook will be introducing some of its political advertising policies in additional regions in the coming months, Reuters reports. In Nigeria, where a presidential election is set to take place in February, Facebook will now require those purchasing electoral ads to be located within the country. That same rule will roll out to Ukraine next month ahead of its March election.
Last year, amid heated criticism over the conspiracy theories it spread about events like the Parkland, Florida and Sandy Hook school shootings, InfoWars -- along with owner Alex Jones -- started to its see reach diminished as one by one, platforms began to remove its content from their services. But now, months after many outlets banned InfoWars and Jones, Roku has given them their own channel. Digiday reported the move today, one that has already sparked backlash across social media.
Netflix is raising prices across all of its streaming plans between 13 to 18 percent, marking its largest price hike to date. CNBC reports that the lowest $8 tier will now cost $9 while the $11 and $14 plans will increase to $13 and $16, respectively. New subscribers will be subject to the higher prices immediately while current Netflix members will see the new pricing roll out over the next three months, according to CNBC.
The long-awaited Uncharted movie has a new director. Dan Trachtenberg, known for 10 Cloverfield Lane, has joined the Uncharted project, Variety reports, taking over the helm after director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Stranger Things) stepped down due to scheduling conflicts. Levy was initially announced as the film's director back in 2016, and the following year, Sony revealed that actor Tom Holland would play Nathan Drake, Uncharted's treasure hunter protagonist.
Both Hulu and Netflix have been working on documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, and Hulu has now released its version just a few days ahead of Netflix. Fyre Fraud, as its name suggests, gives a look into how those behind Fyre Festival defrauded investors as well as attendees. And the film shows how the event turned out to be an utter fiasco lacking the luxurious food, accommodations and performances initially promised.
The Warner Bros. Minecraft movie has a new director... again. Variety reports that Peter Sollett is now on board to write and direct the long-awaited movie, which was at one point supposed to be released in May of this year. However, production has hit delays, due in part to director switchups. Previously, Rob McElhenney (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) was set to direct the film, but he left the project last August. And he had taken over from Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) who dropped out in 2014.
Netflix's choose-your-own-adventure style film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is the subject of a new lawsuit, brought against the streaming giant by Chooseco LLC. The company is known for publishing the "Choose Your Own Adventure" book series popular in the 1980s and 90s, and it's claiming Netflix infringed upon its trademarks, Variety reports. Netflix tried to obtain a license for Chooseco's trademark in the past, according to Chooseco, but never reached a deal with the publisher.
Researchers believe they might have an explanation for an incredibly bright event that took place in a distant dwarf galaxy. Scientists observed it last June when the object in question lit up and then faded over the course of 16 days, and it has continued to spark interest and debate. Based on the data collected at the time, a number of researchers now think the event was the creation of either a black hole or a neutron star.
It's been rumored that Amazon has been working on an ad-supported video streaming service, similar to what's offered from Vudu and Roku, and now the service has officially launched. Variety reports that IMDb Freedive, as the streaming service is called, currently lists around 130 movies and 29 TV titles, but that Amazon plans to add more series and films on an ongoing basis.
Ford acquired transportation startup Chariot in 2016 and the service currently operates in 10 US cities and London. But Chariot will soon be no more, as it announced that it's ceasing all operations by the end of March. "Chariot was built on a commitment to help reduce congestion, ease the commute and improve quality of life in cities, and since our start, we have provided our customers with more than 3 million rides," the company said in a statement. "We are truly grateful to our commuters, enterprise customers and partners for your support over the past five years."
Earlier this week, a Motherboard report described just how it easy it was for anyone to get the location of another person's phone. By handing over $300 to a bounty hunter, the publication was able to buy the location of a specific phone, which was accurate to within a few hundred meters. And the process showed just how flawed the data chain is between mobile carriers and the companies they provide location data to. Now, carriers are cutting ties with location aggregators, and AT&T is the latest to announce its plans to do so.
Ring's privacy practices have come under scrutiny in recent months and the latest report from The Intercept details just how lax the company has been when it comes to users' personal video feeds. Ring's product lines include security cameras, video doorbells, lighting and alarm systems and the company was acquired by Amazon last year. But recent reports have shown that a large number of Ring employees, both in the US and abroad, were granted unlimited access to the video feeds collected by Ring products, and for the most part, it appears that the company never made its customers aware of such a practice.
Lyft is teaming up with Segway-Ninebot as it updates its shared scooter fleet, TechCrunch reports. Lyft's scooter service first launched last September in Denver and it now spans nine US cities. And though it first deployed Xiaomi-built scooters, the China-based company later sent Lyft a cease-and-desist letter, saying in October that it didn't "condone Lyft's unauthorized modification or retrofitting" or its electric scooters. With Segway-Ninebot as an official partner, however, Lyft can hopefully avoid that kind of conflict going forward.
Netflix has released a trailer for its upcoming Fyre Festival documentary, and it recaps both how hype around the event was built as well as how it all came crashing down. A good portion of the trailer also focuses on Billy McFarland, the Fyre Festival co-founder who has now been convicted of fraud and sentenced to six years in prison. Through a number of interviews, Fyre reveals how McFarland continued to pull in investors while falsely promising that profits were to be had.
Netflix has released a trailer for its creepy new film Velvet Buzzsaw. Written and directed by Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), it's set in LA's art scene and shows what happens when "art collides with commerce." The film features an all-star cast, led by Jack Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo, which includes John Malkovich, Toni Collette, Natalia Dyer (Stranger Things), Daveed Diggs (Blindspotting), Tom Sturridge (On the Road) and Zawe Ashton (Wanderlust).