SRAX Recap: Zuckerberg skips fake news hearing, Russia fines Google, Supreme Court Apple case

In this week’s digital news, Mark Zuckerberg skips an important fake news hearing, Russia fines Google, and the Supreme Court hears a lawsuit against Apple.

Mark Zuckerberg skips fake news hearing

Nine governments from around the world held a conference with the UK Houses of Parliament, inviting Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. First off, the conference aimed to address Facebook’s role in the spread of fake news, but Zuckerberg declined the invitation. More importantly, the committee reportedly sought to present him with new information. The bombshell report suggests that he’d been aware of Russian data harvesting as far back as 2014. Confidential emails between app developer Six4Three and Facebook management comprise the bulk of the new information. One email, from a Facebook engineer to management, warns that Russians were harvesting three billion data points from Facebook users every day.

Russia launches case against Google over search results dispute

Russia filed a civil case against Google this week, accusing the company of failing to comply with a request. More specifically, the Russian government requested the removal of certain entries from its search results. Google could face a fine of up to 700,000 roubles ($10,450) if found guilty. Google failed to join a state registry that lists banned websites that Moscow believes contain illegal information, and breached a law in the process. This action doesn’t come as a surprise, as Russia has introduced tougher internet laws in the past years. The fines involved, however, only come to a few thousand dollars. Russia is seeking to impose stricter rules, however, which would increase penalty fines.

Supreme Court considers App Store monopoly suit

The U.S. Supreme Court will take up a case this week involving Apple’s App Store. A group of iPhone users proposed the class-action lawsuit in question. They claim that the App Store monopolizes the market for iPhone software applications. They also claim that the App Store forces users to overpay for content. A lower court has revived the case, catapulting it up to the highest court in the land. The monopoly that Apple currently holds could potentially violate federal antitrust laws by requiring apps to be sold through the company’s App Store. Especially since the company takes 30 percent commission from sales. The plaintiffs involved said that they needed to step in for the app developers. Since Apple controls the service where app developers make their money, many of them likely fear retaliation.

Sprint promises HTC-Qualcomm 5G hotspot in first half of 2019

Sprint announced this week that it’s working with HTC and Qualcomm to create a 5G hotspot. The device will include Qualcomm’s top tech, the Snapdragon X50 modem, and it will have LTE capabilities as well. The hotspot should arrive on the shelves in the first half of 2019, along with Sprint’s proposed 5G smartphone. The device will leverage 2.5GHz wireless spectrum for 5G, which will likely increase the range of the device while slightly lowering its speed. The cellular provider has also vowed to launch its 5G network in nine U.S. cities. These cities, which are similar to Verizon’s plan, include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. This news comes after AT&T’s announcement that its first 5G device, Netgear’s Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot will start shipping out sometime before the year is over.

Amazon scolded for using sponsored ads in baby registries

The latest from Amazon is an upset caused by their use of misleading sponsored ads. The ads appear in Amazon baby registries, and have reportedly led new parents to receive unwanted gifts. They blend in very closely with actual registry items, with the only difference being a small gray “sponsored label” under the photo. The products come from companies like Playtex, Johnson & Johnson and Kimberly-Clark. It’s a tricky situation for Amazon, as the FTC
requires clear labels on native ads. The line, however, is certainly being blurred in this case, as the labelling involved is insufficient. It’s clear that Amazon, which relies heavily on ad revenue, is pushing the envelope in terms of what consumers will tolerate. If the user experience continues to degrade, and parents continue to receive unwanted products, this particular Amazon service may no longer be useful.

Published on November 30, 2018

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