Facebook Bans Extremists, Jakarta Is Drowning, and More News

Facebook took down some conspiracy theorists, Indonesia has to move its capital because of climate change, and Mother's Day is coming. Here's the news you need to know in two minutes or less. Facebook banned Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan, and others After stating that it wouldn't ban accounts that push conspiracy theories, Facebook did exactly that today when it banned a handful of extremists from the platform. Facebook says it has “always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” but these accounts have been doing the same thing for months. Why now? Because, the company says, “the process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our …

Heres How Mark Zuckerberg Sees Facebooks New Era of Privacy

Mark Zuckerberg once promised Facebook would move fast and break things. Now Zuckerberg says Facebook is trying to fix the things it broke. Standing on stage before an audience of developers at the annual F8 Conference on Tuesday, Zuckerberg—the same guy who spent years convincing billions of people to share their every thought and action with the world—explained all the ways Facebook is going to help people keep that same information under wraps. “I believe the future is private,” the CEO said, almost as soon as he began, setting the tone for a day of product announcements across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. In his much-anticipated keynote address, Zuckerberg readily admitted he’s an odd champion for the cause of privacy, …

When Workers Control the Code

You know what I hate? Rating drivers on Lyft. Three stars? Five stars? I know Lyft wants to feed the ravenous maw of its machine intelligence, but I worry that drivers will get punished for low ratings. In the app-dominated gig economy, platforms already hoover up as much as 30 percent of the fees, and workers barely eke out a living. So when Lyft asks me to rank drivers, I lie—I give everyone five stars. It makes me think: Why doesn't someone try to run an on-demand labor app that doesn't seem to exploit its workers? Well, that world is inching into reality with the emergence of worker-owned apps, where they own and run the market­place themselves. It's a trend …

Tracking Readers Eye Movements Can Help Computers Learn

For our eyes, reading is hardly a smooth ride. They stutter across the page, lingering over words that surprise or confuse, hopping over those that seem obvious in context (you can blame that for your typos), pupils widening when a word sparks a potent emotion. All this commotion is barely noticeable, occurring in milliseconds. But for psychologists who study how our minds process language, our unsteady eyes are a window into the black box of our brains. Nora Hollenstein, a graduate student at ETH Zurich, thinks our reader’s gaze could be useful for another task: helping computers learn to read. Researchers are constantly looking for ways to make artificial neural networks more brainlike, but brain waves are noisy and poorly …

Kamala Harris Wants to Give States Millions to Overhaul Tech

Democratic presidential candidate and California senator Kamala Harris is introducing a bill on Thursday that would give state and local governments access to a pool of $15 million a year in grant funding, which they could use to set up tech teams and overhaul the often outdated tools and websites their constituents use every day. The bill, called the Digital Service Act of 2019, is modeled after the United States Digital Service, an elite team of geeks inside the White House working on ways to make federal government technology less clunky and confusing—and maybe even good. Launched in 2014, USDS is one of the few Obama-era passion projects to survive the Trump administration. Now Harris wants to build on its …

With Tech on the Defensive, SXSW Takes an Introspective Turn

The first five days or so of SXSW in Austin are always heavily weighted toward the interactive portion of the conference. The city’s downtown streets swell with lanyard-laden “entrepreneurs” and “founders” wearing that familiar uniform of T-shirts screen-printed with their company’s clever logo, an outfit made professional by throwing a blazer over the ensemble. They bounce from panel to panel and branded “house” to branded “house” (this year, on scooters, so many scooters) hawking their new apps and software products, each promising to be more revolutionary and life-changing and utterly necessary than the next. For years, the unspoken question at the conference seemed to be which company will become SXSW famous, like Persicope, Foursquare, or, most memorably, Twitter? But this …

Facebook’s Sloppy Data-Sharing Deals Might Be Criminal

In the past nine days, Facebook has said it is rethinking its business and a presidential candidate said it should be broken up. In the past 24 hours, the company’s services, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Oculus, froze for most of a day and a newspaper revealed that a new crop of prosecutors is investigating the company for criminal behavior related to a slew of data partnerships. For most companies, this would be a catastrophe. For Facebook, it’s just another week and a half. For the past 15 years, Mark Zuckerberg has pushed Facebook to be the most innovative, influential, fast-growing, and profitable company in the world—to move fast and break things. It worked great, as we all know. …

Elon Musk’s lawyers say tweet did not violate court order

Financial regulators said a tweet from the Tesla chief executive violated a September fraud settlement The conceded last month that Musks tweet was not pre-approved. But the tweet Musk fired off after the markets closed merely restated prior disclosures on electric car production volumes, the lawyers wrote on Monday, did not disclose material information and did not alter the mix of data available to investors. The settlement between Musk, Tesla and the SEC resolved an SEC lawsuit over claims Musk had made on Twitter last year that he had funding secured to take Tesla private at $420 per share. As part of that settlement, Musk stepped down as the companys chairman and he and Tesla agreed to pay $20m each …

Starbucks’ newest drink is made with egg-white powder

New York (CNN Business)Starbucks just unveiled its latest coffee drink: The cloud macchiato, made with egg-white powder. The cloud macchiato comes in caramel and cinnamon flavors. The coffee company first teased the cloud macchiato during its investor day in December as an example of how the company is innovating its iced beverages. Cold drinks “have contributed to more than 80% of our beverage growth over the last two years,” Starbucks Chief Operations Officer Rosalind Brewer said at the event. Starbucks’ new cloud macchiato also may have a celebrity tie-in. Rumors swirled that pop singer Ariana Grande may be involved in the product launch after Grande and Starbucks posted matching tweets. “We’ve long been fans of Ariana Grande’s and were excited …

Turn Traffic into SALES (with Smart Chat Automation) use 3D Chat Agents

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Carmakers brace for a terrible year as China’s slowdown deepens

Hong Kong (CNN Business)After a tough 2018, global automakers look set for another bruising year. The world’s second largest economy is feeling the effects of government attempts to rein in risky lending after a rapid rise in debt levels. Trade tensions with the United States and the removal of Chinese subsidies in the auto sector are making matters worse. Some of the world’s best known automakers are suffering as a result. GM said last month that its sales in China fell by 10% last year, compared to 2017. The Detroit-based company hopes to reverse the downturn this year by releasing more than 20 new models in China and shifting focus to electric vehicles. Ford’s (F) sales in China tumbled by …

Will backlash against Amazon’s NYC tax breaks kill other deals?

New York (CNN Business)Is the Amazon-New York City split up on Valentine’s Day the start of a new trend? There are more job openings than there are job candidates, and employers in Wisconsin and New York could be rightly concerned that they could lose workers they need due to a major new employer coming to town with the help of their own tax dollars. “The labor market is as strong as it ever has been,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics. “I think this backlash reflects a 4% unemployment. If this was 2012, 2013, and we had more typical levels of unemployment, you’d have half as much opposition and their voices wouldn’t be as powerful.” The Amazon deal …

Europe kills Siemens’ plan to create the Airbus of trains

London (CNN Business)The European Union has blocked a merger by Siemens and Alstom that would have created the train equivalent of aviation powerhouse Airbus. Siemens (SIEGY) and Alstom (ALSMY) had argued that joining forces was necessary to achieve the scale needed to compete with companies from China. A similar structure helps Airbus (EADSF) compete with US rival Boeing (BA). Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser said the decision showed that Europe “urgently needs structural reform in the way it shapes its industrial future.” “Protecting customer interests locally must not mean that Europe cannot be on a level playing field with leading nations like China, the United States and others,” he said. Alstom said in a statement that it regretted the decision. The …