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Democrats ask Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to rework their suggestion algorithms

Engadget

A group of more than 30 democratic lawmakers led by Representatives Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) are calling on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to make substantive changes to their recommendation algorithms. In three separate letters addressed to the CEOs of those companies, the group makes a direct link to the January 6th US Capitol attack and the part those platforms played in radicalizing the individuals who took part in the uprising. "On Wednesday, January 6th the United States Capitol was attacked by a violent, insurrectionist mob radicalized in part in a digital echo chamber that your company designed, built and maintained," the letter addressed to Google and YouTube CEOs Sundar Pichai and Susan Wojcicki says. A letter from some Congress members to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki flexes research on how YouTube's algorithms have promoted conspiracy theories and political extremism. Citing the Capitol attacks, they request changes to its recommendations systems.


WhatsApp Has Shared Your Data With Facebook for Years

WIRED

Since Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, users have wondered and worried about how much data would flow between the two platforms. Many of them experienced a rude awakening this week, as a new in-app notification raises awareness about a step WhatsApp actually took to share more with Facebook back in 2016. On Monday, WhatsApp updated its terms of use and privacy policy, primarily to expand on its practices around how WhatsApp business users can store their communications. A pop-up has been notifying users that as of February 8, the app's privacy policy will change and they must accept the terms to keep using the app. As part of that privacy policy refresh, WhatsApp also removed a passage about opting out of sharing certain data with Facebook: "If you are an existing user, you can choose not to have your WhatsApp account information shared with Facebook to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences."


WhatsApp: Let us share your data with Facebook or else

Engadget

In a surprise move, WhatsApp recently gave many of its users a difficult choice: they could either accept a revised privacy policy that explicit allowed the service to share information with parent company Facebook by February 8th, or decline and risk not being able to use the service at all. The company informed those users through an in-app notification which lays out the changes in very broad terms: the updates to the policy include "more information about WhatsApp's service and how we process your data, how businesses can use Facebook hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats, [and] how we partner with Facebook to offer integrations across the Facebook Company Products." Upon further inspection, the updated policy makes clear that data collected by WhatsApp -- including user phone numbers, "transaction data, service-related information, information on how you interact with others (including businesses) when using our Services, mobile device information, your IP address" and more are subject to be shared with other properties owned and controlled by Facebook. "As part of the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information (see here) with, the other Facebook Companies," the updated privacy policy reads. "We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings, including the Facebook Company Products."


A Decade Of AI: Most Defining Moments 2010-20

#artificialintelligence

People were talking, theorising and experimenting with AI for sure, but what happened in the last decade has made AI more tangible. This was the decade when AI went mainstream. Be it access to world standard courses, platforms, libraries, frameworks, hardware -- everything just fell into place. And, it wouldn't be an exaggeration if one were to say that what was accomplished in the last ten years single-handedly fortified the foundations of our future. In this article, we look at a few of the most important breakthroughs that directly or indirectly have made AI a household name.


Top 7 NLP Trends To Look Forward To In 2021

#artificialintelligence

Natural language processing first studied in the 1950s, is one of the most dynamic and exciting fields of artificial intelligence. With the rise in technologies such as chatbots, voice assistants, and translators, NLP has continued to show some very encouraging developments. In this article, we attempt to predict what NLP trends will look like in the future as near as 2021. A large amount of data is generated at every moment on social media. It also births a peculiar problem of making sense of all this information generated, which cannot be possibly done manually.


2020 tech transformation: Year in review

FOX News

President Trump reacts to the media and Big Tech's role in politics in a'Sunday Morning Futures' exclusive. The year 2020 proved to be a pivotal one in tech, as companies provided essential services during the coronavirus pandemic and unveiled 5G telecom technology while facing unprecedented antitrust scrutiny and accusations of censorship amid an intense election and social justice movement. "I think sometimes we hear that … U.S. innovation is slowing down, and I think the last year has shown that that's not really the case," Neil Chilson, senior research fellow for tech and innovation at the Charles Koch Institute, told Fox News. Chilson gave examples of the country's rapid COVID-19 vaccine development, SpaceX's astronaut launch in May and autonomous driving company Waymo's recent announcement that its self-driving cars will be completely autonomous in trials in Phoenix. "I'm pretty excited about the future. I think 2020 shows that the U.S. is still the world leader in tech and innovation, and we should continue to maintain our cultural appreciation for innovation and a regulatory environment that enables it," he said.


The privacy wins worth celebrating in an otherwise dreary 2020

Mashable

Let's talk about the good things that happened this year. Yes, 2020 has been a relentless nightmare that's unspooled at rapidly shifting speeds -- and it's showing no signs of magically abating as the clock strikes 12 this New Year's Eve. But you, who by some combination of luck or fate are still thinking and breathing, know this already. What you may be less aware of, however, is that despite the undeniable pain and tragedy 2020 has wrought, there are developments worth celebrating. While each passing year seemingly brings with it news of further digital indignities thrust upon your life, 2020 witnessed genuine progress when it comes to protecting your privacy.


Joe Biden's 5 Tech Priorities

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act is the legal principle that makes today's internet possible--from Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to YouTube, Discord and Twitch. It protects companies from being held liable for what their users do online. This made sense when online services were little more than tools for creating virtual billboards and mailing lists, but many of today's platforms have evolved to include powerful artificial-intelligence algorithms that determine what shows up in people's feeds. Critics on both sides of the political aisle say if companies control what people see, they should be responsible for what people see--and don't see. President Trump threatened to veto a recent defense-spending bill unless a provision to strike down Section 230 was included.


Zoom video meetings come to an Amazon Echo Show device, just one for now

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

The Zoom video meeting service is finally coming to Amazon's Echo Show video device, five months after first being announced. This follows the launch of the service on Facebook's Portal video device in September, and Google's announcement this week that a limited preview of Zoom for the Nest Hub Max video device was now available. Fine print alert: Google's preview hasn't yet opened to the general public and Amazon's Zoom support is only available on one of the three Echo Show devices, the 8-inch model, which is currently holiday-priced at $44.99. Amazon also has models with 5-inch and 10-inch screens. Zoom was named the most downloaded app of the year by Apple, as the pandemic changed the way we learn and work from home.


The Monopoly On Technology And How To Defeat It

#artificialintelligence

The world of AI has been shaken by Google's dismissal of AI Ethicist Dr Timnit Gebru last week. This behaviour is emblematic of the self-centred attitudes of major tech companies which also results in lack of commitment to democratisation of technology. With Facebook, Amazon and Apple also in the spotlight for allegedly creating a monopoly, the time has come for SMEs to re-revaluate their AI providers. The tech industry has experienced a meteoric rise this millennium, growing into one of the world's largest industries, with investment increasing by £3.1 billion in 2019 alone. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have a combined worth of $4 trillion, giving them unprecedented power over the marketplaces they facilitate.