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   Technology StocksAlphabet Inc. (Google)

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To: Sr K who wrote (15231)6/3/2019 9:01:18 AM
From: Ron
   of 15383
More on the Justice Department probe of Google
DOJ takes step toward a bruising antitrust battle with Google

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To: Ron who wrote (15234)6/5/2019 12:47:28 AM
From: Sr K
1 Recommendation   of 15383
from the NYT


Kara Swisher

The People Screaming for Blood, Have No Idea How Tech Actually Works.

Suddenly, regulators' guns are blazing, but it looks thoughtless, and is likely to prove pointless.

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From: Glenn Petersen6/5/2019 3:48:53 PM
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YouTube just banned supremacist content, and thousands of channels are about to be removed

YouTube is trying to reduce the prevalence of extremist content on the platform

By Casey Newton @CaseyNewton
The Verge
Jun 5, 2019, 12:00pm EDT

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

YouTube is changing its community guidelines to ban videos promoting the superiority of any group as a justification for discrimination against others based on their age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status, the company said today. The move, which will result in the removal of all videos promoting Nazism and other discriminatory ideologies, is expected to result in the removal of thousands of channels across YouTube.

“The openness of YouTube’s platform has helped creativity and access to information thrive,” the company said in a blog post. “It’s our responsibility to protect that, and prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination and violence.”

The changes announced on Wednesday attempt to improve its content moderation in three ways. First, the ban on supremacists will remove Nazis and other extremists who advocate segregation or exclusion based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status. In addition to those categories, YouTube is adding caste, which has significant implications in India, and “well-documented violent events,” such as the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and 9/11. Users are no longer allowed to post videos saying those events did not happen, YouTube said.

Second, YouTube said it would expand efforts announced in January to reduce the spread of what it calls “borderline content and harmful misinformation.” The policy, which applies to videos that flirt with violating the community guidelines but ultimately fall short, aims to limit the promotion of those videos through recommendations. YouTube said the policy, which affects videos including flat-earthers and peddlers of phony miracle cures, had already decreased the number of views that borderline videos receive by 50 percent. In the future, the company said, it will recommend videos from more authoritative sources, like top news channels, in its “next watch” panel.

Finally, YouTube said it would restrict channels from monetizing their videos if they are found to “repeatedly brush up against our hate speech policies.” Those channels will not be able to run ads or use Super Chat, which lets channel subscribers pay creators directly for extra chat features. The last change comes after BuzzFeed reported that the paid commenting system had been used to fund creators of videos featuring racism and hate speech.

In 2017, YouTube took a step toward reducing the visibility of extremists on the platform when it began placing warnings in front of some videos. But it has come under continued scrutiny for the way that it recruits followers for racists and bigots by promoting their work through recommendation algorithms and prominent placement in search results. In April, Bloomberg reported that videos made by far-right creators represented one of the most popular sections of YouTube, along with music, sports, and video games.

At the same time, YouTube and its parent company, Alphabet, are under growing political pressure to rein in the bad actors on the platform. The Christchurch attacks in March led to widespread criticism of YouTube and other platforms for failing to immediately identify and remove videos of the shooting, and several countries have proposed laws designed to force tech companies to act more quickly. Meanwhile, The New York Times found this week that YouTube algorithms were recommending videos featuring children in bathing suits to people who had previously watched sexually themed content — effectively generating playlists for pedophiles.

YouTube did not disclose the names of any channels that are expected to be affected by the change. The company declined to comment on a current controversy surrounding my Vox colleague Carlos Maza, who has repeatedly been harassed on the basis of his race and sexual orientation by prominent right-wing commentator Steven Crowder. (After I spoke with the company, it responded to Maza that it plans to take no action against Crowder’s channel.)

Still, the move is likely to trigger panic among right-wing YouTube channels. In the United States, conservatives have promoted the idea that YouTube and other platforms discriminate against them. Despite the fact that there is no evidence of systematic bias, Republicans have held several hearings over the past year on the subject. Today’s move from YouTube is likely to generate a fresh round of outrage, along with warnings that we are on the slippery slope toward totalitarianism.

Of course, as the Maza case has shown, YouTube doesn’t always enforce its own rules. It’s one thing to make a policy, and it’s another to ensure that a global workforce of underpaid contractors accurately understands and applies it. It will be fascinating to see how the new policy, which prohibits “videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify ... segregation or exclusion,” will affect discussion of immigration on YouTube. The company says that political debates about the pros and cons of immigration are still allowed, but a video saying that “Muslims are diseased and shouldn’t be allowed to migrate to Europe” will be banned.

The changed policy goes into effect today, YouTube said, and enforcement will “ramp up” over the next several days.

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From: Sr K6/6/2019 11:32:22 AM
   of 15383

Google to buy analytics software firm Looker for $2.6 bln

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From: JakeStraw6/7/2019 8:13:09 AM
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Google Announces Acquisition of Looker In A Move to Support Business Intelligence

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From: JakeStraw6/7/2019 8:13:34 AM
   of 15383
Google plans to press play on its Stadia cloud gaming service in November
Google has shed some more clarity on its upcoming cloud-based video game service: an entry price, launch window and some of the games you will be able to play.

Google's Stadia will become available in November with an entry price of $129.99 for the Founders Edition package (pre-order on Google's Stadia site), which includes a game controller, Chromecast Ultra streaming device and a three-month subscription.

Cloud gaming promises to make it easier for consumers to play online games, as it sidesteps the need for pricey gaming PCs or console video game systems.

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From: Glenn Petersen6/8/2019 10:21:09 AM
   of 15383
Not Your Daddy’s Regulation: Tech Giants Face A Complicated Reckoning In Washington

Old rules and moving targets create new challenges for regulators and Congress.

By Alex Kantrowitz
BuzzFeed News
Posted on June 6, 2019, at 2:01 p.m. ET

As federal regulators and Congress zero in on Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, they’re about to encounter one of the most difficult rulemaking challenges in US history. The tech giants don’t fit neatly into the existing model for antitrust action since many of their services are available for free, making any consumer harm they may or may not have done difficult to grasp and quantify. And perhaps more vexingly, they are constantly shifting shape, adding new business lines with regularity to keep pace with a fast-changing technology industry. In Washington, it’s going to be hard to figure out where to even begin.

“One of the things we’ve seen in the past with regulation is by the time the courts catch up to regulating the industry often new industries emerge,” Rep. Ro Khanna, who represents a large slice of Silicon Valley, told BuzzFeed News. “Of course, we need regulation, but it has to be thoughtful regulation and well-crafted regulation.”

Consider the moving target the Federal Trade Commission will encounter when it examines Amazon. The FTC won’t just be dealing with a retailer, but an outsourced logistics provider, a grocer, a cloud services clearinghouse, a hardware manufacturer, and a voice search company. And as the FTC works to get its head around these business lines, Amazon will inevitably expand into more — the company is rumored to be debuting a home robot this year.

Amazon is ferociously aggressive in many of its business lines, yet it faces fierce competition in nearly all of them. There’s vs. Walmart, Whole Foods vs. the broader grocery industry, AWS vs. Microsoft Azure, Amazon Echo vs. Google Home.

With such a diverse set of businesses, Amazon will make it hard for regulators to reign in the “bigness” many are hoping it will tackle. Amazon and its fellow tech giants are nothing like the Bell Telephone Company or Standard Oil, which grew dominant by finding a core advantage and defending it at all costs. They have instead built their empires through continual reinvention, and they are far more nimble than their corporate predecessors. Regulators will therefore have to comb through each business line, consider the market dynamics in each, and toe the line between policing anti-competitive behavior and picking winners and losers.

“I think there is a lot of appetite for letting the market sort lots of things out,” Robert Seamans, an associate professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business who spent a year as a senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told BuzzFeed News. “We don’t want to pick a China model where the government decides everything that should happen.”

While some are advocating for a breakup of the tech giants, such a move is likely politically infeasible. Breaking up these companies would create more competition, but it would open up the door for Chinese companies to enter the void, a fact that worries both Silicon Valley executives and the federal government. And public servants in Washington who follow poll numbers closely know well that Big Tech is popular among the general population. “They have the most precious asset, their approval ratings are in the 70s and 80s,” Khanna said of the tech giants. “Everyone in Congress, we celebrate when we get in the 40s or 50s.”

A meek federal regulatory body has long resisted sinking its teeth into this messy situation. But now that the proceedings are underway, the most likely outcome — if any rules are made — is one in which small changes are enacted. “My sense is that the animating principle behind regulation should be very simple,” Khanna said. “A company shouldn’t be able to privilege its own products, you shouldn’t be able to have anti-competitive platform privileges.”

The FTC, according to a report by Vox, is indeed already asking how Amazon competes with third-party sellers on its platform. The agency is also expected to fine Facebook a few billion dollars for privacy violations, a sum that sent the company’s stock up when Facebook told investors about it. The Department of Justice will investigate Google’s search and ad-tech businesses, according to reports, but it would be a major surprise if the department takes a more aggressive approach than European regulators and goes beyond examining whether Google privileges its own products, as Khanna laid out. Rulemaking along these lines would be meaningful, but would do little to slow down the tech giants overall.

Much of the coverage on the new set of investigations by the FTC, DOJ, and Congress has focused on the prospect of hearings Big Tech will likely now have to sit through. These hearings would be unpleasant for the tech giants, as would fines and other restrictions. But for this new set of corporate giants, time and competition — either among themselves or from the outside — are the most probable forces to check their power.

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From: JakeStraw6/13/2019 8:10:09 AM
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Alphabet's stake in the 2019 IPO boom jumps to $5 billion thanks to CrowdStrike

Alphabet owns significant stakes in Uber, Lyft and Crowdstrike, three of the most high profile tech IPOs of the year.

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From: JakeStraw6/18/2019 8:20:02 AM
2 Recommendations   of 15383
Google Integrates Cryptocurrency Project With New Smart Contract Tool

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From: JakeStraw6/18/2019 8:54:37 AM
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Official Pixel 4 teaser photo signals a whole new Google
Google is ready to take on the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy in 2019.

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