Sep 22, 2018

Tech news you might have missed this week

Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon devices, announces new Alexa products and services. Photo: Grant Hindsley/AFP/Getty Images.

You may have already heard that Amazon Alexa can now be a part of every aspect of your life — including a wall clock. But here are some other stories from the week to catch up on.

Catch up quick: Amazon announced a flood of new Alexa-powered appliances; Lime and Bird pass the 10 million ride mark; Instagram's IGTV algorithm recommended videos of disturbing and graphic content; Facebook is pulling back site support for Donald Trump's 2020 campaign; and Google staff discussed search-related tweaks after 2017 travel ban.

Amazon announced a flood of new Alexa-powered home and car appliances

Why it matters: Journalists soaked up the 80 minutes an Amazon executive gave to announce voice-assistant powered products from microwaves to Alexa in cars. But, Recode's Jason Del Ray writes how amidst the buzz there were no attempts to reassure consumers the potential privacy policy risks that come with the new omniscient Alexa.

Lime and Bird pass the 10 million ride mark

Why it matters: Scooter rentals are seen as the "new ride-hailing" by investors and users alike. At least for now, it looks like Bird and Lime are neck and neck in the race.

Instagram's IGTV algorithm recommended videos of disturbing and graphic content

Why it matters: During a three-week Business Insider investigation, potentially illegal videos of child exploitation and genital mutilation — some with over 1 million views —took five days to be removed. Tech giants like Facebook have been criticized for its inconsistent content moderation. For IGTV, however, the complication isn't only that the material is available to users, but that the algorithm is actively suggesting it.

Unlike in 2016, Facebook is pulling back site support for Donald Trump's 2020 campaign

Why it matters: Facebook was scrutinized by Congress for offering the Trump campaign site support, though Hillary Clinton's campaign was offered the same deal but turned it down. This time around, Facebook is taking a backseat as officials work to improve the company’s political advertising website to give free advice to campaigns more broadly.

Google staff discussed search-related tweaks after 2017 travel ban

Why it matters: "These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented," according to a Google spokesperson. But the leak will pour gasoline on unproven charges that the company builds anti-conservative bias into its products — right before the Justice Department convenes state attorneys general to talk about the issue. An earlier leak showed Google executives' frustration after the 2016 election.

Worthy of your time: Axios staff compiled this week's deep dive on everything you need to know about 5G. Check it out here.

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Trump attacks Schumer for impeachment in letter about coronavirus crisis

President Trump briefs reports on April 2. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of being "missing in action" during the coronavirus crisis, writing in a scathing letter on Thursday that Schumer's focus on the "ridiculous impeachment hoax" resulted in New York being ill-prepared for the pandemic.

Why it matters: It's a blistering response to Schumer urging Trump to assign a senior military officer to enforce the Defense Production Act to produce more medical supplies.

World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Novel coronavirus infections have hit the 1 million mark after "near exponential growth" that's reached "almost every country," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.

The big picture: The global death toll exceeded 50,000 on Thursday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy has reported nearly 14,000 deaths. Governments around the world have introduced public health and economic measures to try and curb the impact of the virus.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 37 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 1,007,997 — Total deaths: 52,771 — Total recoveries: 210,055Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 236,339 — Total deaths: 5,648 — Total recoveries: 8,861Map.
  3. 2020 update: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus.
  4. Jobs latest: The coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state
  5. Public health latest: FDA allows blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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