Oct 27, 2018

Facebook's lip-sync app and other tech news you missed

The Future Investment Initiative FII conference in Riyadh. Photo: Fayes Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

In the middle of a continued moral reckoning in the tech industry, a number of the major public companies announced their quarterly earnings this week, with mixed results. Here are five stories in tech news you may have missed.

Catch up quick: Facebook is reportedly building a lip-syncing app for teens to rival Tik Tok; Saudi Arabia signed business deals worth $50 billion at the Future Investment Initiative; conservative political apps are taking off; Vancouver has hot and cold relations with Chinese investments; and stock trading on Alexa is not as simple as it sounds.

Facebook is reportedly building a lip-syncing app for teens to rival Tik Tok (TechCrunch)

  • Why it matters: Facebook is notorious for trying to thwart competitors by building its own version of their social apps. Its lip-syncing app project also reminds us that the company continues to grapple with teenagers' decreasing interest in its flagship social network.

Saudi Arabia signs business deals worth $50 billion at Future investment Initiative (CNN)

  • Why it matters: Saudi Arabia signed agreements with international companies despite a number of business names bailing on its conference this week over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has poured Saudi money into domestic tourism projects and global tech companies as part of an effort to diversify the economy.

Conservative political apps are taking off (The New York Times)

  • Why it matters: Facebook and YouTube have been accused of creating a hostile environment toward right-learning viewers, which has prompted Republican consultants to build apps with chatrooms and news feeds for conservative groups. And like the big social networks, these apps do collect data about their users.

Vancouver’s hot and cold relations with Chinese investments (Bloomberg Businessweek)

  • Why it matters: Vancouver was the first major Western city to experience the tidal wave of Chinese cash — and its unforeseen aftermath. But now, officials say a substantial proportion of the money stems from corruption or crime. High housing prices and an economy distorted by wealthy outsiders is giving rise to anger. British Columbia’s left-leaning government is now focusing on policies meant to restrain the arrival of Chinese money.

Stock trading on Alexa is not as simple as it sounds (Axios)

  • Why it matters: This is a big task for Alexa, which is notorious for mishearing verbal commands. Buying stocks via home assistant won't be a one-step process anytime soon. That's a good thing, since any errors in making investment transactions could be more disastrous than, say, accidentally ordering too many dollhouses.

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Clyburn: Sanders' "socialist" label will be "extra burden" in House races

Clyburn with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that Sen. Bernie Sanders' identification as a democratic socialist may be an "extra burden" in down-ballot House races if he were to win the Democratic nomination.

Why it matters: Clyburn's comments echo fears from many establishment Democrats, who worry the House majority they won in 2018 by taking moderate seats carried by President Trump could be at risk with Sanders at the top of the ticket.

O'Brien rejects intelligence report of Russia effort to re-elect Trump

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. Photo: Chris Usher/CBS via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien repeatedly rejected on ABC's "This Week" an assessment from a congressional briefing led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected.

Why it matters: The report put the Trump administration under fresh scrutiny in regard to steps it has been taking to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. encountered in 2016.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Italy becomes site of largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia

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.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures in their countries amid rising case numbers on Sunday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,462 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korea increased the infectious disease alert to red, the highest possible, as its case numbers jumped to 602 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures as it confirmed a spike from three to 132 cases in matter of days, making it the largest outbreak outside of Asia.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health