Technology

Why it matters: From the Valley to D.C., Big Tech players like Facebook, Google and Amazon are under more scrutiny than ever as new technology develops and privacy and antitrust concerns grow in lockstep with companies’ ambitions.

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4 hours ago - Technology

Researchers develop a AI program with manners

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A team of scientists has developed a technique that automatically makes written sentences more polite.

Why it matters: As the authors themselves note in the paper, it is "imperative to use the appropriate level of politeness for smooth communication in conversations." And what better to determine the appropriate level of politeness than an unfeeling machine-learning algorithm?

4 hours ago - Technology

Researchers say AI tools could make justice systems more just

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Researchers are calling for open and free access to U.S. court records and building an AI tool to analyze them.

Why it matters: Court records are publicly available but expensive to access and difficult to navigate. Freeing up that data — and using machine learning tools to make sense of it — would help make the justice system more just.

Amazon says email to workers banning TikTok was a goof

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An email Amazon sent to many of its employees Friday morning telling them to remove TikTok from their mobile devices was sent in error, the company said later the same day.

Driving the news: The original email said TikTok, the popular social video app that's facing criticism for alleged ties to the Chinese government, was a security risk for Amazon workers who accessed company email on their phones.

23 hours ago - Technology

Report: Facebook considering political ad blackout ahead of election

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Facebook is considering blocking candidates and causes from purchasing political ads in the U.S. ahead of the 2020 presidential election in November, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The tech giant has been facing intense scrutiny for allowing politicians and advocacy groups to micro-target political ads on its platform, and for not fact-checking the ads. It has repeatedly defended its political ad policies, citing free speech. Banning ads leading up to the election would be a major reversal.

Jul 10, 2020 - Technology

Amazon tells workers to delete TikTok from devices they use for work

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amazon, citing security risks, told its employees Friday to uninstall social video app TikTok from any mobile devices they use to access their work email.

Why it matters: The move comes amid a broader backlash against TikTok, in part due to questions around possible ties to Beijing. TikTok is owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance.

ByteDance rethinks corporate structures for TikTok after political backlash

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

ByteDance is considering new corporate structures for its TikTok business, as it comes under political pressure in the U.S. and other countries for ties to China's government, per the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The Beijing-based firm is the world's most valuable privately held tech company, estimated to be worth upwards of $110 billion by direct investors and $150 billion in recent secondary market trades.

Jul 10, 2020 - Technology

Apple releases public beta of iOS 14

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

After a couple weeks of developer-only testing, Apple has made available a public beta version of iOS 14, the software that will power iPhones starting this fall.

Why it matters: The early release gives early adopters and developers ample time to find bugs ahead of the full release, as well as a chance to play around with the new features announced in June.

Jul 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

TikTok users troll Trump campaign's official app

Screenshot: Apple App Store

TikTok users have again tried to prank President Trump, flooding his official campaign app with thousands of one-star reviews, Bloomberg eports.

Why it matters: Generation Z is retaliating against the president after his administration has floated banning the Chinese-owned app — a favorite among their cohort — in recent days over data privacy concerns, which TikTok denies.

Big Tech marshals a right-leaning army of allies for antitrust fight

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As tech's giants prepare to face off with antitrust enforcers this summer, they will draw support from an array of predominantly right-leaning defenders ranging from influential former government officials to well-connected think tanks.

The big picture: The Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the states have multiple investigations of monopolistic behavior underway targeting Facebook and Google, with other giants like Amazon and Apple also facing rising scrutiny. Many observers expect a lawsuit against Google to land this summer.

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