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Facebook Scraps Plan To Create Non-Voting Stock Following Lawsuit

A day after Mark Zuckerberg's widely-criticized response to Russian use of Facebook to influence the 2016 US election, the Facebook founder and CEO was dealt yet another setback.

Facebook will halt the creation of “C Class” shares following a lawsuit, scrapping a plan to create a new class of non-voting shares for the company that would have allowed Zuckerberg to maintain control of Facebook while giving away his wealth via the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Facebook's decision to scrap the creation of the new non-voting shares comes as Zuckerberg and Facebook are increasingly scrutinized by Congress. Yesterday, Zuckerberg announced Facebook would turn over approximately 3,000 Russia-bought ads to federal lawmakers.

The creation of C Class shares would have entailed a three for one stock split, where one of the three had voting power and the others did not. Zuckerberg could then sell his shares without voting power and maintain control of the company.

“Today, Facebook’s board of directors is announcing a proposal to create a new class of stock that will allow us to achieve both goals. I’ll be able to keep founder control of Facebook so we can continue to build for the long term, and Priscilla and I will be able to give our money to fund important work sooner,” Zuckerberg said in a blog post announcing the shares intended creation.

The suing shareholders claimed that splitting the stock into three would have made the shares less valuable, and demanded the court halt their creation. It never got that far.

Facebook's decision will prevent Zuckerberg from taking the stand, as he was expected to this upcoming Tuesday.

A spokeperson for Grant & Eisenhofer, the law firm representing the shareholders in the suit, told BuzzFeed News, “in an impressive win for Facebook shareholders, the social networking giant has announced it is dropping plans to issue a new class of stock that would have allowed CEO Mark Zuckerberg to retain voting control of the company’s shares even as he sold down his own stake as part of a pledge to give away most of his wealth during his lifetime.”

Developing…



Source by Buzzfeed Tech

Here's What You Need To Know About Uber Being Banned In London

What’s going on?

What's going on?

London taxi drivers block Whitehall in Westminster, central London, during a protest over the regulation of private hire cars using the Uber app.

Dominic Lipinski / PA Archive/PA Images

After a long campaign by London's black-cab drivers, Transport for London has decided not to renew Uber's licence to trade as a private hire business, effectively banning it from the capital.

Uber has been active in London since 2012 and has built a business with, it claims, 3.5 million customers and 40,000 drivers. TfL was considering granting it a new five-year licence. But instead, its last day in operation here will be 30 September. It has 21 days to appeal.

It's a huge moment in the evolution of the so-called gig economy and a big test of how governments and regulators can halt the fast-paced growth of consumer technology as it disrupts traditional industries. Here are some more questions, and some (brief) answers:

Why is this happening now?

Why is this happening now?

Laura Dale / PA Wire/PA Images

TfL has told Uber it won't get a new private hire operator licence – the thing it needs to continue to operate in the city – because the transport body considers the company “not fit and proper” to have one, due to “potential public safety and security implications”.

TfL came to this decision for four reasons:

  1. How Uber reports “serious criminal offences”.
  2. How its drivers obtain medical certificates.
  3. How the company manages criminal background checks for drivers.
  4. Its use of software called Greyball, which it allegedly used to stop City Hall officials from using the app to carry out checks on how the service operates.

In short, Uber is facing a ban because it broke the rules as set out in the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, not because of its treatment of drivers or passengers.

City Hall has been keen to step up the regulation of taxi and private car drivers since Khan's election – in December it hired 50 new officers to make sure drivers and companies were sticking to the rules and had all the right paperwork.

What is Greyball?

What is Greyball?

Dominic Lipinski / PA Archive/PA Images

The New York Times revealed in March this year that Uber was using a software program called Greyball to effectively stop local licensing officers from using the service.

The system was designed to stop people who might threaten violence against drivers, or competitors posing as ordinary passengers, from using the app. It worked by serving a fake version of the app that allowed cars to be hailed but automatically cancelled them before they arrived.

As TfL puts it, this was “software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.”

Uber announced it would stop using Greyball days after it was exposed, and Uber said on Friday it has never been used in the UK. But this wasn't enough to appease TfL or London mayor Sadiq Khan, who backs the decision.

The TfL decision is latest in a string of PR disasters for Uber in 2017, which included former CEO Travis Kalanick apologising for a lack of diversity after claims of workplace sexism and apologising again after being caught on camera yelling at an Uber driver who complained about changes to his contract costing him money.

What does this mean for other UK towns and cities?

What does this mean for other UK towns and cities?

An Uber bus parked at the Imperial War Museum in Manchester.

Eamonn & James Clarke / Eamonn and James Clarke/PA Images

Uber is in 40 towns and cities across the UK, and after today's decision…that won't change.

TfL is the licensing authority for taxis and private hire cars in London but has no jurisdiction outside it.

Transport for Greater Manchester is the biggest transport authority outside the capital, but it can't decide whether to ban Uber or not – that's up to individual councils, and so far they are all pretty relaxed about ride-sharing.

A TfGM spokesperson said: “Unlike Transport for London, TfGM does not license taxi or private hire vehicles, businesses or drivers. The licensing of taxis and private hire vehicles and their drivers is managed individually by each of the local authorities in Greater Manchester.”

Plus, Uber splits up its regional businesses into separate companies – it's just Uber London Limited that won't have a licence after next week.

Councillor Nigel Murphy, executive member for neighbourhoods on Manchester city council, told BuzzFeed News: “We have a robust licensing system in place in Manchester, which ensures that all of our licence holders are vetted to a high standard. Uber Britannia – which is a separate company to Uber London – is licensed to operate in Manchester until 2021 as a private hire operator.

“As is the case with all licensees, we will continue to monitor their compliance with the conditions of their licence to operate, while at the same time monitoring events as they unfold in the capital.”

What happens now?

What happens now?

Andrew Matthews / PA Archive/PA Images

Uber has said it will appeal the decision and is likely to end up in the courts. It can still operate while the appeal is pending – so there's no immediate end in sight and there could be a lengthy legal battle ahead.

And this is hardly the company's first encounter with city regulators.

Both Uber and Lyft, a similar service, pulled out of Austin, Texas, in 2016 after the city's voters rejected a proposal that would have allowed them to self-regulated background checks on drivers.

But they returned in July this year after a law change, and at lower prices than before too. It could be that the same thing will happen in London: Uber could agree to changes to its terms and services and then return later on.

Khan's statement on Friday, which said “any operator of private hire services in London needs to play by the rules”, appears to hint that Uber is only losing its licence because it broke the rules, not because of what critics see as inherent moral flaws in the company's model.

London isn't the first European city to protest at Uber's presence. The company was the subject of taxi drivers' anger in of violent protests in Paris in 2015; Uber said in March this year that it was pulling out of Denmark, where it had thousands of drivers, because of “unworkable” changes to taxi rules; and in April this year a court ruling banned the service in Italy.



Source by Buzzfeed Tech

How Apple Built An iPhone Camera That Makes Everyone A Professional Photographer

BuzzFeed News; Getty Images

This fall, when hundreds of gorgeous, expertly lit portrait shots of friends, relatives, and their pets inevitably begin to dominate your Instagram feed, feel free to thank 17th-century Dutch master painters like Vermeer.

It's the day after Apple's Sept. 12 iPhone event and Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller is enthusiastically explaining the origins of the Portrait Lighting feature in the new iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. “We didn't just study portrait photography. We went all the way back to paint,” he explained.

Like the camera in every iPhone that preceded them, Apple is touting the cameras in the iPhone 8 Plus and the forthcoming iPhone X as its best ever. This year the company is particularly proud of these, which boast a marquee “Portrait Lighting” feature that brings a range of professional-looking effects to the already great photos the dual camera system on the iPhone 7 Plus is capable of taking.

“We didn't just study portrait photography. We went all the way back to paint.”

This year's leap, however, feels particularly meaningful. A number of early reviews of the iPhone 8 obsess over the camera — TechCrunch, for example, chose to review the phone exclusively as a camera. And there's a decent argument to be made that the enhancements to the camera systems in the 8 Plus and the X are some of the biggest upgrades in the new line. The camera's effects don't rely on filters. They're the result of Apple's new dual camera system working in concert with machine learning to sense a scene, map it for depth, and then change lighting contours over the subject. It's all done in real time, and you can even preview the results thanks to the company’s enormously powerful new A11 Bionic chip. The result, when applied to Apple scale, has the power to be transformative for modern photography, with millions of amateur shots suddenly professionalized. In many ways it's the fullest realization of the democratization of high-quality imagery that the company has been working toward since the iPhone 4.

And to get it right, Apple relied on what it does best: enthusiastic study and deconstruction of the art form it wishes to mimic and advance. In the case of the iPhones 8 Plus and X, this meant pouring over the way others have used lighting throughout history — Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, Vermeer.

“If you look at the Dutch Masters and compare them to the paintings that were being done in Asia, stylistically they're different,” Johnnie Manzari, a designer on Apple's Human Interface Team, says. “So we asked why are they different? And what elements of those styles can we recreate with software?”

Senior Reporter Alex Kantrowitz emotes in “Stage Light.”

BuzzFeed News

And then Apple went into the studio and attempted to do just that. “We spent a lot of time shining light on people and moving them around — a lot of time,” Manzari says. “We had some engineers trying to understand the contours of a face and how we could apply lighting to them through software, and we had other silicon engineers just working to make the process super-fast. We really did a lot of work.”

It's all a bit much, but it hints at the rigorous — perhaps even monomaniac — attention to detail that works for Apple when it is paired with the company's technological resources, like machine learning. Describing the design process, Schiller takes pains to note the collaboration between the esoteric studying and the raw tech.

“There’s the Augmented Reality team, saying, 'Hey, we need more from the camera because we want to make AR a better experience and the camera plays a role in that,'” Schiller says. “And the team that's creating Face ID, they need camera technology and hardware, software, sensors, and lenses to support on-device biometric identification. And so there are many roles the camera plays, either as a primary thing — to take a picture — or as a support thing, to help unlock your phone or enable an AR experience. And so there's a great deal of work between all the teams and all of these elements.”

“It's never just 'let's make a better camera.' It's what camera can we create? What can we contribute to photography?”

And when all these sides work together there's the potential to create a new paradigm for phone-based photography. When I ask Schiller about the evolution of the iPhone's camera, he acknowledges that the company has been deliberately and incrementally working towards a professional-caliber camera. But he quickly follows up with an addendum that tells you most everything you need to know about Apple and camera design: “It's never just 'let's make a better camera,'” he says. “It's what camera can we create? What can we contribute to photography?”

The company's ubiquitous “Shot on iPhone” advertising campaign, a series of iPhone-shot Time magazine covers, and the professional photographers using the iPhone as they would a Canon or Leica already bear witness to what it can accomplish. And the debut of the updated dual lens camera systems in the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X seems likely to reiterate it. While in beta, Portrait Lighting generally works well — miraculously well in some instances. My lone disappointment with it was failing to pull off a “Girl With a Pearl Earring”-style Stage Light portrait of my dopey dog Fergus. Turns out, portrait mode is designed for people.

Fashion and art photographer Kevin Lu (@sweatengine on Instagram) says he's been legitimately impressed by it, despite the occasional glitch. “It really opens the door to a lot of possibilities for me,” he observes.

Apple

What Apple's doing is using its software to light a photo as a lighting person might and, more broadly, taking away the complexity of how the fancy cameras you’d typically need to do that stuff work.

“We're in a time where the greatest advances in camera technology are happening as much in the software as in the hardware,” Schiller says. “And that obviously plays to Apple's strengths over traditional camera companies.”

But isn't something lost when you use software to simplify and automate a process that's historically been artistic? After all, there's something a bit dystopian feeling about pushing a button and essentially flattening the playing field between professionals and amateurs.

“This is not about dumbing things down,” Manzari observes, noting that as devices become more professional, they often become more intimidating. “This is about accessibility. It's about helping people take advantage of their own creativity.”

Apple

Manzari's point is that there are a lot of great photographers who are not professionally trained. They don't need or want to deal with an array of lenses and tools to calibrate focus and depth of field when they're shooting pictures. Nor should they have to. So why not take all the stuff away and give them something that can take a great shot?

“I think the attempt was less to mimic any one specific style and more to try to touch on the range of styles that exist, so we can try to find something for everybody, from core elements of style, rather than a particular design point,” Schiller says when I observe that “Stage Light” really does look like Vermeer, when it blacks out a subject's background.

“Truthfully, it wasn’t ‘make this one look like X,’” he says. “It was more, ‘let’s get enough range so that everyone has some different choices for different situations that cover key use cases.’ So it's learning from the way others have used lighting throughout history, and around the world.”

It's worth noting that Apple has been working towards this in ways that are far less flashy than Portrait Lighting. The cameras on the 8 Plus and the X, for example, detect snow as a situation and automatically make adjustments to white balance, exposure, and whatnot so you don't need to worry about it. “It's all seamless; the camera just does what it needs to,” says Schiller. “The software knows how to take care of it for you. There are no settings.”

There are no settings. In other words, yes, “it just works.”

Perhaps none of this should come as a surprise. Not only has Apple slowly been building toward this level of photography with the iPhone for the better part of a decade, but the blurring of the lines between professionalism and amateurism — laying a friendly, simple veneer atop dizzying and complex technology — has been a hallmark of Apple's innovation since its inception.

“What does it mean to be a photographer?”

It's the principle behind the company's creation of a computer desktop and drag-and-drop file folder organization system. And it's the same ethos behind programs like iMovie, iPhoto, and GarageBand, which gave anyone with an interest and a bit of creativity tools that looked almost like the pros'. Inside the new iPhone cameras that's all taken a step farther. No skeuomorphic interfaces to navigate. Just a button, some lenses, and any number of complex algorithms and processors. And some striking results. Vermeer-esque, even.

“We think the best way to build a camera is by asking simple, foundational questions about photography,” Manzari says. “What does it mean to be a photographer? What does it mean to capture a memory? If you start there — and not with a long list of possible features to check off — you often end up with something better. When you take away the complexity of how the camera works, the technology just disappears. Then people can apply all your creativity to that moment you're capturing. And you get some incredible photographs.”



Source by Buzzfeed Tech

The Case Of The Ever-Mysterious Nonexistent Bodega Units

Bodega

Corner stores can breathe a bit easier today. Bodega, the startup that uses computer vision to sell everyday items from a cabinet, isn't off to nearly as strong a start as you were led to believe.

Bodega, which debuted to mixed reviews last week when people thought it was attempting to put beloved local corner stores out of business, initially declared it was “currently live” in more than 30 locations in the Bay Area. But the real number is approximately half of that.

BuzzFeed News discovered the discrepancy between Bodega's declared number of units and its actual number of units when trying to arrange a video shoot at one of the locations listed on a map on the company's website.

The Bodega location map

Bodega

People at six locations listed on Bodega's map told BuzzFeed News they did not have a Bodega unit on their property. Some people at listed locations said they were only in preliminary discussions with the company.

After a handful of emails back and forth, Bodega cofounder Paul McDonald told BuzzFeed News 14 Bodega units were live as of this Wednesday, with 21 expected to go live by the end of next week, and approximately 30 in the next two to three weeks.

And in a Medium post last Wednesday, McDonald disputed the notion that Bodega was encroaching on the turf of mom and pop stores. “We want to bring commerce to places where commerce currently doesn’t exist,” he said. Turns out, the public had less to worry about than it thought.

After being contacted by BuzzFeed News, Bodega changed its website copy to indicate some of the 30 locations were not yet live.

Bodega

Sonoma State University, one listed location, has no active relationship with Bodega but is looking into it, Neil Markley, its associate vice president for administration and finance told BuzzFeed News. “We do not have a Bodega unit on our campus, nor do we have a contract with Bodega,” Markley wrote in an email.

Flagship Athletic Perfomance, another of the 30 locations, told BuzzFeed News it doesn't have units in two of its locations listed on the map. “How strange, thank you for bringing that to our attention. We only had preliminary talks with them,” the company said in a Facebook message.

One Bodega location, Avenue 64 Apartments in Emeryville, California, told BuzzFeed News it did have a Bodega unit. And Business Insider found another unit inside Managed by Q, another listed property.

“We wrote the copy for the website a few weeks before launch,” McDonald told BuzzFeed News in an email. “We were going for simple with all the other things we had to do before launch.”



Source by Buzzfeed Tech

Social Media Platforms’ In-App Ad Tools Aren’t Good Enough For The FTC

Sorry, celebrities and influencers: In a Twitter chat on Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Trade Commission said that it’s not enough to rely on the built-in features provided by Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to indicate if something is a sponsored post.

The FTC has not, until now, been specific about the issue, but during the chat (which used the hashtag #Influencers101), it came out definitively against built-in social media disclosures as being sufficient:

Instagram announced a feature in June that would allow influencers to do certain posts with a geotag that says “paid partnership with [Brand].” At the time, the FTC declined to comment when asked by BuzzFeed News if they would accept this as a good enough disclosure for sponsored posts.

The new Instagram “paid partnership with” feature, which is only available to a limited amount of influencers

@songofstyle / Instagram / Via instagram.com

Other platforms were already offering similar features. Facebook launched a “tag the sponsor”-type feature at the end of 2016. It says “Katie with [Brand]” and the “Paid” below in a small font. It’s pretty easy to miss.

(I wasn't actually paid to post this to Facebook.)

BuzzFeed News

On YouTube, anyone can check a small box in the bottom corner of the “Advanced Settings” that allows you to say it’s a paid ad and you want YouTube to show its disclosure feature. That disclosure feature, which launched in October 2016, is tiny white lettering that appears near the play button for the beginning of the video. It’s…not exactly super easy to see.

YouTube's “Includes paid promotion” disclaimer, which is pretty small

BuzzFeed News

These built-in features from platforms are kind of a halfway–bandage approach: The platforms seem aware that these features are probably not going to pass muster with the FTC and other trade commissions like the UK’s Committee of Advertising Practices, but they don’t offer any warning to their users that using the tool isn’t enough. And that’s probably because ultimately, it’s up to the creators, celebrities, and influencers on these social platforms to be upfront about ads. On Wednesday, the FTC made it clear that it wants to see things like #ad (not vague terms like #ambassador, #hosted, or #collab) clearly placed in an Instagram caption, or superimposed on an image in an Instagram story. For YouTube videos, influencers should say in the video itself that it’s an ad, as well as in the video title and description. Facebook gives you plenty of text space in a status to mention that something is an ad or promotion.

In fact, by providing a weak way of disclosing ads, these social platforms are making things worse for influencers, who might assume that the platform’s built-in feature is good enough. They likely figure that if they check that box, then they don’t need to say #ad in a caption or elsewhere — when in fact, they do. And this means that their fans won’t all be able to discern if what they’re seeing is something their favorite celebrity is genuinely recommending, or if it's something that celeb was paid to promote.

The FTC recently cracked down — for the first time ever — on individual Instagram celebrities who were doing undisclosed advertisements. (In the past, the FTC has gone after brands and marketers for undisclosed social ads, but never the individuals.) On September 6, they sent letters to 21 celebrities, including Ciara, Scott Disick, Amber Rose, and Vanessa Hudgens, that warned them about undisclosed ads they had posted.

Even before Wednesday’s Twitter chat, the FTC already had guidelines on its website that said that disclosure features from social networks (they don’t get specific) aren't enough on their own. While the guidelines are long and it’s likely that not all influencers have combed through them, brands are also responsible for making sure their influencers are compliant. In the #Influencers101 chat, the FTC did say that if a brand has given an influencer the rules and they continue to flout them, they should no longer advertise with the influencer and would not be held responsible for the influencer's non-compliance.

Judging from the number of questions during the FTC's Twitter chat, influencers are still pretty confused about the rules – what counts as an ad, and how to disclose it. The fact that social platforms have tools that aren't clear enough doesn't help either. With confusion on all ends, it's still as hard as ever for regular people to know when they're seeing an ad on social media.



Source by Buzzfeed Tech

Facebook Will Give Congress The More Than 3,000 Ads Purchased By A Russian Troll Farm

Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Facing mounting pressure from government officials and the public, Facebook will now provide U.S. House and Senate intelligence committees with the more than 3,000 ads it believes were purchased by a Russian troll factory during the 2016 election, a company official told BuzzFeed News.

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg also announced in a Facebook live that the company will put an end to so-called “dark post” ads on its platform by enabling people to view the ads being run from a page. Currently, a page can target an ad at a specific group of people on Facebook, and only those people are able to view the content.

“Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser's page and see the ads they are currently running to any audience on Facebook,” he said. “We will roll this out over the coming months.”

Zuckerberg also said the company will double the size of its election integrity team, and that the company has not found evidence of any Russian-linked ad buys during the current German election.

Prior to today's announcement, Congressional investigators were frustrated by Facebook's unwillingness to hand over more information about the ads purchased by a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency. The company's general counsel explained in a blog post shared with BuzzFeed News why they decided to hand over the ads and information.

“We believe the public deserves a full accounting of what happened in the 2016 election, and we've concluded that sharing the ads we've discovered, in a manner that is consistent with our obligations to protect user information, can help,” he said.

Reuters previously reported that the company had handed over the content of at least some ads to special counsel Robert Mueller, and Zuckerberg appeared to confirm that during his brief live video.

“We are in a new world… and we are committed to rising to the occasion,” he said.



Source by Buzzfeed Tech

These Places Are Thirsty AF To Be Chosen As Amazon's New Headquarters

Cities across North America are showing Amazon how desperate they are to be the chosen location for the company’s next headquarters.

Cities across North America are showing Amazon how desperate they are to be the chosen location for the company's next headquarters.

Getty Images/Emmanuel Dunand

Amazon announced earlier this month that it is searching for a city where it will build its second headquarters — to be located elsewhere than its current home base, in Seattle.

It's not asking for much, really: Aside from a city with more than 1 million people, the company wants on-site access to mass transit, strong cell phone service, and easy access to a major highway or road. The company also wants to be within 45 minutes of an international airport.

It also wants the cities that raise their hands to provide traffic congestion figures, crime data, statistics on local workers, and information about local universities. Amazon says it is seeking a city that will give its employees “an overall high quality of life.” (In other words, don't apply unless you have bars, restaurants, and a Starbucks nearby.)

The payoff, obviously, is huge: Amazon says that its new headquarters will bring as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs to the place that it picks — as well as a potential boost of billions of dollars to the local economy.

The potential windfall that Amazon will bring to its city of choice has some places doing some pretty desperate things to stand out:

Tucson, Arizona, a city of about 530,700 people, sent Amazon a giant cactus as a welcome gift to the company.

Tucson, Arizona, a city of about 530,700 people, sent Amazon a giant cactus as a welcome gift to the company.

AP/Madge Stager

Sun Corridor Inc., an economic development group in southern Arizona working with Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Commerce Authority to develop a strong proposal for the company, sent a flatbed truck carrying a 21-foot Saguaro cactus to Amazon in Seattle last week, hoping to catch the attention of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

“We wanted to make sure Mr. Bezos and his team notice us, and send a message of ‘We have room for you to grow here for the long term’ — nothing signifies that better than a Saguaro,” Joe Snell, Sun Corridor’s president and CEO, told the Associated Press.

@amazonnews / Via Twitter: @amazonnews

Womp, Womp.

@karenaboutgary / Via Twitter: @karenaboutgary

“I know locating to me may seem far-fetched,” the city writes about itself. “But 'far-fetched' is what we do in America. It was far-fetched for 13 scrawny American colonies to succeed against the might of the British Empire. Far-fetched to land a man on the moon. Far-fetched for a business selling books out of a garage to succeed in business and philanthropy. Like Amazon, I am, once again, both a game changer and a unique opportunity.”

People in Stamford, Connecticut, are so desperate to throw their hat in the ring for Amazon’s second headquarters they’ve been flooding the city’s economic development office with phone calls, according to the Stamford Advocate.

People in Stamford, Connecticut, are so desperate to throw their hat in the ring for Amazon's second headquarters they've been flooding the city's economic development office with phone calls, according to the Stamford Advocate.

Getty Images/Spencer Platt

The calls became so overwhelming that Thomas Madden, director of economic development with the city, drafted a boilerplate response to anyone asking the city to apply.

“We believe Stamford, and the lower Fairfield County region, is well positioned as a desirable location for Amazon’s headquarters,” Madden wrote, according to the Stamford Advocate. “Stamford is one of the few cities that has the workforce, infrastructure, and quality of life that we believe Amazon is looking for.”

Toronto has also expressed interest. And one Toronto resident made a desperate plea for Amazon to bring its billions to update the city’s train system.

Toronto has also expressed interest. And one Toronto resident made a desperate plea for Amazon to bring its billions to update the city's train system.

@SuzanneHajdu

Hajdu, who says in her Twitter profile that she is a landscape architect and gardener, was complaining to the Toronto Transit Commission about conditions for commuters — conditions that Amazon may not be thrilled to have for its workers.

Applicants have until Oct. 19 to submit proposals. Others cities that have shown interest include Boston, Chicago, Denver, and Philadelphia.

Applicants have until Oct. 19 to submit proposals. Others cities that have shown interest include Boston, Chicago, Denver, and Philadelphia.

Giphy / Via giphy.com



Source by Buzzfeed Tech

The Apple TV 4K Is The Apple TV Nobody Needs (Yet)

BuzzFeed; Apple

There are two kinds of twenty/thirty-somethings in this world: the kind who own a TV, and the kind who mooch on their friends who own TVs. And among those who do own a TV, there are only a few who have a 4K setup.

In this extremely unscientific poll aimed at people in their twenties and thirties, only 15% of the 1,229 ~yung adults~ polled said they own a 4K TV. Nearly 65% said they own a non-4K TV. Multiple commenters said that they had 1080p televisions from four or five years ago that still work, so there’s no need to upgrade.

The fact that 4K TVs are much more affordable and ubiquitous than they once were (Costco and Walmart both offer mostly 4K TVs, and for as little as ~$300-$400) doesn’t seem to matter.

What that means is if you don’t have a 4K TV, you don’t need the new Apple TV 4K (yet, anyway).

The new Apple TV will work on non-4K displays, too, but I’d just recommend getting the less expensive previous generation ($149 vs. $179 for the 4K model), unless you’re considering upgrading to a 4K TV in the future.

And if you do have a 4K TV, Apple’s new model, which ships on Sept. 22, is the most powerful — and expensive — streaming device you can buy.

It’s really only for those who want to buy content from the iTunes store, use an over-the-air tuner to watch broadcast TV (like ABC or NBC), or connect their Macs or iPhones via AirPlay. It’s also designed specifically for people who use Apple products. For example, you can turn your TV into an external monitor for your Mac with AirPlay, or use your iPhone to type in usernames and passwords so you don’t have to use the horrible on-screen keyboard. Android and Windows users don’t have these options and should consider other streamers.

Sure, the Apple TV 4K offers some extra bells and whistles, like being able to control your smart home, download third-party apps (like Panna, a cooking app, or Zova, a fitness app), or view iCloud library photos on the big screen. But the bottom line is: If you just need something to stream on-demand content from providers like Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, or Amazon Video, the Roku ($60-$100), Fire TV Stick ($40) (the Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD is currently unavailable), and Chromecast ($35 to $69) have got you covered.

Netflix

The new Apple TV 4K is for people who have the latest tech, and are really into their home entertainment systems.

It can support displays with HDR10 (or High Dynamic Range), which doesn’t refer to resolution, or number of pixels, but how those pixels appear on screen. HDR makes colors look more vivid, and it’s available in newer 4K TVs bought within the last two years. Apple’s new media streamer also supports Dolby Vision, another HDR standard, found in newer, fancier TVs.

The Roku Ultra ($100) and Chromecast Ultra ($69) also support 4K HDR10, but not Dolby Vision.

There are some smaller refinements in this Apple TV.

It now supports gigabit ethernet for a faster wired connection. You can also use a new Apple TV remote from the Control Center in iOS 11 devices. A new feature called “One Home” syncs your homescreen across multiple Apple TVs (as long as you have the 2015 model or newer). If you have AirPods, those will automatically connect. And the Siri Remote has a raised ring around the menu button, so it’s easier to feel your way around it in the dark.

Live sports are also coming to Apple TV, and the device is expanding to new countries by the year’s end (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the UK).

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed News

I, admittedly, only own a 4K computer monitor — and the 4K content that is available looks great on it with the new Apple TV.

The Apple TV 4K does indeed stream content in 4K. I watched Chef’s Table and a surf/wanderlust movie called Given via Netflix. You can just ask Siri “Find me shows in 4K” or “Find me movies in 4K” to help narrow down your results. There isn’t too much there, but it’s growing. Amazon Prime Video has a decent selection of 4K content, like Manchester by the Sea and Transparent. It doesn’t have a native app for Apple TV yet, though Amazon swears it’s coming.

Notably, if you purchased movies in the past from iTunes that are available in 4K, you will be retroactively upgraded to the higher definition version, for free. Movies from 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount, Universal, Warner Brothers, and Sony Pictures are applicable (but sadly, no Disney). There’s also a new landing page for iTunes 4K movies.

It’s not just 4K TV shows and movies that look great on the Apple TV. The text in the interface looks smooth and crisp too — and the screensavers look UNREAL.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed News

Apps and games will be updated in 4K as well. The Apple TV has been upgraded with a A10X chip, the same processor in the new iPad Pro. It’s twice as fast as the previous Apple TV released in 2015, and intended to power games. Alto’s Adventure, Crossy Road, Minecraft, and Guitar Hero Live are some fun titles on Apple TV, but it’s still not a natural destination for gamers. You’ll want an Apple TV-compatible controller (like the $50 Nimbus, sold separately), because the Siri Remote isn’t a comfortable gamepad.

Ultimately, the new Apple TV 4K is best for those who have already bought into the iTunes content ecosystem and were looking to update to 4K, since the previous version didn’t support it.


The 32GB model is $179 (best for streaming) and the 64 GB model is $199 (best for those who download movies and games).



Source by Buzzfeed Tech

Flynn And Trump Jr. Dominate Coverage Of Trump's Associates In Russia Investigation

Carlos Barria / Reuters

When it comes to the ongoing Trump/Russia investigations, the media — and readers — have made their interests clear: former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort may be a crucial figure, but he's nowhere near as interesting as Don Jr. or Michael Flynn.

That is according to Facebook data collected by the social media data and optimization firm Social Flow, which tracked how many stories have been written about Trump's family members and associates regarding Russia in 2017 across its network of over 300 major media companies. The company also monitored engagement across its network on Facebook, tracking average clicks per story for articles about each associate, as well as the aggregate Facebook reach of articles they're mentioned in. Taken together, the chart attempts to gauge reader interest in each player (according to Social Flow President Trump was left off the chart because his results “dwarfs everything” and skew the results).

Here's what we learned from the data:

Social Flow

The Trump associate Russia narrative is dominated by Flynn.

With regard to Russia, Flynn is by far the most covered of anyone in Trumpland (besides the President). According to Social Flow, Flynn has been mentioned in at least one Russia-related article 157 days in 2017 (out of 260 counted in the data) meaning his name has rarely been out of the news.

According to the data, Russia stories involving former national security advisor Michael Flynn and Donald Trump Jr. are far and away more interesting to readers than other associates like Manafort or even Jared Kushner. Individually, Russia stories about Flynn and Trump Jr. have an aggregate reach on Facebook of nearly 300 million users since January 1, 2017. Meanwhile, Social Flow data on Russia-related stories about Kushner shows an aggregate Facebook reach of just over 125 million users — Manafort's trails far below that with an aggregate reach on Facebook of just 50 million.

The data also shows that many prominent Trump associates whose names have been mentioned in media coverage of the campaign's potential involvements with Russia are not necessarily household names. According to Social Flow, Trump advisors Roger Stone, Carter Page, and Michael Cohen have appeared frequently in media coverage (Stone, for example, has been mentioned in at least one article about Russia 98 out of 260 days in 2017) but none have attracted the kind of substantial reach across Facebook as Flynn, Don Jr., and Kushner.

When it comes to Russia, data shows that not all Trump sons are equal.

While stories about Don Jr. have vast reach across Facebook and a high number of average clicks across the social network, Russia related stories mentioning Eric Trump have not captivated audiences. This can probably be chalked up to the coverage disparity between the two brothers (in 2017 Don Jr. has at least one Russia related article published about him on 76 days comapred to just 23 for Eric Trump) as well as the midsummer revelations of Don Jr.'s 2016 contacts with Russia.

Social Flow

There's no shortage of media coverage of Trump associates' ties to Russia.

Social Flow tracked the combined stories published each day across its network, which includes major publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, BBC, Politico, and more. The data illustrates that, while coverage ebbs and flows, it never stops. Across Social Flow's network, coverage of Trump associates and Russia rarely dips below a combined 100 articles a day.

And since most of the coverage is driven by breaking news, Social Flow's chart also acts as a helpful map of the year according to Russia. The chart's spikes, for example, show some of the biggest stories of the year, including the Steele Dossier published by BuzzFeed News on January 10th, revelations on May 15th that President Trump revealed highly classified intelligence with Russian ambassadors, and the July 10th and 11th stories about Don Jr.'s contacts with Russia.

All told, however, the data seems to confirm what many already take to be true: the Trump/Russia reporting is massive, complex story that's captured the interest of hundreds of millions of readers. And it's one that doesn't appear to be going away.



Source by Buzzfeed Tech

Sheryl Sandberg Says Facebook Will Tweak Its Ad Platform To Eliminate Hateful Categories

Justin Tallis / AFP / Getty Images

Facebook is making changes to its ad platform in an attempt to prevent people from using it for hateful ad targeting.

On Wednesday afternoon, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg responded to a ProPublica report published last week that found advertisers could use Facebook to target people interested in topics like “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” and the Nazi Party. In a Facebook post, Sandberg called the targeting criteria totally inappropriate, and said Facebook will make changes to prevent similar issues from taking place again.

“Seeing those words made me disgusted and disappointed – disgusted by these sentiments and disappointed that our systems allowed this,” she said.

Here’s Sandberg’s full post:

View Video ›

Facebook: sheryl

Before last week's report, whenever someone wrote anything into Facebook's self-reported profile fields — education, employment, job title, and field of study — Facebook's ad system would automatically make that entry a targeting option. So people listing “Jew hater” in their field of study automatically turned “Jew hater” into an ad targeting option. To fix the problem, Facebook is adding human review to the process, hoping it will be a firewall against something like this happening again. ProPublica found the targeting criteria inside Facebook's ad system following a tip. there were 2,274 people in the “Jew hater” category that it discovered.

Facebook is also working on a program “to encourage people on Facebook to report potential abuses of our ads system to us directly,” Sandberg said. The company will also clarify its ad policies and tighten its enforcement of the policies Sandberg said, without providing much more detail.

Sandberg admitted in her post that Facebook was unprepared for such abuse because it hadn't considered it. “We never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way – and that is on us. And we did not find it ourselves – and that is also on us,” she said.

Facebook's inability to anticipate how less-than-altruistic people might abuse its products has been a long-running problem and has factored into a number of its biggest crises, from its fake news scandal to the shocking level of violence that's aired on Facebook Live. As BuzzFeed News' Mat Honan put it in April, “The problem with connecting everyone on the planet is that a lot of people are assholes.”

Asked if the need to add human reviewers means there's a fundamental flaw with its technology, Facebook directed BuzzFeed News to this line in Sandberg's post: “The fact that hateful terms were even offered as options was totally inappropriate and a fail on our part.”



Source by Buzzfeed Tech