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Instagram agrees curbs on paid influencers, says UK watchdog – CNA

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Facebook’s Instagram has agreed measures to crack down on hidden advertising by paid so-called influencers on its photo and video platform, Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of the Instagram logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

LONDON: Facebook’s Instagram has agreed measures to crack down on hidden advertising by paid so-called influencers on its photo and video platform, Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said on Friday.

Influencers with thousands of followers can earn large fees from companies to promotes a product on Instagram.

In what the CMA described as an important behaviour shift by a major social media platform, Facebook Ireland, which operates Instagram in Britain, has committed to a package of changes.

“This will make it much harder for people to post an advert on Instagram without labelling it as such,” the CMA said in a statement.

The watchdog said it has been investigating concerns that too many influencers are posting content about businesses without making it clear they have been paid or received other incentives to do so.

Influencers will have to confirm and disclose if they have received any incentives to promote a product or service.

Instagram will also use technology to spot when users might not have disclosed clearly that a post is an advertisement, the CMA said.

Last year, 16 celebrities pledged to clean up their act on social media after CMA action, the watchdog said.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by David Goodman)

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Does an Apple Search Engine Make Sense? – Motley Fool

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“I think their search engine is the best,” Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook said nearly two years ago when asked about Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) subsidiary Google’s controversial role as the default search provider in Apple products. The long-standing arrangement, which dates to 2005, wasn’t always so controversial, but recent antitrust scrutiny of major tech companies has shined a light on the far-reaching implications of the partnership — and how critical it is to Google’s traffic.

With risks around the deal intensifying, it comes as little surprise that Apple is exploring the alternative option of creating its own search engine.

Image source: Apple.

Applebot has been more active lately

Financial Times reports that Apple is ramping up its development of a proprietary search engine that could theoretically displace Google as the default provider at some point in the future. Apple has historically outsourced embedded search functions to both Google and Microsoft Bing but has faced recent criticisms for partnering with Google while simultaneously bashing advertising businesses as part of its ongoing privacy crusade.

Years ago, Apple created Applebot, a web crawler that indexes web pages for Siri and Spotlight. It is similar to the technology that Google uses. Search pundits have observed a recent spike in Applebot activity, according to the report, which suggests that the Mac maker is scaling its efforts to index more websites as it builds a database.

Apple is also starting to increasingly display its own search results in certain parts of iOS 14, Financial Times notes.

The search partnership allegedly undermines competition

The Department of Justice filed a formal antitrust complaint against Google last week, alleging that Google engages in anticompetitive conduct, including its pact with Apple. The search leader uses the agreement to effectively block out competition, while Apple is paid handsomely (estimated at $8 billion to $12 billion per year) for its role, according to the suit.

“Google’s documents recognize that ‘Safari default is a significant revenue channel’ and that losing the deal would fundamentally harm Google’s bottom line,” the prosecutors wrote. “Thus, Google views the prospect of losing default status on Apple devices as a ‘Code Red’ scenario.”

The DOJ estimates that the deal covers approximately 36% of all search queries in the U.S. across mobile devices and desktop computers. The complaint also points out that Google estimates that nearly 50% of all search traffic came from Apple devices last year.

The payments from Google are one of the biggest growth drivers for Apple’s services segment, and there are now fears that regulators could push to dismantle the alliance. Google calls the DOJ’s arguments “dubious.”

Should Apple acquire a search engine?

Over the summer, Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi suggested that Apple should acquire privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo in order to compete directly with Google in search. Apple could likely scoop up the smaller search company for less than $1 billion, according to the analyst’s estimates.

However, that theoretical acquisition would end up costing Apple a lot more — in the form of lost revenue from Google. Sacconaghi’s estimate for how much Google pays Apple is on the lower end ($7 billion to $8 billion). Somewhat undercutting the idea is the fact that DuckDuckGo licenses Bing’s web crawler technology, so purchasing the company may have limited strategic value, particularly if Apple is pushing forward with Applebot.

Apple has been aggressively insourcing “core” technologies in recent years in order to better differentiate itself from rivals. Should search be included on that growing list?

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Xbox Series X stock shortages could last 'for a few months' after launch, admits Microsoft – TechRadar

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Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has warned that Xbox Series X stock shortages could last “for a few months” after launch.

Xbox Series X pre-orders quickly sold out when they opened on September 22, but if you’ve been waiting to pick up Microsoft’s flagship console on launch day, you might be disappointed.

Speaking in appearance on the Dropped Frames podcast, Spencer conceded that demand will continue to outstrip supply for its new consoles this year, and into 2021. 

“We know what our supply will look like basically for the rest of the year. We’re going to have more demand than we do supply,” Spencer said. 

“And I will apologize in advance to people for that. We saw it with pre-orders, how much energy there was, and we were basically out [of stock] in a couple of hours, which is unfortunate. I think we are going to live in that world for a few months. We’re going to have a lot more demand than we do supply.”

Demand is high for next-gen

The situation echoes what Sony Interactive Entertainment’s CEO Jim Ryan said in a recent interview regarding PS5 stock

Ryan said that “the demand as expressed by the level of pre-order [sic] has been very, very considerable” and that “not everybody who wants to buy a PS5 on launch day will be able to find one.”

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S release on November 10 and are priced at $499 / £429 / AU$749 and $299 / £249 / AU$499 respectively. 

You can read our Xbox Series X hands-on preview now, and also watch us unbox Microsoft’s new premium console, as well as the smaller Xbox Series S.

Via GameSpot

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New PS5 app revealed — here’s how it works

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With the official debut of the PS5 just around the corner, Sony is pulling out all the stops to offer buyers the best launch experience possible. That includes rolling out an updated version of the PlayStation App, which has been “reimagined” for use with both the PS4 and PS5.

The app’s global rollout will begin by way of iOS updates on devices running iOS 12.2 or later and Android 6.0 or later.

The revamped app introduces a selection of new features, like voice chat, native PS Store integration, and improvements to the user interface meant to offer a more expedient and quality browsing experience. PS5 users will interact with their new consoles through the PlayStation App, even when they’re away, so the app updates focus on making more of the social experience and remote aspect of controlling each console.

The updated user interface offers quicker access to the PlayStation home screen to see what others are playing along with updates on your own Trophies. This should make it easier to decide what to play based on your current game progress or what others are doing.

If you’re feeling social, you can create party groups straight from within the PlayStation App, as well as voice chat with up to 15 friends from your phone. If text chat is more your thing, that’s covered, too. The PS Messages app feature has also been folded into the main PlayStation App instead of existing outside as a standalone program. Thus, existing messages or contact information will simply be stored in the main PlayStation App from now on.

(Image credit: Sony)

Controlling and managing your PlayStation downloads is an important app function as well. The new PS Store will let you browse and shop much more quickly than you could with the previous console iteration. You can remotely download games and DLC to your PS4 or PS5 so when you’re ready to come back for a play session, everything is good to go. When the PS5 is available, the app will also let you remotely launch games, sign into your PS5 from the app, and allow you to manage storage remotely as well.

The PlayStation app will also feature official PlayStation-centric news found in the Explore tab. You can check out any announcements via the PS Blog and information straight from the developers themselves here to learn a bit more about what’s going on in the industry.

The PS App is available right now via the App Store and Google Play, though the latest updates won’t be out for some time. If you want to get the most out of the app, you’ll first need to sign up for a PlayStation Network account. With only a few weeks left until the Nov. 12 launch, it might be a good day to go ahead and download the app now and see what features are available before the PS5 arrives.

Source: – Tom’s Guide

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