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EngadgetFeb 03, 2023
Instagram could be working on a paid verification feature
Instagram might be considering the possibility of offering paid verification to users, based on code seen by reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi. The developer shared screenshots in the app's code with TechCrunch, showing lines that say: "IG_NME_PAID_BLUE_BADGE_IDV" and "FB_NME_PAID_BLUE_BADGE_IDV." They clearly say "paid blue badge," most likely referencing the blue checkmarks verified users on the platform get. FB and IG stand for Facebook and Instagram, which could mean that Meta is thinking of verifying users for a fee across platforms. IDV, as TechCrunch notes, is a known acronym for "identity verification." Paluzzi has unearthed numerous unreleased features in the past, including a BeReal-like feature and in-app scheduler on Instagram.

In addition, the developer also reportedly discovered code referencing a new type of subscription, though it's unclear if it's directly connected to paid verification. Twitter Blue, as you know, is a subscription service that costs $8 to $11 a month and gives users access to the website's verified checkmark, along with some experimental features. Offering paid verification was one of the earliest moves Elon Musk made upon taking over Twitter, and it did make Blue look more appealing to prospective subscribers. Its launch was pretty disastrous, however, as the company didn't implement safeguards to prevent random users from impersonating companies and high-profile persona

EngadgetFeb 02, 2023
Senator asks Apple and Google to ban TikTok from their app stores
TikTok is facing yet another call from a prominent lawmaker for the app's ban, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Apple and Google urging the companies to ban TikTok from their respective app stores.

In the letter, Bennet says that "TikTok, in its current form, [is] an unacceptable threat to the national security of the United States." The letter, addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, repeats many of the same points that have been raised by other lawmakers seeking to ban the app.

Specifically, Bennet raises the possibility that TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, could be compelled to "use its influence to advance Chinese government interests," via TikTok. "Like most social media platforms, TikTok collects vast and sophisticated data from its users, including faceprints and voiceprints," Bennet writes. "Unlike most social media platforms, TikTok poses a unique concern because Chinese law obligates ByteDance, its Beijing-based parent company, to ‘support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work.'"

TikTok has long denied that such scenarios could play out, and has attempted to downplay its ties to China. In a statement to CNN the company said Bennet's letter "relies almost exclusively on misleading reporting about TikTok, the data we collect, and our data security controls."

Apple and Google didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

While it seems unlikely either company would take such a drastic step based on a

Apple's record service revenue couldn't make up for falling hardware sales (Engadget)

SlashDotFeb 02, 2023
Documents Show Meta Paid For Data Scraping Despite Years of Denouncing It

Is Meta Actually Making a Comeback? (Gizmodo)
Mark Zuckerberg's net worth spikes $12 billion as Meta's cost-cutting plans send shares soaring (Yahoo Technology)

Washington Post TechFeb 02, 2023
Lackluster earnings reports show Big Tech's golden age is fading
Meta's stock jumps 23 percent after the company forecasts more cuts, calling 2023 "the year of efficiency."

Yahoo TechnologyFeb 02, 2023
Meta Was Scraping Sites for Years While Fighting the Practice

EngadgetJan 31, 2023
EU vows to get tougher on Big Tech privacy violations
The European Union is eager to crack down on Big Tech's alleged privacy abuses, but the reliance on individual countries to enforce General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules has led to lengthy cases with punishments that are frequently modest. There will soon be pressure to act decisively, however. The European Commission will now require that EU nations share overviews of "large-scale" GDPR investigations every two months. This includes "key procedural steps" and actions taken — national regulators will have to show they're moving forward.

The tougher approach comes after the EU Ombudsman recommended closer monitoring of Big Tech cases that fall under the Irish Data Protection Commission, which regulates Meta and other industry giants. The rights group Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) made a complaint to the Ombudsman accusing Ireland's commission of being too slow and lenient against privacy violations. Just weeks ago, Europe's Data Protection Board forced Ireland to raise a data processing fine against Meta from €28 million to €390 million ($30.4 million to $423.3 million).

As Bloombergobserves, the European Commission is already issuing reports every two years on the overall status of GDPR enforcement. However, it hasn't conducted thorough, frequent reviews of individual countries' privacy regulators. This new requirement will theoretically hold all EU member states accountable if they delay investigations or don't apply the law when necessary. This could inc

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