What’s new in tech
Google may play by China’s rules
Google is planning “a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest,” said Ryan Gallagher in TheIntercept.com. The controversial project—code-named Dragonfly—was expedited after Google boss Sundar Pichai met with Chinese government officials last December. The move marks “a dramatic shift in Google’s policy on China.” Previously unwilling to censor search results as China’s government demanded, Google has not operated in China in eight years. The Chinese search app in development would “automatically identify and filter sites blocked by the Great Firewall,” such as websites with information about political opponents, free speech, or the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. The existence of the customized app was revealed by Google employees concerned about the ethics of cooperating with China’s government.
More fakes on Facebook
Facebook has uncovered a new cluster of accounts it says “engaged in coordinated political agitation and misinformation efforts ahead of November’s midterm elections,” said Robert McMillan and Deepa Seetharaman in The Wall Street Journal. The social network removed accounts with names like Aztlan Warriors, Black Elevation, and Resisters from its flagship platform and sister site Instagram. One lawmaker said that the accounts, followed by 290,000 Facebook users, were designed to “sow discord, distrust, and division.” The new wave of incendiary accounts “raise the specter” that despite the recent indictment of Russians linked to the Kremlin for election interference, those efforts continue apace.
The tough math of streaming TV
“The transition of TV viewers from traditional cable to streaming alternatives is underway,” said Jessica Toonkel and Tom Dotan in TheInformation.com. But for Google’s YouTube TV and Hulu Live, it hasn’t been an easy ride. YouTube TV now has almost 800,000 subscribers and Hulu Live about 1 million. Unlike Netflix, which runs its own shows and a selection of licensed content, they’re designed to replace a traditional cable package. “But these streaming services have yet to figure out how to make money.” Google, for example, pays an estimated $49 a month for a package of channels it sells to subscribers for $40. If these services can’t cut their costs, the more subscribers they get, “the more money they lose.”