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Google Changes Abortion Ad Policy

Advertisers planning to run ads on Google referring to abortion services in the United States, Britain and Ireland must first get clearance from the search giant, the company said in an online post.After outrage over recent reports of misleading abortion-related ads, Google said it would require advertisers dealing with the topic to be certified as abortion providers or non-providers. Starting in June, abortion ads will include disclosures that identify whether or not the advertiser provides abortions. Companies and organizations can apply for certification starting now.Google said last week in the online statement that “this added transparency will help ensure that users have the necessary information to decide…

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New Coke Was a Debacle. It’s Coming Back. Blame Netflix.

New Coke, the soft drink that drew a nationwide backlash in 1985, is back. And the credit, or blame, for the return of Coca-Cola’s greatest folly goes to Netflix.A limited supply of the vintage beverage will be available starting on Thursday as part of a robust promotional campaign related to the coming season of “Stranger Things,” the supernatural thriller set in the 1980s. New Coke will also appear in several episodes of the show. Representatives of both companies said no money changed hands in that product-placement deal.The return of the failed drink comes as Netflix ramps up its corporate partnerships and merchandising deals in an effort to…

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Facial Recognition’s Many Controversies, From Stadium Surveillance to Racist Software

The long-raging debate around facial recognition software, with all the privacy worries it brings with it, has taken on new urgency as the technology has improved and spread by leaps and bounds.On Tuesday, San Francisco became the first major American city to block police and other law enforcement agencies from using the software.Here is a look back at some of the many controversies over facial recognition and its use.The 2001 Super BowlIn January 2001, the city of Tampa, Fla., used a facial recognition surveillance system as it hosted Super Bowl XXXV.It was an early real-world example of how the technology could be used and prompted a backlash…

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The Most Measured Person in Tech Is Running the Most Chaotic Place on the Internet

Even by the nightmarish standards of the empire she oversees, Susan Wojcicki, the chief executive officer of YouTube, has had a dreadful start to 2019. During a single week in February, BuzzFeed reported that her company was running advertisements alongside anti-vaccine content; there was a nationwide panic over the platform abetting child suicide; and a viral video showed how pedophiles were flourishing on the site.And then there was the bestiality.Thumbnail images implying human-animal sex were discovered next to children’s videos, and after an uproar, Ms. Wojcicki was obliged to call a staff meeting to address it. The topic, she allowed during a recent interview, was one “I…

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Facebook Engages in Housing Discrimination With Its Ad Practices, U.S. Says

WASHINGTON — The Department of Housing and Urban Development sued Facebook on Thursday for engaging in housing discrimination by allowing advertisers to restrict who is able to see ads on the platform based on characteristics like race, religion and national origin.In addition to targeting Facebook’s advertising practices, the housing department, known as HUD, claims in its lawsuit that the company uses its data-mining practices to determine which of its users are able to view housing-related ads. On both counts, the agency said, Facebook is in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” Ben Carson,…

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Pinterest Is Rare ‘Unicorn’ Preparing an I.P.O. Without Hemorrhaging Cash

SAN FRANCISCO — Pinterest is preparing for its debut on Wall Street with a claim that few other “unicorn” start-ups can make: It is not a financial sinkhole.While the company is unprofitable, according to an offering prospectus made public on Friday, its losses are nowhere near as high as those of other well-known start-ups like Uber and Lyft, which are also getting ready to list their shares. That makes Pinterest — which lets people create digital “pin boards” — one of the rarer unicorns, a term applied to start-ups valued at more than $1 billion by private market investors.The deep losses afflicting many high-profile start-ups have cast…

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Tech Fix: I Deleted Facebook Last Year. Here’s What Changed (and What Didn’t).

When Facebook and its family of apps experienced a daylong malfunction last week, millions of people got a taste of what life would be like if the social network were out of their lives for good.I can tell you more about that: I permanently deleted my Facebook account five months ago. So what has happened in the aftermath? The social network’s long-stated mission has been to connect people so that we can live in a more open world. But after being off Facebook since October, I found that I did not feel less connected and that my social life didn’t suffer, even though I was no longer…

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The New Social Network That Isn’t New at All

SAN FRANCISCO — My favorite new social network doesn’t incessantly spam me with notifications. When I post, I’m not bombarded with @mentions from bots and trolls. And after I use it, I don’t worry about ads following me around the web.That’s because my new social network is an email newsletter. Every week or so, I blast it out to a few thousand people who have signed up to read my musings. Some of them email back, occasionally leading to a thoughtful conversation. It’s still early in the experiment, but I think I love it.The newsletter is not a new phenomenon. But there is a growing interest among…

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Facebook’s Daylong Malfunction Is a Reminder of the Internet’s Fragility

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook said on Thursday that it had repaired a technical error that led to long lapses in service at its various properties, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.The interruption lasted nearly 24 hours on some of the services and was the longest in Facebook’s recent history. It was an eye-opening reminder that even the most powerful internet companies, employing the best computer scientists and cutting-edge technology, can still be crippled by human error.“All of the big web companies have multiple lines of defense, but sometimes a coding mistake made by one engineer can make its way onto many thousands of computers and cause major errors,”…

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A.I. Wants to Know How You Plan a Trip

At the Expedia Group product testing lab, facial recognition software gauges travelers’ feelings as they go through the process of booking hotel rooms online. The Swiss cruise company MSC Cruises is starting to use a virtual assistant to answer passengers’ questions. Designers from the boutique design and research firm the Gettys Group can show hotel executives new room layouts using virtual reality goggles, so hotels don’t need to build a full-scale model.Travel companies are adopting artificial intelligence and other new technologies to look more deeply into what customers want and to use that information to find faster, cheaper ways to improve their offerings. And as sophisticated research…

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