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09.02.16 | 11:04 am

China is investigating the Didi-Uber deal on antitrust grounds 

On Friday, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said it would be looking into the planned sale of Uber's China business to ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Commerce Ministry is concerned that the deal would give Didi a monopoly on the growing ride-hailing industry in the region. 

In order to be considered for an antitrust review in China, the report says, Uber China's revenue would need to surpass $60 million annually. Officials from Didi say Uber China's revenue doesn't meet this metric. However, there may be a dispute over how Uber tracks its revenue. Even so, the investigation itself does not mean the deal won't necessarily go through. 

07.20.17 | an hour ago

Detroit 1967 social media accounts will live-tweet the events of the 1967 Detroit riot and unrest

This July will mark the 50th anniversary of the Detroit riot that began in the early hours of July 23, 1967. It was one of the most contentious events of the 1960s, which exposed just how strained race relations were in most of the U.S. at the time as well as shedding light on the institutional racism ingrained in our society. In order to commemorate the historic event, the Detroit Free Press, which won a Pulitzer for its original coverage, wants to reimagine what the reporting of the event would be like if social media existed at the time.

That's why the publication will be live-tweeting the unfolding of the 50-year-old as if it were happening live on its anniversary days this year. "The result will be our approximation of what social media would have looked like if digital journalism existed at that time," the Detroit Free Press said in a statement. You can follow along with the live-tweeting of the historic events via the Detroit1967 account on Facebook, the @Detroit_1967 account on Twitter, and the @Detroit_1967 account on Instagram.

07.20.17 | an hour ago

Here’s everything Facebook says it’s doing to help journalists (and publishers)

The company published a lengthy post today giving a six-month updated on its Facebook Journalism Project. The project aims to establish stronger ties between Facebook and those in the news industry—and probably also aims to defuse the mounting tensions between it and publishers, who fear the social network has too much control as the gatekeeper of their content. In the post, Facebook breaks down the improvements it's made to better supports publishers' and journalists' needs. They include:

• Instant Articles enhancements, including the ability to support simultaneous publishing on Google AMP and Apple News (coming soon) through the Instant Articles SDK

• an upcoming tool that will support subscriptions in Instant Articles

• an improved Rights Manager, which helps publishers better protect the rights to the videos they post

• the introduction of the Facebook for Journalists Certificate, a three-course curriculum designed by the Poynter Institute and Facebook.

• the introduction of Facebook Safety for Journalists resources, which teaches journalists how to protect their accounts and themselves on Facebook

Facebook also announced that its Instant Articles now pays out over $1 million per day to publishers via the Facebook Audience Network.

07.20.17 | 2 hours ago

The U.S. has lifted the laptop ban on flights from Saudi Arabia

The lifting of the ban came after Saudi Arabian Airlines, the only airline in Saudi Arabia that offers direct flights to the U.S., agreed to comply with increased security measures, reports the BBC. The ban, which the U.S. government imposed on direct flights from eight Muslim-majority countries earlier this year, affected those flying from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh because both offer direct flights from Saudi Arabia to the U.S.

07.20.17 | 3 hours ago

NASA just dumped hundreds of videos of aerospace history online

The space agency is in the process of posting 500 videos to both its Armstrong Flight Research Center YouTube page and its Armstrong Flight Research Center videos gallery. So far about 300 of the 500 videos have been uploaded, which cover decades' worth of aerospace history, including the SR-71 stealth jet takeoff from Edwards Air Force Base in 1991. NASA hopes the videos will inform more people about the breadth of work it does and the achievements it makes every year.

07.20.17 | 3 hours ago

Here are the 3 things the next Uber CEO needs, according to its SVP of strategy

The beleaguered ride sharer's senior vice president of leadership and strategy, Frances Frei, told Recode (via the Verge) that the person who steps in to pick up the reins as CEO after Travis Kalanick's abrupt departure last month needs to possess:

1. "Reverence" for the international nature of Uber's business. "Silicon Valley is its own thing. And then there's the U.S. And then there's everywhere else."

2. The ability to understand that Uber is not just a tech company but an operations company, too.

3. The ability to understand and appreciate that Uber is an "organization of 15,000 people that has been through a lot."

07.19.17 | 5:40 pm

Your cloud data is off limits to border agents, but not your locked devices

U.S. Customs officials are permitted by law to look at anything stored on your laptop, phone, or other devices when you're crossing the border. Border agents are allowed to look at information stored on remote servers, even if it's accessible through apps on the device. But if a device "or portions of the content on the device" are locked, they are allowed to use "lawful measures" to open them, including asking travelers to unlock their phones or computers, reveal their passwords, or turn over their devices for a forensic search.

That's according to a letter sent last week by acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner Kevin McAleenan to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), known for his privacy-rights advocacy, the Washington Post reports. McAleenan reiterated the agency policy in an internal memo distributed in April, his letter said.

Civil rights advocates have long argued that U.S. border searches are too extensive, and pointed out that the CBP letter dodged Wyden's question about whether CBP officers are obliged to tell travelers that they are not required to disclose social media account passwords or passcodes to unlock electronic devices. Chris Calabrese, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, wrote in a blog post, "Ironically, [the policy is] unlikely to have any security value, since bad actors conceal their accounts, and the government drowns in information from innocent people."

The searches, considered by the government to be akin to searches of suitcases, have surged in recent years—NBC News reported that there were 5,000 in March alone. 

Not long ago, I wrote about steps travelers can take to keep their data safe at border crossings.

[Photo: Flickr user U.S. Customs and Border Protection]

07.19.17 | 1:55 pm

Away is going beyond suitcases to become a full-fledged media company

Travel brand Away launched with a single product: a high-quality hardshell suitcase that, priced starting at $225, is much less expensive than comparable suitcases on the market. 

As it expands, it hasn't focused on adding additional products to its range. Instead, it's focused on creating content for customers. Today, it is launching a quarterly print magazine called Here, which is a collection of stories and photographs by experts from different parts of the world. A magazine will be included with every Away suitcase and will also be available for purchase on Away's website for $10. The first issue features Rashida Jones on the cover.

The brand is about to launch other media products shortly. Stay tuned for more details. 

07.19.17 | 1:42 pm

Theory is trying to win over hip millennial customers with Theory 2.0

Workwear brand Theory has just turned 20. It's established itself as a go-to brand for clean, well-made clothes for professionals, but right now, it tends to do well with customers in the over-40 category. 

Founder Andrew Rosen is working to make the brand more attractive to the millennial market with a new program called 2.0. The idea is to help make the company, which has 284 stores globally and revenues of nearly $1 billion, feel more like a startup. The brand is encouraging talented young employees to bring their innovative ideas to the rest of the company. Employees are placed into small groups, which brainstorm plans for the company around, for instance, sustainability initiatives, philanthropy, and new products. 

The first idea to bubble up from this new program is a capsule collection targeting younger consumers. The brand will be using the same high-quality materials to create a selection of key products that can take customers throughout their day, from the office, to cocktails, to the weekend. We'll be hearing about other initiatives soon. 

07.19.17 | 1:39 pm

Amazon is sending a truck full of trending items around the country

As a fashion and retail reporter, the buzzword "experiential retail" pops up in my inbox several times a day. Now, it seems that Amazon is jumping on the bandwagon. Or rather, truck. 

Since February, Amazon has been testing a "Treasure Truck" in the Seattle area, which cruises around, full of new, trending, or local items, then stops for people to pop in and score deals on these items. Surprises on the truck included free Ben & Jerry's ice cream, trips to Brazil for lucky customers, and the GoPro Hero2 at 64% off. 

The experiment has clearly been a success, since Amazon is ready to send the truck to other cities. Stay tuned. We'll let you know where the truck is headed next as soon as we know. 

07.19.17 | 1:25 pm

This Apple patent imagines an easier way to call 911 for help

Apple was granted a patent yesterday that could make it easier for people to dial 911 from their iPhones. As CNBC reports, the feature would allow users to make calls to emergency services without giving away the fact that they are doing so. That could mean that when an emergency strikes, you won't have to patiently tap your home button or enter your passcode, remember how to use your iPhone as an actual phone and then dial 911 all while White Walkers descend upon you. Instead, according to the patent, tech could sense the "manner" in which a finger touched the iPhone screen to trigger a 911 call. The emergency alert could be triggered by a sequence of finger use (middle finger-middle finger-middle finger) or tapping that could activate "panic command" and secretly alert the authorities and provide the user's location.

The patent was first applied for in 2013 and doesn't necessarily mean Apple is planning to release an actual product. Of course as Gizmodo points out, just being able to alert the police won't help if the police take too long to show up—or never show up at all. 

07.19.17 | 1:00 pm

Ready or not, Samsung’s Bixby assistant is here

So much for an indefinite delay. Samsung's Bixby voice assistant is now available for all Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users in the United States, the Verge reports. Both phones launched in April, but lacked Bixby support as Samsung reportedly worked through some language recognition and big-data issues. Users can now tap the dedicated Bixby button on either phone or say "Hi Bixby" to wake the assistant.

Compared to Apple's Siri and Google's Assistant, Bixby's main attraction is its ability to perform tasks within existing apps, so users can say something like "Post my last photo to Instagram." The system has lots of potential, but an early preview program got mixed reviews last month for its speech recognition problems and limited app support. Even with a public launch, Bixby will likely be a work in progress.

07.19.17 | 12:15 pm

Study: Japanese workers overwhelmingly support office romances

While Japan's cherry blossoms may seem like the height of romance, when it comes to finding love in Tokyo, the best place to look might be near the office coffee pot. A new study shows that there is nearly 90% support for office romances among Japanese workers. Let's blame Pam and Jim for this one, eh?

As reported by RocketNews24, the study, which was conducted by Media Care Life Insurance, asked 1,000 new and veteran office workers their opinion on workplace romances and the results were unequivocally clear: Striking up a relationship over the Xerox machine is a-okay with them. According to the study, 86% of new employees said an office romance is fine with them, while 89% of grizzled workplace veterans, who are just slightly more dead inside, believe office affairs are okay, too. There are some caveats, though: No one wants a workplace romance to affect their work—i.e., they don't want to see heart-eyes emojis in every office memo, and no one should be re-creating scenes from Secretary in the supply closet.

When Fast Company looked into the issue earlier this year, we found a study by career website showing that more than half of U.S. employees have engaged in an office relationship, and 10% have even met their spouses at work. Of those who have dated a coworker, 42% said they had an ongoing, casual relationship; 36% said they had a "random office hookup"; 29% had been in a serious, long-term relationship; and 16% lived out the Pam and Jim dream and met their spouse or partner at The Office.

[Photo: Wavebreakmedia/iStock]