TechSummit Rewind 143

This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Facebook Journalism Project seeks to strengthen online news


Facebook has launched its Journalism Project to soothe accusations of fueling the rise and spread of fake news.

The project focuses on three tenets, starting with the development of news products between Facebook and media outlets (new storytelling formats). The social network offered the example of a German media outlet developing a free subscription trial period for Facebook readers.

Next is a plan to offer tools and “best practices” training to journalists, including collaborations with the Knight Foundation, the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, and the Institute for Nonprofit News. In addition, Facebook’s CrowdTangle tool for measuring social performance, will now be free to the company’s media partners.

Finally, Facebook is emphasizing the promotion of media literacy. The company pointed to new tools designed to make it easier to report fake news, efforts to remove financial incentives that motivate spamming, and a collaboration with third-party fact-checking groups to help identify hoaxes.

Alphabet kills solar drone project


Alphabet has ended its exploration of solar-powered drones.

The program was a part of Alphabet’s X incubator for wild ideas after it acquired Titan Aerospace, which specializes in social powered drones that could fly at high altitudes for long periods of time, in 2014.

“Many people from the Titan team are now using their expertise as part of other high flying projects at X, including Loon and Project Wing.”

-An X spokesperson

Instagram Stories will now feature auto-playing video ads


Instagram is rolling out full-screen, auto-playing video ads to its Stories sharing feature this week.

The roll-out will start with a trial involving roughly 30 corporate partners (including McDonald’s, Airbnb, and Nike), according to Instagram, before being offered globally to any advertiser.

The ads look and behave like a regular video story, running in full-screen with the ability to be liked, commented on, and shared.

Advertisers can take any video from their Instagram stream and turn it into a Story ad. Instagram will also be offering a full suite of analytics and metrics for that content, including the number of times a video ad is viewed and commented on.

According to Instagram director of product marketing Jim Squires, the ads will come with “precise targeting from Facebook, based on demographic and interest-based signals that have been built up over many years.”

Samsung: Over 96 percent of Galaxy Note7s returned to date


According to Samsung, over 96 percent of all Galaxy Note 7 phones have been returned after a recall starting in September.

JetBlue completes Fly-Fi rollout, with free high speed WiFi on all planes


JetBlue has officially completed its fleet-wide rollout of Fly-Fi, bringing free wireless internet to all of its planes.

The airline has also been adding in-flight streaming service partners, including Amazon Video and Music as part of a partnership between the two companies that lets non-Prime members shop through Amazon’s offerings, while Prime members get access to its usual content.

iZettle raises $63M to expand from mobile payments


iZettle, a Stockholm-based mobile payment startup that offers a card reader for use with mobile devices and a suite of financial services for small businesses, has raised $63 million in new funding.

The company has also appointed Maria Hedengren as its CFO.

“We have been following the impressive growth of iZettle since its inception. iZettle is an innovator and a clear market leader in Europe and we want to be part of its next chapter of growth. 2017 promises to be a vibrant and buoyant time for both iZettle and its market.”

-Gordon Watson, Victory Park Capital partner

According to founder and CEO Jacob de Geer, $47.62 million of the funding comes as debt from Victory Park Capital, with the remaining $15.87 million coming from existing investors like Intel, Index, Mastercard, and American Express in an extension of iZettle’s 2015 Series D.

The funding will be used partially for acquisitions, according to de Geer, particularly to expand its business into more services beyond mobile payments across its 12 markets of operation.

“There are a few big players in the payments world right now, but also many small companies, struggling to find the right and healthy business model. There are interesting ways of combining these companies today.”

-Jacob de Geer, iZettle CEO




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