This Week in Tech: Down Goes Facebook, and More Talk of Breaking Up the Giants

Welcome back to your favorite tech news roundup series. It’s been a long week, but it’s finally Friday and time to read all about the stories our b2b PR teams have been keeping an eye on:

Elizabeth Warren Vs. Big Tech

In a Medium post, the senator from Massachusetts detailed her presidential platform for breaking up tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon. This was timed perfectly – on the opening Friday of SXSW, causing the topic to trend throughout the week as keynote speakers were routinely asked about it. You can expect this conversation to continue throughout the 2020 primaries.

“Hey, is your Instagram working?”

Another week, another PR headache for Mr. Zuckerberg. On Wednesday, millions of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp users were left without access. Plenty of companies experience online outages, but this one was interesting because it lasted a very, very long time (through Thursday morning for many). This doesn’t just impact the social media giant – it presents major challenges for the advertisers who rely on its platforms. For a great look into what happens when the Instagram and Facebook economy shuts off for a day, check out this piece in The Verge.

China overtaking the U.S. in AI research

According to a new study, China’s output of influential AI research papers is close to overtaking the United States – an indicator that its government’s investments in educational facilities and private industry are paying off. We covered the American AI Initiative last month, and this news should put a renewed spotlight on the need to do even more if the U.S. is going to keep up.

Google removes billions of bad ads

Google provided an annual update on Thursday that detailed its efforts to improve its ad business. The company says that it removed 2.3 billion “bad ads” in 2018 using manual reviews and machine learning while also shutting down sites that violate policies.

Here comes the Theranos documentary

HBO is gearing up to release its documentary on the fall of Theranos next week, which looks fascinating for anyone that’s worked in the tech startup world. In anticipation, here’s an interview between the film’s director Alex Gibney and Recode’s Peter Kafka, which explores what may have actually motivated Elizabeth Holmes.

Pro tip

For a great recap of the RSA Conference, I’d definitely encourage you to check out Darren’s blog post from earlier this week. SHIFT has been supporting the conference for nearly two decades, which gives our team a unique perspective on the major trends coming out of the show.

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