Big Tech Updates - Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Tesla
Given Facebook’s involvement with the 2016 presidential election, many are worried that Facebook isn’t ready to handle this year’s election either. Despite working with Democrats for months to prepare for election chaos, several national Democratic Party leaders say the company still fails “to meet promises to stem the tide of misinformation spreading on its platform.” Facebook has taken some preventative measures though, including a ban on ads that seek to delegitimize the US election, a promise to take down specific misrepresentations about voting, and the creation of a Voter Information Center hub that helps Americans register to vote. Facebook has made progress since 2016, but officials are concerned it’s too little too late.
Amazon’s been a prominent figure in the news in recent weeks for several reasons. For one, the company reports that nearly 20,000 of its employees have caught the coronavirus. This comes after workers have complained that the company isn’t doing enough to keep employees safe in warehouses during a COVID-induced surge in consumer demand.
On another note, Amazon is releasing a new feature in its Alexa app that turns your phone into a “driver-friendly display” when used with Alexa auto accessories like the Echo Auto. This Auto Mode still has some bugs, but it offers users with Amazon-driven navigation and communication capabilities. Amazon also released new hardware earlier this week, the Amazon One, that lets Amazon Go shoppers pay for their groceries by scanning the palm of their hand. The technology works “by analyzing the shape of your hand and the unique configuration of veins under your skin.” Despite some privacy concerns, there appear to be much larger applications for this hardware. For example, it could substitute tickets at sporting events or serve as an alternative to an office key card.
At Google’s recent annual hardware event, the company announced the Google Pixel 5, a new TV interface and an upgraded smart speaker. The company has been steadily adding to and upgrading its product line, including Google Maps and Google TV. For one, Google is adding new, futuristic AR tools within Maps. You will be able to “visualize the location of specific businesses and landmarks — how far they are, and the direction you need to travel to reach them.” Additionally, Google TV has integrated with over 30 streaming services, including ABC, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, and more. As part of a new product called News Showcase, Google will pay publishers more than $1 billion over the next three years for licensing news. The tech giant has signed licensing deals with about 200 publications in select countries with plans to add more and expand geographically.
The electric vehicle (EV) boom has many people excited about the future of Tesla. However, Tesla stock fell 13.9% in September due to “waning excitement following its stock split at the end of August and the company being passed over for inclusion in the S&P 500 index.” This pullback, though, seems relatively small compared to the gains made by the stock in the last few months. Tesla also hosted its annual meeting of stockholders and Battery Day on September 22nd, where Elon Musk and Drew Baglino tried to explain the difficulties of mass battery production. Hopefully, Tesla will continue on its path to creating a sustainable future, but there seems to be a disconnect between the company and their audience due to the complexity of their battery manufacturing process.