Weekly Digital News Roundup: April 26-30

Weekly Digital News Roundup: April 26-30

Google: Government Censorship Attempts Increasing

  • According to Mashable, Google released its traditional six-month Transparency Report Thursday, the seventh since the company started releasing this type of data in 2010. And, according to the report, which covers July to December of 2012, attempts by governments around the world to censor political content on the Internet are increasing.
  • “From July to December 2012, we received 2,285 government requests to remove 24,179 pieces of content—an increase from the 1,811 requests to remove 18,070 pieces of content that we received during the first half of 2012,” Google’s Legal Director Susan Infantino wrote in a blog post. These types of requests have doubled since the second half of 2011, when governments made 1,054 requests to remove 12,071 items.
  • In the blog post, Infantino points out the dramatic increase in government censorship attempts. “It’s become increasingly clear that the scope of government attempts to censor content on Google services has grown,” she wrote. “In more places than ever, we’ve been asked by governments to remove political content that people post on our services.”

Facebook Buys Mobile App Platform Parse

  • According to Forbes, Parse, a cloud services company that provides developers tools to use a unified back-end for their apps, announced that Facebook acquired it today. Facebook confirmed the purchase on its own blog.
  • The utilities in Parse’s toolbox will allow mobile apps like games integrate with Facebook more directly. As an example, a developer could create an app once that with Parse that would work on an iPhone, and Android device, or Windows Phone, and also work the exact same way as a Facebook app. This, in a way, gives Facebook its own mobile app framework but doesn’t necessarily put it into direct competition with established app players. In other words, “Facebook apps” can work on any mobile device or in any browser without having to compete with the established platforms like iTunes or Google Play or without having to support its own operating system.
  • By allowing apps on its own site to work with apps on mobile devices it ties users into itself on a level it hasn’t been able to before, and that’s a bigger deal for Facebook than it would appear to be at a first glance. It now has an entirely new way to help developers with discovery and monetization of their apps, which means a new money stream for Facebook.

Amazon Plans an Internet Video Device

  • According to the New York Times, Amazon created the Kindle to breathe life into electronic books. Now it is preparing a device to bring Internet video to television sets. The company is developing a television set-top box and has begun discussions with outside providers of content to distribute their video services to the device, according to three people briefed on the plan, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Amazon product had not yet been announced and remained confidential.
  • The device will most likely showcase Amazon’s own online video offerings, which include Prime Instant Video, a Netflix-like subscription video service with more than 40,000 movies and television episodes that is included as part of Amazon’s broader Prime membership.
  • Although Amazon was an early entrant in the e-reader market with the Kindle, the company is late to the market for set-top boxes, where the incumbents include Apple’s Apple TV device and a family of products from Roku. Amazon, though, has considerable strengths and has shown an aptitude for reinventing itself in new categories, like cloud computing and tablet computers. One media executive who has participated in discussions with Amazon about its set-top box said he thought the company’s standing as a top shopping destination would allow it to promote its new device and give it a strong chance of attracting an audience.
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