Bytes: What’s new in tech
Facebook tests its first paywall
The paywall is coming to Facebook, said Dani Deahl in TheVerge.com. The social media giant is testing a news subscription model for its Instant Articles feature, partnering with a group of global publishers including Bild, The Economist, La Repubblica, and The Washington Post. Instant Articles was released in 2015 as a way for news organizations to publish content within Facebook; having readers stay on Facebook, instead of being sent to a publisher’s site, was supposed to lower page load times. Two different subscription models will be tested, with the first permitting 10 free articles before a subscription is required, and the second allowing publishers to determine which articles are free and which exist behind the paywall. The trial will take place exclusively on Android devices.
Google gives ride-sharing app a Lyft
Google parent Alphabet is pumping $1 billion into Lyft, said Eric Newcomer in Bloomberg.com. The investment, which values the ride-sharing startup at $11 billion—up from $7.5 bil lion in April—will allow Lyft to “double down on the U.S. market,” where it has made steady gains against rival Uber. The company recently gave its 500 millionth ride and says that its drivers are now available to 95 percent of the U.S. population, up from 54 per cent at the start of the year. Alphabet was an early investor in Uber, but it has become embroiled in a messy legal fight with that company following the collapse of a self-driving collaboration. Lyft will now replace Uber in working with Alphabet’s self-driving arm Waymo.
Rules for online political ads
Congress is trying to force tech companies to disclose more about the political advertising that runs online, said Byron Tau in The Wall Street Journal. Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mark Warner of Virginia last week introduced the Honest Ads Act, a bill that requires large digital platforms to keep “a public repository of paid political advertising that appears on their sites.” The legislation, prompted by Russian interference in the 2016 election, would bring disclosure rules for online ads closer to those applied to ads that appear on television and radio. Under the proposal, sites with 50 million or more viewers or users, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Linked In, would have to reveal who had purchased an ad, how much was spent, how many views the ad received, and whether the ad was targeted at a certain group of users. ■