Facebook to launch new virtual reality headset, 'Oculus Go'

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) – Facebook Inc plans to release a new virtual reality headset that does not require a separate computer to operate, unlike its Oculus Rift product, which allows for mobile uses, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday.

Zuckerberg, speaking at a conference for virtual reality developers, said the “Oculus Go” device would cost $ 199 and ship early next year.

Reporting by David Ingram, editing by G Crosse

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Wisconsin, Michigan were key targets of Russia-linked ads on Facebook: CNN

(Reuters) – Russia-linked Facebook ads during last year’s U.S. presidential election mainly focussed on the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, CNN reported on Tuesday.

The ads targeted key demographic groups and used divisive messages including promoting anti-Muslim sentiment, the report said, citing sources. cnn.it/2klAM2y

Wisconsin and Michigan were among the handful of battleground states that helped Trump win the presidency over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Trump carried Wisconsin by 22,748 votes and Michigan by 10,700 votes.

About 10 million people in the United States saw politically divisive ads on Facebook which were purchased in Russia in the months before and after the U.S. election, Facebook said on Monday as social media companies face calls for increased regulation and more transparency to open up the opaque world of online political ads.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees are investigating possible links between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. Russia denies meddling in the election.

A representative from Facebook could not be reached for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Sunil Nair

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Facebook Says It Will Share Russian Ads With Congress

Facebook has for weeks remained tight-lipped about the ads it sold to Russian operatives during the U.S. presidential election. But on Thursday, the social network reversed course and said it would provide details to Congress.

In a blog post titled, “Hard Questions,” a Facebook executive explained that the company had conducted an extensive policy review and decided to release details about the ads, in part because of the “extraordinary investigation” by Congress.

“[W]e’ve concluded that sharing the ads we’ve discovered with Congress … will help government authorities complete the vitally important work of assessing what happened in the 2016 election,” wrote Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of policy and communications.

The decision comes amid growing scrutiny of the ad sales, which reportedly cost at least $ 100,000 and may have helped sway voters’ opinions ahead of last November’s election. Russia is widely suspected of conducting an extensive campaign on U.S. social media platforms, including Facebook, as part of a bid to support then-candidate Donald Trump.

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The ads also came into focus after Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating Russia’s role in the election, executed a search warrant on Facebook, which would have allowed him to obtain details of the ad sales.

In the blog post, Facebook’s Schrage also stated the company would not disclose information about the ads to the public, citing concern for advertisers’ privacy.

Schrage also used the post, which is in a Q&A format, to adamantly disavow any knowledge by Facebook that Russia had bought the political ads.

“No, we didn’t. The vast majority of our over 5 million advertisers use our self-service tools,” he wrote. “This allows individuals or businesses to create a Facebook Page, attach a credit card or some other payment method and run ads promoting their posts. In some situations, Facebook employees work directly with our larger advertisers. In the case of the Russian ads, none of those we found involved in-person relationships.”

The post also acknowledged that the company might unearth more advertising accounts used by Russia or other foreign actors to sway the political process.

Critics argue there is a lack of oversight for how political spending occurs on social media, and have called for Facebook and other firms to be subject to similar transparency rules as other media broadcasters.

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