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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Amazon is working with the FTC’s fraud investigation against Sellers Playbook

Amazon said today it is working with the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation into consumer fraud allegedly committed by Sellers Playbook, a Minnesota-based business that claimed to help Amazon sellers make more money.

FTC and the state of Minnesota announced today that they have charged Sellers Playbook and its owner Jessie Tieva and CEO Matthew Tieva, a married couple who are not affiliated with Amazon.com, with running a large business opportunity scheme. Specifically, the FTC and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office allege Sellers Playbook deceived consumers with a “get rich scheme,” marketing a system that it claimed could enable purchasers to make thousands of dollars per month selling products on Amazon.

In their complaint, the FTC and state of Minnesota wrote the defendants “lure[d] consumers into purchasing expensive business opportunities by deceptively offering consumers a ‘full-service, turnkey package’ for getting their ‘piece of the $400 Billion Amazon Pie,” but few, if any, of the system’s users achieved those earnings. In reality, most lost money.

Meanwhile, Jessie Tieva and Matthew Tieva allegedly made more than $15 million between April 2017 and May 2018, with some consumers forking over more than $32,000.

The FTC says Jessie Tieva and one of her businesses, Exposure Marketing Company (also known as Sellers Online and Sellers System), previously promoted and sold a similar “how to make money on Amazon” scheme called FBA Stores, which also resulted in many purchasers losing large amounts of money. Tieva “routinely made false and unsubstantiated earnings claims during her sales presentations at FBA Stores’ live events,” the FTC wrote in its complaint against Sellers Playbook.

FBA Stores stopped operating in March after reaching a settlement with the FTC that included a judgement of more than $102 million. Amazon and the state of Washington also filed separate lawsuits against FBA Stores, accusing it of “preying” on consumers. (The Tievas are not defendants in the FBA Stores case).

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said “the entrepreneurs and small businesses selling on Amazon are incredibly important to us and our customers, and we aggressively pursue those that attempt to harm their selling experience. We invest heavily to protect the integrity of our stores and take action to protect customers and sellers, including working with consumer protection agencies and law enforcement. We have zero tolerance for fraud and abuse and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement to pursue criminals.”

TechCrunch has reached out to Sellers Playbook for comment.


Source: TechCrunch

Now even YouPorn has banned Alex Jones, but he’s still on Twitter

Streaming adult video site YouPorn, announced today that it has banned Alex Jones from its platform, following actions against the conspiracy-monger by tech companies including Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify—but notably, not Twitter. Before you go “wtf,” there were indeed (non-porn) videos with Alex Jones in them on YouPorn (people often take advantage of relatively lax copyright policing on various porn sites to upload non-pornographic content). YouPorn said it’s also removed spoof videos of Jones and will not allow him to host any content on the platform moving forward.

It’s easy to dismiss YouPorn’s ban as a publicity grab, but it underscores the fact that Twitter’s lack of action is became increasingly notable, even though last December it said it would take a harder stance against hate speech. Alex Jones’ verified Twitter profile, with 838,000 followers, is still up, with one of his recent tweets complaining about “being banned on the Internet.”

In a statement, YouPorn vice president Charlie Hughes said “Following news that YouTube, Spotify and Facebook have banned Alex Jones from their platforms, team YouPorn is joining in solidarity and announces we are banning his content as well. As one of the largest user-generated content platforms in the world, we have already removed his videos that have violated our terms of service. As an inclusive platform, hate has no place on YouPorn.”

For those that need a refresher, Alex Jones frequently broadcasts hate speech and played a major role in propagating some of the most harmful conspiracy theories in recent years, including Pizzagate and the debunked claim that vaccines cause autism. His support of theories that the Sandy Hook and Parkland shootings were faked resulted in harassment against the families of victims (Jones is currently trying to get a defamation lawsuit brought against him by some Sandy Hook parents dismissed).

Yesterday, YouTube removed Alex Jones’ channel, which had 2.4 million subscribers, for violating its community guidelines, after issuing it a strike last month. On the same day, Apple removed Alex Jones’ podcasts from iTunes, following similar actions from Spotify and Stitcher, and Facebook removed four Infowars pages for violating its policies against graphic violence and hate speech. Pinterest also took down Infowars’ profile following an inquiry from Mashable.

This now makes Twitter an outlier, one that apparently has lower standards than YouPorn, which, after all, simply streams adult videos instead of arguably sheltering hate speech and bullies. With many of his most active social media outlets removed or suspended, Jones now has two main platforms: the Infowars site and Twitter.

Twitter has promised to do a better job of protecting users, but a lot of its actions come across as more hemming and hawing while real damage is being done through its platform (for example, President Donald Trump retweeting Islamophobic posts from the deputy leader of hate group Britain First’s account, which Twitter only suspended three weeks later despite massive uproar and concern that it would trigger more violence and harassment against Muslims).

With Apple (now America’s largest company by market capitalization), some of the biggest social media platforms and even YouPorn taking a stand against Alex Jones and Infowars, the pressure on Twitter is increasing. TechCrunch has reached out to Twitter and Infowars for comment.


Source: TechCrunch

Ajit Pai blames previous administration for FCC DDoS attack that didn't happen – CNET

Turns out the FCC’s website didn’t crash because of multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks.
Source: CNET

Walking Dead fans don't like characters' love connections – CNET

The popular AMC series won’t give fans the romance they want.
Source: CNET

The Fallout 76 beta will feature the entire game – CNET

Bethesda releases new information on the upcoming Fallout 76 beta: There’s good news and bad news.
Source: CNET

Guardians of the Galaxy could lose Drax if Disney doesn't use James Gunn's script – CNET

Dave Bautista hits out at Disney in the wake of James Gunn’s dismissal.
Source: CNET

Surprise, no one buys things via Alexa

Some numbers published in a report from The Information reveal that very few owners of Alexa-powered devices use them for shopping. Of about 50 million Alexa users, only about 100,000 reportedly bought something via voice interface more than once. It’s not exactly surprising, but it may still harm the narrative of conversational commerce that Amazon and others are trying to advance.

The Amazon Echo and its brethren are mostly used for the expected everyday purposes of listening to music, asking what the weather will be like tomorrow and setting timers. All of these things are obviously things that phones do as well, but there’s something to be said for having a stationary hub for the more domestic tasks.

But part of the expectation of seeding the home with these devices has been that users would also make purchases using them: “Alexa, order more Oreos,” or “Alexa, buy a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones.” This always seemed rather odd, as people tend to want to look at items before buying them, to check reviews, to shop around for better prices and so on. Who would just buy something by telling their Echo that they want to?

Hardly anyone, it seems. That said, it would be a bit disingenuous to pretend that conversational commerce is anything other than one point in a litany of proposed uses for the likes of Alexa, running the gamut of credibility.

As a hub for increasingly common smart home devices, Alexa is a great choice and a common one. And although groceries and impulse purchases may not be something people do via voice, an Echo is a great seller of subscriptions like Spotify and Audible, not to mention future possibilities from queries like “Alexa, call me a plumber.” And of course there’s the whole behind-the-scenes industry of ads, promotions and clever use of voice data.

Why would anyone use these devices to shop? It’s like using a laptop as a hammer. Possible, but not recommended. The other stat The Information mentions is that a million people have tried buying stuff but only 100,000 continued. It may be that this side of e-commerce is merely not “mature,” that catch-all term that could mean so many things. But it may also just be that it’s not something people want to do.


Source: TechCrunch

Why Facebook’s Thinning Profit Margins Are a Secret Asset

Moderating content requires expensive lawyers, well-run operational teams, and a lot of money. But as Facebook builds these complex systems, it becomes harder for an upstart to replicate.
Source: Wired

Cómo crear plasma con cualquier microondas de cocina

El cuarto estado de la materia es el más exótico y menos disponible de la Tierra. Para fabricarlo hacía falta maquinaria altamente especializada hasta que este equipo de investigación descubrió cómo hacerlo con un horno de microondas estándar. La técnica podría tener múltiples aplicaciones útiles
Source: MIT

(word) El Departamento de Defensa ha producido las primeras herramientas para atrapar deepfakes

Los video clips falsos hechos con inteligencia artificial también se pueden detectar usando IA, pero este puede ser el comienzo de una carrera armamentista.
Source: MIT

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