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            In the first half of 2019 Amazon doubled its digital ad spending relative to its 2018 spending levels. Amazon also increased TV spending by 28% for Amazon Prime Video. Amazon Prime Video launched 13 new campaigns for original shows in the first half of 2019. Many other companies in the world of big media are making similar investments. Disney and Apple are planning to launch separate streaming services in the fall.

One of Amazon’s big advantages is its more than 100 million Amazon Prime members in the United States. Netflix’s subscriptions in the US fell from 60.2 million in the first quarter to 60.1 million in the second quarter. This might mean that Amazon has space to catch up to its competition.

            Many social media services have developed dark modes for using their websites at night. The glare of a bright screen at night usually puts a strain on a person’s eyes. Twitter and Gmail already offer Dark Mode settings and Facebook already has it for its Messenger app. According to software engineer Jane M. Wong, Facebook proper is already using an early version of Dark Mode, but it will take a while for this idea to be fully implemented.

Facebook frequently tests new features without making it obvious. However, the company doesn’t have set timelines for when new features are released. This new feature may negatively contribute to the problem of tech addiction. Daytime addiction to social media is already common among web users. Only time will tell if social media companies will ever begin to take the problem of tech addiction seriously.

Social media apps, like any other product or service, can drop with a bang or end with an aw dang.   Just ask Vine or Google+.  While the world of social media is ever-expanding and ever more connected, with the likes of Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter at the forefront, we should take a quick look back at two apps that came in hot, then fizzled.

Vine dropped in 2013 and was later bought by Twitter. Upon release, it was pretty hilarious and the first of its kind. Edit 6 second videos in different pieces to make something funny. What an idea. Vine was a hit. But then Snapchat added a story, Instagram added a story, and the limited 6-second video became a negative. Still, love to those who rocked the Vine platform. The creativity and comedy by Viners was a pre-curser to the meme world of today.

Then there’s the story of Google+ and why it even existed. Why did it exist? Few could figure out its value. Was it for kids? Was it an alternative to LinkedIn?  It lasted for 8 years be virtue of Google’s deeeep pockets and still, few had a clue. RIP to that platform – no sweat off Google’s back, they run the world anyway. Finally, let’s take a moment to remember all of the other failed social media platforms that are no longer with us and let us thank them for their service.

Teen users of Instagram are increasingly switching to business accounts to get better metrics about their posts. These accounts show how many times posts have been viewed, at what times their posts are being viewed, who likes their posts and how many likes and views they’re getting.  Sounds great, but according to Facebook, which owns Instaram, business account holders are required to make their email and phone number available to the public.  When a teen is involved that’s a problem.

Alex Meron-McCann from the cyber security firm McAfee, warns of serious consequences for teens who share personal information by using business account.  Alex is especially concerned about sexual predators contacting kids through these accounts.

Data Scientist David Stier tells us that millions of teenagers have switched to business accounts; he also emphasized that if a 13-year-old develops a business account their contact information is available to over a billion people. A Facebook spokesperson explains that their set up process warns users that their contact information will be available to the public if they switch to a business account. Is this feature enough to keep a generation of young people safe?  Given fair warning, is Facebook responsible if someone blows through warning and misuses their platform?

According to an Elon Musk tweet a few days ago, Tesla’s high tech sport cars is about to get the “ability to stream YouTube and Netflix when car is stopped coming to your Tesla soon!” The car already has a massive LCD display screen and top-of-the-line audio. Sounds like a perfect way to watch a movie!

Tesla owners can already play select games while the car is stopped and now they’ll be the first with Netflix, YouTube and possibly Hulu among other streaming services.  They’ll never need to leave the car. What’s next? Perhaps a built in popcorn machine or espresso maker are on the horizon! Jokes aside, the whole drive in movie feeling can be taken to a new level with these additions. Imagine driving your Tesla (assuming you can afford one) to a quiet remote location, maybe with a view overlooking a city or mountains or beaches, and watching one of your favorite movies with a loved one. Pretty cool stuff. Musk hopes to one day have streaming available while the car’s in motion, but that’s in the future.

Facebook created “Kids Messenger” back in 2017 pledging a “safe space” for kids to chat and connect with one another, with approval settings set by the parents. The main draw to the app was the fact that parents could protect their kids from talking to strangers and ensure that their children were chatting among approved friends. The app is for children under the age of 13.

Despite this being a good idea to the core, Facebook has misstepped again. Recently a bug was brought to light that enables unapproved members to join into group chats with children. Facebook is aware of the issue and has claimed it is only in a select number of cases. They have since fixed the bug so there should be no further issues.

What is concerning is the thought that this has gone on for quite some time. How long has Facebook known about it? Were there adults posing as children popping into these group chats? There are a clear lack of regulations in the children’s chat space.

Companies like Facebook that operate in this market must be more strictly regulated to ensure the safety they pledge, as well as incentivized to fix any problems such as that with the Kids Messenger with haste. This bug could have been going on for a significant amount of time, with Facebook taking their sweet time to fix it. That must change if children’s safety in online communication is truly the goal.

The natural step in Uber’s evolution was to add in ride features for passengers and incentivize drivers to promote them. Just like alcoholic beverages, food, or premium movie/internet service on an airplane, Uber and Cargo (an in-car commerce platform) have launched their own venture to add value to the riders and drivers experience.

Cargo is an app that operates on its own, separate from Uber, but with this new venture, drivers can now link their Cargo app with the Uber driver’s scan code to activate in app purchases. Cargo offers purchases such as Nintendo Switch, Apple hardware, Away luggage, Glossier cosmetics and more. Those items if purchases on the ride will be shipped directly to the riders home within 2-5 business days. Additionally, Cargo will offer “in ride entertainment” with movies available for purchase from Universal Studios ranging from $5-$10, and riders will have permanent access to those movies in the Movies Anywhere app.

Why utilize this feature? Well for starters, every purchase by a rider earns 10% of their purchase value back in Uber Cash to use on future rides. So those who frequent Uber are now incentivized to use this service saving them money down the line. For drivers, the incentive to promote the platform is certainly high, as they earn 25% of the value of items purchased in the Cargo app, as well as $1 for every first purchase by a new customer.

In theory this seems like a great idea and a great partnership between the two companies. The question remains, what will stop consumers from just ordering items they may need through Amazon while on the ride, or using their available entertainment options such as movies, Apple Music, or Netflix streaming services? Time will tell, but we think Uber and Cargo are on the right path here for providing more value to ride-sharers nationwide.