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May 10 2017 11:36 AM

Abercrombie Is Putting Itself Up for Sale

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Abercrombie & Fitch shares soared by 14 percent to $14.50 ahead of Wednesday's opening bell after a Reuters report said the teen retailer hired an investment bank to assess takeover interest.

Any potential suitor should be able to get a favorable price for the company, at least compared with a year ago. Abercrombie has plunged by 61% since reaching a 16-month high in March 2016.

 

May 9 2017 11:32 AM

Bumble Bee Will Plead Guilty to Fixing Canned Tuna Prices

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

You may have paid more than necessary for canned fish at some point in the last few years. Bumble Bee has agreed to plead guilty for its involvement in fixing shelf-stable tuna fish, the Department of Justice said in a statement on Monday.

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Bumble Bee conspired with other companies to "fix, raise, and maintain prices of packaged seafood," the DoJ alleged in its charge. The DoJ said the price-fixing took place from around the first quarter of 2011 through at least the fourth quarter of 2013. It was unaware of the exact timing.

Bumble Bee has agreed to pay a $25 million criminal fine that could be increased to as much as $81.5 million if the company is sold, subject to some terms and conditions.

Andrew Finch, the acting assistant attorney general in the DOJ's antitrust division, said the charge is the third to be filed in an ongoing investigation into price fixing among the largest suppliers of packaged seafood.

This comes after a former Bumble Bee executive was placed on special leave after court documents showed he had agreed to fix packaged-seafood prices. Walter Scott Cameron, the former senior vice president of sales, talked to representatives of other major packaged seafood producers about fixing prices, CNN reported.

Bumble Bee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

May 1 2017 9:40 PM

Facebook Says It Shouldn’t Have Told an Advertiser How to Reach Insecure Teens

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Facebook has responded to a report by The Australian that said the company showed at least one advertiser how to reach emotionally "insecure" and vulnerable teens on its network.

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A 23-page presentation shared with "one of Australia’s top four banks" showed Facebook's ability to understand when users as young as 14 are feeling emotions like “stressed,” “defeated,” “overwhelmed,” and “anxious," according to The Australian.

“Anticipatory emotions are more likely to be expressed early in the week, while reflective emotions increase on the weekend,” according to the leaked Facebook presentation. “Monday-Thursday is about building confidence; the weekend is for broadcasting achievements.”

In a company blog post, Facebook called the sharing of the research an "oversight" and said that it didn't follow internal review guidelines. Facebook also said that the data was collected anonymously and that it has never been used to target ads.

"Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state," the company said on Sunday. "The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook. It was never used to target ads and was based on data that was anonymous and aggregated."

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment further to Business Insider on Monday or say whether the research had been shared outside of Australia.

Even if Facebook hasn't allowed advertisers to target young people based on their emotions, its sharing of related research highlights the kind of data the company collects about its nearly 2 billion users.

Facebook has come under fire for overstepping its ad targeting capabilities and collection of user data in the past. The social network recently made changes to prevent discriminatory targeting of specific ads based on race. And Facebook came under fire in 2014 when its researchers tweaked the News Feed's algorithms to manipulate users' emotions.

April 20 2017 11:39 AM

Apple Pledges to Stop Using Materials From Mines in iPhones

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Apple has pledged to make iPhones out of entirely recycled materials in the future, although it's not quite there yet.

Vice News reported on Wednesday that Apple has publicly announced that it wants to stop using materials sourced from mines. The announcement was made in Apple's 2017 environmental responsibility report, which tracks the company's green credentials.

"We believe our goal should be a closed-loop supply chain, where products are built using only renewable resources or recycled material," the report said.

April 18 2017 2:37 PM

Theranos Will Refund 175,000 People in Arizona Who Took Its Blood Tests

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Anyone who paid to take one of Theranos's blood tests in Arizona will be receiving a refund from the company, Arizona's attorney general said on Tuesday. In total, Theranos will pay the state $4.65 million to refund the tests, and will also pay $225,000 to cover civil penalties and attorneys' fees.

"Between 2013 and 2016, Theranos sold approximately 1.5 million blood tests to more than 175,000 Arizonans," the attorney general said in a news release. "Each customer will now be reimbursed the full amount the customer paid for testing regardless of whether the results were voided or corrected."

 

April 12 2017 6:23 PM

Snapchat Is Letting Advertisers Track Users by the Stores They Visit

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Snap Inc. executives frequently tout Snapchat as the best place for advertisers to win over its youthful, primarily millennial user base. Now the company is letting advertisers track those users based on the stores they visit.

A new tool called Snap to Store will let advertisers track where Snapchat's 158 million daily users go in the real world on an anonymized basis. Marketers will be able to correlate ad campaigns in the app with actual foot traffic. The tool is available to any advertiser with physical stores in the U.S. that meets an undisclosed minimum spend amount, a Snap spokesperson told Business Insider on Wednesday.

April 6 2017 12:35 PM

Amazon Is Using a “Simulated Dog” to Test Its Delivery Drones

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Amazon is using a "simulated dog" to test its delivery drones, according to IBTimes.

The e-commerce giant wants to use drones to deliver parcels to customers in less than 30 minutes but it clearly has some concerns about how dogs might interfere. At least one simulated dog is being used to "help Amazon see how UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] would respond to a canine trying to protect its territory," according to IBTimes.

Little is known about the simulated dog that Amazon is using and Amazon did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment. It's also not clear if Amazon created the dog itself or whether it turned to a supplier. The exact number of simulated dogs that Amazon has in its possession is also unknown.

April 5 2017 1:16 PM

A Maker of Smart Garage Openers Responded to a Bad Amazon Review by Remotely Disabling the Customer's Device

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

There's a new, dystopian risk to using internet-connected gadgets: If you complain, the company that made it might remotely kill your product.

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This is what happened to one customer who bought Garadget—an internet-connected garage door opener. It lets you remotely lock or unlock your garage with an app, or see if it's open. But after they complained about it online and left a negative review, he got an unpleasant surprise—Garadget had bricked their device. (We first heard the news via Ars Technica.)

The customer had left a comment on the support forum complaining about technical issues, "wondering what kind of piece of shit I just purchased here." They then followed it up with a negative Amazon review, saying: "Junk - DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY - iPhone app is a piece of junk, crashes constantly, start-up company that obviously has not performed proper quality assurance tests on their products."

Well, Garadget did not like that one bit.

The company disabled the disgruntled customer's device by denying it access to its servers—and announced it had done as such on its forum (emphasis ours):

Martin,

The abusive language here and in your negative Amazon review, submitted minutes after experiencing a technical difficulty, only demonstrates your poor impulse control. I'm happy to provide the technical support to the customers on my Saturday night but I'm not going to tolerate any tantrums.

At this time your only option is return Garadget to Amazon for refund. Your unit ID 2f0036... will be denied server connection.

Garadget defended itself in a subsequent post, saying it took action to "distance from the toxic individual":

Ok, calm down everybody. Save your pitchforks and torches for your elected representatives. This only lacks the death threats now.

The firing of the customer was never about the Amazon review, just wanted to distance from the toxic individual ASAP. Admittedly not a slickest PR move on my part. Access restored, note taken.

PS: Anybody has Streisand's phone number?

But the company has come under heavy criticism on the support forum—and elsewhere online—as a result of the action. "I don't own your product, so I can say this without fear of retribution: What a terrible way to do business. I'll leave an Amazon review, too, just because I can," one poster wrote. "P.S. Please don't change my locks while I'm at work."

170405_BI_Garadget

Garadget

"Ironically it seems you have much poorer 'impulse control' and are much more prone to 'tantrums'," said another. "Maybe you should stop working in customer support. Doesn't seem like you're much good at it."

Garadget did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment, though Grisek told Ars Technica that "there isn't much more to add."

The whole incident raises a broader issue with the "internet of things": If your devices rely on someone else's servers to run, and they can be remotely disabled at any time, do you really own them?

In 2016, smart-home company Nest decided to discontinue a line of products built by Revolv, a company it acquired—bricking customers' devices. The decision sparked outrage from customers, and raised questions about consumer rights in the internet age.

"When software and hardware are intertwined, does a warranty mean you stop supporting the hardware or does it mean that the manufacturer can intentionally disable it without consequence?" one disgruntled Revolv customer wrote. "[Then-Nest CEO] Tony Fadell seems to believe the latter. Tony believes he has the right to reach into your home and pull the plug on your Nest products."

Nest subsequently offered compensation to affected customers to make amends. But what's happening with Garadget shows the issues around internet-connected devices is only just getting started.

April 3 2017 4:48 PM

Facebook Is Testing a Second News Feed for People Who Want News but No Baby Photos

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Don't be surprised when you eventually see a new rocketship tab in your Facebook app.

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The tab is essentially a second News Feed, except without any posts or baby pictures from your friends. Instead, Facebook is using the tab to only show recommended videos and articles based on what you already like and watch in your main News Feed.

Facebook has been quietly testing the new tab in different parts of the world for the past several weeks, a company spokesperson told Business Insider. “We are testing a complementary feed of popular articles, videos, and photos, customized for each person based on content that might be interesting to them," the spokesperson said. "We've heard from people that they want an easy way to explore new content they haven't connected with yet.”

Facebook frequently tests changes to its apps that are never rolled out to all of its 1.8 billion users. But now that more people, including those in the US, are starting to see the rocketship tab, Facebook appears close to making the feature available to everyone.

Creating a second News Feed could help Facebook overcome a looming threat to its ad business. The company has warned that it's nearing the limit of ads it can stuff into the News Feed, and this new tab could let it show more ads in videos and between stories.

March 28 2017 3:59 PM

In On-Brand Move, Samsung Store Literally Catches Fire

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

A Samsung store in Singapore caught fire on Tuesday morning, just a day before the company is set to announce its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8.

According to Channel News Asia, Samsung confirmed there was a fire at the store's location in the AMK Hub shopping center, and it was quickly extinguished by water sprinklers. There were no reported injuries, and several surrounding stores had to be temporarily closed down, according to the report.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but it supposedly involved "contents measuring 1m by 2m" in the store's storeroom, according to Channel News Asia.

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