Wall Street Journal

Sandberg: Facebook Study Was ‘Poorly Communicated’

Facebook 's psychological experiment on nearly 700,000 unwitting users was communicated “poorly,” Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s No. 2 executive, said.

It was the first public comment on the study by a Facebook executive since the furor erupted in social-media circles.

“This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,” Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said. “And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.”

ESPN And Univision Want Rivals to Stop Showing World Cup Goals

World Cup rights-holders are trying to stop digital competitors who are helping themselves to highlights from the tournament without permission.

Viewers have a range of ways to view officially-licensed ESPN and Univision coverage of the World Cup, from watching it on cable to streaming it on their mobile devices. But fans also track the games elsewhere, like on Twitter and fast-acting sites that quickly create animated GIFs and videos on Vine -- a Twitter-owned app that makes six-second looping videos.

Following inquiries from CMO Today, however, the video was promptly removed from the Slate site. A person familiar with the matter said the publisher removed the video after being contacted by ESPN.

NBC, Dish Talks Ease Tensions Over Ad-Skipping

Dish Network is in discussions with NBC over Dish's ad-skipping digital video recorder, say people familiar with the situation, the latest sign that a two-year-old standoff between Dish and major broadcasters is easing.

While the talks are under way, NBC has put its lawsuit against Dish on hold, the people say. NBC is one of three major networks still in litigation with Dish over several features on its "Hopper" digital video recorder, including one that makes it easier to automatically skip commercials.

In early March Dish settled a lawsuit over the same issue with Walt Disney's ABC as part of a broader deal in which Dish renewed its right to carry Disney-owned TV networks on its satellite TV service.

It's unclear whether NBC and Dish are anywhere near close to resolving their differences, but the mere fact that the talks are under way at all highlights how the ground may be shifting in the long-running battle between the broadcasters and Dish. The Supreme Court ruling on Aereo may become a factor, as some lawyers say the ruling could complicate Dish's legal case.

Foursquare to Begin Charging Fees

Foursquare Labs said it would begin charging some businesses for access to its database of restaurants, shops and other local venues, as it tries to make money from information it has gathered from user "check-ins" in the five years since its founding.

The New York startup is negotiating with the heaviest users of its data to pay fees or offer services in return, Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Glueck said. Deals will be reached on an ad-hoc basis with each developer and will affect under 1% of the 63,000 companies that use Foursquare's database, said Glueck, a longtime Internet executive who recently joined Foursquare.

The change in policy could jeopardize Foursquare's relationship with outside developers that rely on the service to pull the names and coordinates of local places of interest into their own apps. Popular applications including Pinterest, Twitter's Vine, and Yahoo's Flickr use this service to help users match content they post online to their geographic location. But the data fees could also help Foursquare create a new revenue stream to support its free mobile apps.

IBM, Lenovo Tackle Security Worries on Server Deal

International Business Machines and Lenovo Group are grappling with ways to resolve US security concerns over IBM's proposed $2.3 billion sale of its computer-servers business to the Chinese company.

The deal, struck in January, remains in limbo as the US government investigates security issues around IBM's x86 servers, which are used in the nation's communications networks and in data centers that support the Pentagon's computer networks, say people familiar with the matter.

US security officials and members of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US -- a panel that screens deals with possible national-security implications -- are worried the servers could be accessed remotely by Chinese spies or hackers or compromised through maintenance, said people familiar with the matter.

Lenovo faced similar pushback when it bought IBM's personal-computer business in 2005. The company describes itself in marketing materials as a trusted global supplier, but certain sensitive arms of the US government have shied away from using its technology.

CFIUS ultimately approved Lenovo's PC deal, but the US military later alerted Defense Department officials to security incidents involving the PCs, and the State Department banned their use on its classified networks in the US and abroad, according to current and former officials. Government officials also are somewhat uneasy about the potential sale of part of the x86 portfolio that ties clusters of servers together to make them act like a more powerful machine, these people said.

Supreme Court: Police Need Warrants to Search Cellphone Data

The Supreme Court has ruled police must almost always obtain a warrant before searching mobile devices seized when arresting someone, extending constitutional privacy protections to the increasingly vast amounts of data Americans keep on smartphones, cellphones and other hand-held digital technology.

The court, in a unanimous ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts, said both the quantity and quality of information contained in modern hand-held devices is constitutionally protected from police intrusion without a warrant. "Modern cellphones aren't a technological convenience," Chief Justice Roberts wrote.

"With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life,'" he wrote.

The ruling rejected law-enforcement arguments that cellphones fell under a long-standing exception to the warrant requirement that allows police to search the contents of suspects' pockets to make sure they don't carry weapons or destroy evidence.

Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the Supreme Court in the case of Riley v California has established an important precedent about the need for law enforcement officers to secure a warrant before searching someone's cell phone. He also established a crucial cultural precedent by ruling, accurately, that iPhones and Androids and such aren't really phones at all.

“They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers,” the judge ruled.

Nielsen and comScore Can’t Tell You How Many People Streamed USA’s World Cup Tie With Portugal

It’s becoming clear the World Cup is a hit on US television, judging from huge ratings for Sunday night’s riveting game between the US and Portugal. But if advertisers want an impartial estimate of how many people streamed the game online, they’re out of luck.

That’s because neither comScore nor Nielsen -- the two biggest companies in third party audience research for the Web -- tracked the online audience. While both firms occasionally provide timely data on online viewership for live events (like say President Barack Obama’s inauguration), neither regularly track that sort of thing.

That highlights a reality about the Web: despite how fast online video has grown over the last few years, and all the ad dollars that are pouring into the medium, there’s no third party measure of online video audiences either in real time, or even overnight time.

Sprint Offers Unlimited Voice or Texting for $20/Month at Wal-Mart

Sprint unveiled plans to offer unlimited voice or texting prepaid wireless plans at Wal-Mart Stores for $20 a month through its payLo by Virgin Mobile brand.

The monthly plans soon to be available to customers who purchase a Kyocera Kona or Samsung Montage device, cost $20 for either unlimited voice minutes with 50 text messages, or unlimited texting with 50 minutes of voice, Sprint said.

"The no-contract market continues to grow, most visibly with smartphones, but many customers find value with unlimited plans without the extra bells and whistles," said Angela Rittgers, vice president of marketing for Sprint's prepaid group.

Viacom, 60 Cable Firms Part Ways in Rural US

For roughly two months, about 900,000 households in small towns across the US haven't been able to watch Nickelodeon, MTV or Comedy Central, as a result of a blackout of the Viacom-owned channels by some 60 small cable operators. So far, there is little evidence any more than a handful of the households care.

After bracing to lose as many as a 10th of their customers, the operators have lost less than 2% of their collective subscribers, according to an industry group that represents the operators.

Viacom isn't worried either, saying it expects "no financial impact" from losing what is only about 1% of total pay-TV households. As a result, with the cable operators unhappy about the price Viacom wants for the right to carry the channels, executives say the blackout is likely to be permanent.

Several have replaced the Viacom channels with others.

The situation signals a shift in the often-tense relations between pay-TV operators and entertainment companies. With video choices increasing, operators are starting to push back at program cost increases by dropping channels altogether.

The markets in the current dispute are mostly rural and suburban, in states including Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa and Idaho, where Viacom's portfolio of young-skewing channels with edgy programming popular in urban centers may not carry as much sway.

Google Buys Alpental to Gain Fast Wireless Technology

Google bought wireless-communications startup Alpental Technologies in its bid to extend fast Internet service to more places. Alpental was started by former Clearwire engineers including Michael Hart and Pete Gelbman.

The company was developing a cheap, high-speed communications service using the 60GHz band of spectrum, according to a letter the Alpental engineers wrote to the Federal Communications Commission in 2013.

The 60GHz band has been used for high-capacity networking indoors and to extend fiber-optic Internet service from one commercial building to others nearby. The Federal Communications Commision loosened some rules governing this band of spectrum in 2013, saying that it could be used to provide wireless connections of up to a mile at speeds up to seven gigabits per second. That could extend service without the cost of building new wireline networks in some areas, the FCC said in August. Most broadband Internet services offer much slower speeds, below one gigabit per second.