This week, the FCC has taken a big step to preserve net neutrality in the United States and Google, still wondering when YouTube will turn a profit, has changed the way it does things in Europe.
FCC approves net neutrality rules
The principle of net neutrality in the United States appears to have been upheld, after the Federal Communications Commission approved a plan to reclassify broadband as a public utility.
The decision appears to be a landmark victory for supporters of net neutrality, which has been an area of intense debate.
Net neutrality is the principle that all internet data, regardless of its source, is treated equally. However, a number of ISPs in the United States, supported by Republican politicians, had been campaigning to introduce so-called “fast lanes” that would allow brands to pay to access and ensure that their data was prioritised. The ISPs argued that doing so would allow them to invest more in internet infrastructure and help them to cope with the demands of increasingly data-hungry consumers.
Critics argued that the idea of paid data prioritisation would stifle competition, give free reign for ISPs to throttle data to rival companies and prevent start-up businesses from competing with established brands. Those campaigning for net neutrality cited a dispute between Netflix and one ISP, which appeared to throttle data from Netflix during a dispute over fees.
However, Republican congressmen appeared to admit defeat on the issue, allowing the FCC to pass a plan to prevent any paid prioritisation of data and slowing down of data to “lawful content”.
Google STILL isn’t making money from YouTube
Despite reportedly contributing to 6% of Google’s $4bn (£2.6bn) revenue last year, YouTube isn’t making money for Google, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
YouTube had revenues of $1bn in 2014, but content and infrastructure costs have meant that the video site is at “roughly break even”.
Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65bn (£1.06bn) and has made no secret of its desire to create new revenue streams from the service. Last week, it introduced a new YouTube Kids application.
Barclays to allow payments with Twitter
You will soon be able to pay for your share of last night’s meal through Twitter, after Barclays announced that it is the first UK bank to allow individuals and small businesses to send and receive payments to Twitter usernames.
The service, which will be powered by the bank’s Pingit mobile app, allows users to link their Twitter usernames to their Pingit account. Users can then send money to each other, or to small businesses that have signed up to the scheme.
For security, the transactions will be handled within Pingit and not within Twitter, and transactions are limited to £1,500 per day.
The service, available to Barclays and non-Barclays customers, will go live on iOS and Android on 10 March.
Google merges EU operations
Google has merged its individual European operations into a single entity, following years of scrutiny and pressure over its operations in Europe.
Amid growing regulatory pressure, Google has merged its European operations into a single, continent-wide operation. A new division for Europe, Middle East and Asia (EMEA), will be run from the company’s London HQ and headed by the former head of Google’s northern and Western Europe division, Matt Brittin.
The move is designed to make it easier for Google to respond to EU-wide regulatory changes. The controversial ‘right to be forgotten’ rule, which originated in Spain, became law across the EU and Google believes that having a central operation allows it to better respond to such issues in the future.
Google is facing a number of regulatory challenges across the EU. In the UK, proposals for a so-called “Google tax” could affect companies that “artificially divert” profits overseas, whilst the European parliament approved a motion back in November to break up Google’s organic and paid search businesses.
Facebook launches suicide prevention initiative
Facebook has launched a new initiative aimed at reducing the number of suicides amongst the site’s users.
Under the initiative, users will be able to report posts from their friends if they believe that the post suggests some form of depression or mental anguish. It is hoped that if friends and family can identify a suspected “cry for help”, that person can receive specialist help and support.
"Often, friends and family who are the observers in this situation don't know what to do," said Facebook strategist Holly Hetherington.
The site claims that in the past, users have posted about taking their own lives, but no action was taken in time.
Once a post is reported, a message will appear on that person’s post informing them that somebody is concerned for their welfare. They will then be provided with links offering advice and support.