Unriddled: Managing Your Time on Social Media, Google’s Controversial New Search Engine, and More Tech News You Need

Welcome, one and all, to another Wednesday: the day that marks the halfway point — almost — to the weekend.

Here in our Cambridge HQ, the days are slowly starting to get shorter. So, as we hold onto to these summer days and nights — and know that, perhaps, you are, too — we’ll try to unriddle this week’s tech news in double-time.

It’s our Wednesday tech news roundup, and we’re breaking it down.

Unriddled: The Tech News You Need

1. New Time Management Tools on Facebook and Instagram

One grievance that’s often aired about social media is the amount of time people spend on it. Now, Facebook will be rolling out “tools to manage your time” on both its core app, as well as Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

In the context of many other changes made by Facebook this year — like its January News Feed algorithm update to prioritize content from friends and family — and the recent scrutiny it’s received over data privacy, this move makes sense. The (desired) message is clear: Facebook wants people to have a safe and positive experience on its various apps.

At the same time, however, Facebook has also unveiled certain new elements that seem to emphasize and encourage more time spent on the app, especially when it comes to video like Watch and IGTV

Once the tools are released, Facebook says, they’ll let users know the average amount of time they spend on the given app and the device they’re currently using, as well as the total time they spend on it per day. Additionally, users can set timers for how long they want to spend on the app and receive a reminder of the limits they’ve set, as well as new settings to suppress notifications. Read full statement >>

2. Speaking of News Feed Changes: Redesigned Facebook Business Pages Are Coming

With organic Page reach declining — a  possible result of algorithm changes, combined with what Josh Constine of TechCrunch calls a “natural side effect of increased supply paired with plateauing demand” — Facebook says it will redesign the look-and-feel of Pages for local businesses to help people discover and engage with them. 

Among the changes, Facebook says, will be new tools to do things like make reservations and see each business’s Stories, similar to the way brands can reach audiences on Facebook with ephemeral visual content. The redesign will also feature listings of “related” businesses to boost discoverability, Constine reports. Read full statement >>

3. Leaked Documents Point to Google Building a Censored Search Engine in China

Last week, The Intercept reported leaked documents indicate Google is building a censored version of its search engine for Chinese markets which will restrict pages and search queries pertaining to topics like democracy, human rights, and protest.

At present, Google’s search engine can’t be used in China, as it’s banned by the country’s “Great Firewall,” which has also blocked such sites as Facebook, YouTube, and certain news outlets (including the New York Times) and coverage. It also blocks access to information pertaining to the categories that would be restricted by Google’s censored search engine, as well as topics like free speech.

According to The Intercept report, the new censored search engine will “automatically identify and filter websites blocked by the Great Firewall,” with a note within the search results indicating that  “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.”

Along with Google, Facebook has also struggled to gain a foothold in the Chinese market, after recently withdrawing its registration to open a subsidiary in Zhejiang. Read full story >>

4. New York City Will Put a Cap on Uber

After years of controversy around the impact of ride-sharing apps on the taxi industry (and its drivers), New York’s city council will vote today on a one-year cap for new license applications for ride-sharing vehicles operating for Uber and others. It’s one of the city’s attempts to regulate car traffic and the effect that such ride-sharing apps have had on it — as well as the dwindling income of drivers, according to Bloomberg. Should the council vote to approve the app, New York will be the first U.S. city to establish such regulations. Read full story >>

5. More News From Google You May Have Missed

Beyond the controversy, Google was in the news for a few other notable items last month. Check out “What You Missed Last Month in Google”: our monthly roundup of the top stories from the search giant you may have missed. Read full story >>

That’s all for today. Until next week, feel free to weigh in on Twitter to ask us your tech news questions, or to let us know what kind of events and topics you’d like us to cover.

Featured image credit: Facebook

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