Hashtag Trending Jan. 18 – FTC investigates Meta VR; Russia fines Alphabet Inc; Microsoft sustainability

Meta’s VR division is under investigation, Russia fines Google, again, and Microsoft is making an effort to invest in sustainable technology. 

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That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Tuesday, January 18, and I’m your host, Tom Li.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Meta’s VR division is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission and multiple states in the U.S. Over the last few months, the FTC and an undisclosed number of states led by New York, have questioned third-party Oculus app developers. According to sources, investigators are examining whether Oculus uses its market position to stifle competition. This isn’t the first time Meta has undergone scrutiny from the FTC. Last week, a judge ruled that an FTC antitrust lawsuit against the company can go ahead. The lawsuit aims to force Meta to sell off its subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp.

On Monday, a Moscow court ordered Alphabet’s Google to pay 4 million roubles for not removing access to content banned in Russia. This is the latest fine from Russia for the tech giant. Russia has increased pressure on Big Tech, handing massive fines to Google and Meta for continuously failing to remove content that Moscow deems illegal. In December, Google was fined 7.2 billion roubles for repeated failure to delete content deemed illegal in Russia. Around the same time, Meta was hit with a 2 billion rouble fine for similar content-related offences and Twitter was fined 3 million roubles.

This one is a bit short. We can highlight some of the previous fines Russia has slapped Google with. 

Microsoft has invested $50 million in a sustainable aviation fuel company, which will provide renewable diesel fuel made with ethanol. The Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund is investing $50 million in LanzaJet’s Freedom Pines Fuels plant in Georgia. This is the first refinery producing jet fuel from alcohol made in part from waste. The plant is due to begin the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and diesel replacement fuel in 2022. The fuel will be useful for data centre generator sets. SAF can be produced from waste. The fuel is intended to become more widespread but is moving at a slow rate and may be too late to help slow emissions in the next decade. 

And now for something a little bit different. Jack Bayliss of Aftermarket Arbitrage runs a subscription service, where members pay him 30 Euros a month to be informed of new restocks of electronics such as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. With 1500 subscribers and counting, Bayliss claims he is aware of the damage he might be doing to the market, but believes the pros outweigh the cons. Bayliss claims to be earning 45,000 Euros a month by helping other people buy desirable items in bulk and reselling them at higher prices. This often makes it difficult for the general public to purchase a product. Several countries have been trying to stop movements like this recently. A bill called the Gaming Hardware (Automated Purchase and Resale) Bill was introduced in the UK last year. A group of U.S. Democrats also introduced a bill in December with the hope that it would ban the use of bots to scalp high-value items like games consoles.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash briefings or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Also, if you have a suggestion or a tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thank you for listening, I’m Tom Li.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT Business. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at [email protected].

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