Facebook Pumps $100 Million into Local Journalism Over COVID-19; iPhone 12 Production ‘On Schedule;’ Microsoft Cloud-775% Spike; UD Using Mobile Ad Location Tracking to Follow COVID-19

Facebook…which has taken plenty of heat for accelerating the decimation of local journalism….is now pledging to pump $100 million into the news industry as coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has become so crucial. Theverge.com reports that $25 million will be provided in grant funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project, with the remaining $75 million coming from ‘additional marketing spend’ to worldwide news organizations. With the onset of the virus and closing of businesses as people shelter in place, many news publishers and organization s have seen ad income go up in smoke. Radio, TV, and print journalism outlets all depend very heavily if not entirely on ad and promotion revenue for their income. Facebook says it will try to focus the grants on publishers that are the hardest hit.

A report over the weekend seems to contradict the rumors of a delay in iPhone 12 production and the planned rollout in September. According to 9to5mac.com, Foxconn remains on track with the production ramp-up of iPhone 12 models. Full production is expected to begin this summer, when most expect the coronavirus to have died down.Hon Hai (Foxconn) has good reason to pull out all stops to crank out the next generation of iPhones…the company gets half is revenue from making iPhones and other devices for Apple in China. Foxconn also has production facilities in Vietnam, India, and South America.

Microsoft cloud services have seen an amazing spike in usage since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. Geekwire.com says that as of Saturday, usage is up 775% for services like Microsoft Teams, Windows Virtual Desktop, and Power BI. The bump is especially pronounced in areas that have put into effect social distancing or shelter in place mandates. People have even been using Xbox Live more as a social connection…to the extent that MS has turned off some features like uploading custom gamer pics to help keep its servers running smoothly. Microsoft says that while the scale is unprecedented, the company’s back end systems are holding up fine.

The US has dived into using phone location tracking to keep tabs on the spread of COVID-19. According to engadget.com, federal CDC), state, and local governments have been getting location data from mobile ads to help plan their pandemic response. The data is anonymized, but still shows officials where people continue to gather in significant numbers, which can spread the virus. It also is giving insight into how the virus is impacting retail. The CDC is understood to be getting data through a COVID-19 Mobility Data Network project coordinated by experts at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Princeton and other schools. All well and good during the pandemic, but some privacy advocates worry that there will be unintended consequences once the virus has come under control.


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