iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Facebook's solution to the frequently requested "dislike" button is here.
The company revealed on Thursday it is testing "Reactions," a set of six emoji that can be chosen when liking a post simply doesn't feel right.
"As you can see, it's not a 'dislike' button, though we hope it addresses the spirit of this request more broadly. We studied which comments and reactions are most commonly and universally expressed across Facebook, then worked to design an experience around them that was elegant and fun," Chris Cox, chief product officer at Facebook, said on his page.
The pilot test, which will begin Thursday in Ireland and Spain, leads users who hover or long-press the like button to a set of six emoji letting them say "yay" and "wow," express love and laughter or sadness and anger.
"We’ll use the feedback from this to improve the feature and hope to roll it out to everyone soon," Cox said.
Mark Zuckerberg sparked excitement at a town hall last month when he said Facebook had something in the works to address the problem of wanting to show support for a post but not necessarily liking it.
"What they really want is the ability to express empathy," Zuckerberg said. "Not every moment is a good moment."
Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images for AWXII(NEW YORK) — Alphabet, the parent company is Google, is making sure it has everything from A to Z covered online. Literally.
The newly formed company, which made it official last week when Google's stock transferred from "Google Inc." to "Alphabet" now owns abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.com.
"We realized we missed a few letters in abc.xyz, so we’re just being thorough," an Alphabet spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. There is currently nothing on the website and it is unclear how Alphabet plans to use it.
Creating a new company called Alphabet in 2015 of course comes with its challenges when claiming a piece of online real estate.
The domain name Alphabet.com is already owned by the BMW Group, while ABC owns ABC.com. The 26-letter domain name Alphabet just scooped up was created in 1999, according to DomainInvesting.com. It was unclear how much Alphabet paid for the url.
Announced in August, the surprise decision to slim down Google and make it a subsidiary of the newly created Alphabet is intended to allow each company to focus on what it does best.
Google has always been a search engine and advertising business at its core but over the years it's grown into a company with diverse interests ranging from self-driving cars to home automation systems. The idea of Alphabet is to spin off some of those businesses from Google.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Amazon's quest to dominate the online shopping experience expanded into Etsy's territory Thursday with the launch of Handmade at Amazon, an online bazaar where artisans can sell their homemade goods.
A decade after Etsy opened for business, the marketplace has shown there is a hunger for one-of-a-kind goods. When the company filed for its initial public offering last year, it reported nearly $2 billion in yearly sales.
Now, Amazon is hoping to tap into that demand.
"Knowing an item has a unique story behind it creates a personal experience that customers have told us makes owning handmade items special," Peter Faricy, vice president for Amazon Marketplace, said in a statement.
While both sites are positioned as competitors, there are some key differences between Handmade at Amazon and Etsy, including their seller bases, fee structure and manufacturing policies.
For now, Handmade is open to sellers who apply and are accepted into the bazaar, while Etsy allows anyone to set up a shop.
Handmade currently includes 5,000 sellers from 60 countries offering 80,000 items. By comparison, Etsy reported 1.5 million active sellers and 21.7 million active buyers in nearly every country in the world as of June 30.
While Amazon's initial seller base is significantly smaller, the company does have the benefit of having a 285 million-strong customer base.
The cuts both sites take from their sellers are also different. Handmade at Amazon will take a 12 percent referral fee in exchange for listing the products and payment processing. Etsy charges its artisans 20 cents per listing, a 3.5 percent fee when a transaction is made and another 3 percent fee plus 25 cents for processing a payment, according to the company's website.
Sellers on Handmade at Amazon will have to certify their items are "factory free" while Etsy has allowed some merchants to apply to use manufacturers that meet certain Etsy criteria.
"Etsy supports sellers who want to scale their businesses with responsible manufacturing partnerships," the company's website says. "For example, you can work with a cut-and-sew shop to make clothes you've designed, a casting house that casts your wax models, or a digital printer that turns your photographs into tangible items."
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Lumber Liquidators on Wednesday announced a $10 million settlement with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice over accusations that some of its foreign suppliers had harvested more timber than their permits allowed.
According to a release from the company, Lumber Liquidators cooperated with federal authorities and will pay the full penalty, including a $7.8 million fine, more than $1 million in community service contributions to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund, and a nearly $1 million forfeiture payment. In doing so, the company will plead guilty to four misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act, which governs protection of plants, fish and wildlife.
Lumber Liquidator will also plead guilty to a felony charge of entry of goods by means of false statements.
The company had previously ceased sales of $4.1 million of engineered hardwood flooring over compliance concerns. In the settlement, Lumber Liquidators will pay $3.2 million to the DOJ, but will be allowed to sell the products and retain any proceeds.
Lumber Liquidators Chief Compliance and Legal Officer Jill Witter said that the company would also work with the DOJ to develop "one of the strongest and most comprehensive" environmental compliance plans in the industry.
JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wednesday's session on Wall Street saw stocks close up despite concerns over oil prices and China's slowing economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 122.1 on Wednesday, finishing the session at 16912.29. The index has posted gains in four consecutive sessions.
The Nasdaq jumped 42.79 to a close of 4791.15, while the S&P 500 ended the day at 1995.83, 15.91 higher than its open.
Consumer credit increased by $16 billion in August, the Federal Reserve said, though that figure was less than anticipated. Americans, experts said, are taking out more automobile and student loans. That trend is expected to continue in the coming months.
Also on Wednesday, Hewlett Packard unveiled new products, including an eight-inch Windows tablet called the Envy Note 8, which will be available to ship in early November.
Nigel Eccles, CEO of FanDuel speaks onstage at 'Fantasy Sports: Changing The Fan Experience Daily' during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film Interactive Festival at Four Seasons Hotel on March 15, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW)(NEW YORK) -- Amid scandal involving the use of insider information to win money, both FanDuel and DraftKings have permanently banned their employees from playing in any public daily fantasy sports games for money.
Last week, a DraftKings employee admitted to accidentally releasing data on a daily fantasy competition involving the NFL prior to the third week of NFL games. That same week, the employee won $350,000 at rival site FanDuel. Many accused the employee of insider trading.
On Wednesday, both companies announced that their employees would no longer be allowed to participate in competitions on any of daily fantasy website.
"Trust with our players is core to our business and has always been our primary concern," said a statement from FanDuel. "We take any potential game integrity issue very seriously."
While FanDuel says there is no evidence that the integrity of its contests were compromised in any way, the company would take a number of immediate steps to bolster the level of trust among its users.
FanDuel will permanently ban its employees from playing "any daily fantasy games for money, on any site." All users will also have to confirm that they are not employed by any other third party fantasy site.
Furthermore, FanDuel says, it has asked a former federal judge and attorney general Michael Mukasey to conduct a review of the company's practices and provide recommendations to improve its practices.
DraftKings also said it would permanently bar its employees from for-cash daily fantasy competitions as well, adding "we are glad to see that others in the industry have followed suit and believe that this is an important next step in retaining the trust of our players."
MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A potential strike by the United Automobile Workers union against Fiat Chrysler could have a lasting impact on car buyers.
A midnight deadline looms over Fiat Chrysler after the United Auto Workers notified the Italian-American carmaker on Tuesday that the union is ending its labor contract at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday night.
Last week, 65 percent of the union's members rejected a tentative agreement with Fiat Chrysler. Among the demands of the union are cost-of-living pay increases, abolishing a two-tier pay structure and ending shifts that are 10 hours per day, four days a week.
Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are waiting for a deal to be reached between the union and Fiat Chrysler before starting their negotiations.
Richard Hilgert, automotives senior equity analyst at Morningstar, said there is a "solid probability" that a short-lived strike may occur, though company management and the union are resuming negotiations ahead of the deadline. The union informed members Wednesday that they may be disqualified from unemployment insurance in many states due to participation in a strike, but all dues-paying members are eligible for strike assistance.
Fiat Chrysler has 23 plants in the U.S. and employs 80,000 workers around the world, half of which are UAW workers, according to a company spokesperson, who declined to comment about the potential strike. Though the strike may not affect all of the company's factories, union members posted notices inside a key plant in Kokomo, Indiana, informing workers of the strike deadline. A strike could impact production on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger and Ram 1500.
UAW President Dennis Williams addressed members in a letter Monday, writing, “We have real challenges. We all know that without investment and product there is no true job security. For someone to suggest we endorse products going to Mexico is just nonsense. We have been fighting NAFTA and other trade agreements every day and are still fighting.”
The UAW did not respond to a request for comment.
In the short term, if a strike were to occur, there could be availability issues depending on the duration of the shutdown, Hilgert said.
"Longer term, the price consumers pay at the dealership is directly impacted by the total compensation paid to labor," Hilgert said. "If total labor compensation at one carmaker gets too high relative to the rest of the industry, that company would have to charge higher prices and consumers are likely to take their business elsewhere."
There's another issue at stake for Fiat Chrysler, the world's seventh-largest automaker.
"The union rank-and-file has to recognize that their competition comes from everywhere around the world," Hilgert said. "While it’s absolutely important that labor is fairly compensated, the level of compensation has to enable Fiat Chrysler to compete on a global basis."
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MILAN) -- Domino's may be in 80 international markets, but its boldest move yet may be opening its first restaurant in Italy.
The American pizza chain's first Italian location opened in the city of Milan on Monday, and the company said it plans to open three in that city by the end of the year. A franchisee called ePizza S.p.A., doing business as Domino's Pizza Italia, has the rights to operate the Domino's brand in Italy, the home of pizza.
The man who is the franchisee, Alessandro Lazzaroni, was previously a commercial retail director of an Italian bakery company, Galbuser, Domino's said.
"Domino's is a global brand, with American roots, and we're proud to be able to introduce it to the Italian people – with a twist," Lazzaroni said in a statement. "We will be using a recipe created by us, using locally-sourced wheat. Everything else is purely Italian. We are purchasing all of our products from Italian producers. We've created our own recipe, starting for the original pizza recipe, with Italian products, like 100 percent tomato sauce and mozzarella, and products like Prosciutto di Parma, Gorgonzola, Grana Padano and Mozzarella di bufala Campana."
According to Domino's, Italians eat pizza an average of seven times a month and the traditional Margherita pizza, among the varieties Domino's will offer, is favored by 70 percent of Italian consumers.
Richard Allison, president of Domino's International, said that he understands the risk of entering Italy, which even coffee giant Starbucks has shied away from due to particular Italian tastes.
"Italy can be a major milestone for the recognized world leader in pizza delivery, as no major American pizza brand has successfully entered the market," Allison said in a statement. "We're going where no major pizza brand has gone before."
Sean Gallup/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Volkswagen American division president and CEO Michael horn heads to the Capitol Thursday to testify before a House subcommittee on behalf of the company and it’s attempts to circumvent U.S. emission standards.
Pennsylvania representative Tim Murphy, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, says they demand answers as to why the so-called “defeat devices” were used by the company and why they went undetected for so long.
“We will get [the American people] those answers,” Murphy said, according to Autoweek.
Volkswagen admitted weeks ago that the automaker used software to evade emissions tests for its diesel vehicles, affecting 11 million car-owners around the world.
By the end of the week, Volkswagen promised to announce a plan to fix the problem, Autoweek reports. The company has already launched a website in Germany that allows consumers to search whether their vehicle will be recalled. A similar search site has not yet been released for the U.S.
ModCloth(NEW YORK) -- Fashion brand ModCloth is taking a major step to be more inclusive by removing the word "Plus" from their website.
The fashion brand has already removed the "Plus" section from the homepage of it's website and is currently in the beginning stages of removing the word "Plus" from the site altogether.
"ModCloth has always been a firm believer that types of clothing rather than types of bodies should define shopping categories,” said Susan Gregg Koger, co-founder and chief creative officer of ModCloth. "ModCloth’s mission is to help women feel like the best version of themselves, and we believe this is another way we can promote inclusivity. We view this announcement as an important first step towards creating the most inclusive shopping experience we can for our customers.”
The announcement to remove the "Plus" section from the website comes after the release of a survey conducted by ModCloth about the experience and perceptions of the “Plus” sized fashion industry by women who wear a size 16 or above.
The survey results showed that more than half of the women surveyed are frustrated being labeled "Plus," and that nearly two thirds of the women are embarrassed to have to go to a separate section of the store to find plus sized clothing.
Although the word "Plus" will no longer be a category on the website, women who prefer to search for clothing by size can still find clothing styles available above XL beneath each main category section under the title “extended sizes.”
ModCloth launched its namesake label this past August.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Frequent fliers looking to save a few bucks on bag fees are in luck -- but there's a catch.
Travelers have to be willing to turn their checked luggage into a sort of billboard. In turn, the company behind the ad placement will pay the checked bag fees. Here's how it works:
Be one of the first one million people to sign up on the Orion Travel Tech site for the program;
In February, receive one set of "two piece, high gloss, all plastic, four wheel trolley luggage -- Sizes 21 inch carry-on and a 25 inch expandable to 28 inch”;
At the same time, you'll get a gift card with a round-trip baggage fee of $50 only to be used at the airline's ticket counter when you check your luggage. It will correspond, via a UPC code, to the 25-inch luggage of the two-piece set;
Lifetime membership in the program. When you’re ready to travel again, email the company and the gift card will be reloaded;
You can travel as much as you want during the year;
The whole family can sign up.
Orion Travel Tech claims to be the first company to personalize its luggage with the "interchangeable graphic skin" of their choice. Founder Gary German told ABC News he came up with the idea because he and his family travel extensively and the bag fees were adding up.
German said he thought "there had to be a better way" and came up with this advertiser-driven model. Orion Travel sells the space on the bags to advertisers.
In a test run at four airports, German said people traveling with the luggage were approached an average of 30 times by others wanting to know more about it.
The model, he said, works well for all parties. Travelers avoid bag fees and companies get eyeballs on their ads.
"These bags are traveling through the check-in line, by the TSA, into a Starbucks, on a luggage carousel, to a hotel," German said. "That's a lot of mileage."
Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair(NEW YORK) -- Most people don't have one CEO title, let alone two.
Elon Musk, who runs both Tesla and SpaceX, was joined in the rare dual-CEO club this week when Jack Dorsey was named CEO of Twitter and said he will also continue to run his payments processing company, Square.
While Musk is clearly passionate about the work he does at both of his companies, he had some surprising advice for anyone wondering what it's like to be at the helm of two businesses.
"I wouldn't recommend running two companies," Musk said onstage during a Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit panel. "It decreases your freedom quite a lot."
Musk said he spends 70 percent of his time on engineering and design, according to The Verge, with 2 to 3 percent on media requests and speaking engagements.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Solange is teaming up with Kiehl’s for a good cause.
The singer partnered with the skin care company to promote an anti-wrinkle treatment in an effort to benefit educational and empowering charities for children in need.
The limited-edition set, which was designed by Solo, is now available at Kiehl’s flagship store in New York, Kiehl’s at The Grove and on Kiehls.com. The proceeds from the sales of the product will go towards a $25,000 donation to the charities DonorsChoose.org, 14 Foundation, Inc. and Son of a Saint.
"Education should not be a privilege, but a right that every child deserves, and I couldn’t be more excited to now have a partnership with Kiehl’s to support this belief," Solange said.
Every customer who purchases the anti-wrinkle treatment will receive a $25 DonorsChoose.org gift code, found in the inside of each sleeve.
Willard/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- Allegations of "insider trading" in the increasingly lucrative fantasy sports world are drawing attention to whether the industry should be more closely regulated.
Last week, an employee of fantasy sports company DraftKings admitted to accidentally releasing NFL data before the start of the third week of N.F.L. football games. That same week, the employee won $350,000 at rival fantasy sports website FanDuel.
Social media users accused the employee of "insider trading" and both companies announced on Monday night that they were temporarily restricting employees from participating in fantasy sports for money.
Here's what you should know about the explosion of fantasy sports and the "insider trading" allegations:
1. Who are the major players?
DraftKings and FanDuel are the two major fantasy sports websites. Both offer daily and weekly games in which users pay an entry fee of 25 cents to $1,000. Users choose players in fantasy teams (actual N.F.L. athletes) and earn points based on how their players perform in real games. The prize money varies and can go as high as $2 million.
Another competitor, Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., has been in the fantasy sports business for more than 16 years. Its first entry was fantasy football back in 1998. This summer the company launched its one-day and one-week fantasy contests for cash, called Yahoo Sports Daily Fantasy.
2. Why has a DraftKings employee been accused of "insider trading"?
DraftKings admitted an employee released data on its blog that showed which players were chosen in NFL lineups by users prior to the start of the third week of games (also referred to as ownership percentages). This data is typically released after all the lineups are finalized. The ownership percentages applied to DraftKing's Millionaire Maker game. A DraftKings employee won $350,000 on a FanDuel contest, prompting concerns that he may have benefited from insider information.
3. DraftKing denies "insider trading."
DraftKings is adamant that its employees do not engage in insider trading.
“There has been some confusion regarding a recent piece of data that was inadvertently posted on DraftKings' blog containing information about players and fantasy games," the company said in a statement. "Some reports are mischaracterizing the situation and implying that there was wrongdoing. We want to set the record straight."
The company said it shared information with competitor FanDuel as part of its investigation. DraftKings concluded: "The evidence clearly shows that the employee in question did not receive the data on player utilization until 1:40 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 27. Lineups on FanDuel locked at 1:00 p.m. that day, at which point this employee (along with every other person playing in a FanDuel contest) could no longer edit his player selections. This clearly demonstrates that this employee could not possibly have used the information in question to make decisions about his FanDuel lineup. Again, there is no evidence that any information was used to create an unfair advantage, and any insinuations to the contrary are factually incorrect.”
4. What do FanDuel and the industry say?
A joint statement from FanDuel, DraftKings and the Fantasy Sports Trade Association said that the companies are now banning employees from playing online fantasy sports for money.
"At this time, there is no evidence that any employee or company has violated" the FTSA charter that restricts "employee access to and use of competitive data for play on other sites," the joint statement read. "That said, the inadvertent release of non-public data by a fantasy operator employee has sparked a conversation among fantasy sports players about the extent to which industry employees should be able to participate in fantasy sports contests on competitor sites. We’ve heard from users that they would appreciate more clarity about the rules for this issue. In the interim, while the industry works to develop and release a more detailed policy, DraftKings and FanDuel have decided to prohibit employees from participating in online fantasy sports contests for money.”
5. What are the laws governing fantasy sports contests?
Some lawmakers want to regulate fantasy sports much like gambling.
Marc Edelman, a lawyer and associate professor at Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, explains that for fantasy sports contests to be legal, contests must comply with federal law and state law in every state in which they operate. Often the distinction is whether the game is based on "chance" or "skill." For example, there are varying restrictions for fantasy sports in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Washington.
"Under federal law, a fantasy sports contest is deemed per se legal if the contest involves predicting the performance of real world players in multiple games, maintains prize amounts that are fixed before the contest begins and is based upon the relative skill of the contest participants," Edelman said.
The definition of "skill" can be defined by state law.