Friday, October 13, 2017

After record profit, Samsung CEO quits; Dream run for bitcoins; Twitter 'crawling with bots'

1 After record profit, Samsung CEO quits (Straits Times) Samsung Electronics said that its chief executive officer and vice-chairman Kwon Oh Hyun plans to step down from management, deepening concerns over a leadership vacuum at the technology giant after group scion Lee Jae Yong was jailed for bribery.

The surprise resignation of Samsung's chip and display head came as he was expected to take a bigger role following Lee's arrest in February and the departures of other key executives in the wake of the bribery scandal.

The move came on the same day the South Korean smartphone-maker forecast record third-quarter operating profit on the back of the memory chip business, which Mr Kwon was instrumental in building into the world leader.

Mr Kwon, 64, is seen as Samsung Group's No. 2. As well as being chairman of the board and a board director, he heads the components business - including memory chips - and the display business. In a statement, the man known as "Mr Chip" said the time had come to "start anew with new spirit and young leadership".

The world's biggest maker of memory chips, smartphones and TVs is set to smash its annual profit record this year, thanks partly to soaring demand for memory chips. Semiconductors were Samsung's top earner in the three months through June, bringing in a record eight trillion won.

2 Dream run for bitcoins (Khaleej Times) Bitcoin may be in for a sustained record run as it overcomes key obstacles, experts said after the cryptocurrency set a new record high. Even bitcoin fans were plagued by doubts over the summer when Chinese regulators cracked down on exchanges trading the virtual currency and a dispute among developers gave birth to a new version, splitting the market of the budding currency.

In September, banking regulators in Beijing and Shanghai ordered local cryptocurrency exchanges to shut down. But observers say they are now detecting a rethink by the Chinese authorities, causing bitcoin to surge past the $5,800 level for the first time since its launch eight years ago.

Should rumours reported in state media be confirmed, then what is by far the most well-known and traded of more than 1,000 so-called cryptocurrencies could soar to even greater heights, experts predict. "There has been a period of uncertainty but that has not lasted. China represents more than 60 percent of trading.

The virtual currency is created through blockchain technology, which publicly records transaction details including the unique alphanumeric strings that identify buyers and sellers - technology which is gaining increasing currency among banks and companies.

3 Twitter ‘crawling with bots’ (Selina Wang in San Francisco Chronicle) One day last week, the exterior of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters bore an eerie message: “Ban Russian Bots.” 

Someone — the company doesn’t know who — projected the demand onto the side of its building.
Bots, or automated software programs, can be programmed to periodically send out messages on the Internet. Now Twitter is scrambling to explain how bots controlled by Russian meddlers may have been used to impact the 2016 president election.

Twitter was designed to be friendly to bots. They can help advertisers quickly spread their messages and respond to customer service complaints. Research from the University of Southern California and Indiana University shows that 9 to 15 percent of active Twitter accounts are bots. Many innocuously tweet headlines, the weather or Netflix releases.

Teaching Twitter’s algorithms to find malicious tweeters is challenging. Russian meddlers in particular are complementing their networks of bots with human laborers who are paid to tweet coordinated messages at the same time. It can be difficult for Twitter’s algorithms to detect the difference, according to a person familiar with the matter.

And cracking down on bots puts Twitter in a vulnerable position with Wall Street. Investors have penalized the company for failing to get more users. The more that Twitter cracks down on fake accounts and bots, the lower the monthly active user base, the metric most closely watched by Wall Street.

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