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News Brief: Instagram’s algorithm, California’s minimum wage and OU new Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies

Headlines from March 28-April 1:

  • Instagram asks everyone to calm down after algorithm uproar (Fortune)

Instagram users went into a state of panic and distress this week after the company announced it would be switching over to algorithmic filtering. The algorithm will sort social media posts based on a user’s behaviors and interests, instead of just filing them in chronological order. Instagram, eager to quell all the fears that change is bad, maintains that it’s still just testing out the new technique. Celebrities and businesses are nervous that their respective followers might not see as many of their posts anymore, so they are clambering to ask followers to turn on notifications in the app, ensuring they’re still alerted to updates at all hours and every time a user posts a new photo.

  • California is first state to approve $15 minimum wage (CNN Money)

California has become the first state in the nation to approve a statewide $15 minimum wage. Both the State Assembly and State Senate passed the measure on Thursday afternoon. The measure will raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.50 in January and to $11 in January 2018. It will then increase by an additional $1 per hour every year until it reaches $15 in 2022. If, however, the state goes through an economic downturn or budget crisis, the governor may choose to slow the implementation. The final bill gives small businesses, with 25 or fewer employees, an extra year to implement the increases. New York lawmakers also made a minimum-wage move Thursday.

  • University of Oklahoma to establish Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies (NewsOK)

The University of Oklahoma will establish a Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies thanks to a $4 million gift from the Farzaneh Family Foundation. The Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies will provide opportunities for students to develop a better cultural understanding, appreciation and awareness of the United States, Iran and the Middle East. It will include an academic major in Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies.

Microsoft is promoting new uses for Cortana – its voice-activated answer to Apple’s Siri digital assistant – in hopes that users will talk to their computers more often. Features include the ability to interact with software “bots” that can have limited conversations with users and help with tasks like booking a hotel room, ordering a meal or arranging a delivery. “Bots are the new apps,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said.

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