Overnight Tech: Brain game maker pays $2M to settle deceptive ad claims

LEDE: The "brain training" company Lumosity has agreed to pay $2 million to settle charges that it deceptively trumped up the health benefits of its mobile app and online games. 

The Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement Tuesday along with a 26-page complaint against the company. The FTC believed the charges warranted a $50 million settlement, but that was cut down to $2 million because of the financial state of Lumosity's parent company, Lumos Labs. 

The company will be barred from continuing to make deceptive claims to its 70 million users.  

The FTC said the company "preyed on consumers'" fears about cognitive decline. The commission said the company did not have the data to back up its claims. Lumosity advertising had promised to improve performance in everyday tasks, reduce cognitive impairment, and help protect against things like dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The $2 million settlement was a step up for the FTC compared to a number of other recent health-tech related settlements. Early last year, it sanctioned developers who promised an app that detected melanoma. In September, the commission scored a $150,000 settlement from a mobile app company that claimed to improve eyesight. 

LUMOSITY TOUTS RIGOROUS RESEARCH: Lumosity said the settlement allows the company to continue to offer its "research-based cognitive training" and noted the deceptive advertising was from a discontinued campaign. 

"Neither the action nor the settlement pertains to the rigor of our research or the quality of the products -- it is a reflection of marketing language that has been discontinued. Our focus as a company has not and will not change: We remain committed to moving the science of cognitive training forward and contributing meaningfully to the field's community and body of research," the company said in a statement. "Lumosity has made strong contributions to the scientific community, including our work with the Human Cognition Project initiative."

THE 10,000 CHARACTER TWEET: Tweets could get expanded past their traditional 140 character limit sometime in the first quarter of 2016, according to multiple sources cited in ReCode. Twitter is testing a version of the change in which tweets would appear the same, but users could click to expand the tweet if more text is included. The new limit could be as much as 10,000 characters, which is the current limit on direct messages. The move is seen as a way to try and expand the company's user base, which lags far behind Facebook. 

TWITTER'S 'SENSE OF SPEED': Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to reports by saying Twitter will never lose its "sense of speed." He noted that many people already take screenshots of texts and send it out. "Instead, what if that text... was actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted," he said in a message on Twitter. "That's more utility and power."

OBAMA CALLS FOR ADVANCES IN GUN-SAFETY TECH: During President Obama's speech announcing his executive action aimed at curbing gun violence, he said the government must work with the private sector to advance gun locking and locating technology. 

"We need to develop new technologies that make guns safer," he said. "If we can set it up so you can't unlock your phone unless you've got the right fingerprint, why can't we do the same thing for our guns? If there's an app that can help us find a missing tablet -- which happens to me often the older I get -- if we can do it for your iPad, there's no reason we can't do it with a stolen gun. If a child can't open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure that they can't pull a trigger on a gun." 

CHAMBER MIGHT SUE OVER SEATTLE LAW: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it may sue over a measure passed last month in Seattle that makes it possible for drivers at Uber, Lyft and traditional taxi companies to unionize. "Although litigation is always a last resort, the U.S. Chamber will not hesitate to engage the courts to enforce the law when lawmakers are dead set on stifling free enterprise and trampling the legal rights of the business community," said Lily Fu Claffee, the organization's chief legal officer. The group says that the measure is in conflict with federal law, including the National Labor Relations Act. It also cautions other localities from pursuing similar laws.

SURVEYMONKEY WILL PARTNER WITH NBC THROUGH 2018: The survey firm, which recently hired top polling journalist Mark Blumenthal from the Huffington Post last year, will start releasing weekly polls on voter attitudes in collaboration with the television network and extend the term of its partnership.

HOUSE TEES UP TECH BILLS: The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology announced that it would hold a hearing next Tuesday on four technology-related bills, including one banning the FCC from regulating broadband rates under its net neutrality rules and another permanently exempting small business from certain parts of the rules.


At 11:30 a.m., FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez appear at CES.

At 1:00 p.m., United States CTO Megan Smith and another administration staffer, Tom Kalil, appear on a panel at CES.

At 2:15 p.m., FTC Commissioners Ohlhausen, McSweeny and Brill join FCC Commissioners Pai, Clyburn and O'Rielly on a panel at CES.


Draft legislation hailed by the broadcasting industry would give the Federal Communications Commission a five-month deadline for developing a plan to repackage television stations displaced by an upcoming auction of wireless spectrum.

A Chinese regulator is asking Microsoft to explain "major problems" in data included in an antitrust probe of the company, according to multiple reports.

Pollsters are fighting to keep up with the ever-increasing shift from landlines to cellphones. 

The Open State Foundation on Tuesday has once again begun capturing the deleted tweets of lawmakers in 25 countries around the world. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is being sued over its new rules that require drone users to pay a fee and register their devices with the federal government, Forbes Magazine reports.

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