APPS

Snapchat users decline

in U.S. for the first time

Snap Inc.'s photo-sharing app Snapchat will lose users in the United States for the first time this year, suggesting the company's latest efforts to broaden its audience with new features like gaming won't revive growth in the short-term.

Snapchat will have 77.5 million monthly U.S. users in 2019, a 2.8 percent decline from a year earlier, according to industry analyst EMarketer. The research firm pointed toward fans' lingering dissatisfaction with a redesign of the app and significantly lowered its projections from those made six months ago. It now predicts that Snap's user growth will level off in 2020.

RETAIL

Amazon to alter course,

accept cash at Go stores

Amazon, facing backlash from critics who say cashless stores discriminate against the poor, will soon accept cash at all its stores.

The online shopping giant has more than 30 stores that don't accept cash, including its bookshops and Amazon Go convenience stores.

Amazon confirmed it is working to accept cash, but wouldn't say when that would happen.

Critics say cashless stores discriminate against those who don't have credit cards or bank accounts. Philadelphia became the first city to ban cashless stores earlier this year; New Jersey passed a statewide ban; and New York, San Francisco and other cities are considering similar laws.

TAXES

IRS chief expects refunds

to average nearly $3,000

The head of the IRS, who is overseeing the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code in three decades, says the $2,833 average refund in this year's tax-filing season worked out to be close to last year's.

Taxes and returns for 2018 are due on Monday.

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig also told Congress Wednesday that an increase is urgently needed in the agency's budget to modernize antiquated computer systems and protect taxpayers' data.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook readies updates

to fight false information

Facebook said Wednesday it is rolling out a wide range of updates aimed at combating the spread of false and harmful information on the social media site — stepping up the company's fight against misinformation and hate speech as it faces growing outside pressure.

The updates will limit the visibility of links found to be significantly more prominent on Facebook than across the web as a whole, suggesting they may be clickbait or misleading. The company is also expanding its fact-checking program with outside expert sources, including the Associated Press, to vet videos and other material posted on Facebook. If Facebook groups are found to be spreading misinformation, their visibility in users' news feeds will be limited.