Blog of the website «TechCrunch» Прогноз погоды

People

John Smith

John Smith, 48

Joined: 28 January 2014

Interests: No data

Jonnathan Coleman

Jonnathan Coleman, 32

Joined: 18 June 2014

About myself: You may say I'm a dreamer

Interests: Snowboarding, Cycling, Beer

Andrey II

Andrey II, 41

Joined: 08 January 2014

Interests: No data

David

David

Joined: 05 August 2014

Interests: No data

David Markham

David Markham, 65

Joined: 13 November 2014

Interests: No data

Michelle Li

Michelle Li, 41

Joined: 13 August 2014

Interests: No data

Max Almenas

Max Almenas, 52

Joined: 10 August 2014

Interests: No data

29Jan

29Jan, 31

Joined: 29 January 2014

Interests: No data

s82 s82

s82 s82, 26

Joined: 16 April 2014

Interests: No data

Wicca

Wicca, 36

Joined: 18 June 2014

Interests: No data

Phebe Paul

Phebe Paul, 26

Joined: 08 September 2014

Interests: No data

Артем Ступаков

Артем Ступаков, 99

Joined: 29 January 2014

About myself: Радуюсь жизни!

Interests: No data

Алексей Гено

Алексей Гено, 8

Joined: 25 June 2015

About myself: Хай

Interests: Интерес1daasdfasf, http://apple.com

ivanov5056 Ivanov

ivanov5056 Ivanov, 69

Joined: 20 July 2019

Interests: No data

technetonlines

technetonlines

Joined: 24 January 2019

Interests: No data



Main article: Social

<< Back Forward >>
Topics from 1 to 10 | in all: 1646

Daily Crunch: LinkedIn now supports real-world events

19:40 | 16 October

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. LinkedIn gets physical, debuts Events hub for people to plan in-person networking events

LinkedIn is bringing its professional networking features into the physical world: The company is launching Events, a (currently free) tool for people to plan, announce and invite people to meetups and other get-togethers.

“I think there is a massive whitespace for events today,” argued LinkedIn’s Ajay Datta. “People don’t have a single place to organize [work-related] offline meetups specific to an industry or a neighborhood. People want to find other people.”

2. Up close with Google’s new Pixel 4

Imaging has been improved across the board, including the already solid Night Sight, Portrait Mode and zoom, which uses a hybrid of digital and the physical telephoto lens. And then there’s Recorder, which virtually every journalist seems to be excited about.

3. Twitter says it will restrict users from retweeting world leaders who break its rules

This is Twitter’s current compromise as it faces criticism for inaction against world leaders who break its rules: It still won’t take down the tweets, but it will limit how users can interact with them.

4. Healx raises $56M Series B to use AI to find treatments for rare diseases

Healx says the new financing will be used to develop the company’s “therapeutic pipeline” and to launch its global Rare Treatment Accelerator program, partnering with patient groups in an attempt to make rare disease drug discovery much more efficient.

5. NASA extends contract with Boeing for SLS rocket, paving the way for up to 10 Artemis missions

NASA has a new contract extension in place with Boeing, which will cover rocket stages for its Space Launch System beyond Artemis I and Artemis II — including production of the core stage of the rocket for Artemis III, with which NASA plans to bring the first American woman and next American man to the surface of the Moon.

6. Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global is buying a startup that uses neuroscience to boost app usage

Thrive Global is adding a tech tool to its arsenal of cognitive behavioral therapies with the acquisition of Boundless Mind. Originally called Dopamine Labs, the company was founded in 2015 to bring some of the same technologies that social media companies like Facebook used to boost engagement to a broader range of applications.

7. Will unreliable research bury your healthcare startup?

Healthtech founders stand on the shoulders of the scientists who preceded them to obtain reliable evidence. When they promote their own innovations, credibility is a critical prerequisite. But where does credibility come from? (Extra Crunch membership required.)

 


0

This app waits on hold for you

19:35 | 16 October

DoNotPay helps you get out of parking tickets, cancel forgotten subscriptions, and now it can call you when it’s your turn in a customer service phone queue. The app today is launching “Skip Waiting On Hold”. Just type in the company you need to talk to, and DoNotPay calls for you using tricks to get a human on the line quick. Then it calls you back and connects you to the agent so you never have to listen to that annoying hold music.

And in case the company tries to jerk you around or screw you over, the DoNotPay app lets you instantly share a legal recording of the call to social media to shame them.

How To Get Off hold

Skip Waiting On Hold comes as part of the $3 per month DoNotPay suite of services designed to save people time and money by battling bureaucracy on their behalf. It can handle DMV paperwork for you, write legal letters to scare businesses out of overcharging you, and it provides a credit card that automatically cancels subscriptions when your free trial ends.

“I think the world would be a lot fairer place if people had someone fighting for them” says DoNotPay’s 22-year-old founder Joshua Browder. $3 per month gets the iOS app‘s 10,000 customers unlimited access to all the features with no extra fees or commissions on money saved. “If DoNotPay takes a commission then we have an incentive to perpetuate the problems we are fighting against.”

Browder comes from a family of activists. His father Bill Browder got the Magnitsky Act passed, which lets the US government freeze the foreign assets and visas of human rights abusers. It’s named after Bill’s Russian lawyer who was murdered in Moscow after uncovering a $230 million government curruption scheme linked to President Putin’s underlings.

DoNotPay app

“These big companies [and governments] are getting away with a lot” Browder tells me. He hit a breaking point when frustrated with the process of appealing parking tickets. He built DoNotPay to cut through hassles designed to separate us from our money. In April it raised a $3.5 million seed round led by Felicis to develop an Android version after picking up early funding from Andreessen Horowitz. Surprisingly, the startup has never been sued.

For Skip Waiting On Hold, DoNotPay built out a database of priority and VIP customer service numbers for tons of companies. For legality, if you opt in to recording the exchanges, the app automatically plays a message informing both parties they’ll be recorded. A human voice detection system hears when a real agent picks up the phone, and then rings your phone. It’s like having customer service call you.

Not only can DoNotPay help you get in touch about cancelling subscriptions, scoring refunds, or retreiving information. It’s like “a body camera for customer service calls” Browder says. “Before they make a decision that rips off the customer, they’ll think ‘this could be made public and go viral and hurt our business.'” For example, an airline that jacks up prices for rescheduled flights surrounding hurricanes could be shamed for profiting off of natural disasters.

Record and share customer service calls

The full list of DoNotPay services includes:

  1. Customer service disputes where it contacts companies about refunds for Comcast bills, delayed flights, etc
  2. The free trial credit card that auto-cancels subscriptions before you’re actually charged
  3. Traffic and parking appeals where it generates a letter for you based on answers to questions like if signs were too hard to read or there was a mistake on the ticket
  4. Hidden money discovery that finds refunds in your bank fees, identifies forgotten subscriptions, gets you free stuff on your birthday, and more
  5. Government paperwork assistance that can help you get DMV appointments and fill out forms
  6. Skip Waiting On Hold

Browder hopes that with time, companies and governments will make all these chores easier for everyone. To avoid putting itself out of a job, DoNotPay is constantly looking for new annoyances to eliminate. “I’m from the UK. America seems to be a pay-to-play society. The more money you have to more rights you have” Browder concludes. But those rights could be restored for all by building a robot lawyer that’s affordable to everyone.

 


0

Twitter says it will restrict users from retweeting world leaders who break its rules

23:50 | 15 October

Twitter said will restrict how users can interact with tweets from world leaders who break its rules.

The social media giant said

that the move will help its users to be informed but while taking responsibility for keeping its rules in check.

Instead, Twitter said it will not allow users to like, reply, share or retweet the offending tweets, but instead will let users to quote-tweet to allow ordinary users to express their opinions.

Twitter has been in a bind as of late with its rules,

“When it comes to the actions of world leaders on Twitter, we recognize that this is largely new ground and unprecedented,” Twitter said in an unbylined blog post on Tuesday. It comes amid allegations that Twitter has not taken action against world leaders who break the site’s rules. Last year, Twitter said it would not ban President Trump despite incendiary tweets, including allegations that he threatened to declare war on North Korea. Other tweets from world leaders, such as Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, had their tweets hidden from the site In cases when threats have been made against individuals.

“We want to make it clear today that the accounts of world leaders are not above our policies entirely,” the company said. That includes promotion of terrorism, making “clear and direct” threats of violence, and posting private information.

“Our goal is to enforce our rules judiciously and impartially,” Twitter added

. “In doing so, we aim to provide direct insight into our enforcement decision-making, to serve public conversation, and protect the public’s right to hear from their leaders and to hold them to account.”

 


0

Daily Crunch: Facebook has a weak stance on political ads

19:56 | 14 October

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Facebook should ban campaign ads. End the lies.

Facebook recently formalized its approach to political advertising, declaring, “We don’t believe, however, that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates.” In other words, it will allow politicians to say whatever they want in their ads, even if their claims are blatantly false.

Josh Constine proposes a different solution: If Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube don’t want to be the arbiters of truth in campaign ads, then they should stop selling them.

2. Fortnite is just a black hole right now

Fortnite just blew up its entire map and all that’s left is a black hole. Some are speculating that this is simply a teaser for a new Fortnite map, but it’s unclear when that map will arrive.

3. SoftBank reportedly preps a package to take control of WeWork parent company

SoftBank Group, the multibillion-dollar Japanese technology conglomerate and investment firm, has put together a bid that would save WeWork parent company The We Company, just weeks before the co-working real estate company’s imminent collapse, according to The Wall Street Journal.

4. Kik says it’s ‘here to stay,’ following shutdown reports

The once-mighty messaging service announced in late September that it would be shutting down its app and eliminating the vast majority of its team, following a protracted battle with the SEC. And yet the company tweeted over the weekend: “Great news: Kik is here to stay!!!!”

5. California’s Privacy Act: What you need to know now

The CCPA was signed into law in June 2018 — enshrining protections for a sub-set of U.S. citizens against their data being collected and sold without their knowledge. It will take effect on January 1, with a six-month grace period before enforcement begins. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Why each Libra member’s mutiny hurts Facebook

Visa, Stripe and eBay have all dropped out of Facebook’s cryptocurrency project. The companies have said they could still get involved later, but their exit clouds the project’s future and leaves Facebook to absorb more of the blowback.

7. This week’s TechCrunch podcasts

Equity does something different this week, getting on the phone with an IPO expert to discuss the public market cycle, both domestically and abroad. And after taking a break for Disrupt, Original Content is back with a review of “The Politician” on Netflix.

 


0

Facebook should ban campaign ads. End the lies.

02:59 | 14 October

Permitting falsehood in political advertising would work if we had a model democracy, but we don’t. Not only are candidates dishonest, but voters aren’t educated, and the media isn’t objective. And now, hyperlinks turn lies into donations and donations into louder lies. The checks don’t balance. What we face is a self-reinforcing disinformation dystopia.

That’s why if Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube don’t want to be the arbiters of truth in campaign ads, they should stop selling them. If they can’t be distributed safely, they shouldn’t be distributed at all.

No one wants historically untrustworthy social networks becoming the honesty police, deciding what’s factual enough to fly. But the alternative of allowing deception to run rampant is unacceptable. Until voter-elected officials can implement reasonable policies to preserve truth in campaign ads, the tech giants should go a step further and refuse to run them.

0A3B330A 3DC9 4A5F 9F7C 5EB85D753795

This problem came to a head recently when Facebook formalized its policy of allowing politicians to lie in ads and refusing to send their claims to third-party fact-checkers. “We don’t believe, however, that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny” Facebook’s VP of policy Nick Clegg wrote.

The Trump campaign was already running ads with false claims about Democrats trying to repeal the Second Amendment and weeks-long scams about a “midnight deadline” for a contest to win the one-millionth MAGA hat.

Trump Ad

After the announcement, Trump’s campaign began running ads smearing potential opponent Joe Biden with widely debunked claims about his relationship with Ukraine. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter refused to remove the ad when asked by Biden.

In response to the policy, Elizabeth Warren

claiming Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg endorses Trump because it’s allowing his campaign lies. She’s continued to
Facebook on the issue, asking “you can be in the disinformation-for-profit business, or you can hold yourself to some standards.”

It’s easy to imagine campaign ads escalating into an arms race of dishonesty.

Campaigns could advertise increasingly untrue and defamatory claims about each other tied to urgent calls for donations. Once all sides are complicit in the misinformation, lying loses its stigma, becomes the status quo, and ceases to have consequences. Otherwise, whichever campaign misleads more aggressively will have an edge.

“In open democracies, voters rightly believe that, as a general rule, they should be able to judge what politicians say themselves.” Facebook’s Clegg writes.

But as is emblematic of Facebook’s past mistakes, it’s putting too much idealistic faith in society. If all voters were well educated and we weren’t surrounded by hyperpartisan media from Fox News to far-left Facebook Pages, maybe this hands-off approach might work. But in reality, juicy lies spread further than boring truths, and plenty of “news” outlets are financially incentivized to share sensationalism and whatever keeps their team in power.

2931D35C EABA 490A BB17 3AAA1C3E49F3

Protecting the electorate should fall to legislators. But incumbents have few reasons to change the rules that got them their jobs. The FCC already has truth in advertising policies, but exempts campaign ads and a judge struck down a law mandating accuracy.

Granted, there have always been dishonest candidates, uninformed voters, and one-sided news outlets. But it’s all gotten worse. We’re in a post-truth era now where the spoils won through deceptive demagoguery are clear. Cable news and digitally native publications have turned distortion of facts into a huge business.

Most critically, targeted social network advertising combined with donation links create a perpetual misinformation machine. Politicians can target vulnerable demographics with frightening lies, then say only their financial contribution will let the candidate save them. A few clicks later and the candidate has the cash to buy more ads, amplifying more untruths and raising even more money. Without the friction of having to pick up the phone, mail a letter, or even type in a URL like TV ads request, the feedback loop is shorter and things spiral out of control.

This is why the social networks should halt sales of political campaign ads now. They’re the one set of stakeholders with flexibility and that could make a united decision. You’ll never get all the politicians and media to be honest, or the public to understand, but just a few companies could set a policy that would protect democracy from the world’s . And they could do it without having to pick sides or make questionable decisions on a case-by-case basis. Just block them all from all candidates.

F864D0B0 D9EE 4C3A 8A33 EE834EF136C8

Facebook wrote in response to Biden’s request to block the Trump ads that “Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is.”

But banning campaign ads would still leave room for open political expression that’s subject to public scrutiny. Social networks should continue to let politicians say what they want to their own followers, barring calls for violence. Tech giants can offer a degree of freedom of speech, just not freedom of reach. Whoever wants to listen can, but they shouldn’t be able to jam misinformation into the feeds of the unsuspecting.

If the tech giants want to stop short of completely banning campaign ads, they could introduce a format designed to minimize misinformation. Politicians could be allowed to simply promote themselves with a set of stock messages, but without the option to make claims about themselves or their opponents.

Campaign ads aren’t a huge revenue driver for social apps, nor are they a high-margin business nowadays. The Trump and Clinton campaigns spent only a combined $81 million on 2016 election ads, a fraction of Facebook’s $27 billion in revenue that year. $284 million was spent in total on 2018 midterm election ads versus Facebook’s $55 billion in revenue last year, says Tech For Campaigns. Zuckerberg even said that Facebook will lose money selling political ads because of all the moderators it hires to weed out election interference by foreign parties.

Surely, there would be some unfortunate repercussions from blocking campaign ads. New candidates in local to national elections would lose a tool for reducing the lead of incumbents, some of which have already benefited from years of advertising. Some campaign ads might be pushed “underground” where they’re not properly labeled, though the major spenders could be kept under watch.

If the social apps can still offer free expression through candidates’ own accounts, aren’t reliant on politicians’ cash to survive, won’t police specific lies in their promos, and would rather let the government regulate the situation, then they should respectfully decline to sell campaign advertising. Following the law isn’t enough until the laws adapt. This will be an ongoing issue through the 2020 election, and leaving the floodgates open is irresponsible.

If a game is dangerous, you don’t eliminate the referee. You stop playing until you can play safe.

 


0

IAC outlines its plans for a Match Group spinoff

16:01 | 11 October

Digital media holding company IAC has taken the next step toward spinning off Match Group, with a proposal outlining what that process would look like.

Match Group (which owns Tinder, PlentOfFish, OkCupid, Hinge and of course Match itself) is already a publicly-traded company, but IAC remains the majority owner. With the spinoff, IAC says it should distribute its Match Group shares to IAC stockholders, “resulting in two independent public companies.”

“Today IAC proposed an important first step in the separation of Match Group from IAC,” said IAC CEO Joey Levin in a statement. “IAC is confident that the proposal communicated to the Match Group special committee provides strong footing for Match Group to begin its journey as a thriving, independent company.”

Under the proposal (which IAC says still needs to be approved by its board of directors, as well as the aforementioned special committee, as well as stockholders), Match Group’s dual-class stock structure would  be eliminated, creating a single class of stock.

The company said in August that it was exploring spinoffs of both Match Group and ANGI Homeserivces.

In his statement today, Levin said, “As it relates to evaluating our ownership stake in ANGI Homeservices, we don’t currently expect to turn our attention to the question of a spin-off until a Match Group transaction has been completed.”

 


0

Trump gets on Twitch

14:05 | 11 October

The reelection campaign will be livestreamed. US president Donald Trump has joined Amazon-owned livestreaming platform Twitch.

Twitch is best known as a social video streaming platform for gamers but does host other content, including politics.

The verified DonaldTrump Twitch account, spotted earlier by Reuters, has just one video in the recent broadcast section so far: A livestream of a Trump rally which took place in Minneapolis yesterday evening.

Alongside the saved video of this broadcast is a growing selection of user generated clips culled from the stream, with titles such as “This is our president.”, “LOL”, “KEK” and “pepelaugh”.

Another clip remarks on how a single black man — who’s visible in the top corner of the shot of the audience behind Trump — vanishes as “they zoom him out of the picture”.

Trump is not the only high profile US politician to be taking to Twitch to broadcast campaign rallies in real time ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Democratic senator Bernie Sanders, who is making a pitch to be the party’s presidential candidate, joined the platform a few months ago. And at the time of writing Sanders still has more followers than Trump on Twitch (88,795 vs 37,754).

Over on Twitter, meanwhile — Trump’s go-to social media soapbox for skewering opponents and deflecting criticism, via his preferred medium of the early morning attack tweet — the president has ~65.6M followers.

So Twitter is very unlikely to be concerned that its highest profile user is flirting with Amazon’s social streaming platform. (Though it’s much less clear how happy “

” will be about Trump getting on Twitch.)

Trump has dabbled with using Twitter’s own video streaming tool, Periscope. But the choice of Twitch for streaming his campaign rallies looks mostly like a case of horses for courses. Periscope is more for on-the-fly mobile streaming, whereas Twitch is a platform built for playing to (and building) a ‘lean back’ audience.

Troll culture also thrives on gamer Twitch. And Trump is of course edgelord of the trolls. Ergo he should fit right in.

With Periscope Twitter has been taking a stronger approach to tackling abusive comments in recent years (and also trying to fight fake and spam content) — in line with its stated desire to increase ‘conversational health’ on its platforms. So it’s probably happy to have dodged a bullet here.

Certainly Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has more enough flying his way over whatever Trump choses to tweet next.

 


0

Getting more people to open your emails

19:33 | 10 October

Julian Shapiro Contributor
Julian Shapiro is the founder of BellCurve.com, the growth marketing team that trains startups in advanced growth, helps you hire senior growth marketers, and finds you vetted growth agencies. He also writes at Julian.com.

We’ve aggregated the world’s best growth marketers into one community. Twice a month, we ask them to share their most effective growth tactics, and we compile them into this Growth Report.

This is how you’re going stay up-to-date on growth marketing tactics — with advice you can’t get elsewhere.

Our community consists of 600 startup founders paired with VP’s of growth from later-stage companies. We have 300 YC founders plus senior marketers from companies including Medium, Docker, Invision, Intuit, Pinterest, Discord, Webflow, Lambda School, Perfect Keto, Typeform, Modern Fertility, Segment, Udemy, Puma, Cameo, and Ritual.

You can participate in our community by joining Demand Curve’s marketing webinars, Slack group, or marketing training program. See past growth reports here, here, here and here.

Without further ado, onto the advice.


Improving engagement for drip emails

Based on insights from Matt Sornson of Clearbit. Lightly edited with permission.

Personalizing your marketing emails increases conversion. But doing so at scale takes a lot of effort. Here’s how to get around that:

  • Run lead generation ads to your blog posts and to other long-form content on your site. Then tag users based on the posts they’ve read. Plus, prompt them to fill out useful quizzes. Store their quiz answers.
  • Push their engagement data into an automated emailing platform like Customer.io. And enrich their contact details with Clearbit to discover their job title and the industry they work in.
  • Now you can send automated yet personalized drip emails based on a person’s role, company, and interests. This results in higher conversion rates. Show recipients you know who they are and what they care about, and you’ll seem a whole lot less like spam.

Improving cold email response rates

 


0

New Vector scores $8.5M to plug more users into its open, decentralized messaging Matrix

11:00 | 10 October

New Vector, a European startup founded in 2017 by the creators of an open, decentralized communications standard called Matrix to drive adoption and grow an ecosystem around an alternative messaging protocol for instant messaging and VoIP apps, has raised an $8.5 million Series A funding round.

Investors in New Vector’s Series A round include enterprise tech specialists Notion Capital and Dawn Capital, along with European seed fund Firstminute Capital.

The team has been showing what’s possible when you think outside the proprietary silo of the usual (messaging giant) suspects for several years now — launching a Slack rival called Riot.IM back in 2016, which runs on Matrix — to offer an open, customizable and secure alternative. (Secure because unlike Slack Riot does offer end-to-end encryption. Though not yet everywhere — but expanding e2e encryption is part of the plan for the Series A.)

Users of Riot can also choose to run the app on their own server so they’re in full control of data hosting. And the app includes a bridging feature to integrate with mainstream chat app rivals like Slack . So it’s a ‘cake and eat it’ approach to modern messaging tech: Control plus interoperability and transparency.

“Slack and WhatsApp have shown just how important instant messaging is for workplace productivity but combining this convenience with total sovereignty and security over data is more valuable than ever,” said firstminute capital’s Brent Hoberman, commenting on the funding in a supporting statement.

“Over the last few years it feels like we have gone backwards with communication platforms like Slack and WhatsApp that are walled gardens where users have very understandable concerns over whether their data is secure and how it is being used,” added Notion Capital’s Jos White in another statement. “At last the market has an alternative with the New Vector services that are based off the Matrix protocol offering open standards and delivering complete data ownership and security.”

New Vector’s Series A fast follows $5M it raised last year — when the team took in a strategic investment from an Ethereum-based secure chat and crypto wallet app called Status.

Earlier dev work on the Matrix protocol was funded with support from a large multinational telecoms infrastructure company for whom the founding team had previously built messaging apps. But that funding dried up as of August 2017, which was when they started casting around for alternatives — initially pitching supporters for donations.

Fast forward a couple of years and with growing momentum for their approach — the Matrix network has expanded to more than 11M users and 40,000 deployments this year, growing daily active users 400% since 2018 — they’ve landed a big chunk of VC in the bank.

This isn’t so surprising when you see some of the users they’re able to name check. Such as the US government; the French government (which forked Riot to launch its own messaging app called Tchap earlier this year, and has chosen Matrix to be its official comms platform); Wikimedia; KDE; and RedHat, to name a few. It also says it’s working with the UK’s National Heath Service and with Mozilla.

The plan for the Series A is thus to step on the gas and scale their hosting platform, burnish the product experience and beef up the protocol to be able to support more governments and enterprises seeking digital sovereignty, messaging autonomy and strong encryption to keep their secrets in increasingly volatile geopolitical times.

Just last week officials from the US, UK and Australian governments leaned on Facebook publicly, calling on the company not to expand its use of end-to-end encryption — unless or until it can ensure access to decrypted comms on warranted demand.

WhatsApp’s e2e encryption is highly respected. But it’s also only as strong as Facebook’s implementation of it. Which isn’t exactly reassuring when the company is coming under high level pressure from its own government to backdoor its apps. So there’s both a security and privacy logic to wanting to eschew data centralization — even if it’s robustly encrypted.

Certainly for a certain type of highly security conscious enterprise and public sector user, which is where Matrix is intended to plug in.

If data is centralized it risks becoming a sitting duck for powerful interests to try to get at, as well as generating a wealth of metadata that the controlling commercial entity can absolutely data-mine. So a robust, decentralized messaging standard that doesn’t demand such trade offs will have obvious appeal to those with resources to custom fit and deploy their own apps.

(For the record, Matrix says its e2e encryption is based on the Double Ratchet Algorithm popularised by Signal but which has been extended to support encryption to chat rooms containing thousands of devices. It also says it uses Olm and Megolm cryptographic ratchets, which are specified as an open standard with implementations released under the Apache license, and which have been independently audited by NCC Group.)

New Vector CEO and Matrix co-founder Matthew Hodgson tells us that growth for Matrix is coming primary from the public sector and adjacent industries (which need to be able to communicate securely with government departments); from open source projects; cryptocurrencies; and activists and NGOs.

“The factors which drive decentralisation here are wanting to be able to have full autonomy and control over your conversations with zero dependencies on a megacorp like Facebook, Google or Slack… without wanting to create an isolated island, but participating in a wider global open Matrix network like the Web itself,” he says. “Also, developers wanting (at last!) an open platform to build communication apps on like the Web, rather than being locked into proprietary communication platforms from a big corp.”

Hodgson points out that governments are “highly decentralized” by nature (i.e. between different departments, ministries, citizens etc) — adding that they “really like end-to-end encryption, especially within a wider open network”.

Or, well, at least the bits of governments that aren’t calling for Facebook to backdoor its apps…

“We are the primary choice for an encrypted yet decentralised communication platform which can span multiple government departments — enforcing different security levels on different servers as needed, with zero vendor lock-in thanks to Matrix,” he continues. “It lets you get the entire public sector — be that academic, healthcare, military, citizens and their adjacent organisations (and adjacent countries!) on the same network, without surrendering control to Facebook, Google, Telegram or anyone else.”

“France and the US Department of Public Safety are already live, and several other countries are in the pipeline,” he adds on public sector deployments. “We expect Matrix to become the backbone for secure intra- and inter-governmental communication in the future.”

In France’s case the government has rolled Matrix out across all 16 ministries — to 5.5M users.

Talking of the future, the plan for the Series A is four-fold. Firstly: Invest in improving the user experience in Riot for the app to be, as Hodgson puts it, “properly mainstream” — aka: “a genuine alternative to WhatsApp and Slack for groups who need secure communication which is entirely within their control, rather than run by Facebook or Slack”.

Second, they’ll be turning on end-to-end encryption by default for all private conversations.

“Decentralised e2e encryption is Hard,” he says with emphasis. “But we are tantalisingly close to having the missing ingredients (cross-signed key verification; E2E-capable full text search; E2E-capable bots) finished — which means we can turn it on across the whole public network by default for private rooms. This is a huge deal, especially given the increasingly obvious risks of centralised end-to-end encryption (a la WhatsApp and Signal).”

Thirdly, the funding will go on building out their flagship Matrix hosting platform (Modular.im) and building it into Riot — “so that groups of users can easily hop onto their own self-sovereign servers”. 

“We already have folks like the Wikimedia Foundation, KDE and GNOME using Modular today (and hopefully Mozilla and NHSX in future), and we’ll be using the funding to get as many people on Modular as possible to help scale Matrix going forwards,” he adds. 

Finally they intend to work on combating abuse. As with any comms platform, there can be a dark side to the stuff people want to share. Throw in e2e encryption and decentralization and the question of how you moderate hateful communications could easily get overlooked. But New Vector is at least thinking about this problem.

“Matrix is a fascinating microcosm of the wider open internet, and the 11M addressable users spans the full spectrum of humanity,” says Hodgson. “We have some really interesting work going on here to empower users to filter out content they don’t want to see (rather than using centralised algorithms to do so), which could be applicable to the wider internet.”

“We’re hoping that the Matrix.org Foundation (the non-profit which control the Matrix protocol) will drive this work but it’s something which is very much on New Vector’s radar too,” he adds.

Asked about Matrix’s security and stability, Hodgson says this was the focus with the big 1.0 release in June — when the protocol exited beta.

“We launched a formal Security Disclosure Policy and hall of fame (https://matrix.org/security-disclosure-policy/) and the protocol has a pretty good security record — other than the drama over the launch of Tchap in France,” he says, referring to the security flaw that was found in the app immediately it launched.

“The researcher who found the flaw made an extremely loud noise about it, but in practice it wasn’t a flaw in the Matrix protocol itself — it was specific to the French deployment’s configuration, and was found prior to launch, and we addressed it within a few hours of being reported,” he adds. “Obviously it should have been spotted before being exposed to the internet, but subsequently France set up a successful bug bounty programme (https://yeswehack.com/programs/tchap) as well as a dedicated audit to avoid problems going forwards.

“Meanwhile we got our E2EE successfully audited by NCC Group back in 2016 (it hasn’t changed substantially since), and together with the E2EE-by-default work mentioned before, we’re continuing to focus on security & stability.”

 


0

Social Club, a ‘censorship free’ Instagram clone for pot, gets booted from the App Store

19:50 | 9 October

Apple has booted a cannabis-promoting app from the App Store, Social Club, after it devolved into a place where users were openly posting drugs for sale, and became filled with photos of various drugs, guns and weaponry, racist content, memes, gore videos, and adult and child pornography, according to its users. The app is inexplicitly still live on Google Play.

Social Club first launched on July 15, 2019, and during its life saw 455,000 downloads across both iOS and Android devices, according to data from Apptopia.

The app was a part of a larger collaboration between Joshua Otten, the co-founder of cannabis lifestyle brand PRØHBTD and CEO of content services agency RONIN, and rapper and Cookies dispensaries owner, Berner. The founders announced in an August press release their plans for “Social Club TV,” an over-the-top cannabis network featuring series about marijuana like “Marijuana Mania,” “HighTech,” “Pot Pie,” and others.

The Social Club mobile app, meanwhile, was designed to offer a home for cannabis content and, most importantly, marijuana-related advertising, to flourish outside of Instagram, where such content is currently banned.

SC2

However, the Social Club app promoted itself not just as a place for sharing photos of cannabis, but rather a “zero-censorship community,” which clearly invited abuse.

According to a

from Berner, who was responding to NYT Styles reporter Taylor Lorenz’s comments about the chaos raging in Social Club, the app had been “attacked.”

“I don’t see how overnight the app completely changed, sad, scary and wack,” he said. “Cleaning it up now.”

But the app wasn’t so much attacked as it was poorly designed. There was seemingly no moderation or image recognition technology in place on Social Club, giving users a rare look at what it would be like if social media had no limitations or rules.

As designed, the app was also very much an Instagram clone, offering the ability to post photos, comment, and browse a “Discover” page to find interesting content.

There, you’d come across a large number of marijuana photos, as intended, as well as pictures of cash, guns and other modified weapons, a wide range of other drugs (particularly pills), porn, memes, and spam. Some of its content, like the child pornography, is illegal. And some of its users were also openly selling drugs in the app, as well.

https://twitter.com/faneta/status/1181205250021187585

Since its launch, Social Club soared up the charts on the App Store, becoming the #12 top-ranked app on the U.S. App Store across both apps and games, and the #5 top-ranked app. Social Club isn’t as popular on Google Play, where its the #70 top app and #132 overall.

According to an Instagram story post by Berner, Social Club is now “temporarily” off of the App Store because “a weirdass porn community attacked the app.” He said the app is adding an image recognition system to help it identify and remove the problematic content, including the numerous photos of pills being posted for sale.

He also shot down rumors that Social Club “was working with the feds” and warned people (using a lot of expletives) that it was really stupid to be posting drugs for sale on social media using your phone in the first place. That being said, he promised Social Club wouldn’t look at its users DM’s.

Apple and Google haven’t commented.

 


0
<< Back Forward >>
Topics from 1 to 10 | in all: 1646

Site search


Last comments

Walmart retreats from its UK Asda business to hone its focus on competing with Amazon
Peter Short
Good luck
Peter Short

Evolve Foundation launches a $100 million fund to find startups working to relieve human suffering
Peter Short
Money will give hope
Peter Short

Boeing will build DARPA’s XS-1 experimental spaceplane
Peter Short
Great
Peter Short

Is a “robot tax” really an “innovation penalty”?
Peter Short
It need to be taxed also any organic substance ie food than is used as a calorie transfer needs tax…
Peter Short

Twitter Is Testing A Dedicated GIF Button On Mobile
Peter Short
Sounds great Facebook got a button a few years ago
Then it disappeared Twitter needs a bottom maybe…
Peter Short

Apple’s Next iPhone Rumored To Debut On September 9th
Peter Short
Looks like a nice cycle of a round year;)
Peter Short

AncestryDNA And Google’s Calico Team Up To Study Genetic Longevity
Peter Short
I'm still fascinated by DNA though I favour pure chemistry what could be
Offered is for future gen…
Peter Short

U.K. Push For Better Broadband For Startups
Verg Matthews
There has to an email option icon to send to the clowns in MTNL ... the govt of India's service pro…
Verg Matthews

CrunchWeek: Apple Makes Music, Oculus Aims For Mainstream, Twitter CEO Shakeup
Peter Short
Noted Google maybe grooming Twitter as a partner in Social Media but with whistle blowing coming to…
Peter Short

CrunchWeek: Apple Makes Music, Oculus Aims For Mainstream, Twitter CEO Shakeup
Peter Short
Noted Google maybe grooming Twitter as a partner in Social Media but with whistle blowing coming to…
Peter Short