MoviePass is under investigation for securities fraud in New York state

More bad news for MoviePass .

At the direction of New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson is now the subject of a fraud probe in New York state. “We’ve launched a securities fraud investigation into ⁦@MoviePass⁩’ parent company,” Underwood confirmed in a tweet. “My office is committed to protecting New York investors and the integrity of our financial markets.” The probe will examine whether the company misrepresented its financial situation to investors. The probe will leverage the Martin Act, a powerful New York statute that allows the Attorney General to aggressively pursue suspected instances of fraud in the state. “We are aware of the New York Attorney General’s inquiry and are fully cooperating,” Helios and Matheson said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “We believe our public disclosures have been complete, timely and truthful and we have not misled investors. We look forward to
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A ton of people don’t know that Facebook owns WhatsApp

Americans looking to reduce their reliance on products from tech’s most alarmingly megalithic companies might be surprised to learn just how far their reach extends.

Privacy-minded browser company DuckDuckGo conducted a small study to look into that phenomenon and the results were pretty striking. “… As Facebook usage wanes, messaging apps like WhatsApp are growing in popularity as a ‘more private (and less confrontational) space to communicate,'” DuckDuckGo wrote in the post. “That shift didn’t make much sense to us because both services are owned by the same company, so we tried to find an explanation.” DuckDuckGo gathered a random sample of 1,297 adult Americans who are “collectively demographically similar to the general population of U.S. adults” (i.e. not just DuckDuckGo diehards) using SurveyMonkey’s audience tools. The survey found that 50.4% of those surveyed who had used WhatsApp in the prior 6 months (247 participants) did
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Twitter tests out ‘annotations’ in Moments

Twitter is trying out a small new change to Moments that would provide contextual information within its curated stories. Spotted by Twitter user @kwatt and confirmed by a number of Twitter product team members, the little snippets appear sandwiched between tweets in a Moment.

Called “annotations” — not to be confused with Twitter’s metadata annotations of yore — the morsels of info aim to clarify and provide context for the tweets that comprise Twitter’s curated trending content. According to the product team, they are authored by Twitter’s curation group. In our testing, annotations only appear on the mobile app and not on the same Moments on desktop. So far we’ve seen them on a story about the NFL, one about Moviepass and another about staffing changes in the White House. While it’s a tiny feature tweak, annotations are another

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Postmates launches food delivery in 134 new U.S. cities

Homebodies across the U.S. have reason to celebrate. Postmates — the on-demand food delivery service so popular in major cities that it’s a verb now— just launched in 134 new markets. Those 134 new cities mean that Postmates has a presence in 550 cities total across the U.S, including places like Lubbock, Texas; Athens, Georgia; Columbia, South Carolina and Albany, New York.

In April, the company announced that it would partner with Walmart on grocery delivery. The move was meant to offset Amazon’s potential dominance in the space given the online retail giant’s acquisition of Whole Foods last year. Postmates was most recently valued at $1.2 billion after a $300 million influx of funding last month. In July, Postmates added a wave of more than 100 new cities, bringing its count up to 385 at the time. Now, Postmates claims coverage of 60 percent of
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YouTube is down

No, it’s not just you. As of Tuesday evening Pacific Time, YouTube was down for many users. The outage appears to have begun some time between 6 and 7 p.m., making this a pretty long outage for such a major site.

The company is well aware of the issue and tweeting its updates.

YouTube doesn’t experience downtime very often, making Tuesday’s outage pretty notable. We’ve reached out to YouTube about the cause of the outage and will update this story when we learn more.

Coinbase now lets you buy and sell ZRX

Coinbase’s newest asset is live. On Tuesday the popular U.S.-based cryptocurrency platform added support for ZRX, the token representing the 0x Project. On Coinbase, ZRX joins the rarified ranks of Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and Litecoin.

Coinbase ZRX

The addition doesn’t come as a surprise. Last week, Coinbase added ZRX to Coinbase Pro, the so-called “evolution of GDAX,” Coinbase’s more feature-rich trading platform. Coinbase also previously signaled its intentions to “explore” the addition of a number of new cryptocurrencies including 0x (ZRX), Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar Lumens (XLM) and Zcash (ZEC).

By showing its hand well in advance and being more transparent about its regulatory hurdles, the platform will hopefully avoid another debacle like the volatile launch of Bitcoin Cash last December, which prompted an insider trading investigation. “One

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Stephen Hawking’s final paper about black holes is now online

Stephen Hawking href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/13/stephen-hawking-has-died-at-76/"> passed away earlier this year at the age of 76, but his incredible intellect isn’t yet done contributing to the scientific community. The acclaimed physicist’s final paper is now online for anyone to read and it revisits some mysteries of the physical world that came to define his illustrious career.

Titled “Black Hole Entropy and Soft Hair,” the paper was co-authored by Hawking collaborators Sasha Haco, Malcolm Perry and Andrew Strominger. The paper is available free on pre-publication repository ArXiv and includes a touching tribute to Hawking. “We are deeply saddened to lose our much-loved friend and collaborator Stephen Hawking whose contributions to black hole physics remained vitally stimulating to the very end,” it reads. The paper serves as a kind of bookend to Hawking’s career, collecting some of his final work on the quantum structure of black holes — a topic that Hawking
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U.S. lawmakers warn Canada to keep Huawei out of its 5G plans

In a letter addressed to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio make a very public case that Canada should leave Chinese tech and telecom giant Huawei out of its plans to build a next-generation mobile network.

“While Canada has strong telecommunication security safeguards in place, we have serious concerns that such safeguards are inadequate given what the United States and other allies know about Huawei,” the letter states. The senators warn Canada to “reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance.” The outcry comes after the head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security dismissed security concerns regarding Huawei in comments last month. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security is Canada’s designated federal agency tasked with cybersecurity. Next generation 5G networks already pose a number of unique security challenges. Lawmakers caution that by allowing companies linked to the Chinese
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Pixel 2 vs Pixel 3: Should you upgrade?

If you’re considering making the jump to Google’s newly announced Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, you’re in the right place. Whether you’re a Pixel 2 owner eyeing greener pastures or a bargain type hunting for a last-gen smartphone that’s still top of the line, comparing new and old is often useful.

On specs alone, the Pixel 3 shares most of its DNA with the Pixel 2, but there are a handful of meaningful differences and they’re not all obvious. What is obvious: The Pixel 3’s AMOLED screen is now 5.5 inches compared to the Pixel 2’s 5 inch display. The Pixel 3 XL now offers a 6.3 inch display, up .3 inches from the Pixel 2 XL. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL upgrade the Pixel 2’s processor slightly and add an additional front-facing camera for some of the device’s newest tricks. The primary camera
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Google ups the Pixel 3’s camera game with Top Shot, group selfies and more

Google’s Pixel 2 introduced one of the best smartphone cameras ever made and the Pixel 3 brings even more more bells and whistles sure to please mobile photographers. On paper, the Pixel 3’s camera doesn’t look much different than its recent forebear. But, because we’re talking about Google, software is where the device will really shine. We’ll go over everything that’s new.

Starting with specs, both the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL will sport a 12.2MP rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture and an 8MP dual front camera capable of both normal field of view and ultra-wide angle shots. The rear video camera captures 1080p video at 30, 60 or 120 fps, while the front-facing video camera is capable of capturing 1080p video at 30fps. Google did not add a second rear-facing camera, deeming it

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Instagram’s app-based 2FA is live now, here’s how to turn it on

If you’d like to be sure you’re the only one posting elaborately staged yet casual selfies to your Instagram feed, there’s now a powerful new option to help you keep your account safe.

In late September, Instagram announced that it would be adding non SMS-based two-factor authentication to the app. Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that the company rolled out the security feature last week and that non-SMS two-factor authentication is live now for all users.

Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an additional “check” to an account so you can be sure you’re the only one who can log in. Instagram previously only offered less secure SMS-based 2FA, which is vulnerable to SIM hijacking attacks but still better than nothing. Now, the app supports authenticator apps that generate a code or send a user a prompt in order to prove that they

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Binance will disclose listing fees and donate them to its own charity

The biggest cryptocurrency exchange wants to make its coin listing process a bit less sketchy. In a Medium post on Monday, the company said that moving forward it would disclose fees that arise in the process of getting a coin listed on the exchange and donate all listing fees to charity. Specifically, its own charity: Blockchain Charity Foundation, “a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of blockchain-enabled philanthropy towards achieving global sustainable development.” According to the blog post, Binance will allow any team trying to get listed to name its own fee, which the company now calls a “donation.” Binance says that it will not “dictate” that amount nor is there a minimum fee for a project to get listed. The decision to open up about its listing fees is likely a response to prior accusations that Binance charged as much as $2.6M for projects that
🧐
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Facebook, are you kidding?

Facebook is making a video camera. The company wants you to take it home, gaze into its single roving-yet-unblinking eye and speak private thoughts to your loved ones into its many-eared panel. The thing is called Portal and it wants to live on your kitchen counter or in your living room or wherever else you’d like friends and family to remotely hang out with you. Portal adjusts to keep its subject in frame as they move around to enable casual at-home video chat. The device minimizes background noise to boost voice clarity. These tricks are neat but not revelatory. Sounds useful, though. Everyone you know is on Facebook. Or they were anyway… things are a bit different now.

Facebook, champion of bad timing

As many users are looking for ways to compartmentalize or scale back their reliance on Facebook, the company has invited itself into the home. Portal is voice
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VP Pence calls on Google to end work on a search engine for China

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence called for Google to end its development of a search engine custom built to accommodate China’s disposition for censorship. Pence gave the speech at a conservative think tank in D.C., dipping into a range of anti-Beijing sentiments, from intellectual property concerns to tariffs and the trade war. Pence didn’t mince words, calling on Google to abandon its plans for a China-friendly mobile version of its otherwise ubiquitous search engine. Pence accused any company with plans to work around Chinese internet restrictions of “abetting Beijing’s oppression” and didn’t hesitate to call the search giant out by name:
More business leaders are thinking beyond the next quarter, and thinking twice before diving into the Chinese market if it means turning over their intellectual property or abetting Beijing’s oppression. But more must follow suit. For example, Google should immediately end development of the “Dragonfly” app
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Northwest fast food chain hack exposed customer credit cards

A beloved regional burger chain in the Pacific Northwest is the latest fast food company to suffer a major data breach. Burgerville, headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., disclosed today that any customers who used a credit or debit card from September 2017 to September 2018 at any of its locations may have had their card details stolen. The company operates 42 locations in the region. In August, the FBI contacted Burgerville to notify the company that it had been targeted in a cyberattack. The company believed that intrusion to be “brief” until September 19, when an internal forensics team identified that the chain was still affected by malware running on its systems. Burgerville coordinated with the FBI to neutralize and contain the malware, working with an external cybersecurity firm. “As soon as Burgerville learned the intrusion was still active, the company immediately began steps to completely eradicate this breach, necessitating
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Facebook is blocking users from posting some stories about its security breach

Some users are reporting that they are unable to post today’s big story about a security breach affecting 50 million Facebook users. The issue appears to only affect particular stories from certain outlets, at this time one story from The Guardian and one from the Associated Press, both reputable press outlets.

When going to share the story to their news feed, some users, including members of the staff here at TechCrunch who were able to replicate the bug, were met with the following error message which prevented them from sharing the story. According to the message, Facebook is flagging the stories as spam due to how widely they are being shared or as the message puts it, the system’s observation that “a

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With his internet cut off, Julian Assange steps down as editor of WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks has a new top dog. Its contentious figurehead and founder, Julian Assange, will step aside, letting former WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson take the reins due to what WikiLeaks calls “extraordinary circumstances” that have seen Assange “held incommunicado.”

Assange created the organization in 2006 and has served as its editor-in-chief ever since. Hrafnsson, an Icelandic journalist, will take over, though he’s not new to leadership at WikiLeaks. In the past, Hrafnsson has “overseen certain legal projects for WikiLeaks” and it is believed that Assange has had less of a day to day role in its operations over time. Assange will remain involved as the organization’s publisher. Assange remains holed up in London’s Ecuadorian embassy after first seeking refuge there in 2012 in

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Facebook policy head makes a surprising cameo at the Kavanaugh hearing

Facebook might be doing its best to stay out of political scandals in the latter half of 2018, but the company had a presence, front and center, at one of the most contentious Senate hearings in modern history. Facebook’s Vice President of Global Public Policy at Facebook, Joel Kaplan, was spotted sitting prominently near his wife, Laura Cox Kaplan, in the section for Brett Kavanaugh’s supporters. He is pictured on the left side of the header image, second row, in a blue tie. For reference, below is an image of Kaplan to the immediate right of Mark Zuckerberg during a Senate Judiciary joint hearing in April of this year.

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 10: Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg concludes his testimony before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo

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Coinbase now lets users buy ‘bundles’ and launches its own index for the top 50 coins

Coinbase is shaking things up quite a bit lately and its latest tools are geared toward cryptocurrency traders just getting their toes wet. On Thursday, the company announced that it would add a feature called Coinbase Bundle. The new offering lets users purchase a market-weighted sampling of Coinbase’s five available cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and Ethereum Classic. The idea is that a bundle of coins offers users a starter pack for cryptocurrency trading on the platform with stakes of their choosing. In reality, until Coinbase adds more coins, it’s not exactly a diversified portfolio so much as a slightly counterbalanced selection of Coinbase’s current limited offerings. In June, Coinbase introduced index funds targeted toward institutional investors in the U.S. While those funds required an investment between $250,000 and $20 million, Coinbase Bundle is geared toward the casual individual investor with bundles that start at $25. For beginning
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