Pinterest reports 25% increase in monthly active users

Two hundred and fifty million people are using Pinterest every month, up from 200 million last September, according to new numbers the company shared this morning. The visual search giant is also reporting that more than half of its users and 80 percent of new sign-ups come from outside the U.S. “Pins,” or items saved to the site, are growing, too. There are now 175 billion of them, a 75 percent increase YoY. To facilitate that growth, Pinterest has been on a hiring spree. It now has more than 1,500 employees, a 32 percent increase from last year. The company has secured more than $1 billion in venture capital funding, most recently raising $150 million at a $12.3 billion valuation. Many expected it would make its highly anticipated public debut in early 2018, but that ship has sailed at this point. Now, reports indicate Pinterest is looking
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Instagram confirms it’s testing video tagging with a percentage of users

Instagram is testing a way to allow users to tag their friends in their video posts, not just in photos, TechCrunch has learned and the company confirmed. The option works similarly to tagging photos, but instead of pressing the small icon at the bottom left to see the list of tagged names appear over top of the content – something that would be more difficult with videos – the button links to a list of tagged people. When you tap this button, you’re directed to a new page titled “People in this Video” with all the Instagram users who have either appeared in the video, or who the original poster wants to alert in some way. As far as we can tell, these videos don’t also copy over to the tagged users’ profiles, where tagged photos typically appear today. But that could come further down the road. Video tagging is
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Facebook Lite adds additional crisis response tools

Facebook Lite, the social network’s product for people in areas with low connectivity or limited Internet, is making Community Help available to people in more than 100 countries. Facebook Lite uses less data, and installs and loads faster than the standard Facebook app. Facebook Lite also works on lower-end devices and slower Internet networks. Facebook first launched Community Help last February to help people find and give help in the areas of food, shelter and transportation in the aftermath of natural disasters and building fires — two types of crises in which Safety Check would likely be activated. “Our priority is to build tools that provide people with ways to get the help they need to recover and rebuild after a crisis,” Facebook Crisis Response Product Manager Jeong-Suh Choi said in a release. “By making Community Help available on Facebook Lite, event more people can get the help they need
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WhatsApp hits India’s Jio feature phones amidst fake news violence

False rumors forwarded on WhatsApp have led angry mobs to murder strangers in India, but the Facebook-owned chat app is still racing to add users in the country. Today it launched a feature phone version of WhatsApp for JioPhone 1 and 2’s KaiOS, which are designed to support 22 of India’s vast array of native languages. Users will be able to send text, photos, videos, and voice messages with end-to-end encryption, though it will lack advanced features like augmented reality and Snapchat Stories-style Status updates. WhatsApp was supposed to launch alongside the JioPhone 2 that debuted last month for roughly $41, but was delayed. 40 million JioPhone 1s had already been sold, and it’s been estimated to control 27 percent of the Indian mobile phone market and 47 percent of the country’s feature phone market. Coming to JioPhone should open up a big new growth vector for WhatsApp as it
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Twitter hires former Refinery29 COO Sarah Personette as Head of Client Solutions

Twitter announced this morning it has hired Sarah Personette, previously COO at Refinery29, as its new head of global Twitter Client Solutions. Personette will start in mid-October. She will be based in New York, where she’ll report to Head of Customers Matt Derella, also previously head of Twitter Client Solutions. The company says this will allow Derella to focus on his expanded role leading Content Partnerships, Self-Serve Advertising, Operations, and Twitter Services. Personette, meanwhile, will oversee all of the global regional TCS leaders, Client Solutions Development and Global Brands. Derella welcomed Personette this morning in a series of tweets.

“Sarah will be taking the reins in overseeing our our

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Interview with Priscilla Chan: Her super-donor origin story

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Priscilla Chan is so much more than Mark Zuckerberg’s wife. A teacher, doctor, and now one of the world’s top philanthropists, she’s a dexterous empath determined to help. We’ve all heard Facebook’s dorm-room origin story, but Chan’s epiphany of impact came on a playground.

In this touching interview this week at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, Chan reveals how a child too embarrassed to go to class because of their broken front teeth inspired her to tackle healthcare. “How could I have prevented it? Who hurt her? And has she gotten healthcare, has she gotten the right dental care to prevent infection and treat pain? That moment compelled me, like, ‘I need more skills to fight these problems.'”

That’s led to a $3 billion pledge towards curing all disease from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s $45 billion-plus charitable foundation. Constantly expressing gratitude for being lifted out of the struggle of her

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Hate speech, collusion, and the constitution

Half an hour into their two-hour testimony on Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were asked about collaboration between social media companies. “Our collaboration has greatly increased,” Sandberg stated before turning to Dorsey and adding that Facebook has “always shared information with other companies.” Dorsey nodded in response, and noted for his part that he’s very open to establishing “a regular cadence with our industry peers.” Social media companies have established extensive policies on what constitutes “hate speech” on their platforms. But discrepancies between these policies open the possibility for propagators of hate to game the platforms and still get their vitriol out to a large audience. Collaboration of the kind Sandberg and Dorsey discussed can lead to a more consistent approach to hate speech that will prevent the gaming of platforms’ policies. But collaboration between competitors as dominant
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What you need to know ahead of the EU copyright vote

European Union lawmakers are facing a major vote on digital copyright reform proposals on Wednesday — a process that has set the Internet’s hair fully on fire. Here’s a run down of the issues and what’s at stake…

Article 13

The most controversial component of the proposals concerns user-generated content platforms such as YouTube, and the idea they should be made liable for copyright infringements committed by their users — instead of the current regime of takedowns after the fact (which locks rights holders into having to constantly monitor and report violations — y’know, at the same time as Alphabet’s ad business continues to roll around in dollars and eyeballs). Critics of the proposal argue that shifting the burden of rights liability onto platforms will flip them from champions to chillers of free speech, making them reconfigure their systems to accommodate the new level of business risk. More specifically they suggest
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Twitter launches audio-only broadcasting feature on its iOS app and Periscope

Twitter is launching a new feature that allows users to create audio-only broadcasts directly from Twitter itself, as well as Twitter’s Periscope. The feature, which Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed in a tweet this morning, is available from the same interface where you would normally launch live video. It’s currently accessible on the Twitter for iOS app, as well as on Periscope.

Now, instead of only having the option to record video after you tap “Live,” there’s a button you can tap to pick audio-only broadcast. The feature was seen in beta testing in recent weeks, but @Jack’s tweet – along with the mobile app’s update log  – indicates it has now rolled out to all. Twitter also confirmed to TechCrunch the feature is currently available only on the Twitter app for iOS and

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Slack is having connection issues again (Update: It’s back)

This is officially a trend. This afternoon, Slack reported connectivity issues through its official status channel. We can confirm. Roughly half of our messages are going through. And yes, it’s super duper annoying.

< p class="p1">“We’re investigating problems with connectivity at this time,” the company writes. “We’re sorry for the interruption and will keep you posted as soon as we have an update”

This is the third large connection issue the popular chat service has experienced in roughly a month or so. We’ll report back as we hear more.

Update: Seems things are back to normal, at least according to Slack’s internal monitors. Still. we’ll see if we can get more information about what’s
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Twitter brings Bookmarks to the web with a new design, now in testing

Twitter is testing a new experience for web users, the company announced in a tweet on Thursday. A small number of Twitter users will see the updated version of Twitter for web, which will include access to Twitter’s Bookmarks feature, and scrolling through Twitter’s Explore section, the tweet said and a spokesperson confirmed. However, Business Insider grabbed screenshots of the opt-in pop-up that appears when you’re invited to test the revamped website, which promises other features like night mode, data saver and more. These are not necessarily “new” features though — Twitter rolled out its dark-themed “Night Mode” to the web client a year ago. The differences appear to be more subtle, as it turns out. For example, Night Mode is now a toggle switch, as is Data Saver, instead of an option to click on from your settings menu. Trends also shifted from one side of the home page
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Alex Jones and Infowars permanently suspended from Twitter and Periscope after new content violations

Twitter has finally put an end to the ongoing controversy over how it has refused to completely shut down the accounts of Alex Jones and his online media site Infowars after a number of people complained about abusive content posted by both: it has finally banned both, on Twitter and its video platform Periscope.

“Today, we permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope,” the Twitter Safety account Tweeted moments ago. “We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations. “As we continue to increase transparency around our rules and enforcement actions, we wanted to be open about this action given the broad interest in this case. We do not typically comment on enforcement actions we take against individual accounts, for their privacy. “We will continue to evaluate reports we receive
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Salesforce research: Yep, consumers are worried about their data

Recent headlines at TechCrunch and elsewhere have been filled with news about data breaches, data misuse and other data-related scandals. But has that actually affected how consumers think about their personal data? A new report from Salesforce Reserach sheds some light on this question. In a survey of 6,723 individuals globally, Salesforce found that 59 percent of of respondents believe their personal information is vulnerable to security breach, while 54 percent believe that the companies with that data don’t have their best interests in mind. Respondents also said that these feelings will affect their choices as consumers — for example, 86 percent said that if they trust a company, they’re more likely to share their experiences, and that number goes up to 91 percent among millennials and Gen Zers. The findings seem similar to (if more general than research from Pew showing that Americans have become more cautious and and
salesforce research chart
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Robots can develop prejudices just like humans

In a fascinating study by researchers at Cardiff University and MIT, we learn that robots can develop prejudices when working together. The robots, which ran inside a teamwork simulator, expressed prejudice against other robots not on their team. In short, write the researchers, “groups of autonomous machines could demonstrate prejudice by simply identifying, copying and learning this behavior from one another.” To test the theory, researchers ran a simple game in a simulator. The game involved donating to parties outside or inside the robot’s personal group based on reputation as well as donation strategy. They were able to measure the level of prejudice against outsiders. As the simulation ran, they saw a rise in prejudice against outsiders over time. The researchers found the prejudice was easy to grow in the simulator, a fact that should give us pause as we give robots more autonomy. “Our simulations show that
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Instagram launches parent portal to teach internet safety

For parents who grew up with dial-up connections and tape players, the high-speed, digital social lives of their teens can be a mystery. Today, both the good and destructive aspects of social interactions are taking place behind screens on apps like Instagram . To help parents navigate these online environments, Instagram has released a parents guide to the app on its Well Being site. The PSA covers a basic introduction to the photo and video sharing app and introduces parents to the safety features that they — and perhaps their child — may not be aware of. These bullet points cover privacy features like private vs. public profiles, and a timer system the app released earlier this summer that helps teens and their parents keep track of how long they’ve stayed on the app and prompts them to take a breath if they’ve exceeded a pre-set limit. In addition to walking parents through
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Bumble launches Snooze button to pause dating for a digital detox

Bumble doesn’t want you to delete your account when you get into a relationship, go on vacation or just need a break from your phone. So today it’s launching a Snooze button that lets you stop showing up to people swiping through potential matches for a day, three days, a week or indefinitely. You’ll also get to select an away message, like “I’m traveling,” “I’m on a digital detox,” “I’m focusing on work” or “I’m prioritizing myself,” that will show up with existing matches with whom you’re chatting. The feature could ensure that Bumble’s 40 million registered users aren’t flirting with an empty vacuum if their match goes AWOL from Bumble temporarily. And for users who turn it on, Snooze could reduce their FOMO about potentially missing out on a match or looking like they ignored someone’s message. “The impact of social media, especially on young women, has the potential
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Justice Department’s threat to social media giants is wrong

Never has it been so clear that the attorneys charged with enforcing the laws of the country have a complete disregard for the very laws they’re meant to enforce. As executives of Twitter and Facebook took to the floor of the Senate to testify about their companies’ response to international meddling into U.S. elections and addressed the problem of propagandists and polemicists using their platforms to spread misinformation, the legal geniuses at the Justice Department were focused on a free speech debate that isn’t just unprecedented, but also potentially illegal.

These attorneys general convened to confabulate on the “growing concern” that social media companies are stifling expression and hurting competition. What’s really at issue is a conservative canard and talking point that tries to make a case that private companies have a First Amendment obligation to allow

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Stealthy wants to become the WeChat of blockchain apps

Meet Stealthy a new messaging app that leverages Blockstack’s decentralized application platform to build a messaging app. The company is participating in TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF and launching its app on iOS and Android today. On the surface, Stealthy works like many messaging apps out there. But it gets interesting once you start digging to understand the protocol behind it. Stealthy is a decentralized platform with privacy in mind. It could become the glue that makes various decentralized applications stick together. “We started Stealthy because Blockstack had a global hackathon in December of last year,” co-founder Prabhaav Bhardwaj told me. “We won that hackathon in February.” After that, the #deletefacebook movement combined with the overall decentralization trend motivated Bhardwaj and Alex Carreira to ship the app. Blockstack manages your identity. You get an ID and a 12-word passphrase to recover your account. Blockstack creates a blockchain
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Twitter agrees to abuse transparency reports, civil rights audit

A meek and quiet “no” was Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s refrain as he responded to an onslaught of questions from House Energy Committee Republicans about whether his service shadowbans or is biased against conservatives. A few Democrats like Rep Sarbanes (D-MD) accurately pointed out that the whole point of the hearing was to “work the ref” in an attempt to badger Twitter into an overcorrection that would promote conservatives and make it tougher to enforce its policies against right-wing trolls and conspiracy theorists. Before the start of the hearing, Dorsey laid out data that showed Democrat an Republican congress members got the same number of impressions per tweet when controlling for follower count — debunking the theory that it suppresses conservative view points. Given the session’s spurious purpose, many of the questions were just different ways of asking if Twitter discriminated based on political ideology, which Dorsey repeatedly denied. But
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Highlights from the Senate Intelligence hearing with Facebook and Twitter

Another day, another political grilling for social media platform giants. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s fourth hearing took place this morning, with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey present to take questions as U.S. lawmakers continue to probe how foreign influence operations are playing out on Internet platforms — and eye up potential future policy interventions.  During the session US lawmakers voiced concerns about “who owns” data they couched as “rapidly becoming me”. An uncomfortable conflation for platforms whose business is human surveillance. They also flagged the risk of more episodes of data manipulation intended to incite violence, such as has been seen in Myanmar — and Facebook especially was pressed to commit to having both a legal and moral obligation towards its users. The value of consumer data was also raised, with committee vice chair, Sen. Mark Warner, suggesting platforms should actively convey that value
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