FaceApp gets federal attention as Sen. Schumer raises alarm on data use


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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It’s been hard to get away from FaceApp over the last few days, whether it’s your friends posting weird selfies using the app’s aging and other filters, or the brief furore over its apparent (but not actual) circumvention of permissions on iPhones. Now even the Senate is getting in on the fun: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has asked the FBI and the FTC to look into the app’s data handling practices.

“I write today to express my concerns regarding FaceApp,” he writes in a letter sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray and FTC Chairman Joseph Simons. I’ve excerpted his main concerns below:

In order to operate the application, users must provide the company full and irrevocable access to their personal photos and data. According to its privacy policy, users grant FaceApp license to use or publish content shared with the application, including their username or even their real name, without

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Netflix will roll out a lower-priced subscription plan in India


This post is by Manish Singh from TechCrunch


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Netflix said on Wednesday that it will roll out a cheaper subscription plan in India, one of the last great growth markets for global companies, as the streaming giant scrambles to find ways to accelerate its slowing growth worldwide.

The company added 2.7 million new subscribers in the quarter that ended in June this year, it said today, far fewer than the 5 million figure it had forecasted earlier this year.

The company said lowering its subscription plan, which starts at $9 in the U.S., would help it reach more users in India and expand its overall subscriber base. According to third-party research firms, Netflix has fewer than 2 million subscribers in India.

Netflix started to test a lower-priced subscription plan in India and some other markets in Asia late last year. The plan restricts the usage of the service to one mobile device and offers

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Facebook’s regulation dodge: Let us, or China will


This post is by Josh Constine from TechCrunch


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Facebook is leaning on fears of China exporting its authoritarian social values to counter arguments that it should be broken up or slowed down. Its top executives have each claimed that if the U.S. limits its size, blocks its acquisitions, or bans its cryptocurrency, Chinese company’s absent these restrictions will win abroad, bringing more power and data to their government. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg, and VP of communications Nick Clegg have all expressed this position.

The latest incarnation of this talking point came in today and yesterday’s congressional hearings over Libra, the Facebook-spearheaded digital currency it hopes to launch in the first half of 2020. Facebook’s head of its blockchain subsidiary Calibra David Marcus wrote in his prepared remarks to the House Financial Services Committee today that:

“I believe that if America does not lead innovation in the digital currency and payments area, others will. If we

Senate Banking Committee Holds Hearing On Facebook's Proposed Crypto Currency
facebook logo down glitch

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FaceApp responds to privacy concerns 


This post is by Natasha Lomas from TechCrunch


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FaceApp, the AI-powered selfie-editing app that’s been having another viral moment of late, has now responded to a privacy controversy that we covered earlier here.

We’ve pasted the company’s full statement at the bottom of this post.

The tl;dr here is that concerns had been raised that FaceApp, a Russian startup, uploads users’ photos to the cloud — without making it clear to them that processing is not going on locally on their device.

Another issue raised by FaceApp users was that the iOS app appears to be overriding settings if a user had denied access to their camera roll, after people reported they could still select and upload a photo — i.e. despite the app not having permission to access their photos.

As we reported earlier, the latter is actually allowed behavior in iOS — which gives users the power to choose to block an app from full

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ClassPass introduces a corporate wellness program


This post is by Jordan Crook from TechCrunch


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ClassPass has set up yet another revenue stream, signing on partners like Facebook, Glossier, Google, Morgan Stanley, Under Armour, Etsy, Southwest Airlines and Gatorade to a corporate wellness program.

The program will give employees at these companies access to the ClassPass network of more than 22,000 studio partners across 2500 cities around the world, which includes studio brands like Barry’s Bootcamp, Flywheel Sports, and CorePower Yoga. Corporate partners also get access to a ‘large library’ of on-demand audio and video workouts.

This comes after ClassPass retooled the ClassPass Live product, in which it invested the resources to build out a new live broadcast studio, and rebuilt it into a library of on-demand video workouts.

The company launched ClassPass Live in 2018 with the hopes that users could workout from home within the ClassPass ecosystem. CEO Fritz Lanman told TechCrunch in June that the company stopped doing live classes in

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Social chat app Capture launches to take a shot at less viral success


This post is by Natasha Lomas from TechCrunch


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At first glance launching a new social app may seem as sensible a startup idea as plunging headfirst into shark-infested waters. But with even infamous curtain-ripper Facebook now making grand claims about a ‘pivot to privacy’ it’s clear something is shifting in the commercial shipping channels that contain our digital chatter.

Whisper it: Feeds are tiring. Follows are tedious. Attention is expiring. There’s also, of course, the damage that personal digital baggage left out in the open can wreak long after the fact of a blown fuse or fleeting snap.

Public feeds have become vehicles of self-promotion; carefully and heavily curated — which of course brings its own peer pressures to keep up with friends’ lux exploits and the influencer ‘gram aesthetic that pretends life looks like a magazine spread.

Yet for a brief time, in the gritty early years of social media, there was something akin to spontaneous, confessional

Discovery 1
Capture app
Capture app
capture app

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Highlights from Facebook’s Libra Senate hearing


This post is by Josh Constine from TechCrunch


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Facebook will only build its own Calibra cryptocurrency wallet into Messenger and Whatsapp, and will refuse to embed competing wallets, the head of Calibra David Marcus told the Senate Banking Committee today.

Calibra will be interoperable so users can send money back and forth with other wallets, and Marcus committed to data portability so users can switch entirely to a competitor. But solely embedding Facebook’s own wallet into its leading messaging apps could give the company a sizable advantage over banks, PayPal, Coinbase, or any other potential wallet developer.

Other highlights from the “Examining Facebook’s Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations” hearing included Marcus saying:

Quirk wants to make cognitive behavioral therapy more accessible


This post is by Jordan Crook from TechCrunch


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Quirk, a YC-backed company, is looking to bring cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to more people suffering from anxiety or depression.

CBT aims to lessen or stop harmful behavior by changing the way people think, stopping them from falling into established patterns of negatively distorting their reality to justify or account for unhelpful habits.

“CBT has 40 years of research behind it,” says CEO and founder Evan Conrad. “I’ve had severe panic attacks my whole life and saw different therapists who tried what I now know is CBT. I assumed it was a pseudo science. It wasn’t until 10 months ago that I re-discovered CBT on my own and learned about its efficacy. It’s the gold standard.”

The app helps users practice one of the most common exercises in CBT: the triple-column technique.

Here’s how it works:

Users jump into the app whenever they have anxiety or a depressive

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Mercari’s new Instant Pay feature transfers verified sellers’ balances to their debit cards within minutes


This post is by Catherine Shu from TechCrunch


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For online sellers, waiting three to five days for e-commerce platforms to transfer their balance is one of their biggest pain points. Mercari is going after rivals with its new Instant Pay feature, which deposits money in a few minutes. Once sellers are verified, they can instantly transfer up to $500 per month of their Mercari balance to a debit card for a $2 processing fee.

Bradford Williams, Mercari’s head of communications, told TechCrunch in an email that the new feature is a first for peer-to-peer selling apps. “Uber and Lyft made instant payments table stakes for U.S. drivers; we’re extending that to casual sellers. Mercari U.S. is focused on casual sellers (versus power sellers); therefore, we’d like to attract sellers from all marketplaces/platforms,” he said. “Frankly, we see our biggest opportunity in influencing U.S. consumer behavior versus taking share incrementally from established competitors.”

To use

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Amazon adds Hindi to the Alexa Skills Kit


This post is by Catherine Shu from TechCrunch


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Users of Amazon’s voice assistant will soon be able to talk to Alexa in Hindi. Amazon announced today that it has added a Hindi voice model to its Alexa Skills Kit for developers. Alexa developers can also update their existing published skills in India for Hindi.

Amazon first revealed that it would add fluent Hindi to Alexa last month during its re: MARS machine learning and artificial intelligence conference. Before, Alexa was only able to understand a few Hinglish (a portmanteau of Hindi and English) commands. Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist for Alexa, told Indian news agency IANS that adding Hindi to Alexa posed a “contextual, cultural as well as content-related challenge” because of the wide variety of dialects, accents and slang used in India.

Along with English, Hindi is one of India’s official languages (Google Voice Assistant also offers Hindi support). According to Citi Research, Amazon

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Amazon adds Hindi to the Alexa Skills Kit


This post is by Catherine Shu from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Users of Amazon’s voice assistant will soon be able to talk to Alexa in Hindi. Amazon announced today that it has added a Hindi voice model to its Alexa Skills Kit for developers. Alexa developers can also update their existing published skills in India for Hindi.

Amazon first revealed that it would add fluent Hindi to Alexa last month during its re: MARS machine learning and artificial intelligence conference. Before, Alexa was only able to understand a few Hinglish (a portmanteau of Hindi and English) commands. Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist for Alexa, told Indian news agency IANS that adding Hindi to Alexa posed a “contextual, cultural as well as content-related challenge” because of the wide variety of dialects, accents and slang used in India.

Along with English, Hindi is one of India’s official languages (Google Voice Assistant also offers Hindi support). According to Citi Research, Amazon

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Facebook snags former Vine GM to run product for its new experimental app division, NPE Team


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Is Facebook preparing to launch a serious competitor to TikTok? If so, the company just picked up some key talent to make that happen. Last week, Facebook announced plans for a new division, called the NPE Team, which will build experimental consumer-focused apps where it will try different ideas and features, then see how people react. Now, Facebook has picked up former Vine GM Jason Toff to join the NPE team as a Product Management Director.

Toff’s experience also includes time spent at Google, most notably as a Product Lead for YouTube before exiting to Vine in

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Waze now shows road toll prices along your driving route


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Navigation app Waze is making getting to where you’re going even easier – or at least more transparent. A new feature rolling out today will show you any tolls along your route, including the actual amount you’re going to pay, across both the U.S. and Canada.

This is above and beyond what you’ll get in most navigation apps, where you might get a visual or text indicator that there is a toll on one of the roads in your path (and you can opt to avoid them if possible) but you won’t know what you’re actually paying. With Waze, you’ll get the amount – sourced from its community of user drivers, rather than direct from the official toll road operators, however, but Waze’s crowd-sourced navigation data often has a leg up on the official source in other cases.

Waze will show you the toll prices up front, too, before

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Digging into the Roblox growth strategy


This post is by Arman Tabatabai from TechCrunch


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Could Roblox create a new entertainment and communication category, something it calls “social co-experience”?

When it was a small startup, few observers would have believed in that future. But after 15 years — as told in the origin story of our Roblox EC-1 — the company has accumulated 90 million users and a new $150 million venture funding war chest. It has captured the imagination of America’s youth, and become a startup darling in the entertainment space.

But what, exactly, is social co-experience? Well, it can’t be described precisely — because it’s still an emerging category. “It’s almost like that fable where the nine blind men are touching and describing an elephant.

Everyone has a slightly different view,” says co-founder and CEO Dave Baszucki. In Roblox’s view, co-experience means immersive environments where users play, explore, talk, hang out, and create an identity that’s as thoroughly fleshed out (if not as

Lineup All 1

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Digging into the Roblox growth strategy


This post is by Arman Tabatabai from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Could Roblox create a new entertainment and communication category, something it calls “social co-experience”?

When it was a small startup, few observers would have believed in that future. But after 15 years — as told in the origin story of our Roblox EC-1 — the company has accumulated 90 million users and a new $150 million venture funding war chest. It has captured the imagination of America’s youth, and become a startup darling in the entertainment space.

But what, exactly, is social co-experience? Well, it can’t be described precisely — because it’s still an emerging category. “It’s almost like that fable where the nine blind men are touching and describing an elephant.

Everyone has a slightly different view,” says co-founder and CEO Dave Baszucki. In Roblox’s view, co-experience means immersive environments where users play, explore, talk, hang out, and create an identity that’s as thoroughly fleshed out (if not as

Lineup All 1

Continue reading “Digging into the Roblox growth strategy”

Facebook answers how Libra taxes and anti-fraud will work


This post is by Josh Constine from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Facebook provided TechCrunch with new information on how its cryptocurrency will stay legal amidst allegations from President Trump that Libra could facilitate “unlawful behavior”. Facebook and Libra Association executives tell me they expect Libra will incur sales tax and capital gains taxes. They confirmed that Facebook is also in talks with local convenience stores and money exchanges to ensure anti-laundering checks are applied when people cash-in or cash-out Libra for traditional currency, and to let you use a QR code to buy or sell Libra in person.

A Facebook spokesperson said the company wouldn’t respond directly to Trump’s tweets, but noted that the Libra association won’t interact with consumers or operate as a bank, and that Libra is meant to be a complement to the existing financial system.

Trump had tweeted that “Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity. Similarly, Facebook Libra’s

Facebook Calibra Libra Wallet
Facebook Calibra
Libra Mission Statement
Calibra Transactions 2

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