Category: Social

June 7, 2019 Off

Daily Crunch: Facebook’s cryptocurrency is coming

By Jill T Frey

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 plans June 18 cryptocurrency debut. Here’s what we know

Facebook is finally ready to reveal details about its cryptocurrency, codenamed Libra. It has currently scheduled a June 18 release of a white paper explaining its cryptocurrency’s basics, according to a source.

It sounds like Facebook’s cryptocurrency will be a stablecoin, transferable with zero fees via Facebook products including Messenger and WhatsApp.

2. NASA declares International Space Station ‘open for business,’ including private astronaut visits

NASA’s plan also includes allowing private business activities to take place on the ISS, including “in-space manufacturing,” marketing activities, healthcare research “and more,” NASA says.

3. How Amazon’s delivery robots will navigate your sidewalk

In Amazon’s current trial, the robots … Read the rest

June 6, 2019 Off

The Ticket Fairy is tech’s best hope against Ticketmaster

By Jill T Frey

Ticketmaster’s dominance has led to ridiculous service fees, scalpers galore and exclusive contracts that exploit venues and artists. The moronic approval of venue operator and artist management giant Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster in 2010 produced an anti-competitive juggernaut. It pressures venues to sign ticketing contracts under veiled threat that artists would otherwise be routed to different concert halls. Now it’s become difficult for venues, artists and fans to avoid Ticketmaster, which charges fees as high as 50% that many see as a ripoff.

The Ticket Fairy wants to wrestle away from Ticketmaster control of venues while giving fans ways to earn tickets for referring their friends. The startup is doing that by offering the most technologically advanced ticketing platform that not only handles sales and check-ins, but acts as a full-stack Salesforce for concerts that can analyze buyers and run ad campaigns while thwarting scalpers. Co-founder Ritesh Patel says … Read the rest

June 6, 2019 Off

Instagram one-ups TikTok with karaoke lyrics

By Jill T Frey

Lip-syncing jumpstarted TikTok’s rise to the center of teen culture, arguably displacing Instagram . Now the Facebook-owned app is striking back with a new feature that lets you displays lyrics on your video Story synced to a soundtrack you’ve added with the Music sticker. Lyrics could help creators and their fans sing along, and the visual flare could make the amateur MTV content more watchable.

Instagram scored a big endorsement from teen scare-pop phenomenon Billie Eilish who’s featured in the demo video for Story lyrics, which are now available in all the countries where Instagram Music has launched including the US, Germany, and France.

To play with the feature, first select the Music lens type (amidst Boomerang and other options) before you shoot or the Music sticker after. Once you pick a song, you’ll see lyrics pop up which can help you cue the segment of the music you want … Read the rest

June 5, 2019 Off

YouTube will let bigot monetize if he removes link to homophobic merch

By Jill T Frey

YouTube has made the weakest, least courageous response to mass backlash regarding its ruling yesterday that right-wing personality Steven Crowder’s racist and homophobic attacks on Vox video producer Carlos Maza didn’t violate its policies. Now YouTube says it’s demonetized Crowder’s channel because his “pattern of egregious actions has harmed the broader community” …but it will restore Crowder’s ability to earn a cut of YouTube ad revenue as long as he removes the link in his videos/channel to his offensive merchandise shop and fixes “all of the issues” with his channel. Specifically, Crowder’s shop sells [Warning: disturbing language not condoned by TechCrunch] “Socialism is for f*gs” t-shirts, baby onesies and beer-pong cups.

[Update: In the wake of this article and YouTube’s focus on his homophobic slur shirts, Crowder has removed the hateful merchandise from his store.]

The unwillingness to remove Crowder from YouTube counters the frequent calls by conservative politicians … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Tinder adds sexual orientation and gender identity to its profiles

By Jill T Frey

Tinder is adding to its profiles information about sexual orientation and gender identity.

The company worked with the LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD on changes to its dating app to make it more inclusive.

Users who want to edit or add more information about their sexual orientation can now simply edit their profile. When a Tinder user taps on the “orientation” selection they can choose up to three terms that describe their sexual orientation. Those descriptions can either be private or public, but will likely be used to inform matches on the app.

Tinder also updated the onboarding experience for new users so they can include their sexual orientation as soon as they sign up for the dating app.

Tinder is also giving users more control over how they order matches. In the “Discovery Preferences” field Tinderers can choose to first see people of the same orientation.

The company said … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

Twitter bags deep learning talent behind London startup, Fabula AI

By Jill T Frey

Twitter has just announced it has picked up London-based Fabula AI. The deep learning startup has been developing technology to try to identify online disinformation by looking at patterns in how fake stuff vs genuine news spreads online — making it an obvious fit for the rumor-riled social network.

Social media giants remain under increasing political pressure to get a handle on online disinformation to ensure that manipulative messages don’t, for example, get a free pass to fiddle with democratic processes.

Twitter says the acquisition of Fabula will help it build out its internal machine learning capabilities — writing that the UK startup’s “world-class team of machine learning researchers” will feed an internal research group it’s building out, led by Sandeep Pandey, its head of ML/AI engineering.

This research group will focus … Read the rest

June 1, 2019 Off

Twitter takes down ‘a large number’ of Chinese-language accounts ahead of Tiananmen Square anniversary

By Jill T Frey

Twitter has suspended a large number of Chinese-language user accounts, including those belonging to critics of China’s government. It seems like a particularly ill-timed move, occurring just days before thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4.

“A large number of Chinese @Twitter accounts are being suspended today,” wrote Yaxue Cao, founder and editor of the U.S.-based publication China Change. “They ‘happen’ to be accounts critical of China, both inside and outside China.”

Cao then went on to highlight a number of the suspended accounts in a Twitter thread.

The Chinese government reportedly began cracking down late last year on people who post criticism on TwitterRead the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Spotify is building shared-queue Social Listening

By Jill T Frey

Want to rock out together even when you’re apart? Spotify has prototyped an unreleased feature called “Social Listening” that lets multiple people add songs to a queue they can all listen to. You just all scan one friend’s QR-style Spotify Social Listening code, and then anyone can add songs to the real-time playlist. Spotify could potentially expand the feature to synchronize playback so you’d actually hear the same notes at the same time, but for now it’s a just a shared queue.

Social Listening could give Spotify a new viral growth channel, as users could urge friends to download the app to sync up. The intimate experience of co-listening might lead to longer sessions with Spotify, boosting ad plays or subscription retention. Plus, it could differentiate Spotify from Apple Music, YouTube Music, Tidal and other competing streaming services.

A Spotify spokesperson tells TechCrunch that “We’re always testing new products and … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Tinder launches a new à la carte option, Super Boost, only for subscribers

By Jill T Frey

Tinder this morning announced a second, more premium version of its most popular à la carte purchase, Boost, with the launch of Super Boost — an upgrade only offered to Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold premium subscribers. The idea with the new product is to extract additional revenues out of those users who have already demonstrated a willingness to pay for the dating app, while also offering others another incentive to upgrade to a paid Tinder subscription.

Similar to Boost, which for 30 minutes puts you on top of the stack of profiles shown to potential matches, Super Boost also lets you cut the line.

Tinder says the option will be shown to select Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold subscribers during peak activity times, and only at night. Once purchased and activated, Super Boost promises the chance to be seen by up to 100 times more potential matches. By … Read the rest

May 30, 2019 Off

Alibaba pumps $100 million into Vmate to grow its video app in India

By Jill T Frey

Chinese tech giant Alibaba is doubling down on India’s burgeoning video market, looking to fight back local rival ByteDance, Google and Disney to gain its foothold in the nation. The company said today that it is pumping $100 million into Vmate, a three-year-old social video app owned by subsidiary UC Web.

Vmate was launched as a video streaming and short-video-sharing app in 2016. But in the years since, it has added features such as video downloads and 3-dimensional face emojis to expand its use cases. It has amassed 30 million users globally, and will use the capital to scale its business in India, the company told TechCrunch. Alibaba Group did not respond to TechCrunch’s questions about its ownership of the app.

The move comes as Alibaba revives its attempts to take on the growing social video apps market, something on which it has missed out completely in China. Vmate could … Read the rest