As Jack Dorsey announced his company Twitter would drop all political ads, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg doubled-down on his policy of refusing to fact-check politicians’ ads. “At times of social tension there has often been an urge to pull back on free expression . . . We will be best served over the long term by resisting this urge and defending free expression.”

Still, Zuckerberg failed to delineate between freedom of expression and freedom of paid amplification of that expression — which inherently favors the rich.

During today’s Q3 2019 earnings call where Facebook beat expectations and grew monthly users 2% to 2.45 billion, Zuckerberg spent his time defending the social network’s lenient political ad policy. You can read his full prepared statement here.

One clear objective was to dispel the idea that Facebook was motivated by greed to keep these ads. Zuckerberg explained “We estimate these ads from politicians will be less than 0.5% of our revenue next year.” For reference, Facebook earned $66 billion in the 12 months ending Q3 2019, so Facebook might earn around $330 million to $400 million in politician ads next year. [Update: It wasn’t clear if issue ads and PAC ads were counted in Facebook’s 0.5% figure, but now the company says that number is just for ads run directly by politicians.]

Zuckerberg also said that given Facebook removed 50 million hours per day of viral video watching from its platform to support well-being, which hurt ad viewership and the company’s share price, Facebook clearly doesn’t act solely in pursuit of profit.

Facebook’s CEO also tried to bat down the theory that Facebook is allowing misinformation in political ads to cater to conservatives or avoid calls of bias from them. “Some people say that this is just all a cynical political calculation and that we’re acting in a way that we don’t really believe because we’re just trying to appease conservatives,” he said, responding that “frankly, if our goal was that we’re trying to make either side happy then we’re not doing a very good job because I’m pretty sure everyone is frustrated.” 

Instead of banning political ads, Zuckerberg voiced support for increasing transparency about how ads look, how much is spent on them and where they’re run. “I believe that the better approach is to work to increase transparency. Ads on Facebook are already more transparent than anywhere else. We have a political ads archive so anyone can scrutinize every ad that’s run.” 

He mentioned that political ads are run by “Google, YouTube and most internet platforms,” seeming to stumble for a second as he was likely prepared to cite Twitter too until it announced it would drop all political ads an hour earlier. He omitted that Linkedin, Pinterest, and TikTok have also banned political ads.

It doesn’t help that hundreds of Facebook’s own employees have called on their CEO to change the policy. He concluded that no one could accuse Facebook of not deeply thinking through the question and its downstream ramifications. Zuckerberg did leave himself an out if he chooses to change the policy, though. “I’ve considered whether we should not [sell politician ads] in the past, and I’ll continue to do so.”

Dorsey had tweeted that “We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.” Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed support for Twitter’s move, while Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale called it “a very dumb decision.”

Twitter’s CEO took some clear swipes at Zuckerberg, countering his common arguments for allowing misinformation in politician’s ads. “Some might argue our actions today could favor incumbents. But we have witnessed many social movements reach massive scale without any political advertising. I trust this will only grow.” Given President Trump had outspent all Democratic candidates on Facebook ads as of March of this year, it’s clear that deep-pocketed incumbents could benefit from Facebook’s policy.

trump 2020 facebook ads 1558042973182 facebookJumbo v10 1 1

Trump continues to massively outspend Democratic rivals on Facebook ads (Via NYT)

Miming Facebook’s position, Dorsey tweeted, “It‘s not credible for us to say: ‘We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well…they can say whatever they want!”

Twitter doesn’t earn much from political ads, citing only $3 million in revenue from the 2018 mid-term elections, or roughly 0.1% of its $3 billion in total 2018 revenue. That means there will be no major windfall for Facebook from Twitter dropping political ads. But now all eyes will be on Facebook and Google/YouTube. If Sundar Pichai and Susan Wojcicki move in line with Dorsey, it could make Zuckerberg even more vulnerable to criticism.

Indeed, $330 million might not be a big incentive for Facebook or Zuckerberg, but it still sounds like a lot of money to earn from ads that potentially lie to voters. I respect Facebook’s lenient policy when it comes to speech organically posted to users, organizations or politicians’ own accounts. But relying on the candidates, press and public to police speech is dangerously idealistic. We’ve seen how candidates will do anything to win, partisan press will ignore the truth to support their team and the public aren’t educated or engaged enough to consistently understand what’s false.

Zuckerberg’s greatest mistakes have come from overestimating humanity. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to bring the world closer together. Without safeguards, Facebook’s tools can help tear it apart. It’s time for Facebook and Zuckerberg to recognize the difference between free expression and paid expression.

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LinkedIn has been remarkably unambitious for a long time. The company is trying to make money and that’s chill; they’re trying to live up to Microsoft’s expectations by making obvious choices and I’d imagine it’s awfully hard to do that.

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Enterprise software lives in an eternal cycle of bundling and unbundling and LinkedIn is long overdue for some startups to come unbundle it. It can keep recruiting, sales and the millions of hallowed-out users profiles, but there’s so much potential dying on the LinkedIn vine.

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Investors have raved about the “consumerization of enterprise,” or bringing consumer-like products deeper into the workplace. There has also been a ton of chatter about startups building bespoke communities focused on tighter verticals. These two trends should lead to some great professional development products, and I’m sure there already are plenty entrepreneurs building solutions that will pop up in my inbox or the comments. There’s nearly endless potential for niche professional networks to flourish, actually innovate and create connections.

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LinkedIn is what happens when network effects congeal. It has this data that could be used to create so many good worker-facing products, instead the company has monetized itself by going out of its way to obfuscate this data for the majority of its users. I have truly limited faith in LinkedIn turning itself around so maybe it’s time we all walk away from this idea that it has so much untapped potential and we just give up on it to search out some more focused products that have a few users and meet a few needs.

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Please reach out to me if you’re building something cool.

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Send me feedback
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on Twitteru00a0@lucasmtnyu00a0or email
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lucas@techcrunch.com

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On to the rest of the weeku2019s news.

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Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Trends of the week

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Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context:

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  • Jack and Zucku00a0
    nJack Dorsey says an awful lot of nothing for being the guy in charge of Twitter, but he had a lot to say this week, and more importantly a little to do. He said the company would be uniformly banning political ads on its site, something that will likely help it sidestep some controversy, and will turn up the heat for Facebook to do the same.
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  • Escape pods
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    I wrote some harsh words about Juul in my previous newsletter ahead of what seemed like an inevitable reckoning. Well, that reckoning has gotten a bit more codified this week. Altria wrote down $4.5 billion of Juul’s value. The company is prepping for major layoffs including a handful of execs. Layoffs suck but not quite as much as taking a job at Juul.
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  • Fitting in
    nGoogle made an interesting hardware play this week buying Fitbit for $2.1 billion. Hardware has always been a bit of an afterthought for Google, but maybe this purchase will allow them a more concerted push to take on the Apple Watch, or maybe like Nest, they won’t have any idea what to do with them. Regardless, it’s a relatively soft and dignified landing for Fitbit which has had a rocky past three years going head-to-head with Apple.
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GAFA Gaffes

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How did the top tech companies screw up this week? This clearly needs its own section, in order of badness:

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    n
  1. Facebook pays fine without saying sorry:
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    [Facebook agrees to pay UK data watchdogs Cambridge Analytica fine but settles without admitting liability]
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  3. App Store bugs erases ratings:
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    [A week-long iOS App Store bug wiped out over 20M ratings]
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Disrupt Berlin

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DISRUPT SF 530X350 V2 berlin

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It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of the year again, but we just announced the agenda for Disrupt Berlin and we’ve got some all-stars making their way to the stage. I’ll be there this year, get some tickets and come say hey!

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Sign up for more newsletters in your inbox (including this one) here.

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Hey everyone. Thank you for welcoming me into you inbox yet again. Last week, I talked about SoftBank’s big embarrassment and how it could impact venture capital. If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here. The big story #DeleteLinkedIn Before you dial […]

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to ban ‘party houses’ in wake of Halloween shooting that left 5 dead"},"content":{"rendered":"

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said Saturday the company will ban “party houses” and take other steps to safeguard hosts and guests after five people died at a Halloween party hosted at California home that was rented on the service.

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Chesky made the announcement via a series of tweets Saturday. “What happened on Thursday night in Orinda, CA was horrible,” Chesky wrote. “I feel for the families and neighbors impacted by this tragedy u2014 we are working to support them.”

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Chesky then announced that party houses would be banned and that the company is “redoubling” efforts to combat unauthorized parties.

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Chesky announced several other measures to increase safety, including the expansion of manual screenings of high-risk reservations flagged by Airbnb’s risk detection technology and creating a dedicated “party house” rapid response team

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Margaret Richardson, from Airbnb’s executive team, has been tasked to accelerate the review process to enact these new policies as soon as possible, he added.

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Contra Costa County Sheriffu2019s Office said the party had been advertised on social media as a mansion party, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Police were headed to the home Oct. 31 over noise complaints when the gunfire began around 10:50 p.m. Several people died at the scene. The fifth victim died Friday night.

n","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said Saturday the company will ban “party houses” and take other steps to safeguard hosts and guests after five people died at a Halloween party hosted at California home that was rented on the service. Chesky made the announcement via a series of tweets Saturday. “What happened on Thursday night in […]

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network of ‘camgirl’ sites exposed millions of users and sex workers"},"content":{"rendered":"

A number of popular “camgirl” sites have exposed millions of sex workers and users after the company running the sites left the back-end database unprotected.

n

The sites, run by Barcelona-based VTS Media, include amateur.tv, webcampornoxxx.net, and placercams.com. Most of the sites’ users are based in Spain and Europe, but we found evidence of users across the world, including the United States.

n

According to Alexa traffic rankings, amateur.tv is one of the most popular in Spain.

n

The database, containing months-worth of daily logs of the site activities, was left without a password for weeks. Those logs included detailed records of when users logged in u2014 including usernames and sometimes their user-agents and IP addresses, which can be used to identify users. The logs also included users’ private chat messages with other users, as well as promotional emails they were receiving from the various sites. The logs even included failed login attempts, storing usernames and passwords in plaintext. We did not test the credentials as doing so would be unlawful.

n

The exposed data also revealed which videos users were watching and renting, exposing kinks and private sexual preferences.

n

In all, the logs were detailed enough to see which users were logging in, from where, and often their email addresses or other identifiable information u2014 which in some cases we could match to real-world identities.

n

Not only were users affected, the “camgirls” u2014 who broadcast sexual content to viewers u2014 also had some of their account information exposed.

n

The database was shut off last week, allowing us to publish our findings.

n

The “camgirl” site, which exposed millions of users’ and sex workers’ account data by failing to protect a backend database with a password. (Image: TechCrunch)

n

Researchers at Condition:Black, a cybersecurity and internet freedom firm, discovered the exposed database.

n

“This was a serious failure from a technical and compliance perspective,” said John Wethington, founder of Condition:Black. “After reviewing the sites’ data privacy policy and terms and conditions, it’s clear that users likely had no idea that their activities being monitored to this level of detail.”

n

“Users should always take into consideration the implications of their data leaking but especially where the implications could be life altering,” he said.

n

Data exposures u2014 where companies inadvertently leave their own systems open for anyone to access u2014 have become increasingly common in recent years. Dating sites are among those with some of the most sensitive data. Earlier this year, a group dating site 3Fun exposed over a million users’ data, allowing researchers to view users’ real-time locations without permission. These security lapses can be extremely damaging to their users, exposing private sexual encounters and preferences known only to the users themselves. The fallout following the 2016 hack of affair-focused site Ashley Madison resulted in families breaking up and several reports of suicides connected to the breach.

n

An email to VTS Media bounced over the weekend and could not be reached for comment.

n

Given both the company and its servers are located in Europe, the exposure of sexual preferences would fall under the “special categories” of GDPR rules, which require more protections. Companies can be fined up to 4% of their annual turnover for GDPR violations.

n

A spokesperson for the Spanish data protection authority (AEPD) did not respond to a request for comment outside business hours.

n
n

Got a tip? You can send tips securely over Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755-8849. You can also send PGP email with the fingerprint: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5.

n n","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

A number of popular “camgirl” sites have exposed millions of sex workers and users after the company running the sites left the back-end database unprotected. The sites, run by Barcelona-based VTS Media, include amateur.tv, webcampornoxxx.net, and placercams.com. Most of the sites’ users are based in Spain and Europe, but we found evidence of users across […]

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He can also be reached by email: zack.whittaker@techcrunch.com.

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Zack Whittaker is the security editor at TechCrunch. You can send tips securely via Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755-8849, and his PGP fingerprint for email is: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5.

nn

He can also be reached by email: zack.whittaker@techcrunch.com.

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Week in Apps: iOS 13 complaints, Q3 trends, App Store ratings bug"},"content":{"rendered":"

Welcome back to This Week in Apps u2014 the easiest way to keep up with everything that happened in the world of apps over the past week u2014 from the breaking news to the trends and all the other information an industry watcher needs to know.

n

The app industry is as hot as ever, with 194 billion downloads in 2018u00a0and more than $100 billion in consumer spending. People spend 90% of their mobile timeu00a0in apps andu00a0more time using their mobile devicesu00a0than watching TV. In other words, apps arenu2019t just a way to waste idle hours u2014 theyu2019re big business, and one that often seems to change overnight.

n

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you to keep up with the latest news from the world of apps.

n

This week, we’re looking at that one iOS 13 bug everyone is complaining about, App Store Q3 trends, plus the latest revenue numbers announced by Apple and Google during quarterly earnings. We’ve also found a new product for figuring out what may have caused spikes or changes in an app’s history, and we’re tracking new information about Microsoft’s Xbox Console to mobile streaming service as well as Google’s Motion Sense.

n

And more!

n

To keep getting this information, subscribe to Extra Crunch.

n

Headlines

n

Everyone is complaining about iOS 13 killing background apps

n

Apple released iOS 13.2 with Deep Fusion this week. The release also included new emoji, Siri recording opt-out, bug fixes and security improvements. But it didn’t solve the background app bug.

n

As a result, developers are angry and users are frustrated. A number of iOS 13 users are complaining about iOS 13’s aggressiveness in killing background apps and tasks, which is attributed to poor RAM management. This particularly affects apps like Safari, YouTube, Overcast and others. Users have lost Safari tabs, emails they were composing, or the video they were watching just after switching away for a minute.

n
n n

n

The complaints are all over Twitter, Reddit, and Apple’s own forums. A MacRumors post about this has over 400 comments.

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This has been a problem since the betas, but people were hoping they’d be addressed by the public releases. Apple hasn’t clarified what’s at fault here, but there’s speculation about the impact of the memory-intensive camera system.

n

As TechCrunch editor Matthew Panzarino put it, it “feels like I’m back on iOS 3.”

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n n

n

Developer Nick Heer of Pixel Envy says the bug isn’t catastrophic, but “it absolutely should be the highest of priorities to fix it. Itu2019s embarrassing that all of the hard work put into making animations and app launching feel smooth is squandered by mismanaged multitasking,” he says.

n

Radar filed.

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Consumers spent more than $500M on photo/video apps in Q3

n

Outside of mobile games, entertainment and streaming apps are also pulling in the big money. But there’s another category benefiting from the shift to the subscription model: photo and video apps. In this category, you’ll find apps that promise to touch up photos, add filters that can make or break Instagram careers, as well as the video giants like YouTube and TikTok.

n

photo and video app store revenue growth q3 2019

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In Q3, the category grossed more than $500 million, up a whopping 75% year-over-year, says Sensor Tower. It’s also seeing an annual growth rate of 101% since 2016. Much of this is attributable to YouTube, which alone was responsible for 30% of the category’s revenue in Q3. (Just wait until TikTok takes in-app monetization seriously, though.)

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top apps photo and video app store revenue q3 2019

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But now, it’s not just the top apps that are growing. In Q3, 22 apps exceeded $3 million in gross user spend, compared to just 2 in Q3 2016. And 7 apps had more than $10 million in revenue, including TikTok, VSCO, Facetune 2, FaceApp, and PicsArt.

n

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Welcome back to This Week in Apps u2014 the easiest way to keep up with everything that happened in the world of apps over the past week u2014 from the breaking news to the trends and all the other information an industry watcher needs to know. The app industry is as hot as ever, with […]

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Weekly: Understanding Uber’s latest fintech play"},"content":{"rendered":"

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the weeku2019s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into todayu2019s topic, letu2019s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about how SoftBank is screwing up. Before that, I noted All Raise’s expansion, Uber the TV show and the unicorn from down under.

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Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitteru00a0@KateClarkTweets. If you donu2019t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do thatu00a0here.

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Uber Head of Payments Peter Hazlehurst addresses the audience during an Uber products launch event in San Francisco, California, on September 26, 2019. (Photo by Philip Pacheco / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIP PACHECO/AFP/Getty Images)

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The sheer number of startup players moving into banking services is staggering,u201d writes my Crunchbase News friends in a piece titled u201cWhy Is Every Startup A Bank These Days.u201d

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Iu2019ve been asking myself the same question this year, as financial services business like Brex, Chime, Robinhood, Wealthfront, Betterment and more raise big rounds to build upstart digital banks. North of $13 billion venture capital dollars have been invested in U.S. fintech companies so far in 2019, up from $12 billion invested in 2018.

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This week, one of the largest companies to ever emerge from the Silicon Valley tech ecosystem, Uber, introduced its team focused on developing new financial products and technologies. In a vacuum, a multibillion-dollar public company with more than 22,000 employees launching one new team is not big news. Considering investment and innovation in fintech this year, Uberu2019s now well-documented struggles to reach profitability and the companyu2019s hiring efforts in New York, a hotbed for financial aficionados, the u201cUber Moneyu201d team could indicate much larger fintech ambitions for the ride-hailing giant.

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As it stands, the Uber Money team will be focused on developing real-time earnings for drivers accessed through the Uber debit account and debit card, which will itself see new features, like 3% or more cash back on gas. Uber Wallet, a digital wallet where drivers can more easily track their earnings, will launch in the coming weeks too, writes Peter Hazlehurst, the head of Uber Money.

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This is hardly Uberu2019s first major foray into financial services. The companyu2019s greatest feature has always been its frictionless payments capabilities that encourage riders and eaters to make purchases without thinking. Uberu2019s even launched its own consumer credit card to get riders cash back on rides. Itu2019s no secret the company has larger goals in the fintech sphere, and with 100 million u201cmonthly active platform consumersu201d via Uber, Uber Eats and more, a dedicated path toward new and better financial products may not only lead to happier, more loyal drivers but a company thatu2019s actually, one day, able to post a profit.

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VC deals

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Meet me in Berlin

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The TechCrunch team is heading to Berlin again this year for our annual event, TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, which brings together entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe. We announced the agenda this week, with leading founders including Away’s Jen Rubio and UiPath’s Daniel Dines. Take a look at the full agenda.

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I will be there to interview a bunch of venture capitalists, who will give tips on how to raise your first euros. Buy tickets to the event here.

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Listen to Equity

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This week on Equity, I was in studio while Alex was remote. We talked about a number of companies and deals, including a new startup taking on Slack, Wag’s woes and a small upstart disrupting the $8 billion nail services industry. Listen to the episode here.

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Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us onu00a0iTunes,u00a0Overcastu00a0and all the casts.

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In this week’s newsletter: Fintech’s banner year, subscription rental furniture and Particle’s Series C.

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She previously covered the venture capital ecosystem for PitchBook News.

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She previously covered the venture capital ecosystem for PitchBook News.

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Reach Kate via e-mail at kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

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Google has been working on autonomous vehicles u2014 one of the biggest challenges in AI u2014 for more than a decade, but it’s learning that the hardest part might just be getting people to enjoy the ride.

n

“This is an experience that you can’t really learn from someone else,” Waymo’s Director of Product Saswat Panigrahi told TechCrunch, while explaining the work he oversees around driverless development. “This is truly new.”

n

The sheer novelty of designing a UX (user experience) for driverless mobility has drawn Waymo away from hard science-based technologies where tech giants often feel most comfortable. In the place of data, sensor and neural net development, Waymo finds its driverless development gated by painstaking research into human factors and behavioral psychology. Despite making critical decisions to avoid delving into the mysteries of human behavior and interactions, Waymo is finding that such research is an unavoidable challenge on the road to driverless mobility.

n

“User research has always been a big part of the development process,” said Ryan Powell, the company’s head of UX Research and Design.

n

In 2012, when the Google Self-Driving Car program was “dogfooding” a highway-only driver assistance system called “AutoPilot,” its in-car cameras found that employees were over-relying on the limited automation in dangerous ways. As a result of videos showing Googlers putting on makeup, using multiple devices and even falling asleep while using the system that they’d been told required constant observation, the decision was made to cancel AutoPilot product plans and focus on fully autonomous driving. “That was a big moment for the user research team because we had a big impact on the work that we were doing at Waymo in terms of making that commitment to Level 4 autonomy,” Powell recalls.

n

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Jeremy Liew is on the hunt for always-on media startups"},"content":{"rendered":"

Perhaps best known for a career-making seed investment in Snapchat, Lightspeed partner Jeremy Liew is a leading investor across media and entertainment, making bets on startups like Cheddar, Giphy, HQ, SpecialGuest, Mic, Beme, Playdom, Duta and Flixster.

n

I spoke to him earlier this week about how he assesses the market for media startups, which led into a discussion about “always-on” forms of entertainment that add stimulation to a person’s environment, instead of commanding their full focus.

n

Here’s the transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity:

n

Eric Peckham: Do you have a consistent framework for evaluating potential investments?

n

Jeremy Liew: Our perspective is that consumer technology is now more about the consumer side than the technology side. It’s really more about pop culture than new innovations in technology.u00a0

n

When we are assessing a consumer investment we ask ourselves, “does this have the potential to become part of pop culture?” One way to think about it is whether people who don’t use the product will still become familiar with what it is. Like how you can understand a reference to “Game of Thrones” even if you don’t watch it.u00a0

n

Another key question is, whether there is a scalable, repeatable way for the product to reach its audience. That can be advertising, it can be word of mouth, it could be through social channels.

n

We also asked ourselves, “is this product going to build a new habit?” and we assess whether the entrepreneur has a unique insight into both why this is happening and why it’s happening now.

n

Your colleague Alex Taussig told me you have an overarching u201cfuture of TVu201d thesis that’s guided a number of your investments. Tell me about that thesis and how it filters opportunities in the media & entertainment space for you.

n

I think you can split what used to be called TV into two core use cases: “TV as entertainment” and “TV as company.”

n

“TV as entertainment” is most of what Netflix, Amazon, Apple, HBO, and similar companies have been focused on. It is high-production quality entertainment you have to pay attention to. Think shows like “Game of Thrones,” “Succession,” “Orange is the New Black.”

n

Then there’s another classic category of TV u2014 u201cTV as company,u201d which is stuff that’s on while you’re doing something else. You’ve got the morning show on while you’re getting the kids ready for school or you’re getting ready to go to work. That’s how you get the five hours of TV viewing per day that Americans average.

n

TV as entertainment has to be so good that you choose to watch it over doing anything else; TV as company you just have to not choose to turn it off.

n

The vast amount of attention to the move to video u2014 with subscription video on-demand (SVOD) and so forth u2014 has been on TV as entertainment. There are hit shows that will attract people to Netflix, or to HBO Go, to Disney+. But what causes them to stay as a subscriber after they binge-watched all the way through the stuff that brought them in the first place?

n

That tends to be the TV as company content. If you actually look at hours watched in television, no one is tuning in to catch the latest episode of “Shark Week” u2014 it is just what’s on. Think about the TV Guide grid: every genre, every channel will likely have a mobile native equivalent.

n

Some of these already exist. ESPN u2014 it’s a channel where men watch the best competitors in the world play the sports they used to play when they were in high school and then they talk about it with their friends. Twitch is a place where men, mostly, watch the best competitors in the world play the games they used to play when they were younger and talk about it with their friends.

","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

Perhaps best known for a career-making seed investment in Snapchat, Lightspeed partner Jeremy Liew is a leading investor across media and entertainment, making bets on startups like Cheddar, Giphy, HQ, SpecialGuest, Mic, Beme, Playdom, Duta and Flixster. I spoke to him earlier this week about how he assesses the market for media startups, which led […]

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Eric Peckham is TechCrunch's Media Columnist. He focuses on analysis of interactive media, non-interactive media, content creation platforms, communications tools, and education. Separate from TechCrunch, he writes the popular Monetizing Media newsletter.

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you react when your systems fail may define your business"},"content":{"rendered":"

Just around 9:45 a.m. Pacific Time on February 28, 2017, websites like Slack, Business Insider, Quora and other well-known destinations became inaccessible. For millions of people, the internet itself seemed broken.

n

It turned out that Amazon Web Services was having a massive outage involving S3 storage in its Northern Virginia datacenter, a problem that created a cascading impact and culminated in an outage that lasted four agonizing hours.

n

Amazon eventually figured it out, but you can only imagine how stressful it might have been for the technical teams who spent hours tracking down the cause of the outage so they could restore service. A few days later, the company issued a public post-mortem explaining what went wrong and which steps they had taken to make sure that particular problem didn’t happen again. Most companies try to anticipate these types of situations and take steps to keep them from ever happening. In fact, Netflix came up with the notion of chaos engineering, where systems are tested for weaknesses before they turn into outages.

n

Unfortunately, no tool can anticipate every outcome.

n

It’s highly likely that your company will encounter a problem of immense proportions like the one that Amazon faced in 2017. It’s what every startup founder and Fortune 500 CEO worries about u2014 or at least they should. What will define you as an organization, and how your customers will perceive you moving forward, will be how you handle it and what you learn.

n

We spoke to a group of highly-trained disaster experts to learn more about preventing these types of moments from having a profoundly negative impact on your business.

n

It’s always about your customers

n

Reliability and uptime are so essential to today’s digital businesses that enterprise companies developed a new role, the Site Reliability Engineer (SRE), to keep their IT assets up and running.

n

Tammy Butow, principal SRE at Gremlin, a startup that makes chaos engineering tools, says the primary role of the SRE is keeping customers happy. If the site is up and running, that’s generally the key to happiness. “SRE is generally more focused on the customer impact, especially in terms of availability, uptime and data loss,” she says.

n

Companies measure uptime according to the so-called “five nines,” or 99.999 percent availability, but software engineer Nora Jones, who most recently led Chaos Engineering and Human Factors at Slack, says there is often too much of an emphasis on this number. According to Jones, the focus should be on the customer and the impact that availability has on their perception of you as a company and your business’s bottom line.

n

Someone needs to be calm and just keep asking the right questions.

n

“It’s money at the end of the day, but also over time, user sentiment can change [if your site is having issues],” she says. “How are they thinking about you, the way they talk about your product when they’re talking to their friends, when they’re talking to their family members. The nines don’t capture any of that.”

n

Robert Ross, founder and CEO at FireHydrant, an SRE as a Service platform, says it may be time to rethink the idea of the nines. “Maybe we need to change that term. Maybe we can popularize something like ‘happiness level objectives’ or ‘happiness level agreements.’ That way, the focus is on our products.”

n

When things go wrong

n

Companies go to great lengths to prevent disasters to avoid disappointing their customers and usually have contingencies for their contingencies, but sometimes, no matter how well they plan, crises can spin out of control. When that happens, SREs need to execute, which takes planning, too; knowing what to do when the going gets tough.

","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

Just around 9:45 a.m. Pacific Time on February 28, 2017, websites like Slack, Business Insider, Quora and other well-known destinations became inaccessible. For millions of people, the internet itself seemed broken. It turned out that Amazon Web Services was having a massive outage involving S3 storage in its Northern Virginia datacenter, a problem that created […]

n","protected":false},"author":521068,"featured_media":1906749,"comment_status":"open","ping_status":"closed","sticky":false,"template":"","format":"standard","meta":{"outcome":"","status":"","crunchbase_tag":0,"amp_status":"","relegenceEntities":[],"relegenceSubjects":[],"jetpack_publicize_message":"How you react when your systems fail may define your business https://tcrn.ch/2NrBkPG by @ron_miller"},"categories":[449557044,17396],"tags":[576608968,77139],"crunchbase_tag":[],"tc_stories_tax":[],"tc_event":[],"jetpack_featured_media_url":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-83803495.jpg","jetpack_publicize_connections":[],"shortlink":"https://tcrn.ch/2NrBkPG","rapidData":{"pt":"","pct":""},"featured":false,"subtitle":"","fundingRound":false,"seoTitle":"","seoDescription":"","premiumContent":true,"premiumCutoffPercent":0.39,"tc_cb_mapping":[],"associatedEvent":null,"event":null,"authors":[983141],"hideFeaturedImage":false,"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1906642"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts"}],"about":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/types/post"}],"replies":[{"embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments?post=1906642"}],"version-history":[{"count":21,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1906642/revisions"}],"predecessor-version":[{"id":1907084,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1906642/revisions/1907084"}],"authors":[{"embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/guest-authors/ronjourn"}],"https://techcrunch.com/edit":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1906642&action=edit"}],"author":[{"embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/521068"}],"wp:featuredmedia":[{"embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/media/1906749"}],"wp:attachment":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/media?parent=1906642"}],"wp:term":[{"taxonomy":"category","embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/categories?post=1906642"},{"taxonomy":"post_tag","embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tags?post=1906642"},{"taxonomy":"_tc_cb_tag_taxonomy","embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/crunchbase_tag?post=1906642"},{"taxonomy":"tc_stories_tax","embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_stories_tax?post=1906642"},{"taxonomy":"tc_event","embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_event?post=1906642"}],"curies":[{"name":"wp","href":"https://api.w.org/{rel}","templated":true}]},"_embedded":{"authors":[{"id":983141,"name":"Ron Miller","link":"https://techcrunch.com/author/ronjourn/","description":"","slug":"ronjourn","links":{"homepage":"https://techcrunch.com/author/ron-miller/","twitter":"http://twitter.com/ron_miller","linkedin":"http://www.linkedin.com/in/ronsmiller","crunchbase":"https://www.crunchbase.com/person/ron-miller"},"position":"Contributor","cbDescription":"

Ron Miller has been writing about the enterprise at TechCrunch since 2014.

nn

Previously, he was a long-time Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine. Past regular gigs included CITEworld, DaniWeb, TechTarget, Internet Evolution and FierceContentManagement.

nn

Disclosures:

nn

Ron is currently corporate blogger for Intronis where he writes once weekly on IT issues. He has contributed to various corporate blogs in the past including Ness, Novell and the IBM Mid-market Blogger Program.

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Ron Miller has been writing about the enterprise at TechCrunch since 2014.

nn

Previously, he was a long-time Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine. Past regular gigs included CITEworld, DaniWeb, TechTarget, Internet Evolution and FierceContentManagement.

nn

Disclosures:

nn

Ron is currently corporate blogger for Intronis where he writes once weekly on IT issues. He has contributed to various corporate blogs in the past including Ness, Novell and the IBM Mid-market Blogger Program.

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a combined Google/Fitbit take on the Apple Watch?"},"content":{"rendered":"

In January 2014, Google announced plans to acquire Nest for $3.2 billion; the acquisition was completed the following day, but since then, Nest’s integration has been a controlled burn. Initially, the company existed as a subsidiary of the newly-formed Alphabet Inc., but in early 2018, Google tightened its grip and integrated it directly into its hardware division.

n

Over the next year and a half, Nest became the face and name of Googleu2019s smart home offering, a division that’s grown quickly as Google Home/Google Nest has become one of the top two players in the U.S. smart home category, rivaled only by Amazonu2019s Alexa/Echo offerings.

n

All the while, wearables have been an also-ran: Google has clearly had an interest in the category, launching Android Wear in 2014. The company partnered with some of consumer hardwareu2019s biggest names, including Motorola, Asus, Sony, Huawei and LG, but to little fanfare. A year ahead the release of Android Wear (now Wear OS), Apple brought its own smartwatch to market, effectively leaving the competition in the dust.

n

The Apple Watch would soon eclipse the rest of the wearable industry; numbers from Canalys in August 2019 show Apple at 37.9 percent of the total North American wearable band market. Fossil, the only Wear OS partner to crack the top five, is in a distant fifth, with 4.1%.

n n

Samsung and Garmin have found success with their own offerings, but both are far behind Fitbit at second place. Founded in 2007, Fitbit would eventually become synonymous with fitness trackers. A humble startup when it showcased its first product (an eponymous 3D pedometer) on stage at our TC50 event in 2008, Fitbitu2019s rise has been an unqualified success.

n

Fitbit predicted and eventually came to define the wearable zeitgeist, finding itself at the forefront of the next big wave in consumer electronics after the smartphone. As the mobile category has plateaued, wearables continue to grow at an impressive pace. Letu2019s take a moment to appreciate what has been an impressive run.

n

The last few years, however, have been far rockier as Fitbit stumbled and sputtered. By CEO James Parku2019s own admission, the company failed to embrace smartwatches quickly and fully enough, and as it has so many times in the past, Apple entered and dominated the space, leaving Fitbit reeling with an uncertain future.

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In January 2014, Google announced plans to acquire Nest for $3.2 billion; the acquisition was completed the following day, but since then, Nest’s integration has been a controlled burn. Initially, the company existed as a subsidiary of the newly-formed Alphabet Inc., but in early 2018, Google tightened its grip and integrated it directly into its […]

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Fitbit Co-founder/President CEO James Park and Fitbit co-Founder/CTO Eric Friedman.

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Google has reached into parent company Alphabet’s $121 billion cash reserves to spend $2.1 billion on Fitbit, a move into the key consumer health market that places them in more direct competition with rival Apple.

n

For more than a year, Ftibit and Google have partnered on healthcare applications; last April, Fitbit announced that it would work with Google’s application programming interface to connect data with electronic medical records via Google’s Cloud Healthcare API. That move followed Fitbit’s February 2018 acquisition of Twine Health, which gave the wearables company a consumer health platform which complied with existing federal regulations.

n n

u201cWorking with Google gives us an opportunity to transform how we scale our business, allowing us to reach more people around the world faster, while also enhancing the experience we offer to our users and the healthcare system,u201d said Fitbit CEO and co-founder James Park at the time of the 2018 Google partnership.

n

Companies throughout the healthcare industry are pushing to get closer to patients, and wearables have opened a new window into their health. Additionally, the technology can potentially encourage patients to pursue preventive healthcare measures, rather than seeking care after they’re ill.

n

“All of usu2026 weu2019re pursuing the same thing,” said a prominent healthcare executive at a multinational medical device manufacturer. “We see a healthcare system thatu2019s highly inefficient with a lot of waste that is very much episode-related, where we all know health is dynamic and continuous.” Gaining “better insight into health and disease drivers and interventions at the right place and the right time is the holy grail.”

n

Privacy concerns abound

n

The biggest challenge for Alphabet and Google with this acquisition is privacy; the company has already faced massive criticism for its push into healthcare in the U.K. regarding concerns about how it would handle sensitive health information. The technology industry’s habit of releasing minimum viable products doesn’t work in an industry where complications can literally become a matter of life and death.

n

Sensing inevitable concern around Googleu2019s upcoming access to a bevy of health data, Rick Osterloh, Google’s SVP for devices and services, offered that the company will not use user information for advertising. u201cWe will never sell personal information to anyone,u201d he wrote. u201cFitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads. And we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move, or delete their data.u201d

n

n

Competition with Apple

n

Those privacy concerns stand in direct contrast to the obvious competitor driving this acquisition forward u2014 Apple. The Cupertino-based king of consumer hardware has set itself apart from other consumer tech companies through its professed emphasis on privacy, a position that Apple will likely leverage further as it continues to make deeper forays into health.

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Google has reached into parent company Alphabet’s $121 billion cash reserves to spend $2.1 billion on Fitbit, a move into the key consumer health market that places them in more direct competition with rival Apple. For more than a year, Ftibit and Google have partnered on healthcare applications; last April, Fitbit announced that it would […]

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Fitbit Versa

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As Jack Dorsey announced his company Twitter would drop all political ads, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg doubled-down on his policy of refusing to fact-check politicians’ ads. “At times of social tension there has often been an urge to pull back on free expression . . . We will be best served over the long term by resisting this urge and defending free expression.”

n

Still, Zuckerberg failed to delineate between freedom of expression and freedom of paid amplification of that expression — which inherently favors the rich.

n n

During today’s Q3 2019 earnings call where Facebook beat expectations and grew monthly users 2% to 2.45 billion, Zuckerberg spent his time defending the social network’s lenient political ad policy. You can read his full prepared statement here.

n

One clear objective was to dispel the idea that Facebook was motivated by greed to keep these ads. Zuckerberg explained “We estimate these ads from politicians will be less than 0.5% of our revenue next year.” For reference, Facebook earned $66 billion in the 12 months ending Q3 2019, so Facebook might earn around $330 million to $400 million in politician ads next year. [Update: It wasnu2019t clear if issue ads and PAC ads were counted in Facebooku2019s 0.5% figure, but now the company says that number is just for ads run directly by politicians.]

n

Zuckerberg also said that given Facebook removed 50 million hours per day of viral video watching from its platform to support well-being, which hurt ad viewership and the company’s share price, Facebook clearly doesn’t act solely in pursuit of profit.

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n
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n

We just shared our community update and quarterly results. Hereu2019s what I said on our earnings call. — Before we…

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Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, October 30, 2019

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Facebook’s CEO also tried to bat down the theory that Facebook is allowing misinformation in political ads to cater to conservatives or avoid calls of bias from them. “Some people say that this is just all a cynical political calculation and that we’re acting in a way that we don’t really believe because we’re just trying to appease conservatives,” he said, responding that “frankly, if our goal was that we’re trying to make either side happy then we’re not doing a very good job because I’m pretty sure everyone is frustrated.”u00a0

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Instead of banning political ads, Zuckerberg voiced support for increasing transparency about how ads look, how much is spent on them and where they’re run. “I believe that the better approach is to work to increase transparency. Adsu00a0on Facebook are already more transparent than anywhere else. We have a political ads archive so anyone can scrutinize every ad that’s run.”u00a0

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He mentioned that political ads are run by “Google, YouTube and most internet platforms,” seeming to stumble for a second as he was likely prepared to cite Twitter too until it announced it would drop all political ads an hour earlier. He omitted that Linkedin, Pinterest, and TikTok have also banned political ads.

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It doesn’t help that hundreds of Facebook’s own employees have called on their CEO to change the policy. He concluded that no one could accuse Facebook of not deeply thinking through the question and its downstream ramifications. Zuckerberg did leave himself an out if he chooses to change the policy, though. “I’ve considered whether we should not [sell politician ads] in the past, and I’ll continue to do so.”

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Dorsey had tweeted that “Weu2019ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.” Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed support for Twitter’s move, while Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale called it “a very dumb decision.”

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Twitter’s CEO took some clear swipes at Zuckerberg, countering his common arguments for allowing misinformation in politician’s ads. “Some might argue our actions today could favor incumbents. But we have witnessed many social movements reach massive scale without any political advertising. I trust this will only grow.” Given President Trump had outspent all Democratic candidates on Facebook ads as of March of this year, it’s clear that deep-pocketed incumbents could benefit from Facebook’s policy.

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trump 2020 facebook ads 1558042973182 facebookJumbo v10 1 1

Trump continues to massively outspend Democratic rivals on Facebook ads (Via NYT)

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Miming Facebook’s position, Dorsey tweeted, “Itu2018s not credible for us to say: ‘Weu2019re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political adu2026well…they can say whatever they want!”

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Twitter doesn’t earn much from political ads, citing only $3 million in revenue from the 2018 mid-term elections, or roughly 0.1% of its $3 billion in total 2018 revenue. That means there will be no major windfall for Facebook from Twitter dropping political ads. But now all eyes will be on Facebook and Google/YouTube. If Sundar Pichai and Susan Wojcicki move in line with Dorsey, it could make Zuckerberg even more vulnerable to criticism.

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Indeed, $330 million might not be a big incentive for Facebook or Zuckerberg, but it still sounds like a lot of money to earn from ads that potentially lie to voters. I respect Facebook’s lenient policy when it comes to speech organically posted to users, organizations or politicians’ own accounts. But relying on the candidates, press and public to police speech is dangerously idealistic. We’ve seen how candidates will do anything to win, partisan press will ignore the truth to support their team and the public aren’t educated or engaged enough to consistently understand what’s false.

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Zuckerberg’s greatest mistakes have come from overestimating humanity. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to bring the world closer together. Without safeguards, Facebook’s tools can help tear it apart. It’s time for Facebook and Zuckerberg to recognize the difference between free expression and paid expression.

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As Jack Dorsey announced his company Twitter would drop all political ads, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg doubled-down on his policy of refusing to fact-check politicians’ ads. “At times of social tension there has often been an urge to pull back on free expression . . . We will be best served over the long term by […]

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Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

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Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master's degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

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Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

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Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

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Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

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Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

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Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

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Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

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[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend's social location-sharing startup codenamed 'Signal' that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch's editors and has concluded. Constine's fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine's cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he's since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents' estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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