social media

Sweet Escape connects travelers to photographers for truly Insta-worthy holiday pics

The rise of smartphone cameras and social media in recent years has fuelled a new level of marking and sharing memories using photos, but one startup is betting that people are prepared to go the next level and spend money to hire professional photographers to make their photos even better. Focused on travel, Sweet Escape is an Indonesia-based startup that to work with over 2,000 photographers across over 400 cities in some 100 countries. The idea is simple. If you’re traveling — overseas or locally — and want high quality photos of your trip, or just part of it, you can use Sweet Escape to find and book out a local snapper for you and your group. Photo shoots last for two hours and are charged at $300, Sweet Escape founder David Soong told TechCrunch in an interview, while activities vary...

YouTube VR finally lands on the Oculus Go

Today, Google’s YouTube VR app arrives on the $199 Oculus Go, bringing the largest library of VR content on the web to Facebook’s entry-level VR device. YouTube brings plenty of content in conventional and more immersive video types. It’s undoubtedly the biggest single hub of 360 content and native formats like VR180, though offering access to the library at large is probably far more important to the Oculus platform. One of the interesting things about Oculus’s strategy with the Go headset is that gaming turned out to be the minority use case following media consumption. If you find it hard to believe that so many people are out there binging on 360 videos it’s because they probably aren’t. Users have kind of co-opted the device’s capabilities to make it a conventional movie and TV viewin...

Limiting social media use reduced loneliness and depression in new experiment

The idea that social media can be harmful to our mental and emotional well-being is not a new one, but little has been done by researchers to directly measure the effect; surveys and correlative studies are at best suggestive. A new experimental study out of Penn State, however, directly links more social media use to worse emotional states, and less use to better. To be clear on the terminology here, a simple survey might ask people to self-report that using Instagram makes them feel bad. A correlative study would, for example, find that people who report more social media use are more likely to also experience depression. An experimental study compares the results from an experimental group with their behavior systematically modified, and a control group that’s allowed to do whatever the...

White House shares manipulated Infowars video to justify CNN press ban

Read this slowly: The White House’s press secretary has tweeted a manipulated video shared by the editor-at-large of conspiracy theorist outlet Infowars to attempt to justify its decision to suspend the press credentials of CNN’s chief white house correspondent. CNN’s Jim Acosta had his press pass pulled by the White House earlier today after press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed he had “plac[ed] his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job”. Acosta disputes this. The journalist had being trying to continue asking president Trump questions during a contentious exchange at a White House press briefing. During this exchange Trump cut over him verbally — saying “that’s enough” — at which point a female White House intern moved towards Acosta and attempted to take the microphone out of...

Facebook is facing an EU data probe over fake ads

The UK’s privacy watchdog has asked Facebook’s lead EU regulator to look into ongoing data protection concerns about its ad platform — including how its platform is being used to target and spread fake adverts to try to manipulate voters. Facebook’s international HQ is in Ireland so the regulator in play here is the Irish Data Protection Commission. The ICO noted the action in a 113-page report to parliament yesterday giving an update on its long-running investigation into the use of data analytics in political campaigns — writing: We have referred our ongoing concerns about Facebook’s targeting functions and techniques that are used to monitor individuals’ browsing habits, interactions and behaviour across the internet and different devices to the to the IDPC. Under the GDPR, the IDPC is ...

Twitter’s U.S. midterms hub is a hot mess

Today, Jack Dorsey tweeted a link to his company’s latest gesture toward ongoing political relevance, a U.S. midterms news center collecting “the latest news and top commentary” on the country’s extraordinarily consequential upcoming election. If curated and filtered properly, that could be useful! Imagine. Unfortunately, rife with fake news, the tool is just another of Twitter’s small yet increasingly consequential disasters. Beyond a promotional tweet from Dorsey, Twitter’s new offering is kind of buried — probably for the best. On desktop it’s a not particularly useful mash of national news reporters, local candidates and assorted unverifiable partisans. As Buzzfeed news details, the tool is swimming with conspiracy theories, including ones involving the migrant caravan. According to hi...

Twitter suspends accounts linked to mail bomb suspect

At least two Twitter accounts linked to the man suspected of sending explosive devices to more than a dozen prominent Democrats were suspended on Friday afternoon. Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, was apprehended by federal law enforcement officers in Florida on Friday morning. “Though we’re still analyzing the devices in our laboratory, these are not hoax devices,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said during a press briefing. Facebook moved fairly quickly to suspend Sayoc’s account on the platform, though two Twitter accounts that appeared to belong to Sayoc remained online and accessible until around 2:30 p.m. Pacific. Both accounts featured numerous tweets, many of which contained far-right political conspiracy theories, graphic images and specific threats. TechCrunch was able to review the accounts ...

Europe’s parliament calls for full audit of Facebook in wake of breach scandal

The European Parliament has called for a full audit of Facebook following a string of data breach scandals —  including the Cambridge Analytica affair. MEPs are urging the company to allow European Union bodies to carry out a full audit to assess data protection and security of users’ personal data, following the scandal in which the data of 87 million Facebook users was improperly obtained and misused. In the resolution, adopted today, they have also recommended Facebook make additional changes to combat election interference — asserting the company has not just breached the trust of European users “but indeed EU law”. We’ve reached out to the company for comment on the parliament’s resolution. Earlier this month the EU parliament’s civil liberties committee adopted a similar resolution, ...

Facebook says it removed 8.7M child exploitation posts with new machine learning tech

Facebook announced today that it has removed 8.7 million pieces of content last quarter that violated its rules against child exploitation, thanks to new technology. The new AI and machine learning tech, which was developed and implemented over the past year by the company, removed 99 percent of those posts before anyone reported them, said Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, in a blog post. The new technology examines posts for child nudity and other exploitative content when they are uploaded and, if necessary, photos and accounts are reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Facebook had already been using photo-matching technology to compare newly uploaded photos with known images of child exploitation and revenge porn, but the new tools are mean...

Fake news ‘threat to democracy’ report gets back-burner response from UK gov’t

The UK government has rejected a parliamentary committee’s call for a levy on social media firms to fund digital literacy lessons to combat the impact of disinformation online. The recommendation of a levy on social media platforms was made by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee three months ago, in a preliminary report following a multi-month investigation into the impact of so-called ‘fake news’ on democratic processes. Though it has suggested the terms ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ be used instead, to better pin down exact types of problematic inauthentic content — and on that at least the government agrees. But just not on very much else. At least not yet. Among around 50 policy suggestions in the interim report — which the committee put out quickly exactly to call ...

Building a great startup requires more than genius and a great invention

Shahin Farshchi Contributor More posts by this contributor Investing in frontier technology is (and isn’t) cleantech all over again The dos and don’ts of crafting frontier-tech companies Many entrepreneurs assume that an invention carries intrinsic value, but that assumption is a fallacy. Here, the examples of the 19th and 20th century inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla are instructive. Even as aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors lionize Edison for his myriad inventions and business acumen, they conveniently fail to recognize Tesla, despite having far greater contributions to how we generate, move and harness power. Edison is the exception, with the legendary penniless Tesla as the norm. Universities are the epicenter of pure innovation research. But the reality is that academic res...

Audit Facebook and overhaul competition law, say MEPs responding to breach scandals

After holding a series of hearings in the wake of the Facebook –Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal this summer, and attending a meeting with Mark Zuckerberg himself in May, the European Union parliament’s civil liberties committee has called for an update to competition rules to reflect what it dubs “the digital reality”, urging EU institutions to look into the “possible monopoly” of big tech social media platforms. Top level EU competition law has not touched on the social media axis of big tech yet, with the Commission concentrating recent attention on mobile chips (Qualcomm); and mobile and ecommerce platforms (mostly Google; but Amazon’s use of merchant data is in its sights too); as well as probing Apple’s tax structure in Ireland. But last week Europe’s data protection sup...