Fake news is an existential crisis for social media 

The funny thing about fake news is how mind-numbingly boring it can be. Not the fakes themselves — they’re constructed to be catnip clickbait to stoke the fires of rage of their intended targets. Be they gun owners. People of color. Racists. Republican voters. And so on. The really tedious stuff is all the also incomplete, equally self-serving pronouncements that surround ‘fake news’. Some very visibly, a lot a lot…

Trump cites Facebook exec’s comments downplaying Russian ad influence on election

You’d be forgiven for missing Donald Trump’s multiple retweets of Facebook executive Rob Goldman over the weekend. Perhaps you were spending time with family, watching Black Panther or just attempting to forget politics for a moment by ignoring the manic flurry of social media updates from the leader of the free world. But in amongst a deluge of tweets that blamed Democrats for failing to preserve DACA, called out the…

Facebook didn’t mean to send spam texts to two-factor authentication users

Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos apologized for spam texts that were incorrectly sent to users who had activated two-factor authentication. The company is working on a fix, and you won’t receive non-security-related text messages if you never signed up for those notifications. Facebook says it was a bug. But calling it a bug is a bit too easy — it’s a feature that was badly implemented as it’s clear…

How ad-free subscriptions could solve Facebook

At the core of Facebook’s “well-being” problem is that its business is directly coupled with total time spent on its apps. The more hours you pass on the social network, the more ads you see and click, the more money it earns. That puts its plan to make using Facebook healthier at odds with its finances, restricting how far it’s willing to go to protect us from the harms of…

Twitter is killing its Twitter for Mac desktop client

On Friday, Twitter announced that it would abandon its lesser-loved Mac app, directing users to Twitter.com instead. The company declared that it will refocus its efforts on “a great Twitter experience that’s consistent across platforms” rather than continuing development for Twitter for Mac, a message that doesn’t sound great for TweetDeck lovers. The Twitter for Mac app no longer lives in the Mac App Store, though its one and a…

Federal judge rules that embedded tweets can represent copyright infringement

A recent ruling by a New York federal judge could have significant implications for how copyright laws are enforced. The ruling was made in a case where Justin Goldman accused publications including Breitbart, Time, Yahoo, Vox Media and the Boston Globe of violating his copyright by embedding into their stories tweets with his photo of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Goldman had posted the photo to Snapchat, but it…

Special counsel Robert Mueller indicts Russian bot farm for election meddling

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has just handed down a set of indictments, charging 13 Russian citizens and three Russian organizations with interference in the U.S. presidential election in efforts dating back to 2014. The indictment names the Internet Research Agency, a bot farm and disinformation operation based out of St. Petersburg, as one of the sources of the fake accounts meant to create divisions in American society. Those accounts were…

Under Russian pressure to remove content, Instagram complies but YouTube holds off

Instagram has taken down content posted by Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny under pressure from a government agency, while YouTube has yet to do so. Navalny and others have criticized Instagram for complying to what they call a politically-motivated move to silence him. The issue is around a video accusing a Russian official, deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko, of accepting a bribe from prominent businessman Oleg Deripaska — in the…

Twitch launches always-on chat rooms for channels

Game streaming site Twitch today is debuting an always-on chat room feature it’s simply calling “Rooms.” The addition was first announced at its developer event TwitchCon back in October, and was expected to launch before year-end. That timing shifted a bit, but the feature is going live today across both web and mobile for Twitch users worldwide. Rooms are custom chat spaces that are available from the channel page itself,…

Social analytics companies MVPindex and Umbel are merging

MVPindex and Umbel, two companies delivering social media data to the sports and entertainment industries, are teaming up. The combined company will be led by MVPindex’s co-founders, with Stan Woodward serving as CEO, Shawn Spieth as president and chairman and Kyle Nelson as chief marketing officer. Umbel will be represented on the executive team as well, with CFO Iser Cukierman becoming the overall CFO and manager of the Umbel business…

Facebook teams up with Lyft and others for crisis response efforts

Facebook is amping up its Community Help efforts, now enabling companies like Lyft, Chase, International Medical Corps and Save the Children to easily provide information and services, like food, transportation and shelter, to people in crisis. “Our priority is to build tools that help keep people safe and provide them with ways to get the help they need to recover and rebuild after a crisis,” Facebook Social Good Product Lead…

Facebook should actually be Tinder too

There’s beauty in the double-blind opt-in. That’s the way you match with someone on Tinder. You like them, they like you, you both find out and get connected. But to date the feature’s largely been trapped in dating apps that match you with randos or that not everyone wants to be on. That means this anti-loneliness technology is leaving some people out. Facebook, meanwhile, is on a newfound quest to…

Tinder to adopt Bumble’s ‘ladies first’ feature in a future update

Tinder will make a change to its dating app in an upcoming update that will allow women to message first, according to a report from MarketWatch this morning, which TechCrunch has also confirmed. The new option will allow women to choose when to start a conversation, but it will not be the default setting as it is in Bumble. Instead, women will be able to decide whether or not they…

Snapchat finally gives creators analytics

Snapchat has always been terrible at analytics, only showing daily Story view counts that content creators had to screenshot just before they disappeared every 24 hours in order to prove their worth to sponsors. But starting today, tens of thousands creators who make official Stories or have large followings will start seeing a slew of view count and demographic analytics on their Snapchat profile. These new analytics include: Total Story…

Facebook’s kid texting app Messenger Kids arrives on Android

Facebook’s controversial app Messenger Kids, which lets parents control who kids can talk to, is today rolling out to Android devices in the U.S. with its launch on Google Play. The app will also now include a variety of new features for Valentine’s Day, like themed makes, stickers and frames, so kids can send special Valentine messages to their friends and family. Android is the last major platform the app…

Twitter’s Dorsey downplays acquisition possibilities, sees ‘strength to our independence’

If you’re a Twitter shareholder wondering if the company is about to get acquired, co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey doesn’t want you to get that impression. “There’s a lot of strength to our independence,” he said, at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. Dorsey believes that it’s important for Twitter’s business that they’re “not constrained.” He also voiced commitment to building a “sustainable” business…

Why Google Stories will save, not screw, Snapchat Discover

Snapchat has a new ally or enemy depending on how you look at Google’s new mobile magazine format, but the social app is welcoming the search giant. Google’s clone of Snapchat Discover called AMP Stories officially launched today, allowing news outlets to create photo/video slideshows that appear in mobile search results and on their site.  Suddenly, Snapchat isn’t the only place to show off Discover-style content. In response to Google’s…

Facebook pushes for more personal updates with launch of new Lists feature

Facebook’s status update box is getting a new feature called Lists, which begins rolling out today. This is the first major update to the entry field since the launch of colored backgrounds just over a year ago, and also serves as a way to encourage Facebook users to share more personal content. The feature, like it sounds, lets users make lists of anything they choose – New Year’s Resolutions, To…

UK outs extremism blocking tool and could force tech firms to use it

The UK government’s pressure on tech giants to do more about online extremism just got weaponized. The Home Secretary has today announced a machine learning tool, developed with public money by a local AI firm, which the government says can automatically detect propaganda produced by the Islamic State terror group with “an extremely high degree of accuracy”. The technology is billed as working across different types of video-streaming and download…

Facebook works it out with Apple to test news paywalls on iOS

Apple is allowing Facebook to bend the subscription rules. Starting March 1st, news publishers will be able to use their paywalls inside Facebook’s iOS app. Facebook started testing paywalls on Android in October, but at the time it couldn’t come to an agreement with Apple about how subscription revenue would be taxed. TechCrunch has confirmed publishers will get 100 percent of subscription revenue on iOS, too. Today onstage at Code Media,…