Looking to become the meme-based social network of the gaming world Medal.tv raises $9 million – gpgmail


When Medal.tv first launched on the scene, the company was an upstart trying to be the social network for the gaming generation.

Since its debut in February, the clipping and messaging service for gamers has amassed 5 million total users with hundreds of thousands of daily active users. And now it has a $9 million new investment from firms led by Horizons Ventures, the venture capital fund established by Hong Kong multi-billionaire Li Kashing.

“We’re seeing sharing of short-form video emerge as a means of self-expression and entertainment for the current generation. We believe Medal’s platform will be a foundation for interactive social experiences beyond what you can find in a game,” says Jonathan Tam, an investor with Horizons Ventures .

Medal sees potential both in its social network and in the ability for game developers to use the platform as a marketing and discovery tool for the gaming audience.

“Friends are the main driver of game discovery, and game developers benefit from shareable games as a result. Medal.tv is trying to enable that without the complexity of streaming,” says Matteo Vallone, the former head of Google Play games in Europe and an angel investor in Medal.

It’s a platform that saw investors willing to fork over as much as $20 million for the company, according to chief executive Pim DeWitte. “There are still too many risks involved to take capital like that,” DeWitte says.

Instead the $9 million from Horizons, and previous investors like Makers Fund will be used to steadily grow the business.

“At Medal, we believe the next big social platform will emerge in gaming, perhaps built on top of short-form content, partially as a result of gaming publishers trying to build their own isolated gaming stores and systems,” said DeWitte, in a statement. “That drives social fragmentation in the market and brings out the need for platforms such as Medal and Discord, which unite gamers across games and platforms in a meaningful way.”

As digital gaming becomes the social medium of choice for a generation, new tools that allow consumers to share their virtual experiences will become increasingly common. This phenomenon will only accelerate as more events like the Marshmello concert in Fortnite become the norm.

“Medal has the exciting potential to enable a seamless social exchange of virtual experiences,” says Ryann Lai, an investor from Makers Fund.


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Facebook Dating launches in the U.S., adds Instagram integration – gpgmail


Are Americans ready to trust Facebook with their dating life? Barely more than a month has passed since the U.S. Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook a record $5 billion over its privacy lapses, and imposed a modified corporate structure to hold the company more accountable for its decisions over user privacy. In the wake of this historic action, Facebook’s brand-new dating product is today launching to all in the U.S., promising to leverage the company’s deep insight into people’s personal data to deliver better matches than rival dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Match and others.

With its U.S. arrival, Facebook Dating will now also allow users to integrate their Instagram posts in their dating profile and add their Instagram followers to their “Secret Crush” list, in addition to Facebook friends.

By year-end, Facebook Dating users will be able to select which Facebook or Instagram Stories they want to add to their dating profile.

FB and IG Stories

Trusting Facebook to find your match

Though the U.S. is the 20th market for Facebook Dating, it’s one of the most important for the product, which was first announced at the company’s F8 developer conference last year.

The new service represents a significant step toward making Facebook a tool for connecting with people who aren’t just friends or family.

This is an area where the company is now heavily invested. The Facebook Groups product, used by a billion people on a monthly basis, connects users by similar interests or by geographic location, as with its neighborhood groups. The company also launched Facebook at Work a few years ago to allow businesses to build their own networks on top of Facebook infrastructure.

Arguably, none of these efforts require as much trust as opening up your Facebook data — to a company known for its mishandling — in the hopes of finding love.

Entry Points 2 DF

Facebook, well aware of the potential privacy pitfalls in such a product, has taken a number of steps to lock down the Facebook Dating experience so you’re not unwittingly outed to family or friends, or to work colleagues and other professional acquaintances. (Or, you know, to your spouse or significant other.)

For starters, the people you’re shown on Facebook Dating will not include your Facebook Friends. You can also opt to have Facebook Dating only show you those people where you don’t have any friends in common, for another layer of protection. And you can pre-emptively block people from seeing your profile on Facebook Dating — which may work well as a way to ensure an ex’s profile never, ever comes up and to make sure they never see yours.

And of course, Dating is an opt-in experience.

Privacy DF

Your profile will never be visible to friends anywhere or to any people not on Facebook Dating, and it won’t appear in the News Feed. With the newly added Instagram integration, only your photos will be shown — not your Instagram handle.

However, there is still a way to add a Facebook friend as a “Secret Crush,” which will only be revealed if the interest is mutual. People are also limited to nine “crushes,” to prevent abuse of the feature. This now extends to Instagram followers, too, with the U.S. launch.

Profile Creation 1 DF

The product, which lives within the main Facebook app, also allows you to connect with people attending the same events or who participate in the same groups — though this is off by default and can be enabled on a one-by-one basis.

Beyond that, however, Facebook Dating will present you with a set of profiles based on other factors — mutual friends (if enabled), mutual groups (if enabled), mutual schools and other, unknown factors.

Profile Creation DF

This is where things get tricky.

Facebook, of course, has been known to be eerily accurate with its friend recommendations — so much so that some people believed it had to have been spying on them. (As it turned out, Facebook did know more about who you were connecting with than people had realized.)

In terms of Facebook Dating’s recommendations, it’s unclear what “other” data, specifically, Facebook will be using.

Officially, Facebook says that match suggestions are based on “your preferences, interests, and other things you do on Facebook.”

Asked how exactly Facebook will rank its profile suggestions, Nathan Sharp, the Product Lead for Facebook Dating, said he can’t discuss the details of the system.

What I can say is that, in terms of privacy, none of the people you would see or encounter would be divulging any sort of information,” he explains. “So, if you and Taylor, for example, had gone to the same college, but you’d never posted that on your dating profile, you may be up-ranked. But Taylor would never see what college you went to and you would never see what college Taylor went to,” says Sharp. 

Sharp notes that people may discover their mutualities — like sharing the same alma mater, for instance — naturally, through conversations had within Facebook Dating chat.

EventsandGroups multiple 1

Though it’s not unusual for a dating app maker to be tight-lipped about its secret sauce, the amount of data Facebook has to play with here is a competitive advantage and possibly a cause for concern as users are in control of what profile data Facebook is using behind-the-scenes.

On Tinder, you may write that you “love hiking,” but Facebook would know if you actually participated in hiking-related groups or events, and how often. It may know a lot more, too — like your check-ins to hiking trails, if there are mountains in your photos, if you posted updates with the keyword “hiking,” if you “Liked” Facebook Pages about hiking, etc. But Facebook won’t confirm if this sort of data is used or how.

If people can look past the uncertainty around Facebook’s use of their personal data — and that’s a huge unknown for the U.S. market — the product itself has several advantages.

Facebook Dating’s larger goal is to make matchmaking feel personal again. It aims to remind people there’s a real person behind these profiles. That dating is not meant to be a game. This could be a big differentiator from a market tired of but still committed to using dating apps.

The issue is that today’s dating apps aren’t incentivized to help people make long-lasting connections — after all, people who find a relationship abandon their dating service. That’s bad for the apps’ bottom line. What better, then, but to double down on the “single lifestyle,” as Tinder is now doing, to ensure users stick around?

Facebook, on the other hand, isn’t exactly worried about user churn. With the social network’s 2.4 billion monthly users, it has the bandwidth to make dating an additive feature. Its sheer numbers also mean the potential for a far larger pool of daters, including those who wouldn’t otherwise think to join a dating app.

Another advantage is that Facebook is a company that knows how to build a compelling user experience. It shines in the details on Facebook Dating — like how easily it flows you into a gender identification screen at setup, or how it gives you a way to quickly share your live location for first-date safety with a trusted friend on Messenger .

It’s cracking down on the sending of unsolicited photos and porn-bot spam that plague dating apps, by limiting chats to text and GIFs only. That means no links, photos, payments or videos can be shared in messages.

And when Story integration goes live by year-end, checking out daters’ less-polished updates may become a new favorite activity.

Gender Identity Flow

Finally, because its raison d’être is not (for now at least) direct monetization of core dating features — like messaging or returning to a profile you accidentally swiped past — Facebook can create a free product where you’re not limited by the app’s need to squeeze you for dollars.

PauseMatch SecondLook DFThat said, the product can’t help but borrow from Tinder, with its set of rounded like/dislike buttons (why is there never a maybe?), photo-centric profiles that reward the genetically blessed, the integrated private chat and now Instagram integration, too.

Instagram Posts

In addition to the U.S., Facebook Dating is live already in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Guyana, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Suriname, Thailand, Uruguay and Vietnam. It will be in Europe by early 2020. 

The company won’t say how many users are on the Dating product so far, but claims it’s “doing well.”

Facebook Dating is rolling out to users 18 and over in the U.S. starting today.


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Why Walmart’s Flipkart is betting heavily on Hindi – gpgmail


To win India’s next 200 million internet users, e-commerce giant Flipkart wants to speak their language

Flipkart, the largest e-commerce platform in India, said Tuesday it has concluded the roll-out of a range of features to its shopping app in what is its biggest update in recent years.

Chief among these new features is access to Flipkart in Hindi language. Prior to the revamp of the app, Flipkart was available only in English, a language spoken by 10% of India’s 1.3 billion population.

Flipkart says it is hoping that the new features, which includes a video streaming service, would help it reach the next 200 million users in India.

The major bet on Hindi, a language spoken by more than 500 million people in India, illustrates a growing push from local and international companies operating in the country as they adapt their services and business models to go beyond the urban cities.

And that’s where much of the opportunity, which countless startups and companies have trumpeted to investors to successfully raise hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and venture capital in recent years, lies in the nation.


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Twitter ‘fesses up to more adtech leaks – gpgmail


Twitter has disclosed more bugs related to how it uses personal data for ad targeting that means it may have shared users data with advertising partners even when a user had expressly told it not to.

Back in May the social network disclosed a bug that in certain conditions resulted in an account’s location data being shared with a Twitter ad partner, during real-time bidding (RTB) auctions.

In a blog post on its Help Center about the latest “issues” Twitter says it “recently” found, it admits to finding two problems with users’ ad settings choices that mean they “may not have worked as intended”.

It claims both problems were fixed on August 5. Though it does not specify when it realized it was processing user data without their consent.

The first bug relates to tracking ad conversions. This meant that if a Twitter user clicked or viewed an ad for a mobile application on the platform and subsequently interacted with the mobile app Twitter says it “may have shared certain data (e.g., country code; if you engaged with the ad and when; information about the ad, etc)” with its ad measurement and advertising partners — regardless of whether the user had agreed their personal data could be shared in this way.

It suggests this leak of data has been happening since May 2018 — which is also the day when Europe’s updated privacy framework, GDPR, came into force. The regulation mandates disclosure of data breaches (which explains why you’re hearing about all these issues from Twitter) — and means that quite a lot is riding on how “recently” Twitter found these latest bugs. Because GDPR also includes a supersized regime of fines for confirmed data protection violations.

Though it remains to be seen whether Twitter’s now repeatedly leaky adtech will attract regulatory attention…

Twitter specifies that it does not share users’ names, Twitter handles, email or phone number with ad partners. However it does share a user’s mobile device identifier, which GDPR treats as personal data as it acts as a unique identifier. Using this identifier, Twitter and Twitter’s ad partners can work together to link a device identifier to other pieces of identity-linked personal data they collectively hold on the same user to track their use of the wider Internet, thereby allowing user profiling and creepy ad targeting to take place in the background.

The second issue Twitter discloses in the blog post also relates to tracking users’ wider web browsing to serve them targeted ads.

Here Twitter admits that, since September 2018, it may have served targeted ads that used inferences made about the user’s interests based on tracking their wider use of the Internet — even when the user had not given permission to be tracked.

This sounds like another breach of GDPR, given that in cases where the user did not consent to being tracked for ad targeting Twitter would lack a legal basis for processing their personal data. But it’s saying it processed it anyway — albeit, it claims accidentally.

This type of creepy ad targeting — based on so-called ‘inferences’ — is made possible because Twitter associates the devices you use (including mobile and browsers) when you’re logged in to its service with your Twitter account, and then receives information linked to these same device identifiers (IP addresses and potentially browser fingerprinting) back from its ad partners, likely gathered via tracking cookies (including Twitter’s own social plug-ins) which are larded all over the mainstream Internet for the purpose of tracking what you look at online.

These third party ad cookies link individuals’ browsing data (which gets turned into inferred interests) with unique device/browser identifiers (linked to individuals) to enable the adtech industry (platforms, data brokers, ad exchanges and so on) to track web users across the web and serve them “relevant” (aka creepy) ads.

“As part of a process we use to try and serve more relevant advertising on Twitter and other services since September 2018, we may have shown you ads based on inferences we made about the devices you use, even if you did not give us permission to do so,” it how Twitter explains this second ‘issue’.

“The data involved stayed within Twitter and did not contain things like passwords, email accounts, etc.,” it adds. Although the key point here is one of a lack of consent, not where the data ended up.

(Also, the users’ wider Internet browsing activity linked to their devices via cookie tracking did not originate with Twitter — even if it’s claiming the surveillance files it received from its “trusted” partners stayed on its servers. Bits and pieces of that tracked data would, in any case, exist all over the place.)

In an explainer on its website on “personalization based on your inferred identity” Twitter seeks to reassure users that it will not track them without their consent, writing:

We are committed to providing you meaningful privacy choices. You can control whether we operate and personalize your experience based on browsers or devices other than the ones you use to log in to Twitter (or if you’re logged out, browsers or devices other than the one you’re currently using), or email addresses and phone numbers similar to those linked to your Twitter account. You can do this by visiting your Personalization and data settings and adjusting the Personalize based on your inferred identity setting.

The problem in this case is that users’ privacy choices were simply overridden. Twitter says it did not do so intentionally. But either way it’s not consent. Ergo, a breach.

“We know you will want to know if you were personally affected, and how many people in total were involved. We are still conducting our investigation to determine who may have been impacted and If we discover more information that is useful we will share it,” Twitter goes on. “What is there for you to do? Aside from checking your settings, we don’t believe there is anything for you to do.

“You trust us to follow your choices and we failed here. We’re sorry this happened, and are taking steps to make sure we don’t make a mistake like this again. If you have any questions, you may contact Twitter’s Office of Data Protection through this form.”

While the company may “believe” there is nothing Twitter users can do — aside from accept its apology for screwing up — European Twitter users who believe it processed their data without their consent do have a course of action they can take: They can complain to their local data protection watchdog.

Zooming out, there are also major legal question marks hanging over behaviourally targeted ads in Europe.

The UK’s privacy regulator warned in June that systematic profiling of web users via invasive tracking technologies such as cookies is in breach of pan-EU privacy laws — following multiple complaints filed in the region that argue RTB is in breach of the GDPR.

While, back in May Google’s lead regulator in Europe, the Irish Data Protection Commission, confirmed it has opened a formal investigation into use of personal data in the context of its online Ad Exchange.

So the wider point here is that the whole leaky business of creepy ads looks to be operating on borrowed time.




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Facebook and YouTube’s moderation failure is an opportunity to deplatform the platforms – gpgmail


Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have failed their task of monitoring and moderating the content that appears on their sites; what’s more, they failed to do so well before they knew it was a problem. But their incidental cultivation of fringe views is an opportunity to recast their role as the services they should be rather than the platforms they have tried so hard to become.

The struggles of these juggernauts should be a spur to innovation elsewhere: While the major platforms reap the bitter harvest of years of ignoring the issue, startups can pick up where they left off. There’s no better time to pass someone up as when they’re standing still.

Asymmetrical warfare: Is there a way forward?

At the heart of the content moderation issue is a simple cost imbalance that rewards aggression by bad actors while punishing the platforms themselves.

To begin with, there is the problem of defining bad actors in the first place. This is a cost that must be borne from the outset by the platform: With the exception of certain situations where they can punt (definitions of hate speech or groups for instance), they are responsible for setting the rules on their own turf.

That’s a reasonable enough expectation. But carrying it out is far from trivial; you can’t just say “here’s the line; don’t cross it or you’re out.” It is becoming increasingly clear that these platforms have put themselves in an uncomfortable lose-lose situation.

If they have simple rules, they spend all their time adjudicating borderline cases, exceptions, and misplaced outrage. If they have more granular ones, there is no upper limit on the complexity and they spend all their time defining it to fractal levels of detail.

Both solutions require constant attention and an enormous, highly-organized and informed moderation corps, working in every language and region. No company has shown any real intention to take this on — Facebook famously contracts the responsibility out to shabby operations that cut corners and produce mediocre results (at huge human and monetary cost); YouTube simply waits for disasters to happen and then quibbles unconvincingly.


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