Facebook says government demands for user data are at a record high

Facebook’s latest transparency report is out. The social media giant said the number of government demands for user data increased by 16% to 128,617 demands during the first half of this year compared to the second half of last year. That’s the highest number of government demands it has received in any reporting period since it published its first transparency report in 2013. The U.S. government led the way with the most number of requests — 50,741 demands for user data resulting in some account or user data given to authorities in 88% of cases. Facebook said two-thirds of all the U.S. government’s requests came with a gag order, preventing the company from telling the user about the request for …

Twitters political ads ban is a distraction from the real problem with platforms

Sometimes it feels as if Internet platforms are turning everything upside down, from politics to publishing, culture to commerce, and of course swapping truth for lies. This week’s bizarro reversal was the vista of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, a tech CEO famed for being entirely behind the moral curve of understanding what his product is platforming (i.e. nazis), providing an impromptu ‘tweet storm’ in political speech ethics. Actually he was schooling Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — another techbro renowned for his special disconnect with the real world, despite running a massive free propaganda empire with vast power to influence other people’s lives — in taking a stand for the good of democracy and society. So not exactly a full reverse then. In …

Social Media Could Make It Impossible to Grow Up

Several decades into the age of digital media, the ability to leave one’s childhood and adolescent years behind is now imperiled. Although exact numbers are hard to come by, it is evident that a majority of young people with access to mobile phones take and circulate selfies on a daily basis. There is also growing evidence that selfies are not simply a tween and teen obses­sion. Toddlers enjoy taking selfies, too, and whether intentionally or unintentionally, have even managed to put their images into circula­tion. What is the cost of this excessive documentation? More spe­cifically, what does it mean to come of age in an era when images of childhood and adolescence, and even the social networks formed during this …

Higher Ground Labs is betting tech can help sway the 2020 elections for Democrats

When Shomik Dutta and Betsy Hoover first met in 2007, he was coordinating fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign and she was a deputy field director for the campaign. Over the next two election cycles the two would become part of an organizing and fundraising team that transformed the business of politics through its use of technology — supposedly laying the groundwork for years of Democratic dominance in organizing, fundraising, polling and grassroots advocacy. Then came Donald J. Trump and the 2016 election. For both Dutta and Hoover, the 2016 outcome was a wake-up call against complacency. What had worked for the Democratic party in 2008 and 2012 wasn’t going to be effective in future election …

Africa Roundup: Jumias post-IPO earnings, Gokadas $5.3M raise, Facebooks fake-news purge, Joe Montanas fintech investment

Jumia held its first post-IPO earnings call and weathered a short-sell assault in May, with Wall Street showing confidence in the Pan-African e-commerce company. On the numbers, key takeaways were that Jumia’s Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) — the total amount of goods sold over the period — grew by 58% to €240 million. Marketplace revenue grew 102% to €16 million, and gross profits as a percentage of GMV grew by 6.5% in Q1 2019. Overall, Jumia’s operating losses for the period widened to €45.4 million from €34.3, and negative EBITDA increased to €39.5 million from €30.2. So the startup’s still losing money — see the big losses reported in the IPO filing — but is improving its ability to earn. …

When it comes to elections, Facebook moves slow, may still break things

This week, Facebook invited a small group of journalists — which didn’t include TechCrunch — to look at the “war room” it has set up in Dublin, Ireland, to help monitor its products for election-related content that violates its policies. (“Time and space constraints” limited the numbers, a spokesperson told us when he asked why we weren’t invited.) Facebook announced it would be setting up this Dublin hub — which will bring together data scientists, researchers, legal and community team members, and others in the organization to tackle issues like fake news, hate speech and voter suppression — back in January. The company has said it has What is not at all clear is how quickly Facebook acted to removed …