Author: Josh Constine

Facebook shows Related Articles and fact checkers before you open links

TECHCRUNCH Facebook wants you to think about whether a headline is true and see other perspectives on the topic before you even read the article. In its next step against fake news, Facebook today begins testing a different version of its Related Articles widget that normally appears when you return to the News Feed after opening a link. Now Facebook will also show Related Articles including third-party fact checkers before you read an article about a topic that many people are discussing. Facebook says “That should provide people easier access to additional perspectives and information, including articles by third-party...

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Instagram is down around the world [Update: anddd it’s back]

TECHCRUNCH Instagram isn’t working for users in the US, England, and elsewhere. Both the Instagram app and website won’t load. Instagram tells me it’s looking into the problem but doesn’t have an answer yet. Reports of the Instagram outage began around 10:35am Pacific, though by 11:04am some users in the states and UK were regaining access to the website. At that time, Instagram tweeted that’s aware of and working on the issue: We know some Instagrammers are experiencing issues with the app. We’re working on a fix! — Instagram (@instagram) April 24, 2017 [Update 11:25am Pacific: Instagram now tells...

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Every feed app should steal Pinterest’s “More Like This” button

TECHCRUNCH ‬This is the best new social app feature in a long time. Twitter should copy it. Instagram should copy it. Facebook probably already is copying it. I’m talking about Pinterest’s “Instant Ideas” button that started testing in February but is slowly rolling out to more people. As soon as I tapped it, I was hooked. Essentially it’s an elegant “show me more like this” button, but that’s designed to live within a feed, not spawn a separate tab. It appears on every image on Pinterest’s home screen. When tapped on a post, it instantly injects around a half-dozen...

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Q&A app Quora valued around $1.8 billion in $85 million fundraise

TECHCRUNCH Quora just became the unicorn of subjective human knowledge. After eight years carefully cultivating an ntelligent question and answer community, it’s just raised an $85 million Series D round co-led by Collaborative Fund and Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund. Quora tells me it’s “roughly doubled its valuation since our last fundraise” of $80 million in 2014 that pegged it at $900 million, meaning Quora is now worth around $1.8 billion. The two big drivers of that rapid value increase have been user growth and positive early results from its ad tests. Quora now has 190 million monthly users, up from 100 million a year ago. That proves it has the potential to achieve ubiquity as a source of expert opinions on just about everything. This scale also makes it appealing to advertisers lured by the high degree of intent exhibited by Quora readers, who might be likely to buy something connected to the answers they find. Quora co-founder and CEO Adam D’Angelo “The ads product is actually going pretty well” says co-founder and CEO Adam D’Angelo. Quora’s ads show a business’ name and description beneath a related question people are answering. The ad format is still in closed beta but D’Angelo says “so far the results are pretty promising, and that was something that was important to the investors in this round.” D’Angelo admits that going eight years without a...

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The augmented reality gold rush is afoot

TECHCRUNCH Next Story Duolingo launches paid subscriptions as it struggles to monetize its service Who will be the Pixar of AR? Someone oughta be rounding up Hollywood special effects engineers and animated character designers to build an augmented reality content startup. This week’s launch of Facebook’s Camera Effects platform means there’s suddenly 1.8 billion people waiting to be entertained by digital overlays on the real world. And now, startups won’t have to grow a user base from scratch, make people recreate their social graph, establish a place to share the content they capture, or develop much of the underlying object...

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Facebook plans ethics board to monitor its brain-computer interface work

TECHCRUNCH Facebook will assemble an independent Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) panel to oversee its development of a direct brain-to-computer typing interface it previewed today at its F8 conference. Facebook’s R&D department Building 8’s head Regina Dugan tells TechCrunch “It’s early days . . . we’re in the process of forming it right now.” Meanwhile, much of the work on the brain interface is being conducted by Facebook’s university research partners like UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins. Facebook’s technical lead on the project Mark Chevillet says “they’re all held to the same standards as the NIH or other government...

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Facebook is building a brain-computer interface

TECHCRUNCH Today Facebook will reveal its progress on creating brain-computer interface that could let people control augmented reality and virtual reality expereinces with their mind instead of a screen or controller. Facebook’s CEO and CTO teased these details of this “direct brain interface” technology over the last two days at Facebook’s F8 conference. Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s R&D division Building 8, will be on stage this morning to present specifics Facebook’s brain-computer interface plans. We’ll updated this story as soon as more details are announced today. But Building 8 already has job listings related to the project....

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Snap’s anti-developer attitude is an augmented liability

TECHCRUNCH Facebook just invited outside developers to help it build an augmented reality content platform. Snapchat banned outside developers in 2015 and has never had a real platform. Mark Zuckerberg knows he can’t anticipate everything Facebook users want, so he spent the last 10 years building APIs and viral channels for third-party app makers. Evan Spiegel seems to believe he alone can anticipate what Snapchat users want, so he’s spent the last 5 years curating limited selections of geofilters, Our Stories, Discover channels, and augmented reality selfie filters. Facebook has plenty of users to offer up from every demographic around the world, providing ample reason for developers of all styles to get on board its platform. Snap is desperately trying to hold on to its users as Facebook’s clones like Instagram Stories steal their attention, and its highly centralized around finicky American teens. Facebook unveils AR Studio for allowing outside developers to contribute augmented reality experiences. These differences in history, management style, and resources have suddenly come into focus with yesterday’s beta launch of Facebook’s augmented reality Camera Effects platform. It hopes developers will contribute entertaining face filters, overlaid information utilities, interactive games, and psychedelic art for users to play with. Previously, social networks were focused around users’ lives, their devices, and their friends. Augmented reality makes social networks increasingly about the physical world around us. And the world...

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