🔦 Zuck loses some friends


August 6, 2021

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The Hustle

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Today’s rundown:

  • Facebook unfriended a group of NYU researchers. Why?
  • Crazy chart: Federal crypto seizures are up 171,329%.
  • TikTok for podcasts: We spoke with a Kayak co-founder about his new startup.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook just lost some friends

Usually, Facebook is all about adding new users, but it seems not everyone is welcome in Zuck’s metaverse these days.

On Tuesday, the firm booted a team of independent researchers from NYU, claiming its data collection methods were compromising user privacy.

The researchers were digging into Facebook’s data…

… to better understand ad targeting on the social platform.

Last year, the team launched a browser extension called Ad Observer that allows users to share which ads are targeted to them.

With 16k people using the extension, the team found:

  • Misleading political ads were thriving on the platform in November 2020
  • Facebook had flaws in its political ad disclosures

More recently, the NYU team turned its attention to COVID — tracking false claims about the virus and vaccines.

Facebook has been under fire due to COVID concerns

President Biden recently called out the social giant, claiming the spread of misinformation on the platform has caused people to lose their lives.

Facebook argues it’s been doing its part to fight the virus:

  • The firm removed 14m posts about COVID labeled as fake news, and added a vaccine finder tool to help users find and book appointments

Critics are skeptical about Facebook’s reasoning

The NYU researchers claim they aren’t gathering any private information, and argue that it’s critical to have an independent party looking after Facebook’s ad targeting methods.

Facebook does allow researchers to use “privacy-protective methods to collect and analyze data,” but it’s hosted in an ad library controlled by, you guessed it, Facebook.

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SNIPPETS

Exxon may pledge to go net-zero by 2050. Insiders say the company’s investors are pressuring it to make greener choices. #clean-energy

A novel idea: The Hustle’s Adam Hayes details how to go from knowing nothing about publishing to getting on Amazon’s bestseller list. #hustle-picks

TechRepublic rounds up the coolest robots at the Tokyo Olympics, including 1 that shoots hoops. #emerging-tech

Creator network Cent just raised $3m. Notably, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey once used it to sell the 1st tweet as an NFT for $2.9m. #fintech-cryptocurrency

MFM is hiring! Think you’d be good at booking podcast guests? Reply to this thread. #mfm

Apple’s neuralMatch system will scan iPhone and iCloud photos for child abuse and send illegal images to law enforcement. Good in theory, but naturally, some have privacy concerns. #privacy

Sorry, Elon: No one — including Elon Musk and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — knows why Tesla wasn’t invited to Biden’s “clean-car” event. #big-tech

Brandless is back: The D2C home goods retailer announced a $118m funding round, which it plans to use on adding more products and working with influencers. #ecommerce-retail

Chart of the day
Amount of crypto seized by IRS by year

The IRS has seized 185k+ bitcoins. Where the heck do they go?

For the IRS, criminal sting operations stereotypically involve seizing and liquidating file cabinets and Ferraris.

But today, more than ever, they involve cryptocurrencies.

Since 2013, the feds have seized and auctioned off 185k+ bitcoins that — if all held onto — would’ve been worth ~$7B today.

Once liquidated, funds are split among the Treasury Forfeiture Fund or the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund, where Congress decides their fate.

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Q&A
David Yellen headshot

(Photo Credit: David Yellen)

The company that wants to be TikTok for podcasts

Paul English, who shook up the travel industry as co-founder and CTO of Kayak, is back with a new startup.

Moonbeam.fm is a podcast player and discovery app with a TikTok-like interface, allowing listeners to swipe through clips and find new podcasts they might not find themselves.

The Hustle’s Rob Litterst recently caught up with English to hear more about Moonbeam and his thoughts on the podcast landscape.

What excites you about the opportunity in podcasting?

I’ve been an avid podcast listener for many years, but have had a difficult time finding new ones.

I’ve found that in most players, such as Apple and Spotify, you have to scroll through a lot of text and read a lot, and you’re often getting the same recommendations over and over again.

How does Moonbeam help?

We’ve aimed to create a TikTok-like experience for podcast discovery. The app has a feature called Beam, which serves listeners with curated clips from shows that are specific to their own interests — if they don’t like a clip, they can keep swiping.

How are the clips selected?

Our clips are created using a combination of machine learning and human curation. Also, hosts have the ability to create clips from their show using the Moonbeam Console.

As listeners use Moonbeam more, the algorithm gets better and better and can help find podcasts suited to your exact tastes.

(Read the full Q&A here.)

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AROUND THE WEB

🇮🇶 That’s cool: 17k archeological artifacts were returned to Iraq, including ~12k from the Museum of the Bible, which is owned by the Hobby Lobby family.

💀 On this day: In 1926, Gertrude Ederle, an American Olympic swimming champion, became the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

📡 Cool site: ​​Youarelistening.to pairs a city’s police scanner with ambient music. It’s very “Blade Runner.”

🤖 Wow: Former NASA and Apple engineer Mark Rober built a robot that can set up a 100k-domino mural in 24 hours. Why? Why not?

🎨 Chill out: This site lets you create your own Jackson Pollock-style masterpiece. Move your mouse to paint. Click to change colors.

🌈 Wild story: What’s a firebow? Well, it’s like a rainbow, except there’s no rain.

Tweet of the day
Facebook NYU tweet

He’s not wrong… (Source: Twitter)

  1. “Your bank account can be empty but it can never be full.”
  2. “The Universe might’ve already ended, and we’re just waiting for it to reach us, like cosmic dominos.”
  3. “We always refer to things being “on fire” when in reality fire is always the one on things.”
  4. “The posted speed limit is the legally-accepted maximum limit, but the socially-accepted minimum limit.”
  5. You have fallen asleep thousands of times, and seen it, but you never remember it.
Shower Thoughts

via Reddit
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