*Checks watch*

September 27, 2019

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Today, Match.com gets sued and anxiety apps could be helping the mood, but first…

The Hustle Daily Email

How TikTok censors communication China would rather you not hear

A bombshell report from The Guardian suggests ByteDance — the Beijing-based tech titan that owns TikTok — is promoting a Chinese agenda to young app users around the world by censoring certain content.

There are some things you just can’t say… a lot of them, actually

According to documents leaked to The Guardian, TikTok has a long list of banned topics that includes various political figures, religious groups, historical events, and cultural movements.

Less offensive content is marked “visible to self.” Though not deleted, these videos are limited on TikTok’s curated feed. Materials deemed dangerous are marked “violations” and deleted from the site. 

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Some suspect TikTok has been squelching discussion of the protests in Hong Kong. Searches using #hongkong bring up silly singalongs… which definitely isn’t the story there.

But change is afoot … maybe

ByteDance says the reported guidelines were retired in May, and that the company has since implemented a localized approach to content moderation, meaning local moderators keep tabs on local content.

So what’s left to Tok about?

Even with new content moderation policies, it’s still unclear what TikTok users outside of China will and won’t be able to post.

This will be interesting as TikTok picks up steam globally. During the first half of 2018, TikTok was the iOS App Store’s most-downloaded app worldwide, and it remains especially popular with people under age 25.

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FTC calls out Match.com for playing games with our hearts… and wallets 

The Federal Trade Commision sued Match Group for allegedly luring hundreds of thousands of soulmate-seeking singles into purchasing Match.com subscriptions through the use of bot profiles, fraudulent messages, and deceptive cancellation policies. 

Creating an account is free, but seeing the juicy stuff will cost ya 

According to the FTC, Match knowingly spammed nonpaying basic users with coyly packaged ads (“You caught his eye… Could he be the one?”) based on fraudulent messages from bots and other scammers.

And apparently the bots’ve got game: From 2016 to 2018, almost 500K users shelled out for paid subscriptions after receiving one of these misleading love notes — only to find themselves with a lighter wallet and an “account unavailable” message. …Ghosted by a robot. Ouch. 

Despite these allegations, the match-making giant (which also owns dating sites Tinder and OkCupid among others) maintains its innocence, insisting the FTC’s claims are based on “cherry-picked data.”

The online dating jungle is ripe for scamming

As the multibillion-dollar online dating market continues to grow (even Facebook’s gotten in on the game), bad actors are finding more opportunities to prey upon open-minded minglers as they engage with faceless strangers, and it’s enough to break your heart.

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Did you know you can binge through your ear holes as well? No, not podcasts. We’re talking a front-to-back experience of the universal language, babayyy.
His Golden Messenger album cover

In a flurry of Uber news, one inflammatory report stands out…

Uber topped headlines yesterday with announcements of safety feature updates, an app redesign, and Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi shouting, “We want to be the operating system of your life,” at an event in San Francisco. But, in the midst of it all, a different story remains.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post released a report highlighting Uber’s “broken” investigation process and the special 80-person unit that deals with the rideshare giant’s most harrowing incidents. 

According to interviews with more than 20 past and present investigators, Uber trains its Special Investigations Unit to act for the good of the company, overriding customer safety.

The Ub– rather large takeaways

Uber operates on a three-strike system with its drivers, but executives sometimes keep the rule in their blind spot to keep these contract workers behind the wheel. One example of this kind of rule-bending led to a rider alleging she was raped.

Ex-Uber investigators say the company prohibited them from reporting any incidents to police or from leading victims to seek legal counsel — even when they received revelations of felonies.

According to former employees, Uber’s hard stance on maintaining drivers as independent contractors shelters the company from any liability of legal wrongdoing by their drivers. 

Naturally, Uber disagrees

But former Uber investigators say the company’s soft-pedaled (what’s the opposite of lead-foot?) review process is fractured. They say it keeps passenger complaints at least 2 car distances away and bad drivers too close for comfort.

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Struggling with anxiety? There are (lots of) apps for that

Practicing yoga, meditating, and eating well are a few ways the Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends combating anxiety. Or, you could try an anxiety app.

A growing number of apps are using clinically approved treatments and gamification to ease anxiety — and they’re getting encouraging results, Vox reports.

Anxiety is on the rise in the US, and so is ‘anxiety consumerism’

Anxiety  is the most common mental illness in the US. One-third of American adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, and 18% of adults are affected each year.

Gamified apps like Happify, Mind Ease, Personal Zen, and SuperBetter — to name just a few — emphasize that their anxiety and stress-reducing exercises are steeped in scientific research, measure progress in a quantifiable way, and deliver quick results.

A 2016 study stated that users who played SuperBetter for 10 minutes a day over 30 days reported substantially reduced depressive symptoms and anxiety compared to a control group.

Is the answer to anxiety more screen time?

While there’s evidence that gamification is good at motivating people to form new habits, studies show a correlation between lots of screen time and lower psychological well-being. 

Founders seem to understand that prescribing an app raises red flags, and some have made clear that their goal isn’t to pull people into time-consuming interactions. 

“We’re ethically bound to try to create the briefest interventions possible, with the biggest bang in terms of efficacy,” says Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, the creator of Personal Zen.

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What Else…

Here’s some food for gab: TABS Analytics released its 7th annual Food and Beverage report and found that 66% of consumers (up from 44% over the last year) now do the grocery store dance in online tap shoes.

This tidbit could come in handy to the rising vegan economy, which is achieving the impossible amongst meat eaters, as the thriving plant-based industry moves beyond the grocery store aisle (see what we did there?).

Not sold on discontinuing beef? Read this Sports Illustrated report: “How Veggie Burgers Became the NBA’s New Gatorade.”


My teeth, they are a-changin’

Hey, it’s me, Bobby, copywriter here at The Hustle, and right now, I’m breaking the fourth wall to tell you about my teeth. 

Ah, my teeth… they’ve been likened to everything from a busted picket fence to the grin of a jack o’ lantern carved by a stray cat. (Can you see why I hate Halloween?) 

And while I’ve learned to take a joke, when my boss offered me the chance to try SmileDirectClub on behalf of The Hustle, I knew I had to take her up on it.  

A few weeks ago, I visited their offices (they call ‘em SmileShops) to get fit for their new night-time aligners. Now, I’m ready to tell you how it all went down. 

Read how I…

  • Met the Ilana to my Abbi (and yes, I’m Abbi) 
  • Learned how to stifle a scream when seeing my disembodied jaw on a monitor
  • Realized how simple fixing my smile could be

Soon, these teeth will be in tip-top shape. And I’ll tell you why it’s easier — hell, even more fun — than you think to get your smile straightened.

Get the full story
Shower Thoughts
  1. Biting your tongue while eating is a perfect example of how you can still screw up, even with decades of experience.
  2. There is an office at Microsoft that uses Microsoft Office to write and send an email to an Office at Microsoft about Microsoft Office.
  3. We really take for granted that both our legs grow at the same time and at the same rate.
  4. When you buy Halloween candy to hand out as an adult, it’s like you’re paying for all the free candy you got when you were a kid.
  5. Your age in years is how many times you’ve circled the Sun, but your age in months is how many times the Moon has circled you.
  6. via Reddit
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