Libra pivots to Plan B


April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020
The Hustle
TOGETHER WITH
Udacity

Did you know there’s a new term for when you dump someone over Zoom? It’s called “Zumping,” and it’s only marginally worse than when someone breaks up with you by the lockers outside of Home Economics class while you’re rocking a brand new Aeropostale polo. On the bright side, a couple rogue Mister Softee trucks are operating in New York, so you can still drown your heartbreak with a cherry-dipped swirl… lucky you.

Corona Cash

Fintech firms are angling to help you with your stimulus check

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The rollout of a major piece of the government’s big coronavirus relief package is off to a bumpy beginning.

Some consumers who use popular tax-prep services (like H&R Block and TurboTax) said they didn’t get their $1.2k stimulus checks when they were expecting them.

Others said their payments ended up in the wrong bank accounts. (Spare a thought for the soul who manages the IRS Twitter account, ‘cuz the 🔥 in those mentions is HOT.)

If you’re still waiting for your money to arrive, the IRS says don’t freak out. And America’s fintech firms say they want to help.

There’s just one thing you need to do…

… mosey over to, uh, the website where it’s literally raining coins with $$ for eyes.

It was set up by Jack Dorsey’s Square, which is encouraging people to download its Cash app for easy payment. It’s one of several fintech companies rolling out the red carpet for users who want their money.

This month, the digital banking startup Chime tried giving 1k of its users their stimulus-check money in advance, through a feature called SpotMe. The optional service lets qualifying users overdraw their accounts for free. 

Chris Britt, Chime’s CEO, told Business Insider that users wanted some, but not all, of their money early. By Monday, it had distributed $1B+ in payments to 600k+ customers.

It sounds swell, but some people have questions

Intuit (TurboTax’s parent company) launched a site that lets people calculate what they’ll get. ProPublica reported that people who used the site’s free stimulus-registration tool were bombarded with marketing emails pushing paid products.

“As soon as we learned these emails were inadvertently going to people who created accounts solely for the stimulus registration product, we stopped the emails from being automatically sent,” a company spokesman told The Washington Post.

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Libra’s Lament

Facebook’s cryptocurrency is finally getting its head out of the stars

Even Co-Star’s astrologers could have predicted this one. 

After regulatory blowback, Facebook is scaling back the most ambitious parts of its cryptocurrency project, Libra — namely, that bit where Libra would become a universal digital standard that unravels exchange rates.

According to the Libra Association — which is tragically not a secretive organization of September to October babies but, rather, the nonprofit group overseeing the project — the new currency is going to look a lot more like digital payments on a platform like PayPal. 

Instead of a universal coin backed by a mixture of currencies and securities, Libra will be split into a series of “stablecoins,” each of which is pegged to individual currencies. 

Please welcome the Libra B-team 

Heavyweights like Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal had abandoned the Libra Association over concerns it would destabilize the world economy, so Facebook has switched to teaming up with ecommerce platforms like Shopify.

Libra is still going forward, but the digital payment system will track with existing national currencies. That might make governments a bit less squeamish about the project.

A centralized digital coin that could make Zuck the world’s most powerful banker? Not so much. A slightly swankier version of Venmo that brings easier interchange between currencies? More likely.

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Their focus is on hands-on, real-world learning, practitioner-level education. That means you’ll know how to put what you learn into practice, not just talk a big game. 

This is the perfect time to invest in your own career

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WEEKEND WASTERS

Quarantine gotcha’ down? Here’s some fun stuff to keep you occupied in isolation this weekend.

FOR WORKIN’ UP A SWEAT: Barry’s Bootcamp

Your favorite bougie fitness class has gone virtual to keep you moving through the ‘tine. You can reserve a paid spot in a virtual class, or just follow along for free on Instagram Live.

FOR KILLING TIME ALONE: Sporcle

Did you, too, forget about Sporcle, the greatest online quiz platform in all the kingdoms? Then let us rejoice, for it’s still here — and this Harry Potter Logic Puzzle is a magical treat.

FOR USING YOUR LEFTOVERS: Supercook

Don’t know what to do with the weird mix of sh*t in your fridge rn? Us either. But if you enter whatever’s in there into Supercook, it’ll spit out a recipe for you.

FOR CHALLENGING A ROOMMATE: The Wiki Game

You know this game: Start on a Wikipedia page and see who can find a specific-yet-entirely-unrelated page fastest. Yes, The Hustle’s productivity did decrease by about 3000% this week, thank you for asking.

FOR PRETTY PUZZLIN’: Inner Peace

1) Fantastic puzzle pun, Inner Piece. 2) These are literally the most beautiful puzzles we’ve ever seen. 3) They’re still in stock. Ya’ welcome.

Want to share your favorite weekend wasters? Holler at us, here

Brain Freeze

No one is screaming for ice cream trucks, but they’re rolling up anyway

Picture this: Outside your window, aside from a few joggers, there’s stillness. Then, suddenly, you hear it: The jingle of an ice cream truck. 

Twitter users can’t stop talking about ice cream trucks dishing out treats during a pandemic, and in New York City, there’s finally a clear explanation. According to the Associated Press, those jingles you’re hearing could be coming from just 10 rogue Mister Softee trucks. 

A mind-melting battle to halt the industry

Mister Softee, one of the largest ice cream truck operators in the US, really wants its drivers to stay home during quarantine. But as hard as they plead, they don’t actually have much power. 

Because ice cream truck drivers are franchisees, it’s up to the individual owners to decide whether or not to go out. 

In New York, drivers are panicked about making rent, and they’re serving Drumsticks while wearing gloves and face coverings to the few customers that will risk it all for a strawberry shortcake pop.

Some activists want to put drivers in a cone of shame

The trucks are stopping primarily in low-income areas, sparking fears that they will spread disease in already vulnerable communities. 

In Philadelphia, one activist is staging a guerilla-style war against rogue ice cream trucks.

Asteria Vives tracks down the trucks, photographs the drivers, and sends their info to local officials.

It’s a tale of two panics: Drivers are desperate to stay financially stable, while residents are desperate to protect their neighborhoods from infection.

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WFH Tricks

Zoom backgrounds are SO 3 weeks ago. Zoom deepfakes could be the next big thing

Let’s be real: You can only put the Tiger King in your Zoom background so many times before the joke gets old.

But what if you could be the Tiger King?

Thanks to a nifty open-source program called Avatarify, the dream/your coworkers’ nightmare appears to be within reach.

All you need is a speedy computer and a good pic

A programmer named Ali Aliev built Avatarify using code that manipulates a photo of a person using video of someone else — in real time.

The result is a crude deepfake — a digitally manipulated clip cooked up to make it seem like someone said something they didn’t.

Futurists have worried for a while that full-scale deepfakes could upend politics (in fact, an Indian politician used one to reach voters who speak different dialects). Some states have made it illegal for creeps to use deepfakes in revenge porn.

Avatarify isn’t THAT sketchy…

… because it’s more like a diet deepfake. Aliev posted demo videos showing how he transformed himself into Steve Jobs, the Mona Lisa, and a Zoombombing Elon Musk.

The tool does a decent job of moving a photo’s mouth and eyes, but the movements are still pretty clearly fake. And Avatarify doesn’t do anything to transform your voice into the dulcet tones of Joe Exotic. 

Motherboard pointed out that audio deepfakes are on the rise, so maybe the dream/nightmare lives on after all. They’d just be Zoom’s latest headache — yesterday, Verizon said it’s buying BlueJeans, a major Zoom rival.

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Sponsored

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Pop two of their Black Cherry flavored chews after your last Black Cherry White Claw, and you’ll wake up the next morning feeling ready to get after another WFH-day. 

The moral of the story? Don’t worry about having one more drink — when all of your family is trying to talk in a Zoom room at once, you’re gonna need it. 

Cheers! →
Snippets

🚨If you fell for a coronavirus hoax on Facebook, the ‘book is going to tell you about it.

🛑 Sorry, kids. TikTok is cranking up its parental controls.

🥔 Food supply chains have gone haywire. A farm in Idaho is giving away ~2m potatoes so they don’t go to waste.

🤔 Apple is selling some expensive ($699!) wheels for its Mac Pro. Here’s a list of other things on 4 wheels you could buy for less

🎤 For your calendars: Lady Gaga curated a BIG coronavirus benefit concert. It’s tomorrow night — details here.

Want snippets like these in your browser? Download our Chrome extension here.

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Shower Thoughts

It’s nice to know that despite all the chaos in our lives lately, Shower Thoughts will still be there for us every Friday. Wanna show your Shower Thanks? Share these on social and tag us. 

XOXO. 

1. Reese’s is the Taco Bell of the candy world. The same key ingredients packaged 50 different ways, and nobody is mad about it.

2. Spider-Man almost certainly has auto-rotate turned off on his phone.

3. The first dent, scratch, or crack to an item is always devastating, but after that, the heavy burden of keeping that device in pristine condition is lifted and feels so much better.

4. If you were bulletproof, you’d probably live your entire life without knowing.

5. A snake would use a pool noodle as a life jacket.

Via Reddit

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