Facebook has some thoughts and updates about its News Feed, Siri gets some new voices and Tonal becomes a unicorn. This is your Daily Crunch for March 31, 2021.
The big story: Facebook makes it easier to view a non-algorithmic News Feed
Facebook highlighted features today that should make it easier for users to see a version of the News Feed that isn’t shaped by the company’s algorithms. These include a Favorites view that displays posts from up to 30 of your favorite friends and Pages, as well as a Most Recent view, which just shows posts in chronological order. Some of these options existed previously, but they’ll now be easily accessible through a new Feed Filter Bar.
At the same time, the company’s VP of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, pushed back against criticism of the company’s algorithmic News Feed, saying that personalization is common and useful across the web, though he added, “It would clearly be better if these [content] decisions were made according to frameworks agreed by democratically accountable lawmakers.”
Speaking of content decisions, Facebook also cautioned Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump today for posting an interview with the former president, who has been banned from the social network.
The tech giants
Apple adds two brand new Siri voices and will no longer default to a female or male voice in iOS — This means that every person setting up Siri will choose a voice for themselves.
Instagram officially launches Remix on Reels, a TikTok Duets-like feature — Remix offers a way to record your Reels video alongside a video from another user.
Spotify adds three new types of personalized playlists with launch of ‘Spotify Mixes’ — Your Spotify Mixes will include artist mixes, genre mixes and decade mixes.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Strength-training startup Tonal crosses unicorn status after raising $250M — To date, the at-home fitness tech startup has raised $450 million.
Apple invests $50M into music distributor UnitedMasters alongside a16z and Alphabet — The focus of UnitedMasters is to provide artists with a direct pipeline to data around the way that fans are interacting with their content and community.
Diversity-focused Harlem Capital raises $134M — Apparently 61% of Harlem Capital’s Fund I portfolio companies are led by Black or Latinx executives, while 43% are led exclusively by women.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
Five machine learning essentials nontechnical leaders need to understand — For engineering and team leaders without an ML background, the incredible pace of change can feel overwhelming and intimidating.
What to make of Deliveroo’s rough IPO debut — After a lackluster IPO pricing run, shares of Deliveroo are lower today, marking a disappointing debut for the hot delivery company.
Embedded procurement will make every company its own marketplace — Merritt Hummer of Bain Capital Ventures argues that with embedded procurement, businesses will buy things they need through vertical B2B apps.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Report finds going remote made workplaces more hostile for already marginalized groups — The Project Include report is based on a survey of about 2,800 people and interviews with tech workers and subject matter experts in numerous countries and industries.
The Weeknd will sell an unreleased song and visual art via NFT auction — Abel Tesfaye, the Super Bowl-headlining musician known as The Weeknd, is the latest artist to embrace the excitement around NFTs.
Here’s what you don’t want to miss tomorrow at TC Early Stage 2021 — The event will include a wide range of presentations that span the startup ecosystem.
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.
Facebook fighting against disinformation: Launch new options
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has dismantled new malicious networks that used vaccine debates to harass professionals or sow division in some countries, a sign that disinformation about the pandemic, spread for political ends, is on the wane not.
“They insulted doctors, journalists and elected officials, calling them supporters of the Nazis because they were promoting vaccines against the Covid, ensuring that compulsory vaccination would lead to a dictatorship of health,” explained Mike Dvilyanski, director investigations into emerging threats, at a press conference on Wednesday.
He was referring to a network linked to an anti-vaccination movement called “V_V”, which the Californian group accuses of having carried out a campaign of intimidation and mass harassment in Italy and France, against health figures, media and politics.
The authors of this operation coordinated in particular via the Telegram messaging system, where the volunteers had access to lists of people to target and to “training” to avoid automatic detection by Facebook.
Their tactics included leaving comments under victims’ messages rather than posting content, and using slightly changed spellings like “vaxcinati” instead of “vaccinati”, meaning “people vaccinated” in Italian.
The social media giant said it was difficult to assess the reach and impact of the campaign, which took place across different platforms.
This is a “psychological war” against people in favor of vaccines, according to Graphika, a company specializing in the analysis of social networks, which published Wednesday a report on the movement “V_V”, whose name comes from the Italian verb “vivere” (“to live”).
“We have observed what appears to be a sprawling populist movement that combines existing conspiratorial theories with anti-authoritarian narratives, and a torrent of health disinformation,” experts detail.
They estimate that “V_V” brings together some 20,000 supporters, some of whom have taken part in acts of vandalism against hospitals and operations to interfere with vaccinations, by making medical appointments without honoring them, for example.
Change on Facebook
Facebook announces news that will facilitate your sales and purchases on the social network.
Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of Facebook, announced that the parent company would now be called Meta, to better represent all of its activities, from social networks to virtual reality, but the names of the different services will remain unchanged. A month later, Meta is already announcing news for the social network.
The first is the launch of online stores in Facebook groups. A “Shop” tab will appear and will allow members to buy products directly through the group in question.
Other features have been communicated with the aim of facilitating e-commerce within the social network, such as the display of recommendations and a better mention of products or even Live Shopping. At this time, no date has been announced regarding the launch of these new options.
In the light of recent features, the company wants to know the feedback from its users through the survey same like what Tesco doing to get its customers feedback via Tesco Views Survey. However, the company is still about this feedback will announce sooner than later in this regard.
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