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Month: June 2019

Facebook civil rights audit says white supremacy policy is ‘too narrow’

Facebook civil rights audit says white supremacy policy is ‘too narrow’

June 30, 2019

Facebook’s second progress report pertaining to the civil rights audit conducted by former ACLU Washington Director Laura Murphy is here. Over the last six months, Facebook has made changes around enforcing against hate, fighting discrimination in ads and protecting against misinformation and suppression in the upcoming U.S. presidential election and 2020 Census, according to the progress report.

While Facebook has made changes in some of these areas — Facebook banned white supremacy in March — auditors say Facebook’s policy is still “too narrow.” That’s because it solely prohibits explicit praise, support or representation of the terms “white nationalism” or “white separatism,” but does not technically prohibit references to those terms and ideologies.

“The narrow scope of the policy leaves up content that expressly espouses white nationalist ideology without using the term ‘white nationalist,’” the report states. “As a result, content that would cause the same harm is permitted to remain on the platform.”

Therefore, the audit team recommends Facebook expand its policy to prohibit content that “expressly praises, supports, or represents white nationalist ideology” even if the content does not explicitly use the terms “white nationalism” or “white separatism.”

In Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s note today, she acknowledges the recommendation.

“We’re addressing this by identifying hate slogans and symbols connected to white nationalism and white separatism to better enforce our policy,” she wrote.

Sandberg also noted how Facebook recently updated its policies to ensure people don’t use Facebook to organize events intended to intimidate or harass people.

“Getting our policies right is just one part of the solution,” Sandberg said. “We also need to get better at enforcement — both in taking down and leaving up the right content.”

Sandberg is referring to the fact that Facebook has sometimes wrongfully taken down content meant to draw attention to racism and …

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How to Write a Content Marketing Plan That Will Increase Leads

June 30, 2019

You have a website and you even have a blog, but are you using it? If your blog isn’t providing you with relevant leads, read on.

There are various ways to generate online leads for your business, but content marketing should be the foundation of your strategy. Not only is content very affordable, it’s also highly effective. Great content marketing can generate three times as many leads as pay per click and four times as many leads than traditional outbound marketing.

However, to get these results, you need a solid plan. Nearly 63% of business don’t have any documented content strategy plan. If you’re starting out on your marketing journey, a downloadable blog content scheduling tool can be found here

Research your keywords.

Gone are the days of articles filled with clunky keywords; search engines are more sophisticated now and employ complex algorithms. Using repetitive words and inappropriate practices, like keyword stuffing, will reduce your ranking on Google.

Despite the changes in the algorithms, keyword research should still be an integral part of your content marketing plan. Research helps you understand what your audience is searching for so you can create content to meet the needs of your audience.

Keyword research gets very technical, but don’t get overwhelmed in the complexities of competition and search volume. Instead, use your research to come up with content ideas, outlines and article titles. You’ll likely find groups of related keywords together; these phrases and groups of words will help you hone in on your target audience. Consider using the phrases as subheadings for your articles. Google gives more credence to phrases and short groups of words than just single words. 

Determine your content goals.

Every article or piece of content you produce must have a clear and specific goal. It’s entirely possible …

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Adopting a ratings system for social media like the ones used for film and TV won’t work

Adopting a ratings system for social media like the ones used for film and TV won’t work

June 30, 2019

Internet platforms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter are under incredible pressure to reduce the proliferation of illegal and abhorrent content on their services.

Interestingly, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently called for the establishment of “third-party bodies to set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and to measure companies against those standards.” In a follow-up conversation with Axios, Kevin Martin of Facebook “compared the proposed standard-setting body to the Motion Picture Association of America’s system for rating movies.”

The ratings group, whose official name is the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA), was established in 1968 to stave off government censorship by educating parents about the contents of films. It has been in place ever since – and as longtime filmmakers, we’ve interacted with the MPAA’s ratings system hundreds of times – working closely with them to maintain our filmmakers’ creative vision, while, at the same time, keeping parents informed so that they can decide if those movies are appropriate for their children.  

CARA is not a perfect system. Filmmakers do not always agree with the ratings given to their films, but the board strives to be transparent as to why each film receives the rating it does. The system allows filmmakers to determine if they want to make certain cuts in order to attract a wider audience. Additionally, there are occasions where parents may not agree with the ratings given to certain films based on their content. CARA strives

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It’s the end of movies as we know them (and I feel fine)

It’s the end of movies as we know them (and I feel fine)

June 30, 2019

“How Will The Movies Survive The Next Ten Years?” demands the New York Times, in a series of interviews with 24 major Hollywood figures. Good question! I’ve been asking it myself, here, for six years now. Very unlike music, television, books, and home video, the theatrical movie experience has proved remarkably resistant to online disruption…

…so far.

I’ve argued before that Hollywood and Silicon Valley have many parallels: VCs are like studios, angel investors are like individual producers, founders are like directors, etcetera. However, they also have some striking differences. For most of the last 25 years, the cost to launch a groundbreaking, potentially world-shaking startup has decreased — though that may well be changing — whereas the total cost to make, market, and distribute a theatrical release has decidedly not.

Furthermore, movie theaters, built around repeat screening of 90-to-180-minute self-contained films, face new direct-to-streaming-services competition with far more range, from bingewatching 22-episode series to short clips on YouTube. Even in the arena of “movies” as we know them, this competition seems exponentially more intense every year — there’s no way “Bright” and “Bird Box” would have been direct-to-Netflix as little as five years ago — and will hit a whole new fervor with the launch of the Disney Plus launch date later this year.

We can analogize that, maybe, to some extent, to downloadable software vs. software-as-a-service. There can be only one winner, right? Right? And note that, despite the runaway successes of Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel, 2019’s US box office is still tracking a full 10% behind last year‘s. There may be a trend here.

It seems that Hollywood is finally aware of the change. Some striking quotes from that NYT piece: “This is the biggest shift …

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How to Set Up a Successful Presale

June 30, 2019

  • When selling products that you haven’t yet created, that’s a presale.
  • Presales can be ethical, if you set it up properly.
  • If you can’t follow through on your promise of delivery, your presale will be a disaster to your reputation.

Whether you’re just starting a business or you’re looking to introduce a new product at your existing business, presales can be a great way to gauge interest in your business, fund early operations and minimize a stressful cold opening.

“[A] presale allows you to obtain feedback prior to releasing to the full market,” said Mike Sheety, director of ThatShirt. “This can give you a chance to iron out any kinks and accurately scale how well your product/service is going to be.”

A presale can be an interesting tool for small business owners – especially if you’re just starting your business and want to test out if your product will do well among whatever audience you’re targeting. Presales can act as a testing ground for new products, ideas and concepts for your business. It can also be a great way to build anticipation around a new product or service you’re releasing among an already loyal base.

Running a good presale means organizing your efforts and marketing your campaign well. If you can do these two things, you can set yourself up for a successful presale.

What is a presale?

A presale is selling a product or service in advance of when it will be released. This means you’re potentially selling products that have not even been made yet.

While it can be a precarious situation for some small businesses, if you remain ethical and set up your presale properly, you’ll be able to keep your customers happy. A good presale can be used as a tool for new and existing …

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How To Perform a Content Audit of Your Blog

June 30, 2019

The end result of an audit is that you end up with high-quality content that serves a purpose while leaving everything that doesn’t behind. Taking the right steps can boost traffic to your site. As an example, Ahrefs conducted a content audit and saw a 7.57 percent rise in traffic on its website within two months. 

Having low-quality content on your blog can reduce the amount of traffic to your website and decrease the number of potential conversions you make. Ultimately, this can affect the performance of your entire business. It can also affect how Google indexes your website because having several low-value-add URLs can negatively affect a site’s crawling and indexing. This includes duplicate content, low-quality and spam content, soft error pages, and more.

When performing a content audit, there are certain steps you need to take to complete it successfully, including:

  • Determining your audit’s goals

  • Taking inventory of all indexable content

  • Analyzing your data

  • Organizing your content into different categories based on what you’ll do with them

  • Following up on the results

Here is how you can perform a content audit for your blog so that your website performs at its best.

Determine your goals

It’ll be difficult to gauge what to do with all the content on your website if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve. There are so many different possibilities for your content that if you don’t map out your goals, you’ll get lost trying to determine which pieces to keep and which to discard. Taking the simple step of determining your objectives with your content audit will save you time and resources because you’ll know exactly what you’re doing and why every step of the way.

You want to determine your goals in plain terms. Write down what you’re trying to achieve …

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Cozycozy is an accommodation search service that works with hotels and Airbnb

Cozycozy is an accommodation search service that works with hotels and Airbnb

June 30, 2019

French startup wants to make it easier to search for accommodation across a wide range of services. This isn’t the first aggregator in the space and probably not the last one. But this time, it isn’t just about hotels.

When you plan a trip with multiple stops, chances are you end up with a dozen tabs of different services — on Airbnb to look at listings, on a hotel review platform and on a hotel booking platform. Each service displays different prices and has a different inventory.

While there are a ton of services out there, most of them belong to just three companies: Booking Holdings (, Priceline, Kayak, Agoda…), Expedia Group (Expedia,, HomeAway, Trivago…) and TripAdvisor (TripAdvisor, HouseTrip, Oyster…). They all operate many different services in order to address as many markets and as many segments as possible. wants to simplify that process by aggregating a ton of services in a single interface — you can find hotels, Airbnb listings, campsites, hostels, boats, home-exchanging apartments… You can filter your results by price or you can exclude some accommodation styles.

The company doesn’t work with hotels and doesn’t handle bookings directly. Instead, the service searches across all the usual suspects. When you want to book, you get redirected to the original listing on Airbnb,, Hostelworld, etc.

The startup recently raised a $4.5 million funding round (€4 million) from Daphni, CapDecisif, Raise and many different business angels, such as Xavier Niel, Thibaud Elzière and Eduardo Ronzano. co-founder and chairman Pierre Bonelli also previously founded It is one of the most popular flight comparison website in France. It was acquired by SNCF in 2010 and then eDreams ODIGEO in 2013.

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Week-in-Review: Auditing a dark age in Apple design

Week-in-Review: Auditing a dark age in Apple design

June 30, 2019

Hello, weekend readers. This is Week-in-Review where I give a heavy amount of analysis and/or rambling thoughts on one story while scouring the rest of the hundreds of stories that emerged on TechCrunch this week to surface my favorites for your reading pleasure.

Last week, I talked about how YouTube was letting its commenting system turn from a festering wasted opportunity into a liability.

The big story

Plenty happened this week, though most of the news signified something larger looming on the horizon, more on that in a bit.

One undoubtedly meaty news item was that Jony Ive, Apple’s most iconic executive persona, announced that he was leaving the company this year.

Ive has undoubtedly been a powerhouse of industrial design who has helped craft some of the most iconic products from one of the most influential tech companies. The issue is perhaps what Apple’s vision of industrial design transformed into in his final years at the helm.

Jony Ive is leaving Apple to launch a new firm

Ive shifted away from managerial roles in 2015, but the Chief Design Officer’s influence has been evident it the past several years of very beautiful devices designed around the occasional flawed hypothesis.

Poor design is more than the oft-memed Apple Pencil jutting out of an iPad lightning port or the Mighty Mouse with a charger piercing its underbelly. The company’s aesthetic choices in how they curve their screens or shape their aluminum have stayed true but you don’t have to look too far to find a pattern of carelessness in a number of Apple’s device which occasionally have prioritized svelte profiles over actually even working.

Ive is design genius, but like all people we elevate with that title, he and his design ethos grew further disassociated with the public over time. …

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Equity transcribed: SoftBank-backed startup cracks under pressure to scale

Equity transcribed: SoftBank-backed startup cracks under pressure to scale

June 29, 2019

Welcome back to the transcribed edition of the popular podcast Equity. This week, TechCrunch writers Kate Clark and Connie Loizos were joined in the studio by Canvas Ventures’ general partner Rebecca Lynn.

This week, the crew talked about the big rounds raised by shoe resale marketplace StockX, which raised  $110 million at a $1 billion valuation. And Cameo, which provides personally recorded messages by celebrities and influencers to whomever will pay for them, raised $50 million at a reported $300 million valuation.

The group then discussed Brandless and the amount of money that SoftBank poured into it. Being the recipient of such large sums at an early age adds a lot of pressure to produce.

Kate Clark: …Brandless raised this $240 million round, only one year after launching. So they’re a very young company. And now fast forward another year, SoftBank is pressuring them to be profitable. But right now they’re only two years old. So I mean, what two year old startup is even at that point?

Rebecca Lynn: Well and what other SoftBank company is profitable?

Clark: Yeah.

Connie Loizos: Right.

Lynn: So I think when you look at this, I think for me as an investor, I don’t know the ins and outs of what’s happening here exactly. But for me this just really underscores the importance of having a very aligned set of goals and missions and values and everything else, when you sign up to work with an investor, right? I mean the company and the investor have to be sort of in lockstep. And when you have an investor that hasn’t been around for a really long time and you don’t know how they’re going to behave really in a downturn or when the company runs into bumps.

And I think

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Researchers developed a sensing system to constantly track the performance of workers

Researchers developed a sensing system to constantly track the performance of workers

June 29, 2019

Researchers have come up with a mobile-sensing system that can track and rate the performance of workers by combining a smartphone, fitness bracelets and a custom app.

The mobile-sensing system, as the researchers call it, is able to classify high and low performers. The team used the system to track 750 U.S. workers for one year. The system was able to tell the difference between high performers and low performers with 80% accuracy.

The aim, the researchers say, is to give employees insight into physical, emotional and behavioral well-being. But that constant flow of data also has a downside, and if abused, can put employees under constant surveillance by the companies they work for.

The researchers, including Dartmouth University computer science professor Andrew Campbell, whose earlier work on a student monitoring app provided the underlying technology for this system, see this as a positive gateway to improving worker productivity.

“This is a radically new approach to evaluating workplace performance using passive sensing data from phones and wearables,” said Campbell. “Mobile sensing and machine learning might be the key to unlocking the best from every employee.”

The researchers argue that the technology can provide a more objective measure of performance than self-evaluations and interviews, which they say can be unreliable.

The mobile-sensing system developed by the researchers has three distinct pieces. A smartphone tracks physical activity, location, phone use and ambient light. The fitness tracker monitors heart functions, sleep, stress and body measurements like weight and calorie consumption. Meanwhile, location beacons placed in the home and office provide information on time at work and breaks from the desk.

From here, cloud-based machine learning algorithms are used to classify workers by performance level.

The study found that higher performers typically had lower rates of phone usage, had longer periods of deep …

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