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Facebook’s Portal Camera Spotted Receiving 5-Star Reviews on Amazon, Penned by Facebook Employees

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Facebook Portal, the smart display that was launched by the social media giant last year – just months after being named in the data scandal, has now been caught receiving fake five-star reviews on Amazon. It seems that most of the five-star reviews for the Portal device came from none other than Facebook employees. This may indirectly help the Menlo Park, California-headquartered company persuade a large number of customers towards its device that competes against the likes of Amazon Echo Show and Google Home Hub.

As first spotted by The New York Times columnist Kevin Roose, the names of multiple Portal reviewers on Amazon matched the monikers of Facebook employees. This is notably against Amazon’s guidelines for reviews as they strictly restrict “creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) product or services).”

Roose noted that at least three of over 100 five-star reviews for the Portal perfectly match with the names of Facebook employees, including Tim Chappell, the head of supply-chain and strategic sourcing Augmented Reality (AR)/ Virtual Reality (VR) products; Javier Cubria, an event marketer at Facebook; and Oren Hafif, a security engineering manager at the company. Notably, Hafif’s review on Amazon was even called out by a customer, who asked the reviewer about his employment status with Facebook.

While all the reviews in question were positive, Hafif’s review claimed that the Portal “currently lacks support for more apps and uses,” though he presumed that this would be improved over time. Interestingly, Facebook expanded the uses of the device and enabled YouTube access shortly after the sceptical review got posted in November.

Facebook’s Vice President of AR and VR Andrew Bosworth, in a response to Roose’s tweet, argued that reviews from employees were “neither coordinated nor directed” from the company. He also mentioned that the company would ask the employees to remove their reviews, seemingly confirming the allegation.

This isn’t the first time when the Facebook Portal camera found itself in hot water. The video-chat device that was launched in October last year was found to be designed as a source to serve users targeted ads. A Facebook spokesperson suggested that the hardware could be used as a channel for gathering information to enable targeted ad campaigns.

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3 questions for the startup market as we enter Q3 – TechCrunch

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Somehow June is over in just a few hours, meaning that we are trotting toward the third quarter’s starting line.

Leaving aside the uncomfortably rapid pace at which time is flying past us, entering a new financial reporting period is an excellent moment to pause, reflect and work out the key questions for the upcoming quarter. After all, we’ve seen so very much change on a quarterly basis lately that each quarter feels like a year.


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Recall Q3 2021, for example. After a lighter second quarter, the IPO market regained its footing last July, forcing this column to group public offerings into batches to just stay on top of them. And then Q3 set a huge record in terms of total venture capital investment to boot. Robinhood went public. It was busy.

The final quarter of 2021 was different. Seeing both the peak of many technology company valuations and their initial descent, Q4 of last year was a liminal state between the tail end of a long-running bull market and a rearing correction. Q1 2022 continued that trend, but with more bear than bull, and the second quarter — though we have yet to collect all the data — featured a moribund IPO market, rising startup layoffs, a crypto winter and more.

So what will Q3 2022 bring for global startups? Let’s talk through what we’re tracking, expecting and perhaps even dreading.

As we are on the cusp of a Friday before a long weekend, I know that you mentally have one foot on the beach. I promise that we’ll be brief today. Let’s talk through the three questions we have for Q3:

Will valuations recover?

For a brief period in the final weeks of Q2, it appeared that software stocks were mounting what could have been called a modest recovery. The Bessemer Cloud Index’s ETF closed at 25.93 on June 16, before ticking up to close at 31.21 on June 24. That bump did not last.

Since the little boomlet in software stocks, the same basket of companies is now down to 27.99 points, giving back the bulk of its gains. As the ETF traded as high as 65.51 in the last year, the recovery was modest at best. That it was also transient feels nearly rude.

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China’s tech giants promise speculation-free NFTs – TechCrunch

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The future of non-fungible tokens is getting more clarity in China as the country’s tech giants come together to formulate standards for the nascent industry.

The China Cultural Industry Association, along with Tencent, Ant Group, Baidu, and others, jointly issued a “self-disciplined development proposal” for the “digital collectible industry,” a rebranded term for NFT in China to do away with the technology’s financial aspects.

While industry associations do not have regulatory power, they can be conducive to developing standards and best practices within an industry. The China Cultural Industry Association was founded with permission from the State Council and counts Alibaba and Tencent among its members, according to information on its website.

China’s NFT enthusiasts have been watching out for regulatory directions from the top. After China outlawed cryptocurrency trading, the speculation was that NFTs in their purest form — traded with cryptocurrencies on global, public blockchains, freely and anonymously — would not be allowed in the country.

That looks to be the case. In April, China’s financial associations proposed that NFTs must not be used for securitization or transacted in cryptocurrencies.

China’s NFT industry may be a step closer to regulation with the country’s largest platform operators taking a stance. Digital collectible platforms, according to the proposal issued by Tencent, Ant Group, and others, should hold relevant regulatory permits, ensure the security of underlying blockchain technologies, enforce user real-identity checks, step up intellectual property protection, resolutely ban financial speculations, and promote rational consumption among users.

Tech firms in China have been testing the waters before NFT regulations set in. Behemoths from Tencent, Ant Group to Baidu have all launched their digital collectible marketplaces built on private, consortium chains. Users can only make purchases with the Chinese fiat currency RMB, and secondary trading is widely prohibited to prevent price gouging.

One company decided to take its ambition beyond China to explore the full scope of NFTs. In April, Bilibili, China’s top user-generated video streaming site, commissioned a Singapore-based company to launch an Ethereum-based NFT collection inspired by the site’s brand assets.

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Instagram tests ditching video posts in favor of Reels – TechCrunch

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Instagram is testing a change that turns video posts into Reels, the company confirmed to TechCrunch. The company says the change, which is currently being tested with select users around the world, is part of Instagram’s plan to simplify video on the app.

“We’re testing this feature as part of our efforts to simplify and improve the video experience on Instagram,” a spokesperson from Meta said in an email.

A screenshot posted on Twitter by social media consultant Matt Navarra shows that people who are part of the test will see an in-app message that says “video posts are now shared as Reels.”

The message indicates that if your account is public and you post a video that ends up being turned into a Reel, anyone can discover your Reel and use your original audio to create their own Reel. If your account is set to private, your Reel will only be visible to your followers. The message also notes that once you post a Reel, anyone can create a remix with your Reel if your account is public. However, you can prevent people from remixing your Reels in your account settings.

As with any other test, it’s unknown when or if Instagram plans to roll out the change more widely. If the change does become permanent, it may pose some challenges. For example, it could be difficult to post a horizontal video if it gets uploaded in a vertical Reels format. In addition, Instagram did not say how this change will affect current videos on Instagram.

The test comes as Meta has been betting big on Reels. As part of its Q1 2022 earnings, the company revealed that Reels now make up more than 20% of the time that people spend on Instagram. It’s not surprising that Instagram is looking to expand Reels even more by replacing video posts altogether. If the company does end up making this change permanent, it could boast about people spending even more time viewing Reels. 

Last year, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the app was “no longer a photo-sharing app,” noting the company was prioritizing a shift into video amid significant competition from TikTok and YouTube. The company then took a step toward its larger goal of making video a more central part of the Instagram experience by combining IGTV’s long-form video and Instagram Feed videos into a new format simply called “Instagram Video.”

If Instagram decides to turn all video uploads into Reels, it would consolidate the company’s video elements even further. Last year, when Mosseri laid out Instagram’s priorities for 2022, he said the company would double down on video and focus on Reels. He even hinted that Instagram would consolidate all of its video products around Reels and continue to grow the short-form product, which indicates that this change may have always been the plan.

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