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Why you don’t want Tumblr sold to exploitative Pornhub – TechCrunch

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Tumblr has been squandered ever since it was bought for $1.1 billion in 2013 by Yahoo, now part of Verizon Media Group. Without proper strategy or talent, the blogging tool and early meme-sharing network fell into decline while Medium and Instagram soared. Yahoo wrote down Tumblr’s value by $230 million in 2016. Then last year, Verizon evicted Tumblr’s huge and loyal base of porn bloggers, leaving no viable platform for independent adult content creators and curators.

Now the Wall Street Journal reports that TechCrunch parent company Verizon is considering selling Tumblr.

Many immediately hoped it’d change hands to an owner who’d embrace pornography, such as social media darling Pornhub. BuzzFeed quickly reported that Pornhub VP Corey Price told it “We’re extremely interested in acquiring the platform and are very much looking forward to one day restoring it to its former glory with NSFW content.”

But given Pornhub parent company MindGeek’s record of exploitation of adult performers, that could be a disastrous proceeding for the world of kink.

Outside of Pornhub, MindGeek owns many of the top porn streaming sites like YouPorn, RedTube, and GayTube. Widespread piracy of porn films by those sites has made it tough for performers to earn a living. Many smaller studios or performers don’t have the legal or financial resources to file constant copyright infringement takedown notices, and MindGeek’s sites have been accused of allow re-uploads of videos days after taking them down.

The truly insidious part is that MindGeek has also bought up a bunch of the top porn production studios including Brazzers, Babes.com, and Digital Playground. MindGeek has been accused of allowing those studios’ films to be pirated by its own streaming sites. That lets MindGeek earn and keep streaming ad revenue without giving performers a proper cut.

The result has been a massive decline in the wages of porn performers and the number of films being made. This is turn pushes performers into more rough and extreme porn genres they’re not comfortable with, or into other sex work like prostitution that can be dangerous. We reached out to Verizon Media Group which told us “we don’t comment on rumors”, and we’re awaiting comment on piracy issues from MindGeek.

If Pornhub and MindGeek succeed in acquiring Tumblr to strengthen their near monopoly, they could end up exploiting porn bloggers and the performers they post about too. You could imagine the photos and GIFs in diverse porn genres that populated Tumblr getting scraped and shared across MindGeek’s network of sites beyond the bloggers’ or performers’ control. Or Tumblr’s porn blogs could be used to funnel traffic towards MindGeek’s crooked streaming sites, exacerbating the piracy problem. A more optimistic view is would be that Pornhub’s newer features that let performers set up their own paywalls could help Tumblr curators earn money for themselves…and MindGeek. If Pornhub managed to turn Tumblr around, it would deal a stern lesson to platforms that were quick to ban adult content.

Since many of the puritanical US government’s elected officials likely see porn performers as godless heathens undeserving of protection, they’re unlikely to try to safeguard the profession with anti-trust or fair payout regulation. The SESTA-FOSTA law that went into effect last year intending to stop sex trafficking ended up pushing sites like Tumblr, Facebook, and Patreon towards tougher crack downs on porn, nudity, or even innocent discussions about sex within support communities for LGTBQ people and other underprivileged minorities.

Unfortunately, MindGeek’s massive footprint means it might be willing to bid the highest price for Tumblr. If Verizon does sell Tumblr, it should seek a buyer with an upstanding record for how it treats creators. But Verizon could also modernize Tumblr to emphasize what’s differentiated about it in today’s tech landscape versus when it was founded in 2007. Obviously, it could reopen to porn. But there are also family friendly opportunities.

Tumblr was one of the first big meme-sharing communities, even spawning its own format of screenshots of progressively crazier replies to a short text post. Yet in 2019, the top meme networks like Instagram, Reddit, and Imgur aren’t actually built for distributing massive ‘dumps’ of memes. They don’t understand which you’ve already seen to prevent showing re-runs, or how remixes of an original meme all relate and should be linked. Tumblr could build meme-specific features that give users more curational power than Reddit and Imgur, but more freedom of expression under less pressure than Instagram.

Tumblr could also be repurposed into a “your Internet homepage” platform. Most social networks are so desperate to keep users on their apps that they restrict or deemphasize the ability to promote your other web presences. They also often focus on a narrow set of content types like photos and videos on Instagram. This leaves users who don’t have their own dedicated websites without a central hub where they can freely express their identity and link to profiles elsewhere. This is a huge opportunity for Tumblr, which has already established itself an open-ended self-expression platform open to a variety of content formats.

AOL, which was combined with Yahoo to form the Verizon Media Group, previously owned a web profile platform called About.me, but sold it back to its creator Tony Conrad in 2013. Tumblr could assume much of About.me’s functionality as a directory of someone’s presences on other apps, and add that to its blogging platform. Instead of being locked into Instagram and Pinterest’s grids and standardized designs, Tumblr could let people create a homepage collage representing their prismatic identities.

Tumblr’s already been waning in popularity for years, so Verizon might not have a lot to lose by giving Tumblr a year to execute on this strategy before selling it for surely much less than it bought it for in 2013. Tumblr’s remaining users deserve better than the platform fading into nothing or being sold to the unscrupulous.

If any pornography industry professionals want to weigh in, please contact this article’s author Josh Constine via phone/text or Signal encrypted messenger at (585)750-5674 or joshc ‘at’ techcrunch dot com.

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Apple May Bring Major Design Changes To Entry-Level iPad

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The changes aren’t skin deep, of course, and the next base iPad is expected to sport changes that may make it more appealing to the casual consumer. At the top of that list is the anticipated switch from the Lightning connector to USB-C, something that all other iPad models have already received. This would not only open up the entry-level iPad to more use cases like hooking up external displays but would also break compatibility with plenty of accessories, particularly the first-gen Apple Pencil.

The first Apple Pencil charges using a Lightning port, but with this connector gone from the upcoming iPad, what would no longer be possible. Given its expected switch to flat edges, it’s likely that the iPad 10 will support the second-gen Apple Pencil. That, in turn, means the days of the original Apple Pencil are numbered, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Apple immediately halts its production.

With the changes to the design and Lightning port would also come a change to the one other legacy connector that has been present since the first iPad: the 3.5mm headphone jack, which will supposedly be making its exit from the iPad this year. If that rumor proves true, Apple’s transition away from wired headphones — at least as far as a direct connection goes — will be complete. These changes also mean that accessory makers will have to alter their designs, as well, especially case manufacturers. The magnetic Smart Cover’s design, for example, no longer has a place in this flat-edged world.

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BMW Is Testing Electric Cars With Four Motors For Its Fiercest M EVs

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The company’s M xDrive four-wheel drive system is currently in the testing phase, but has already produced some very promising results. The system gives each wheel its own electric motor and runs through a “highly integrated control unit” that takes action based on the driving conditions and the driver’s choices. Along with the driving surface, several other factors are taken into consideration, including accelerator pedal position, steering angle, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, and wheel speeds. All of this is continually monitored and the optimal amount of power and torque is given to each wheel. The decisions the control unit makes are put into action within milliseconds.

BMW has already tested this technology and claims it delivered a number of benefits, including “significantly higher cornering speeds” even in tough conditions, like rain-soaked or snow-covered roads. A specific example the company gave involved the control unit eliminating understeer by temporarily giving more power to the rear outside wheel. The motors also recoup energy when braking. This has been a common feature on many EVs and hybrids for several years, but BMW’s experimental drive train may be the first to optimize energy recovery on all four wheels.

The concept is being tested out on a modified BMW i4 M50 with the front end based around an adapted body strut concept taken from an M3/M4 chassis, and a radiator unit configuration modeled on current high-performance sports cars. The test car is designed to have high torsional rigidity during dynamic driving situations.

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The Truth About Porsche’s Complicated Model Number System

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Why did it start with the number seven? According to the book “Porsche, Excellence Was Expected” by Karl Ludvigsen, the designers didn’t want Wanderer to “think they were a bunch of novices.” And if you want to get really technical, the very first car Ferdinand built was the Egger-Lohner C2 Phaeton (designated P1) in 1898. Remember, literally every project the company worked on received a successively higher number, from axles to suspensions, gearboxes, and even tractors. Yes, Porsche designed an even slower vehicle than the Volkswagen Thing.

In 1932 came type 22, its first Grand Prix car, the 16-cylinder Auto Union race car. For Porsche, the race was indeed on as figuratively as it was literally. Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH worked on all sorts of things, from steering components for Citroën and Fiat to axels, plane and motorcycle engines, and yes… the type 60 KdF-Wagen for Volkswagen (and Hitler), which would go on to fame as the VW Bug. However, the system got a little wonky during World War II, when many numbers in the 200 range were simply skipped over (via Ingenieurbüro Kukuk).

By 1948, its internal numbering system had gotten up into the mid-300s. In June of that year, the first vehicle that displayed the official Porsche name rolled into existence with the now iconic Porsche 356, according to the automaker. But it came with a new wrinkle: as the 356 evolved with the latest technological advances, each subsequent model was designated with letters (A, B, C). Alphabet soup with your zip codes, anyone?

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