Anti-vaxx propaganda has gone viral on Facebook. Pinterest has a cure

Julia Carrie Wong reported for The Guardian about how Pinterest is taking action against anti-vaccination propaganda that Facebook has failed to address.

Pinterest has responded by building a “blacklist” of “polluted” search terms.

“We are doing our best to remove bad content, but we know that there is bad content that we haven’t gotten to yet,” explained Ifeoma Ozoma, a public policy and social impact manager at Pinterest. “We don’t want to surface that with search terms like ‘cancer cure’ or ‘suicide’. We’re hoping that we can move from breaking the site to surfacing only good content. Until then, this is preferable.”

It doing the socially responsible thing. Common sense isn’t common. We need to have some form of gatekeeping to ensure the right information goes out. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean free reach.

AirPods are the second-best selling Apple product within two years of launch, search rate up 500% YoY

Alex Allegro reported for 9to5Mac that AirPods are the second-best selling Apple product within two years of launch with search rate up 500% year-on-yar.

When comparing between AirPods search interest from December 2016 — the initial month of release — and data from December 2018, Google search rates have skyrocketed a massive ten times over.

Above Avalon explains,
Comparing peak AirPods search interest over the three most recent holiday seasons, the juxtaposition is startling. The following are Google search interest for “AirPods” in the U.S. indexed to 100 (represents maximum search interest):

  • 2016 holiday season: 10 (AirPods search interest was 10% the volume of peak search interest).
  • 2017 holiday season: 20 (100% year-over-growth in search interest)
  • 2018 holiday season: 100 (500% year-over-year growth in search interest)

Everyone I know who has AirPods rave about them. Looking forward to the next generation model.

How did Apple’s AirPods go from mockery to millennial status symbol?

Elena Cresci reported on how Apple’s AirPods went from mockery to millennial status symbol.

Of all the widely ridiculed tech products, Apple’s AirPods have experienced an extraordinary turnaround. Back in 2016, they were roundly mocked by the tech industry. Tiny wireless earbuds? It seemed like a recipe for disaster – streets would be littered with these lost headphones, which would clutter up city pavements like discarded gloves and babies’ socks.

It is worth noting that such mockery has often been aimed at Apple products. A classic example is the iPhone. People laughed at the lack of a physical keyboard and the pricing. Then there’s the memes about the iPad name sound like sanitary pads. How’s iconic is the iPad brand today?

Those who don’t understand or appreciate the products are quick to make fun of it. In hindsight, the mockery made good publicity and Apple gets the last laugh.

Baidu has built an AI cat shelter to care for strays

TechNode reported that Baidu has built an AI cat shelter to care for strays.

The shelter, which comes complete with toys, regular dispatches of food and water, and warm spaces to sleep, features feline facial recognition to grant access. It can also check its guests for various diseases and assess whether or not they’ve been neutered. If it identifies a sick cat, a message is sent to a nearby volunteer organization that looks after stray animals to come and administer the required help.

[…]

Baidu’s development is an especially impactful one for northern China’s cat population, with sub-zero temperatures and the difficulty of obtaining food leading Dongbei News to estimate that just 4 in 10 stray cats make it through the winter in the country’s northeastern regions.

Tech can make the world a better place if we put our hearts to it.

Vimeo revenue jumps 54 percent in 2018, but it is still making a loss

Reuters reported that Vimeo revenue jumped 54 percent in 2018, paying subscribers near 1 million.

Its 2018 revenue of $160 million — disclosed for the first time by IAC — rose from $103.3 million in the previous year, while the number of paying subscribers climbed 9 percent year-over-year to about 952,000 by the end of December.

Although Vimeo’s revenue is expected to rise “20 to 30 percent in the near-term,” according to its Chief Executive Anjali Sud, the video service is far from making a profit as it burns cash on product development and aggressive marketing to popularize its brand.

This reminds me of an analogy I came across a few days back.

https://twitter.com/marckohlbrugge/status/1092702191448539136

In this scenario, we can take these additional steps:

  1. Buy $20,000 worth of salt
  2. Sell for $16,000.
  3. Now you get a 60% increase in revenue.

People often get too caught up with revenue figures without looking deeper to understand the actual health of a company. That being said, the same applies in the opposite direction. Figures can make the situation look worse than it is if you don’t get to see the bigger picture, or if you look at the numbers with misleading or even wrong information.

Apple tells app developers to disclose or remove screen recording code

Zack Whittaker reported for TechCrunch that Apple is telling app developers to disclose or remove screen recording code.

It follows an investigation by TechCrunch that revealed major companies, like Expedia, Hollister and Hotels.com, were using a third-party analytics tool to record every tap and swipe inside the app. We found that none of the apps we tested asked the user for permission, and none of the companies said in their privacy policies that they were recording a user’s app activity.

Even though sensitive data is supposed to be masked, some data — like passport numbers and credit card numbers — was leaking.

Apple is giving the app developers only 24 hours to remove the screen recording codes, or the apps would be removed from the App Store.

What is notable here isn’t the speed at which Apple is enforcing this. It’s the lack of action from Google or any other Android app stores. If you are using Android version of these apps, it would be safer to assume that these apps are still recording your screens as you use the apps.

Western companies build products, while Chinese companies build ecosystems

TechNode wrote about why WeChat blocks competitors, while Facebook doesn’t.

Chinese and Western companies tend to have a dramatically different approach to expansion. In a few words: Western companies build products, while Chinese companies build ecosystems.

Nowhere is this trend more obvious than in the investment pattern of Chinese and Western companies. Chinese companies tend to be much more active early-stage investors into booming companies.

The purpose of these investments is to build a system of allegiance to the group. After receiving investment, the company will have to integrate with the ecosystem of the group and reject the competing ecosystem.

As a consequence, Pinduoduo heavily integrates with WeChat and offers WeChat Pay as a recommended payment method, while JD.com doesn’t support Alipay at all. Both companies, of course, received investment from Tencent.

This trend of joining an existing ecosystem is prevalent in many industries in China. Franchising is common not only in the food and beverages industry, but also in retail stores, hospitality outlets, convenience stores, and even logistics.

Many small business owners become franchisees to leverage on the brand reputation, expertise, market knowledge, and network they gain. They receive training, market analysis, and even the equipment to offer products and service at a better level than if they started out on their own. They also get to bring in a larger range of products at a lower price.

The franchise benefits by expanding faster than if they were to set up their own stores in every part of each city in the country. Convenience stores appear every other street in each town in a city. It would require a large investment and effort to accomplish this if they expanded on their own. Taking up franchises allow them to sweep through the region, often utilising existing store spaces and staff.

Likewise, it makes more sense for the large companies to create an ecosystem. They don’t need to risk entering a new market, yet they can tap on the existing user base of their allies.

This is a big difference from Western companies that rely on acquisitions to gain new technology or human resources.

These acquisitions can be major operations aimed at overtaking superstar products (such as Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus Rift or Apple acquisition of Shazam last September).

But more often than not, these acquisitions are technology or acqui-hiring operations aimed at developing existing products, such as the acquisition of Redkix by Facebook in July 2018 (which was merged with Workplace by Facebook) or the purchase of Senosis by Google in September 2018 (which was merged with Nest Lab).

Western companies tend to consolidate their expertise and manpower under a single company. Of course, this isn’t exclusive to the west and acquisition sometimes even happen within an ecosystem. The acquisition and subsequent assimilation of Mobike by Meituan is a good example.

A Tiny Screw Shows Why iPhones Won’t Be Assembled in USA

Jack Nikas reported for The New York Times on why iPhones won’t be assembled in USA.

In China, Apple relied on factories that can produce vast quantities of custom screws on short notice. In Texas, where they say everything is bigger, it turned out the screw suppliers were not.

Tests of new versions of the computer were hamstrung because a 20-employee machine shop that Apple’s manufacturing contractor was relying on could produce at most 1,000 screws a day.

Remember the fidget spinner fad last year? How were the manufacturers able to produce so many of those in just such a short span of time? The product used bicycle parts and there are hundreds of factories in China producing bicycle components.

Stiff competition also means that suppliers would go the extra mile to provide better service and the shortest lead time to gain an edge over their competitors.

Mobike to rebrand as Meituan Bike, fully integrate into Meituan’s app

Jill Shen reported for TechNode on Mobike rebranding as Meituan Bike, and fully integrating into Meituan’s app.

Chinese bike-rental company Mobike will rebrand as Meituan Bike as it abandons its standalone app to be included in internet giant Meituan’s platform as an in-app feature.

The Chinese bike-rental firm will also become a distinct business group within the lifestyle services company. Wang Huiwen, Meituan’s senior vice president and co-founder, made the announcement in an internal memo to employees on Wednesday morning. A company spokesperson later confirmed the news to TechNode.

As an early adopter of Mobike and a daily rider, I’m saddened to see the brand go as it becomes assimilated by its new parent company. Mobike’s brand is strong, but it makes more sense for Meituan to strengthen their brand by rebranding Mobike with Meituan’s name. Locals who don’t follow business news have no idea that Mobike is now part of Meituan. The rebranding will change that.

Ofo bikes are noticeably less available now, with busy bike sharing points being flooded by Mobike, and often with the newest model.

74% of Facebook users say they did not know about the platform’s list of their interests

Pew Research Center reported about Facebook algorithms and personal data.

Facebook makes it relatively easy for users to find out how the site’s algorithm has categorized their interests via a “Your ad preferences” page. Overall, however, 74% of Facebook users say they did not know that this list of their traits and interests existed until they were directed to their page as part of this study.

Help educate your friends and family about how Facebook monetises their interests.