After Christchurch, Reddit bans communities infamous for sharing graphic videos of death

In the aftermath of the tragic mosque massacre that claimed 49 lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, tech companies scrambled to purge their platforms of promotional materials that the shooter left behind. As most of the internet is now unfortunately aware, the event was broadcast live on Facebook, making it one of the most horrific incidents of violence to spread through online communities in realtime.

As Twitter users cautioned others from sharing the extraordinarily graphic video, some Reddit users actively sought the video and knew exactly where to look. The infamous subreddit r/watchpeopledie was quarantined (making it unsearchable) in September 2018 but until today remained active for anyone to visit directly. The subreddit has a long history of sharing extremely graphic videos following tragic events and acts of violence, like the 2018 murder of two female tourists in Morocco.

After Thursday’s shooting, the subreddit became extremely active with users seeking out a copy of the video, [...]  read more

Startups Weekly: Spotify gets acquisitive and Instacart screws up

Did anyone else listen to season one of StartUp, Alex Blumberg’s OG Gimlet podcast? I did, and I felt like a proud mom this week reading stories of the major, first-of-its-kind Spotify acquisition of his podcast production company, Gimlet. Spotify also bought Anchor, a podcast monetization platform, signaling a new era for the podcasting industry.

On top of that, Himalaya, a free podcast app I’d never heard of until this week, raised a whopping $100 million in venture capital funding to “establish itself as a new force in the podcast distribution space,” per Variety.

The podcasting business definitely took center stage, but Lime and Bird made headlines, as usual, a new unicorn emerged in the mental health space and Instacart, it turns out, has been screwing its independent contractors.

As mentioned, Spotify, or shall we say Spodify, [...]  read more

Reddit is raising a huge round near a $3 billion valuation

Reddit is raising $150 million to $300 million to keep the front page of the Internet running, multiple sources tell TechCrunch. The forthcoming Series D round is said to be led by Chinese tech giant Tencent at a $2.7 billion pre-money valuation. Depending on how much follow-on cash Reddit drums up from Silicon Valley investors and beyond, its post-money valuation could reach an epic $3 billion.

As more people seek esoteric community and off-kilter entertainment online, Reddit continues to grow its link sharing forums. 330 million monthly active users now frequent its 150,000 Subreddits. That warrants the boost to its valuation, which previously reached $1.8 billion when raised $200 million in July 2017. As of then, Reddit’s majority stake was still held by publisher Conde Nast that bought in back in 2006 just a year after the site launched. Reddit had raised $250 million previously, so the new round will push it to $400 million to $550 million in total funding.

It should [...]  read more

The nation-state of the internet

The internet is a community, but can it be a nation-state? It’s a question that I have been pondering on and off this year, what with the rise of digital nomads and the deeply libertarian ethos baked into parts of the blockchain community. It’s clearly on a lot of other people’s minds as well: when we interviewed Matt Howard of Norwest on Equity a few weeks back, he noted (unprompted) that Uber is one of the few companies that could reach “nation-state” status when it IPOs.

Clearly, the internet is home to many, diverse communities of similar-minded people, but how do those communities transmute from disparate bands into a nation-state?

That question led me to Imagined Communities, a book from 1983 and one of the most lauded (and debated) social science works ever published. Certainly it is among the most heavily cited: Google Scholar pegs it at almost 93,000 citations.

Benedict Anderson, a political scientist and historian, ponders over a simple question: where does nationalism [...]  read more

One-year-old Bracket Capital is already an investor in Lyft, Bird, Airbnb and Coinbase

Bracket Capital quietly emerged onto the scene in 2017 and has since invested in 23 technology startups, including the likes of Lyft, Bird, Airbnb and Coinbase. Today, the founders are coming out of stealth, ready to talk about what’s gone on behind the scenes.

Bracket is led by Yalda Aoukar and Jihan Bowes-Little, co-founders and managing directors based in Doha, Qatar and Los Angeles, respectively. The two relative unknowns, in venture at least, have had successful careers at private equity groups and hedge funds, recently opting to steer their careers in different directions.

“Venture is one of the best performing asset classes of the last 35 years,” Aoukar told TechCrunch. “If we look at the economic cycle at the moment — investors are bracing for a downturn.”

“Venture, by its nature, is quite defensible as an asset class. It’s the best hedge that we can take vis-a-vis any market volatility or potential correction that the markets may be poised for.”

Bracket has [...]  read more

Reddit and Patreon team up to help creators foster community

Patreon user flair on reddit

Creators will be able to reward people for their patronage with dedicated Reddit flair (essentially a label that reads “Patron” after their username) that gives them a little recognition for their direct support and lets creators instantly see if someone in their subreddit is a subscriber. Creators can add flair to their own Reddit accounts, and they have the option of adding widgets to their pages on Patreon that link to their Reddit communities.

The idea seems to be, as with Patreon’s Discord integration, that the partnership will allow smoother communication and foster deeper connections between creators and their fans, while boosting creators’ subscriber numbers and income. The effort is starting with a limited number of creators and communities, including artist and musician Amanda Palmer, before rolling out to more next week.

 [...]  read more

Best Buy stocked an unannounced Chromecast ahead of Google’s hardware event

Google’s big hardware event, scheduled for October 9, is expected to feature the new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones. But now we know that Google will probably reveal a third-generation model of Chromecast, thanks to one recent Best Buy customer who discovered the device on store shelves.


“GroveStreetHomie” detailed his experience on a Reddit post entitled “I think I bought the 3rd gen Chromecast too early.”

According to the Reddit post, the customer went to Best Buy earlier to pick up a Chromecast for a new TV. That’s when “GroveStreetHomie” noticed the packaging and design was different from an earlier version.

The cashier wasn’t able to scan the item because it wasn’t in the system yet. The release date was labeled October 9 — the same day as the 2018 Google hardware event.

“But since I already had it in my hand and was the same price as the 2nd generation Chromecast, they let me have it under the old SKU,” the post read.

This new unannounced Chromecast [...]  read more

Unpaid and abused: Moderators speak out against Reddit

“It absolutely is a major risk factor for things like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety,” said Lucy Bowes, an associate professor of experimental psychology at the University of Oxford who specializes in cyberbullying.

“It absolutely is a major risk factor for things like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.”

“I suspect the people who are vulnerable drop out quite early because it hurts so much,” said Bowes. “Clearly it’s not OK for anyone, but I imagine it’s quite self-selecting.”

She warns that the longer a moderator works, the greater the risk of developing psychological problems. While many people will be resilient enough to cope with the abuse up to a point, others will crack at a certain threshold. Bowes said that moderators with pre-existing mental health issues would be especially at risk.

“This will build up and build up, and you’ll start seeing things like missing work, [...]  read more

Reddit moderators spotted Iranian fake news campaign months ago

After noticing certain Reddit users were posting divisive political content from some obscure news sites, one moderator, Alex Brown, and a few others began investigating. By looking into website identification data and tracking IP addresses, the group was able to determine that the websites were linked to Iran and were part of a propaganda effort. “I tried going to the admins,” Brown told NBC News. “I told them about this [eight] days ago. These are hard examples of literal fake news, with clear evidence pointing to the Iranian government.”

According to documents viewed by NBC News, the group tried to notify Reddit employees over two dozen times. Their first attempt was in July 2017 and the most recent attempts were made last week. Brown and Josh Russell, who worked with Brown and is interested in misinformation campaigns such as this one, say the effort was similar to the Russian [...]  read more

Mark Zuckerberg: CEO, billionaire, troll

You know that guy. The one who pops into a chill online community and makes everyone miserable. The one who says he’s “just asking questions” about women able to do math, black people and evolution, shooting victims and paid actors, the validity of the Holocaust.

He’s the one that mods have to kick out for “JAQing off” (“Just Asking Questions”) because he clearly has bad intentions to harm the community and recruit hate. The troll who feigns naïveté and uses free speech as a foil.

This week we learned that if you give that guy a platform for his voice, he’ll out himself real fast. Right now, headlines blare Zuckerberg in Holocaust denial row and Fortune 500 C.E.O. Says Holocaust Deniers Must Be Given “a Voice”.

To be clear, on Tuesday Zuckerberg gave a wandering kid-glove interview with Kara Swisher of Recode[...]  read more