Mozilla’s Mr. Robot promo backfires after it installs a Firefox extension without permission

If you’re a Firefox user, then you may have noticed a weird new extension that suddenly showed up in your browser this week.

The extension is called “Looking Glass 1.0.3” and this is its description: MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT FROM YOURS. Now that sounds ominous. It’s really not, though. It’s a promotional campaign between Firefox and the TV series Mr. Robot that brings an alternate reality game to your browser. This must have sounded like a great idea when somebody pitched it to Mozilla, but the backlash has been fierce.

There are some obvious synergies between the Mr. Robot and Mozilla brands, after all (or so I assume based on what I’ve heard; I’ve only seen one episode). And the extension doesn’t really do anything until you’ve opted into the game.

But still, if Mozilla is positioning itself as the privacy-conscious alternative to Google, Microsoft and others, then installing an extension without asking users first doesn’t feel right at all. It doesn’t read more

Don’t keep cell phones next to your body, California Health Department warns

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a warning against the hazards of cellphone radiation this week. Yes, the thing we are all addicted to and can’t seem to put down is leaking electromagnetic radiation and now California has some guidance to safeguard the public.

The CDPH asks people to decrease their use of these devices and suggests keeping your distance when possible.

“Although the science is still evolving, there are concerns among some public health professionals and members of the public regarding long-term, high use exposure to the energy emitted by cell phones,” said CDPH director Dr. Karen Smith.

The warning comes after findings were offered up this week from a 2009 department document, which was published after an order from the Sacramento Superior Court.

A year ago, UC Berkeley professor Joel Moskowitz initiated read more

UPS bets on blockchain as the future of the trillion-dollar shipping industry

The world is run by trade. Freight and logistics in the U.S. alone account for nearly $1.5 trillion annually (2015 data). As the world’s economies scale up, that number is only expected to increase as we become more dependent on the international supply chain for our goods and services.

The industry, however, is not prepared for growth, as it currently sits on top of a crumbling infrastructure prone to systematic inefficiencies and rampant fraud. Countless intermediaries rake in fees and drive up the price of shipping. The problem is that the complexity and opaqueness of the process make it difficult to put checks and balances in place.

The FBI estimates that cargo theft causes an annual loss of approximately $30 billion per year (U.S.), with an average theft value of $190,000. In effect, cargo theft can cost consumers up to 20 percent more for read more

EyeEm’s new products aim to understand brand aesthetics

EyeEm is unveiling new tools to help the brands and marketers using the site to source their images.

Underlying these tools is a technology called EyeEm Vision, which we described in-depth earlier this year. The goal is to expand image recognition so that it’s not just identifying the objects in the photo, but also its aesthetic qualities.

EyeEm’s co-founder and chief product officer Lorenz Aschoff described EyeEm Vision as an extension of the photography marketplace’s broader mission to address “the content crisis” — namely the fact that when EyeEm was founded in 2011, Aschoff felt that there was a “massive flood of images” that had “completely destroyed the visual aesthetics of the web.”

EyeEm aims to fix that by helping brands find beautiful photographs. And Aschoff said EyeEm Vision has been trained to identify many of the visual elements that make for a good photograph — it is, in his words, “technology that understands, in general, beauty.”

At the same read more

Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Mudbound’ offers a somber look at Mississippi in the 1940s

Mudbound, a Dee Rees-directed film currently streaming on Netflix, is both epic and intimate, telling the intertwined stories of two families (one black, one white) farming on the Mississippi delta.

That description might make the movie sound like a home work assignment, or perhaps a too-neat dissection of race relations in the American South. On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherginton and Anthony Ha discuss how we struggled with the movie — both its seriousness and its early reliance on nearly constant voiceover.

But once we got past our early hesitations, we were rewarded with a compelling, complex film, anchored by a deservedly award-nominated performance by Mary J. Blige. You can hear more of our thoughts in the episode above.

The episode also covers two big pieces of streaming-related news — the FCC’s vote to kill net neutrality and Disney’s deal to acquire Fox’s film and TV divisions.

You can listen to the episode in the player read more

Facebook adds a Snooze button for muting people, groups and Pages for 30 days

Facebook today is launching a new feature designed to give users more control over what content they see in their News Feed: a “Snooze” button. The option, which will become available via the top-right dropdown menu on a post, will mute content from a person, Page or group for 30 days.

The new feature can serve as a way to dial down the content you don’t want to see, without having to fully unfollow or unfriend someone.

For example, if you’ve had enough of someone’s political rants or baby photos, you can temporarily opt to see less of them in your News Feed. You could also turn off a particularly chatty Facebook friend whose continuous updates clutter your feed.

The option could be useful for people going through a breakup, too  – that is, one where they’re staying connected socially, but don’t necessary want constant reminders of what an ex is up to. That’s an area Facebook has explored in the past, with read more

Adobe had a record quarter, but still has substantial untapped potential

Adobe announced a record quarter yesterday with $2.01 billion in revenue for Q42017. That represents a healthy 25 percent year over year increase for the company, but about half of that continues to come from Creative Cloud.

Experience Cloud, which includes Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Analytics Cloud and Adobe Advertising Cloud in many ways represents promise for even greater revenue in the future.

Creative Cloud, which includes popular tools like PhotoShop and InDesign, took in $1.16 billion for the quarter as it continues to be the chief revenue cash cow for the company. That’s not to say the other parts of the company did poorly, but it has to be troubling to Adobe that Creative Cloud represents so much of its revenue with so many enterprise products in other categories.

Last quarter CEO Shantanu Narayen was not happy with the Experience Cloud’s overall performance. Narayan actually called it out in the read more

Equity podcast: Apple’s $400M deals, Target buys a startup and uh-oh net neutrality

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week Katie RoofMatthew Lynley and myself — Alex Wilhelm — were joined by Eric Liaw from IVP to dig through the pre-Christmas news.

Normally, happenings are slow this time of the year. But, living up to its reputation as a year-apart, 2017 is not delivering the normal news slowdown. So, putting aside the latest from Uber, we started with a look at Apple’s massive $400 million Shazam deal, and its other, nearly-$400 million deal in a component company.

Apple, not really known as an overly acquisitive firm, is richer than Croesus. That fact makes its business dealings with smaller firms all the more interesting. Why did Apple decide to open wallet twice for nearly $800 million? We try to find out.

Next, we turned to read more

Let’s meet in New York to talk token sales

I’ve been holding a few micro meet ups over the past few years and thought I’d start it up again in honor of token/ICO mania. I’d love to hear what you all are working on in the New York area so we’ll all meet at Union Hall in Brooklyn next Wednesday at 7pm.

The event is very informal and we’ll plan the next few months of micro-meetups during the event. My goal is to do a few pitching workshops in February and March and then do a real pitch-off in the Spring in preparation for VC season. If you’re interested in talking tokens or honing your startup craft come on out. You can RSVP here.
Featured Image: Klaus Vartzbed EyeEm/Getty Images
social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #techcrunch

Uber Eats couriers in Europe to be offered free accident and sickness insurance

Uber has announced it’s launching a free insurance package for independent couriers delivering food for its Uber Eats business in nine European markets.

It says all couriers with an active account in the covered markets will be able to take up the product free of charge.

The plan will be introduced from January 8, 2018, and will include personal accident insurance during a delivery trip; a cash benefit for severe sickness or injury up to a maximum of 15 days; and third party liability cover up to a maximum of €1M.

The ride-hailing giant has partnered with AXA Corporate Solutions for the bespoke insurance product — which it says will provide “additional protection and security” for couriers delivering for its Uber Eats service in Austria, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Earlier read more