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Mobile social network Path, once a challenger to Facebook, is closing down

It’s that time again, folks, time to say goodbye to a social media service from days past. Following the shuttering of Klout earlier this year, now Path, the one-time rival to Facebook, is closing its doors, according to an announcement made today. (Yes, you may be surprised to learn that Path was still alive.) The eight-year-old service will close down in one month — October 18 — but it will be removed from the App Store and Google Play on October 1. Any remaining users have until October 18 to download a copy of their data, which can be done here. It is with deep regret to announce that Path service will be discontinued. It has been a long journey and we sincerely thank each one of you for your years of love and support Path. Please visit here https://t.co/2MFh5A7C23 fo...

Three years later, Let’s Encrypt has issued over 380 million HTTPS certificates

Bon anniversaire, Let’s Encrypt! The free-to-use nonprofit was founded in 2014 in part by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is backed by Akamai, Google, Facebook, Mozilla and more. Three years ago Friday, it issued its first certificate. Since then, the numbers have exploded. To date, more than 380 million certificates have been issued on 129 million unique domains. That also makes it the largest certificate issuer in the world, by far. Now, 75 percent of all Firefox traffic is HTTPS, according to public Firefox data — in part thanks to Let’s Encrypt. That’s a massive increase from when it was founded, where only 38 percent of website page loads were served over an HTTPS encrypted connection. “Change at that speed and scale is incredible,” a spokesperson ...

Facebook’s new ‘SapFix’ AI automatically debugs your code

Facebook has quietly built and deployed an artificial intelligence programming tool called SapFix that scans code, automatically identifies bugs, tests different patches and suggests the best ones that engineers can choose to implement. Revealed today at Facebook’s @Scale engineering conference, SapFix is already running on Facebook’s massive code base and the company plans to eventually share it with the developer community. “To our knowledge, this marks the first time that a machine-generated fix — with automated end-to-end testing and repair — has been deployed into a codebase of Facebook’s scale,” writes Facebook’s developer tool team. “It’s an important milestone for AI hybrids and offers further evidence that search-based software engineering can r...

Facebook rolls out photo/video fact checking so partners can train its AI

Sometimes fake news lives inside of Facebook as photos and videos designed to propel misinformation campaigns, instead of off-site on news articles that can generate their own ad revenue. To combat these politically rather than financially-motivated meddlers, Facebook has to be able to detect fake news inside of images and the audio that accompanies video clips. Today its expanding its photo and video fact checking program from four countries to all 23 of its fact-checking partners in 17 countries. “Many of our third-party fact-checking partners have expertise evaluating photos and videos and are trained in visual verification techniques, such as reverse image searching and analyzing image metadata, like when and where the photo or video was taken” says Facebook product manager...

Facebook is opening its first data center in Asia

Facebook is opening its first data center in Asia. The company announced today that it is planning an 11-story building in Singapore that will help its services run faster and more efficiently. The development will cost SG$1.4 billion, or around US$1 billion, the company confirmed. The social networking firm said that it anticipates that the building will be powered 100 percent by renewable energy. It said also that it will utilize a new ‘StatePoint Liquid Cooling’ system technology, which the firm claims minimizes the consumption of water and power. Facebook said that the project will create hundreds of jobs and “form part of our growing presence in Singapore and across Asia.” A render of what Facebook anticipates that its data center in Singapore will look like As...

How to watch Facebook and Twitter’s big hearings with Congress

On Wednesday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will appear before Congress in the latest high profile hearings for tech on Capitol Hill. The main event will take place at 9:30 a.m. ET, as the pair of tech execs faces the defense and cybersecurity-minded Senate Select Intelligence Committee. Following that hearing, Dorsey will stick around for a chat with the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a hearing set for 1:30 p.m ET. For a thorough preview, you can catch Facebook and Twitter’s opening statements. In the Senate hearing, expect most of the discussion to focus on the company’s efforts to thwart coordinated efforts by US adversaries to influence domestic politics. Titled “Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms,&#...

UK media giants call for independent oversight of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter

The UK’s leading broadcasters and ISPs have called for the government to introduce independent regulatory oversight of social media content. The group of media and broadband operators in the tightly regulated industries spans both the state-funded and commercial sector — with the letter to the Sunday Telegraph being inked with signatures from the leaders of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, BT and TalkTalk. They argue there’s an “urgent” need for independent oversight of social media, and counter suggestions that such a move would amount to censorship by pointing out that tech companies are already making choices about what to allow (or not) on their platforms. They are argue independent oversight is necessary to ensure “accountability and transparency” over those...

It’s time for Facebook and Twitter to coordinate efforts on hate speech

Since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, there has been burgeoning awareness of the hate speech on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. While activists have pressured these companies to improve their content moderation, few groups (outside of the German government) have outright sued the platforms for their actions. That’s because of a legal distinction between media publications and media platforms that has made solving hate speech online a vexing problem. Take, for instance, an op-ed published in the New York Times calling for the slaughter of an entire minority group.  The Times would likely be sued for publishing hate speech, and the plaintiffs may well be victorious in their case. Yet, if that op-ed were published in a Facebook post, a suit against Facebook would...

How Silicon Valley should celebrate Labor Day

Ask any 25-year old engineer what Labor Day means to him or her, and you might get an answer like: it’s the surprise three-day weekend after a summer of vacationing. Or it’s the day everyone barbecues at Dolores Park. Or it’s the annual Tahoe trip where everyone gets to relive college. Or simply, it’s the day we get off because we all work so hard. And while founders and employees in startup land certainly work hard, wearing their 80-hour workweeks as a badge of honor, closing deals on conference calls in an air-conditioned WeWork is a far cry from the backbreaking working conditions of the 1880s, the era when Labor Day was born. For everyone here in Silicon Valley, we should not be celebrating this holiday triumphantly over beers and hot dogs, complacent in the belief that our gravest lab...

Chat app Line hopes its own crypto token can solve its user growth problem

Line, the Japanese messaging app firm that’s best known for its cutesy characters and stickers, is pushing deeper into crypto after it launched its own token to help grow its stagnant user base. Line went public two years ago with 218 million monthly active users, but it hasn’t been able to kick on. The company no longer gives out its worldwide user number, but the number of active users in its four biggest markets has fallen from 169 million in Q2 2017 to 164 million in its recent Q2 2018 period. Link — Line’s token — isn’t being minted through an ICO, instead, it’ll be given out to Line users as an incentive for using certain services. Line hasn’t said exactly how it can be earned yet, although it is likely that it’ll be tied to specific activities to promote engagement. Line plans to us...

Google, Facebook, Twitter chiefs called back to Senate Intelligence Committee

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief operations officer Sheryl Sandberg will testify in an open hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee next week, the committee’s chairman has confirmed. Larry Page, chief executive of Google parent company Alphabet, was also invited but has not confirmed his attendance, a committee spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said in a release that the social media giants will be asked about their responses to foreign influence operations on their platforms in an open hearing on September 5. It will be the second time the Senate Intelligence Committee, which oversees the government’s intelligence and surveillance efforts, will have called the companies to testify. But it will be the first time that senior leadership...

Facebook has removed all cross-posted tweets

Facebook users are complaining the company has removed the cross-posted Tweets they had published to their profiles as Facebook updates. The posts’ removal took place following the recent API change that prevented Twitter users from continuing to automatically publish their Tweets to Facebook. According to the affected parties, both the Facebook posts themselves, as well as the conversation around those posts that had taken place directly on Facebook, are now gone. Reached for comment, Facebook says it’s aware of the issue and is looking into it. TechCrunch was alerted to the problem by a reader who couldn’t find any information about the issue in Facebook’s Help Center. We’ve since confirmed the issue ourselves with several affected parties and confirmed it with Facebook. Given the real-t...