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This Week in Apps: Apple launches a COVID-19 app, the outbreak’s impact on social and video apps and more

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all. The app industry saw a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies h...
Tags: Apple, Ios, Google, Android, Social, Gaming, Apps, Instagram, Cdc, Tech, Smartphones, Monetization, Growth, App Annie, Extra Crunch, Coronavirus


Facebook appoints Treasury’s Kimmitt as lead independent board director

Facebook has filled the lead independent board director role with former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and U.S. Ambassador to Germany Robert M. Kimmitt. His job will be to serve as the go-between connecting Facebook CEO and controlling shareholder Mark Zuckerberg with the rest of the board. Meanwhile, the CEO of The Cranemere Group Limited Jeffrey D. Zients will not seek re-election to Facebook’s board at the 2020 annual meeting, but will serve until then. Kimmitt replaces Dr. Susan Desmon...
Tags: Social, TC, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, Drew Houston, Government, Germany, Defense, US, Tech, Netflix, United States, Treasury, Estee Lauder, Bob, Vietnam


It’s still easy to find coronavirus mask ads on Facebook

Ads for face masks are still appearing on Facebook, Instagram and Google, according to a review of the platforms carried out by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP). This despite pledges by the platforms that they would stamp out ads which seek to profit from the coronavirus pandemic. Facebook said on March 6 that it would temporarily ban commerce listings and advertisements for medical face masks, in an effort to combat price-gouging and misinformation during the COVID-19 crisis. Google ...
Tags: Google, Social, TC, Facebook, Instagram, Advertising Tech, Social Media, Tech, Whatsapp, Mask, Ftc, Targeted Advertising, Online Advertising, Mark Warner, Facebook Instagram, Facebook Page


People who mostly get news from social networks have some COVID-19 misconceptions

A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows a COVID-19 information divide between people who mostly get their news from social networks and those who rely on more traditional news sources. Pew surveyed 8,914 adults in the U.S. during the week of March 10, dividing survey respondents by the main means they use to consume political and election news. In the group of users that reports getting most of their news from social media, only 37% of respondents said that they expected the COVI...
Tags: Health, Social, TC, News, Social Networks, Social Media, Communication, Tech, United States, Digital Media, Pew, Pew Research Center, New Media, Web 2.0, Misinformation, Print Media


Control each other’s apps with new screensharing tool Screen

It’s like Google Docs for everything. Screen is a free interactive multiplayer screensharing app that gives everyone a cursor so they can navigate, draw on, and even code within the apps of their co-workers while voice or video chatting. Screen makes it easy and fun to co-design content, pair program, code review or debug together, or get feedback from a teacher. Jahanzeb Sherwani sold his last screensharing tool ScreenHero to Slack, but it never performed as well crammed inside the messaging a...
Tags: Google, Social, Startups, TC, Mobile, Apps, Post, Enterprise, Instagram, Tech, Screen, Google Docs, Video Chat, Slack, Sherwani, Screenhero


Pinterest launches a ‘Today’ tab featuring daily recommendations and trending topics

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to record Pinterest usage as people stuck at home increased their searches for things like lesson plans, kids’ crafts, new recipes, and gardening ideas. Last weekend, for example, Pinterest saw more searches and saves globally than any other weekend in its history. And in the U.S., it saw record numbers of Pin sharing, as messages from the “Send a Pin” feature jumped 34%. In light of the increased demand, Pinterest has moved up the launch of its Today tab — a new fe...
Tags: Social, Mobile, Apps, Pinterest, France, Germany, Tech, App, Recommendations, France Spain, Searches, Today tab Pinterest


Twitter is donating $1M across two foundations to support journalism during the coronavirus pandemic

Social media companies have been hard at work to make sure they play a helpful rather than harmful role in disseminating news and information about the coronavirus pandemic. Today, Twitter took an extra step beyond its own platform to put its efforts into the wider, already under-pressure world of journalism. Twitter announced that it would be donating $1 million equally between two organizations, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women’s Media Foundation, to further ...
Tags: Health, Social, TC, Facebook, Twitter, Media, Tech, Journalism, Journalists, CJP, CPJ, Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon, Vijaya Gadde, Gadde, International Women 's Media Foundation


Instagram launches Co-Watching of posts during video chat

Now you can scroll Instagram together with friends, turning a typically isolating, passive experience into something more social and active. Today Instagram launched Co-Watching, which lets friends on a video chat or group video chat browse through feed posts one user has Liked or Saved, or that Instagram recommends. Co-Watching could let people ooh, ahh, joke, and talk about Instagram’s content instead of just consuming it solo and maybe posting it to a chat thread so friends can do the same...
Tags: Social, Startups, TC, Mobile, Facebook, Apps, Media, Instagram, Privacy, Tech, Facebook Messenger, Squad, Instagram Direct, Today Instagram, Facebook Watch, Instagram Story


The best video chat apps to turn social distancing into distant socializing

The vicissitudes of social distancing have taken many people by surprise, making video calls a new necessity for distant socializing. But which of the two dozen apps out there should you and your (perhaps not as tech-savvy) friends and family use? Here are our recommendations, whether it’s for a coffee meeting, a family get-together, or a late night gaming hangout. This list is for individuals looking for a free solution to easily connect with others, not for small businesses or enterprises. The...
Tags: Apple, Google, Social, TC, Facebook, Apps, Instagram, Tech, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Squad, Marco Polo, Skype, Video Chat, Video Conferencing, Video Calling


Facebook Messenger provides governments, agencies with free developer tools to combat Covid-19

Big tech has been making a huge effort to mobilize its power to help people work better together to battle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — whether it’s creating search and information portals or making sure the most authoritative voices are surfacing above the noise, or gathering compute power to supercharge research efforts to find vaccines. Today, it is the turn of Facebook: the company announced a number of initiatives around Messenger, its messaging platform with 1.3 billion users, to hel...
Tags: Health, Social, Startups, TC, Facebook, Apps, Messenger, Education, Developer, Messaging, Hack, Pakistan, Facebook Messenger, Argentina, Un, Hackathon


With kids and adults staying at home, are virtual worlds ready for primetime?

We’ve been diligently following the development of virtual worlds, also known as the “metaverse,” on TechCrunch. Hanging out within the virtual worlds of games has become more popular in recent years with the growth of platforms like Roblox and open-world games like Fortnite, but it still isn’t a mainstream way to socialize outside of the young-adult demographic. Three weeks ago, TechCrunch media columnist Eric Peckham published an in-depth report that positioned virtual worlds as the next er...
Tags: Social, Gaming, Facebook, Instagram, Social Networks, Amc, Tech, Virtual Worlds, Virtual Reality, Minecraft, Epic Games, Eric, Danny Crichton, Roblox, Metaverse, Eric Peckham


Under quarantine, media is actually social

The flood of status symbol content into Instagram Stories has run dry. No one is going out and doing anything cool right now, and if they are, they should be shamed for it. Beyond sharing video chat happy hour screenshots and quarantine dinner concoctions, our piece-by-piece biographies have ground to a halt. Oddly, what remains feels more social than social networks have in a long time. With no source material, we’re doing it live. Coronavirus has absolved our desire to share the recent past...
Tags: Health, Social, TC, Mobile, Facebook, Apps, New York, Instagram, Opinion, Berlin, US, San Francisco, Social Media, Tech, Spain, Chicago


Twitter prioritizes blue-check verifications to confirm experts on Covid-19 and the novel coronavirus

At long last, here’s an actually useful purpose for Twitter’s blue-check verification mark: Twitter last night announced that it is mobilising the badge system to help surface and signal more authoritative and verified voices that can provide “credible updates” on the topic of the coronavirus, and made a general call out for people that are experts to get all of their information up to date — including associating the word addresses with their accounts — to speed up this process. This is the ...
Tags: Google, Social, Startups, Twitter, Verification, Coronavirus, COVID-19, WHO the CDC, Blue Check, Specifically Twitter


Instagram founder launches gift card site for quarantined restaurants

Coronavirus quarantines are hurting local businesses, but Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger wants to help them keep revenue rolling in. Krieger and his wife Kaitlyn this week launched SaveOurFaves, a directory of Bay Area restaurants selling gift certificates to offset lost income amidst ‘shelter in place’ orders across the region. Users can search for restaurants or browse by neighborhood, and then click through to buy gift certificates straight from the eateries with no added fee from Sa...
Tags: Health, Social, TC, Facebook, Ecommerce, Apps, New York, Instagram, Crowdfunding, California, Government, Restaurants, San Francisco, Tech, Crypto, Payments


Tinder waives Passport fee to help users connect virtually around the world

Dating may be proving next to impossible for many during this era of mass social distancing, but Tinder’s hoping to leverage an existing feature to help bring people closer together. Virtually, at least. The dating app is waving fees for Passport, a feature designed to let premium users connect with people outside of their dating radius. The offer kicks in next week for all users and runs through April 30. Tinder is hoping that it will be adopted for virtual socializing beyond dating. Ou...
Tags: Social, TC, Tinder, Tech, App Annie, Coronavirus, COVID-19, COVID, Hinge The League


Best virtual ways to connect social

Whether you’re on lockdown or sheltering in place, steering clear of loved ones to flatten the coronavirus curve is not doing anyone’s social life any favors. Although we’re all familiar with the physical symptoms to keep an eye on during the health crisis, boredom and loneliness are side effects of the new, post-pandemic normal that can be distressing to our mental health. To cope with social distancing, people are finding new ways to interact with their neighbors and making good use of vid...
Tags: Travel, Social, South Korea, Bbc, Neil Young, Social Life, United States, Pope Francis, Italy, Reddit, Emma Watson, Skype, Chattanooga, All, Michael Symon, Host


Daily Crunch: Facebook and Twitter fight coronavirus misinformation

The big social networks take steps to ensure that they’re providing accurate information for public health, Charter refuses to allow employees to work from home and Microsoft Teams sees a big spike in popularity. Here’s your Daily Crunch for March 19, 2020. 1. Facebook will put a new coronavirus info center on top of the News Feed In an effort to disseminate trustworthy health information on COVID-19, Facebook will roll out its own coronavirus information center — a central hub where the comp...
Tags: Social, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Cdc, Tech, Ada, Accel, Microsoft Teams, EverlyWell, Daily Crunch, Coronavirus, COVID-19, COVID, FDA Emergency Use Authorization, WHO Meanwhile Twitter


Twitter broadly bans any COVID-19 tweets that could help the virus spread

You don’t have to go far to find someone online downplaying the severity of a global pandemic that’s shut down entire economies and ground everyday life to a halt. Knowing that, Twitter will take extra steps to remove tweets that put people at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus as it rapidly sweeps through communities around the globe. On Wednesday, Twitter updated its safety policy to prohibit tweets that “could place people at a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19.” The new policy b...
Tags: Travel, Social, TC, Twitter, Policy, John Mcafee, Fox Business, Devin Nunes, Microsoft Twitter, Facebook Reddit Google, Coronavirus, COVID-19


Facebook will put a new coronavirus info center on top of the News Feed

In an effort to disseminate trustworthy health information on COVID-19, Facebook will roll out its own coronavirus information center, a central hub on the vast social network where the company will collect information from sources like the CDC and WHO. “We’re going to be putting it at the top of everyone’s Facebook feed,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a press call announcing the feature. The info center will roll out in “a number” of U.S. locations and some in Europe across the next 2...
Tags: Social, TC, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, Europe, Cdc, Government, Tech, Zuckerberg, Microsoft Facebook, Coronavirus, COVID-19


Around is the new floating head video chat multitasking app

You have to actually get work done, not just video call all day, but apps like Zoom want to take over your screen. Remote workers who need to stay in touch while staying productive are forced to juggle tabs. Meanwhile, call participants often look and sound far away, dwarfed by their background and drowned in noise. Today, Around launches its new video chat software that crops participants down to just circles that float on your screen so you have space for other apps. Designed for laptops, A...
Tags: Travel, Google, Social, Fundings & Exits, Startups, TC, Apps, Video, Enterprise, Funding, Godaddy, Facebook Messenger, Video Chat, Ryan Hoover, Garry Tan, Credo Ventures


Slack introduces simplified interface as usage moves deeper into companies

When Slack first launched in 2013, the product was quickly embraced by developers, and the early product reflected that. To get at advanced tools, you used a slash (/) command, but the company recognizes that as it moves deeper into the enterprise, it needed to simplify the interface. Today, the company introduced a newly designed interface aimed at easing the user experience, making Slack more of an accessible enterprise communications hub. Jaime DeLanghe, director of product management at S...
Tags: Social, Work From Home, TC, Enterprise, Tech, SaaS, Communications, Stewart Butterfield, Slack, Interface Design, Delanghe, Jaime DeLanghe, Enterprise Social Tools, Slack DeLanghe


Beware of “ZoomBombing”: screensharing filth to video calls

The world is vulnerable to a new type of trolling as people turn to Zoom video calls to feel connected amidst quarantines. Jerks are using Zoom’s screensharing feature to blast other viewers with the most awful videos from across the internet, from violence to shocking pornography. That’s just what happened today on the WFH Happy Hour, a popular daily public Zoom call hosted by The Verge reporter Casey Newton and investor Hunter Walk. Suddenly, dozens of attendees were bombarded with disturbi...
Tags: Social, TC, Apps, Drama, Tech, Newton, Video Calling, Zoom, Sally, Jim, Casey Newton, Coronavirus, COVID-19


Facebook wrongly blocked some links, including coronavirus info

Facebook suffered from a massive bug in its News Feed spam filter, causing URLs to legitimate websites including Medium, Buzzfeed, and USA Today to be blocked from being shared as posts or comments. The issue blocked shares of some but not all coronavirus-related content, while some unrelated links are allowed through and others are not. Facebook has been trying to fight back against misinformation related to the outbreak, but may have gotten overzealous or experienced a technical error. A s...
Tags: Health, Social, Startups, TC, Facebook, Apps, Instagram, Usa Today, Facebook News Feed, Zuckerberg, Rosen, Chan Zuckerberg, Guy Rosen, Facebook Bug, Facebook content moderation


Instagram uses its power to put Coronavirus tips atop feed

Instagram is embracing its potential as a news source, employing its ubiquity to distribute Coronavirus prevention techniques through a new call-out at the top of its homescreen feed. In some countries, Instagram will show a link to information from the World Health Organization and local health ministries along with a message like this: “Help Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus: See the latest information from the World Health Organization so you can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. — Go t...
Tags: Health, Social, TC, Mobile, Apps, UK, Instagram, Nbc, Washington Post, Government, Tech, Snapchat, World Health Organization, WSJ, Facebook Snapchat, Coronavirus


Russian trolls are outsourcing to Africa to stoke US racial tensions

With tech companies wise to many of the tactics that Russia’s now-infamous troll farms used to seed disinformation during the 2016 election, those campaigns are getting creative. According to a pair of reports out from Facebook and Twitter, a disinformation campaign run by individuals with links to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) is back and focused on the U.S., but this time it’s being run out of Africa. “This network was in the early stages of building an audience and was operated by l...
Tags: Social, TC, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook Pages, Government, Russia, Nigeria, Africa, US, Tech, Cnn, Ghana, Internet Research Agency, Disinformation


Senate bill seeks to ban Chinese app TikTok from government work phones

On Thursday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced legislation to further restrict the use of the popular viral video app TikTok on government devices. The bill seeks to expand existing federal guidance prohibiting use of TikTok to encompass any U.S. government-issued device. The legislation is the most recent effort by U.S. lawmakers to limit Chinese-built tech software, devices and components for fear that those products have the potential to be leveraged by the Chinese g...
Tags: Social, TC, Facebook, Asia, Congress, Government, Senate, China, Tech, Beijing, United States, National Security, US Navy, Trump, U S, Hawley


TikTok to open a ‘Transparency Center’ where outside experts can examine its moderation practices

TikTok, the popular social media app owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has been under a national security investigation by U.S. lawmakers who have raised concerns about the company’s access to U.S. user data and whether it was censoring content at the behest of the Chinese government. Today, TikTok tries to combat these concerns with the opening of a “Transparency Center” that will allow outside experts to examine and verify TikTok’s practices. The new facility in TikTok’s L.A. office wil...
Tags: Social, Apps, Hong Kong, Washington Post, China, Singapore, Censorship, Tech, Bbc, Ireland, Lizzo, Content Moderation, Bytedance, Tiktok, Vanessa Pappas, Roland Cloutier


Twitter rewrites Developer Policy to better support academic research and use of ‘good’ bots

Twitter today updated its Developer Policy to clarify rules around data usage, including in academic research, as well as its position on bots, among other things. The policy has also been entirely rewritten in an effort to simplify the language used and make it more conversational, Twitter says. The new policy has been shortened from eight sections to four, and the accompanying Twitter Developer Agreement has been updated to align with the Policy changes, as well. One of the more notable update...
Tags: Social, Twitter, Tech, Trump, Twitter API


Facebook’s photo transfer tool opens to more users in Europe, LatAm and Africa

Facebook is continuing to open up access to a data porting tool it launched in Ireland in December. The tool lets users of its network transfer photos and videos they have stored on its servers directly to another photo storage service, such as Google Photos, via encrypted transfer. A Facebook spokesman confirmed to TechCrunch that access to the transfer tool is being rolled out today to the UK, the rest of the European Union and additional countries in Latin America and Africa. Late last month...
Tags: Google, Social, TC, Facebook, Apps, Europe, UK, Microsoft, Privacy, Africa, US, Tech, Eu, European Union, Ireland, Flickr


Facebook’s board is its most gender-balanced yet with two new additions

On Monday, Facebook announced the addition of two new names to its board of directors, Nancy Killefer and Tracey T. Travis. Killefer brings potentially valuable government insight to Facebook, as she served in the U.S. Department of the Treasury during the Obama administration. With last year’s departure of former Clinton administration chief of staff Erskine Bowles, Facebook’s board lost one of its voices with deep government experience. In addition to her time in the treasury, Killefer held...
Tags: Social, TC, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, Obama, Drew Houston, Tech, General Motors, Diversity, Netflix, Dropbox, Peter Thiel, Estee Lauder, Andreessen Horowitz, Avon, Reed Hastings