News & Analysis
Early today, the Guardian delivered a remarkable scoop: that anonymous app Whisper employees claim to be tracking users in ways that would make the NSA rise to its feet in applause. Even more remarkable, the claims were made directly to Guardian staffers visiting Whisper to discuss a possible partnership with the app. The Guardian witnessed this practice on a three-day visit to the company’s Los Angeles headquarters last month, as part of a trip to explore the possibility of…
Following a series of arguments from stakeholders across the taxi, car service, and ridesharing spectrum, New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) decided to postpone a vote on controversial rule changes governing ridesharing services today. The current rules allow for a driver who works for a black car service to also accept rides through Uber or Lyft without any fuss. The TLC’s proposal, however, would require drivers to align themselves with just one company or “base” at a time. If…
Following a report from the Guardian that accused anonymous app Whisper of tracking users (which Whisper’s editor-in-chief called “a pack of vicious lies”), the company’s CTO Chad DePue wrote a defense of these practices on Hacker News, downplaying the extent to which the app tracks location. But many members of the Hacker News community aren’t buying it, saying that any attempt to track users on an “anonymous” app is a contradiction and a violation of user trust. [Source:You’re not going to like this. Imagine taking the two most disgusting creatures that torment New Yorkers. Now combine them into one creepy abomination whose capacity to repulse is nothing short of complete; a nightmare-monster associated with the diseases of rats, but small enough, like a bed bug, to creep into your bed while you sleep to tear away tiny bits of your flesh, leaving your skin itchy and red, and your ability to ever relax again just totally gone. No, this isn’t a horror movie. This is another awful reality New Yorkers…
Guardian claims anonymous app Whisper tracks its users; Whisper EIC calls report “a pack of vicious lies.”
If a new report from the Guardian is to be believed, the anonymous messaging app Whisper isn’t nearly as anonymous as it claims. The outlet reports that the company tracks its users’ locations, shares information with the Department of Defense, and stores data on its servers indefinitely. It doesn’t store its users’ names or phone numbers, but with all that other information, how hard would it really be for the company to learn the identity of a given Whisperer?KUWAIT CITY — A strange thing happened in Kobane, the Kurdish border town besieged by Islamic State: It didn’t fall. In fact, today the BBC reported that Islamic State, the supposedly invincible jihadis who have been besieging Kobane, is retreating from the city. Nobody expected that. Well, nobody except me. I’ve been saying for a long time that IS(IS) was the most overhyped military force on the planet, and that IS has been attacking Kobane for fifteen months—fifteen…Uber found itself in a familiar vat of hot water last night after seemingly rate-gouging stranded travelers during a state of emergency. When a Caltrain hit and killed a pedestrian in Palo Alto last night, trains were delayed around the region and and demand for Ubers naturally spiked. The company’s surge pricing algorithm kicked in quickly reaching 3X normal pricing. Frustrated users took to Twitter to voice their outrage, accusing the company of profiteering off of the death and the broader public…Yesterday, HBO announced it would finally make HBOGO available as a standalone service to customers who don’t subscribe to cable, making it more like Netflix than ever before. But there’s still a key difference between the two companies: Their stances on net neutrality. [Source: Quartz]
BBC’s Whatsapp Ebola alerts are more proof that tech can help save the world — it just can’t do it alone
In an effort to help combat the spread of Ebola, the BBC has created a new service that sends “audio, text message alerts and images” in both French and English to subscribers in West Africa via WhatsApp, the messaging service Facebook acquired for $22 billion in September. It’s an interesting counterpoint to the idea that technology can’t help address the Ebola crisis, which has been exacerbated by funding problems and poor infrastrucutre in affected areas. (The BBC’s ability to establish…
Startups Anonymous: “The Rise of the Rest,” and why Steve Case may owe Minnesota startups an apology
Steve Case, billionaire former chair of AOL, is undertaking a theoretically noble endeavor with his “Rise of the Rest” bus tour [Editor's note: Carmel DeAmicis rode along with the tour for a few days and reported on it for Pando]. He’s driving across America on a bus to prove to the world that great business ideas are not exclusively born in Silicon Valley or New York City. How’s that going? Well, he just finished up his visit to Minneapolis where…Facebook is adding a feature to its mobile applications that allows users in areas affected by earthquakes, tornadoes, and other calamities to tell their friends they’re safe. It’s called Safety Check, and it’s the most self-aware feature Facebook has announced in a long while. It’s not unusual for tech companies to make unpopular decisions. People get set in their ways, and the slightest changes to a service can spark outrage. Just ask Twitter after it added a line…Quantopian is growing up. Five months after opening up its algorithmic trading platform to the world’s mathematicians and data scientists and inviting them to prove they can beat the market, today the company announced plans to launch a hedge fund that would see the best of the best among this community managing money on behalf of major institutions. The company also announced $15 million in Series B funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), with participation fromApple plans to stop selling Fitbit products in its stores, Re/code reports, perhaps because it’s set to release its own smartwatch-slash-fitness tracker and doesn’t want the competition in its own retail stores. [Source: Re/code]Reddit has acquired Alien Blue, the most popular mobile application used to browse its “front page of the Internet,” and hired its developer to continue development on its mobile products. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but taken with the release of Reddit’s Ask Me Anything app last month, it seems that the company might finally take mobile seriously. [Source: Reddit]If you missed Monday’s PandoLIVE call in show… two things. First, I feel sorry for you. By not listening live, you missed your chance to call in and join the discussion about sexism at Microsoft, what the hell “Dreamforce” is all about and whether Peter Thiel is actually a libertarian. You also missed out on winning a t-shirt for correctly identifying show tunes. Second, all is not lost! Not only is every episode available on iTunes and streamable
The Week in Review
FridayEvgeny Morozov did not “plagiarize” in the New Yorker, but what he did was almost as bad Quick! Get your ticket to next week’s Pando Monthly with Aneel Bhusri and Jerry Yang Why you shouldn’t freak out about Twitter’s new timeline experiments Amazon may not have the best products or services, but it can still lead in customer service How can Apple offer the future of payments if its own stores are so inefficient? Whitepages adds Spam Score to its Android caller ID app, leaves iOS badly outclassed
SaturdayGM’s hit and run: How a lawyer, mechanic, and engineer blew open the worst auto scandal in history It’s time for Whisper’s CEO to do his damn job
SundayHeyward admits he has no idea whether the Guardian’s reporting on Whisper is accurate By still failing to act, Michael Heyward allows the cancer inside Whisper to grow So, what should we talk about on Monday’s PandoLIVE?
MondayWe are PandoLIVE and talking about Whisper-gate. Call in! No, social media is not the best way to track Ebola How do you decide how much musicians should be paid when everything is free? On tonight’s PandoLIVE, we’ll be talking about Whisper’s privacy scandal and how screwed we all are TellSpec’s recent PR offensive only highlights just how great a scam it really was So much for the Chinese government liking Apple’s new security measures Thanks to the DEA, Facebook’s controversial real-name policy might actually come in handy Beatport acquihires Listn, looks to bring social to its massive EDM community Trouble magnet MeUndies signs shoplifting NFL player to endorsement deal
YesterdaySaving Yahoo may be a long shot, but it’s still worth trying Looking to handicap Apple Pay’s chances at success? Look elsewhere around the globe Oracle latest to be sued for Techtopus wage-fixing, following Pando’s reporting on its involvement Uber driver who allegedly assaulted a woman confronts his accuser in a comments section Study: Liberals get news from more sources than conservatives — and neither of them trust BuzzFeed As the BitLicense comment period ends, lawmakers and industry leaders spar over bitcoin regulations Even if it disappears, the iPad isn’t going anywhere Steam pulls game after developer death threat. But I thought it was only a “platform”?