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Messenger adds Venmo-like QR codes for person-to-person payments in the U.S.

This spring, Facebook confirmed it was testing Venmo-like QR codes for person-to-person payments inside its app in the U.S. Today, the company announced those codes are now launching publicly to all U.S. users, allowing anyone to send or request money through Facebook Pay — even if they’re not Facebook friends.
The QR codes work similarly to those found in other payment apps, like Venmo.
The feature can be found under the “Facebook Pay” section in Messenger’s settings, accessed by tapping on your profile icon at the top left of the screen. Here, you’ll be presented with …

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Trump congratulates Nigeria for Twitter ban, says more countries should do the same

Today, former President Donald Trump issued a statement supporting the Nigerian government’s decision to suspend Twitter activities in the West African country.
“Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their President,” he said in the statement.
The ex-President also encouraged other countries to follow in Nigeria’s footsteps and ban Twitter and Facebook.
“More COUNTRIES should ban Twitter and Facebook for not allowing free and open speech — all voices should be heard. In the meantime, competitors will emerge and take hold. Who are they to dictate good and evil if they themselves are …

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In search of a new crypto deity

Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review!
Last week, I wrote about tech taking on Disney. This week, I’m talking about the search for a new crypto messiah.
If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

The Big Thing
Elon has worn out his welcome among the crypto illuminati, and the acolytes of Bitcoin are searching out a new emperor god king.
This weekend, thousands of crypto acolytes and investors have descended on a Bitcoin-themed conference in Miami, a very …

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This Week in Apps: WWDC Prep, F8 recap, TikTok goes after biometric data

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.
The app industry continues to grow, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spend in 2020. Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.
Apps aren’t just a …

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Tezlab CEO Ben Schippers to discuss the Tesla effect and the next wave of EV startups at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021

As Tesla sales have risen, interest in the company has exploded, prompting investment and interest in the automotive industry, as well as the startup world.
Tezlab, a free app that’s like a Fitbit for a Tesla vehicle, is just one example of the numerous startups that have sprung up in the past few years as electric vehicles have started to make the tiniest of dents in global sales. Now, as Ford, GM, Volvo, Hyundai along with newcomers Rivian, Fisker and others launch electric vehicles into the marketplace, more startups are sure to follow.
Ben Schippers, the co-founder and CEO …

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Europe wants to go its own way on digital identity

In its latest ambitious digital policy announcement, the European Union has proposed creating a framework for a “trusted and secure European e-ID” (aka digital identity) — which it said today it wants to be available to all citizens, residents and businesses to make it easer to use a national digital identity to prove who they are in order to access public sector or commercial services regardless of where they are in the bloc.
The EU does already have a regulation on electronic authentication systems (eIDAS), which entered into force in 2014, but the Commission’s intention with the e-ID proposal is to …

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Google hires former SiriusXM CPO/CTO to lead its Maps team

Almost exactly a year ago, Google announced a couple of leadership changes that saw Prabhakar Raghavan, who joined the company back in 2012, take over the lead of Search, Assistant and Maps. Now, sources familiar with the hiring tell us, the company has hired Christopher Phillips, who was previously the chief product and technology officer at SiriusXM, to lead its geo team, which is responsible for products like Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Maps Platform, the company’s enterprise business around these products. Google has confirmed his hire but declined to share any additional information. Phillips will officially join the …

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Facebook to launch a ‘Researcher API’ for the academic community

Facebook said it’s preparing to launch a new application programming interface (API) designed specifically for access by the research community. The API was announced during Facebook’s F8 developer conference today, and is meant to address issues that arose from changes made to Facebook’s platform in 2018 following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. That event forced the company to re-evaluate the access developers had to its user data.
Over the past three years, Facebook says it has deprecated thousands of APIs to reduce the risk of future data misuse and breaches.
It also renewed its agreements with developers on …

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Tiger Global leads $30 million investment in Indian Twitter rival Koo

Investors are backing Koo, an Indian alternative to Twitter, with large size checks at a time when tension is brewing between the American social network and New Delhi.
The Indian startup said on Wednesday it has raised $30 million in a financing round led by Tiger Global Management. Mirae Asset, IIFL’s venture capital fund and existing investors 3one4 Capital, Blume Ventures, and Accel also participated in the round, which valued the Bangalore-based startup at over $100 million, up from about $25 million in February.
Like Twitter, Koo app allows users to publish posts in English and half a dozen Indian languages. Its …

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Florida’s ban on bans will test First Amendment rights of social media companies

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has signed into law a restriction on social media companies’ ability to ban candidates for state offices and news outlets, and in doing so offered a direct challenge to those companies’ perceived free speech rights. The law is almost certain to be challenged in court as both unconstitutional and in direct conflict with federal rules.
The law, Florida Senate Bill 7072, provides several new checks on tech and social media companies. Among other things:

Platforms cannot ban or deprioritize candidates for state office.
Platforms cannot ban or deprioritize any news outlet meeting certain size requirements.
Platforms must …

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