LATEST ARTICLES

Profile of New Zealand-based Letterboxd, a social network for reviewing movies, which has grown...

#masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }What to WatchBest Movies on NetflixBest of Disney PlusBest of Amazon PrimeBest Netflix DocumentariesNew on NetflixAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyIs Letterboxd Becoming a Blockbuster?The social media network has finally left the cinephile niche and entered the mainstream.Karl von Randow, left, and Matthew Buchanan, the co-founders of Letterboxd.Credit...Birgit Krippner for The New York TimesJan. 13, 2021Early last decade, Matthew Buchanan and Karl von Randow, web designers based in Auckland, New Zealand, were seeking a passion project. Their business, a boutique web design studio called Cactuslab, developed apps and websites for various clients, but they wanted a project of their own that their team could plug away at when there wasn’t much else to do.Buchanan had an idea for a social media site about movies. At the time, he reflected, he used Flickr to share photos and Last.fm to share his taste in music. IMDb was a database; it wasn’t, in essence, social. That left a gap in the field. The result was an app and social media network called Letterboxd, which its website describes, aptly, as “Goodreads for film.”After it was introduced at the web conference Brooklyn Beta in the fall of 2011, Letterboxd steadily developed a modest but passionate following of film fans eager to track their movie-watching habits, create lists of favorites, and write and publish reviews. In 2020, however, the site’s growth was explosive. Letterboxd has seen its user base nearly double since the beginning of the pandemic: They now have more than 3 million member accounts, according to the company, up from 1.7 million at this time last year.And it’s not just more users. It’s more use: “We’ve seen more activity per member,” Buchanan said in a recent Zoom interview. “Our metrics are up across the board.” Their revenues have increased, from advertising and optional paid memberships, which give users added features. The company is no longer just Buchanan and von Randow’s side project, and over the last year, they have brought on several full-time staff.The pandemic has ravaged the movie industry, as theaters have remained mostly shuttered and high-profile would-be blockbusters like “Tenet” have drastically underperformed. But for Letterboxd, all that time at home has been a boon. “We love talking about movies,” said Gemma Gracewood, Letterboxd’s editor in chief. “And we’re talking even more about what we love lately because we’re all stuck indoors.”A scene from “Joker.” The film received one of the site’s most popular (and brief) reviews.Credit...Warner Bros.In the beginning, Letterboxd mainly attracted film obsessives: hard-core cinephiles, stats fanatics and professional critics looking to house their published work under one roof. Mike D’Angelo, a longtime contributor to Entertainment Weekly and Esquire, used Letterboxd to retroactively log every movie he has seen, by date, since January 1992. In addition to uploading his old reviews to the platform, he uses the site as a kind of diary for more off-the-cuff musings.“If I’m writing a professional review, I’m writing for a general audience,” he said in a recent phone call. “Whereas on Letterboxd, I don’t worry about pro forma things like plot synopsis. I make jokes and references you would have to have a fairly deep film knowledge to understand. I find it much more liberating.”That freedom gives writing on Letterboxd a kind of wild-west quality. What rises to the top of the site’s page for most popular reviews ranges wildly: There are obscure memes, diaristic essays and sprawling screeds packed with pseudo-academic jargon. You might find political disquisitions written with breathless zeal: “As the most destructive action in the world, as the source of more war, death, and exploitation than anything this world has known since chattel slavery was born, imperialism is the highest, most vile, most horrifying aspect of capitalism, and we oppose it.” (That is, of course, a review of “Wonder Woman.”) Or you might find a single cryptic sentence, such as one of the site’s most popular reviews of the movie “Joker”: “This happened to my buddy Eric.”The unedited, anything-goes spirit of Letterboxd can be off-putting: D’Angelo confessed he finds it “maddening” when writers “use all lowercase” or refuse “to use normal grammar or punctuation,” which on the site is often. But the lack of rules or structure can also lead to some interesting, unconventional criticism, and offers a platform to voices that might otherwise not be heard. On Letterboxd, you can discover not only new movies to watch, but new critics to follow.Sydney Wegner, a single mother in rural Texas, started using Letterboxd in late 2012. Under the username @campbart, she has written vivid, free-form reviews (almost exclusively in lowercase) of sci-fi, horror and action movies, including a heartfelt piece about “Minions” that reads like a poetic ode to her daughter. “I wrote that way because that’s what I like to read,” she said recently. “I find criticism very boring unless there’s a personal aspect to it.”The animated film “Minions” received a heartfelt review from the popular Letterboxd user Sydney Wegner.Credit...Illumination Entertainment/Universal PicturesWegner said she “never intended to write professionally,” but as her account began to gain followers, she soon found herself fielding requests for paid work as a critic. She has appeared as a guest on film podcasts, done introductions for film screenings and been commissioned by editors at several film review websites, such as Film Freak Central.Lucy May joined Letterboxd in 2015, and today she is one of its most popular users, with nearly 60,000 followers. The 26-year-old lives with her family in her hometown in Illinois, where she works at a movie theater, and in her spare time watches movies and writes about them at length on Letterboxd.Although May said she is “first and foremost a fan of film,” and not a professional, she nevertheless now considers herself a critic. “I would call myself a Letterboxd-era critic,” she said. She finds this “modern wave of criticism” on Letterboxd interesting, “because a lot of the old rules are being thrown out the window.”“There’s now less shame when lower ratings are handed out to acclaimed older films, and there’s more love to go around for things like rom-coms,” she said. “I find that honesty on Letterboxd fascinating. I didn’t go to school for writing or anything like that, but I do call myself a critic in that sense.”Letterboxd’s explosion in growth is indeed trending young. On the app, which the company reports is how 75 percent of users access Letterboxd, the largest demographic is 18- to 24-year-olds. “There’s been an enormous growth in younger members,” Gracewood said. And she said that once drawn to the platform, these younger members often soon find their tastes starting to evolve. “They’re coming on having watched ‘The Princess Switch: Switched Again’ and discovering ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,’” she said.That shift toward a younger user base means Letterboxd is finally starting to expand outside the hard-core movie-buff niche — and the more than a million new users in 2020 represent a lot of people “who aren’t strictly cinephiles,” Buchanan explained. The growth has brought the platform to a new level of success, and Buchanan sees even greater potential. “There are tens of millions of Netflix users, for instance. We know we’re not going to appeal to every single Netflix user, but we also know that the appetite for film content is growing.”The surge in growth suggests that while the film industry has in many ways been devastated by lockdown orders and the scourge of the pandemic, film culture itself is still thriving. We may not be able to go to the movies, but as the success of Letterboxd shows, we still want to talk about them.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story

A security researcher was able to purchase one of the Democratic Republic of Congo's...

In mid-October, a little-known but critically important domain name for one country’s internet space began to expire. The domain — scpt-network.com — was one of two nameservers for the .cd country code top-level domain, assigned to the Democratic Republic of Congo. If it fell into the wrong hands, an attacker could redirect millions of unknowing internet users to rogue websites of their choosing. Clearly, a domain of such importance wasn’t supposed to expire; someone in the Congolese government probably forgot to pay for its renewal. Luckily, expired domains don’t disappear immediately. Instead, the clock started on a grace period for its government owners to buy back the domain before it was sold to someone else. By chance, Fredrik Almroth, a security researcher and co-founder of cybersecurity startup Detectify, was already looking at nameservers of country code top-level domains (or ccTLDs), the two-letter suffixes at the end of regional web addresses, like .fr for France or .uk for the United Kingdom. When he found this critical domain name was about to expire, Almroth began to monitor it, assuming someone in the Congolese government would pay to reclaim the domain. But nobody ever did. By the end of December, the clock was almost up and the domain was about to fall off the internet. Within minutes of the domain becoming available, Almroth quickly snapped it up to prevent anyone else from taking it over — because, as he told TechCrunch, “the implications are kind of huge.” It’s rare but not unheard of for a top-level domain to expire. In 2017, security researcher Matthew Bryant took over the nameservers of the .io top-level domain, assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory. But malicious hackers have also shown interest in targeting top-level domain hacks into companies and governments that use the same country-based domain suffix. Read more on TechCrunch Taking over a nameserver is not supposed to be an easy task because they are a vital part of how the internet works. Every time you visit a website your device relies on a nameserver to convert a web address in your browser to the machine-readable address that tells your device where on the internet to find the site you’re looking for. Some liken nameservers to the phone directory of the internet. Sometimes your browser looks no further than its own cache for the answer, and sometimes it has to ask the nearest nameserver for the answer. But the nameservers that control top-level domains are considered authoritative and know where to look without having to ask another nameserver. With control of an authoritative nameserver, malicious hackers could run man-in-the-middle attacks to silently intercept and redirect to malicious webpages internet users going to legitimate sites. These kinds of attacks have been used in sophisticated espionage campaigns aimed at cloning websites to trick victims into handing over their passwords, which hackers use to get access to company networks to steal information. Worse, Almroth said with control of the nameserver it was possible to obtain valid SSL (HTTPS) certificates, allowing for an attacker to intercept encrypted web traffic or any email mailbox for any .cd domain, he said. To the untrained eye, a successful attacker could redirect victims to a spoofed website, and they would be none the wiser. “If you can abuse the validation schemes used to issue certificates, you can undermine the SSL of any domain under .cd as well,” Almroth said. “The capabilities of being in such a privileged position is scary.” Almroth ended up sitting on the domain for about a week as he tried to figure out a way to hand it back. By this point the domain had been inactive for two months already and nothing had catastrophically broken. At most, websites with a .cd domain might have taken slightly longer to load. Since the remaining nameserver was running normally, Almroth kept the domain offline so that whenever an internet user tried to access a domain that relied on the nameserver under his control, it would automatically timeout and pass the request to the remaining nameserver. In the end, the Congolese government didn’t bother asking for the domain back. It spun up an entirely new but similarly named domain — scpt-network.net — to replace the one now in Almroth’s possession. We reached out to the Congolese authorities for comment but did not hear back. ICANN, the international nonprofit organization responsible for internet address allocation, said country code top-level domains are operated by their respective countries and its role is “very limited,” a spokesperson said. For its part, ICANN encouraged countries to follow best practices and to use DNSSEC, a cryptographically more secure technology that makes it nearly impossible to serve up spoofed websites. One network security engineer who asked not to be named as they were not authorized to speak to the media questioned whether DNSSEC would be effective at all against a top-level domain hijack. At least in this case, it’s nothing a calendar reminder can’t solve.

FAA approves the first fully automated commercial drone flights, letting Massachusetts-based American Robotics operate...

American Robotics Scout drones use acoustic technology to detect and avoid drones, birds and other obstacles. Photo: American Robotics Updated Jan. 15, 2021 7:05 pm ET U.S. aviation regulators have approved the first fully automated commercial drone flights, granting a small Massachusetts-based company permission to operate drones without hands-on piloting or direct observation by human controllers or observers. The decision by the Federal Aviation Administration limits operation of automated drones to rural areas and altitudes below 400 feet, but is a potentially significant step in expanding commercial applications of drones for farmers, utilities, mining companies and other customers. It also represents another step in the FAA’s broader effort to authorize widespread flights by shifting away from case-by-case exemptions for specific vehicles performing specific tasks. In approval documents posted on a government website Thursday, the FAA said that once such automated drone operations are conducted on a wider scale, they could mean “efficiencies to many of the industries that fuel our economy such as agriculture, mining, transportation” and certain manufacturing segments. The FAA previously allowed drones to inspect railroad tracks, pipelines and some industrial sites beyond the sight of pilots or spotters on the ground as long as such individuals were located relatively close by. But in its action Thursday, the FAA granted American Robotics Inc., based in Marlborough, Mass., permission to fly in U.S. airspace without anyone controlling or monitoring it on site, according to Lisa Ellman, a lawyer in the Washington, D.C., office of Hogan Lovells, who represents the company and also is executive director of the Commercial Drone Alliance, an industry trade group. The company’s Scout drones operate under predetermined flight programs and use acoustic technology to detect and avoid drones, birds and other obstacles. The Scout drones weigh less than 20 pounds and have four propellers, landing vertically like helicopters. A statement released by the FAA Friday said “we conduct thorough safety assessments before issuing any unmanned aircraft operation approvals.” The decision by the FAA limits operation of automated drones to rural areas and altitudes below 400 feet. Photo: eric baradat/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images The U.S. military routinely controls much larger, more sophisticated surveillance and attack drones from remote locations sometimes half way around the globe. The drones have automated safeguards that will warn of malfunctions and swiftly take action to land the craft if necessary. Human monitors could be hundreds or thousands of miles distant, according to Ms. Ellman. “Policies and regulations have lagged somewhat behind” technology leaps across the industry, she said in an interview Friday. American Robotics will lay the groundwork for other advances and accelerated growth of the industry, Ms. Ellman added, by providing “a critical step forward to growing acceptance” of an array drone uses. The FAA’s decision, after four years of testing across eight states, is expected to quickly open up additional opportunities for larger-scale testing as well as some fledgling new commercial markets eyed by the fast-growing drone industry. The immediate users will be agricultural operations in Kansas, Massachusetts and Nevada. But by authorizing the company’s fully automated imaging drones to routinely fly in designated zones with remote control and monitoring, the agency opened the door to a range of additional uses that eventually could include other drone models, with higher and longer flights over more-populated areas. At the same time, industry officials said the FAA signaled its intention to rely more heavily on automation and artificial intelligence—technologies featured in American Robotics’ system—in order to open up more airspace for future uncrewed vehicles. Some businesses that have been itching to rely on drones for inspection and surveillance needs have gotten held up by one of the FAA’s biggest regulatory concerns: how automated drones can avoid hitting other aerial vehicles. Newsletter Sign-up News Alert Major world and business news, including political events, takeovers. PREVIEWSUBSCRIBE Over the years, regulators have required licensed drone operators to keep the devices in sight to watch for potential collisions, only granting exceptions for out-of-sight flights after a lengthy application process. Even with such regulatory carve-outs, regulators could require additional observers along the flight path. The latest decision reflects that regulators are becoming comfortable with new technologies meant to make drones safer and less expensive to operate. Requirements for having a licensed pilot on site before takeoff and during commercial operations have held back business applications because of the expense of paying pilots, American Robotics founder Reese Mozer said in an interview last year. To win FAA approval, Mr. Mozer said the company worked with clients, mostly in the agriculture sector, to test its automated system. During a recent growing season, the drones flew as many as 10 autonomous flights a day to capture imagery and other data for farmers and researchers to accurately track crop growth. According to the company and other drone advocates, the decision marks a shift in traditional aviation regulations, which typically have regarded human pilots as the ultimate safety net if automated systems go haywire. The FAA’s action comes after repeated congressional provisions, stretching back to 2012, urging the FAA and other federal agencies to rewrite regulations and policies to phase drones into the nation’s airspace. The FAA last month established industrywide requirements for remote identification of drones, along with new safeguards for flights over populated areas and at night, as part of a separate effort to expand commercial uses of the craft. Those rules affect a substantially wider swath of drone manufacturers and operators than the approvals issued this week. The earlier moves had been particularly sought by companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Wing aviation unit seeking to establish consumer package-delivery businesses using drones. Corrections & Amplifications The Federal Aviation Administration limits operation of automated drones to altitudes below 400 feet. An earlier version of this article and photo caption incorrectly said it was 40 feet. (Corrected on Jan. 15) Write to Andy Pasztor at andy.pasztor@wsj.com and Katy Stech Ferek at katherine.stech@wsj.com Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8 Appeared in the January 16, 2021, print edition as 'Automated Commercial Drone Flights Approved.'

Israel-based social casino game developer Playtika closes up 17.1% on its first day of...

Driving Game Growth & Into the Metaverse Register today to connect with the games industry, join private networking sessions, and hear the latest on driving game growth and the metaverse. January 26-28, 2021 Register for free Playtika went public today in an initial public offering at $27 a share, giving the mobile game publisher a valuation of $11.4 billion. The latest IPO in the game industry will test how much fervor investors have for gaming stocks, as games have prospered during the pandemic as people look for ways to engage in social-distanced fun and distract themselves from reality. In the offering, Playtika’s owner and the company sold stock valued at $1.88 billion, with Playtika offer 18.5 million shares and its owner, Shi Yuzhu (owner of Giant), selling 50.9 million shares. About $499 million of the amount goes to the company. The IPO is the largest in Israeli history, and the value puts it above American mobile game publisher Zynga, which is worth $10.7 billion. Playtika’s trading opened at $35 a share and it is currently at $33.51 a share. (Update: Playtika’s stock price closed at $31.62 a share, giving the company an enterprise valuation of $14.5 billion). When it came to public markets, 2020 was an extraordinary year, with 18 video game initial public offerings (IPOs) raising $2.8 billion, according to an analysis by InvestGame, which studies market transactions in the game industry. The big ones were Unity Software, Skillz, and Kakao Games. Other companies have lined up to do IPOs, but the market window is unpredictable. Since gaming is a very small part of the overall stock market, it is vulnerable to swings of the larger market. In an interview with VentureBeat, Playtika president and chief financial officer Craig Abrahams said the team had to ring the opening bell virtually. But gaming has been on a roll. Market insight and analytics firm App Annie estimates mobile gaming will grow 20% in 2021 to $120 billion. The company’s social casino games, including Slotomania and other titles, have generated $2.3 billion in revenues in the past 12 months, but the Israeli company also has $2.3 billion in debt. Sources I’ve interviewed say they aren’t worried about that, as Playtika’s cash flow is more than enough to pay down such debt. Of more concern may be the fact that Playtika has a Chinese owner at a time when U.S.-China relations are sour, and that could spill over into a trade war. Abrahams said the company looks at debt relative to cash flow. The current leverage is 2.4, where debt is 2.4 times the amount of cash flow. “The amount of debt is relatively nominal,” he said. He noted that the company has $400 million or so on its balance sheet, plus the $499 million it raised today, plus $550 million in a line of credit. That gives the money a lot of cash to pursue acquisitions, and Abrahams expects to refinance at better interest rates in the coming months. Herzliya, Israel-based Playtika will trade under the symbol PLTK. Its value is much higher than in 2016, when a consortium led by China’s Giant Investment Group (through the subsidiary Alpha Frontier) bought Playtika for $4.4 billion. Playtika has more than 35 million monthly active users. “I have been studying gaming consumers and gaming companies for 25 years and I have followed Playtika for many years, being close to the Israeli gaming business,” said Mike Vorhaus, CEO of Vorhaus Advisors, in an email. “These guys are great game makers and even better marketers/user acquisition kings – they really know how to get the customer to play their game and spend money in the (free to play) games.” Above: Playtika’s top games Image Credit: Playtika Under the terms of the IPO, Giant owner Shi Yuzhu will still have a controlling stake in Playtika, as his Alpha Frontier is only selling a certain stake to the public. Playtika’s debt, which matures in 2024, came from big dividends paid to stockholders in 2018 and 2019. Playtika has driven its revenue, which is more than 75% generated in North America, through acquisitions in recent years. Part of the plan is to grow the rest of the world’s revenues in the wake of the IPO. Abrahams said the company will try to do better customer relationship management (CRM) outside of the U.S. and localize its efforts to help build a broader base in the rest of the world. The company has acquired seven game studios, and seven of its top nine games are owned by the acquired studios. Those top nine games generate 97.6% of revenue. All told, the company has 20 games, and Playtika said it has more titles in the top 100 games than anyone else. The central service of the combined company is the Playtika Boost Platform, which provides live operations services and tech to newly acquired studios that can help boost profits and revenues. InvestGame said that from 2017 to 2019, Playtika paid $645 million for its acquisitions. It paid up to $351 million for the Finland-based puzzle game maker Seriously in 2019. It paid up to $200 million for Austria-based solitaire game maker Supertreat in 2019, and $204 million for Germany’s puzzle game maker Wooga in 2018. During that time, Playtika used its own operating cash to finance deals, and it did not have to raise external money. Wooga’s games saw a 116% increase in quarterly revenue and Supertreat saw a 146.3% increase in quarterly revenue under Playtika ownership. Abrahams noted that Wooga’s June’s Journey was the No. 2 hidden-object game in the world when acquired. Now it’s the No. 1, thanks in part to the Playtika Boost Platform. In other details, about 80% of the company’s revenue belongs to the mobile platform vs. 20% coming from the web. In-app purchases account for 95% of overall revenue. Above: Playtika has 35 million daily active users. Image Credit: Playtika Playtika relies heavily on in-app purchases, which account for over 95% of total revenue. Overall, the company has 11.4 million daily active users, or those that come back once a day. Slotomania makes the most money, and it has 1.5 million daily active users. The company has 3,700 employees, 40% of them working on games. It was founded in 2010 by Robert Antokol and Uri Shahak. The founders sold it to Caesars Interactive Entertainment in 2011, and then a group led by Giant’s owner acquired it in 2016. Playtika recently had a rebranding, which we wrote about in September, focused on the phrase “infinite ways to play.” Playtika wants to create infinite ways to play its games, which span casual, hardcore, and social casino genres, CMO Nir Korczak said in an interview with GamesBeat at the time. Public offerings for game companies generated $9.2 billion in value in the first nine months of 2020, according to game investment tracking firm InvestGame. For the 12 months ended September 30, Playtika generated $2.29 billion in revenues, $46.1 million in net income, and $815.2 million in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). Risk factors As for the debt, Playtika described the amount as significant and said “we are a highly leveraged company.” Playtika mentioned this as one of its risk factors. That debt could hurt the company’s capability to raise more capital or fund its operations. The company still has a $350 million line of credit, and it plans to raise that to $550 million. For the past nine months, the company made $93.7 million in principal payments and $139.2 million in interest payments. The interest payments are now higher than they used to be. It also noted that platform owners such as Apple and Google can decide at any time whether to remove Playtika from its platform. It cited the example of Epic Games, which got in a dispute with Apple and was banned from iOS. The risk of this remains small, but it is interesting that it has become a legal risk factor that is worth mentioning. The fact that the company has a parent company, and it is controlled by Yuzhu (via his Playtika Holding UK II division), also means that his “ownership of our common stock will prevent you and other stockholders from influencing significant decisions.” His interests may not be the same as those of common stock owners, and Yuzhu will have voting control of the company. “As long as Yuzhu Shi continues to control shares representing a majority of our voting power, he will generally be able to determine the outcome of all corporate actions requiring stockholder approval, including the election and removal of directors,” Playtika said in the filing. “In the ordinary course of his business activities, Yuzhu Shi may engage in activities where his interests may not be the same as, or may conflict with, the interests of our other stockholders.” Abrahams said that the management team has worked for multiple owners and it has done so successfully, and so that bodes well for the alignment between the management team, the owner, and the shareholders. Above: Playtika’s core services Image Credit: Playtika In another risk factor, Playtika noted that in December 2017, Apple updated its terms of service to require publishers of applications that include “loot boxes” to disclose the odds of receiving each type of item within each loot box to customers prior to purchase. Google similarly updated its terms of service in May 2019. Loot boxes are a commonly used monetization technique in free-to-play mobile games in which a player can acquire a virtual loot box, but the player does not know which virtual item they will receive until they open the loot box. If platform owners or regulators mandate more changes to the use of loot boxes, Playtika will have to change its games and redesign the economies of its affected games, the company said. That could cause a revenue decline. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, held a public workshop on loot boxes in August 2019. At least one bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would regulate loot boxes in games marketed toward players under the age of 18. The United Kingdom’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced in June 2020 it will launch a call for evidence into the impact of loot boxes on in-game spending and gambling-like behavior. Additional litigation is happening in Belgium and the Netherlands. Efforts are underway in various places to declare loot boxes as illegal gambling. Abrahams noted that the company doesn’t target children and it is focused on adults, and that mitigates that risk. Playtika also said that Apple’s decision to retire the Identifier for Advertising (IDFA) may hinder its ability to target users with advertising, resulting in lower monetization of players. “IDFA is something a lot of people in the industry are talking about,” Abrahams said. “A large percentage of our revenue comes from older cohorts of users. We are less reliant on customer acquisition. We also don’t launch many new games in a given year. So we don’t have a constant need to spend significant dollars on new user acquisition versus re-engaging the existing base. We think we have mitigated this. I agree it’s a risk factor.” And under the Donald Trump presidency in the U.S., Chinese companies have been under scrutiny; if the same policies continue under the Joe Biden administration, foreign ownership of U.S. companies may be restricted. That could hurt Playtika’s ability to continue its acquisition spree. Positive notes Abrahams said the company has five major studios working on new titles. He isn’t predicting when new games will come out. The company has been hiring people, but it generally keeps its veterans teams on the games they create, and then it acquires new teams to launch brand new games. “We realized M&A was a better way for us to acquire great product teams,” Abrahams said. Abrahams said the company is investing more in branding and hiring. The IPO will position the company as a global player and it should help it attract more people, he said. Also on a positive note, Playtika said it has increased average daily payer conversion in its games from 2.1% for the nine months ended September 30, 2019, to 2.5% for the nine months ended September 30, 2020, an increase of 19%. That is, it is making more money per paying user. Abrahams credited the Playtika Boost Platform and the team’s focus in converting non-payers to payers as a healthy way to increase monetization, as opposed to getting current payers to pay more. The company plans to use the IPO money for working capital, operating expenses, capital expenditures, and the potential repayment of borrowings. Abrahams said the company starting thinking about the IPO more than a year ago. “No one expected in January of last year to have the year that we had in the ups and downs of dealing with COVID,” Abrahams said. “We think for the long term and being a public company furthers the foundation to continue that growth.” Updated: 2:17 p.m. Pacific tie on 1/5/21 with closing price and valuation. Register for GamesBeat's upcoming event: Driving Game Growth & Into the Metaverse

Microsoft is planning to fix a Windows 10 vulnerability that could corrupt a NTFS-formatted...

Tom Warren / The Verge: Microsoft is planning to fix a Windows 10 vulnerability that could corrupt a NTFS-formatted hard drive simply by viewing a folder with a malicious shortcut  —  A bizarre Windows bug for 2021  —  Microsoft says it's planning to fix a bizarre Windows 10 bug that could corrupt a hard drive just by looking at an icon.

Oqton, which is developing a factory OS that combines several fabrication processes like CNC...

The 2021 digital toolkit – How small businesses are taking charge Learn how small businesses are improving customer experience, accelerating quote-to-cash, and increasing security. Register Now Oqton, a startup developing a factory operating system that integrates engineering software with manufacturing hardware, today raised $40 million. The company says the funds will be used to further develop Oqton’s platform while expanding its commercial partnerships in markets including additive manufacturing, robotic welding, and CNC machining. The additive manufacturing market is exploding, with Reports and Data anticipating growth at a rate of 14.4% to $26.68 billion by 2027. Additive manufacturing has advantages over techniques like injection molding, such as lower resource requirements, faster production cycles, and flexible design workflows. But challenges remain, chief among them orchestration and high operational expenses. U.S.- and Belgium-based Oqton, which employs about 56 people, develops a subscription-based, cloud-hosted solution that combines several fabrication capabilities into one platform. According to cofounder and chairman Samir Hanna, an Autodesk veteran, Oqton can achieve up to 100% automation in dental, jewelry, medical, industrial, and aerospace verticals, netting a 30% overall reduction in costs. Oqton automates CNC, metal, and polymer 3D printing and hybrid additive and subtractive workflows, like creating castable jewelry wax. Users can schedule, track, and trace actions in a lab environment with custom dashboards, reports, and summaries. The platform supports imports from design software like JewelCAD, Rhino, and Blender and suggests a range of optimizations and fixes informed by AI inspection algorithms, as well as by pre-analyses of part geometry and real-time calibration. For example, Oqton can automatically adjust geometries to get parts within required tolerances, simulating heat treatment effects like warpage, shrinkage, and stress relief on titanium, cobalt, chrome, zirconia, and other materials. It’s also able to assign the correct welding parameters and classify parts with labels like “ring,” “bracelet,” and “pendant,” which are mapped to specific production routes. Oqton’s AI algorithms trained on “years of production use” orient components for 3D printing and manufacturing, taking into account factors like machine time, material quantities and qualities, programming, surfaces, and finishing requirements. The system learns from usage and recommends different annotations, orientations, and support strategies. And it orchestrates schedules across production processes, machines, and locations, basing its predictions on machine capacity and target delivery dates. “At the core of Oqton is a digital thread that connects and maintains all production data to the original order and CAD data. Physical and digital relationships are dynamically updated as needed,” the company explains on its website. “The system learns from usage and suggests … strategies based on how [employees] prepared similar parts in the past. This further reduces engineering time spent on repetitive tasks.” On the analytics side, Oqton offers a panel from which machines like lasers, robots, filters, furnaces, millers, printers, and cutting tools can be monitored in real time. This panel spotlights historical data that can be used to create custom reports and potential actions for replacement or maintenance. Dashboards can be configured using drag-and-drop widgets, and production alerts can be set up. A manager can program text notifications to be triggered by rising oxygen levels in an additive build chamber, for example, or by orders or parts at risk of missing a delivery date. Oqton, which sells its own machines, says its customers include EOS, Sisma, Trumpf, Prodways and Sandvik. The series A investment announced today is the company’s first public funding round. Fortino Capital led it, joined by PMV, Sandvik, Oqton cofounders Hanna and Ben Schrauwen, and several angel investors, including former Autodesk CEO Carl Bass, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert, and AdditiveLab cofounder Peter Mercelis. VentureBeat VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access: up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you our newsletters gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform networking features, and more Become a member

Ahead of Biden's inauguration, Facebook blocks users from creating new events happening near the...

Facebook's logo displayed on a phone screen and keyboard. Jakub Porzycki | NurPhoto via Getty Images Facebook said Friday it will block the creation of new Facebook events happening near the White House, the U.S. Capitol building and state capitol buildings through President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. In a blog post that was updated Friday, the company said the action was meant to prevent people from using its platform to incite violence. It's also blocking accounts and pages that are based outside the U.S. from creating events in the country.  Facebook said it's also restricting other features for people in the U.S. based on certain signals, such as repeat violations of its policies. The company said it could block those accounts from creating live video or creating an event, Group or Page. It said it may add additional measures as needed.  Earlier this week, Facebook announced it would remove content containing the phrase "stop the steal" from its services in the lead-up to the inauguration. Facebook had previously removed a "Stop the Steal" group from its services in November and has removed various other related groups and pages since then, but the company said it was taking this additional step following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also said last week that the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol had not "largely" been organized on the social media company's services. But there were still plenty of groups that were able to post on Facebook about storming the Capitol building before the riot last week, CNBC reported earlier. Last week, Facebook blocked Trump from posting for at least the remainder of his term.

Rob Joyce will replace Anne Neuberger as the director of NSA's Cybersecurity Directorate; Neuberger...

Written by Shannon VavraJan 15, 2021 | CYBERSCOOPRob Joyce, the National Security Agency’s special U.S. liaison officer at the U.S. Embassy in London, will replace Anne Neuberger as director in the agency’s Cybersecurity Directorate, the NSA announced Friday. The Biden transition team announced Wednesday that Neuberger will soon be joining the Biden administration as deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology on the National Security Council (NSC). It was not immediately clear who would take on Joyce’s role as the NSA’s senior cryptologic representative in the U.K. Joyce has a long track record of working in cybersecurity leadership roles in the U.S. government. He previously served as senior advisor for cybersecurity strategy to the NSA director, and before that served as special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator on the NSC at the White House. At the NSC Joyce was responsible for national and international cybersecurity strategy and policy for the government. His expertise in cyber-operations also comes from time serving as NSA’s chief of Tailored Access Operations as well as the deputy director of the NSA’s former Information Assurance Directorate, which, like the Cybersecurity Directorate, focused on cyberdefenses. The IAD was folded into another directorate in a reorganization of the agency in 2016. Joyce has also previously served as acting homeland security adviser. Joyce will take on the reins at the year-old Cybersecurity Directorate at a tumultuous time for the federal government’s cybersecurity ranks. The NSC is still investigating the SolarWinds breach, which has affected numerous federal agencies and top cybersecurity companies, and just how much damage the suspected Russian espionage operation has done. The cybersecurity director post, a role that NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone created just over a year ago, will have no small part to play in response efforts to the suspected Russian campaign. The Cybersecurity Directorate was established to help the NSA enhance its efforts to tip timely and relevant information on foreign government hacking operations with the private sector, and to “prevent and eradicate” those intruders.

Leaked screenshots show GitHub employees using the term “Nazi” in its internal Slack to...

GitHub employees are protesting the firing of a Jewish colleague who was let go two days after he warned co-workers in Washington, DC to stay safe from Nazis. The employee was chastised for using divisive language, according to news first reported by Business Insider. Now, GitHub workers are saying “Nazi” repeatedly in Slack, in regards to the US Capitol rioters, to protest what is being perceived as unfair treatment. “Others have already said so, but I just want to say it explicitly myself - I think that nazis were present at some protests on Jan 6, and that it’s very scary to see those ideas on display,” wrote one senior engineer in a 390-person Slack channel called #inclusion-belonging. “100% Nazis were there, and 1000000000% Nazis are scary as fuck and do not belong anywhere. PARTICULARLY AT GitHub!” replied another. Another GitHub employee documented roughly 50 times the word “Nazi” was used in Slack prior to the events on January 6th. Employees often talk about politics, and some engineers have made Nazi jokes in the past. In a Slack message from 2014, one staffer wrote that “nazis gave the jews free healthcare.” He still works at GitHub today. The current conflict began the day of the riots in Washington, DC when a Jewish employee told co-workers: “stay safe homies, nazis are about.” Some colleagues took offense to the language, although neo-Nazi organizations were, in fact, present at the riots. One engineer responded: “This is untasteful conduct for workplace [in my opinion], people have the right to protest period.” The conversation escalated, with colleagues jumping in to defend both sides, until the VP of engineering shut it down. “Ok, this is enough...This is not an appropriate conversation and we don’t need to be treating each other this way,” the VP said. “Y’all can agree to disagree but we don’t need to cause more division.” The VP then asked the Jewish employee to “chat.” Two days later, he was fired. The company reportedly cited vague “patterns of behavior” as the reason for his termination. After the firing was reported publicly, GitHub attempted to handle the controversy internally. Earlier this week, the company hosted an “empathy circle” to “build understanding with members of the team on things that affect us.” It did not go over well with employees. “um.. this empathy circle sounds like the state propoganda i grew up with,” one employee said, with an emoji of the Chinese flag. “Im outta here.” Another employee responded, “I’m having a hard time focusing on this language haha.” The first employee added, “The poc channel is liit...apparently the circle sounds akin to nazi apologists and ‘all lives matter’ type of bs.. glad i left early.” Roughly 200 of GitHub’s 1,700 employees (which GitHub calls “hubbers”) have signed an open letter asking for clarity around the Jewish worker’s termination. “The clear insinuation is that a Jewish Hubber was fired for calling a group of people (that included Neo-Nazi white supremacists) ‘Nazis,’” they wrote. “Because of this, Hubbers no longer feel they can speak up against racism or hatred against protected characteristics like their religion.” GitHub CEO Nat Friedman responded, saying he was appalled at the violence in Washington, DC and would be investigating the termination of the Jewish employee. The company has not yet told employees why the Jewish worker was fired. GitHub COO Erica Brescia responded to his original Slack thread saying: “This has been a tough week. We are listening and understand people are concerned. Many across the leadership team have spent time today with Hubbers who have had questions and concerns about this separation. Separating with an employee isn’t easy for anyone. When we do separate we want to protect and employee’s privacy so we do not provide details regarding separations.” To employees, the comment fell flat. “This is a deeply unsatisfying response,” one wrote. “And it makes me feel sick to my stomach. It seems that GitHub chose to fire a Jewish employee for either accurately labeling the (literal, verifiable) Nazis at the Capitol as Nazis; or that they were fired for expressing a religious sentiment. I don’t see how either of those comport with GitHub’s values. I respect the privacy of departed employees, but there simply must be something else that can be said as to why this isn’t as bad as it looks.” Apparently, there was not. In response to a request for comment from The Verge, a GitHub spokesperson said: “We take all complaints of this nature very seriously. We are actively investigating the situation.”

A deep dive into the WhatsApp privacy policy change that prompted an exodus of...

Photo: Adam Hoglund (Shutterstock) Even if you aren’t the type of person who peruses WhatsApp on a regular basis, chances are you’ve tried perusing its new privacy policy. Emphasis on “tried.” The roughly 4,000-word tome fell under fire from countless WhatsAppers across the globe after the company told its users that they’ll be ejected from the platform unless they abide by these new terms. Some eagle-eyed critics quickly noticed that buried under the rest of the usual slop that comes with your average privacy policy, it seemed like the new terms mandated that WhatsApp now had the right to share supposedly personal data—like phone numbers or payment info—with its parent company, Facebook, along with fellow subsidiary Instagram. Naturally, people lost it. Over the past week, tens of millions of people have apparently flooded off of WhatsApp and onto rival messaging platforms like Signal and Telegram. Elon Musk weighed in, as did Edward Snowden. Turkish authorities opened a probe into WhatsApp’s data-sharing practices, followed by Italy’s regional data authority doing the same. On Thursday, authorities in India, WhatsApp’s biggest market, filed a petition alleging that the new terms weren’t only a threat to personal privacy, but to national security as well. Advertisement What became very clear very quickly is that, while everyone agreed on being outraged, there was a bit of fuzziness on what they agreed to be outraged about. G/O Media may get a commission Friday's Best Deals: Switch Digital Games Sale, Amazon Fitness Equipment, Aukey Webcam, and More The confusion was the natural result of WhatsApp’s bungled rollout of these new policies. By shoving a scary-sounding ultimatum in front of countless users, and by tying that ultimatum to a privacy policy that (I think we can all agree) is near-impossible to comprehend, the bulk of WhatsApp’s users were left assuming the worst: that Facebook could now read their WhatsApp messages, snoop through their entire contact list, and know every time you leave someone on “read” within the app. These rumors eventually reached WhatsApp Head Will Cathcart, who issued his own lengthy Twitter thread debunking the bulk of these claims, before WhatsApp proper did its own debunking in the form of an FAQ page. In a shocking turn of events, WhatsApp’s attempt to set its own tarnished record straight was regarded as bullshit by its more vocal critics. And honestly, they had a point: This is WhatsApp we’re talking about. When an encrypted chat platform that’s been widely praised by people in the privacy and security space very rudely announces it’ll be sharing your data—any data—with a company like Facebook, you can understand why that would raise some hackles. Advertisement The thing is, in the years since WhatsApp co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton cut ties with Facebook for, well, being Facebook, the company slowly turned into something that acted more like its fellow Facebook properties: an app that’s kind of about socializing, but mostly about shopping. These new privacy policies are just WhatsApp’s—and Facebook’s—way of finally saying the quiet part out loud. I Don’t Have All Day, Gimme The Short Version If you’re also the type of person that solely uses WhatsApp to message friends, family, and the occasional petsitter, nothing’s changing on the privacy front. In fact, what we think of when we talk about our “privacy” on WhatsApp has been largely unchanged since mid-2016, when the company first announced that WhatsApp would start sharing some of your basic metadata like your phone number and a grab-bag of “anonymous” identifiers unless you manually opted out. (Facebook ended up pulling the opt-out button pretty soon after, but that’s another story entirely.) Advertisement Not too long ago, an anonymous developer reverse engineered the entire WhatsApp web app, and their findings are freely scannable through their GitHub. In a nutshell, if I messaged a petsitter after the 2016 updates, Facebook might be able to suss out my phone’s make and model, along with how dangerously low on juice my phone might be—but those pet-sitting conversations are entirely encrypted. None of that’s changing now. That said, if you live in a country like India or Brazil where WhatsApp isn’t only a chatting app, but a chatting app for brands and businesses to reach their clientele, things are a bit different. Unlike the aforementioned pet-sitting conversation, chances are any conversations you might have with a given company aren’t only unencrypted, but they’re shared with way more parties than you might think. Advertisement WhatsApp’s privacy policy might be new to most of us, but this particular practice has already been the platform’s MO for years. The WhatsApp You Know And The WhatsApp You Don’t The backstory that led up to WhatsApp’s bungled announcements actually started around the same time Koum jumped ship from the platform that was earning him frankly grotesque amounts of cash. A few months later, WhatsApp quietly rolled out a new business-facing product that promised to milk even more revenue out of the multi-billion-dollar platform: the “WhatsApp Business API.” Advertisement As the name suggests, the Business API was geared towards businesses: airlines that want to use WhatsApp to send boarding passes, for example, or a grocery chain that wants to use WhatsApp to let someone know their order is out for delivery. These messages weren’t meant to be promotional the way, say, an ad on Instagram might be; they were meant to be transactional—kind of like a conversation you have with a store clerk when looking for shoes in your size. If the business in question answered a given inquiry within a one-day window, Facebook let them send their response free of charge. Any message sent after the initial 24 hours comes saddled with a tiny fee—ranging anywhere from a fraction of a fraction of a cent to a few cents per message, depending on which third parties might be involved and the country a given brand is targeting. This fee gets divvied up by those parties, and–of course—by WhatsApp. Advertisement While a few outlets covered this burgeoning product as something like Facebook’s answer to the “customer support” emails and texts from days of yore, it went pretty much unnoticed by most outlets that (rightfully) saw the API as a pretty boring piece of adtech. Brands, on the other hand, couldn’t be more jazzed about the idea, and they kept on being jazzed while WhatsApp adopted new features meant to make it more commerce-friendly. By 2020, WhatsAppers based in India weren’t only using WhatsApp to talk to their pet sitters—they were scrolling through WhatsApp-specific catalogs for new shoes, plunking their selected pair into a WhatsApp-specific cart, and then using a WhatsApp-specific payment processor to pay for their new kicks before following up with WhatApp to make sure their order arrived on time. More brand appeal means more brands are flocking to plug into this API. In 2018, WhatsApp initially opened access to the new platform to roughly 100 hand-picked partners, like Netflix, Uber, and a few hotels and banks in regions where WhatsApp is the SMS platform of choice. Some analysts estimated that a year later, the number of enterprises plugged into the API went from 100 to roughly 1,000. At its current rate, the team said, WhatsApp is on track to get close to 55,000 businesses using this API by the end of 2024, all collectively racking up a hefty $3.6 billion in messaging fees. Advertisement The thing is, it’s really hard to goad a brand to drop that kind of cash on your product when they can’t even read what their customers are saying because, again, WhatsApp’s chats are encrypted by default. This was one of the sticking points that ultimately led to Koum’s exit, according to the Washington Post: Facebook wanted to turn WhatsApp into a business-friendly platform, and WhatsApp’s team fired back that they couldn’t build that platform without weakening WhatsApp’s native encryption in some way. They were right. But Facebook—again, being Facebook—didn’t really seem too bothered by the idea of baking a brand-sized loophole into an encrypted platform. But to trace this back which policy change ended up biting WhatsApp in the ass the most when it rolled out these new policies, you could say some of the creepiest parts actually stem from this one decision. Advertisement Asked for comment, a Facebook spokesperson emailed soon after publication and pointed to a blog post announcing WhatsApp had postponed the implementation of its new privacy policy until mid-May due to “how much confusion there is around our recent update.” What We Talk About When We Talk About Encryption When the sea of internet outrage reached a critical mass on Twitter dot com, Instagram head Adam Mosseri tweeted out that he was seeing “a lot of misinformation” about WhatsApp’s new terms of service. The changes people were reading were strictly related to messaging businesses on WhatsApp, which, as he reminded people, is always optional. He then linked to WhatsApp’s own FAQ on the subject, which included another mealy-mouthed explanation of how, exactly, businesses use your WhatsApp data. In reality, though, it doesn’t really say much of anything: it doesn’t touch on the exact data that these partners are hoovering up from a (supposedly) encrypted platform, nor does it even discuss what “changes” in the privacy policy specifically apply to business-based messaging. Advertisement So instead of parsing apart... all of that, let’s go straight to the source. The Business API’s source code is actually easily searchable on Facebook’s dev-facing site, which means you can also find the data points this API hoovers from WhatsApp proper, and how it could—at least potentially—bypass WhatsApp’s encryption to do so. Or if you want, you can just visit this surprisingly cogent FAQ that literally asks “Is end-to-end encryption maintained through the WhatsApp Business API?.” WhatsApp’s response, which we emphasized here is just... something (emphasis ours): WhatsApp considers communications with Business API users who manage the API endpoint on servers they control to be end-to-end encrypted since there is no third-party access to content between endpoints. Some organizations may choose to delegate management of their WhatsApp Business API endpoint to a third-party Business Solution Provider. In these instances, communication still uses the same Signal protocol encryption. However, because the WhatsApp Business API user has chosen a third party to manage their endpoint, WhatsApp does not consider these messages end-to-end encrypted. In the future, in 2021, this will also apply to businesses that choose to leverage the cloud-based version of the API hosted by Facebook. In addition, if you are using HTTPS when making calls to the WhatsApp Business API client, that data is SSL-encrypted (from your backend client to the WhatsApp Business API client). Advertisement Or put another way, WhatsApp’s telling us that when we have conversations with the business or brand on the platform—and that business or brand happens to be working with a given number of third parties—the encrypted WhatsApp we’re used to using goes out the window. I should probably clarify who these third parties actually are. Facebook calls them Business Solution Providers, (or BSP’s for short), and they’re essentially an approved set of adtech vendors whose sole responsibility is making marketing on Facebook as easy an experience as possible. If you’re advertising a hip new line of CBD gummies and only want to reach, say, dog moms on Instagram between 18 and 21 that live in the U.S. but exclusively speak Portuguese at home, there are a few dozen BSP’s that Facebook can match you up with. If you want to reach them on other Facebook properties—like, say, Whatsapp—there are 66 partners that Facebook lists off as having the key to its Business API. Even if you can’t get your hands on it, Facebook’s essentially promising that your ads will be safe in these third-party players’ hands if you promise to give them a little monetary something-something. Advertisement The encryption-busting maneuver these BSP’s are allowed to do is, as always, openly available, courtesy of Facebook. If your brain hasn’t smoothed over reading about this API until now, I’d recommend flipping through those docs. For my fellow smooth-brainers, here’s the basic gist: When a BSP or any Facebook-approved partner downloads the Business API, it comes packaged with a port that directs data from WhatsApp conversations onto an external database that this partner controls. When that partner gets buddied up with, say, a pizza place that wants to use WhatsApp for customer support, every message that they get asking about the status of their slice ends up in this unencrypted bucket, along with a slew of contact info about the person who put that request in. A sample of some of the data these partners can get their hands on, according to Facebook’s documentation.Screenshot: Facebook (Gizmodo) Advertisement Once that data’s under a third-party’s purview, ultimately it’s no longer Facebook’s responsibility, even if it’s used to target ads on one of the company’s own platforms. WhatsApp cheerfully described this setup in yet another FAQ (emphasis ours again): Some businesses and solution providers will use WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook, to securely store messages and respond to customers. While Facebook will not automatically use your messages to inform the ads that you see, businesses will be able to use chats they receive for their own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook. You can always contact that business to learn more about their privacy practices. Advertisement In other words, if I’m using WhatsApp to ask this imaginary pizza place why my eggplant parm and diet coke haven’t gotten to my apartment yet, whatever data falls out of that conversation could be used to target me with more ads for parm and parm-adjacent products just about anywhere that pizza place’s trusted partner is able to do so. It’s just a happy coincidence if that means advertising on Facebook. So just to recap, what WhatsApp (okay, mostly Facebook) is saying at this point is: There’s tons of juicy consumer data in WhatsApp that marketers aren’t tapping into, but accessing it might mean paying a not-insignificant-fee to Facebook and to one of these trusted third parties (which, yep, also pay Facebook as part of terms for their title). Once they have their hands on enough data, they’re free to pay Facebook again for the privilege of advertising against these same users. If you read between the lines, though, the decision to advertise on Facebook or not is pretty much made up for them before they even asked. This exact cycle repeats likely thousands of times per week. ??????? Somewhere down the line, Mark Zuckerberg gets rich enough to get those ass implants we’re sure he always wanted. Advertisement On one hand, I don’t really blame WhatsApp for flubbing this announcement. Like all things in adtech, explaining the specifics of WhatsApp’s Business API—or any of its specific data-sharing practices—is a mind-numbingly dull exercise that almost certainly couldn’t fit onto people’s lil phone screens. But by ignoring a lot of these nuances, the company’s left with hordes of people that filled this update with their own theories about what these seemingly sweeping privacy changes actually mean. There’s got to be a happy medium somewhere. Until Facebook’s execs find where that is, they’re going to be left posting harried Twitter clips citing the same vapid privacy promises we’ve been seeing from the company until now. But if the WhatsApp debacle should teach us anything, it’s that peeling away at these platitudes can leave you with something deep-rooted and disturbing—and sometimes, older than you’d think. Advertisement Update 2:58pm ET: Added response from Facebook.