Steve Jurvetson appears to be starting his own venture capital firm

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Jurvetson is listed as the founder of a soon-to-launch fund called Future Ventures, according to the firm’s website.

Steve Jurvetson, the prominent venture capitalist who left DFJ in a messy split late last year, appears to be starting his own firm, Recode has learned.

Jurvetson is listed as the founder of a soon-to-launch fund called Future Ventures, according to the firm’s website.

“At Future Ventures, we support passionate founders who are forging the future. For the past 23 years, we have backed the visionaries who push the boundaries of possibility and explore the frontier of the unknown,” the website says. “We focus on disruptive technology such as commercial space exploration, deep learning, quantum computing, robotics, AI, blockchain, and sustainable transportation, synthetic biology and clean meat.”

The website refers to the firm’s “founders” as a plural, implying that other investors may be joining Jurvetson at the outpost. The firm has yet to file any paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Future Ventures website Steve Jurvetson bio page.
Screenshot from the firm’s website.

A Jurvetson spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Thursday. The website is registered in the name of Jurvetson’s former executive assistant and was updated in late March.

Jurvetson’s apparent reemergence onto the venture capital scene is not surprising — he is responsible for two of DFJ’s massive successes, SpaceX and Tesla — and that means he is likely to find a friendly base of investors, perhaps among several prior DFJ limited partners. His departure came amid internal tension at DFJ after the firm caught him lying about what it considered serious allegations, a source familiar with the situation said at the time.

“I am excited to move on and get back to my professional passion, helping great entrepreneurs forge the future,” Jurvetson said in a Facebook post in November shortly after leaving DFJ.

But it is still a quick rebound. Mike Cagney, the former CEO of SoFi, is also back with a new startup, as Recode first reported, after his company battled allegations of sexual harassment. Travis Kalanick, too, has restarted his life after being forced to leave his job.

Jurvetson, for his part, was accused by women of having several extra-marital affairs that, in the eyes of some, crossed into the professional world. No one has publicly emerged to allege him of sexual harassment. He has denied any misconduct.

Since his departure in November, Jurvetson has kept a low profile, though he has been making several speaking appearances on familiar topics, according to his social media pages.

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Lawyer bots take the hassle out of fighting parking tickets and property taxes — and could cost local governments real revenue

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A new pain for cities.

After finding a parking ticket lashed to his windshield, Seattle resident Dan Lear normally would have bitten the bullet and paid up, even though he felt misled by street signage.

Instead, Lear decided to try his luck with DoNotPay, a free bot service that streamlines the process of contesting parking tickets. The service helped Lear win a dismissal in 2016, leaving him a little bit richer and Seattle a little bit poorer.

New technology-powered services like DoNotPay, WinIt and TurboAppeal are encouraging more people to challenge legal hassles like inaccurate tickets and property taxes online. While these tools can help citizens avoid unfair penalties, they also might tempt some users to game the system, and could strain the resources of local governments. These potential side effects might come at an inopportune time for municipalities, whose budgets may be squeezed under the new tax rules.

“I guess I’m torn between supporting my local government but also ensuring that people have the right to appeal things that they feel are not fair or not legal,” said the victorious Lear, who is an attorney by trade.

DoNotPay asks users a series of questions, such as whether a parking sign was difficult to read or a ticket had incorrect details, then produces a letter with a formal legal defense that drivers can mail in or submit online.

The free service has helped drivers across the U.S. and the U.K. squash more than 450,000 parking tickets representing $ 13 million in fines; users win dismissals more than 50 percent of the time, by founder Joshua Browder’s estimate. That compares to a dismissal rate of around 35 percent in Los Angeles and 21 percent in New York City.

Parking tickets are “used as a source of revenue, which is wrong, and something I’m trying to change for the longer term,” said Browder, who has been called the “Robin Hood of the internet” by the BBC. Local governments, he added, “generally don’t like me.”

Having recently clinched $ 1.1 million in seed funding, DoNotPay lists investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners and attorneys with the firm Wilson Sonsini. The company plans to expand into helping users fight property taxes and file for divorce, among other things.

WinIt, a mobile app that currently only services New York City but plans to expand this year, takes parking ticket challenges to the next level. It builds a legal defense with minimal or zero input, and then argues for a dismissal, often in court through a partner attorney, and proceeds “even if there’s a 5 percent chance that we can dismiss the ticket,” said WinIt CEO Ouriel Lemmel.

WinIt collects a fee — equal to half the fine — but only if it succeeds. Drivers can even sign up for WinIt’s “Ticket Guardian,” which will automatically challenge any new ticket associated with a customer’s license plate number as soon as it hits a government database.

Companies that depend on drivers are taking note: Ride-sharing app Via and delivery service Postmates both offer discounts on WinIt to their drivers.

WinIt expects to contest 3 percent to 4 percent of all New York City parking tickets this year, which could amount to well over 300,000 tickets, if 2018 ticket volume is similar to previous years. That could represent around $ 6 million in potential lost revenue for the city.

Appealing property taxes

At least one startup is also taking aim at a much larger source of municipal revenue: Property taxes.

Machine-learning-powered TurboAppeal makes it much easier for homeowners to challenge the property assessments used to levy property taxes. The company had raised more than $ 7 million from investors including online mortgage lender Guaranteed Rate, KGC Capital, Hyde Park Venture Partners and real estate brokerage @properties before being acquired by Paradigm Tax Group for an undisclosed sum last year.

Homeowners can get detailed data and instructions that can cut the time needed to prepare a compelling appeal from hours to 30 minutes, according to Stace Hunt, marketing director at Paradigm. Priced at $ 49, the automated service typically costs much less than a property tax attorney.

Amanda McMillan, a Chicago realtor who used TurboAppeal to shave $ 700 off her 2015 tax bill, said a few clients who probably would not have otherwise fought their property taxes followed her advice and gave TurboAppeal a whirl. To their delight, they won reductions, she said.

TurboAppeal had reportedly generated more than 100,000 property tax appeals as of May 2017; it covers 64 counties and 23 million single-family homes and has claimed a success rate of more than 75 percent in the past.

Some data suggests that self-service companies like TurboAppeal and DoNotPay have lots of room to grow.

The opportunity

Public New York City data, along with statistics provided to Recode by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, showed that fewer than 10 percent of parking tickets were challenged in those two cities over the last few years, while less than 5 percent of properties in all but one of New Jersey’s 21 counties saw their tax bills appealed in 2016.

But more fine dismissals and property tax reductions would mean less money for local schools and police departments, noted Megan Randall, a research associate at the Urban Institute. Property taxes reportedly make up roughly 30 percent of local government revenue nationwide.

Illustrating how services that target this revenue could pose a fiscal nuisance, New Jersey’s Monroe County was forced to issue a bond in 2011 to cover $ 5 million in refunds due to a spike in property tax appeals. The increase was driven by the housing meltdown, though the town’s finance director at the time also cited attorneys “trying to convince residents to file mass appeals,” the Star-Ledger reported.

Parking tickets, meanwhile, account for less than 1 percent of local government revenue nationwide, but some municipalities are much more reliant on fines than others.

For example, in 2013, 21 of the 90 municipalities in Missouri’s St. Louis County collected more than 20 percent of revenue from court fines and fees, of which parking and speeding tickets are a large contributor.

Drops in traffic tickets can cut into state budgets, too. A decrease in ticket volume forced the Nevada Supreme Court to seek a bailout in 2015. DoNotPay and WinIt can help users fight moving violations such as speeding tickets, so they could also nibble away at revenue from a range of traffic fines, not just parking tickets.

A jump in appeals would also increase the workload of municipal employees who are tasked with reviewing ticket and tax challenges.

“At this point, we don’t have an automated process, so it may cost our constituents money,” said Mark Granado, manager of parking operations and support for the LA Department of Transportation.

Moreover, many people may use these services to try to game the system, not to right a wrong.

WinIt and DoNotPay can help users get off on technicalities, such as if a ticket incorrectly describes a car’s color or make. Such errors can cost big bucks: New York City recently announced that it would refund a reported $ 26 million worth of parking tickets due to the omission of a zero from the ordinance code on roughly 500,000 tickets.

The government finance, parking enforcement and county appraiser employees that Recode spoke to said they didn’t believe that services such as WinIt, DoNotPay or TurboAppeal have boosted ticket and tax challenges so far, but generally acknowledged the potential for this to occur.

Some, including Granado, the Los Angeles parking enforcement official, said they would welcome services that professionalize more appeals, while a few employees encouraged consumers to consider using government systems, questioning whether third-party services add value.

Asked about concerns with their services, WinIt, DoNotPay and TurboAppeal emphasized that they are simply empowering more consumers to exercise their legal rights.

Municipalities could try to deal with more appeal volume by increasing property tax rates and fines or by investing in technology. But this could be harder than ever, given that the recent tax reform may impose downward pressure on property taxes, among other budget constraints.

“In an ideal world, governments would invest in the necessary resources to adapt,” Randall said in an email. “However, in reality, we often become reliant on private-sector actors who derive material benefit from a complex and opaque tax system.”

Teke Wiggin is a Brooklyn-based reporter who covers technology, labor and housing. Reach him @tkwiggin.

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How to watch Apple CEO Tim Cook’s MSNBC interview with Kara Swisher and Chris Hayes on Friday

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The show starts at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT.

Recode and MSNBC team up again on the next episode in our “Revolution” series on tech and the future of work. Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes’s full interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook will air on Friday, April 6, at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT on MSNBC.

“Revolution: Apple Changing the World” was taped in Chicago and focuses on innovation in education, Facebook’s data privacy scandal, the future of work in the age of technology and much more.

Watch Apple CEO Tim Cook’s interview on MSNBC, online and on Twitter

If you subscribe to a basic cable package, turning your TV to MSNBC on Friday, April 6, will get you to the broadcast. You can also access a livestream through NBC’s website with a cable login and password.

You can follow Recode’s Twitter account for live coverage of the show; follow #RevolutionCHI to join the conversation. You can also follow Kara Swisher on Twitter during the broadcast for behind-the-scenes analysis and insights.

On the show, Swisher and Hayes talk to Cook about technology’s role in powering learning for the next generation of students and workers, including how to teach code across the U.S. and also how it impacts the future of job creation. The interview was taped at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago.

Here’s a preview:

The “Revolution” series from MSNBC and Recode features townhall-style conversations with the audience examining the impact of technology on many aspects of the world today including business, politics, science, health, jobs, climate, culture, education and more. The series includes one-on-one interviews and panel discussions with a range of thought leaders from corporate executives, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to journalists, government officials and academics.

Our first episode featured an interview with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

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Domo, the once secretive $2 billion software company led by Josh James, is moving to go public

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Domo CEO Josh James

The Utah darling held its IPO kickoff meeting last week.

The business software company Domo, last valued at over $ 2 billion, is moving to go public, Recode has learned.

Domo last week held its “organizational meeting,” which generally serves as the formal kickoff in advance of an IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to sources. The company is pursuing a confidential filing with the SEC; it isn’t clear if the company has already filed or instead will do so within the next few weeks.

The filing would be the latest IPO in a flurry of listings, especially in the enterprise sector. And it would offer a payday to the cross section of venture funds that have financed the eight-year-old company’s growth, like GGV Capital, TPG and Benchmark.

It would also be a substantial exit for the so-called Silicon Slopes region of Utah: Domo, led by prominent entrepreneur Josh James, is based in a suburb of Salt Lake City. James is well known as the co-founder of Omniture, an analytics company that was sold to Adobe for almost $ 2 billion.

Domo declined to comment.

Domo has long teased an IPO — James told Recode as early as April 2015 that his company would be ready to go public in the next six months. And a company could always back off after the so-called org meeting or even after the filing, but this is a definite step in the IPO planning process.

The org meeting typically begins a one- to two-month process that includes the drafting of the paperwork that is filed with the SEC. The company’s leadership, its board, lawyers, bankers and financial advisers gather to chart how and when exactly the company will file and sell itself to Wall Street. A company though isn’t bound to file, and could eventually delay the listing, back off altogether or get acquired at the last minute.

The company hired banks to advise their IPO as far back as April 2016, but its momentum toward a public offering had stalled. Domo raised another round of financing in early 2017, pushing back the IPO as part of an attempt, as James said at the time, to remain private as long as humanly possible.

After somehow operating in stealth for almost five years, Domo emerged in 2015 with a $ 2 billion valuation. The company offers to businesses a portal that visualizes company and customer data — a live view of all sorts of things a CEO might need to know about his or her company in one software platform. Competitors include the still-private Looker and the now-public Tableau Software.

Domo’s IPO would be the latest high-profile listing at a time when private companies apparently feel the public markets will be friendly to startups. Spotify and Dropbox shares have begun trading over just the last few weeks, and a pair of other cloud-based companies, Zscaler and Zuora, have filed to follow suit this spring.

Advising Domo’s offering are Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. The banks declined to comment.

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Mark Zuckerberg knows he screwed up

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Unlike last time, Zuckerberg gets it.

The last time Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was met with crisis, it didn’t go well.

That was in late 2016, shortly after the U.S. presidential election, and people were starting to ask serious questions about whether or not fake news on Facebook helped Donald Trump get elected.

Zuckerberg dismissed the idea outright just three days after the election. “Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook … influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” Zuckerberg said at the time.

We know how that played out, and Zuckerberg came across as defensive, unapologetic and, perhaps worst of all, naive.

But on Wednesday, when Zuckerberg took questions from reporters for 45 minutes on a conference call to address his latest scandal — the Cambridge Analytica privacy fiasco — he didn’t come across as defensive, unapologetic or naive. In fact, he came across as the exact opposite.

“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough,” Zuckerberg said of building Facebook with safeguards in place. “We didn’t focus enough on preventing abuse and thinking through how people could use these tools to do harm as well, and that goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, hate speech, in addition to developers and data privacy.”

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of what our responsibility is, and that was a huge mistake,” Zuckerberg added. “It was my mistake.”

Throughout the 45 minute session, Zuckerberg answered all the tough questions, including one about whether or not he should keep his job as CEO. (Yes, he thinks he should.) Zuckerberg handled every answer despite the fact that there were two other Facebook executives on the call. When the moderator started to wrap up the questioning, Zuckerberg jumped in to say he wanted to take more questions.

He sounded confident, knowledgable and, most importantly, like he actually understood that he is responsible for Facebook and its consequences — whether they are intended or not.

When asked if he had fired anyone for the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which an outside data firm collected profile data on as many as 87 million people without their permission, Zuckerberg said he isn’t looking for a scapegoat.

“I have not,” Zuckerberg said. “At the end of the day, this is my responsibility. I started this place, I run it, I’m responsible for what happens here. I still think I’m going to do the best job to run it going forward, but I’m not looking to throw anyone else under the bus for mistakes that we’ve made here.”

No one feels bad for Mark Zuckerberg, nor should they. As a mega-billionaire making more billions thanks to the personal information of most of the world’s internet users, Zuckerberg doesn’t elicit much sympathy.

Yes, he screwed up. Zuckerberg will tell you that himself. But unlike the last time, he knows there’s no one else to blame.

“I think life is about learning from the mistakes and about learning what you need to do to move forward,” he said when asked if he still deserved his job. “When you’re building something like Facebook that is unprecedented in the world, there are going to be things you mess up. And if we’d gotten this right, we would have messed something else up.”

“I don’t think anyone is going to be perfect,” he added, “but I think what people should hold us accountable for is learning from the mistakes and continually doing better.”

Zuckerberg is officially accountable. Now it’s time to do better.

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Financial Times CEO John Ridding explains how to make people pay for media

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Financial Times CEO John Ridding

Techies pooh-poohed online subscriptions a decade ago. My, how things have changed.

When the Financial Times began putting its online content behind a paywall, John Ridding recalls that reactions in the tech world ranged from skeptical to “pretty hostile.” After all, the conventional wisdom of the time went, “the internet wants to be free.”

“Which I always thought was kind of weird and a little ridiculous because, clearly, the internet doesn’t want anything,” Ridding said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. “It’s a channel.”

Now the CEO of the FT is feeling vindicated: Subscriptions to online reporting from the Nikkei-owned London-based business newspaper start at $ 350 per year, and readers are buying. Ridding said two-thirds of the FT’s 900,000 subscribers are digital customers, and subscriptions have overtaken advertising as the chief source of the company’s revenue, also representing about two-thirds of the total.

“A lot of the industry was too quick to dismiss the ability to charge for content. My view is that if you have something that differentiates you, something that makes you special — it could be a brand identity, it could be a columnist, it could be a sector of coverage — you have the ability to charge.”

“If you don’t have anything that is any way different or special, you’ve got some bigger questions to ask,” he added. “What are you doing?”

You can listen to Recode Media on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Ridding talked about the resistance the FT had faced from some of the big tech platforms that were intent on distributing content for free, noting that now he hopes they might start to be “more helpful, in terms of subscription model development.” One of the big fights was with Google, which used to insist that readers clicking on a link in search results should get the “first click free” — meaning they would be guaranteed to not see a paywall right away.

“We felt all along that the throttle, the terms of access, should be down to the publisher,” Ridding said. “There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, and Google came to accept that position.”

He also discussed how the FT’s own thinking has changed over time. Rather than giving readers a certain number of free articles per month — the “metered” business model practiced by the New York Times, the Washington Post and Wired, among others — it has shifted in recent years to just give them unfettered access for free for the first month.

“We thought, what do we really want to do?,” Ridding recalled. “We really want to achieve the habit in digital that people used to have in print. A metered model kind of goes against that because you’re, by definition, rationing … Ideally, you spend a month with the FT, you get to appreciate it, you become a subscriber.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, also hosted by Kara Swisher, answers all of the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. Tune in next Thursday for another episode of Recode Media!

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YouTube vowed to increase security after the attack — but that’s a tough task on tech campuses

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The problem is that these campuses are generally designed to be fun, welcoming places.

YouTube says that it will improve its security at its worksites after a gunman shot three others and herself — but that’s going to be a tough task on Silicon Valley’s giant, open campuses.

The video company said that Nasim Aghdam, who authorities have identified as the killer, was able to enter the San Bruno campus through its parking garage and then access YouTube’s outside courtyard. She did not enter the actual corporate building.

The company is committing itself to better protect its employees.

“We are revisiting this incident in detail and will be increasing the security we have at all of our offices worldwide to make them more secure not only in the near term, but long-term” YouTube said in a statement late Wednesday.

The company and its parent Google did not respond to requests for details on what security precautions were taken Wednesday to secure their campuses.

The problem, though, is that these campuses are generally designed to be fun, welcoming places more reminiscent of an open college campus than a secured facility. Buildings are spread out and interlopers can wander between them with little notice. Visitors aren’t uncommon, and some are even implicitly welcomed with tourist-friendly photo spots like Facebook’s welcome sign featuring a ‘Like’ button or Google’s Android statuettes.

There’s likely to be a new debate in Silicon Valley about how these campuses are protected — much like we saw a debate over public spaces such as movie theaters after the shooting in Aurora in 2012 and a debate over schools after deadly incidents at Sandy Hook and more recently in Parkland.

Police say that they believe Aghdam parked her car near a neighboring business and then walked over, Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun in tow.

Authorities believe that Aghdam was frustrated by YouTube’s policies, including a recent push toward what she felt were algorithm changes that made it difficult for her to monetize her content on the platform. In one post, she called YouTube a “dictatorship.”

Recode – All

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Mark Zuckerberg will testify before U.S. lawmakers in two separate hearings next week

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He’ll testify before two Senate committees on Tuesday, and a House committee on Wednesday.

Mark Zuckerberg is officially headed to Washington.

The Facebook CEO has accepted an invitation to testify before lawmakers from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the company’s recent Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, in which personal data from some 50 million users ended up in the hands of an outside research firm that worked with the Trump campaign, all without those users’ permission.

Zuckerberg will testify on Wednesday, April 11, at 10 am ET, according to a release, “regarding the company’s use and protection of user data.”

“This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online. We appreciate Mr. Zuckerberg’s willingness to testify before the committee, and we look forward to him answering our questions on April 11th,” committee chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking member Frank Pallone, Jr., D-NJ, said in a canned quote.

Update: Zuckerberg will also testify before two Senate committees in a joint hearing that was announced late Wednesday. The hearing, which will take place at 2:15 pm ET next Tuesday, April 10, is titled, “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data.” Zuckerberg will answer questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Zuckerberg was invited to testify before three separate congressional committees to discuss the company’s privacy policies, including the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Facebook has been working behind the scenes to schedule his appearance for almost two weeks, though would not commit to anything publicly until today.

Back in mid-March, Zuckerberg told Recode in an interview that he was open to testifying “if I’m the right [person].”

“You know, I’m open to doing that,” he said when asked if he would testify. “I think that the way that we look at testifying in front of Congress is that … We actually do this fairly regularly, right? There are high-profile ones like the Russian investigation, but there are lots of different topics that Congress needs and wants to know about. And the way that we approach it is that our responsibility is to make sure that they have access to all the information that they need to have. So I’m open to doing it.”

Zuckerberg’s appearance will be a big deal — in part because Zuckerberg has never testified before, and in part because the company’s Cambridge Analytica fiasco has become a symbol of sorts for how big tech companies like Facebook are not doing enough to protect user privacy.

The concern, if you are a Facebook investor, is that lawmakers will walk away from a Zuckerberg testimony with the belief the company needs to be regulated. Facebook’s entire business relies on collecting personal information from people and using that information to show those people targeted advertising.

When Facebook testified in front of Congress last fall about Russian groups using the service to try and influence the 2016 presidential election, Facebook sent its top lawyer, Colin Stretch, instead of Zuckerberg.

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Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook hasn’t felt ‘any meaningful impact’ in its usage or business in the wake of its privacy scandal

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Translation: Facebook will be fine.

People are really unhappy with Facebook and revelations that the company hasn’t been protecting user data the way it should. People just are’t unhappy enough to actually leave Facebook. At least that’s what CEO Mark Zuckerberg says.

During a conference call with reporters today, when Recode asked Zuckerberg if the backlash from the Cambridge Analytica fallout — including a #DeleteFacebook hashtag that has circulated online over the last few weeks — had hurt Facebook’s business or usage at all, he seemed to downplay concerns of a material shift.

“I don’t think there’s been any meaningful impact that we’ve observed,” he said. “But, look, it’s not good … It still speaks to people feeling like this was a massive breach of trust and that we have a lot of work to do to repair that.”

The idea that Facebook can go through this kind of backlash without a notable dent to its business is a testament to how big the service has become, and how consumers may not actually be as angry with the company around its privacy policies as it appears on the surface.

Still, investors have been concerned. Facebook stock is down more than 15 percent since the Cambridge Analytica drama came to light almost three weeks ago. The company is scheduled to report its first-quarter financial results on April 25.

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Facebook will stop sharing as much of your personal data with people outside of Facebook

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Facebook is making sweeping changes to many of its most important APIs.

Facebook is aggressively cutting down on the amount of personal data third-party developers can collect from users as part of its response to Cambridge Analytica, the third-party data firm that collected personal information from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced sweeping changes to many of its APIs — software plugins that allow outside businesses and developers to collect data directly from Facebook.

The changes are broad, and you can read all of the specifics at Facebook’s blog, but the gist is that Facebook will limit the types of data available through each API so that outsiders can’t see as much about people on Facebook.

“We believe these changes will better protect people’s information while still enabling developers to create useful experiences,” Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer wrote in a blog post.

A few of the highlights:

  • Facebook will now need to approve every app that uses its login feature to collect information beyond basic profile data, like a user’s name and email. It will also stop apps from asking about ideological information, like a user’s religious or political views.
  • Facebook is expediting a plan to close its Instagram Platform API, which was originally planned to happen gradually over the next few years. Facebook says the “deprecation” of that API will take place “effective today.” Developers started noticing this earlier in the week, without a heads up from the company, but Facebook declined to comment on the changes until now.
  • You can’t search for people on Facebook using their email or phone number anymore. Facebook says “malicious actors” were abusing that feature, so it’s disabling it.
  • Facebook will start alerting users that their data may have been part of the Cambridge Analytica data set beginning Monday, April 9. The company will put a link at the top of every Facebook user’s News Feed to help them understand which third-party apps have their data. That alert will also include whether or not your data was part of the set obtained by Cambridge Analytica.

It will be interesting to see how these changes impact Facebook’s relationship with third-party developers just weeks before the company’s annual developer conference, F8. Many developers rely on Facebook APIs to sign up new users, or scale their own audience by asking people to share their Facebook friends list.

Almost all developers will find out about these changes today, and though the writing has been on the wall for weeks, it’s likely many will be caught off guard.

Wednesday’s update is just the latest in what has been an incredibly busy three-week stretch for Facebook. The company already rewrote its terms of service, is in the middle of a media blitz with CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer press questions and is cutting out data partners the company no longer wants to associate with.

Zuckerberg will also testify next week before a House Congressional committee to answer questions about the company’s data privacy practices.

Recode – All

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