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Twitter doesn’t care that someone is building a bot army in Southeast Asia

Facebook’s lack of attention to how third parties are using its service to reach users ended up with CEO Mark Zuckerberg taking questions from Congressional committees . With that in mind, you’d think that others in the social media space might be more attentive than usual to potentially malicious actors on their platforms. Twitter, however, is turning the other way and insisting all is normal in Southeast Asia, despite the emergence of thousands of bot-like accounts that have followed prominent users in the region en masse over the past month. Scores of reporters and Twitter users with large followers — yours truly included — have noticed swarms of accounts with generic names, no profile photo, no bio and no tweets have followed them over the past month. It’s been a month already and the twitter bots just keep showing up. Anyone else seeing the same thing? pic.twitter.com/YEGcGnUYxd — Lulu Yilun Chen (@luluyilun) April 18, 2018 The deluge of Asia @Twitter bot follows continues unabated. Sigh pic.twitter.com/jD5JbOQnT2 — Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor) April 10, 2018 These accounts might be evidence of a new ‘bot farm’ — the creation of large numbers of accounts for sale or usage on-demand which Twitter has cracked down on — or the groundwork for more nefarious activities, it’s too early to tell. In what appears to be the first regional Twitter bot campaign, a flood of suspicious new followers has been reported by users across Southeast Asia and beyond, including Thailand , Myanmar  Cambodia , Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka among other places. While it is true that the new accounts have done nothing yet, the fact that a large number of newly-created accounts have popped up out of nowhere with the aim of following the region’s most influential voices should be enough to concern Twitter. Especially since this is Southeast Asia, a region where Facebook is beset with controversies — from its role inciting ethnic hatred in Myanmar , to allegedly assisting censors in Vietnam , witnessing users jailed for violating lese majeste in Thailand , and aiding the election of controversial Philippines leader Duterte . Then there are governments themselves. Vietnam has pledged to build a cyber army  to combat “wrongful views,” while other regimes in Southeast Asia have clamped down on social media users. Despite that, Twitter isn’t commenting. The U.S.

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Musiio uses AI to help the music industry curate tracks more efficiently

A former streaming industry exec and an AI specialist walk into a bar, they leave starting an AI company for the music industry. That’s not exactly how Singapore-based startup Musiio was formed, but it’s close enough and the outcome is the same. Co-founders Hazel Savage, formerly of Pandora and Shazam, and Swedish data scientist Aron Pettersson connected at Entrepreneur First in Singapore. The program began in London as a way to help likeminded tech connect with the potential to start projects, so it does mirror the serendipity of meeting new friends in a bar. “We’d probably never have met each other if we hadn’t gone to EF,” Savage told TechCrunch in an interview. Brit Savage was looking for new ideas after work brought her and her husband to Singapore, and after crunching through some problems that need fixing, the duo settled on an AI service that helps music platforms tackle content and curation. Push for personalization Personalization has been the big push for music streaming giants. The initial face of the streaming revolution was based on giving users instant access to millions of songs in a single place, removing the pain of downloads and paying per song. Now that streaming is established, the puck has moved to smarter solutions that help music streamers shift through those tens of millions of songs to find music they like, or better yet discover new tracks they’ll love. Spotify has moved on this in a major way. Aside from consumer products such as Discovery Weekly, a playlist that pulls in a weekly selection of music tailored to a user, it has invested considerable resources in making its product smarter. That’s including acquisitions such as music intelligence company Echo Nest for $100 million , and smaller AI startup Niland which helps make recommendations and search results smarter. Spotify has also ramped up its internal hires, too

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How Iceland, which offers plentiful energy and cooling, is reckoning with a tech boom driven by data centers that cause power usage to surge (Zeke…

Zeke Turner / Wall Street Journal : How Iceland, which offers plentiful energy and cooling, is reckoning with a tech boom driven by data centers that cause power usage to surge   —  Lawmakers rethink whether a proliferation of data centers lured by the island's Nordic climate and geothermal steam is risking the environment and tourism business

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Companies are scaling back and simplifying their ToS to comply with GDPR because users’ consent would be legally invalid if they don’t understand the…

Nate Lanxon / Bloomberg : Companies are scaling back and simplifying their ToS to comply with GDPR because users' consent would be legally invalid if they don't understand the agreement   —  Everyone from Uber to PayPal is facing a backlash against their impenetrable legalese.  —  Eleanor Margolis had used PayPal …

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Google changes its messaging strategy again: Goodbye to Allo, double down on RCS

Google’s long-and-winding road to figuring out messaging is taking yet another change of direction after the company called time on Allo, its newest chat app launch, in order to double down on its vision to enable an enhanced version of SMS. The company told The Verge  that it is “pausing” work on Allo, which was only launched as recently as September 2016 , in order to put its resources into the adoption RCS (Rich Communication Services), a messaging standard that has the potential to tie together SMS and other chat apps. RCS isn’t new, and Google has been pushing it for some time, but now the company is rebranding it as “Chat” and putting all its efforts into getting operators on board. The new strategy will see almost the entire Allo team switch to Android Messages, according to The Verge. In case you didn’t hear about it before, RCS is essentially a technology that allows basic ‘SMS’ messaging to be standardized across devices. In the same way that iMessage lets Apple device owners chat for free using data instead of paid-for SMS, RCS could allow free chats across different networks on Android or other devices. RCS can be integrated into chat apps, which is something Google has already done with Android Messages, but the tipping point is working with others, and that means operators. Unlike Apple, RCS is designed to work with carriers who can develop their own messaging apps that work with the protocol and connect to other apps, which could include chat apps. Essentially, it gives them a chance to take part in the messaging boom, rather than be cut out as WhatsApp, Messenger, iMessage and others take over. They don’t make money from consumers, but they do get to keep their brand and they can look to get revenue from business services. But this approach requires operators themselves to implement the technology. That’s no easy thing since carriers don’t exactly trust tech companies — WhatsApp alone has massively eaten into its SMS and call revenues — and they don’t like working with each other, too. Google said more than 55 operators worldwide have been recruited to support Chat, but it isn’t clear exactly when they might roll it out. Microsoft is among the OEM supporters, which raises the possibility it could bring support to Windows 10, but the company was non-committal when The Verge pressed it on that possibility. Google has tried many things on messaging, but it has largely failed because it doesn’t have a ramp to users. WhatsApp benefitted from being a first mover — all the other early leaders in Western markets are nowhere to be seen today — and Facebook Messenger is built on top of the world’s most popular social network.

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