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Tinder adds real-time safety tracking, and more

☕ Hi there! Yesterday’s email was occasionally flagged by Gmail, at least, we think because of the various mentions of Bezos and hacking. Don't be alarmed! No harm came from the email. It was wrong, but vigilant of Google, at least? Anyway, sorry about the scare, on with the day of a normal DGiT Daily.

Tinder Dates with panic buttons and safety check-ins

Match Group, owner of Tinder, is taking a stake in security-focused app Noonlight (WSJ), and is set to bring the best of Noonlight's protections into Tinder for when dates between strangers happen in real-life, off the app:

  • Noonlight is an app that tracks the location of users and notifies authorities in the event of safety concerns, using a few different methods.
  • One method is a kind of active switch, which requires you press and hold the brightly lit shield in the app. If you stop pressing, a countdown to call a contact, or emergency services, starts.
  • While available for anyone who finds themselves in strange or dangerous situations, it’s mostly focused towards women, and it’s almost exclusively women leaving reviews on the App Store and Play Store. (Mind you, the iOS version has more functionality and options.)
  • And, of course, it deeply sucks that something like this feels necessary at all.
  • But the app has positive reviews, seems to help, and tying it in with Tinder makes sense as a deterrent. 

Next steps:

  • “Tinder plans to debut the feature free for US users at the end of January, and Match Group plans to roll it out to its other dating apps in coming months,” writes the WSJ.
  • Tinder has been roundly criticized at times for not doing more to protect its users and screen out more people. 
  • Features like reporting fakes and dangerous sounding users haven’t always been available, and sexual assaults and crimes have stemmed from connections made through Tinder and other apps.
  • Uber and Airbnb have faced similar problems in different ways: the problem of strangers interacting was recently touched on by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know.

Real-time monitoring:

  • Tinder stepping up to real-time monitoring is a big step, and the company says it will add a badge to dating profiles to indicate it’s being used.
  • “I liken this to the lawn sign from a security system,” said Elie Seidman, Tinder’s CEO. “It tells people I am protected, and that is a deterrent.”
  • Part of the process is giving permission to track locations throughout a date, and Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg said “the location data won’t be used for marketing or anything else”.
  • The catch will be if the Noonlight integration fails someone who really needs it, but the system seems more geared towards a stepped process of escalation to protect someone who has indicated manually, or through automated tracking, that they need help.
  • All in all, it looks positive for prospective daters, with caveats around data protection, and a big one in that it looks to only be available in the US for now, which would appear to leave global Tinder users missing out. 
  • I’ve contacted Match Group to find out more.

Round Up:

📩 In Bezos phone hack, UN wants answers on Saudi prince's alleged role (CNET).

📖 Here is the technical report suggesting Saudi Arabia’s prince hacked Jeff Bezos’ phone (Vice). There are some well-founded criticisms emerging around the report’s findings in the updated article from Vice, and from folks like @alexstamos (Twitter).

💻 This might be the future of dual-screen apps on Android, and it comes from Microsoft. And credit where it's due, the company seems to be answering all the questions about dual-screen devices, seams, multitasking, and so on, in smart ways (Android Authority). 

🔜 Motorola Razr preorders start on January 26 at Verizon (Android Authority).

Poco’s next smartphone confirmed to launch in this quarter (Android Authority).

💡 Visible changed this rural Missouri-based techie’s life for the better (Android Authority).

🍎 Hey Apple, now would be a great time to ditch Lightning and get with USB-C (Android Authority).

😷 Would the Coronavirus quarantine of Wuhan even work? (Wired). It’s hard to shut down a megacity of 11 million people.

🤒 Huawei developer conference postponed due to Wuhan coronavirus, now in March (The Verge).

🤦 Microsoft accidentally exposed 250 million customer service records (Engadget).

🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️Also, Microsoft is using Office 365 to force Bing search in Chrome, for enterprise users, and to immediate backlash (9to5Google).

🍞 "Unauthorized Bread"—a tale of rebellions involve jailbreaking IoT toasters—is the lead novella in author Cory Doctorow's Radicalized book. Here’s an excerpt, and it’s good! (Ars Technica).

📕 And why not, here’s another book excerpt, this one from Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World by Matt Parker: “When Avery Blank was in law school, she had difficulty getting an internship because her applications were not taken seriously. People would see “Blank” in the surname field and assume it was an incomplete application. She always had to get in touch and convince the selection committee that she was a real human.” (OneZero).

🔊 Best music and audio out of NAMM 2020 (SoundGuys)

🎟 Seattle is the first area in the US where residents can vote via smartphones, and that’s a bad idea (The Verge).

🍄 Scientists have discovered fossils of a fungal lifeform that lived between 715 and 810 million years ago, long before the dawn of complex life, changing Earth’s evolutionary timeline (Wired).

🎸 Wait, is the breakout hit ‘Toss a Coin to Your Witcher’, now available to stream actually any good? (Polygon). (Yes.)

📽 George R.R. Martin says Game of Thrones could have ended with a cinematic trilogy and yeah anything would’ve been better than what we got. (Gizmodo).

Throwback Thursday

Blockbuster

Ah the bankrupt and deceitful. Here’s a thread on r/askreddit titled: “Redditors who worked at defunct stores (Blockbuster, etc.), when did you realize they were done for?”

Turns out the writing is often on the... melted cash register:

  • “Waldenbooks. When one of two registers caught fire. The fire department put it out but rather than pay to haul it away the company left it, a hulk of melted plastic where it was at the checkout. The store closed two weeks later.”
  • I worked at Babies R Us for 3 years. For part-timers, our hours would fluctuate based on sales from the previous weeks. If we had a bad week, as much as 75% of us would get called off future shifts. It was so random. I could have 10 hours one week and 34 hours the next. It felt like the employees were not the only ones living paycheck to paycheck.”
  • Much more in there regarding CompUSA and many more.
  • Image via Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)

Stay profitable,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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