It was nice to hear from so many readers that Login still brings them joy. Especially since it turns out there are so many things that don't fit the bill.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
TechCrunch reported on Tuesday that Facebook had paid users, some of them teens, $20 a month to install software on their iPhones giving Facebook detailed access to everything taking place on the device.
Why it matters: We're all losing count of Facebook's privacy controversies, but this one is more sensitive because it involves teens.
Facebook described the program as research to analyze how people use its own services and those of competitors. Late Tuesday night, Facebook defended the program, which dates back to 2016, but said it was discontinuing it for iOS users.
“Despite early reports, there was nothing 'secret' about this; it was literally called the Facebook Research App. It wasn't 'spying' as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate. Finally, less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens. All of them with signed parental consent forms.”— Facebook spokesperson, via a statement
The Apple conflict: Facebook's program, according to TechCrunch, used an apparently rewritten version of the Onavo software that Facebook pulled from the App Store last year after Apple said it violated its policies.
"We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple."
Facebook is likely to argue that its research project is little different from the kind of tracking Nielsen has done for decades of TV viewing patterns, or Comscore's tallying of web usage. But those services didn't end up with the kind of total access to people's lives that Facebook is getting via their phones.
The price of data: By offering $20 a month to users who installed the software, Facebook at least acknowledged that people's data has monetary value. Instead of one penny for a teen's thoughts, Facebook is offering 2,000. That sum is unlikely to be enough to stem the tide of renewed cries of protest and calls for regulation this incident will release.
What they're saying:
What's next: Facebook reports earnings this afternoon, and executives are sure to be grilled over this and other privacy issues.
But the company's filing and earnings call did provide some new comments and statistics that hint toward the company's future.
Here are 3 big takeaways:
1. Apple's focus is shifting from unit sales to user base.
2. New Apple subscription services are imminent.
3. iPhone prices took a hit from exchange rates.
Qualcomm's booth at CES 2019. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
Lawyers for the Federal Trade Commission and Qualcomm each made their final case Tuesday to the federal judge hearing the landmark antitrust case, which could reshape the smartphone business.
What they're saying:
Why it matters: Qualcomm's current business depends on a mix of significant royalties on each phone sold along with revenue from processors and modem chips used in some smartphones.
What's next: It's now up to Judge Lucy Koh to decide if Qualcomm's business practices violate federal law. She has said a ruling could take some time given the complexity of the case.
One of VeloMetro's Veemo vehicles. Photo: VeloMetro
According to Canadian startup VeloMetro, the future of personal transportation looks like a 3-wheeled bike with a car-like cover. You pedal it and, as with an electric bike, the motor helps.
The big picture: The boom in bicycle and scooter rental companies highlights the growing interest in alternatives to cars — not only for ecological reasons, but also to alleviate traffic and get around more easily.
Details: Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva talked with VeloMetro founder and CEO Kody Baker and VP Erik Bue and took a brief ride in one of its Veemos.
Kia took a short ride in a Veemo. "Aside from my short height making it difficult to comfortably pedal — I was assured this would be improved — it felt relatively stable," she reports.
In "the lighter side of deepfakes," here's a mashup of Jennifer Lawrence and Steve Buscemi.
If you are interested in the broader topic, though, continue reading the thread for some good insight into the many issues posed by such capabilities, from fake news to falsified revenge porn.