Nov 8, 2017

Snap plunges after earnings miss

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Snap continues its acquisition spree with video animation startup

Photo: DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images

Snapchat's parent company confirmed to Axios that it has acquired AI Factory, the Ukrainian startup it worked with to develop its new "Cameos" feature that maps selfies onto videos, deepfake-style, a deal first reported by Ukraine tech publication AIN.UA.

Why it matters: Snap has a long history of smartly acquiring small, innovative startups to feed its product development. In 2015, Snap acquired AI Factory founder Victor Shaburov's previous company, Looksery, to use its facial feature detection and manipulation tech as the basis for one of Snapchat's most successful features, "Lenses."

Report details TikTok security vulnerabilities in 2019

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok patched multiple holes in its security at the end of 2019 that had left the video sharing app's accounts, videos and user information potentially exposed for most of the year, as detailed in a new report from cybersecurity research firm CheckPoint.

Why it matters: No personal data was found to be compromised, but this report provides some of the first in-depth details of security risks faced by TikTok — which is under the microscope as lawmakers criticize its Chinese ownership.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020

NYT: Popular ToTok messaging app is secretly an Emirati spying tool

Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. Photo: Liewig Christian/Corbis via Getty Images

The supposedly secure messaging app ToTok is actually a spying tool being used by the government of the United Arab Emirates to mass surveil its users, the New York Times reports, citing its own internal investigation and U.S. officials familiar with a classified intelligence assessment.

Why it matters: The app has been downloaded by millions of users in the Middle East, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, and it was one of the most downloaded social apps in the U.S. last week. Its exploitation by the Emiratis is an illustration of how authoritarian governments are increasingly finding novel and more effective ways to expand their surveillance networks and crack down on perceived enemies or dissenters.

Go deeperArrowDec 22, 2019