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Last Week Online #54 – Swipe left, or pay, to stay safe

Anna Loverus
Anna Loverus
3 min read

Dating apps just invented the most corrupt upgrade argument. Swipe left to stay safe.

Dating apps might match you with a registered sex offender – if you don't pay for their services

Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid and some other popular dating services, are being investigated by the US congress. A house subcommittee is suspecting that the dating services supposedly allow both minors and sex offenders to use the platforms.

On Thursday, the subcommittee sent out letters requesting information on users' ages and internal procedures for verifying ages. Further, they asked for any complaints about rape, assaults or minors using the services, and what data they collect on people, including sexual orientation, drug use and political views. While internet services usually require users to be 13 years old, dating services typically require users to be at least 18 due to concerns about sexual predators.

"Our concern about the underage use of dating apps is heightened by reports that many popular free dating apps permit registered sex offenders to use them, while the paid versions of these same apps screen out registered sex offenders," Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Illinois Democrat who heads the subcommittee, said in a statement. "Protection from sexual predators should not be a luxury confined to paying customers."

The initiative was initiated after a Norwegian consumer group reported that dating apps including Grindr, OkCupid and Tinder leak personal information to advertising tech companies, possibly violating European data privacy laws.

London police will now use real-time facial recognition

The London Metropolitan Police will now permanently integrate real-time facial recognition technology into everyday policing after successful trials. The cameras will be installed in busy locations and run for five to six hours at a time. They will match faces in the video stream against a list of suspects wanted for serious and violent crimes.

Results from the trials suggested that 70% of wanted suspects would be identified when walking past the cameras. However, an independent review of the real-time facial recognition technology showed that only eight out of 42 matches were "verifiably correct". Also, since most people captured by the technology are not on a watchlist, most matches are false alarms – as many as one in 1000 people.

China is known to use real-time facial recognition at this scale, but it is rather new to the western world. The technology has recently generated a backlash in the United States, with San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley in California, and Somerville and Brookline in Massachusetts, banning its use. However, a British judge stated last year that the police could use facial recognition technology without violating privacy or human rights, a case that is currently under appeal.

Facebook is getting old, reporting its weakest quarter ever

After countless corporate scandals (probably not the best approach to stay young forever) Facebook is starting to show signs of old age. The company growth is no longer as vigorous, a typical trajectory for start-ups.

During its Q4 review, Facebook reported 2.89 billion users across Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook – an increase with 9% from a year before. In the last three months of 2019, Facebook's revenue rose 25% from the year before, reaching $21 billion. Profits increased by 7% in the fourth quarter, reaching $7.3 billion. The reported revenue growth is down from 28% in the previous quarter. Consequently, Facebook did not report sales growth above 30% in any quarter during 2019.

Although profits grew, Facebook increased its spending on research and development, security and several other business areas. The companies expenses increased 34% compared to the year before, ending at more than $12 billion in the fourth quarter. Facebook also disclosed that it had agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology in Illinois.

Tool of the week: Climate Finder

Climate Finder is a search engine for places. You can quickly find locations around the world with your favourite weather, right now or at a later date. You pick a set of climate criteria like temperature, humidity and air quality, and you get back cities that match them, based on historical data from the past few years. The globetrotter's way to plan perfect vacations.

Stay warm, but not too warm.

Last Week Online

Anna Loverus Twitter

Thinker and doer. Loves running, wine, and human behaviour.

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