We explore the fallout of Facebook’s news ban, WhatsApp addresses privacy concerns and Perseverance lands on Mars. This is your Daily Crunch for February 18, 2021.
The big story: Facebook’s Australian news ban is pretty broad
Yes, this was the lead story in yesterday’s newsletter, but 24 hours later, we have a better sense of how things are playing out.
A quick refresher: As the Australian government is debating a law that would require tech platforms to pay media companies for linked content, Facebook has gone ahead and started blocking the sharing or viewing of news. The move has been criticized as censorship and even “an assault on a sovereign nation,” but also praised as a reasonable stand against a “link tax.” (Google made a similar threat but has instead been striking deals with Australian publishers.)
Regardless of how you feel about the decision in theory, the initial implementation has left something to be desired, with the Facebook Pages of hospitals, universities, unions, government departments and the bureau of meteorology all wiped clean. When reached for comment, Facebook confirmed that it applied an intentionally broad definition of news, designed to reflect the law “as drafted.”
The tech giants
Following backlash, WhatsApp to roll out in-app banner to better explain its privacy update — If users choose to review the changes, they’ll be shown a deeper summary, including added details about how WhatsApp works with Facebook.
Apple TV+ arrives on Google TV devices, starting with Chromecast — It will also become available on Google TVs from both Sony and TCL, with expansions to other Android TV-powered devices in the months to come.
Microsoft announces the next perpetual release of Office — If you use Office, Microsoft would really, really, really like you to buy a cloud-enabled subscription to Microsoft 365, but it will continue to make a standalone, perpetual license for Office available, too.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Robinhood goes to Congress — Alex Wilhelm did not enjoy watching.
Math learning app Photomath raises $23M as it reaches 220 million downloads — Chances are, you might already know about the app if you have a teenager in your household.
Wholesale marketplace Abound raises $22.9M — The marketplace helps independent retailers stock their shelves with new products from up-and-coming brands.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
Why do SaaS companies with usage-based pricing grow faster? — Public SaaS companies that have adopted usage-based pricing grow faster because they’re better at landing new customers, growing with them and keeping them as customers.
Creating a prediction machine for the financial markets — Data is the backbone of any prediction machine.
Check out the incredible speakers joining us on Extra Crunch Live in March — Our March slate starts with Sarah Kunst of Cleo Capital and Julia Collins of Planet FWD.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Perseverance lands safely on Mars and sends back its first images of the surface — Perseverance landed after a white-knuckle descent that involved picking a landing spot just moments before making a rocket-powered sky-crane landing.
Tired of ‘Zoom University’? So is edtech — A wave of startups is trying to disrupt the virtual school day.
California DMV warns of data breach after a contractor was hit by ransomware — Automatic Funds Transfer Services, which the DMV said it has used for verifying changes of address, was hit by an unspecified strain of ransomware earlier this month.
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.