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Facebook Looking into “Disrupting Economics” of Fake News Sites

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In a Facebook post Friday night, founder of the popular social network Mark Zuckerberg took time to outline the steps the company will take to tackle its “fake news” problem, which has been a hot topic in the wake of the election. One way the social media behemoth plans on doing that is by making sure fake news sites can’t profit. 

Mr. Zuckerberg calls it “disrupting fake news economics.”

“A lot of misinformation is driven by financially motivated spam,” he posted. “We’re looking into disrupting the economics with ads policies like the one we announced earlier this week, and better ad farm detection.”

Mr. Zuckerberg underscored that Facebook takes “misinformation serious” and reinforced the company’s goal “to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful.”

The social media tycoon admits “We’ve been working on this problem for a long time.” There’s more work to be done, he says.

“Historically, we have relied on our community to help us understand what is fake and what is not,” he wrote in the long post. “…The problems here are complex, both technically and philosophically. We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible. We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or mistakenly restricting accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.”

Mr. Zuckerberg claims the percentage of misinformation is small, then outlines what Facebook will do, including stronger detection, easy reporting by users, third party verification via fact checking organization, warnings for stories flagged as false by other users, and raising bar for articles which appear in related articles suggestions.

“Some of these ideas will work well, and some will not,” he admits. “But I want you to know that we have always taken this seriously, we understand how important the issue is for our community and we are committed to getting this right.”

Image from Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsJustin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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Bitmain Becomes Biggest Blockchain Company Ever Following Series B Funding

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China’s dominant bitcoin mining manufacturer has become the largest crypto conglomerate in the world after securing a new round of Series B funding, according to Caixin news agency.

Bitmain Expands Influence

Caixin reported last week that Bitmain has secured between $300 million and $400 million in new funding from Sequoia China, U.S. hedge fund Coatue and Singapore-based EDBI, effectively becoming the largest cryptocurrency company in the world. With the latest round, Bitmain’s total value has swelled to $12 billion.

Bitmain is making waves across the blockchain industry, having recently announced plans to purchase roughly 43% of Opera Ltd., a Norway-based internet browser that has filed for an initial public offering with Nasdaq.

Back in May, the company led a $110 million financing round for Circle, an influential cryptocurrency company with backing from Goldman Sachs and others. In an official announcement, Circle said Bitmain’s stake in the company will allow it to expand critical infrastructure needed to power the crypto economy:

“Bitmain Co-founder and CEO Jihan Wu is well known for espousing a vision similar to ours regarding the creation and adoption of a new global economy powered by cryptographic assets, distributed contracts, and open source blockchain technology. We are excited to be working directly with Bitmain on realizing our shared vision.”

Earlier this year, Circle purchased digital currency exchange Poloniex for $400 million.

Race for Blockchain Dominance

Bitmain is considered one of China’s ‘big three’ crypto mining manufacturers, and its sphere of influence is growing by the day. The company controls the lion’s share of bitcoin’s hashrate through mining pools BTC.com and Antpool. As CCN reported last month, the company is coming dangerously close to controlling 51% of the bitcoin hashrate, a mark that would theoretically allow it to carry out a 51% attack against the network. It has also been estimated that Bitmain accounts for up to 80% of the market for bitcoin mining hardware.

Ebang and Canaan Creative – Bitmain’s main competitors – have announced aggressive IPO plans this year. Each company is looking to raise at least $1 billion for various growth initiatives. In both cases, diversification appears to be a main objective as blockchain companies look to expand their influence in the market.

Bitmain has also stated it is “open” to conducting an IPO in Hong Kong but has yet to announce definitive plans to that effect.

In terms of profitability, Bitmain dwarfs its competitors. The company reported $4 billion in earnings last year, leapfrogging tech powerhouse Nvidia, which took 24 years to secure $3 billion in profit.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 497 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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What Is Civic? Blockchain for Digital Identities

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There are now so many alt-coins out there that it’s almost impossible to keep track of which projects are legitimate and which are garbage.

This article is the second entry in a series I will write for Hacked which will give summaries and context around a specific crypto project.

The topic of today’s summary is Civic.

So, what is Civic?

Essentially, Civic is a personal identity verification tool that leverages distributed ledger technology to manage digital identities more effectively.

Civic, in a nutshell, is a platform that envisions a safer, cheaper, and more efficient identity verification method for individuals and industries around the globe.

A perfect use case of Civic’s platform is everyday KYC requirements. In most cases, when someone applies for a new job, opens a bank account, or even participates in an ICO, they have to submit some valid proof of their identity and then wait for it to be verified. Depending on the service utilized, this could take days or even weeks.

Typically, this sluggish pace is due to the fact that organizations have to spend the time and resources authenticating this information with outdated systems.

Civic contends it has a modern solution to this problem, where a single input of your personal identity data allows any organization or service to cross-check it on the blockchain without asking you to provide the same data twice. That is, Civic wants to provide personal identity verification that is easily transferable from one service to another. They do this by leveraging their own token, which is built on the Ethereum blockchain.

Civic Network

Civic’s network accommodates three different but interwoven individuals/entities: users, validators, and service providers.

The users are defined as anyone who wishes to use the protocol to register an identity. Civic provides their own “secure identity” app expressly for this purpose.

Validators meanwhile are responsible for verifying an identity’s authenticity on the blockchain’s distributed ledger. They can then choose to sell this information to service providers who in turn need to verify their customer’s identities, in exchange for CVC token. Civic uses smart contracts to oversee data attestation and payout for this work.
Secure Identity App

As previously mentioned, getting started with civic requires the secure identity app, either in its or mobile or web version.

To set up the application, you need to enter a variety of personal identity information. This includes your name, address, social security or tax identification number, passport number, driver’s license, etc.

Without utilizing usernames and password, multi-factor biometrics, such as fingerprint scan, secures the application to keep it-and your data-fully in your control.

The application also encrypts personal information with a private key issued by a third party wallet; this provides a buffer between Civic and its users, in theory providing peace of mind that Civic won’t access personal identity info without consent.

As a matter of fact, Civic doesn’t store any personal information on the blockchain directly. Instead, it stores attestations of this information for reference. Storing references to the data instead of the data itself ensures that you are always in control of your own sensitive identity information, while also providing proof that the validators have confirmed the authenticity of your data.

The Civic ecosystem, therefore, functions with the app accommodating users on the front-end, and validators and providers supplying the back-end services, including identity attestation and KYC confirmation for users.

Validators are also responsible for verifying identities for the network, both on the blockchain and for service providers. If a user wants to submit personal identifying data to a service provider (e.g., an exchange, a bank, or other service), they could submit the relevant info from their Civic app to a validation contract.

These smart contracts act as escrow services for the transaction and provide validators with the identity data. After attesting that the information is authentic, the validators hash it into the network.

It’s relevant to mention that in theory a validator could be the service provider itself, and for a user identity’s first commit to the network, it likely would be.

Additionally, in order to confirm a user’s identity, validators need to crosscheck their information with some other source (e.g., public records, financial records). A government, for instance, could provide a wealth of information as an identity authenticator.

Once a validator has verified the identity data, other service providers can buy access rights to this information on behalf of a user with CVC, Civic’s utility token.

Validators can also sell rights to the information, (with the user’s consent), on the Civic Marketplace.

When a service provider pays for identity data, the CVC tokens are placed in the validation contract.

Once the validator provides proof of the identity data, both it and the user receive CVC in return. This service is flexible, too, since validators can pick and choose which information to verify per a service provider’s request.

Say a service provider, like a credit score company, needs access to a client’s credit history and bank account information. After communicating with the user, the service provider would submit a data request to a prior validator, maybe a credit card company, bank, or other financial institution. This validator would then be able to retrieve the hash for the requested information from the blockchain to attest it with the information that the client currently provides. If everything checked out, the validator is paid for these services (as is the user) and the service provider approves the client’s identity.

The Civic team is loaded with experienced entrepreneurs.

For instance, Co-founder and CEO Vinny Lingham has over ten years of e-commerce experience and is a member of the Bitcoin Foundation. He’s also one of the “sharks” on Shark Tank South Africa.

In addition, Jonathan Smith, the project’s CTO and co-founder, has more than 15 years of experience with development, technical analytics, and management work for blue-chip entities like Deloitte and RBS.

With Civic, reusable KYC and personal identity information could streamline identity verification for any relevant service. Service providers no longer would have to expend the effort and money to verify a user’s identity; as long as a validator on the network has done the legwork for them, they need only pay a fee in Civic tokens to have the information processed in real time.

Users would never have to recommit the same information to different organizations in tireless succession–saving time and effort.

At the core of this vision is the promise of greater identity security and integrity. The Civic app’s encryption and biometric locking mechanisms give users complete control over their identities, while the blockchain’s own encryption and distributed nature keep this information free from theft and exposure without user consent.

It’s important to note that Civic is not the only company attempting to provide moderns identity solutions. Some notable competitors include Bloom, SelfKey, Blockpass, and Peer Mountain.

As the competition heats up, it will be interesting to see whether the fragmentation of identity data makes centralization a necessary evil. The premise of services like this is that self-sovereign identity can give users more control of their data AND be more convenient. It’s the second part that remains to be seen.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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GDPR and Blockchain: Three Projects Seeking to Decentralize Data Protection

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Whether you’ve been keeping track of the news or are a citizen within the European Union yourself, there is a great chance that you have noticed the recent discussion regarding the newly implemented GDPR (or ‘General Data Protection Regulation’) in the bloc.

The rules came into effect this year alongside the recent vote in favor of implementing stricter copyright laws pertaining to intellectual property and ‘memes’ and has caused a fair bit of controversy, alongside the recent worldwide events including the USA, and their repeal of ‘Net Neutrality’ laws across the entire USA.

Image source: Forbes.com

Advertising, Big Data and You

For a wide range of reasons, digital advertising is a huge industry – being near-perfect solutions for digital, web-based organisations which are seeking to maximise their revenue / profits, whilst minimising expenses.

A common phenomenon affecting advertising is ‘Big Data’, where user information is collected and processed through complex artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.

Your usage of internet technology more likely than not creates an endless trail of digital footprints, which are gathered and interpreted by companies and their systems to provide and interpret detailed insights on user habits.

Data Protection Rights

GDPR is meant to result in transparent and honest interactions between consumers, big data companies, and even social media companies such as Facebook now face the challenge of how to market or rebuild trust with consumers. Though there is still a myriad of concerns amongst consumers regarding how companies will approach this.

Implementation of GDPR has caused quite a shakeup for the AdTech industry, with users are being given total control over how much data websites and applications can collect about them.

Now users can consent to which cookies web operators have access to, but there are still several ways for big data to continue to profit from your data without cookies. Methods such as incoming IP tracking scripts, Browser Fingerprinting and malware-infected websites are commonplace and could prove more malicious than previous methods.

Can Blockchain Further Increase Data Privacy?

Technology has already empowered websites visitors with the ability to overcome issues such regarding data privacy and invasive advertising tactics.

‘Adblocker’ for example is a web-browser extension which automatically removes almost all adverts from a website, and just like ‘NoScript’ (removing potentially malicious scripts from pages) has been utilised by software such as Tor Browser to achieve thorough user safety and anonymity.

Through these kinds of solutions, blockchain or not, website operators are going to be encouraged to increase the quality and value of content on their pages.

Considering such software and the exponential growth of blockchain as an industry, it is of little surprise that we have seen an influx of services, products and ICOs which seek to combine the benefits of these technologies with those of blockchain / cryptocurrency.

Here are a few of what we consider to be the most interesting in the present crypto space…

1. Online.io

Image source: Online.io

The Online.io project financially rewards website operators in a ‘proof of online’ system which essentially quantifies the time spent on each website and rewards website operators appropriately. It is also the only project in this article which we haven’t reviewed on this site so far (although I wouldn’t count it out for the near future, so watch this space!)

Their proprietary crypto-coin (OIO) will be used to distribute rewards to all parties based on visitor time-spent, bounce-rate and other established metrics. This presents a fascinating opportunity for website owners to still effectively monetize their website in compliance with GDPR and without the need to utilize other means of data collection.

Online.io could somewhat be considered a democratized system, as users rank each website based on their experience. The highest rated websites will be rated higher in ‘Trust’ through an algorithmic formula, which acts as an indicator of website quality for future visitors.

It’s likely to continue delivering a highly positive boost to the whole ecosystem as consumers now (especially millennials) would rather get rid of traditional advertising methods: hence ad-skipping buttons on YouTube as well as Ad-blockers and anti-tracker software.

2. Peer Mountain

A blockchain based project which seeks to connect so called “self-sovereign ID holders with businesses, enabling commerce at scale” by utilising technological solutions like smart contracts.

Peer Mountain is unique for providing customers (a private individual / citizen) with a greater level of confidence when looking to access a product or service – no matter where they are, or what their country of origin may be.

To the organisations taking part, budding entrepreneurs worldwide, a whole new market audience is available. A mutual benefit which is equally enjoyed by the ‘self-sovereign ID holder’ too – incentivised by not having to register their private information on a host of centralized servers.

The security is achieved through use of innovative code: which makes use of a combination of user-experience solutions, with the innate security benefits of distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrency.

3. DOVU

This team has put all its efforts into creating a ‘mobility’-focused solution which incorporates “a unified token, wallet and marketplace for earning and spending mobility related rewards”. By mobility, what they are referring to is of course transportation related activities: such as ride-sharing and courier services.

In this instance however, it also applies to mobility information – and how it is bought and sold in the data economy.

Unlike the other solutions listed, DOVU aims to resolve the contentious issue of data privacy by allowing service providing companies make direct offers to users of its ecosystem in return for a quantity of the platform’s proprietary token.

Key use cases and clients pegged to take advantage of this platform include automotive manufacturers and marketing organisations for use in big-data research and algorithmic insight / report generation.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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