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Inside Social (Sep 13th, 2017)

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Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp, announced on Facebook that he is leaving the company. Acton wrote in the post that he planned to start a foundation "focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications." The 45-year-old Acton has worked for Facebook since the social media giant acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion. According to Forbes, Acton received about $3 billion for his stake in WhatsApp, and has a net worth of $6.5 billion. — RECODE

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Online lender Social Finance says CEO and chairman Mike Cagney is stepping down amid sexual harassment claims. A number of former employees have accused Cagney of inappropriate relations with employees. A lawsuit by a former employee claims he witnessed female employees being harassed by coworkers, accusing Cagney of creating a "toxic corporate culture." San Francisco-based SoFi, founded in 2011, is valued at around $4 billion. Cagney wrote in a letter to staff that the “HR-related litigation and negative press” had become a distraction for the company. — NYTIMES

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Twitter has hired a new head of content partnerships. Kay Madati, executive VP of digital media at BET, will replace Ross Hoffman, who left Twitter in May. Before joining BET in 2014, Madati was head of entertainment and media global marketing solutions at Facebook. In July, Twitter beat Wall Street's expectations with its second quarter results, but its new monthly users remained flat from the previous quarter. — VARIETY

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Russians used Facebook to organize anti-immigrant political protests in the U.S. last summer, a new report says. The Daily Beast reported that Facebook confirmed it had shut down several events that were being promoted via paid ads on its platform. The news comes on the heels of revelations that Russian operatives apparently bought $100,000 in ads through 470 fake accounts on Facebook, starting in 2015. The ads were aimed at creating "divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum," according to Facebook's chief security officer. — DAILY BEAST

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Google veterans Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan have unveiled 50 new West Coast locations for their Bodega self-serve "pantry boxes." For the past ten months, they've been testing out the Bodega boxes at 30 Bay Area locations, including gyms, dormitories, and apartment buildings. The idea is simple: five-foot-wide boxes loaded with non-perishable items one might otherwise expect to pick up at a convenience store. An app allows a customer to unlock the box, and a camera records their purchases. When an item sells out, a worker is alerted to come and refill the Bodega.

The boxes carry a selection of items tailored to each locale, and machine-learning will constantly reassess the top 100 most popular items to offer in each specialized community. In most cases, McDonald and Rajan don't pay for the retail spaces where their Bodega boxes sit, and the current business model has very limited fixed costs. 

 “Eventually, centralized shopping locations won’t be necessary, because there will be 100,000 Bodegas spread out, with one always 100 feet away from you," says McDonald.

McDonald and Rajan seem hell-bent on rendering the classic mom-and-pop corner stores obsolete. And there's a major insult-to-injury factor here as well: a "bodega" is a Spanish term used to describe New York City convenience stores that are often run by members of the Latin American and Asian communities. Fast Company's Elizabeth Sergan writes that one of her co-workers, noting the apparent insensitivity of the cultural appropriation, has nicknamed the business "Bro-dega." Sergan asked McDonald about the issue directly.

“I’m not particularly concerned about it,” McDonald says. “We did surveys in the Latin American community to understand if they felt the name was a misappropriation of that term or had negative connotations, and 97% said ‘no’. It’s a simple name and I think it works.”

Among the 3 percent that apparently answered that question "yes" is Frank Garcia, who represents thousands of bodegas as the chairman of the New York State Coalition of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

"Real bodegas are all about human relationships within a community, having someone you know greet you and make the sandwich you like," Garcia says.

“To me, it is offensive for people who are not Hispanic to use the name ‘bodega,’ to make a quick buck,'” he says. “It’s disrespecting all the mom-and-pop bodega owners that started these businesses in the ’60s and ’70s.” – FAST COMPANY

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During yesterday's demo of the iPhone X's augmented reality capabilities, Apple mentioned that it was working with Snap Inc. on new facial recognition filters. Apple senior VP Craig Federighi demonstrated the iPhone X's Animoji feature, and mentioned that the company had teamed with Snap Inc. to develop the new filters that show off the phone's depth-sensing cameras. Much like Snapchat, the feature mirrors a user's facial expression onto animated unicorns, pandas, and the like. After the Apple mention, Snapchat shares rose briefly on Tuesday afternoon. – THE VERGE

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A Saudi request for social media informants has been deemed "Orwellian" by a human rights watchdog group. The appeal for Saudi citizens to report subversive social media comments appeared on the Twitter feed of the country's interior ministry late on Tuesday. It reads, "When you notice any account on social networks publishing terrorist or extremist ideas, please report it immediately via the application #We‘re_all_security." The app in question was launched last year as an avenue for citizens to report crimes like burglaries and traffic violations. The New York-based Human Rights Watch condemned the Saudi call for citizen watchdogs. Sarah Leah Whitson, the group's Middle East director, said that “Saudi Arabia is reaching a new level of Orwellian reality when it goes beyond security services’ repression and outsources monitoring of citizens’ online comments to other citizens." – REUTERS

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