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1. Telegram gets 3M new signups during Facebook apps’ outage
In a message sent to his Telegram channel, founder Pavel Durov wrote, “I see 3 million new users signed up for Telegram within the last 24 hours.” Durov doesn’t offer an explicit explanation for Telegram’s sudden spike in signups, but he does take a thinly veiled swipe at social networking giant Facebook.
It’s probably not a coincidence that Facebook and its related family of apps went down for most of Wednesday.
2. Google removed 2.3B bad ads, banned ads on 1.5M apps + 28M pages, plans new Policy Manager this year
Using both manual reviews and machine learning, Google said that in 2018 it removed 2.3 billion “bad ads” that violated its policies — which at their most general forbid ads that mislead or exploit vulnerable people.
3. Uber reportedly raising $1B in deal that values self-driving car unit at up to $10B
Uber is in negotiations with investors, including the SoftBank Vision Fund, to secure an investment as large as $1 billion for its autonomous vehicles unit. The deal would value the business at between $5 billion and $10 billion, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
4. Opportunity’s last Mars panorama is a showstopper
The Opportunity Mars Rover may be officially offline for good, but its legacy of science and imagery is ongoing — and NASA just shared the last (nearly) complete panorama the robot sent back before it was blanketed in dust.
5. AI photo startup Polarr raises an $11.5 million Series A
At the moment, Polarr is probably best known for its photography app for iOS and Android, which utilizes machine learning and AI to improve image editing. The company says it has around four million monthly active users.
6. WeWork Labs is launching a food tech accelerator
WeWork is committing $1 million to back the first batch of companies.
7. Facebook won’t store data in countries with human rights violations — except Singapore
When Mark Zuckerberg said in a lengthy blog post that Facebook would not build data centers in countries with poor human rights, he chose to ignore Singapore — known for a lack of privacy and freedom of expression.