Is there a better way?
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Is there a better way?

Source Code

Good morning! Instagram wants to verify users’ ages using new tools, including facial analysis. We’re also wondering: As crypto crashes and layoffs are rampant at blockchain companies, why are people still betting big on NFTs?

What’s your age again?

Instagram is testing using facial analysis tools to verify age on the platform, Meta announced today.

People will be able to verify their age in three ways: by submitting a picture of their ID card, taking a video selfie or by asking mutual followers how old they are. Meta calls this last part “social vouching,” which means it’s time to start sharing your real age.

  • For the video selfies, Meta has partnered with Yoti, which analyzes facial features to verify the person's age without disclosing their identity.
  • After the selfie is shared between the two companies, it's deleted, Meta said.

The company is also expanding its AI tools to ensure that the experience is tailored appropriately.

  • That includes preventing underage users from accessing age-restricted features, like Facebook Dating or Mentorship.

Meta has been facing major public pressure to make its platforms safer and less toxic. Privacy bills, like the one being proposed in California, and the Children's Code in the U.K. might be adding to the pressure, too.

Meta goes to great lengths to explain why verifying people’s ages is necessary to create a less toxic environment for everyone, especially teens. But with its track record on data privacy — and with other companies facing heat for using AI tools in classrooms — is asking for selfie videos of children to be shared with third parties really the best way?

— Nat Rubio-Licht (email | twitter)

NFTs keep riding the wave

Despite crypto’s fall from grace, tech companies are still placing bets on NFTs, even though many weren’t in the blockchain space to begin with.

Ebay acquired NFT marketplace KnownOrigin as a part of its crypto push. Last year it started letting users trade NFTs, and last month, it launched its own collection.

  • Others are also showing NFT enthusiasm. Salesforce announced plans in February to launch an NFT cloud service (though its employees were not happy about it).
  • GameStop recently announced plans for both an NFT marketplace and a crypto wallet. And this week, Shopify added new integrations for people to utilize their NFTs.

VCs also continue to pour money into NFTs. NFT-related startups have raised more than $3.3 billion in the past year. Marketplace Magic Eden this week raised $130 million in a series B, just three months after closing a $27 million series A.

But is the hype worth the risk? Crypto is crashing, and there’ve been layoffs at major blockchain companies.

  • Last month, Morgan Stanley warned that the NFT market could be the next to crash as crypto plummets. Meanwhile, trading volumes have tanked this year, and sales revenue was down 20% month-over-month in May.
  • And the marketplaces themselves are taking a beating, too: OpenSea has been plagued with lawsuits and fraud for issues including theft, plagiarism and insider trading, which led to the arrest of its former executive. Earlier this year, Cent, which sold Jack Dorsey's tweet for $2.9 million, shut down most sales due to "rampant" fraud.

Despite indications that NFTs might be in trouble, people's spirits seem high still. The NFT.NYC conference even has a puppy room and a meditation den. But as crypto crashes, potentially taking down NFTs with it, and fraud in the space continues to run rampant, companies may want to keep their guard up.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

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People are talking

Marc Andreessen doesn’t like discussing politics in the workplace:

  • “It’s so hard to make a company work if you have group cohesion. To add basically anything to that, that drives division within the employee base, it's just flat-out asking for trouble.”

Mark Zuckerberg wants to get tons of people to spend money in the metaverse in the coming years:

  • "We hope to basically get to around a billion people in the metaverse doing hundreds of dollars of commerce."

Elon Musk called Tesla's new factories in Germany and Texas "gigantic money furnaces":

  • "Berlin and Austin are losing billions of dollars right now."

Making moves

Twitter partnered with Shopify to create a sales channel app for all U.S. Shopify merchants.

Graphisoft, PROKON and TriNet joined BSA | The Software Alliance as new members.

MasterClass cut 20% of its staff, or roughly 120 employees.

In other news

Facebook Pay rebranded to Meta Pay in hopes that it will become the “digital wallet of the metaverse,” Mark Zuckerberg said.

Amazon wants to help people remember their dead relative's voice. Alexa will soon be able to mimic any voice after hearing about a minute of audio.

Binance.US will start offering zero-fee trading of bitcoin. The exchange plans to cut fees for other tokens down the line.

Meta claims that a U.K. internet safety law may pose risks of messages being “surveilled and censored.” It's one of the company's many complaints against the sweeping Online Safety Bill.

The Nothing phone won’t come to the U.S. when it’s released next month. Phone (1) will be released in the U.K. and Europe, but the company has “big plans to launch a U.S. supported smartphone in the future.”

The FDA will reportedly soon take Juuls off the U.S. market. They've been blamed for causing a surge in underage vaping.

Comcast and Google are first in line to help Netflix make its ad-supported tier. The streamer is still reportedly in the early stages of developing this strategy.

Mastercard released its debut album, titled Priceless. Each of the 10 songs incorporates the “recognizable melody” of Mastercard’s brand sound.

Your data point of the day: 42% of online influencers’ fans say they follow a creator who endorses crypto, according to a new report by National Research Group.

Blockchain everything

Start your day with some crypto talk. Freakonomics Radio is launching a three-part series on crypto and NFTs. Guests include Brian Armstrong, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin. The first episode dropped last night, and the next two are coming out over the next couple weeks.

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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

Correction: The top story was updated June 23 to clarify that the tools use facial analysis.

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