X introduces feature to post Community Notes in India before upcoming elections

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Weeks before the national elections in India, Elon Musk-owned X said it is rolling out support for posting Community Notes — the company’s crowd-sourced fact-checking program — in the key overseas market. The first set of contributors from India will start posting notes from today and more will be accepted over time, X said. Community Notes now active on India! Over time, the company has allowed members from different countries to start posting Community Notes to provide local context better. India was one of the last major markets where Community Notes had not previously expanded.

OnePlus Creates Its Own Version of Google’s Magic Eraser

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Take, for example, the company’s latest foray into mobile artificial intelligence, the AI Eraser. Nope, OnePlus went ahead and built its own version in a bid to show the world that it has AI ambitions of its own. From the sound of its press material, the company went and built this thing ground-up, starting with its own first-party large language models. “AI Eraser is the result of a substantial R&D investment from OnePlus,” the company notes in its press material. AI is rolling out to OnePlus devices this month, starting with OnePlus 12, OnePlus 12R, OnePlus 11, OnePlus Open and OnePlus Nord CE 4.

India’s Paytm Obtains License for Third-Party App Following Restrictions Imposed on Bank Unit

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The third-party application provider license will enable Paytm to offer payments through the UPI network even as Paytm’s parent firm One97 Communications’ banking unit — Payment Payments Bank — is scheduled to cease operations on Friday. The Reserve Bank of India ordered Paytm in late January to cease operations at Paytm Payments Bank, an affiliate of the financial services firm that processed majority of its transactions. The move created shockwaves through the industry, and also meant that Paytm needed to secure the third-party application provider license to continue many of the Paytm app’s operations. Axis, HDFC, State Bank of India and Yes Bank will serve as payment system provider to the Paytm app, NPCI said Thursday. The RBI had advised NPCI to swiftly issue the third-party application provider license, or TPAP, to Paytm to help mitigate disruptions for its customers.

“Major Platforms Under EU Scrutiny: Examining GenAI Risks before Elections”

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The eight platforms are designated as very large online platforms (VLOPs) under the regulation — meaning they’re required to assess and mitigate systemic risks, in addition to complying with the bulk of the rules. These will test platforms’ readiness to deal with generative AI risks such as the possibility of a flood of political deepfakes ahead of the June European Parliament elections. It’s recently been consulting on election security rules for VLOPs, as it works on producing formal guidance. Which is why it’s dialling up attention on major platforms with the scale to disseminate political deepfakes widely. The Commission’s RFIs today also aim to address a broader spectrum of generative AI risks than voter manipulation — such as harms related to deepfake porn or other types of malicious synthetic content generation, whether the content produced is imagery/video or audio.

TikTok Introduces Groundbreaking API for Data Portability, Prior to Europe’s DMA Compliance Deadline

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TikTok is introducing a data portability API to help it comply with new European regulations designed to rein in Big Tech’s market dominance through various obligations and restrictions. Data transfersData portability and interoperability constitutes a major part of the DMA regulations, and tech companies have been bolstering their efforts on this front for several years in preparation. Thus the data portability API goes some way toward addressing that limitation, allowing third-party developers to build conduits for data to travel from TikTok to their own apps — if the user authorizes this. Through the API, developers can request access to “all available data,” or individual categories including TikTok posts and profile data, activity, and direct messages (DMs). The data portability API is available to applicants globally, but the developer must be able to demonstrate a “well-defined use case” before they will be approved.

Fisker Cuts 15% of Workforce and Reserves Additional Funds for Challenging Times Ahead

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Fisker is laying off 15% of staff and says it needs more cash ahead of a “difficult year”Electric vehicle startup Fisker is planning to lay off 15% of its workforce and says it likely does not have enough cash on hand to survive the next 12 months. “[W]e have put a plan in place to streamline the company as we prepare for another difficult year,” founder and CEO Henrik Fisker said in a statement. Fisker said Thursday that it finished 2023 with $396 million in cash, though $70 million of that is restricted. The company says it is talking with one of its lenders about making “an additional investment” in the company. Fisker has also been dealing with a number of problems with its Ocean SUV, its only model so far, as TechCrunch reported earlier this month.

“Shadowfax Receives $100M in Funding and Soars Ahead in Response to Booming Instant Delivery Industry”

Shadowfax, one of the largest logistics service providers to hyper-local and on-demand delivery businesses in India, has raised $100 million in a new funding round as it clocks an yearly growth of 35%. Shadowfax says it makes over 2 million packages delivery each day and has amassed over 3.5 million registered users. Shadowfax operates a logistics and delivery network of over 125,000 monthly active delivery personnels, and works with numerous firms including Flipkart, Meesho and many direct-to-consumer brands. Shadowfax is Mirae Asset’s first investment in India and the venture firm has participated in each subsequent round. “We believe that logistics is fundamental to ecommerce and hyperlocal commerce and that it enables the growth of these markets.

“Blue Origin Unveils New Glenn on Launch Pad Prior to Test Flight”

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The test version of the rocket is all Blue Origin hardware, but not all of it will necessarily end up going to space. Tests are anticipated to take at least a week, Blue Origin CEO David Limp said on LinkedIn. (The BE-4 engines gained flight heritage earlier this year, when they powered United Launch Alliance’s first Vulcan Centaur rocket launch.) The 320-foot-tall launch vehicle is Blue Origin’s first heavy-lift rocket, designed to launch more than 45 tons of payload to low Earth orbit. Blue Origin has also scored launches for telecom providers Telecast and Eutelsat for later this decade.

PhonePe’s Ambitious Goal: Establishing Itself as a Leading Google Play Replacement in India, Despite Impending Obstacles

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PhonePe aims to be a top Google Play alternative in India — but it has a challenging road aheadWalmart-backed PhonePe is set to launch its Android app store this week with zero commission for in-app purchases for developers. Later that month, a bunch of Indian startups banded together to form a coalition and explore an alternative app store. Over the years, other startup executives have also complained about Play Store’s 30% fee and have pushed for a “Made in India” app store. In 2021, Google dropped its commission from 30% to 15% for the first $1 million a developer earned from the Play Store each year. If you are a developer publishing your app on alternative app stores, I’d love to hear from you on im@ivanmehta.com

Swiggy, the leading Indian company, to reduce 400 job positions before anticipated IPO in 2021

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India’s Swiggy to cut another 400 jobs ahead of IPO later this yearIndian food delivery startup Swiggy is cutting about 400 jobs, or nearly 7% of its workforce, as the startup seeks to bring further improvements to its finances ahead of a planned IPO later this year. This is the second round of layoff at the Bengaluru-headquartered startup, which cut just as many jobs early last year. The move comes as Swiggy attempts to further improve its finances. Though its food delivery business is profitable, the startup is not profitable at a group level. Zomato, Swiggy’s chief rival, became profitable last year.