YouTube sellers found touting bogus coronavirus vaccines and masks – TechCrunch

YouTube sellers found touting bogus coronavirus vaccines and masks – TechCrunch

YouTube has been criticized for continuing to host coronavirus disinformation on its video sharing platform during a global health emergency.

Two US advocacy groups which campaign for online safety undertook an 18-day investigation of the video sharing platform in March — finding what they say were “dozens” of examples of dubious videos, including videos touting bogus vaccines the sellers claimed would protect buyers from COVID-19.

They also found videos advertising medical masks of unknown quality for sale.

There have been concerns about shortages of masks for front-line medical staff, as well as the risk of online scammers hawking a low grade kit that does not offered the claimed protection against the virus.

Google said last month that it would temporarily take down ads for masks from its ad network but sellers looking to exploit the coronavirus crisis appear to be circumventing the ban by using YouTube’s video sharing platform as an alternative digital shop window to lure buyers.

Researchers working for the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) and the Coalition for a Safer Web (CSW) initiated conversations with sellers they found touting dodgy coronavirus wares on YouTube — and were offered useless ‘vaccines’ for purchase and hundreds of masks of unknown quality.

“There was ample reason to believe the offers for masks were dubious as well [as the vaccines], as highlighted by interactions with representatives from some of the sellers,” they said.

Their report includes screen grabs of some of the interactions with the sellers. In one a seller tells the

Fitbit adds GPS and Spotify control for the Charge 4 – TechCrunch

Fitbit adds GPS and Spotify control for the Charge 4 – TechCrunch

Let’s be real: Now isn’t the ideal time to launch a health tracker. For a majority of us, expectations have dramatically plummeted for step counts, workout minutes and other gamified metrics. But hardware launches will, for the most part, go on.

Fitbit eschewed its normal press event this time out — for increasingly good reason — instead opting to launch the Charge 4 by way of press release. The line is modest, in a wearable category that’s begun to be dominated by smartwatches, but it’s a cornerstone product that continues to do well for the soon-to-be Google-owned hardware company.

The biggest news here is built-in GPS — a big addition for the category — and Spotify control. The Spotify bit uses “Connect & Control,” requiring a premium account to play back music from playlists.

Better news for those stuck at home are a number of yoga and other workouts directly accessible through a Fitbit Premium account. That’s available as a 90-day trial for new users. Other news: on-board software updates include Active Zone Minutes, which provides more detailed workout requirements informed by the WHO and AMA, along with improved sleep measurements.

Lifestyle photo of Fitbit Charge 4

GPS is a nice addition, but nothing particularly groundbreaking here. At the very least, the update will pump a little fresh blood into what’s become a flagging category, as smartwatches (Fitbit’s included) have begun to increasingly suck the air out of the room for other wearables.

The Charge 4 will hit stores “in

Cell and gene therapy startup ElevateBio raises $170M – TechCrunch

Cell and gene therapy startup ElevateBio raises $170M – TechCrunch

While economic conditions and the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic may not make for the best atmosphere for raising funding, some companies are still announcing round closures with significant money committed. Cambridge-based ElevateBio, for instance, revealed a $170 million Series B funding on Monday, with participation from new investors The Invus Group, Surveyor Capital, EDBI, and Vertex Ventures, along with existing investors F2 Ventures, MPM Capital, EcoR1 Capital, Redmile Group and Samsara BioCapital.

ElevateBio, which was officially launched to the public less than a year ago, specializes in development of new types of cellular and genetic therapies, and operates by the creation of new companies under its portfolio each dedicated to the development and manufacturing of a specific type of therapeutic approach. This funding brings the total raised by ElevateBio to over $300 million, on top of a $150 million Series A round that the company announced last year, led by Swiss investment bank UBS’ Oncology Impact Fund.

The biotech company has ramped up quickly, nearing completion of a 140,000 square foot facilitating in Massachusetts to focus on R&D. It also launched a company called AlloVir that’s working on T-cell immunotherapy for combating viruses that specifically arise stem cell transplantations and is already in the later stages of clinical trials. Finally, it launched another company called HighPassBio, which is also aimed at helping treat stem cell-related diseases using T-cell therapies, in this case specifically around the potential relapse of leukaemia following a transplant.

As you might expect, ElevateBio is also

Now might be the perfect time to rethink your fundraising approach – TechCrunch

Now might be the perfect time to rethink your fundraising approach – TechCrunch

Many founders will have kicked off the new year with a new fundraising round. According to the data we shared last year, March, October and November were the months when VCs were reviewing the most decks.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has ground to a halt many industries, and there are even warnings that this will affect the next two quarters in regards to fundraising.

We’ve reviewed the data in our 2020 DocSend Startup Index and we’ve begun tracking the Pitch Deck Interest Metric. With San Francisco under a shelter-in-place order and many VCs scrambling to adjust their processes to an all-remote world, we saw pitch deck interest drop 11.6% when compared to the same week in 2019. While there has been a drop in interest so far, there is still a lot of activity, and VCs seem to still be reading pitch decks.

We will be monitoring the Pitch Deck Interest Metric in the coming weeks, but if you’re an early-stage startup and are in the middle of your fundraise, or are about to fundraise, there are some things you can

Google sets aside $800M in ads and loans to help in COVID-19 fight – TechCrunch

Google sets aside $800M in ads and loans to help in COVID-19 fight – TechCrunch

Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced Friday that his company would be donating more than $800 million in ad credits and loans to help government orgs and small businesses respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

The announcement gives a full breakdown of the deployment, the bulk of which is in credits for Google services:

  • Google will be giving $250 million worth of ad grants to more than 100 government orgs across the globe, including the World Health Organization.
  • They will also be seeding $340 million in ad credits to small businesses with accounts that have been active in the past year. The credits are good through the end of the year.
  • They’ll be giving away $20 million worth of Google Cloud credits to academic institutions and researchers that are tackling COVID-19.
  • $200 million will go to an investment fund for nonprofits and financial institutions to provide small businesses with loans.
  • Google further reiterated they will continue to invest in helping suppliers scale up production of face masks and other personal protective equipment.

COVID-19 is a global crisis and big tech companies like Google have strong global networks that are important to leverage. The global economy is undoubtedly being stressed by the pandemic, with small businesses especially being affected, and Google signal-boosting the World Health Organization and other government orgs with information to disseminate is a good move that more companies should follow.

As with any donation from a big tech company, it’s healthy to look at what recipients are getting and what