In France, Snap's Discover news feature gets 10 million monthly users

(Reuters) – Snap Inc, searching for ways to reinvigorate a slowing growth rate and increase advertising revenue for its Snapchat messaging app, said this week it has racked up 10 million users for its Discover news and video feature in France a year after launching there.

The figure, which has not previously been reported, is equivalent to about 15 percent of the country’s population.

Internationally, the Snapchat app has 173 million daily active users, the company said in August, while rival Instagram, owned by Facebook Inc, said this week it has 500 million daily users.

Snap’s partners in France such as Le Monde and Cosmopolitan, which supply video and news for the Discover feature, were getting “significant” revenue from ads, Nick Bell, Snap’s vice president of content, told Reuters, without giving an exact figure.

Snap, which generates revenue from advertisers, shares that revenue 50-50 with its publisher partners.

The company has yet to turn a profit since its messaging app launched in 2012. Since its initial public offering in March, its shares are down almost 18 percent, to around $ 14 per share.

France was the first international launch of Discover. It has also been released in Germany, the Middle East and North Africa, but the company is taking a slow, deliberate approach to expansion as it works at developing strong partnerships with publishers, said Bell.

Reporting By Jessica Toonkel; editing by Anna Driver and Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Amazon drops encryption feature in Fire tablet software

(Reuters) – Amazon has quietly dropped support for disk encryption on its Fire tablets, saying the feature that secures devices by scrambling data was little used by customers.

Privacy advocates and some users criticized the move, which came to light on Thursday even as Apple was waging an unprecedented legal battle over U.S. government demands that the iPhone maker help unlock an encrypted phone used by San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Farook.

On-device encryption scrambles data so that the device can only be accessed if the user enters the correct password. Cryptologist Bruce Schneier said Amazon’s move to remove the feature was “stupid” and called on the company to restore it.

“Hopefully the market will tell them to do otherwise,” he said.

Amazon joined other major technology companies in filing an amicus brief supporting Apple on Thursday, asking a federal judge to overturn a court order requiring Apple to create software tools to unlock Farook’s phone.

Amazon spokeswoman Robin Handaly said in an email that the company had removed theencryption feature for Fire tablets in the fall when it launched Fire OS 5, a new version of its tablet operating system.

“It was a feature few customers were actually using,” she said, adding that Fire tablets’ communication with the company’s cloud meets its “high standards for privacy and security including appropriate use of encryption.”

Encryption expert Dan Guido said that Amazon may have eliminated the feature to cut component costs for tablets that sell for as low as $ 50.

But digital privacy advocates and customers said those arguments were not good enough reasons for discontinuing the feature.

“Removing device encryption due to lack of customer use is an incredibly poor excuse for weakening the security of those customers that did use the feature,” said Jeremy Gillula, staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“Given that the information stored on a tablet can be just as sensitive as that stored on a phone or on a computer, Amazon should instead be pushing to make device encryption the default – not removing it,” Gillula said.

David Scovetta, a security analyst who owns two Kindle e-readers as well as Amazon’s TV set-top box, said he is now wary of buying new gadgets from the company.

“Amazon could just as easily be encouraging its users to adopt it rather than remove it as a feature. That’s a massive step backwards,” he said.

(By Jim Finkle and Mari Saito. Editing by Stephen R. Trousdale and David Gregorio)



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