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James Gunn fired from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 3’ after offensive tweets resurface

Disney fired director James Gunn from the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the company confirmed at Comic-Con this week. The move came after highly offensive joke tweets dating from between 2008 and 2011 resurfaced. The tweets, which have since been deleted, make light of topics ranging from molestation and rape to pedophilia.

“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement provided to TechCrunch.

1. Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018

Gunn, for his part, acknowledged the distasteful statements. The director, who helmed the first two installments of the Marvel franchise, tweeted a multi-part apology/explanation for the old tweets, in which he refers to himself as a “provocateur” during his early career.

“I used to make a lot of offensive jokes,” Gunn wrote. “I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.”

Prior to helming blockbuster superhero films, Gunn made a name directing films for Troma, the comedically offensive, aggressively B-movie studio behind films like The Toxic Avenger. The tweets resurfaced after being promoted by right-wing personalities like Jack Posobiec and Mike Cernovich.

Gunn has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration and took to Twitter to weigh in on actor/director Mark Duplass’ recent tweets about conservative pundit Ben Shapiro. 

Update: Gunn has issued a statement that reflects and expands on his earlier Twitter apology,

My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect

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Facebook suspends analytics firm Crimson Hexagon over data use concerns

As part of its ongoing mission to close the barn doors after the cows have got out, Facebook has suspended the accounts of British data analytics firm Crimson Hexagon over concerns that it may be improperly handling user data.

The ominously named company has for years used official APIs to siphon public posts from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other sources online, collating and analyzing for various purposes, such as to gauge public opinion on a political candidate or issue. It has clients around the world, serving Russia and Turkey as well as the U.S. and United Kingdom.

Facebook, it seems, was not fully aware of the extent of Crimson Hexagon’s use of user data, however, including in several government contracts which it didn’t have the opportunity to evaluate before they took effect. The possibility that the company is not complying with its data use rules, specifically that they may have been helping build surveillance tools, was apparently real enough for Facebook to take action. Perhaps the bar for suspension has been lowered somewhat over the last year, and with good reason.

“We are investigating the claims about Crimson Hexagon to see if they violated any of our policies,” said Facebook VP Product Partnerships Ime Archibong in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the suspension, noted that Crimson Hexagon currently has a contract with FEMA to monitor online discussion for various disaster-related purposes, but a deal with ICE fell through because Twitter resisted this application of their “firehose” data.

However, beyond the suggestion that the company has undertaken work that skirts the edge of what the social media companies consider appropriate use of public data, Crimson Hexagon doesn’t seem to have done anything as egregious as the wholesale network collection done by others. It restricts itself to publicly available data that it pays to access, and applies its own methods to produce its own brand of insight and intelligence.

The company also isn’t (at least, not obviously) a quasi-independent arm of a big, shady network of companies working actively to obscure their connections and deals, as Cambridge Analytica was. Crimson Hexagon is more above the board, with ordinary venture investment and partnerships. Its work is in a way similar to CA, in that it is gleaning insights of a perhaps troublingly specific nature from billio

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Comics writer Grant Morrison signs a content deal with Magic Leap

Grant Morrison’s Square Slice Studios just signed a content deal with Magic Leap. If you’ve read a comic book at some point in the past two decades, odds are you’re very excited at this news. Morrison is, after all, one of the most exciting writers working in the comics media today.

The Scottish writer came to prominence with series like the mind-bending ’90s title The Invisibles, before helming some of the most exciting big-name superhero books, from All-Star Superman to the New X-Men. Magic Leap, meanwhile — well, those precious few who have actually tried the thing say it’s pretty cool, at least.

Morrison’s been trying his hands with a number of different storytelling mediums of late. The writer is behind the well-received SyFy series, Happy!, along with the channel’s upcoming Brave New World adaptation. He’s also been flirting with augmented reality for a while, having served as a consultant for Magic Leap since its early days.

“Storytelling is my passion and I’ve found that new platforms allow me to extend my creative boundaries,” Morrison told Deadline, which broke the news during San Diego Comic Con this week. “We see Magic Leap as the next great platform for storytelling and we are excited to collaborate on content that helps bring our wildest dreams to life in the near future.”

That, apparently, will be happening sooner than later. Magic Leap announced earlier this month that its One headset will finally start shipping this summer. That announcement came in the wake of years of building up a crazy amount of funding that pegged the company at a $6.3 billion valuation.

Morrison co-founded Square Slice in 2016, along with a handful of gaming industry veterans, including Rockstar’s Stewart Waterson.

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Niantic explains how and why it bans players in Pokémon GO

Getting banned for cheating is nothing new in Pokémon GO. There’ve been big ol’ ban waves every few weeks for ages now.

The policies have never been totally set in stone, however — at least not publicly. Like many of the game’s mechanics, the player base has had to share info amongst themselves to figure out the offenses and their relative punishments, from slaps on the wrist to lifetime bans.

At long last, Niantic has published a proper “Three-strike Discipline Policy.”

As the name implies, most infractions will be handled on a three-strike system. Niantic notes, however, that “some misbehaviors” (they leave that one pretty open ended) will work out to an instant perma ban.

So what’s worthy of a strike? Spoofing (making the game think you’re somewhere you’re not), using modified Pokémon GO clients or bots, or doing something that accesses Pokémon GO’s backend in an unauthorized way.

On the first strike, you’ll get a warning message. You’ll still be able to play, technically, but you won’t see anything even remotely rare for seven days.

On the second strike, they’ll close your account for a month.

On the third strike, the account is banned for good.

And if you think you got stuck in the crosshairs by accident? Niantic has an appeal process for that.

It’s worth noting that these punishments aren’t really new; bans of all variety have been happening since shortly after the game’s release. This is just the first time Niantic has really put the hows-and-whys in stone.

Niantic could probably go a few steps further in their clarifications here, though, as plenty of players are still confused as to whether or not they’re breaking the rules.

Will they get in trouble for using third party software (like an automated IV calculator) that doesn’t modify the client or access Niantic’s backend but does provide the player with more info? What about players using third party versions of the Go Plus hardware, like the Go-tcha? That thing pretty much automates catching/spinning as you walk around… but it’s also been sold in retail stores for years now, likely to many players who’ve never considered that this thing they bought in their local Gamestop might not be allowed.

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Oscar and Lemonade founders will join us at Disrupt SF to strategize about the future of insurance innovation

Insurance premiums total more than a trillion dollars in the U.S., and yet, where that money goes is something of a mystery. It certainly doesn’t seem to get invested in the consumer experience, where ancient incumbent companies still process paperwork as if it is the 1800s, and consumers are left wanting for new insurance options that meet their needs.

Insurance might well be the last frontier for disruptive innovation, but now, a generation of insurance tech startups is bringing new data models and product experience talent to bear on this sclerotic industry. In the process, they may well become some of the most durable and profitable companies the industry has ever seen.

Those startups face challenging questions. How can a startup even get started in an industry where an insurer often needs millions sitting on the balance sheet just to get started? How can a startup compete in a highly regulated industry, where incumbents have the financial might to actively stamp out competition? Can there be such a thing as delightful insurance?

These are just some of the questions we will be investigating during a high-powered insurance tech panel at Disrupt SF this September 5-7. We will be joined by two founders who are spearheading a complete overhaul of the industry through their companies.

Mario Schlosser is the CEO and co-founder of Oscar, a New York-based health insurance startup that has raised approaching a billion dollars in venture capital. Schlosser started programming as a young boy in Germany, and eventually moved to the U.S. to work on computer science research at Stanford. Later, he migrated to Harvard Business School, where he met his Oscar co-founder Joshua Kushner.

Mario Schlosser (Oscar Health) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

Working with Kevin Nazemi, the trio launched Oscar in 2013 just as Obamacare’s exchanges were becoming operational. Since then, the company’s health insurance products have become available in six states, and it has more than 700 employees. The company is reportedly on track to hit a billion in revenue in 2018, and recorded its first quarterly profit a few months ago.

Health is just one segment of the insurance landscape though. We also will be hosting Daniel Schreiber, who is the CEO and co-founder of Lemonade, a New York-based renters

Read more: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/DZcOq_rMzdA/

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