Twitch Prime ditches ad-free viewing as one of its perks

Twitch Prime, the perks program for Amazon Prime members offering free loot, games and other benefits is ditching one of its best features: ad-free viewing. According to an email sent out to Amazon Prime members today, ad-free viewing will no longer be included as a part of Twitch Prime for new members, beginning on September 14. However, members with existing annual subscriptions will be able to continue to enjoy ad-free viewing until their subscription comes up for renewal.

And those with monthly subscriptions will have access to ad-free viewing until October 15.

Twitch’s email offered a simple explanation as to why ad-free viewing was no longer going to be a part of the benefit program, saying that: “advertising is an important source of support for the creators who make Twitch possible.”

The company also stressed that this change would “strengthen and expand that advertising opportunity for creators so they can get more support from their viewers for doing what they love.”

In an accompanying blog post, Twitch further explained that the change will allow Twitch to remain a place where “anyone can enjoy one-of-a-kind interactive entertainment” and where creators can “build communities around the things they love and make money doing it.”

In other words, creators need to make more money, and so does Twitch – especially if it ever wants to challenge YouTube.

As you may expect, Twitch user reaction has been swift and negative. In the comments of Twitch’s post, users are threatening to ditch Twitch Prime altogether saying that its other features – like in-game loot, monthly channel subscriptions, exclusive badges and the like – were not the main reasons they were interested in this perks program.

Twitch Prime was launched in September 2016 as a benefit for Amazon Prime members – one of the now many perks that accompany a Prime subscription, in addition to Amazon’s Prime 2-day shipping. Amazon had acquired Twitch in 2014, and this was the first big move it made to integrate the two properties beyond airing some TV pilots on the service.

Since Twitch Prime’s launch, Amazon has been adding features to the program – most recently, free games every month, for example. Twitch says this year it’s given away over $1,000 worth of games and loot to members, and promises “more and better free games” and loot in the future.

Although ad-free viewing across Twitch won’t be included in Twitch Prime in the future, the company did note that there will still be a way to turn off ads.

If Twitch users have an Amazon Prime membership (meaning they’ll still have Twitch Prime, too), they can use their monthly subscription token on a channel that offers ad-free viewing to subscribers.

In addition, users can opt for Twitch Turbo, a separate monthly subscription program that offers ad-free viewing across all of Twitch, plus other features like additional emoticons, chat badges, priority support and more.

Users, of course, are outraged that a benefit that used to come free with a Prime subscription will now cost an additional $8.99 per month.

Twitch’s decision to remove ad-free viewing could be a part of its bigger plan to woo creators to its service.

The company has been in the news as of late for having YouTube-esque ambitions. According to a report from Bloomberg, the company wants to turn the game-streaming site into a broader video service and has been pursuing livestreaming deals with dozens of popular creators and media companies who have large YouTube fan bases. The company has offering minimum guarantees as high as a few million dollars a year, plus a share of future advertising sales and subscription revenues, the report said.

Animoto hack exposes personal information, geolocation data

Animoto, a cloud-based video maker service for social media sites, has revealed a data breach.

The breach occurred on July 10 but was confirmed by the company in early August, and later reported to the California attorney general.

Names, dates of birth and user email addresses were accessed by hackers, but the company said it wasn’t known if data had been exfiltrated. The company also said that users’ scrambled passwords were exposed in the breach, but it wasn’t clear if the hackers gained the private key, which could be used to reveal the passwords in plain text.

The company also said in a security announcement that user geolocations were also exposed to hackers, but noted that it “does not keep geolocation information for all users.”

Payment data is not thought to be affected as it’s stored in a separate system, the company said.

Animoto did not immediately return a request for comment. TechCrunch will update once we learn more.

The New York City-based company did not say how many users were affected by the breach, but last August claimed more than 20 million users on its platform.

Animoto is the latest social media service to be breached. Last month, Timehop revealed a breach affecting 21 million users, exposing their names, email addresses, gender and dates of birth. Timehop’s breach was largely attributable to the company’s lack of two-factor authentication on its network, which helps prevent hackers from reusing already exposed credentials from breaches of other sites and services.

Animoto didn’t say how its breach occurred but pointed to “suspicious activity” on its systems. The company also said it reset employee passwords and reduced employees’ access to critical systems.

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Huawei was caught using a pro camera to fake smartphone photos (again)

Huawei might make decent smartphones, but its marketing and advertising campaigns have, multiple times, been struck by controversy. That continues today, as an actor’s social media post revealed that the company faked smartphone photos with a professional DSLR camera for an advertisement in Egypt.

In the ad (embedded below), a couple takes selfies at a party and at home with the Huawei Nova 3. The Huawei video shows a rapid succession of moments in which the couple prepares to take the selfie, then shows the final photos as snapshots between moments. As it turns out, though, the photos were taken on a DSLR camera—the type of dedicated (and not-at-all-tied-to-a-smartphone) camera used by professional photographers.

Huawei Mobile Egypt’s ad for the Huawei Nova 3.

Reddit user AbdullahSab3 discovered that Sarah Elshamy, one of the actors in the video, posted some behind-the-scenes photos to her Instagram page. One image revealed a photographer shooting the at-home selfie with a DSLR.

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The SEC has charged Mike Rothenberg for fraud

Mike Rothenberg, infamous Silicon Valley venture capitalist and founder of Rothenberg Ventures, has been formally charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission for overcharging investors to fund personal projects.

Rothenberg had been under investigation by the SEC for quite some time. The SEC now alleges in a statement the investor and his firm had misappropriated up to $7 million dollars for personal enjoyment, meanwhile claiming the funds were from his own coffers to pay for lavish parties, hotels and sporting events.

We’ve reached out to Rothenberg for comment and are waiting to hear back.

*This post is being updated