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Facebook’s Libra Fuels Demand of Bitcoin as Investors Look for Safety in Alternative Investments

So far this year, bitcoin has risen more than 260%, although it remains below its all-time high of nearly $20,000

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Facebook, Libra, Bitcoin
Bitcoin, which has risen in value for eight consecutive days, received a boost after Facebook has said it would offer its own cryptocurrency, the Libra coin by end of June 2020. Pixabay

Bitcoin jumped to an 18-month high on Wednesday, as investors looked for safety in alternative investments amid geopolitical tension, and cheered prospects that Facebook Inc’s Libra token could push cryptocurrencies into the mainstream.

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency has surged in value since April and on Wednesday hit a peak of $13,666.02 on the Bitstamp exchange, the highest level since January 2018.

So far this year, bitcoin has risen more than 260%, although it remains below its all-time high of nearly $20,000 hit in December 2017.

Bitcoin last traded up 14.7% at $13,475.

Facebook, Libra, Bitcoin
Bitcoin jumped to an 18-month high on Wednesday, as investors looked for safety. Pixabay

Facebook to offer cryptocurrency

Investors have flocked back in to digital currencies after a bruising 2018. Bitcoin has risen for eight consecutive days. And now Facebook has said it would offer its own cryptocurrency, the Libra coin, by end of June 2020.

Analysts say Facebook’s announcement this month has revived interest in digital currencies, while investors seeking safety have also pushed up bitcoin’s price.

“Cryptocurrency traders were reinvigorated by Facebook’s launch of their own digital coin and momentum appears to be stirring up fresh new investors,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst, at online FX broker OANDA in New York.

Also Read- Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates Running out of Money to Support Services Such as Police, Fire and Parks

“Bitcoin skeptics are cautious in trying to stop this surge and may look for the next key resistance level which is $15,000,” he added.

Way to diversify

With major central banks keeping interest rates near all-time lows, investors have been looking for ways to diversify their portfolios, including through cryptocurrenies, analysts said.

Bitcoin CME futures volumes have also increased in the past few days, as investors look for ways to get their hands on the coin via the derivatives market.

Facebook, Libra, Bitcoin
The world’s biggest cryptocurrency has surged in value since April and on Wednesday hit a peak of $13,666.02. Pixabay

Traders, who have access to both spot and futures markets have been buying the spot and selling the futures, arbitraging the two prices, said Michael Moro, chief executive officer at Genesis Global Trading, which provides over-the-counter digital currency trading for institutional investors.

Increase of 150% since early May

The cryptocurrency has rocketed 150% since early May, along with big rises in other smaller digital currencies such as Ethereum’s ether and Ripple’s XRP.

“It should be noted that this a very different market today than it was in 2017,” said Moro.

Also Read- Huawei Loses Trade Secrets Case against Ex-Employee Ronnie Huang’s US Start-Up CNEX

“2017 saw an overwhelming number of ICOs (initial coin offerings), which was very distracting. 2019 has less distractions. It’s also a different space because the CME bitcoin futures product wasn’t available until December 2017.”

ICOs refer to a fundraising scheme that bypasses banks and venture capital firms and involves startups creating their own tokens and selling them to the public. (VOA)

Next Story

Google, Facebook Secretly Tracking Your Porn-viewing Habits

“While the findings of this study are far from encouraging, we do believe regulatory intervention may have positive outcomes,” said the researchers

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Google, smart compose
The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

If you think watching pornographic material in the “incognito” mode will not let anyone know, you are mistaken. Google, Facebook and even Oracle cloud are secretly tracking the porn you watch even when you switch on the “incognito” mode on your laptop or smartphone.

A new joint study from Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pennsylvania that investigated 22,484 sex websites using a tool called “webXray” revealed that 93 per cent of pages track and leak users’ data to third-party organisations.

“Tracking on these sites is highly concentrated by a handful of major companies,” said the researchers who identified 230 different companies and services tracking users in their sample.

Of non-pornography-specific services, Google tracks 74 per cent of sites, Oracle 24 per cent and Facebook 10 per cent.

Porn-specific trackers in the top 10 are exoClick (40 per cent), JuicyAds (11 per cent), and EroAdvertising (9 per cent).

“The majority of non-pornography companies in the top 10 are based in the US, while the majority of pornography-specific companies are based in Europe,” said the study.

The researchers – Elena Maris, Microsoft Research; Timothy Libert, Carnegie Mellon University; and Jennifer Henrichsen, University of Pennsylvania – said they successfully extracted privacy policies for 3,856 sites, 17 per cent of the total.

“The policies were written such that one might need a two-year college education to understand them. The content analysis indicated 44.97 per cent of them expose or suggest a specific gender/sexual identity or interest likely to be linked to the user,” said the study to be published in the journal New Media & Society.

The team created a hypothetical profile named “Jack” who decides to view porn on his laptop.

Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE – In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

Jack enables “incognito” mode in his browser, assuming his actions are now private. He pulls up a site and scrolls past a small link to a privacy policy. Assuming a site with a privacy policy will protect his personal information, Jack clicks on a video.

“What Jack does not know is that incognito mode only ensures his browsing history is not stored on his computer. The sites he visits, as well as any third-party trackers, may observe and record his online actions,” the researchers noted.

These third-parties may even infer Jack’s sexual interests from the URLs of the sites he accesses. They might also use what they have decided about these interests for marketing or building a consumer profile. They may even sell the data.

Jack has no idea these third-party data transfers are occurring as he browses videos.

“His assumption that porn websites will protect his information, along with the reassurance of the ‘incognito’ mode icon on his screen, provide Jack a fundamentally misleading sense of privacy as he consumes porn online,” wrote the researchers.

The above hypothetical scenario occurs frequently in reality and is indicative of the widespread data leakage and tracking that can occur on porn sites, they added.

Also Read: Instagram to Now Alert Violators Before Deleting Accounts

In 2017, Pornhub, one of the largest porn websites, received 28.5 billion visits, with users performing 50,000 searches per second on the site.

Statistics vary as to the amount of overall porn activity on the internet, but a 2017 report indicated porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined, and that “30 per cent of all the data transferred across the Internet is porn”, with site YouPorn using six times more bandwidth than Hulu.

“While the findings of this study are far from encouraging, we do believe regulatory intervention may have positive outcomes,” said the researchers. (IANS)