Friday, 17 August 2018

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is suing Facebook over 'unlawful' advertising tactics (FB)

getty facebook zuckerberg hearing headshot

  • Federal regulators have served Facebook with a complaint over the company's ad targeting tools available to housing advertisers.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development's complaint sides with advocacy groups that brought a lawsuit against Facebook in March.
  • The lawsuit claims that Facebook violates fair-housing laws, which follows a massive investigation by ProPublica.

The Justice Department filed a "statement of interest" on Friday that sides with housing groups who claim that Facebook's advertising platform violates fair-housing laws.

The statement allows a suit filed in March, led by the National Fair Housing Alliance, to live on. According to the housing groups, Facebook’s tools allow advertisers to target by sex, religion, familial status and national origin, which violate fair-housing laws.

The company has been in hot water over its housing advertising practices since 2016, when ProPublica published a report about Facebook’s monitoring of housing ads. Since then, Facebook has updated its policies and added machine learning that identifies housing, credit, and employment ads, but a follow-up report from ProPublica in November found that ads continued to not be policed.

Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that Facebook's practice, "creates and harvests user data to develop profiles for each user, categorizing them into groups based on demographics, interests, behaviors and other criteria." He added that "categorizing of Facebook users based on protected characteristics" violates the Fair Housing Administration (or FHA). Specifically, the Justice Department commented on the Communications Decency Act portion of the lawsuit — not the entire lawsuit.

"There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it's strictly prohibited in our policies," Facebook said in a statement. "Over the past year we’ve strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse. We're aware of the statement of interest filed and will respond in court."

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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Link rot in the law

link rot law blogs publications

Link rot in the law is a real problem.

Lawyers, law firms, law schools and other legal publishers don’t plan for link rot, nor do they appreciate the problem they are creating. In most cases link rot is caused by naivety on their part or on the part of the party handling their blogs and web publishing.

Sourcing Wikipedia liberally, link rot happens when links on individual websites, blogs or publications point to web pages, servers or other resources that have become permanently unavailable.

Such links are typically referred to as a “broken link” or a “dead link.” Bottom linne, the target of the reference no longer exists – or at least where it originally existed — and you get a 404 error.

Research shows that the half-life of a random webpage is two years. The half-life of a legal page, as evidenced by law blogs, is longer than that.

Link rot becomes significant in the law because of the role precedent plays in the law.

I don’t follow primary law – code, regs and cases – as much as secondary law – blogs, law reviews and journals.

I’d think links to primary law would be in pretty good shape as the source is still there as cited. Blogs and soon to be published just like blogs on WordPress, reviews and journals, are not in good shape, “rot-wise.”

How bad is link rot?

A 2014 Harvard Law School study study by Jonathan Zittrain, Kendra Albert and Lawrence Lessig, determined that approximately 50% of the URLs in U.S. Supreme Court opinions no longer link to the original information. They also found that in a selection of legal journals published between 1999 and 2011, more than 70% of the links no longer functioned as intended.

Any number of things cause link rot.

  • Site taken down, invalidating the links which are pointing to it. Law firms have done this to the blogs of lawyers who have left the firm.
  • Some form of blocking such as content filters or firewalls. LexisNexis’ 360 is an example.
  • Links may be removed as a result of legal action or court order.
  • Content may be intentionally removed by the “owner.”
  • Many news sites keep articles freely accessible for only a short time period, and then move them behind a paywall. This causes a significant loss of supporting links in sites discussing news events and using media sites as references. ALM has done this in the case of contributions from legal authorities.
  • Websites can be restructured or redesigned, or the underlying technology can be changed, altering or invalidating large numbers of inbound or internal links.
  • Dead links can also occur on the authoring side, when website content is assembled from Internet sources and deployed without properly verifying the link targets.
  • A website might change its domain name. Links pointing to the old name might then become invalid. This regularly happens when legal professionals move their publishing off Medium or move their blogs into websites.

Link rot can be combatted in any number of ways.

  • When you change URLs, , use redirection mechanisms such as “301: Moved Permanently” to automatically refer browsers and crawlers to the new location. This won’t work when sites are moved from sites as Medium where there is no server side access.
  • Content management systems, such as WordPress, may offer built-in solutions to the management of links, such as updating them when content is changed or moved on a site. WordPress guards against link rot by replacing non-canonical URLs with their canonical versions.
  • Web archivists can, and are, engaged in collecting websites. The Library of Congress is doing this for some law blogs. LexBlog is looking at the question of archiving blogs on LexBlog, which will grow to be an aggregation of law blogs worldwide. Archiving may still have the issue of not displaying the original link which citations would point to.
  • Getting law firms to recognize that many law blogs, like journal and law review articles, are more than merely marketing. Scholoraly and legal work is not to put out in the public domain and pulled back at the whim of firm policy.
  • Smarter use of the web by web developers,  legal professionals and legal publishers who lack an appreciation of the link rot they are causing.
  • Use established publishing protocol – WordPress. WordPress runs 70% of all sites with a content management solution. Web developers using proprietary or marginally used website software can use it for a website, but no for publishing, where they’ll use WordPress.

Librarrians, knowledgement magament professionals and archivists have a better understanding of link rot and its ramifications.

As crazy as it spounds, link rot is real and so are the problems it genrerates in a precedent and citation driven field, such as the law.

Link rot in the law posted first on

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Tinder and Match Group were a poor match from the beginning, according to the new $2 billion lawsuit filed by the dating app's founders (MTCH, IAC)

sean rad


The legal dispute between Tinder and parent company Match Group is new, but the bad blood between key figures at the two companies apparently isn't.

Three of Tinder's cofounders, along with a group of current and former key employees, believe that the management of Match Group and its corporate parent, IAC, have repeatedly reneged on formal agreements and shorted them of money and ownership since the founding of the dating-app company in 2012, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday. The bad-faith dealing by Match and IAC culminated in the alleged scheme that forms the centerpiece of the suit — Match Group's alleged attempt to undermine the value of the stock options held by Tinder employees.

The Tinder founders and employees are seeking $2 billion in compensation plus additional punitive damages in the suit.

Match Group and IAC "cheated the Tinder plaintiffs out of their contractual right to participate in the future growth of the company they built," the Tinder founders and employees allege in their suit. "Defendants willfully breached their contracts and their legal duties, pocketing billions of dollars earned by the Tinder plaintiffs and other Tinder optionholders."

A Match Group representative denied the allegations in a statement and suggested that the suit was the result of envy, not bad-faith dealing.

Two of the plaintiffs in the suit are no longer with the company, the representative noted in the statement. Sean Rad, Tinder's founder and former CEO, was "dismissed" more than a year ago; and Justin Mateen, left "many years" ago, the representative said.

Rad and Mateen "may not like the fact that Tinder has experienced enormous success following their respective departures, but sour grapes alone do not a lawsuit make," the representative said. "Mr. Rad has a rich history of outlandish public statements, and this lawsuit contains just another series of them. We look forward to defending our position in court."

Match and Rad repeatedly clashed

Barry Diller IACMatch and Rad and his team were at odds almost from the beginning and repeatedly clashed, according to the suit.

Here are some of the key moments and allegations, as laid out in the Tinder team's legal complaint:

  • Although Rad initially developed Tinder in 2012 while working for Hatch Labs, an IAC-owned incubator, and his basic concept won a hackathon contest Hatch sponsored, IAC and Hatch initially declined to foster the development of the app or to allow Rad to seek outside funding for it.
  • Instead Hatch said Rad could develop it with a team he was already on that was working on a separate app — and only in their free time.
  • Because of that arrangement, Rad proposed that the Tinder founding team get a majority stake in the app, with Hatch being a minority investor. IAC and Hatch agreed to those terms.
  • But in 2013, after Rad and his team had launched the Tinder app and seen initial success with it, IAC reneged on those terms. When it incorporated Tinder, it didn't assign any ownership to the founders, insisting that it owned all of the app and company. It only assigned the founding team "stock appreciation rights," which the plaintiffs claim were worth far less than the value IAC had promised them. 
  • In 2014, Rad and his team got Match to agree to grant them stock options in Tinder — but only after a bitter six-month negotiating battle.
  • In 2015, Rad proposed that Match allow Tinder option holders to sell their stakes to outside investors. The options agreement allowed Tinder's founders to do that, but Rad wanted to open it up to all Tinder employees. Match initially agreed. But then it changed the terms. It would either allow all employees including the Mateen and Rad to sell their vested options at a $1.75 billion valuation for the entire company — or it would allow all employees except Rad and Mateen to sell their options at a $3 billion valuation. Rad and Mateen chose the latter option, allowing employees to cash out.
  • In mid-2016, Rad proposed that Match again allow Tinder option holders to sell their vested options — this time back to Match. Match agreed, but didn't follow the terms under the stock option agreement for valuing Tinder. Match came up with a $1.6 billion valuation — little more than half the valuation it had recognized nearly a year before, despite Tinder's growth over that time. Rad and other Tinder executives advised employees not to take advantage of the selling opportunity.
  • In December 2016, Match ousted Rad and several key executives at Tinder just months before the first scheduled option selling opportunity under the 2014 options agreement.
  • In early 2017, Match proposed to value Tinder at $1.8 billion for the upcoming scheduled options sale. After Rad rejected that amount, Match then provided "false, misleading, and incomplete information" about Tinder's finances to ensure a lowball valuation.
  • Match ended up valuing Tinder at $3 billion for the option sale — the same valuation it had recognized two years earlier, despite the app's growth in revenue and usage.
  • After finalizing the $3 billion figure, Match merged Tinder into itself, effectively cancelling the future planned options sales.

"Defendants, acting in bad faith, breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing inherent in" the options agreement and related deals, the Tinder executives and employees said in the suit.

SEE ALSO: Snapchat is stalling out, and there's not much hope that it'll get back on track

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Tinder and Match Group were a poor match from the beginning, according to the new $2 billion lawsuit filed by the dating app's founders (MTCH, IAC) posted first on

Tinder founders say former CEO 'groped and sexually harassed' an executive at a company party in bombshell $2 billion lawsuit

Greg Blatt Match Group

  • Included in a jaw-dropping lawsuit brought by Tinder's founders against its parent company IAC are allegations of sexual misconduct against its former CEO.
  • The lawsuit alleges that former Tinder CEO and IAC chairman Greg Blatt "groped and sexually harassed" vice president of marketing Rosette Pambakian, and, after the incident was reported, the parent company conducted an internal investigation, not the independent one that former cofounder and CEO Sean Rad was pushing for.
  • Although Blatt was replaced as CEO in January by Mandy Ginsberg, a source tells Business Insider that Blatt was still frequenting Tinder's offices until recently.

Tinder's founders and executives have filed a lawsuit against their parent company IAC filled with some jaw-dropping allegations. They are suing for billions of dollars over what they allege was a deliberate attempt by IAC to "cheat them" out of money owed for their stock options.

IAC for its part says that the lawsuit is unfounded, based on "sour grapes" and that Match has paid out "excess of a billion dollars in equity compensation to Tinder’s founders and employees." (See the company's full statement below.)

But included in the lawsuit is another bombshell allegation: that Tinder's former CEO Greg Blatt "groped and sexually harassed" Tinder's vice president of marketing, Rosette Pambakian, at a company party and that the company's human resources and legal council knew about the incident and "covered up" the alleged misconduct.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges:

"At Tinder's December 2016 holiday party in Los Angeles, Blatt, who had just taken over as Tinder's 'interim' CEO, groped and sexually harassed Rosette Pambakian ... In mid-2017 [Sean] Rad learned about these events ... and immediately reported Blatt's conduct to Match's General Counsel Jared Sine."

Sean Rad

The lawsuit alleges that Sine and Match Group conducted an internal investigation led by an HR executive who had worked for Blatt for more than ten years.

Rad, Tinder's cofounder and former CEO who was pushed out and replaced by Blatt, wanted an investigation that was independent, not conducted by Match insiders, according to the lawsuit. He asked to speak to the board about it but his request was refused, the lawsuit states.

The suit then alleges that IAC "even allowed Blatt to contact Pambakian and one of the eyewitnesses [of the alleged incident] whom Blatt pressured to conceal his misconduct." Blatt was allowed to continue his duties as interim CEO during the internal investigation, the lawsuit claims, and "was included on correspondence related to it."

And the lawsuit includes yet another serious allegation: that Match "had previously concealed other sexual misconduct allegations through confidential payoffs and settlements."

A source close to the Tinder executives tells Business Insider that Blatt remained involved with the company until recently, and was frequently seen in the offices. However, Blatt's official involvement with the company is unclear. (We've asked IAC to clarify.) Blatt's long-standing corporate email account is currently no longer active and he is not currently listed on IAC's management pages.

In January, 2018, Match promoted Mandy Ginsberg as CEO.

Rosette Pambakian

Here is IAC's full statement about the lawsuit.

"The allegations in the complaint are meritless, and IAC and Match Group intend to vigorously defend against them.

Since Tinder’s inception, Match Group has paid out in excess of a billion dollars in equity compensation to Tinder’s founders and employees. With respect to the matters alleged in the complaint, the facts are simple: Match Group and the plaintiffs went through a rigorous, contractually - defined valuation process involving two independent global investment banks, and Mr. Rad and his merry band of plaintiffs did not like the outcome.

Mr. Rad (who was dismissed from the Company a year ago) and Mr. Mateen (who has not been with the Company in years) may not like the fact that Tinder has experienced enormous success following their respective departures, but sour grapes alone do not a lawsuit make. Mr. Rad has a rich history of outlandish public statements, and this lawsuit contains just another series of them. We look forward to defending our position in court."  

SEE ALSO: How this woman went from a Pizza Hut employee to a founder of a $4 billion startup

SEE ALSO: Tinder's founders are suing Match Group and IAC, saying they've been ripped off — and they're seeking at least $2 billion in damages

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Tinder founders say former CEO 'groped and sexually harassed' an executive at a company party in bombshell $2 billion lawsuit posted first on

Tinder's parent company allegedly faked financial information to lower the dating app's valuation, according to a new lawsuit (IAC)

Tinder cofounder president Sean Rad

  • Tinder's cofounders and executives are suing parent company IAC and Match Group over allegations that the parent company cooked the books to create a lower valuation for the popular dating app.
  • IAC and Match allegedly inflated Tinder's expenses and downplayed new features in an effort to create a "false picture" of Tinder's finances.
  • This led to a private valuation of $3 billion in 2017, according to the lawsuit.
  • The end goal was to save the parent company billions of dollars when employees cashed-in their equity, by maintaining an inaccurately low valuation for the dating app, the lawsuit claims. 

Tinder's parent company allegedly faked the popular dating app's financial figures in a scheme to avoid having to pay the app's founders and long-time employees billions of dollars in equity, according to a bombshell lawsuit filed in New York on Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed by a group of Tinder founders and executives, alleges that the app's parent company IAC and its subsidary Match Group created a "disinformation campaign" and a "false picture" of Tinder's financial figures and projections in order to reach a lower valuation for the company. 

The key allegations in the complaint are that IAC inflated Tinder's expenses, "inventing an alternative universe in which Tinder was stagnating toward freefall." IAC also allegedly downplayed upcoming features which would impact Tinder's performance figures.

As the result, Tinder was valued at $3 billion in 2017 when its growth could have valued it even higher, according to the lawsuit. 

Like many companies in Silicon Valley, Tinder offered employees and founders stock options to give them "skin in the game," according to the lawsuit, and Tinder plaintiffs owned more than 20% of the company's value. 

But as a subsidiary of IAC, Tinder's financial figures were private and its valuation was set outside of the public eye. 

This gave IAC the opportunity to "undermine Tinder's valuation" to "save themselves billions dollars," according to the complaint. 

After the $3 billion valuation was set, IAC cancelled three scheduled independent valuations set for 2018, 2020, and 2021, and reorganized Tinder's executive structure so that its early employees could not exercise their stock options at a higher valuation, according to the complaint.

Founding CEO Sean Rad was replaced by IAC insider and CEO Greg Blatt. 

Business Insider has reached out to Match Group for comment on the lawsuit and its allegations.

Here's the full complaint:


SEE ALSO: Tinder's founders are suing Match Group and IAC saying they've been ripped off — and they're seeking at least $2 billion in damages

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Tinder's parent company allegedly faked financial information to lower the dating app's valuation, according to a new lawsuit (IAC) posted first on

Monday, 13 August 2018

Attending ILTACON? LegalTech startup? LexBlog wants to interview you

legal tech startup

Will you be attending ILTACon in D.C. next week? Are you running a legal tech startup company that you founded? I’d like to interview you as part of LexBlog’s coverage of ILTACON.

More than technology, new funding, customers and products, the interesting stuff (for me) about a legal tech company is the story of how the company got started and, assuming it’s been going for a while, how it’s survived where others have failed.

ILTACON, held annually by the International Legal Technology Association, is one of the leading legal tech conferences. Traditionally, the focus is large law, in-house law and the technology companies serving such organizations.

This year ILTA is looking to foster innovation for the Legal IT community by shining a light on legal tech startups and emerging growth companies. One way it’s doing so is a Startup Hub where eight of the over twenty five companies who applied will be exhibiting and doing education sessions.

Taking things a step further, LexBlog would like to shine a light on legal tech startups and emerging growth companies – and their founders.

We’ll do it by Facebook Live interviews which will also be posted to YouTube and transcribed and posted, with the accompanying video, on LexBlog. The videos will be also shared on other social media.

Nothing to prepare for. Five to ten minute interview to get the gist of your story.

  • Who started the company?
  • When?
  • Why? What was the problem you saw that you solved?
  • How did you fund the start? Did you bootstrap?
  • How long after the start did it take to have customers?
  • When do you think you had it made — ar at least thought you would make it?
  • What was the low point?
  • What’s been most rewarding about founding a company?
  • What would you tell other potential legaltech founders?

You may reach me via email , text/call (206-321-3627) or social media.

See you at ILTACON.

Attending ILTACON? LegalTech startup? LexBlog wants to interview you posted first on

An aristocrat who claims his family should have inherited the throne of Monaco is suing France for $401 million

Monaco Grand Prix Yachts

  • A French aristocrat is suing France for €351 million ($401 million) in damages.
  • Count Louis de Causans says the French state cheated his family out of the throne of Monaco.
  • De Causans told Le Parisien that "sleight of hand" had allowed the French state to rewrite Monaco's laws of succession.
  • De Causans' ancestor was apparently once Monaco's rightful heir, but missed out on the throne because he was German, and France was on the brink of World War I at the time.

Louis de Causans is a prince without a kingdom — or so he says.

The French-born count is seeking compensation of €351 million ($401 million) in damages from France, which he says cheated his family out of the throne of Monaco.

The aristocrat, full name Louis Jean Raymond Marie de Vincens de Causans, told Le Parisien that "sleight of hand" had allowed the French state to rewrite Monaco's laws of succession during the reign of Luis II of Monaco (1922-44).

He said: "I want the truth to come out and this injustice perpetrated by France on my family to be put right.

"In reality, my cousin Prince Albert acceded to the throne by a sleight of hand … France found a solution to get its hands on Monaco. Afterwards, they managed business on the Rock as they wished."

Louis de Causans

He said Louis II had no heirs, meaning the throne should have passed down to his branch of the Grimaldi family, making his ancestor Guillaume II de Wurtemberg-Urach the new ruler.

However, Guillaume II was German — and to have a German ruler of Monaco at a time when France was on the brink of war with their neighbours was unthinkable.

So, Louis II adopted his illegitimate daughter Charlotte Louise, whose mother was a cabaret singer. A law, which was later deemed illegal, was passed in 1911 to secure her succession.

"I thought it was the Grimaldis' fault, but then I found out it was the French state that caused this dramatic turnaround for us," De Causans said.

It's easy to see why De Causans is upset. Monaco's current ruler Albert II is worth $1 billion. However, he stressed that he does not blame the prince for his qualm.

Le Parisien also spoke to De Causans' lawyer, Monsieur Jean-Marc Descoub├Ęs, who said that the enormous sum of money being demanded was in line with the losses sustained by the aristocrat's family.

"His fortune would be out of proportion with what it is today," Descoub├Ęs said.

You can watch the full interview in French here.

SEE ALSO: Meet the 10 richest billionaire royals in the world right now

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