The platforms seem to have been taken out by a Google Cloud issue.
Discord was one of the services taken down by a cloud outage Tuesday.
Spotify, Discord and several other sites are beginning to recover after experiencing mass outages Tuesday morning.
Users on Twitter said they were unable to access their Spotify accounts and experiencing message failures on their Discord accounts at just before 10 a.m. PT Tuesday morning. According to Down Detector, which tracks website outages, there were 175,000 reports of outages on Spotify and nearly 60,000 reports of outages on Discord by 10:20 a.m. Both Spotify and Discord have acknowledged the issue.
“We’re aware of an issue causing message failures and are working on a fix,” Discord tweeted.
The sites and others were likely taken down by an issue with Google Cloud, the cloud service provider they operate on. Google did not immediately respond to request for comment from Protocol. The Google Cloud Status Dashboard said on Tuesday “us-east1: Elevated HTTP 500s on some Google Cloud Load Balancer” — in short, there was an issue with the technology that helps manage the flow of incoming traffic to those servers, causing an outage. (So despite rumors you may have seen or heard on social media, Russia had nothing to do with this.)
However, the sites seem to be recovering. Spotify tweeted that “things are looking better” from the outages this morning, but requested that users reach out if they are still having issues. The Discord status page said that the platform is “continuing to work to restore full functionality,” and that “media embeds,” “media infrastructure” and “message acknowledgement” are functional again.
Don’t worry, if you can’t access your “throwback jams to work to” playlist yet, you will be able to soon.
Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.
It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to climate change news: Solar and wind power are on track to limit global warming at the current growth rate, according to climate think tank Ember.
If solar and wind power grow at an average rate of 20% per year until 2030, as they are currently, the growth could limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to a report by Ember released Wednesday.
Last year, solar power generation rose 23% globally, and wind supply grew 14% in the same timeframe. Solar and wind are steadily increasing to account for more total global electricity generation, accounting for more than 10% of the total in 2021, up 1% from 2020.
More than 50 countries now generate 10% of their electricity from wind and solar. Ember said in the report that limiting climate change is now “eminently possible” due to wind and solar.
“If these trends can be replicated globally, and sustained, the power sector would be on track for 1.5 degree goal,” the report said.
Though wind power and solar growth shows promising signs of limiting global warming, the renewable energy sources are also up against some limiting factors. Because clean energy wasn’t deployed quickly enough, coal power saw a rise in 2021 as well: up 9% in 2021 at more than 10,000 terawatt hours in 2021, its highest growth rate since 1985. Coal power made up 36% of global electricity last year, according to the report. As energy demand boomed in countries such as China, India and Mongolia, coal production hit record highs, outweighing deployment of clean energy.
“We’re getting closer to that break-even where wind and solar can cover new electricity demand, but we are still not quite there. If we maintain those growth rates we see, we will be there shortly,” Ember global lead Dave Jones told Reuters.
Apple is looking to build in-house new tools for a broad range of financial tasks, including payments processing, lending and fraud analysis, as a step toward building new fintech products, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources.
The plan could be bad news for Apple’s fintech partners. In fact, shares of Green Dot, the bank infrastructure company used by Apple Pay, shed nearly 6% on Wednesday. Another Apple partner, CoreCard, saw its stock tumble more than 14%. Apple shares slipped fractionally in late trades.
The plan is reportedly part of a project called “Breakout,” to highlight Apple’s bid to strike out on its own in financial services. It underlines Apple’s growing interest in expanding into financial services beyond Apple Pay, the Apple Card and iMessage, as well as the financial transactions it handles via iTunes and the App Store.
The company reportedly is buying U.K. open-banking startup Credit Kudos, which would enhance Apple’s ability to offer critical data aggregation services like those offered by Finicity and Plaid. It could also strengthen the company’s market position in Europe.
One analyst speculated that the move could mean Apple is eyeing new financial services, such as the fast-growing “buy now, pay later” industry. Apple also recently introduced Tap to Pay, a new service that would let merchants use the iPhone to process payments with no extra hardware required.
The move is not likely to pose a serious challenge to Block, whose Square payment dongles remain dominant in the small and medium-sized business market. But Apple has partnered with a Block rival, Stripe, in the rollout.
Apple and Meta reportedly gave customer data over to hackers who claimed they were law enforcement officials, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
The companies provided customer details including addresses, phone numbers and IP addresses last year when responding to fake emergency data requests, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg. Snap also reportedly received a forged information request, but it is unclear if the company responded. It’s not known how many times companies gave data in response to the requests.
In an email, Apple sent Protocol the same passage from its Law Enforcement Guidelines that it sent to Bloomberg, stating that if a law enforcement or government agent seeks an emergency data request, the company may contact their supervisor “confirm to Apple that the emergency request was legitimate.”
A Snap spokesperson said in an email that the company has safeguards built into its processes to spot fraudulent law enforcement requests, including from hacked accounts.
“We review every data request for legal sufficiency and use advanced systems and processes to validate law enforcement requests and detect abuse,” Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Meta, said in a statement. “We block known compromised accounts from making requests and work with law enforcement to respond to incidents involving suspected fraudulent requests, as we have done in this case.”
Members of a hacker group known as “Recursion Team” is behind the fake requests, according to Bloomberg. Though the group is reportedly no longer active, some members are still working under different names, including Lapsus$, which is responsible for the recent hacks of Nvidia, Okta and Samsung. Researchers also suspect that the fake requests came from minors located in the U.K. and the U.S., according to Bloomberg.
The information obtained was reportedly used for harassment campaigns, including financial fraud schemes. The forged requests reportedly began in early 2021, sent via hacked email addresses of several law enforcement agencies and made to look real.
It’s not uncommon for law enforcement to request information from social media companies for investigations. Those requests are typically signed by a judge in the U.S., but emergency data requests do not need judge sign-off as they’re used in cases of imminent danger.
This story was updated to include information sent by Apple.
Google may be releasing a Bluetooth tracker detection feature for Android phones, 9to5Google reports. The feature would ostensibly notify Android users when an Apple AirTag or Tile is traveling with them without their approval.
9to5Google discovered the feature by examining the APK of a new app Google recently uploaded to the Play Store. As always, unreleased code does not guarantee that a feature may be publicly released.
Ever since Apple announced its Bluetooth tracking devices at its “Spring Loaded” event last April, experts have warned that AirTags could be abused by stalkers and abusers. Once AirTags went on sale, that turned out to be true, with numerous reports of women finding AirTags in their cars or in their handbags. The reports resulted in significant nationwide backlash that pushed the company to roll out additional safety features. With its iOS 15.4 update this month, Apple added a warning for AirTag users upon setup that the devices should be used for tracking items, not people. That warning also states that AirTags are linked to a person’s Apple ID, and if they are found to be using the devices to track people without their knowledge, their information will be visible to police. The company is also working on other new features to curb the use of AirTags in shady or outright criminal ways.
But those features have never worked as well with Android phones as iPhones. Both Apple and Tile have released apps for Android that users can download to receive similar notifications, but this, of course, requires users to install an app to receive alerts. If Google ships the Android feature, the notifications will be automatic when users update their phones.
However, whether Google intends to do so – or if it does, when — is unclear. Google did not respond to Protocol’s request for comment. However, the company often rolls out software features at its annual I/O event for developers, where we expect to more about the next version of Android. This year, Google I/O will be May 11-12.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed the Silenced No More Act into law, making Washington the second state in the nation after California to put rules in place that prevent businesses from imposing non-disclosure agreements that bar workers from discussing certain kinds of illegal harassment and discrimination.
The law, which will apply to Washington employers including Microsoft and Amazon, will take effect on June 9 of this year.
The Washington version of the bill had been pushed forward by former Apple engineer Cher Scarlett and former Google employee Chelsey Glasson. Both Scarlett and Glasson testified in support of the bill, discussing their own experiences at Apple and Google and their fears that speaking out about problems at the companies would risk violating their NDAs. Glasson settled a pregnancy discrimination suit against Google last month.
The law builds on prior legislation passed in California last year, which was inspired by the stories of Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, two former Pinterest employees who spoke out in 2020 about discrimination and retaliation they faced at Pinterest. An earlier #MeToo-era law had made it possible for California employees to talk about gender and sexual discrimination and harassment they experienced. But the Silenced No More Act expanded that law to apply to all forms of illegal harassment and discrimination.
The Washington law takes the California legislation even further, applying to illegal harassment and discrimination, as well as retaliation, wage and hour violations and sexual assault. The bill had faced some initial opposition from business groups in the state, including the Washington Retail Association and the Association of Washington Business, which argued that the law gave workers too much power to determine what constitutes illegal activity. But supporters of the legislation ultimately prevailed. The bill passed both chambers of the legislature earlier this month, and had been awaiting Inslee’s signature.
Etsy sellers are going on strike next month in protest of the company’s transaction fee, which recently jumped from 5% to 6.5%, a 30% increase. Sellers plan to suspend sales for a little over a week beginning April 11, the first day the fee hike takes effect.
“The strike is just action number one,” Etsy seller Kristi Cassidy told The Verge. Cassidy said more than 5,000 people already plan to participate in the protest.
“What we want to really do for the future is form a solidarity support movement — peer support, artisans supporting each other,” Cassidy said.
Sellers also launched a campaign that includes a set of five demands for Etsy and urges customers to boycott the platform. As of Wednesday morning, more than 16,300 people have signed onto the campaign.
One demand calls on the company to cancel the transaction fee increase, while another asks that Etsy allow sellers to decide whether they want the company to advertise their products. Etsy started automatically advertising its sellers’ goods and took a fee from those profits in early 2020, frustrating sellers. “We should be in control of which listings to advertise, how much we spend on ads, and whether to advertise at all,” the campaign states.
Sellers are also urging Etsy to stop resellers who have taken to the platform with mass-produced products, which was made possible when Esty changed its policy in 2013 to allow for people to sell items made by “manufacturing partners.” They’re also demanding that Etsy stop its Star Seller program, which gives them a badge for achieving good metrics but has been a source of unnecessary pressure.
Etsy stood by its fee increase, saying it’ll help the company better support sellers. “Our revised fee structure will enable us to increase our investments in each of these key areas so that we can better serve our community and keep Etsy a beloved, trusted, and thriving marketplace,” Kelly Clausen, Etsy’s head of Corporate Communications, told The Verge.
A search for “suicide hotspots” on Google turns up a Wikipedia page listing places across the globe where people have flocked to take their own lives, from a forest on Mt. Fuji to the Golden Gate Bridge. The same search on YouTube turns up videos about common spots for suicide, too.
The humans working at Google realize that when people search for information like this, it may not be a voyeuristic inquiry or a recreational travel query. It may be a cry for help.
Now, the company said its latest AI model, MUM, can pick up on those communication signals, too. “Our previous systems understood this query to be generally information-seeking because ‘hot spots’ is language that can often be used to seek out information, such as in travel cases, for example. But MUM is able to detect that ‘Sydney suicide hot spots’ relates to common jumping spots for suicide in Sydney,” said Anne Merritt, product manager for Health and Information Quality at Google.
The company said it will apply the AI language model to Google and YouTube searches that it detects as related to suicide, domestic violence, sexual assault and substance abuse in the hopes of providing search results linking to trustworthy information to help people stay safer.
When Google introduced MUM – or Multitask Unified Model — about a year ago, it said the language model was more powerful than its open-source language model BERT. MUM can learn from multimodal inputs, such as text, video, images and voice data. It is also capable of few-shot and zero-shot learning, meaning it requires fewer data inputs than BERT does to learn and improve, including when it comes to information involving multiple languages.
“MUM is able to help us understand longer or more complex queries like: ‘Why did he attack me when I said I don’t love him.’ It may be obvious to humans that this query is about domestic violence, but long, natural-language queries like these are difficult for our systems to understand without advanced AI,” said Merritt.
While Google touts MUM’s ability to understand more nuanced human communications, it also said its BERT model has helped to reduce the portion of shocking or unexpected search results in the last year by 30%. “It’s been especially effective in reducing explicit content for searches related to ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender, which can disproportionately impact women and especially women of color,” the company said.
However, the company said those improvements only affect Google web, image and video search results, rather than the autocomplete feature of its search engine. That autocomplete function – which generates possible keywords to complete a search query as someone is entering it – has drawn criticism over the years for generating misinformation or racist or sexist keywords.
Roughly five years of effort have reached a moment of fruition for Intel’s graphics chip efforts, as the company launched a new batch of products designed for video games on laptops Wednesday.
The new graphics chip is called the Arc 3, and while the chip itself will end up on laptops, the technology behind it has uses well beyond video games. The chip’s architecture, AI processing capabilities and supporting software is shared by Intel between server and PC business units, according to Intel Vice President Roger Chandler. Each unit will be able to take common building blocks and then refine that technology into chips aimed at their respective server or PC customers.
“We have a derivative, kind of parallel architecture: It’s based off the same DNA, and it’s really aimed toward the data-center class of products,” Chandler said. “We’ve got similar paths here, and so it’s a cross-segment business plan.”
The new laptop graphics chip is a further sign of the changing Intel: The company, once known for its chip manufacturing prowess, has contracted TSMC to manufacture the Arc 3. Shortly after CEO Pat Gelsinger took over the top boss job, he said the company’s future plans included betting heavily on regaining its leadership in chip fabrication, but also said the company would more willingly use contract chip manufacturers such as TSMC.
Inside the Arc 3, Intel says it has combined its Xe cores, with real time ray-tracing units — the technology makes computer images look more realistic — and specific processor functions for AI and media encoding for streaming video.
Intel is pitching the Arc 3 chip as a step up from its integrated graphics technology, powerful enough to handle the demands of newer video games with comfort and perform creative tasks related to video editing. This summer, Intel plans to release the Arc 5 and Arc 7, adding more memory and processing horsepower.
“We wanted to design a graphics product that can deliver great gaming experiences, but it’s also designed for what the new world looks like: because we’ve all been through this period of time where we’re all working remotely, or our kids are educating remotely,” Chandler said.
To achieve the results Intel has unveiled Wednesday, Chandler said that the company had to look beyond its offices and executive suites: At least half of the engineers and others working on the graphics chip effort came from outside of Intel. After years of ceding the separate graphics processing market to Nvidia and ATI, which eventually was bought by AMD, Intel revived its effort and began integrating graphics processing into its central processor designs.
LinkedIn is trying to entice influencers and creators to use its platform, to mixed success. On Wednesday, the platform is introducing a slew of new tools aimed at helping creators track engagement and boost their metrics.
The new tools are designed for users who have turned on Creator Mode, which helps people build more of an audience by changing the “connect” button to “follow.” More than 5.5 million people have turned on Creator Mode since it launched a year ago, LinkedIn said. The platform saw a nearly 50% jump in the number of people following creators, and an almost 30% rise in the engagement of content created by people with this feature activated, according to LinkedIn.
The features aren’t for making money, at least directly, but they are designed to help creators see how their posts are performing. The platform will let creators view a summary page that includes their posts’ performance, like impression numbers and overall engagement, as well as data including impressions and re-shares. The summary page mimics Instagram’s professional dashboard, which shares insights such as how many users a post has reached and how people engaged with someone’s account.
LinkedIn is also following Instagram in rolling out content alerts, which let a creator’s audience choose to get notified when they share a new post on the platform. Followers can tap the subscribe bell at the top of the creator’s profile to get those alerts, similar to how Instagram users can choose to get notified when someone posts.
Creators can also now add their newsletter to the featured section of their profile to help people more easily find it. Think of the feature like pinned posts on Twitter or TikTok, which let users stick certain posts at the top of their profile feed, even if they’re relatively old.
Meta is losing younger audiences to TikTok. In an effort to slow its rival in the social media war for young eyeballs and creators, the company paid a major Republican consulting firm to paint TikTok in a bad light, according to a report by The Washington Post.
The social media behemoth enlisted Targeted Victory, a firm founded by the digital director of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, to create and run a nationwide campaign of op-eds and letters to the editor targeting TikTok as a threat to young people. Emails obtained by the Post show how the campaign has unfurled. Targeted Victory staffers worked to promote stories to regional news outlets about harmful trends that allegedly started on TikTok, when in fact they actually began on Facebook in some cases.
The consulting outfit created a Google document called “Bad TikTok Clips,” which included links to local news stories citing TikTok as the center of several harmful trends. In one example, the firm pushed stories about a “devious licks” challenge that involved students vandalizing school property. Clips of that trend spread across several states, leading Sen. Richard Blumenthal to call for TikTok executives to testify. In reality, that trend originated on Facebook.
Targeted Victory also helped run op-eds criticizing TikTok, including one from a “concerned” parent that ran in the Denver Post and expressed worries about the platform’s role in children’s mental health. In Iowa, the campaign even included a letter to the editor signed by a local Democratic party chair.
None of the letters to the editor or op-eds targeting TikTok have any reference to Meta, though Targeted Victory also tried to get the social media giant better news coverage by sending in letters and opinion pieces highlighting, for example, its support for Black-owned businesses.
“[Targeted Victory needs to] get the message out that while Meta is the current punching bag, TikTok is the real threat especially as a foreign owned app that is #1 in sharing data that young teens are using,” a Targeted Victory director wrote in an email last month.
The emails show how Meta wants the public to see TikTok even as Meta itself tries to re-create some of the magic that led TikTok to become the top app for young people. Mark Zuckerberg has cited TikTok as a hurdle to getting young people back on his platforms. Both Facebook and Instagram have followed TikTok’s lead by pouring money into their own short-form video clones.
“We believe all platforms, including TikTok, should face a level of scrutiny consistent with their growing success,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone told the Post in defense of the campaign.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of Meta’s spokesperson. This story was updated on March 30, 2022.
A new report released today by the Kapor Center in partnership with the NAACP found that the tech industry is still failing to diversify its talent pipeline, and in some areas, it’s even regressing. There was just a 1% increase in representation of Black workers in technical roles at large tech companies between the years of 2014 and 2021, according to the report titled State of Tech Diversity: The Black Tech Ecosystem.
The Kapor Center, a nonprofit focused on promoting racial equity in STEM education and the tech industry, also found that funding among Black startup entrepreneurs still remains low. Black-founded companies received 1.3% of the almost $290 billion distributed in funding over the past year.
The gap in representation in the industry starts in the classroom. Though the number of computer science majors has risen exponentially (increasing 300% since 2006), the percentage of Black graduates with computer science degrees actually fell between the years 2016 and 2020. In 2020, 8% of bachelor’s degrees conferred in computer science were earned by Black grads, according to the Kapor Center’s data. Coding bootcamps didn’t fare much better in terms of representation: 6% of coding bootcamp participants identified as Black.
Though, the pipeline to the industry through HBCUs, community colleges and apprenticeships has proven to be stronger. According to the report, 10% of all Black computer science majors with conferred degrees in 2020 graduated from an HBCU, and 35% came from community colleges. Two institutions that have at times been historically underfunded. Though more tech companies have invested in such programs in recent years.
Last year, Amazon Web Services announced it would partner with Howard University to create a master’s degree program focused on data science, as well as cloud concepts. And more recently, Microsoft announced it would expand its cybersecurity skilling initiative which launched in the U.S. last fall through partnering with 135 community colleges to skill and recruit workers into cybersecurity jobs. The company has provided the institutions with access to free curriculum, educator training and tools for teaching, according to a corporate blog post by Kate Behncken, vice president and lead of Microsoft Philanthropies.
Another emerging avenue for diversifying the talent pipeline in tech has been seen in apprenticeship programs. 17% of apprentices were reportedly Black, according to the report. Also early last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, with the goal of setting aside $3.5 billion over five years into apprenticeships.
“Technological advancement continues to drive our economy and transform the nature of work, and the exclusion of Black talent from this sector impacts innovation, product creation, economic mobility, and is a significant driver of inequality. One-off solutions have not worked. It is time to invest in long-term structural solutions,” said Allison Scott, CEO of the Kapor Center, in the recent release.
Imagine needing to use a different email account for Gmail, Microsoft and Yahoo just to be able to send messages to the people who use Gmail, Microsoft or Yahoo. That would be annoying; email thankfully lets us use one service to get in touch with people on different services. But that’s an issue for messaging, and one the Digital Markets Act is trying to solve, specifically with “gatekeeper” companies like iMessage and WhatsApp. But making those apps play nicely isn’t simple.
To message a friend, you have to know which app they’re using. Someone might not respond to texts or Signal, but might be addicted to WhatsApp. The DMA, which is closer to becoming law after European authorities signed off on it last week, will require large messaging platforms like iMessage and WhatsApp to open up to smaller networks (if the platform requests it). That means your iMessage text could be received by someone who only uses Signal, for instance.
“The largest messaging services (such as [WhatsApp], Facebook Messenger or iMessage) will have to open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, if they so request,” EU lawmakers agreed. “Users of small or big platforms would then be able to exchange messages, send files or make video calls across messaging apps, thus giving them more choice.”
Sounds great, right? Interoperability supporters are celebrating the new rules, but those advocates and security experts alike also have questions: How would this work, exactly? Where will user data be stored? What does this mean for end-to-end encryption?
Researcher Carla Griggio has studied interoperability at Aarhus University’s Department of Computer Science and said the DMA is essentially about letting users have the freedom to decide where they want to communicate without being cut off from the people who choose to use a different messaging platform.
“Having this law ask at least the biggest platforms to open up would allow you, for example, to choose to stop using WhatsApp if you wanted without being cut off from communication with the people that still choose to use WhatsApp,” she said.
But Griggio said it’s still unclear whether people will be able to control who reaches them where. “How are we still going to have control over where we communicate with whom?” she said.
There’s also a social component to making messaging platforms work seamlessly together, she said. iMessage, for instance, allows users to send stickers or animations, but it’s unclear whether those functionalities can be carried over when communicating with people on different apps. “If anything in the content of the conversation is not part of that contract between apps, for example stickers or voice messages, I don’t think that interoperability is going to work,” she said. “And it’s going to bring frustrations, miscommunication.”
The other big question is how end-to-end-encryption will work across all apps. Security experts are concerned it will need to be weakened or dropped for the sake of interoperability. Neil Brown, managing director of the internet-focused law firm decoded.legal, said requiring users to accept weaker security in order for platforms to remain interoperable “would seem counterintuitive.”
Brown said he could see platforms offering end-to-end encryption giving their users a heads-up if they’re working with platforms that do not offer the same.
“I would not be surprised that, if platforms offering end-to-end encryption were able to interoperate with platforms which do not, they would warn their users about the implications of those originating communications from a non-end-to-end encrypted platform,” he said.
There could be one way to allow for interoperability while circumventing these concerns about end-to-end encryption and data privacy, said Conrad Kramer, who has worked on Apple’s Shortcuts feature and co-founded Workflow. Kramer said companies like Apple, Meta and others could open their messaging service APIs to one central app. From there, users would be able to choose whether they want to send a message from iMessage or Signal or Messenger without opening those apps.
The rules may also have the effect of allowing Android users to finally have access to iMessage (though no word on whether the green and blue bubble divide will come to a close).
“[If] I am a smaller messaging app, and I would like to interoperate with WhatsApp and iMessage, those companies would be legally required to provide an API for those smaller networks to reach into and talk to the iMessage and WhatsApp networks,” he said.
In the case that abuse occurs through a messaging platform or the government needed messaging data for whatever reason, the network where the message traveled to would be responsible: “If you are using iMessage, and you message over the WhatsApp network to someone else on WhatsApp, the answer is Facebook because Facebook runs a network that the message traversed,” Kramer said.
Kramer said the main concern with encryption is that if the rules required the servers of Apple or Facebook to talk (or interoperate), then an iMessage going to WhatsApp would potentially need to be decrypted from iMessage and then re-encrypted for WhatsApp: “at which point that is breaking the encryption.” But it would be less of an issue if the message traveled through one network.
“In any model where the message traverses a single network, and it goes from one phone to another phone, the encryption is still preserved and not broken,” he said.
Regardless, platforms are going to need to cross engineering hurdles to make interoperability work. Apple is already worried the rules will create security vulnerabilities, while Google thinks they’ll hinder innovation.
“Requiring coordination between large tech companies is something that is very hard to do,” Kramer said. “They do not like each other, they do not work well together.”
In Elon Musk’s latest retort in his battle with the SEC, he channeled the one and only Slim Shady in his argument to gain back full reign over his Twitter account.
According to The Verge, in a filing on Tuesday, Musk’s lawyers argued that his agreement with the SEC that requires his tweets to be preapproved violates the First Amendment. The filing cites abbreviated lyrics from Eminem’s 2002 song “Without Me”: “The FCC won’t let me be or let me be me so let me see/ They tried to shut me down.” In the filing, Musk’s attorneys swapped in “SEC” for “FCC.” Cute, right? The song references a 2002 incident when the FCC fined a radio station in Colorado for playing one of Eminem’s songs, but later reversed the fine.
“The First Amendment is a critical constitutional limitation that demands we proceed cautiously and with appropriate restraint,” the filing said, referencing the FCC’s decision to reverse the fine.
Musk has tweeted some absolutely wild things to his audience of more than 80 million, getting him into some legal trouble along the way. After he tweeted that he could take Tesla private without filing needed regulatory notices in 2018, the SEC slapped Musk and Tesla with a $20 million fine and required Musk agree that his tweets must be monitored and get approval before they’re sent.
Needless to say, that hasn’t been happening — the SEC is now investigating Musk over a November 2021 tweet in which he asked his followers whether he should sell 10% of his stake in Tesla in order to pay more taxes. The filing is Musk’s latest attempt to try to wiggle out of this agreement, which he has called “unworkable.”
Last week, a top U.S. securities regulator asked a federal judge to keep Musk locked into the agreement, claiming he hadn’t met the “high burden” needed to set it aside.
A large chunk of the internet has been fighting over digital calendar etiquette seemingly forever (OK, since January) thanks, in large part, to the ubiquity of scheduling software Calendly. Soon, even more people could be fighting about it, as Google is integrating a feature that looks a whole lot like it into Google Calendar.
The company announced on Friday that the full rollout will arrive by April 6, though the new feature was first introduced to Workspace Individual users last year. The feature will help “reduce time spent finding and scheduling appointments” because it can detect schedule conflicts when users try to make an appointment. That probably means telling colleagues to “find a time on my calendar” when they want to schedule a meeting is about to become the norm. (For what it’s worth, Microsoft Outlook has experimented with add-ons and features that help users find free time on the calendar since at least 2017.)
Calendly’s core offering is a similar feature. It has the ability, though, to integrate with five different calendars, including Google Calendar. It can also easily be linked up with Webex, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Stripe and PayPal, all core parts of its appeal to a broader user base.
“Calendly is more than a scheduling link and offers an ecosystem that’s proven difficult for others to match,” a spokesperson told Protocol.
Big tech companies have long thrived off creating copycat products, whether by taking ideas from startups or from each other. To take a recent example, Microsoft integrated features very similar to collaborative editing software and app Notion into Microsoft Loop. Major companies’ ability to roll out copycat features to broad user bases that are more likely to use a feature integrated into the products they already use rather than signing up for a new service has helped kill or weaken potential rivals. Of course, some of Google’s more than 4 billion global users have surely never heard of Calendly, and will probably benefit from the new feature on Google Calendar. And like Calendly said: It’s so much more than that.
Still, there’s ample frustration over the perceived move into Calendly’s territory. “Calendly is a black-founded company that reached and fit an incredible market of busy professionals,” tweeted Killed by Google, an account that tracks projects Google has finished or abandoned. “Yet another example to point to how Big Tech can come in, implement just pieces of someone else’s product, and end up destroying them because they already have the user capture with Google Workspace.”
Activision Blizzard succeeded on Tuesday in settling a controversial federal sexual harassment lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This paves the way for a $18 million relief fund for victims while also giving the game publisher some ammunition in defending itself against similar claims in the numerous ongoing cases it’s still embroiled in, according to The Washington Post.
Activision Blizzard still faces a lawsuit from California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), as well as numerous other suits from former employees and shareholders. The DFEH objected to the EEOC settlement, which was first announced last September, on grounds the relief fund amount was far too low and that the company will be able to use the settlement terms to disqualify any claimants who join the settlement from participating in the DFEH lawsuit, which could go to trial as early as February 2023, on claims related to harassment, retaliation or pregnancy discrimination.
The settlement may also affect how much the DFEH can claim in damages, influencing how much it can pay out to victims while at the same time complicating the investigation’s findings on many of central issues it brought the lawsuit to remedy. “The DFEH will continue to vigorously prosecute its action against Activision in California state court,” said Fahizah Alim, a DFEH spokesperson, in a statement last week, following a court filing that indicated U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer was close to approving the settlement.
“We are gratified that the federal court that reviewed our settlement with the EEOC is finding that it is ‘fair, reasonable and adequate and advances the public interest,'” said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick in a statement. “The Court’s approval is a vital step in our journey to ensuring that everyone at Activision Blizzard always feels safe, heard and empowered. We hope the court’s findings — including its view that many of the objections raised about our settlement were inaccurate and speculative — will dispel any confusion that may exist. With all of the terms of the settlement reviewed and approved, we can move forward.”
As part of the settlement, Activision Blizzard does not have to admit any wrongdoing or liability for having subjected employees to “sexual harassment that was severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment,” and for having “failed to take corrective and preventative measures” when notified.
If bitcoin could just cool it with the whole “using copious amounts of energy to mine magic internet money” thing, that’d be great. That’s the message some environmental groups are putting out there as part of a new campaign pressuring the bitcoin community to clean up its act with a code change.
Greenpeace USA, Environmental Working Group and other organizations began a campaign called #ChangeTheCode this week in an attempt to turn up the heat on bitcoin investors. The cryptocurrency currently relies on a proof-of-work process that puts miners in competition with each other. That mechanism is used by miners to confirm and record crypto transactions, providing a greater level of security, but it also takes a heavy climate toll due to the amount of energy used and the associated carbon emissions. There are other options, including proof of stake, that use vastly less energy.
Making that shift happen faces overwhelming challenges owing to the fact that it would make many mining operations obsolete, essentially leaving operations holding a bunch of stranded assets in the form of mining rigs, power plants and other infrastructure. The campaign acknowledges that challenge, which is why it’s targeting big investors rather than miners.
“If only 30 people — the key miners, exchanges, and core developers who build and contribute to Bitcoin’s code — agreed to reinvent proof-of-work mining or move to a low-energy protocol, Bitcoin would stop polluting the planet,” the groups wrote.
The groups are running ads in several publications, including the Journal and New York Times, targeting crypto lovers like Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey. Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen funded the campaign with a $5 million contribution, though he isn’t representing Ripple in this effort. “It’s important for anyone in a position to act, to act,” Sierra Club’s Michael Brune, who’s advising the campaign, told the Wall Street Journal. “You can’t ignore that we are in a climate emergency.”
Bitcoin miners seek out the cheapest sources of electricity possible to maximize profits. But that often means relying on dirty forms of energy or, as an increasing number of mining operations are doing, taking over old fossil-fuel power plants and vertically integrating mining operations. Bitcoin’s ballooning carbon footprint shows the risk of continuing to use proof of work absent stronger environmental regulations.
The actual act of changing the code is no small feat. Anyone can technically do it because bitcoin’s code is open source, but it needs consensus from nearly the entire network. That’s by design — it provides an added layer of protection — but it also means the process is long and hard. It’s not impossible, though.
Ethereum is in the process of changing from proof of work to proof of stake, which will reduce its energy consumption by an estimated 99%. The groups behind the campaign are hoping bitcoin supporters will go a similar route. Other cryptocurrencies already use proof of stake as their consensus mechanism, showing it can be secure, fast and reliable.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Chris Larsen’s name. This story was updated on March 29, 2022.
User data collected by Russian search engine Yandex may be visible to the Russian government, according to a Financial Times report. Yandex’s software development kit, used by makers of iOS and Android apps, was found to harvest metadata that is sometimes routed through servers in Russia. Privacy watchdogs are concerned this metadata could be accessed by the Kremlin and used to track users.
Games, location-sharing tools and messaging apps use Yandex’s SDK, as do many VPNs, seven of which the Financial Times reported are created specifically for Ukrainians. Hundreds of millions of users’ IP addresses, device and network data could be vulnerable, as the data is stored in centers both in Finland and Russia.
Yandex said that it has a “very strict” process for approving government requests for data. On its website, the company said it rejects about 21% of government requests.
“Although theoretically possible, in practice it is extremely hard to identify users based solely on such information collected. Yandex definitely cannot do this,” the company told the Financial Times.
That’s not exactly reassuring.
Researchers with Me2B Alliance, a nonprofit focused on protecting online privacy and security, first discovered Yandex was collecting and storing metadata when conducting an app audit. Researchers found the code installed in 52,000 apps. One of the researchers tweeted that users are unable to check whether any of the apps they use are involved, because “neither Google or Apple has a way to identify this SDK before you download an app.”
A Google spokesperson told Protocol that the company is “always working to improve privacy and transparency on Google Play, including efforts around SDKs, and are reviewing the allegations in this report.” The company adds that it will take “appropriate action” against any apps violating Google Play’s policy.
An Apple spokesperson told Protocol that users can review how apps use privacy permissions, including location data, in Apple’s App Privacy Report. Apps must also describe the use of SDKs in Apple’s Privacy Nutrition Labels. Users are asked whether they are willing to share sensitive data like location and camera information when they first download the app, and Apple’s App Tracking Transparency allows users to stop cross-app tracking.
Yandex’s stock has taken a big hit since the war began, and foreign-listed shares on Nasdaq were suspended. Several board members have recently resigned. And the company laid off Michigan employees working on its self-driving and robot projects earlier this month, saying the state suspended their licenses — something which the Secretary of State’s office says isn’t true.
Some app developers are reportedly removing Yandex’s SDK from their apps. According to the Financial Times, the popular Opera VPN removed the SDK on Feb. 15.
Otter wants to be more than a transcription app. The company just announced a series of new features that it hopes will make it a go-to collaboration tool for corporate meetings. “As a baseline, Otter can record and capture a lot of conversation and turn it into searchable notes,” said Simon Lau, Otter’s VP of Product. “Now, we see that this is something that allows team members to collaborate and communicate more easily during the meeting.”
Lau said Otter’s customers have consistently wanted to get more out of Otter than just a verbatim transcript. One of the biggest suggestions Lau heard was the ability to add additional notes to a transcript and put highlighted quotes in one space. This suggestion turned into Otter’s new “Meeting Gems” feature. You’ll be able to centralize your most important notes in one space. Otter’s users can turn notes into action items and tag co-workers within their Otter plan.
Otter transcripts will now include a screenshot button, so you can attach screenshots directly into the notes. The company is also introducing AI-generated summaries that recount notable questions or themes. The AI summary consists of “chapters” that users can click to read a recap of what was discussed.
The calendar view is more prominent in the redesign, and you can more easily turn Otter’s assistant (the transcription AI that joins meetings) on or off. Once you attach your calendar to Otter, you can join meetings directly from the home screen. The home feed will also show users their notifications: for example, if someone tagged you in a meeting note. This is an effort on Otter’s part to make the app “more geared toward continuing the workflow.”
“In between meetings, if you have two or three minutes to catch up, you can do a quick reply and take care of some of the things that carry over from the meeting,” Lau said.
The new features are available to Otter users on the Business plan today. They will launch to Pro and Basic users in the coming weeks.
Hackers breached the Ronin network used for the Axie Infinity blockchain-based game, stealing more than $620 million in ether and $25.5 million in stablecoins.
Sky Mavis, Axie Infinity’s owner, said the breach led to the theft of 173,600 ether and 25.5 million USDC from the bridge used for the NFT-based game in a blog post.
The attack, which happened March 23, was discovered Tuesday morning, the company said. Sky Mavis said it was working with “various government agencies to ensure the criminals get brought to justice.”
Axie Infinity is one of the more notable play-to-earn games based on blockchain technology. Its NFTs have recorded more than $4 billion in sales to date. But it’s suffered from a big drop in token prices. Sky Mavis has been trying to fix the game by changing its economics, which has led to more player complaints.
Sky Mavis said the companies’ in-game tokens, SLP and AXS, were not affected by the hack. It attributed the hack to a vulnerability that resulted from the Axie DAO, the decentralized organization that ostensibly oversees the cryptocurrencies used in Axie Infinity, granting Sky Mavis the ability to sign transactions on its behalf last year in order to deal with a heavy transaction load. Those permissions weren’t revoked, and the hackers gained access to Sky Mavis systems and thus the ability to validate blockchain transactions.
The Axie hack appears to be one of the largest DeFi hacks to date. Hackers stole $320 million from the Wormhole bridge in February and more than $600 million from the Poly network last year.
“Sky Mavis is committed to ensuring that all of the drained funds are recovered or reimbursed,” the company wrote in its blog post. It is not clear if the company has the resources to reimburse victims on its own. It raised $152 million at a nearly $3 billion valuation from Andreessen Horowitz and other investors last year.
The Federal Trade Commission accused Intuit of deceiving customers with misleading claims about free tax preparation services through TurboTax.
The agency asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to order Intuit to stop “disseminating the deceptive claim that consumers can file their taxes for free using TurboTax when in truth” many consumers end up being charged a fee for the service.
While the service is free for some users, Intuit tells many customers “after they have invested time and effort gathering and inputting into TurboTax their sensitive personal and financial information to prepare their tax returns, that they cannot continue for free; they will need to upgrade to a paid TurboTax service,” the complaint said.
Intuit has denied the FTC’s claims. “The FTC’s arguments are simply not credible,” Kerry McLean, executive vice president and general counsel of Intuit, said in a statement. “Far from steering taxpayers away from free tax preparation offerings, our free advertising campaigns have led to more Americans filing their taxes for free than ever before and have been central to raising awareness of free tax prep.”
In 2002, the IRS struck an agreement with an industry group, the Free File Alliance, under which the IRS promised not to provide free tax filing services directly to citizens if the industry met goals around having a certain number of returns filed electronically for free. Intuit participated in the alliance for years before announcing it would leave the group last year. The IRS still doesn’t offer electronic filing directly.
The FTC complaint is the latest twist in a series of legal battles over allegations that Intuit makes misleading claims about TurboTax. Intuit settled a class action lawsuit but the settlement was rejected by a federal judge in San Francisco.
Intuit has been hit with tens of thousands of customer arbitration claims, according to a recent ProPublica report. The campaign is bankrolled by a Chicago law firm which is using the legal tactic against the company’s argument that customers had agreed to use private arbitration to settle legal complaints, the report said.
The U.S. Department of Justice is officially backing antitrust legislation that would target the self-preferencing practices of Google and Amazon, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Bipartisan bills, led in the Senate by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and the House by Rep. David Cicilline, have focused on allegations that Google biases its search results in favor of its own products over rivals like Yelp, or that Amazon uses proprietary data on the small merchants on its site to boost its own brands. The measures could also force changes at Apple.
The bills have advanced out of their respective committees to be considered by the entirety of the House and Senate, prompting celebration by Big Tech skeptics that Congress is getting serious about reining in the company’s practices. Both proposals, however, are facing rising opposition from traditional business-allied Republicans and moderate Democrats — especially Democrats who represent tech-heavy districts in California — who might well be able to hold up the legislation. Leaders in the House and Senate have said little about when the bills could be brought forward for consideration, even as Congress is facing a long and growing list of priorities in a dwindling number of days.
The White House is also pushing lawmakers to finally pass bills on tech, although the administration has focused more on privacy than on competition. President Joe Biden has also placed prominent antitrust reformers and company critics at the top of U.S. competition enforcement agencies, including Jonathan Kanter, a longtime Google critic who now heads the DOJ’s antitrust division.
In a letter to Congress published by the Journal, the DOJ argued that the measures “would supplement the existing antitrust laws in preventing the largest digital companies from abusing and exploiting their dominant positions to the detriment of competition and the competitive process” and urged they be passed into law.
In addition to the U.S. Congress, Europe is finalizing new rules for Big Tech competition that would likewise define how powerful companies must act with regard to smaller rivals. Big companies have argued both U.S. and EU proposals risk undermining offerings that consumers love or imperiling security.
Spotify is continuing to roll out a coronavirus public health advisory on podcasts that mention COVID-19. The thin blue banner appeared for many users for the first time Monday, though Spotify told Protocol that the advisories began rolling out on Feb. 2.
“On Jan. 30, 2022, Spotify announced plans to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19,” a Spotify spokesperson told Protocol. “Three days later, on Feb. 2, we launched the content advisory on our platform and we’ve been adding it to episodes that include discussion about COVID-19 on a rolling basis ever since. Today, the COVID content advisory appears on ~1.4 million podcast episodes on our platform.”
Daniel Ek said at the time that Spotify should not “take on the position of being content censor,” but make “sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.” The company immediately published previously hidden platform rules; it’s now also fulfilled the promise of rolling out a health advisory, which links to a page of content with information from both the CDC and some of Spotify’s podcasters about the pandemic.
The banner is attached to all podcast episodes that mention COVID, not necessarily just those that contain misinformation. The banner links to a page titled “COVID-19 Guide” that’s home to a selection of fact-checked episodes people can listen to. These podcast episodes are divided into three themes: episodes summarizing how the virus works, episodes that feature prominent doctors, and episodes that discuss how the pandemic affects the economy. Most of the podcasts come from well-known studios and news outlets like The Wall Street Journal, NPR and iHeartPodcasts.
It’s unclear how much the banners will curb vaccine skepticism and other effects of misinformation about coronavirus. Similar banners piloted by platforms including Meta, Twitter and YouTube have been a mixed bag: Research suggests that simply labeling misinformation does little, while information-rich fact checks that explain why content is false are significantly more valuable.
A study published in the National Academy of Sciences examining Facebook’s fact-checking system, for example, showed that fact checking content is incredibly valuable, but that the value decreases the more users must seek out this information by clicking through to other web pages.
This story was corrected to reflect that Spotify began rolling out the COVID-19 advisories on Feb. 2, though many users may not have seen them until today, and was updated to include a statement from Spotify. Protocol regrets the error.
Over the weekend, Elon Musk said something outlandish.
I know what you’re thinking: Be more specific. Well, this time the Tesla CEO indicated he might launch a social network — or, at the very least, wouldn’t rule it out. “Am giving serious thought to this,” he replied to a Twitter user who asked whether Musk would consider building his own rival platform. Musk had earlier criticized Twitter.
“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” Musk tweeted. “What should be done?”
Musk actually launching his own platform wouldn’t be quite as unbelievable as some of the other big plans he’s floated to his audience of nearly 80 million users.
While some might consider having that many followers a big responsibility, Musk seems to tweet whatever the hell he wants without any thought to the consequences. And his followers listen: Each tweet garners thousands of likes, retweets and replies.
In 280 characters or less, his famously bonkers tweets — which have quite literally been turned into a coloring book — ignite beefs with tech hotshots and politicians alike, shake markets (think Dogecoin, GameStop and his very own Tesla) and have been the announcement platform for numerous lofty goals. And because Tesla axed its press team in 2020, Musk’s tweets are often the only window the average person can get into the inner workings of his companies.
Musk’s tweets have gotten him in a lot of legal trouble more than once, most recently with the SEC. In 2018, he made an agreement with regulators over fraud charges after he tweeted he could take Tesla private without filing needed regulatory notices, requiring him to get his tweets pre-approved (though he is trying to wiggle out of this agreement at the moment).
How often do Musk’s tweeted promises become reality? Here’s a timeline of what he’s said and what he’s actually done.
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, Musk challenged Russian leader Vladimir Putin to hand-to-hand combat, because of course he did. He said the stakes of their fight “are [Ukraine].” He even doubled down on this offer, later tweeting: “If [Putin] is afraid to fight, I will agree to use only my left hand and I am not even left-handed.”
As far as we know, Putin has not taken Musk up on this offer.
When Mykhailo Fedorov, vice prime minister of Ukraine and its minister of Digital Transformation, asked Musk to bolster Starlink internet service in the country, Musk responded that Starlink services have been activated in Ukraine and terminals were “en route.” Starlink is SpaceX’s internet service, and the donation has provided a reliable fallback as other internet service providers struggle to stay on in the region. According to The Washington Post, more than 5,000 Starlink terminals are active in the country.
Musk followed through: Terminals to operate the service arrived March 1, with a second shipment arriving March 9 that also included power adapters for car cigarette lighters, solar and battery packs and generators.
Musk revealed that SpaceX was getting into carbon capture technology, tweeting that the company is starting a program to “take CO2 out of atmosphere & turn it into rocket fuel.” He also asked people to “join if interested,” and in true, vague Musk fashion, didn’t give any further details on what the program is or how one could “join.” He tweeted the program “will also be important for Mars,” one of Musk’s biggest goals for SpaceX.
There hasn’t been an update on this concept since his December tweet. Experts have also begun to doubt the efficacy of carbon capture: One study from Stanford found that carbon capture technologies would only reduce a small portion of CO2 emissions, and would simultaneously increase air pollution.
A CNN Business article with the headline, “2% of Elon Musk’s wealth could help solve world hunger, says director of UN food scarcity organization,” prompted a reaction from Musk. He tweeted: “If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it.” He added that the project must include “open source accounting.”
This prompted David Beasley, who oversees the U.N. World Food Programme, to respond that a donation of that size would “prevent geopolitical instability, mass migration and save 42 million people on the brink of starvation.” Musk asked Beasley to publish “current & proposed spending” on this idea. Beasley responded several more times asking Musk to meet up, championing the World Food Programme’s work and how the math of his donation would work out, but Musk stopped responding.
According to Fortune, Musk did make a $5.7 billion donation in November a few weeks after the interaction, but did not disclose what charity he donated to.
Musk tweeted that Tesla would stop accepting bitcoin for vehicle purchases due to the environmental impacts of the fossil fuels used in mining the cryptocurrency. He also said that Tesla would hold onto the bitcoin it already has for future transactions when “mining transitions to more sustainable energy.” (Tesla held about $2 billion in bitcoin at the end of 2021.) About a month later, he tweeted that Tesla would resume accepting bitcoin payments when its miners can show they are using roughly 50% clean energy.
Though not much has been announced about this since last summer, Tesla did say in its October earnings report that it “may in the future restart the practice of transacting in cryptocurrencies.”
One of SpaceX’s biggest goals is to make humanity interplanetary, and Musk believes that goal is only a few years away. Last March, he tweeted that SpaceX would be landing starships on Mars “well before” 2030. “The really hard threshold is making Mars Base Alpha self-sustaining,” he said.
SpaceX’s major mission is making space more accessible (the company did send four people into orbit in September for a few days). But he’s made promises like this before. In 2018, he said 2022 would be the year SpaceX launched two cargo ships to Mars, and 2024 would be the year the company took people there.
Last January, Musk tweeted: “Am donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology.” He followed it up with, “Details next week.”
In this case, the details did come a few weeks later: Musk partnered with nonprofit XPRIZE Foundation to fund a $100 million competition for the team that could “demonstrate a working solution at a scale of at least 1000 (carbon) tonnes removed per year; model their costs at a scale of 1 million tonnes per year; and show a pathway to achieving a scale of gigatonnes per year in future,” according to the website. It’s the largest incentive prize in history.
The competition will last until Earth Day in 2025.
Toward the end of March in 2020, after earlier downplaying COVID-19 (literally tweeting, “The coronavirus panic is dumb”), Musk attempted to lend a hand in helping with COVID-19 hospitalizations by procuring ventilators for several cities. He tweeted on March 25: “Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible. We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.” He later tweeted that he delivered 1,000 ventilators to Los Angeles that he sourced from China, which California Gov. Gavin Newsom called “a heroic effort.”
Musk reportedly didn’t deliver the right kind of ventilator, however. Rather than invasive ventilators used to intubate COVID-19 patients, Musk delivered BiPAP and CPAP machines, which are used to treat sleep apnea.
Who could forget when Musk attempted to play Tony Stark to try to help rescue a Thai youth soccer team trapped in a cave? Musk tweeted out videos testing out a “tiny, kid-sized submarine” that he wanted to use to rescue the soccer team. The only problem: The rescuers didn’t end up needing the technology. His tweets about the tests came hours after reports that four of the children had already been rescued.
Musk later lashed out at Vernon Unsworth, the diver who saved the kids, calling him a “pedo guy” on Twitter (an insult which resulted in a defamation lawsuit that Musk eventually won).
“I didn’t literally mean he was a pedophile,” Musk said on the witness stand in December 2019.
Musk decided to get into the brick business in early 2018. He tweeted that his tunneling company, The Boring Co., would offer “lifesize LEGO-like interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock” as merch to create sculptures and buildings. A day later he tweeted: “And they said I’d never be a rock star.” The bricks were meant to be sold at 10 cents a piece, and would be given away for free to affordable housing projects.
Well, if becoming a “rock star” is making 500 bricks that the company didn’t end up selling, he definitely did it. YouTube channel “What’s Inside” reviewed one of the bricks in October 2020, two years after the limited release, in which the show’s host revealed that he actually purchased his brick for $200 because Musk gave the 500 bricks to employees, rather than putting them up for sale. It’s unclear whether or not Boring Co. plans to release more bricks.
Three Twilio software engineers were charged with insider trading by the SEC on Monday. The employees, along with family and friends, allegedly made more than $1 million in profits by trading Twilio stock prior to the company’s earnings announcement in May 2020.
According to the SEC, Hari Sure, Lokesh Lagudu and Chotu Pulagam wrote in a chat that Twilio’s stock price would “rise for sure,” after accessing company databases in the early days of the pandemic that showed increased use of Twilio’s products and services by customers.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that based off this confidential knowledge Sure, Lagudu and Pulagam either tipped off or used the brokerage accounts of family and friends to trade Twilio stock and options ahead of the earnings announcement. Twilio reported a 57% jump in first-quarter revenue in May 2020, which far surpassed Wall Street estimates and caused the company’s stock to jump 25%.
It’s a common problem: You watch a really good TikTok video on your For You page and then scroll past it without liking or sending it to someone. It’s lost to the ether, never to be seen again. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
TikTok is beta testing a feature called “Watch History,” which allows users to explore past videos, similar to how you might scroll through your internet history to find a website you viewed but forgot to bookmark. The test feature is available to some TikTok users now.
According to TechCrunch, the feature, first discovered by Twitter user Hammond Oh, is quietly rolling out to some TikTok users. Users will be able to view the new Watch History in the Content and Activity section of the app’s settings. This is decidedly easier than previous workarounds like the one outlined in this video, which instructs users to head to their Discover page, enter an asterisk in the search bar, then tap the Watched Videos option from the search filters tab. After applying the change, TikTok users can see every video they’ve watched in the last week. It’s not exactly intuitive, but the video has gained traction on the platform. TikTok users can also find lost videos by downloading all of their TikTok data as a .zip file, but that sounds… extreme.
Just because TikTok is testing a feature doesn’t mean it will officially roll out, however. The company was testing several other helpful new features in January that have yet to appear. Leaks signaled that users would soon be able to use TikTok avatars, keyword filtering, group chats and a Clubhouse-like live audio feature by now. Because none of these capabilities have yet made their way to the app, it’s unclear whether Watch History will become a permanent feature, either. TikTok declined to comment.