Crypto payments are coming to Telegram – Protocol

Crypto payments are coming to Telegram – Protocol

Blockchain Crypto Market Technology
April 29, 2022 by Coinvasity
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After an SEC challenge, Telegram had abandoned crypto payments, but now they’re back.Telegram now supports crypto payments after the widely used messaging app previously gave up on its own token. The addition could make crypto payments on messaging platforms more mainstream.The TON Foundation, which manages the toncoin token, has enabled fee-free payments—sending crypto to other
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After an SEC challenge, Telegram had abandoned crypto payments, but now they’re back.
Telegram now supports crypto payments after the widely used messaging app previously gave up on its own token. The addition could make crypto payments on messaging platforms more mainstream.
The TON Foundation, which manages the toncoin token, has enabled fee-free payments—sending crypto to other users—using toncoin (TON) in the app. It also has added the ability to buy bitcoin within the app.
Telegram, which has about 550 million users, previously dropped its plan for its own token after a legal challenge from the SEC. The SEC sued Telegram in 2019 after it raised $1.7 billion to develop its token, calling it an illegal token offering. Telegram later paid a fine to the SEC and agree to return capital to investors.
Since then, Telegram’s CEO Pavel Durov has endorsed a separate spin-off token Toncoin that is apparently independent from Telegram. That is the coin that is now enabled for payments on Telegram.

The TON Foundation said it has enabled the ability to send Toncoin “without transaction fees to any Telegram user,” it announced on Twitter. “With this service, you’ll no longer need to enter long wallet addresses and wait for confirmations.”
The new payments service brings the potential for a global crypto payments service through the messaging app. Many in the crypto industry are working on ways to make crypto payments mainstream as a cheap and fast alternative to traditional payments — particularly for cross-border transactions.
There are efforts to do this using bitcoin, ethereum or new Layer 1 protocols, but many of these efforts face a challenge of building a global user base and viable product to enable crypto payments. Companies like Facebook parent Meta have sought to build such a service, but the company recently abandoned the idea. Telegram already has a global user base and product that could make crypto payments a mainstream product quickly.
The Ton Foundation recently said it has raised $1 billion from users for the project.
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Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com.
Surprise, surprise: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin threw cold water on yet another aspect of his party’s approach to climate policy. While the Biden administration has proposed expanding the popular electric vehicle tax credit, Manchin called the idea “ludicrous” during a Senate budget hearing on Thursday.
Manchin’s colleagues are angling to resurrect certain provisions in the catatonic-if-not-entirely-dead Build Back Better bill, including one to increase the existing $7,500 credit for electric vehicle purchases to as much as $12,500. But Manchin, who also basically killed the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan, isn’t having it.
Manchin cited both existing waiting lists for EVs — especially in light of tangled supply chains for the vehicles — and high fuel prices as rationale for his resistance. He suggested that lawmakers instead direct more funding toward developing hydrogen resources to decarbonize the transportation sector (a complicated and potentially fraught proposition). In February, Manchin joined three Republicans to launch a working group to develop a hydrogen hub in West Virginia, which would allow for the continued use of fossil fuels and would be a major win for natural gas and coal producers in Manchin’s state. The proposal has already passed the House, but getting Manchin on board will likely be necessary to get it through the Senate as well. Manchin has thrown a wrench in Democratic policy plans in the past, including the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better spending plan, which included climate provisions that would have impacted clean energy deployment and carbon removal research.

Manchin, who would appear not to care at all about supporting Democratic climate policies, recently convened a bipartisan meeting of senators to discuss energy security and climate change and gauge where there may be room for consensus. The senator told POLITICO that the group’s first meeting went smoothly, but they are “just starting.” But the perception that Manchin is dragging his feet has caused frustration among Democrats, who are skeptical an energy tax package could get support from 10 Republicans, and have their eye on the clock as the midterms quickly approach.
“This is our last, best chance to take action, and whether we do or not rests entirely in Manchin’s hands,” a senior Democratic aide said to CNN.
Salesforce just became the latest tech giant to commit to limiting the scope of its non-disclosure agreements, freeing workers up to talk about instances of harassment or discrimination they experience on the job. Salesforce and all California employers are already required to make these changes for workers in the state under California’s Silenced No More Act. But the new policy extends those protections to all Salesforce employees across the country.
“Our employees are key stakeholders, and it’s critical that we offer them the support to ensure they’re happy, healthy and protected,” the company wrote in a blog post Friday. Salesforce plans to implement the changes by the end of 2022.
A good deal of the credit for this shift goes to the so-called Transparency in Employment Agreements Coalition, a group of advocates and investors that has been using shareholder proposals to encourage tech giants, including Salesforce, Meta, Alphabet and Apple, to extend the policies enshrined in the Silenced No More Act to all of their employees. One of the leaders of that coalition, former Pinterest employee Ifeoma Ozoma, was instrumental in pushing that law forward in California. Another version of the law also recently passed in Washington state.

“From the beginning, my goal in assembling the coalition was for us to get these protections to as many workers in as many jurisdictions as possible, and this certainly marks a massive achievement of that goal,” Ozoma said of the Salesforce commitment. The company has offices in more than a dozen U.S. states. Now that Salesforce has committed to make these changes, the coalition is withdrawing its proposal.
Salesforce is not the first tech company this pressure campaign has worked on. After facing a similar proposal from the coalition earlier this month, Google confirmed in an SEC filing that employees are free to discuss workplace harassment, discrimination and retaliation, even under their current NDAs. Though the company insists that’s not a new policy, it had never before published the exact terms of its employee agreements — especially not in a place where investors and the SEC could hold them to it.
Apple, meanwhile, initially asked the SEC to exclude the coalition’s proposal calling for a report on its use of concealment clauses. Apple argued that the company had already “substantially implemented” the proposal in its business conduct policy. The SEC denied the request and is now reportedly looking into whether the company misled investors with its statements. In the meantime, Apple ended up committing in its proxy statement to incorporate the Silenced No More Act’s language in all U.S. separation agreements, which Ozoma counts as a major, hard-fought victory of the coalition’s work.
“The point of Silenced No More is enshrining the protections in the actual contracts people sign,” Ozoma said. “Not employee handbooks that can be and are changed at a whim.”
Ozoma and the coalition have also secured commitments to expand these protections from Twilio, Expensify and Pinterest, Ozoma’s former employer. Ozoma and her former colleague Aerica Shimizu Banks have been public about allegations of discrimination and retaliation at the company, which has prompted their ongoing activism.

The coalition’s work, coupled with the work of a growing number of state legislatures, suggests that the tech industry’s wall of secrecy is on its way out. Investors, lawmakers and workers themselves seem increasingly supportive of freeing employees from the gag orders that often wind up blowing up in their faces.
The only question now is: Who’s next?
Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter are starting to take shape. The Tesla CEO told banks that he plans to slash pay for board members and executives in a bid to get funding for the acquisition, Reuters reported. Insiders also told Reuters that Musk presented ideas for monetizing tweets.
Musk had previously tweeted that board members’ salary would be slashed to $0 if his bid succeeded, which would save Twitter $3 million per year. It turned out he wasn’t trolling. Bloomberg reported Thursday that Musk also plans to lay off employees to cut costs.
Despite being the richest man in the world (most days), it was unclear how Musk planned to fund the acquisition last week. He infamously tweeted that he had the “funding secured” to take Tesla private in 2018, though a court and the SEC say he did not, in fact, have funding secured. The billionaire has $90 billion in debt tied up in his Tesla, SpaceX and Boring Co. shares. But according to an SEC filing, Musk is using his Tesla shares as collateral for a $12.5 billion loan, in addition to $21 billion in cash he’s committed to the acquisition and additional loans secured against Twitter.

Musk allegedly told banks that cutting stock compensation for executives and the board would bring Twitter closer to industry standards. He referenced Pinterest and Meta’s recent earnings as proof that Twitter could significantly increase its profit margins, according to Reuters. In 2021, stock-based compensation at Twitter ran 33% higher than it did in 2020.
But when Musk was making his offer to banks, he didn’t only focus on cost-cutting. He also said that he would boost Twitter revenue by exploring new ways to monetize tweets. One method could be to charge companies fees for embedding or quote-tweeting verified users, for instance. Musk also wrote and deleted several tweets last week with ideas for the company’s Twitter Blue subscription service. Some of his suggestions include offering the Twitter verified blue checkmark, an ad-free interface and additional edit capabilities bundled with the $2.99 subscription fee.
Despite Twitter’s popularity, the platform has had a tough time convincing people to pay money for premium features like the ability to undo tweets. The company primarily relies on ads for profit, which Musk thinks is a disservice to users.
Three out of four tech workers plan to return to the office in some form this year. But many are worried about the health implications of doing so.
More than 70% of tech workers told Qualtrics in late February they were nervous about precautions like mask mandates ending, compared to 59% of workers across industries. Seventy-seven percent of tech workers still support vaccine mandates — significantly more than government workers (52%) or even healthcare workers (53%).

The pandemic has waned from its omicron peak, but cases are on the rise again. The seven-day average is currently a little under 51,000 cases across the U.S. The Northeast and West Coast as well as Colorado are currently relative COVID-19 hotspots, and all are locations with a high number of tech workers.
Although most workers are ready to meet in person, many still aren’t ready to do so in a crowded room. Across sectors, workers are largely comfortable with in-person meetings (78%) but less so with shaking hands (62%), large gatherings (54%) and hugs (52%). Sitting next to someone is OK for three out of four workers, but 61% said workstations need to be disinfected and 55% want to keep supplies separate.

So, how do you get workers to return to the office? Companies have been trying to lure workers back to the office with a few perks. Google, for example, offered workers free scooters to come back. The company also took away workers’ beloved bidets, though. (This move is completely unrelated to the pandemic but still.) What workers really want, though, are cash and public health safety measures.
According to Qualtrics, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers across industries said they want their colleagues to be vaccinated, while Gen Z wants a raise to compensate for in-office work. Given how expensive it is to go to the office now, that might be worth considering.
There are very few bills Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t signed from the Republican-controlled statehouse this legislative session. But on Wednesday, lightning struck after DeSantis vetoed a bill that would’ve removed incentives for rooftop solar power.
Making it harder to install solar panels on their roofs in sunny Florida was not the right move politically even before the Russian war against Ukraine sent gas prices surging around the globe. With people feeling the pinch at the pump and the meter, people have increasingly been turning to EVs and solar panels to bring down energy bills.
But the Florida legislation would’ve made it more challenging for individuals looking to go solar by reducing the amount of money that utilities paid to homeowners when their panels generate more power than needed. It’s a practice known as net metering, and it can be found in 47 states, including Florida. While homeowners love it since it gets them paid, utilities hate it since they’re the ones paying. Florida Power and Light was at the forefront of the opposition, and leaked emails show the powerful utility essentially helped draft the legislation. (The utility has a long, shady history of influencing Florida politics to get what it wants.)

After passing through both chambers in the state capital, though, it went to DeSantis’ desk for his expected signature — despite it being wildly unpopular. The Miami Herald noted the governor’s office received 16,809 emails, letters and phone calls opposing the net metering bill against just 13 contacts in favor of the legislation. DeSantis and the Republicans in the legislature have basically acted in tandem as the governor gears up for a likely presidential run in 2024, passing scores of bills constraining free speech and furthering the conservative agenda.
But the anti-solar bill was a bridge too far, though. The governor said in a letter announcing the veto that with gas prices so high, “the state of Florida should not contribute to the financial crunch that our citizens are experiencing.”
That sounds nice except it was just a little less than 11 months ago that DeSantis signed a bill into law barring cities across the state from implementing gas bans. If I were the type to insert memes into stories, here is where I insert famous Floridian DJ Khaled saying, “Congratulations, you played yourself.”
The anti-solar bill would’ve further constrained clean energy at a time when the world needs more carbon-free sources of electricity, not less. Climate advocates were ecstatic, but the victory may be short-lived. Republicans in the statehouse have already said they plan to reintroduce a modified version of the bill.
From Congress to climate activists, everyone is mad at the Postal Service’s plan to buy a bunch of gas-powered mail trucks. Now, the anger has manifested itself in a legal challenge: A host of environmental activist groups and 16 states are suing the agency for not electrifying its fleet.
Groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club filed lawsuits in California and New York on Thursday challenging USPS’s decision to replace its current trucks with nearly 150,000 gas-powered new ones. The lawsuit alleges that the USPS sidestepped necessary environmental reviews that needed to be done before making the decision, and violated the National Environmental Policy Act by releasing a draft environmental impact statement for its purchasing plan six months after it signed a deal with Oshkosh Defense to buy the trucks.
The USPS committed to purchasing 165,000 delivery vehicles from Oshkosh, with 90% being gas-powered trucks and 10% being electric vehicles. The gas-powered vehicles get slightly better mileage than their predecessors: 14.7 miles per gallon without air conditioning compared to 8.2 in the old vehicles. But with AC, gas mileage drops to 8.6 miles in the new vehicles.

It’s not exactly a great choice, especially when President Joe Biden has said the federal government will pull all the levers at its disposal to kickstart a climate revolution. The USPS fleet is a major one to tug on given that the investment in EVs would also mean building out charging infrastructure, including some available to average Americans. Electrifying the fleet would also reduce air pollution, a nice add-on bonus.
“The purpose of environmental review is to inform the Postal Service’s decision, not rubberstamp a plan it had already made,” Scott Hochberg, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Postal delivery trucks visit almost every neighborhood in the United States daily. It’s backward and bewildering that the USPS would show such disregard for climate and public health with its decision.”
The agency has been stubborn about electrifying its fleet due to “organizational and financial constraints,” despite the fact that switching to EVs is financially (and environmentally) a sound idea. The lawsuit was no surprise: Due to USPS’s refusal to budge, experts that attended a recent House Oversight Committee hearing about the USPS’ fleet expected it, and so here we are.
“The Postal Service conducted a robust and thorough review and fully complied with all of our obligations under (the National Environmental Policy Act),” USPS spokesperson Kim Frum told the Associated Press in a statement.
Robinhood said Thursday that it will no longer provide revenue guidance after the company posted results that missed Wall Street’s projections.
Robinhood’s stock fell sharply by about 9% in after-hours trading. The company reported a loss of $392 million, or 45 cents a share, on revenue of $299 million, which represented a 43% drop from the year-ago quarter.
The company was expected to post a loss of 36 cents a share on revenue of $355.8 million.
“We’re seeing our customers affected by the macroeconomic environment, which is reflected in our results this quarter,” CFO Jason Warnick said in a statement.
In a sign of even greater uncertainty about future results, Robinhood said it was changing the way it provided revenue projections by providing “certain limited purpose statistical and operational results on a monthly basis.”
“With this change, we no longer intend to provide revenue guidance,” the company said in a statement.

CEO Vlad Tenev said the company has “made huge strides against our roadmap,” citing the rollout of new products and services, including its much-anticipated crypto wallet.
Crypto trading has been a major revenue driver for the company, but Robinhood reported that revenue from that business fell 39% from the year-ago quarter.
The company reported results two days after announcing that it was cutting 9% of its workforce. Tenev cited a “rapid headcount growth” which “led to some duplicate roles and job functions, and more layers and complexity than are optimal.”
The belt tightening appears to have started at Netflix: A number of journalists working for the company’s entertainment site Tudum have been laid off, according to tweets by those affected. A Netflix spokesperson told Protocol Thursday that there were no plans to shutter the site, calling it “an important priority for the company.”
Netflix had launched Tudum as a kind of online entertainment magazine focused on content streaming on its service in December. The company had hired entertainment journalists from publications including Vice, Bustle and elsewhere to staff the site. It’s unclear how many Tudum writers currently remain at the company.
The layoffs come just days after Netflix’s Q1 2022 earnings report, which saw the company lose subscribers for the first time in over a decade. Following that earnings report, Netflix CFO Spencer Neumann said that the company would be pulling back on some of its spending to get costs under control.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Spencer Neumann’s name. This story was updated April 28, 2022.
Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced the House version of a bill on Thursday that would abolish Section 230. In April 2021, Sen. Bill Hagerty sponsored the same legislation in the Senate.
The bill introduction is largely symbolic, as Greene — a fringe Republican who previously supported QAnon conspiracy theories — has been stripped of her committee assignments. It would likewise face long odds in the Senate, even if Republicans retake the majority after November’s election. Still, the measure shows a growing appetite on the right to regulate social media platforms to their liking.
Republican lawmakers have long insisted that Sec. 230, which gives social media platforms legal immunity from the user content they host, enables the platforms to “censor” conservatives. It’s actually the First Amendment that gives companies extensive leeway to moderate views on their services as they see fit, but Republicans have repeatedly invoked Sec. 230 to score political points. In the lead up to midterms, many GOP office-holders and candidates have promised to reform the provision if, as expected, they retake power.

Other right-wing political figures, including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, have also endorsed the approach of treating social media as a utility that can’t turn customers away. Even with exceptions for illegal speech, though, abolishing Sec. 230 would put legal porn, spam and abuse on equal footing with more pedestrian posts. Greene’s measure would prohibit giving “any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person, class of persons, political or religious group or affiliation, or locality” and allow lawsuits for violations. It would also make some exceptions for obscene, “excessively violent” or harassing posts — much of which Sec. 230 also explicitly helps platforms combat.
“This bill isn’t original, isn’t constitutional,and only serves as a MAGA talking point,” Adam Kovacevich, the head of the Chamber of Progress, told Protocol. (Kovacevich’s organization takes funding from Meta and Twitter.)
Greene’s measure comes as conservatives are cheering Elon Musk’s expected takeover of Twitter in the name of “free speech,” which would likely mean more conservative content. Greene argues her measure would “protect him,” although current law would almost certainly already enable his designs, at least in the U.S.
Even though Greene represents the fringe of the right, her grievances against social media firms are widely shared by the broader Republican base. For instance, Greene took issue with Meta’s 2020 decision to remove sharing functionality for the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Many outlets tiptoed around the story at the time, airing concerns it was an example of widely expected electoral “misinformation,” but it has since been shown as largely true. Jack Dorsey, who was CEO of Twitter when the company blocked the story, later called the decision a “total mistake.”
For their part, Democrats have said Sec. 230 gives social media companies too little incentive to take down the worst content, meaning they’ve been unable to come together with Republicans to reform the provision despite bipartisan desire for change.
Activision Blizzard shareholders overwhelmingly approved a planned sale to Microsoft on Thursday, with 98% voting in favor of the proposed deal. But while the outcome of the vote was largely expected, the real hurdle going forward will be clearing the Biden administration’s newly invigorated FTC under appointee Lisa Khan.
Shares for Activision Blizzard traded on Thursday at about $77, well under the $95 premium Microsoft has agreed to pay if the deal is approved, suggesting some investors are concerned that the real risk lies in advancing the deal past the FTC.
Khan has been vocal about taking more aggressive action against Big Tech and adjacent industries since taking the job last year, and the agency is now pursuing a revised case against Facebook-owner Meta with the intention of scrutinizing its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. The deal has until June 2023 to close.
“Today’s overwhelmingly supportive vote by our stockholders confirms our shared belief that, combined with Microsoft, we will be even better positioned to create great value for our players, even greater opportunities for our employees, and to continue our focus on becoming an inspiring example of a welcoming, respectful, and inclusive workplace,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement.

Elon Musk has controversial ideas for Twitter around free speech and content moderation, and it’s apparently scaring advertisers.
Behind the scenes, Twitter has reportedly been trying to convince advertisers that the platform is still a good place to do business, according to the Financial Times. Some advertisers are worried that Musk’s thoughts around content moderation would hurt them and make the platform less brand-friendly. Car companies in particular are concerned that their advertising plans on Twitter would get back to Tesla if Musk took over. Fair!
The issue wouldn’t matter as much to Musk, who doesn’t care for advertising anyway. Tesla notably does not lean on any ads whatsoever. It’s a big part of Twitter’s business, though. The company’s ad revenue increased 23% to $1.11 billion this quarter.
Twitter is also dealing with the fallout of its Q1 earnings report, in which the company revealed it over-counted the number of daily users using its platform for three consecutive years. It turns out Twitter had overstated daily users by up to 1.9 million each quarter after accidentally counting several accounts as active even though they were run by one user. The problem is tied to a feature that allows users to more easily switch between separate accounts.

In any case, the number of daily active users — 229 million — rose nearly 16% this quarter compared to the same time last year. The company didn’t hold a corresponding call after reporting earnings, which could be its last if Musk ends up buying the company and taking Twitter private like he said he would.
“Given the pending acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, we will not be providing any forward looking guidance, and are withdrawing all previously provided goals and outlook,” the company said in a statement. The deal is set to close later this year pending regulatory and shareholder approvals.
Google announced Thursday that it will begin removing personal information like home addresses, emails and phone numbers in special circumstances, upon request. The company says the policy will help make information that causes “direct harm to people” less easily available.
“The internet is always evolving — with information popping up in unexpected places and being used in new ways — so our policies and protections need to evolve, too,” the company said in a blog post.
Previously, Google would only remove information that risked a person’s financial security. This information included bank account numbers, credit card numbers, images of handwritten signatures, private official records like medical records and Social Security numbers. Today, Google expanded that definition to include information like a person’s home address, telephone number and emails, as well as images of ID documents and login credentials.
However, the updated policy doesn’t mean users can quickly or easily have their information removed. Google will not remove web pages from search that include other information useful for the general public, the blog post says. It will also not remove information that is otherwise part of the public record. And removing items from search, the company cautions, does not mean information is removed from the internet. If people would like information to be removed from the webpage itself, they must contact the host site.

The new rules are still significantly narrower than what is required under the EU’s “right to be forgotten” law, which passed in 2014. The law says that Europeans can ask for most information about them to be stricken from search in a broad range of cases, such as if the information is being used for direct marketing purposes, or if the information is no longer necessary for the purpose it was gathered for. The GDPR added personal data to the list of information that people could have removed in 2018. But Google won a legal case in 2019 that means it only must obey these laws within the EU, not globally.
The week of Elon continues apace with an unequivocal victory for the Tesla founder.
A Delaware judge ruled Elon Musk did not flout his fiduciary responsibility to Tesla in order to line his own coffers when, in 2016, he prompted the company to acquire the rooftop solar panel maker SolarCity for $2.6 billion. Musk was chairman and the largest shareholder of SolarCity — which was struggling at the time — and Tesla’s shareholders accused him of coercing the company’s board into the purchase.
They argued that the purchase was to the benefit of Musk as an individual rather than Tesla the company, and sought up to $13 billion in damages. Complicating things even further: SolarCity used to be run by two of Musk’s cousins. What a mess!
But Judge Joseph R. Slights III wrote in his opinion that his “verdict is for the defense on all claims,” removing a years-long thorn from Musk’s side in the process. The decision found that Tesla paid a fair price, and while Musk was a bit more involved than would have been ideal, that was outweighed by the fact that the acquisition was a boon for Tesla.

However, the ruling can be appealed, and a lawyer for the plaintiffs said that he is reviewing potential next steps.
This comes in the midst of a week overwhelmingly full of Musk news, from his pending $44 billion purchase of Twitter to a separate securities filing that said he cannot post tweets about his Twitter acquisition if they “disparage the company or any of its representatives.” The decision is also just the latest in a string of legal victories for Musk that have challenged both him as an individual and Tesla as an entity. What next week will hold for the world’s richest man is anyone’s guess.
Mark Zuckerberg has said for years that Facebook’s goal is to connect people. But Meta’s increasing emphasis on video isn’t highlighting clips from users’ friends and family: It’s using AI to surface videos from all over Facebook and Instagram.
Reels now make up about 20% of the time people spend on Instagram, and videos overall comprise about half of the time people spend on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call yesterday. But people aren’t necessarily engaging with videos posted by the users they follow: AI is driving the increase in video views. Zuckerberg said he wants AI to work as a recommendation system for short-form video and eventually as a way for people to find the “most interesting” content on Meta’s platforms.
“Social content from friends and people and businesses you follow will continue being a lot of the most valuable, engaging and differentiated content for our services, but now also being able to accurately recommend content from the whole universe that you don’t follow directly, unlocks a large amount of interesting and useful videos and posts that you might have otherwise missed,” Zuckerberg said.

Meta has been pushing video on Instagram and Facebook users for some time as it tries to compete with TikTok, YouTube and others. Instagram removed the “recent” tab from its hashtag page in an effort to show more Reels, and the platform even tweaked its algorithm to show fewer videos stamped with the TikTok logo. Reels recently rolled out globally on Facebook, too. Zuckerberg said he wants Reels to become a huge part of the company’s discovery engine goals.
It’s been clear for some time now that Facebook and Instagram need to deprioritize connecting friends to keep up with platforms like TikTok. They can’t just be the apps where users go to see photos of their friends’ pets or babies, because that’s not as cool or engaging as helping users keep up with the most dominant internet trend of the day. That’s where AI comes into play.
Meta CFO Dave Wehner said during the earnings call that competitors like TikTok “have strong offers” but that Meta is “pleased with what we’ve got with Reels and the efforts that we’re making to grow that important product.”
Elon Musk may soon be Twitter’s owner, but he still can’t tweet whatever he wants.
Musk isn’t allowed to post tweets about his Twitter acquisition if they “disparage the company or any of its representatives,” according to an SEC filing reported by Bloomberg. Though he’s allowed to publicly discuss the deal, he can’t paint the company or its leaders in a bad light. It’s unclear what the ramifications are for Musk if he decides to tweet critically about Twitter anyway — given he’s been doing that for years, and continues to do so this week.
Musk tweeted on Tuesday criticizing Twitter lawyer Vijaya Gadde for blocking a New York Post story about Hunter Biden in 2020, saying “suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate.” Twitter later reversed this decision.
Musk has long been one of Twitter’s most vocal critics, bashing the company’s content moderation and claiming it limits free speech. Prior to his acquisition of the company, he tweeted that “Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.”

Not only does Musk have a restrictions on what he can say about Twitter on Twitter, but he also can’t seem to shake his Twitter-sitter settlement stemming from his problematic tweets about Tesla, Axios reported. On Wednesday, a federal judge denied Musk’s request to drop a 2018 SEC settlement that requires that his tweets be pre-approved. Musk asked that the the consent decree be terminated in March, calling the policy unworkable, according to The Wall Street Journal. The settlement was first put in place in in 2018 over fraud charges when Musk tweeted he could take Tesla private without filing SEC regulatory notices.
“[Musk] cannot now complain that this provision violates his First Amendment rights,” U.S. District Judge Lewis Liman said in a written opinion. “Musk’s argument that the SEC has used the consent decree to harass him and to launch investigations of his speech is likewise meritless and, in this case, particularly ironic.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Judge Liman’s name. This story was updated on April 27, 2022.
Apple is finally letting people fix their own iPhones. The tech giant announced Wednesday that its Self Service Repair program is now available to customers in the U.S., making it the biggest company to offer DIY repair services.
Apple customers can now find more than 200 individual parts and tools in the online Self Service Repair Store to fix iPhone 12 and 13 models, as well as the third-generation iPhone SE, including the ability to fix or swap out the display, battery and camera. Apple plans to add manuals, parts and tools to repair Macs later this year, and will also open the program to customers in Europe.
Apple said in its announcement that the program is “enabling customers who are experienced with the complexities of repairing electronic devices to complete repairs,” and is discouraging repair novices from taking part in the program.
“For the vast majority of customers who do not have experience repairing electronic devices, visiting a professional repair provider with certified technicians who use genuine Apple parts is the safest and most reliable way to get a repair,” Apple said in its announcement.

Apple tools and parts available in the program are the exact same, and cost the same, as those available to the company’s network of authorized repair providers. Some repairs will give customers a credit for returning a replaced part to be recycled. Apple is also offering tool rental kits for $49 for those who only want to do single repairs. Rentals last a week and ship for free, Apple said.
Apple first announced the Self Service Repair program in November, but didn’t reveal a launch date at that time. Samsung also recently announced self-repair services for customers, with a program launching with iFixit this summer that will allow users to replace display assemblies, back glass and charging ports on its most popular Galaxy smartphone models.
With Apple opening its program, the two largest smartphone sellers in the U.S. — with Apple taking up 56% of the market and Samsung taking 22% — are now letting buyers fix their own devices, a sign that these companies are trying to get ahead of both state and federal legislation sparked by the growing right to repair movement.
Microsoft, Google, Dell and a handful of other tech companies are helping to roll out a career portal for neurodivergent job seekers.
The Neurodiversity @ Work Employer Roundtable and Disability:IN introduced the Neurodiversity Career Connector, a platform for neurodivergent job candidates to find employers, the organizations announced today. Almost 50 companies that are part of the Roundtable, including Ford and SAP, are contributing to the portal.
Microsoft Accessibility piloted the Neurodiversity Career Connector in February, but the portal connects candidates with jobs from several employers, not just Microsoft. A search for a data scientist position on Microsoft’s platform shows openings from Google, IBM and others.
“Neurodivergent candidates are an untapped talent pool that can help close record high job openings,” the organizations wrote in a release, citing a nearly 40% unemployment rate for neurodivergent adults. “The NDCC is bridging this disability talent gap with a curated platform of current jobs from only employers with a track record of hiring and supporting neurodivergent individuals.”

Organizations hoping to post jobs on the career connector must be part of the Roundtable, have a neurodiversity hiring program that’s been active for at least one year and show public support for neurodivergent talent. In addition to posting job opportunities on the career portal, members of the Roundtable can join monthly employer meetings and participate in working sessions about topics like finding talent and supporting workers.
Neurodiverse hiring programs have gone through lots of change as companies like Microsoft develop more mainstream practices, although many programs are only in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for companies to recruit neurodiverse candidates, but remote work itself has brought some upsides.
Robinhood is laying off roughly 9% of its full-time workforce, the company announced Tuesday.
Following a period of “hypergrowth,” the company is cutting down on duplicate roles and job functions as a way to mitigate “more layers and complexity than are optimal,” the trading app’s CEO Vlad Tenev said in a blog post. Between 2020 and 2021, the company’s headcount increased sixfold to keep up with rapid demand, from 700 to nearly 3,800. The decision effects roughly 340 Robinhood employees.
The company is set to report earnings Thursday. Its shares, which have mostly struggled since its IPO in July, fell roughly 5% in after-hours trading in the wake of the announcement.
Tenev said the company plans to prioritize “opportunities for automation and operational efficiency.” Robinhood will also take a closer look at its headcount growth targets.
“After carefully considering all these factors, we determined that making these reductions to Robinhood’s staff is the right decision to improve efficiency, increase our velocity, and ensure that we are responsive to the changing needs of our customers,” Tenev wrote.

The decision comes months after Robinhood reported a loss in active users during the fourth quarter of 2021, falling from close to 19 million to 17.3 million, as well as revenue of $340 million, down 35% compared to the same quarter last year. The company faces a tough comparison in its upcoming earnings report after setting a high bar with the popularity it gained in early 2021 amid the memestock frenzy and crypto trading results juiced by the popularity of dogecoin.
“While the decision to undertake this action wasn’t easy, it is a deliberate step to ensure we are able to continue delivering on our strategic goals and furthering our mission to democratize finance,” Tenev wrote in the post.

Robinhood Crypto COO Christine Brown announced her departure from the company last month. The company also hired Steve Quirk, a former TD Ameritrade executive, as chief brokerage officer of its Robinhood Markets business in January.
Want to spice up your 401(k)? Fidelity is going crypto. The major financial services provider launched Digital Asset Accounts on Tuesday, allowing account holders to have a portion of their retirement savings allocated to bitcoin. It’s starting by offering the accounts to employees of MicroStrategy, a software company that has placed bets on cryptocurrency.
Though Fidelity isn’t the first firm to offer crypto retirement accounts, the company appears to be the biggest to wade in. Besides MicroStrategy, the option will be broadly available for employers to add to its 401(k) plans by the middle of this year, Fidelity said in its announcement. Prior to this, Fidelity had only offered cryptocurrency accounts to institutional and accredited investors. Currently, the plans will only invest in bitcoin, not other cryptocurrencies. MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor is an outspoken bitcoin advocate.

“There is growing interest from plan sponsors for vehicles that enable them to provide their employees access to digital assets in defined contribution plans, and in turn from individuals with an appetite to incorporate cryptocurrencies into their long-term investment strategies,” Dave Gray, Fidelity’s head of workplace retirement offerings and platforms, said in a statement.

The move to offer crypto-enabled 401(k) plans is the first of its kind by a major firm. Fidelity is taking on a big regulatory risk along with its pioneering status.
The Department of Labor released guidance in March on putting cryptocurrencies in retirement accounts, strongly advising caution. The department warned companies considering this option of cryptocurrencies’ “extreme price volatility” and “significant risks of fraud, theft, and loss.” Some of the department’s other concerns include lack of investment knowledge from plan participants, record-keeping concerns, and the accuracy of the valuation of cryptocurrency. The Department of Labor oversees workplace retirement plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which puts it alongside a host of federal agencies looking to stake a claim to crypto oversight.

“The Department cautions plan fiduciaries to exercise extreme care before they consider adding a cryptocurrency option to a 401(k) plan’s investment menu for plan participants,” the agency wrote. It warned that it soon planned to investigate firms that offered cryptocurrencies.
Fidelity has other exposure to crypto through an institutional custody business, Fidelity Digital Assets. It began experimenting with cryptocurrencies in 2014 and started testing products with its own employees in 2016.
As Fidelity plunges into the digital asset world, other major firms seem more hesitant. Sébastien Page of T. Rowe Price said in August that the mandates it manages for its clients “do not currently appear well suited for investing in cryptocurrencies, especially given the extraordinary level of speculation and volatility in many crypto markets,” though the firm will continue to research it. Vanguard said it also doesn’t offer cryptocurrencies as an investment option, but acknowledges the “impact they’re making in the investing world.”
“As cryptocurrencies and blockchain become increasingly mainstream, we’ll continue to monitor their development and discern the best path forward for our investors,” Vanguard wrote in a piece of advice for investors in September.

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter is actually happening. Twitter and Musk announced the deal, which is valued at $54.20 a share, on Monday. The move comes after a weekend of negotiations between Twitter and Musk, who had just gotten the funding needed to buy the company last week.
The deal, worth about $44 billion, adheres to the price Musk had originally set and told Twitter he would not change his mind on.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement announcing the deal. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

At the beginning of the month, news that Musk was seeking to buy Twitter — and that Twitter would entertain his bid — would be a shocker. This whole adventure began with Musk buying a huge stake in the company — violating SEC disclosure rules along the way — and considering a seat on Twitter’s board. The board seat thing didn’t pan out, which we now know is because Musk didn’t just want a seat at the table: He wanted the whole company. Twitter reportedly became more open to Musk’s bid in recent days.

“The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing,” Twitter board chair Bret Taylor said in the deal announcement. “The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.”
Twitter employees are expected to gather for an all-hands meeting today to discuss the deal. “I know this is a significant change and you’re likely processing what this means for you and Twitter’s future,” Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said in a memo to workers.
Twitter (except for maybe the company’s former leader) seemed resistant to Musk’s bid. The company had prepared a so-called poison pill, which makes it harder for someone to purchase a company, and a number of Twitter employees have been vocally outraged since the moment Musk thought about joining the company’s board. On the other hand, some Republicans welcomed Musk’s bid, seeing it as an opportunity to move closer to Musk’s ideas to make Twitter more “free speech”-friendly and switch to an open-source algorithm, which they saw as limiting Twitter’s enforcement of policies they deem unfriendly or disadvantageous to them.
What happens now? We may learn much more from Twitter itself on Thursday, when the company reports earnings, though the company said it will not hold a corresponding earnings call. On May 25, Twitter will also hold its annual meeting, during which shareholders will vote on whether to change the board structure to let directors serve for one-year instead of three-year terms (which would make a future takeover a lot easier, though not right away). Musk has suggested he wanted to let some Twitter shareholders retain a stake after he gains control, though it’s not clear how that structure would work alongside a more conventional takeover bid.

The deal will close this year, subject to approval from shareholders and standard regulatory approval.
Elon Musk is finding ways to keep busy while he waits on the Twitter board to weigh his offer to buy the company. That includes espousing the virtues of tunnels as “immune to surface weather conditions,” a thing which is very much not true.
On Sunday, Musk responded to a tweet from the World of Statistics account, as one does when they have $280 billion to their name and nothing else going on. That led to an exchange with CleanTechnica writer Johnna Crider about building a Hyperloop from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, which resulted in the following tweet:
There is perhaps no worse example of this than subways. Just last summer, New York’s subway dealt with stations flooding multiple times, including during the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which shut down nearly the entire system. “That subway system is old and trash,” you might say. You would be right — but also, show some respect.

It’s also far from the only example of subway tunnels being decidedly not immune to surface weather conditions. In 2019, the Metro in Washington, D.C., sprung a leak following heavy rains. And last summer, Zhengzhou’s metro — itself less than a decade old — faced deadly flooding following torrential rains.
Now, there’s no denying the idea of speeding up evacuations from hurricane-prone areas would be a nice thing. But tunnels are a highly questionable way to make that happen, given the fact that — again — they flood. In South Louisiana, where sea level rise is a huge issue, the idea of building tunnels is even more sketchy.
But they’re particularly dubious when we already have other policy tools at the ready. Equitable access to public transit, contraflow on highways and using traffic data to streamline the exodus when a storm is approaching are all right there for the taking. Are they as exciting as trains that don’t yet exist zipping through vacuum-sealed tubes that don’t yet exist? No, they are not. But they are proven methods to save lives.
Musk has had no shortage of pitching Hyperloop and tunneling projects that are highly suspect. That includes building tunnels in Fort Lauderdale, which sits in a part of Florida where the ground is essentially Swiss cheese. Anyway, Musk’s Boring Company recently raised another $675 million to make traveling in Teslas in tunnels a growing thing in Vegas. And it tweeted on Monday that “Hyperloop testing at full-scale begins later this year.” No word on whether it will take on the added challenge of doing that during a hurricane.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Johnna Crider’s name. This story was updated on April 25, 2022.

The Instagram account of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT project was hacked on Monday, it announced via Twitter, reportedly resulting in millions of dollars worth of NFTs being stolen.
The project said in a tweet that “There is no mint going on today,” warning users to “not mint anything, click links, or link your wallet to anything.” Vice reported that a moderator in the Bored Ape Yacht Club Discord channel posted: “THERE IS A FAKE LAND MINT WEBSITE BEING SHARED BY THE BAYC IG. DO NOT MINT ANYTHING.”
The incident exposed the ongoing vulnerability of social media channels operated by crypto ventures, which can put users at risk even if the underlying blockchain technology is secure. The Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection is managed by Yuga Labs, which is rolling up a number of other valuable NFT collections and planning further blockchain and metaverse initiatives around them.
CoinDesk reported that the hackers announced a fake airdrop, or distribution of NFTs, encouraging users to click a fraudulent link which would give the hackers control of their wallets. The fraudulent link, which looked like the Bored Ape Yacht Club website, reportedly claimed users could mint “land” in upcoming Web3 project OthersideMeta. According to Vice, NFTs from Yuga Labs, including Bored Ape, Mutant Ape and Kennel Club NFTs, worth a total value of $2.7 million, were stolen in the hack. On Etherscan, the hacker’s wallet has been flagged as being part of a phishing scam.

It’s currently unknown how the hackers got into the Bored Ape Yacht Club Instagram account. A Yuga Labs spokesperson told Vice that it had removed all links to Instagram from its services, alerted the community and has attempted to recover the account just before 10 a.m. ET this morning.
“Two-factor authentication was enabled and the security practices surrounding the IG account were tight,” the spokesperson told Vice. “Yuga Labs and Instagram are currently investigating how the hacker was able to gain access to the account. We’re still investigating.”
Meta is going retail: The company is getting ready to open its first Meta Store in Burlingame on May 9. The store will allow people to try and buy hardware products like Meta’s Portal smart displays, its Quest VR headset and the smart glasses Meta has made in partnership with Ray-Ban.
The store also features a big projection wall meant to showcase VR to people not wearing headsets. “The best way to understand virtual reality is to experience it,” Mark Zuckerberg said. “At the new Meta Store, anyone can demo popular apps on Quest 2 and project what you’re experiencing onto a big wall for your friends to see.”
It’s worth noting that this first Meta store isn’t exactly prime retail real estate. Instead, it is housed in a building that is also home to the company’s Reality Labs hardware division. The office building is near a popular Bay Area playground, but about an hour’s walk away from downtown Burlingame. In other words: Meta isn’t really counting on any foot traffic.

Instead, it’s looking to use the store as a testing ground, according to Meta Store head Martin Gilliard. “Having the store here in Burlingame gives us more opportunity to experiment and keep the customer experience core to our development,” Gilliard said. “What we learn here will help define our future retail strategy.”
The New York Times reported in November that Meta executives at one point debated opening stores across the world. A Meta spokesperson told Protocol that the company didn’t have plans for future stores to share at this point.
The long-awaited Digital Services Act proposal aims its toughest rules at illegal content and goods on Big Tech platforms like Meta, Google and Amazon, but the measure will also place requirements on internet providers, cloud hosting, app stores, domain name registrars and smaller social media and e-commerce companies.
The agreement on the DSA, which still requires all-but-inevitable approval from the bloc’s authorities, comes just a month after a final accord on the Digital Markets Act, which would fundamentally remake the business practices of the largest tech companies. The EU is also preparing to take on artificial intelligence in coming months and years.
Together, they represent a sweeping European effort to regulate tech commerce, from distribution to consumer experiences, often aiming at powerful U.S. companies and setting a regulatory stage that will affect businesses around the world. Those large, mostly American, tech giants can face “sanctions of up to 6% of global turnover or even a ban on operating in the EU single market in case of repeated serious breaches,” according to a summary from the European Commission. The full text of the legislation was not immediately available.

In addition to algorithmic transparency for content and product promotion and the ban on targeting kids with ads, the DSA would also impose “limits on the use of sensitive personal data for targeted advertising,” reportedly including gender, race and religion. It would also force companies to put in place systems for flagging illegal goods and content and for faster removal.
“It gives practical effect to the principle that what is illegal offline, should be illegal online,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the commission’s president, in a statement.
In addition to illegal content, the DSA also aims at harmful content, such as viral “dangerous disinformation.”
While the DSA springs from serious concern by world leaders about the spread of harm at digital scale, it’s also prompted warnings that efforts to combat such dangers have sometimes resulted in platforms shutting down legal but controversial speech.
The Financial Times is offering climate nerds their dream: A chance to get the world to net zero. In game form, that is.
The outlet dropped the aptly named “The Climate Game” for Earth Week (yeah, it’s not just a day anymore). If you have not played the game yet, go forth and do that now if you want because there are spoilers to come below.
The game challenges you to get the world to net zero between now and 2050 in order to avert the worst effects of global warming. It addresses many major sectors, from electricity to buildings, and transport to industry. I must confess that while I kept the planet’s warming to 1.48 degrees Celsius in my first attempt (a victory of sorts!), I did not manage to hit the net zero goal until round two.
At the risk of sounding defensive — something my sister would say is typical of my approach to losing — I have a couple of theories about my loss. The first: I would argue that the game gives more weight to public opinion than our current approach to policymaking does.

For instance, when I came to the question of how to get public opinion on my side in light of some voters’ concerns about electricity bills soaring, I answered “just ignore them, they’re wrong.” We’ve got a planet to save here, people! This bout of cynicism was apparently not the right move, as the game is built on the premise that getting the public on board is crucial.
Which … yes, I agree. However, countless polls show the public is increasingly invested in climate action. In telling them to deal with it, I figured that if a majority was in favor of doing something about climate change and only “some voters” resisted aggressive climate action in this imaginary world, why should that slow us down?
According to Pippa, my visiting friend who I prodded to play it, the game responded with similar alarm to her decision to announce that all protein in diets must now come from insects. And my attempt to go bold with a $1,000 per ton price on carbon also caused public outcry in the Financial Times’ imaginary world. But I kept warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, saving countless fictional lives in the process. Does it matter that a small constituency got mad?
The section on transportation focused almost entirely on electric vehicles, which also mucked up my first attempt. Initially, I didn’t invest enough in decarbonizing vehicles because I wrongly assumed I could wait for an opportunity to invest in public transportation. While electrifying cars is great, getting more people walking or riding bikes or using buses is a less glamorous but no less crucial piece of the climate-saving puzzle.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I love this game. And I actually think it’s a good thing that different people can have different approaches to solving the climate crisis. A confluence of approaches is what we need!

I like that the game forces the player to skirt investments or decisions that will be a waste of effort (quantified in the game, though let’s hope effort is more easily plumbed in the real world). Pippa was rightfully skeptical of an option to invest in drone technology for reforestation, while I should have invested in sustainable aviation fuel. (It simply slipped my mind. Sorry, virtual world!)
Games like this can also make dense reports like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change one that recently came out much more accessible. Pippa played three times (and successfully reached net zero in her second attempt), which more than even the most climate-interested person can say about reading the IPCC.
The Financial Times released a cheat sheet, ostensibly for the game but also — let’s be honest — one that could be converted into a checklist for policymakers. But playing is a lot more fun. Someone get this on every member of Congress’ iPad ASAP.

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