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Zuckerberg Says Breaking Up Facebook “Isn’t Going To Help”

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With the look of someone betrayed, Facebook’s CEO has fired back at co-founder Chris Hughes and his brutal NYT op-ed calling for regulators to split up Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. “When I read what he wrote, my main reaction was that what he’s proposing that we do isn’t going to do anything to help solve those issues. So I think that if what you care about is democracy and elections, then you want a company like us to be able to invest billions of dollars per year like we are in building up really advanced tools to fight election interference” Zuckerberg told France Info while in Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Zuckerberg’s argument boils down to the idea that Facebook’s specific problems with privacy, safety, misinformation, and speech won’t be directly addressed by breaking up the company, and that would instead actually hinder its efforts to safeguard its social networks. The Facebook family of apps would theoretically have fewer economies of scale when investing in safety technology like artificial intelligence to spot bots spreading voter suppression content.

Hughes claims that “Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American” and that Facebook’s rampant acquisitions and copying have made it so dominant that it deters competition. The call echoes other early execs like Facebook’s first president Sean Parker and growth chief Chamath Palihapitiya who’ve raised alarms about how the social network they built impacts society.

But Zuckerberg argues that Facebook’s size benefits the public. “Our budget for safety this year is bigger than the whole revenue of our company was when we went public earlier this decade. A lot of that is because we’ve been able to build a successful business that can now support that. You know, we invest more in safety than anyone in social media” Zuckerberg told journalist Laurent Delahousse.

The Facebook CEO’s comments were largely missed by the media, in part because the TV interview was heavily dubbed into French with no transcript. But written out here for the first time, his quotes offer a window into how deeply Zuckerberg dismisses Hughes’ claims. “Well [Hughes] was talking about a very specific idea of breaking up the company to solve some of the social issues that we face” Zuckerberg says before trying to decouple solutions from anti-trust regulation. “The way that I look at this is, there are real issues. There are real issues around harmful content and finding the right balance between expression and safety, for preventing election interference, on privacy.”

Claiming that a breakup “isn’t going to do anything to help” is a more unequivocal refutation of Hughes’ claim than that of Facebook VP of communications and former UK deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg . He wrote in his own NYT op-ed today that “what matters is not size but rather the rights and interests of consumers, and our accountability to the governments and legislators who oversee commerce and communications . . . Big in itself isn’t bad. Success should not be penalized.”

Something certainly must be done to protect consumers. Perhaps that’s a break up of Facebook. At the least, banning it from acquiring more social networks of sufficient scale so it couldn’t snatch another Instagram from its crib would be an expedient and attainable remedy.

But the sharpest point of Hughes’ op-ed was how he identified that users are trapped on Facebook. “Competition alone wouldn’t necessarily spur privacy protection — regulation is required to ensure accountability — but Facebook’s lock on the market guarantees that users can’t protest by moving to alternative platforms” he writes. After Cambridge Analytica “people did not leave the company’s platforms en masse. After all, where would they go?”

That’s why given critics’ call for competition and Zuckerberg’s own support for interoperability, a core tenet of regulation must be making it easier for users to switch from Facebook to another social network. As I explore in this follow-up piece, until users can easily bring their friend connections or ‘social graph’ somewhere else, there’s little to compel Facebook to treat them better.

Source: TechCrunch

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Huawei Reportedly Helped North Korea Build Out 3G Network In Secret.

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A new report could ultimately prove another bombshell in Huawei’s on-going conflicts with the U.S. government. New documents obtained by The Washington Post tie the Chinese hardware giant to North Korea’s commercial 3G wireless network.

If proven, the ties would be yet more fodder for the U.S., which has already dinged the company over charges of violating Iran sanctions. The government has also been investigated potential ties between Huawei and North Korea for years, though concrete links have apparently remained elusive.

This latest report arrives by way of a former Huawei employee, with confirmation and supporting documents from other sources who have also requested to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. For its part, Huawei has stated that it has “no business presence” in the embattled country.

“Huawei is fully committed to comply with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including all export control and sanction laws and regulations,” it said in a statement offered to the press. Notably, the statements appear to apply primarily to its current business offerings, while declining to comment on the past.

The specifics of the dealings are a touch complicated. According to the documents, Huawei partnered with Panda International Information Technology, a state-owned Chinese communications company. Huawei reportedly used the firm to send networking equipment to the country in order to launch wireless carrier, Koryolink over a decade ago.

The company has been under additional scrutiny recently as carriers have begun to roll out 5G networks across the globe. We’ve reached out to Huawei for additional comment.

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Instagram Wants Opening Your DMs To Feel Like ‘Walking Into A Party’.

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It’s incredible that Kaitlyn Tiffany and I haven’t yet asked why people slide into other people’s direct messages, but that ends today. On this week’s episode of Why’d You Push That Button?, we want to hear love stories and stories of failed courtship attempts. We ask why people slide into DMs, and then we process how the direct message’s connotation has changed over time. 

We chat with our friend Blake who has slid into multiple DMs, as well as Tasbeeh Herwees, who called DMs the “new little black book” in MEL. Then we talk to a man named Thomas who met his boyfriend on Twitter through the DMs. We love love!

Finally, we take all our questions and thoughts to Connor Hayes, the director of product for Instagram messaging, who explains what the company has seen when it comes to DM behavior and what the future looks like for DMs. Notably, he says that Instagram wants to feel like a cool party where you can talk to all your friends, especially once Facebook merges all its messaging products together. This intimidates me, to be honest. Sometimes I don’t want to be at a party.

“If we do our job well, at the end of the day Instagram, when you open it up, is going to feel a lot more like walking into a party and hanging out with your friends than it is today, and we see messaging as a big part of that,” he says.

Listen to the episode above, and you can subscribe to the show anywhere you typically get your podcasts. To make it easy for you, we’ve also got our usual places linked: Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and our RSS feed.

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Toyota Edges Closer Toward Creating A Space-Traveling Moon Rover.

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Toyota just moved one step closer toward pioneering an RV fit for space travel.

Just days ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on Saturday, the automaker announced that it has officially signed a three-year commitment agreement with Japan's space agency JAXA to develop a pressurized moon rover set to launch a decade from now. 

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Toyota on July 16 released a timeline detailing its plans to bring the project to life. This comes four months after the automaker announced that it was looking into partnering with JAXA to develop the fuel cell-powered behemoth. 

Slide 2 of 7: Toyota and JAXA have been jointly studying the concept of a manned, pressurized rover since May 2018. The company's want to launch the vehicle to the moon in 2029.
Toyota and JAXA have been jointly studying the concept of a manned, pressurized rover since May 2018. The company's want to launch the vehicle to the moon in 2029.

The preliminary timetable has Toyota and JAXA finalizing specifications for a prototype during the fiscal year 2019. Manufacturing would begin in 2020 and testing is expected to happen in 2021. 

The plan covers almost every year from now through 2027. In 2022, the partners expect to start testing the prototype's driving systems and by 2024, Toyota wants to start designing the actual flight model. The duo is aiming to launch the rover in 2029.

Slide 3 of 7: The goal is to achieve a sustainable future on the moon, and eventually Mars. JAXA wants to use the rover to find frozen water on the surface of the moon initially.
The goal is to achieve a sustainable future on the moon, and eventually Mars. JAXA wants to use the rover to find frozen water on the surface of the moon initially.

To achieve these goals, Toyota established Lunar Exploration Mobility Works, a department dedicated specifically to the rover. The Japanese car company's new workforce division will grow to about 30 employees by the end of 2019, according to a press release.

A few months back, Toyota unveiled conceptual renderings of the six-wheeled vehicle which calls for enough living space to comfortably support two occupants. 

The spacecraft would also enable astronauts to live inside it without wearing space suits.

Slide 4 of 7: Toyota says its rover is roughly the size of two small shuttle buses. It has 42.6 cubic feet of interior space, enough for a two-astronaut crew, or four in an emergency.
Toyota says its rover is roughly the size of two small shuttle buses. It has 42.6 cubic feet of interior space, enough for a two-astronaut crew, or four in an emergency.

The vehicle is expected to be be at least 20 feet long, 17 feet wide and 12.4 feet high. The electric machine would be powered by fuel cells, which use clean power generation methods and emit only water. The rover would have a lunar surface range of more than 6,200 miles, according to Toyota. 

JAXA wants to use the futuristic mobile home to help astronauts explore the lunar poles in search of frozen water. The agency also sets its eyes on using the technology to explore other planets.

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Instagram Will Notify You Before Deactivating Your Account.

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Instagram is strengthening its moderation policies today and adding a new alert that will warn people who violate rules when their account is close to being deleted.

The alert will show users a history of the posts, comments, and stories that Instagram has had to remove from their account, as well as why they were removed. “If you post something that goes against our guidelines again, your account may be deleted,” the page reads.

Instagram will give users a chance to appeal its moderation decisions directly through the alert, rather than having to go through its help page on the web. Only some types of content will be able to be appealed at first (such as pictures removed for nudity or hate speech), and Instagram plans to expand the available content appeal types over time.

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The change will help clarify for users why they’re in trouble and should remove the shock of suddenly finding that your account has vanished. While it’s likely that a great number of banned accounts are removed for obvious rule violations, Instagram — like its parent company Facebook — has regularly had moderation problems when it comes to nudity and sexuality, where users have had photos removed for posting pictures of breastfeeding or period blood. This update won’t prevent those mistakes (those types of photos are supposed to be allowed), but it would make appealing the decision easier.

In addition to the new alert, Instagram is also going to give its moderating team more leeway to ban bad actors. Instagram’s policy has been to ban users who post “a certain percentage of violating content,” but it’ll now ban people who repeatedly violate its policies within a window of time, too. The specifics here are all as vague as ever, as Instagram doesn’t want to offer details and let bad actors game the system, but it sounds like it could lead to fewer problematic accounts slipping through on a technicality.

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