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Big Tech News

Hundreds More Google (Alphabet) Staff Set To Be Terminated - January 2024

Some disgruntle ex Google's say "Don't BE Evil" and "What about family"

More Big Tech To Terminate

A.I Considered One Of Many Factors

Internet Saturated Market

Amazon: It's a jungle out there

Facebook: "Break things" re Hacker Way

Silicon Valley: Sand Castles collapsing!

Man vs Machine; Machine vs Human...

Wall Street Silver tipping more disruptions in fin, banking and a host of sectors

Domino Effect

Happening On Watch Of That President

Likely To Get Worse Before It Gets Better

 

News

Elon Musk tells Jack Dorsey 'important' Twitter files were 'hidden' from bosses, suggests some were 'deleted' - 7th December 2022

Dorsey called on Musk to 'make everything public' after the termination of Twitter's deputy general counsel Jim Baker

 

Twitter head Elon Musk informed his predecessor Jack Dorsey on Wednesday that some of the "most important data" was kept hidden from him and suggested that some "may have been deleted."

Musk fired Twitter's deputy general counsel Jim Baker on Tuesday after it was brought to his attention that Baker had vetted the first installment of the so-called "Twitter Files" shared by Substack journalist Matt Taibbi last week without his knowledge.

Baker's involvement in curating files relevant to Twitter's suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story sparked a firestorm on the platform, particularly since Baker formerly served as the FBI's general counsel during the Russian collusion investigation.

That prompted Dorsey, who stepped down as Twitter's CEO last year and left its board of directors in May, to call for full transparency with the release of the "Twitter Files."

"If the goal is transparency to build trust, why not just release everything without filter and let people judge for themselves? Including all discussions around current and future actions? Make everything public now," Dorsey wrote Wednesday.

"Most important data was hidden (from you too) and some may have been deleted, but everything we find will be released," Musk replied.

It is unclear whether Baker was directly involved in the suppression or deletion of the "Twitter Files."

Musk on Tuesday announced that he had terminated Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker "in light of concerns about Baker’s possible role in suppression of information important to the public dialogue."

And when asked by a Twitter user if Baker was able to explain himself, Musk replied, "His explanation was …unconvincing."

Moments later, Taibbi began his own Twitter thread calling it a "Twitter Files Supplemental."

"On Friday, the first installment of the Twitter files was published here. We expected to publish more over the weekend. Many wondered why there was a delay," Taibbi tweeted. "We can now tell you part of the reason why. On Tuesday, Twitter Deputy General Counsel (and former FBI General Counsel) Jim Baker was fired. Among the reasons? Vetting the first batch of 'Twitter Files' – without knowledge of new management."

Taibbi explained, "The process for producing the ‘Twitter Files’ involved delivery to two journalists (Bari Weiss and me) via a lawyer close to new management. However, after the initial batch, things became complicated. Over the weekend, while we both dealt with obstacles to new searches, it was @BariWeiss who discovered that the person in charge of releasing the files was someone named Jim. When she called to ask ‘Jim’s’ last name, the answer came back: ‘Jim Baker.’

"‘My jaw hit the floor,’ says Weiss," Taibbi wrote.

The Substack writer then shared a screenshot of first batch of files both he and Weiss received, which were labeled "Spectra Baker Emails."

"Baker is a controversial figure. He has been something of a Zelig of FBI controversies dating back to 2016, from the Steele Dossier to the Alfa-Server mess. He resigned in 2018 after an investigation into leaks to the press," Taibbi told his followers. "The news that Baker was reviewing the 'Twitter files' surprised everyone involved, to say the least. New Twitter chief Elon Musk acted quickly to 'exit' Baker Tuesday.

"Reporters resumed searches through Twitter Files material – a lot of it – today. The next installment of 'The Twitter Files' will appear @bariweiss. Stay tuned," Taibbi teased.

Weiss later added, "It's been quite a weekend."

Baker did surface in the first installment of the so-called "Twitter Files" shared by Taibbi on Friday night.

While revealing internal discussions about how to explain Twitter's suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story during the 2020 election, Baker told his colleagues, "I support the conclusion that we need more facts to assess whether the materials were hacked" but added that "it's reasonable for us to assume that they may have been and that caution is warranted."

Taibbi's original thread similarly revealed that decisions to censor the New York Post's reporting "were made at the highest levels of the company, but without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey, with former head of legal, policy and trust Vijaya Gadde playing a key role."

Additionally, Taibbi initially reported, "Although several sources recalled hearing about a ‘general’ warning from federal law enforcement that summer about possible foreign hacks, there’s no evidence - that I've seen - of any government involvement in the laptop story."

It is unclear whether Baker's involvement in vetting the "Twitter Files" led Taibbi to draw that conclusion and whether Baker omitted files that would have shown the federal government intervening in Twitter's suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story.

Musk has been vocal about being transparent when it comes to Twitter's past and present actions as to curating content on the platform, including censored content.

Twitter infamously blocked its users from sharing the New York Post's 2020 reporting of Hunter Biden's laptop in tweets and in direct messages.

At the time, Twitter Safety alleged that the articles were in violation of its "hacked materials policy." Since then, both Dorsey and ex-Twitter safety chief Yoel Roth have admitted the company's actions were a mistake.

Some critics believe the suppression of the Hunter Biden scandal by Big Tech and the media at large was enough to sway the presidential election in favor of his father.

(FOX News)

 

News

‘I got this wrong’: Zuckerberg sorry as Meta cuts more than 11,000 jobs -
November 9, 2022

More than 11,000 employees of Meta will be sacked in one of the biggest layoffs this year as the Facebook parent battles soaring costs and a weak advertising market.

The company confirmed that it would let go of 13 per cent of its workforce.

The mass layoffs, the first in Meta’s 18-year history, follow thousands of job cuts at other major tech companies including Elon Musk-owned Twitter and Microsoft.

The pandemic-led boom that boosted tech companies and their valuations has turned into a bust this year in the face of decades-high inflation and rapidly rising interest rates.

“Not only has online commerce returned to prior trends, but the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected,” chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a message to employees.

“I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.

“I know this is tough for everyone, and I’m especially sorry to those impacted.”

Meta, whose shares have lost more than two-thirds of their value so far this year, are more than 7 per cent higher on Wall Street on Wednesday.

The company also plans to cut discretionary spending and extend its hiring freeze through the first quarter. But it did not disclose the expected cost savings from the moves.

Meta will pay 16 weeks of base pay plus two additional weeks for every year of service, as well as all remaining paid time off, as a part of the severance package, the company said.

The employees affected will also receive their shares that were set to vest on November 15 and healthcare coverage for six months, the company said.

Zuckerberg is among several top US executives who have this year sounded the alarm on an upcoming recession.

Some of Meta’s wounds, however, have been self-inflicted.

A pricey bet on metaverse, a shared virtual world, has seen the company forecast as much as $US100 billion in expenses for 2023. That has drawn scepticism from investors who are losing patience with investments that Zuckerberg himself expects a decade to bear fruit.

The company is also grappling with stiff competition from TikTok and privacy changes from Apple, while being in the crosshairs of regulators around the globe.

Meta had 87,314 employees as of the end of September.

 

Boom to bust? What Facebook and Twitter’s mass layoffs say about the future of tech
Twitter has laid off half its staff, and Meta around 13 per cent. - 11th November 2022

Is this a trend across the tech industry?

 

Twitter and Meta have laid off huge numbers of staff.

Experts say the tech industry is "receding" as the COVID-19 pandemic ends

Digital rights advocates say a publicly-owned social media platform may be needed.

 

Social media tech giants Twitter and Meta are sacking thousands of employees, while calls for boycotts of their platforms are growing online.

Since taking over Twitter in late October, Elon Musk has fired around half of the company's 7,500 employees, including around 90 per cent of its staff in India.

The heavily-indebted company was losing more than US$4 million ($6.2 million) a day, Mr Musk said in a tweet.

"Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day, " Mr Musk wrote on 5 November.

As well, many companies, wary of Mr Musk's intentions, have held off committing to advertising on the messaging platform, resulting in a big drop in revenue for Twitter.

Mr Musk blamed "activists" for the company's drop in revenue.

"Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists," he wrote in a Twitter post.

"Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America."

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, laid off around 13 per cent of its staff in November, sacking more than 11,000 employees.

"I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here," Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a company-wide message on Wednesday.

"I know this is tough for everyone, and I’m especially sorry to those impacted."

Mr Zuckerberg said when online commerce surged during the pandemic, he made the decision to "significantly increase" investment into growing the company's size.

"Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected," he said.

"Not only has online commerce returned to prior trends, but the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected.

"I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that."

Meta stock climbed 5.2 per cent on Wednesday, the day Mr Zukerberg announced the layoffs, closing at US$101.47 ($157.74).

‘Power to the people’? What the future of social media looks like

Mr Musk has promised to take down what he claims is the hierarchical nature of Twitter and provide "power to the people," but some critics say he is making things worse.

"Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit," Mr Musk wrote in a post.

"Power to the people! Blue for $8/month," he said in reference to his plan to make people pay US$8 ($12.50) per month to be verified.

Mr Musk describes himself as a "free speech absolutist" which has drawn criticism from rights groups who say Twitter can be used for hate speech if not moderated.

Mr Musk's stance came into question after several comedians began impersonating him on Twitter, leading him to announce a ban on anyone impersonating others.

Frederike Kaltheuner is the director for technology and human rights at Human Rights Watch. She said free speech should not be absolutist and requires responsible moderating.

“An absolutist view on freedom of expression doesn’t wrestle with these complex challenges – to the detriment of those on the receiving end of harmful speech,” she said.

Amnesty International has released a report calling on Twitter to uphold its responsibilities under the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

In the report, the rights group said that if left unmoderated, Twitter and other social media platforms can become a hub for sexism and racism, and can drive people off the platform, robbing them of their ability to participate in public discussions.

'Huge loss for Meta'

Professor of Internet Studies at Curtin University Tama Leaver told SBS News that like Mr Musk, Mr Zuckerberg has also made mistakes with the management of his social media giant.

"Musk has done the unthinkable and made Zuckerberg look like he managed Meta's layoffs well, but that's also not true," Professor Leaver said.

"11,000 people is a huge loss for Meta, especially when it included many internal researchers looking at misinformation, which remains a massive problem on meta platforms."

Professor Leaver said Mr Zuckerberg made a mistake over-investing in Meta's virtual reality (VR) project, which he thinks was premature.

"More bizarrely, VR leads were fired, suggesting that betting the entire company on an unrealised, not yet existing technology, such as the Meta verse, may have been a huge mistake."


Is this the end of tech ‘unicorns’?

Tech giants like Twitter and Meta are not the only companies struggling in the industry.

Tech start ups are also in decline, according to some experts.

It comes after so-called unicorn companies have seen booms in the tech space.

A unicorn company, or unicorn startup, is a private company with a valuation over US$1 billion ($1.56 billion). As of October 2022, there are over 1,200 unicorns around the world.

Popular former unicorns include Airbnb, Facebook and Google.

Professor Leaver said after a boom during the pandemic years, "tech is receding".

"The huge boom of the pandemic years, where tech was our social world, is slowing and correcting, and for an industry built on the myth of endless growth, that's going to hurt their bottom line and their stock price," he said.

"It's also pretty awful for the staff let go and the users now at more risk because moderation will be less precise."


A call for public social media platforms


James Clark is the executive director of Australian charity Digital Rights Watch. He told SBS News profits could be the reason why the social media companies are encountering backlash.

"With digital advertising revenue in decline we are seeing the dangers of letting critical social infrastructure be run by private companies for profit," he said.

"Millions of people around the world now rely on social media websites for getting their news, staying in touch with friends, building community and expressing themselves. But as long as these platforms are run for profit, the needs of users and the public good will never be the priority of these platforms."

Mr Clark said governments should start thinking about government-run, or hybrid social media platforms.

"We can’t leave something as important as our town square in the hands of big-tech companies on the other side of the planet," he said.

"We need to start imagining what publicly or cooperative owner alternatives would look like so that the future of social media is in our hands and not left to the whims of billionaires."

Twitter generated $7.8 billion in profit in 2021, while Facebook reported $73 billion.

 

 

Profile

Big Tech

 

Big Tech, also known as the Tech Giants, Big Four, or Big Five, is a name given to the four or five most dominant companies in the information technology industry of the United States. The Big Four presently consists of Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, and Meta (Facebook)—with Microsoft completing the Big Five.

The tech giants are dominant players in their respective areas of technology: artificial intelligence, e-commerce, online advertising, consumer electronics, cloud computing, computer software, media streaming, smart home, self-driving cars, and social networking. They are among the most valuable public companies globally] each having had a maximum market capitalization ranging from around $1 trillion to above $3 trillion. They are also considered among the most prestigious employers in the world, especially Google.

Big Tech companies have been criticized for creating a new economic order called surveillance capitalism. They typically offer services to millions of users, and thus can hold sway on user behavior as well as control of user data. Concerns over monopolistic practices have led to antitrust investigations from the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission in the United States, and the European Commission.Commentators have questioned the impact of these companies on privacy, market power, free speech, censorship, national security and law enforcement. It has been speculated that it may not be possible to live in the digital world day-to-day outside of the ecosystem created by the companies.

The concept of Big Tech is analogous to the consolidation of market dominance by a few companies in other market sectors such as Big Oil and Big Media. Broader groupings of Big Tech sometimes include Tesla, Twitter, Netflix, and more.Companies like Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba Group, and Xiaomi serve as the equivalent to the Big Four in Asia. "Big Tech" may also refer to historical versions of this concept, with IBM and AT&T considered dominant in the 20th century American technology industry. (Wikipedia)

 

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