Tag: Twitter

By Katrina Nicholas and Dana Hull for Bloomberg

The world’s richest man has had it with this whole working-from-home business.

Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk sent an email late Tuesday to “Everybody” at his electric-car company, elaborating on an earlier missive to executive staff about the need to be in the office. Employees at numerous companies, used to working from home or hybrid policies, have revolted against “RTO” policies and long commutes.

“Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week,” Musk wrote in an email titled “To be super clear.” “Moreover, the office must be where your actual colleagues are located, not some remote pseudo office. If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.”

Bloomberg News confirmed that current Tesla employees received the email Wednesday morning.

“The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence,” Musk wrote. “That is why I lived in the factory so much — so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, Tesla would long ago have gone bankrupt.”

Earlier, Musk sent an email to executive staff requiring that they be in “a main Tesla office, not a remote branch office unrelated to the job duties, for example being responsible for Fremont factory human relations, but having your office be in another state.”

In recent weeks, Musk has praised Tesla China employees for “burning the 3am oil” while saying that Americans are “trying to avoid going to work at all.”

Thousands of Tesla staff in Shanghai have been effectively locked in for months, working 12-hour shifts, six days a week. Until recently, many were sleeping on the factory floor as part of a closed-loop system meant to keep Covid out and cars rolling off the production line.

Workers brought in to bring the factory back up to speed are being shuttled between the facility and sleeping quarters — either unused factories or an old military camp — with day- and night-shift workers sharing beds in makeshift dorms.

Read more: Tesla, VW Keep Shanghai Workers Isolated Even as Lockdown Eases

When a fan on Twitter asked Musk to address people who think going into work is an antiquated concept, he replied “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”

It’s not the first time Musk’s tough-love treatment of employees has come up.

Roughly two weeks before Musk reached a $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter Inc., Keith Rabois, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and entrepreneur, tweeted an anecdote that speaks to his friend’s management style. At Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Musk once noticed a group of interns milling around while waiting in a line for coffee.

Musk threatened to fire them all if it happened again, and had security cameras installed to monitor compliance, according to Rabois, who knows Tesla’s founder from their days at PayPal Holdings Inc.

Employees at Twitter – one of the most prominent companies to allow permanent remote work – are “in for a rude awakening,” Rabois wrote in April.

By Glenn Chapman for IOL

Elon Musk on said Tuesday that as owner of Twitter he would lift the ban on Donald Trump, contending that kicking the former US president off the platform “alienated a large part of the country”.

Musk’s endorsement of a Trump return to the global messaging platform triggered fears among activists that Musk would “open the floodgates of hate”.

“I would reverse the permanent ban,” the billionaire said at a Financial Times conference, noting that he doesn’t own Twitter yet, so “this is not like a thing that will definitely happen.”

Trump has stated publicly that he would not come back to Twitter if permitted, opting instead to stick with his own social network, which has failed to gain traction.

The Tesla chief’s $44-billion (around R707 billion) deal to buy Twitter must still get the backing of shareholders and regulators, but he has voiced enthusiasm for less content moderation and “time-outs” instead of bans.

Trump was booted from Twitter and other online platforms after supporters fired up by his tweets and speech alleging election fraud attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a deadly bid to stop Joe Biden from being certified as the victor in the US presidential election.

“I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country, and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” Musk said.

Musk maintained that permanent bans undermine trust in Twitter as an online town square where everyone can be heard.

“Elon Musk would open the floodgates of hate and disinformation on Twitter,” said Media Matters for America president Angelo Carusone.

“Whether Elon Musk is a fully red-pilled right-wing radical or just someone very interested in enabling right-wing extremists, the result is the same.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), however, backed Musk’s perspective.

“Elon Musk’s decision to re-platform President Trump is the right call,” said organisation director Anthony Romero.

“Like it or not, president Trump is one of the most important political figures in this country, and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech.”

Romero pointed out that some of Trump’s controversy causing tweets have wound up being evidence in lawsuits against the former president by the ACLU and others.

Musk reasoned that permanent bans at Twitter should be rare, and reserved for accounts that are spam, scams or run by software “bots.”

“That doesn’t mean that somebody gets to say whatever they want to say,” Musk said.

“If they say something that is illegal or otherwise just destructive to the world, then there should be a perhaps a timeout, a temporary suspension, or that particular tweet should be made invisible or have very limited attraction.”

Ad boycott?

Activist groups have called on Twitter advertisers to boycott the service if it opens the gates to abusive and misinformative posts with Musk as its owner.

“Under Musk’s management, Twitter risks becoming a cesspool of misinformation, with your brand attached,” said an open letter signed by more than two dozen groups including Media Matters, Access Now and Ultraviolet.

Twitter makes most of its revenue from ads, and that could be jeopardized by advertisers’ reaction to content posted on the platform, the San Francisco-based tech firm said in a filing with US regulators.

“We believe that our long-term success depends on our ability to improve the health of the public conversation on Twitter,” the company said in a regulatory filing.

Efforts toward that goal include fighting abuse, harassment, and spam, Twitter told regulators.

“Elon Musk owes the world a better explanation of how the platform will deal with the likes of Trump than an edict that his ouster was wrong because it proved unpopular in some places,” said Suzanne Nossel, chief of human rights nonprofit PEN America.

The Knight Foundation said that a survey it commissioned found that only 41 percent of adults in the United States believe Trump was deprived of free expression rights by social media platforms that banned him.

“People died because of Donald Trump’s Twitter account,” said Muslim Advocates senior policy counsel Sumayyah Waheed.

“I’m terrified of what else would be allowed under Musk’s watch.”

 

Elon Musk buys Twitter for R690bn

By Kyle Venktess for IOL

In one of the most controversial social network acquisitions, billionaire-businessman Elon Musk took sole ownership of Twitter on Monday night – meaning the platform could soon see changes.

This brings control of one of the most influential platforms, used by hundreds of millions, to one person – the world’s richest person.

Musk, who purchased Twitter for $44 billion (R690bn), just 16.7% of his net worth, has over the months prior to the acquisition described user-friendly tweaks to the service. These include an edit button and defeating “spam bots” that send overwhelming amounts of unwanted tweets. However, there is a lot more that users can expect.

The transaction comes on the tail-end of a barrage of tweets relating to changes Musk suggested for the platform.

Even though Musk has been tweeting of what he would like to see, Reuters reported Twitter Inc chief executive Parag Agrawal telling employees on Monday at a townhall-like meeting shortly after the announcement that the future of the social media firm is uncertain. However, he allayed fears that there would be any layoffs.

While seemingly positive changes are expected to brace the platform, one of the critical highlights came from Musk’s reaffirmation of prioritising free speech on Twitter.

Will this mean that former US president Donald Trump, banned for life from the platform, will return? Well, even if Musk gave him the green light, Trump reportedly said he would not return.

Musk has been often outspoken in criticising the platform for its moderation. In a tweet shortly after the buyout, Musk said: “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter because that is what free speech means.”

Shortly after that, Musk posted a statement reading: “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.”.

He also said: “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.”

Musk previously touted the idea of an open-source algorithm to better service free speech on Twitter, meaning the platform could see changes to users’ content feed and moderation of tweets, among others, in the near future.

However, opening source coding is just one of the suggested changes previously made by Musk.

IOL Wealth previously reported Musk’s tweets, suggesting ideas to transform the platform. Among the changes, Musk also toyed with the idea of offering users a premium, subscription-based version on the social network, accompanied by a blue tick.

This means users may soon be able to buy their verification on the social network, effectively making the platform one of the only major social networks to do so.

“Everyone who signs up for Twitter Blue (i.e. pays $3/month) should get an authentication checkmark,” Musk previously said in a now-deleted tweet.

Musk followed up the tweet with a post in which he suggested a monthly fee estimated at $2 per month, just over R31 at the time of publishing.

On Monday night, Musk took ownership of the social network ending Twitter’s run as a publicly-listed company since its IPO in 2013. The transaction resulted in a 6% share increase following the news.

Earlier this month, Musk became a major Twitter shareholder acquiring more than 9% of the social network’s shares.

 

By Katie Canales for Business Insider US

Twitter will prohibit users from posting photos or videos of people without their permission, the company said in a statement earlier this week.

In a blog post, the company said users will have to file a first-person report or one from an “authorised representative” to ensure that the photo or video has been shared without permission. If the person in the tweet reports it, citing their lack of consent, Twitter will remove the media.

There are, however, exceptions to the new rule. Photos and videos of public figures posted without their permission may remain when “shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse” unless the purpose is to “harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence them.”

Twitter also said it will also try to take context into account on a case-by-case basis. If, for example, the image is publicly available or is being covered by traditional media outlets, Twitter would consider that as it makes its decision, it said.

It’s unclear how Twitter will enforce the new policy or what resources may be directed to enforcement.

The move is an addition to Twitter’s existing “doxxing” policies, which forbid users from sharing home addresses, identity documents, contact information, and other personal details without the subject’s permission.

It was this batch of rules that Twitter in part cited when it banned the URL of a dubious New York Post story purporting to show ties between then US presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son and Ukraine in late 2020.

The article included public information, which violated Twitter’s rules when the news outlet posted the story on its Twitter account. However, a Twitter spokesperson later said the story had spread so widely that that information was now considered publicly available. Former CEO Jack Dorsey also later said it was “wrong” to ban the URL.

 

Donald Trump versus social media

The President has had multiple posts on social media removed or blocked for violation of the terms and conditions, and for spreading “fake news”.

Twitter blocked the President’s account
Twitter locked Donald Trump’s account on Tuesday after he shared the email address of a New York Post columnist.

The US President’s account was locked for posting private information without consent, the social media giant confirmed to Business Insider on Wednesday.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump praised and quoted columnist Miranda Devine for her Sunday column in the New York Post.

In the column, Devine applauded Trump for overcoming his battle with COVID-19, saying he will “show America we no longer have to be afraid”.

In the now-deleted tweet, Trump followed up his praise by posting Devine’s email address, which is against Twitter’s privacy information policy.

Twitter removes posts

Following his departure from the Walter Reed Medical Center, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday had a restful first night at home, and reported no symptoms of COVID-19, confirmed White House physician Dr Sean Conley. In a Twitter post, the President wrote that the flu season is coming up and “many people every year, sometimes over 100 000, and despite the vaccine, die from the Flu.”
The US President added the Americans had “learned to live with” flu season, “just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” Twitter hid Trump’s tweet behind a warning about “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information”.

Facebook removes posts too

Meanwhile, Facebook Inc removed the Trump post for breaking its rules on COVID-19 misinformation, according to CNN. According to media reports, this is the second time that Facebook has deleted a post from Donald Trump whereas Twitter has intervened more often with deletions and warnings.

By Brian Fung for CNN

President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to “strongly regulate” or even shut down social media platforms after Twitter applied a fact-check to two of his tweets this week.

Trump did not elaborate on what actions he could take. But the threat is Trump’s clearest expression of intent to use the power of government to target his perceived political enemies in the private sector — businesses that already enjoy wide latitude under the law to moderate their platforms as they see fit. And it raises the stakes for Twitter and Facebook as they grapple with Trump’s misleading claims about mail-in voting and his baseless insinuations that a cable TV news host had a hand in an aide’s death decades ago.

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. He went on to accuse the tech industry of trying to interfere in the 2016 election, before repeating an unfounded claim about voter fraud stemming from mail-in ballots.

“We can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country,” Trump tweeted. “It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment Wednesday.

Later Wednesday morning, Trump teased a “big action” regarding social media but declined to elaborate on what that could be.
Trump’s Twitter outburst followed an unprecedented decision by the platform on Tuesday evening to apply a fact-checking label to Trump’s content for the first time.

The label, which Twitter has designed to combat misinformation and unverified claims, linked to a curated page with links and
summaries of articles describing how Trump’s claims on mail-in ballots are unfounded.

Shortly after the labels were applied, Trump took to Twitter to claim the company “is interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “stifling FREE SPEECH.” He added that he “will not allow it to happen!”

But Twitter’s fact-checking decision raised further questions about whether it would apply the same treatment to Trump’s misleading claims about Lori Klausutis, the aide to former Rep. Joe Scarborough, a prominent critic of Trump. In recent days, Trump has leveled unsubstantiated allegations at Scarborough suggesting he was responsible for Klausutis’s death. The claims have been undermined by the official autopsy, which found Klausutis had an undiagnosed heart condition. Klausutis’s husband, Timothy Klausutis, reiterated that in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last week, saying that Trump’s claims denigrated the memory of his wife for perceived political gain.

Twitter has told CNN Business that it will not be removing the tweets about Scarborough.

Long-standing complaints from conservatives

Trump and conservatives have long complained that tech platforms algorithmically censor right-wing voices. The claims derive from a perception that Silicon Valley’s largely left-leaning workforce has designed social media products to discriminate against conservatives, though the companies strongly deny the allegations.

Some executives, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have sought to accommodate conservative voices by meeting with them privately, and even meeting with Trump himself.

Trump has previously suggested that the US government could take action against media he dislikes. Last year, the White House set up a website to solicit complaints from the public about tech companies’ perceived political bias, and Trump has called for an examination of NBC’s television license, even though it does not have one.

Earlier this month, Trump tweeted: “The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google,” and promised, without specifics, that his administration would “remedy this illegal situation.” Following that tweet, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump has considered establishing a White House commission to study allegations of conservative bias.

Privately, officials from the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission have expressed concerns about a prior proposal from the White House to appoint those agencies as direct regulators of political content on social media.
Meanwhile, major tech industry players remain under federal and state antitrust investigation. But antitrust probes tend to be highly technical and are usually limited to the impact of corporate conduct on competition in the marketplace.

David Vladeck, a Georgetown University law professor and former top FTC consumer protection official, said any government push to restrict how private platforms moderate their websites could raise First Amendment questions.
“This is just another example of Trump thinking that the Constitution makes him a king, but it doesn’t,” he said.

Twitter to remove inactive accounts

By Chris Welch for The Verge

Twitter is sending out emails to owners of inactive accounts with a warning: sign in by December 11th, or your account will be history and its username will be up for grabs again. Any account that hasn’t signed in for more than six months will receive the email alert.

“As part of our commitment to serve the public conversation, we’re working to clean up inactive accounts to present more accurate, credible information people can trust across Twitter. Part of this effort is encouraging people to actively log-in and use Twitter when they register an account, as stated in our inactive accounts policy,” a spokesperson told The Verge by email. “We have begun proactive outreach to many accounts who have not logged into Twitter in over six months to inform them that their accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity.”

Twitter hasn’t yet said exactly when recouped usernames will be made available to existing users. The account removal process “will happen over many months — not just on a single day,” according to the spokesperson. So don’t expect some massive username rush to happen on December 12th. It might be awhile.

This doesn’t just affect people who’ve abandoned Twitter; it also stands to have an enormous impact on accounts belonging to the deceased. The Verge has asked Twitter whether those will also be pulled into the inactive pool and ultimately removed as part of this process. “We do not currently have a way to memorialise someone’s Twitter account once they have passed on, but the team is thinking about ways to do this,” the spokesperson said.

This might be your best chance to preserve tweets from deceased loved ones

If you’ve set up a bot or another secondary account, you should be safe as long as it’s stayed active. The BBC’s Dave Lee reported on the username cleanup. It’s not unusual for huge online platforms to do this from time to time. Yahoo launched an “account recycling” effort in 2013, though some people who grabbed inactive usernames wound up receiving email intended for the old account holder.

Keep in mind that these accounts don’t have to actually tweet anything to stick around. They just have to log in and follow Twitter’s instructions. So even if the username you want seems long dormant based on activity, whoever owns it can still hold on to the username pretty easily.

Also, usernames with under five characters can no longer be registered on Twitter, so that’s another thing to consider when dreaming about switching to that username you’ve always wanted. The username some other fool is failing to put to good use.

The email being sent out has a subject line of “Don’t lose access to @(username).” Here’s what it says:

Hello,

To continue using Twitter, you’ll need to agree to the current Terms, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Use. This not only lets you make the best decisions about the information that you share with us, it also allows you to keep using your Twitter account. But first, you need to log in and follow the on-screen prompts before Dec. 11, 2019, otherwise your account will be removed from Twitter.

So which username will you be going for? Actually, probably best to keep that to yourself until it’s locked in.

By Eddie Spence for Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports are getting a lot of blame for slowing the global economy, but it’s all the uncertainty from his Twitter habit and trade policy more broadly that could be even more harmful.

According to a report by Bloomberg Economics’ Dan Hanson, Jamie Rush and Tom Orlik, uncertainty over trade could lower world gross domestic product by 0.6% in 2021, relative to a scenario with no trade war. That’s double the direct impact of the tariffs themselves and the equivalent of $585 billion off the International Monetary Fund’s estimated world GDP of $97 trillion in 2021.

China would be hit harder by the uncertainty factor, with its GDP lower by 1% compared with a 0.6% chunk taken out of America’s economic output, the analysis showed.

“The tweet is mightier than the tariff,” the Bloomberg economists wrote in their report.

The U.S. president’s social media posts on trade, many of which are about China, sometimes appear several times a day and other times not at all. His contradictory takes on the progress of negotiations with Beijing send a chill through businesses that are making decisions about investing and hiring.

A survey released last week by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found a growing conviction among businesses that tariffs were hitting their bottom line.

The Fed responded to economic headwinds with a rate cut of 0.25% last month. The Bloomberg Economics report said that while monetary policy can be used to mitigate uncertainty shocks, it cannot prevent the damage entirely. If central banks respond to demand weakness, world GDP will be 0.3% lower in 2021 than it would be in a no-trade-war scenario.

Mecer ad misses the mark?

South African computer manufacturer Mecer has released an ad celebrating three decades of locally-manufactured products.

According to Business Insider, the ad “features a crew of singing and dancing people (presumably employees) in a factory, celebrating local manufacturing and everything South African, from the Springboks to Nelson Mandela. At one point, the lead singer raps that ‘local is not k*k'”.

In addition, “the ad explains how local manufacturing boosts economic growth and provides jobs, and at one point, a singer shoulders dancers wearing international brands like Nike, Kappa and Adidas out of the way.”

Reactions from Twitter and YouTube users were mixed, with some calling it “Next level cringe” and “The worst ad in the history of SA”.

Image credit: Business Insider

A customer service representative responding on the official Telkom Twitter account has accidentally agreed with a negative comment about the company.

The user was complaining about the provider’s service delivery, and the representative replied without having correctly understood the context.

According to MyBroadband, a “professional Fortnite player Dennis ‘Cloak’ Lepore said in a tweet that ‘Spectrum might be the worst internet provider ever’. Spectrum is an ISP which serves users in the US.”

A South African Twitter user named Jonathan Oliver then “responded to Lepore’s tweet, stating ‘Nah @TelkomZA takes the number 1 spot’.”

Although both users were complaining about the service of certain Internet service providers, the Telkom customer representative responded with the following: “Yass and your continuous support keeps us up there! Thank you…”

The reply was widely mocked and shared on social media. It has since been deleted by Telkom.

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