January 26, 2021

Tech Industry

A pedestrian wearing a protective mask walks past a GameStop store in the Herald Square area of New York City on November 27, 2020. | Gabriela Bhaskar/Bloomberg/Getty Images

How a bunch of Redditors made GameStop’s stock soar, much to the chagrin of the hedge funds attempting to short it.

Who knew the first big 2021 stock market story would be … GameStop? But here we are.

There’s been a boom in day trading and individual investing over the past several months — activity that’s often taking place or being discussed on platforms such as Reddit and Robinhood instead of in more traditional arenas. And one big question amid the frenzy has been how much the little guys really matter. Sure, small-time investors trade a lot, sometimes to the annoyance of more traditional institutions, but are they really consequential?

When it comes to the GameStop saga, at least, the answer is … Read the rest


Twitter suspended the @realdonaldtrump account after the Capitol riot on January 6. | Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images

The debate over deplatforming Trump has overshadowed how effective social media bans are at fighting extremism.

Within days of the January 6 Capitol insurrection, outgoing President Donald Trump’s internet presence was in upheaval. Trump’s social media accounts were suspended across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch, and TikTok.

The same was true for many of Trump’s more extremist followers. Twitter suspended more than 70,000 accounts primarily dedicated to spreading the false right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon. Apple, Google, and Amazon Web Services banned the right-wing Twitter alternative Parler, effectively shutting down the site indefinitely (though it’s attempting to return) and relegating many right-wingers to the hinterlands of the internet.

Permanently revoking users’ access to social media platforms and other websites — a practice known as deplatforming — isn’t a new concept; … Read the rest


A US Postal Service worker removes mail from a dropbox in San Francisco on August 17, 2020. | David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Postal Service has to do more than deliver mail if it wants to survive.

In November, on the day that networks called the election for Joe Biden, cheering crowds stopped mail trucks in the streets of New York City to thank postal workers for delivering more than 135 million mail-in ballots on time during a pandemic. Now, in Washington, DC, a coalition of lawmakers and advocates are trying to pull off a different sort of feat: saving the United States Postal Service.

Without help from the federal government, the Postal Service could run out of cash later this year. Such a financial crisis would mean laying off workers, limiting service, and worsening delays — and delays are already so bad that holiday cards mailed … Read the rest


Lina Khan at her New York home in 2017. | An Rong Xu for the Washington Post

Outgoing FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra has been advocating for Khan’s nomination.

Lina Khan, an antitrust expert, Columbia law professor and thorn in the side of Big Tech, is gaining traction as a candidate to fill one of the commissioner roles at the Federal Trade Commission under President Joe Biden, three sources familiar with the discussions told Recode this week.

Khan would likely fill the commissioner seat currently held by Rohit Chopra, a Democrat who Biden has tapped to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Chopra has been advocating for the nomination of Khan, the sources said, with one person familiar with deliberations calling her a current “frontrunner.” Khan served as a legal fellow at the FTC in Chopra’s office in 2018 and at the CFPB as a summer associate while Chopra worked … Read the rest


Donald Trump was banned from posting on Facebook in the final weeks of his presidency. | Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Facebook asked its independent oversight board to decide if it made the right call when it indefinitely suspended Trump.

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There’s a chance — even if it’s just a slim one — that Donald Trump could get his Facebook back.

On Thursday, Facebook said that it asked an independent group called the Facebook oversight board to review the company’s decision earlier this month to indefinitely suspend the now-former US president. The oversight board, a group of academics, journalists, and policy experts from around the world, was created to review Facebook’s content moderation decisions. It got started late last year and has enough power that it can overrule even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who controversially resisted calls to moderate Trump’s posts for almost his entire presidency.

The board quickly accepted the Trump suspension … Read the rest


The type of misinformation that fueled election doubts and support for the events at the Capitol is still easy to find online. | B.A. Van Sise/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Here are some of the most pervasive election conspiracy theories and false claims being shared on social media around Inauguration Day.

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In the aftermath of the Capitol insurrection on January 6 that left five people dead, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube promised to crack down harder on false claims that the US presidential election was stolen and on dangerous fringe movements like QAnon. But two weeks later — on Inauguration day, no less — it’s easy to find this same kind of misinformation on their platforms.

That these theories continue to spread on social media impacts all of us, regardless of whether or not we believe them. As the Capitol insurrection earlier this month showed, online misinformation doesn’t just stay online. It … Read the rest


Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The full pardon of Anthony Levandowski came out of nowhere.

In one of his final acts as President, Donald Trump early on Wednesday morning suddenly pardoned the engineer at the center of an iconic, litigious, and years-long conflict between Uber, Google, and federal prosecutors over the technology for self-driving cars.

Encouraged by some of his highest-profile backers in Silicon Valley, such as venture capitalist Peter Thiel, Trump issued the surprise full pardon to Anthony Levandowski, a former Google executive who had decamped to work for Uber. Levandowski was last year sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing trade secrets from Google that he then used to help Uber in the self-driving race.

The announcement came as a shock for several reasons: One was that the news that Levandowski was seeking a pardon had not previously been reported. Another was that it … Read the rest


Neil Godwin/Future Publishing via Getty Images

“Hey Google, don’t save any of my interactions with you.”

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If you have a smart speaker or smart device but aren’t thrilled with the possibility that your data — including your voice — is being collected and stored on it, Google Assistant might have an answer for you: Guest Mode.

Google is introducing the new feature to its smart speakers and displays today. It’s kind of like the Google Assistant version of Chrome’s Incognito Mode (though there are differences). Once Guest Mode is on, your interactions with Assistant won’t be saved to your account. But, as Google points out, you also won’t get the “full, personalized Google Assistant experience.” In Guest Mode, Assistant won’t say or show personalized results — for instance, anything from your contacts, calendar, or emails. But you’ll still have access to some of Assistant’s most popular features: the … Read the rest


Marc Lore onstage at the 2019 Recode Code Commerce conference. | Keith MacDonald for Vox Media

Marc Lore, the founder of Jet.com, helped Walmart become the No. 2 online shopping site after Amazon.

Marc Lore, a serial entrepreneur who sold his startup Jet.com to Walmart for $3 billion and then oversaw the transformation of the retail giant’s e-commerce business over the last four years, is leaving his full-time role with the company at the end of the month, he told Recode.

His next big entrepreneurial swing will be something far afield from his current expertise: a multi-decade project to build “a city of the future” supported by “a reformed version of capitalism.”

“It’s a new model for society we’ll be testing,” he teased.

Lore declined to offer more details, but said he would be prepared to reveal additional information in the coming months. Some who have heard of the project … Read the rest


Lawmakers have asked people not to travel to Washington, DC, for the inauguration. Airbnb is helping. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The home-sharing platform took drastic measures to prevent violence in the capital — but at what cost?

When Alex Dodds started reaching out to local Washington, DC, Airbnb hosts last week asking them to take down their listings and cancel existing reservations ahead of the presidential inauguration, she had hoped the house-sharing company would wave cancellation fines.

Dodds was working on behalf of ShutDownDC, a community organizing group that reached out to the hosts of 3,400 listings, intending to avoid a repeat of violence not only in the Capitol but in the surrounding communities. DC residents reported harassment, vandalism, and other terrifying behavior by aggressive Trump supporters who participated in the storming of the Capitol that resulted in at least five deaths and 100 arrests so far. … Read the rest