February 28, 2021

Tech Industry

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, companies promised to make their boards more diverse. | FangXiaNuo via Getty Images

Companies promised to make their boards more diverse. Here’s how to actually do it.

After a national reckoning in the summer of 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests around the country, public and private companies alike vowed to add Black directors to their corporate boards. Some promising developments suggest greater board diversity could actually happen. There are also other ways companies could hurry it along.

Nasdaq submitted a proposal in December that would require companies listed on its exchange to report their board diversity and have — or at least explain why they don’t have — at least one person who identifies as a woman and one person who identifies as an underrepresented minority … Read the rest


Twitter “Super Follows” feature was announced at an investor event. | Screenshot for Twitter’s Analyst Day Presentation

Twitter, a notoriously public platform, is building a walled garden.

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Twitter thinks your tweets — or at least some of them — might actually be worth something. At a virtual event for investors Thursday, the company announced that it’s planning to debut a pay-for-posts feature, called Super Follows, in which users will be able to pay the people they follow for their best tweets.

With Super Follows, Twitter will allow users to make money from content that they make exclusive to particular followers. Sample screenshots released by the company show that the payment scheme could take multiple forms. For instance, a follower could pay a creator they follow on Twitter a few dollars a month to access that user’s exclusive newsletter or to see special tweets only available to Super Followers. They might … Read the rest


Your app may be sending location data to a company that sells your data to another company that sells your data to the government. | Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Google can’t stop trackers in its apps from selling location data to the government. Maybe the government can.

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If you’re relying on Apple’s and Google’s app store rules to keep your location data safe from companies that sell it to the government, you might want to rethink that policy. But if you’re relying on the legal system to stop government agencies from buying that data, you might be in luck — maybe.

A new Treasury Department inspector general report says that it doesn’t believe agencies have the legal right to buy location data from commercial services without obtaining a warrant. The watchdog had been investigating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for doing just that, but the IRS isn’t the only … Read the rest


Progressives are enraged with Facebook and trying to fight back. | Saqib Majeed/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It’s called the Project for Good Information, and it raises big questions about the future of the information wars.

A prominent Democratic strategist is planning a new $65 million effort to push progressive local news around the United States as part of an attempt to match the dominance of right-wing media, Recode has learned.

The organization, whose formation hasn’t previously been reported, is called the Project for Good Information (PGI). It’s being created by Tara McGowan, a Democratic strategist who has spent the last few years at her current organization, Acronym, trying to encourage her party to counter far-right media with liberal content. She has fans among influential Democrats and donors but has also attracted controversy from journalism groups concerned that her advocacy efforts masquerade as unbiased media, as well as from some fellow Democrats … Read the rest


Joe Rogan in 2013. | Vivian Zink/Syfy/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

The service is paying big money to big stars. But people who aren’t famous — maybe even you, the person reading this — might want to upload some stuff, too.

Spotify started out as a legal way to stream popular music. Then it flirted, unsuccessfully, with becoming a video company, too. Now it is trying out a new identity: It wants normal people, not just people you’ve heard of, to start uploading songs and podcasts — and then it wants to make money getting those songs and podcasts out to many, many more people.

Spotify still wants the biggest stars in the world on its service. That’s why it spends most of its money on licensing deals with the big music labels, and why it paid a ton of money to sign podcast king Joe Rogan last summer. And it’s … Read the rest


Apple’s App Store privacy labels are here — but do they help? | Apple

They’re not perfect, but App Store users still get something out of them.

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Apple’s privacy “nutrition labels” have been in the App Store for just over two months now. Privacy advocates were generally pleased to see these easy-to-read versions of app privacy policies; educating users about the secretive inner workings of their apps is almost always a positive development.

The labels are just one of Apple’s new policies to give users more privacy at the possible expense of the app economy, which largely relies on collecting and selling furtively acquired user data. In early spring, Apple will release iOS 14.5, which will force apps to get user permission to track users across different apps for ad targeting, a move that Facebook has vocally opposed — and its exceedingly long labels may be a good hint as … Read the rest


An activist dressed as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Belgium, which also has a few fans in favor of government regulations on Big Tech. | Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

The social media giant cut millions of Australians off from the news to protest a potential law with a lot of flaws.

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Facebook’s sudden move on Wednesday to cut Australians off from the news (and the rest of the world from Australian news) was as surprising as it was draconian. It blocked Australians from sharing any news links, Australian news publications from hosting their content on the platform, and the rest of us from sharing links to Australian news sites. It also may be a preview of how the platform will respond to the almost-certain future attempts to regulate its business — not just in Australia, but all over the world.

Now that we’ve had a few days to see how it’s … Read the rest


A US postal worker delivers Amazon boxes in New York City. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

When we look back at 2020 in the business world, we’ll remember it as the year online shopping stopped being the future of retail and became the present.

On March 4, I commuted into Vox Media’s New York City headquarters for what would end up being the final time during the godforsaken year of 2020. On the way in, I made a pit stop for some coffee, spending $3.89 on a bottle of Chameleon Cold-Brew, but left without handing over a card or cash on the way out. That’s because I had made that final purchase at a cashierless convenience store owned by a certain e-commerce giant: Amazon. Nine months later, that last stop looks like an appropriate harbinger of the major changes that would sweep across a big part of American life this year: … Read the rest


Courtesy of The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Mike Troncoso is a former top aide to Kamala Harris, so this move is stirring speculation about a move to the White House.

The political chief of Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropy is leaving his post, Recode has learned, which is stirring some speculation that he could take on a new role with his former boss, Kamala Harris.

Mike Troncoso, once a top aide to Harris, is stepping down from his position as the head of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Justice and Opportunity Initiatives (JOI), CZI confirmed to Recode. The leader of JOI is one of the top positions at the organization that Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, founded in 2015. As the head of JOI, Troncoso oversaw one of Silicon Valley’s biggest political advocacy operations that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars pushing for immigration reform, changes to the criminal justice system, and … Read the rest


Christina Animashaun/Vox

Our lives moved online in 2020. Too bad privacy laws didn’t.

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As a digital privacy reporter, I try to avoid sites and services that invade my privacy, collect my data, and track my actions. Then the pandemic came, and I threw most of that out the window. You probably did, too.

I gave away tons of personal data to get the things I needed. Food came from grocery and restaurant delivery services. Everything else — clothes, kitchen tools, a vanity ring light for Zoom calls, office furniture — came from online shopping platforms. I took an Uber instead of public transportation. Zoom became my primary means of communication with most of my coworkers, friends, and family. I attended virtual birthdays and funerals. Therapy was conducted over FaceTime. I downloaded my state’s digital contact tracing tool as soon as it was offered. I put a camera inside my … Read the rest