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Adnan Abidi / Reuters
Uber Technologies cofounder and former CEO Travis Kalanick announced that he appointed two new board members on Friday night in an unexpected move that may increase his power and sow more discord at the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company.
In a statement, Kalanick named former Xerox chairwoman and CEO Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch chairman and CEO John Thain to the board, which previously had nine members. Burns will be the third woman on the board, in addition to Nestlé executive vice president Wan Ling Martello and former media executive Arianna Huffington.
Kalanick's power to unilaterally name these two board members comes from a now-disputed decision from last year, in which the board granted him power to make three appointments as part of a $3.5 billion investment from a Saudi Arabia wealth fund. After he was removed as CEO in June, Kalanick named himself to one of the three seats and reserved the right to appoint the two other positions.
T.. Continue reading
Stephen Lam / Reuters
Two days after the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a mistake that now consumes his company: He dismissed the idea that misinformation on the social network could have influenced election results as “pretty crazy idea.” After months of escalating crisis, he finally walked it back Wednesday, describing his words as wrongly “dismissive.”
But BuzzFeed News has learned that while Zuckerberg's comment may have been a blunder, it wasn't an accident. The comment was, instead, a scripted talking point, aimed at undercutting further criticism.
Just a day after the election, Elliot Schrage, Facebook's high powered vice president of communications and public policy, used the phrase at a gathering of communications pros, hosted by a prominent venture capital firm and a well known Silicon Valley communications shop.
“It was not coincidental that there was such similarity in the response.”
“Elliot essentially foreshadowed Mark’.. Continue reading
Debbie Focht relies on Square, a payment processor, to sell her honey and maple syrup products at the weekly farmers market at Muscoot Farm in Katonah, New York. She and her husband Rich own Hummingbird Ranch in Salt Point, New York, and say that Square has helped boost profits at their small business.
Jennifer A. Kingson / Via Jennifer A. Kingson
If you've shopped at a farmers market, gotten your hair cut at a small salon, or taken a golf lesson with an independent pro, chances are you've made a payment through Square, the credit card processing company founded by Jack Dorsey, who also helped start Twitter.
Small businesses love Square because it charges them less than the bigger, bank-owned payment processors, and the little white card-swipes that plug into a smartphone are easier and more convenient than handheld credit card terminals. Square also — through a partnership with a tiny bank in Utah — makes loans to small companies and entrepreneurs banks woul.. Continue reading
Earlier today, some YouTube content creators got pissed. Really pissed.
They were (wrongly, it turns out) under the impression that in order to link to Patreon crowdfunding accounts or other personal websites from inside their videos, YouTube was going to require them to run ads.
But YouTube says it’s not requiring content creators to run ads, it’s only requiring them to join the YouTube Partner Program, which enables the possibility of running ads, but doesn’t require it.
Google says the new rules only apply to future content, not content that’s already been posted to YouTube. The purpose of the change, a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News via email, is to “curb abuse.” Asked what kind of end-link abuse Google is trying to curb, Google pointed to its community guidelines, which encourages users to follow “common-sense rules” and not post pornography, graphic violent content, hate speech, threats, copyright infringement, or content that encourage dangerous behavior. The idea is that, b.. Continue reading
iPhone 8 Plus
Mark Lennihan / AP
Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai urged Apple on Thursday to activate the hidden FM radio inside many of its iPhone models, framing the radio functionality as a matter of public safety in the wake of recent disasters that have plagued the US and Puerto Rico.
“It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first,” Pai said in a statement. “Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted doing so. But I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.”
Samsung, LG, Motorola, and HTC all sell devices with functional FM radios, according to the radio streaming app Nextradio. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has also argued for enabling the FM radio chips present in many smartphones.
In his statement, Pai pointed to a Sept. 14 editorial in the Florida newspaper the Sun-Sentinel that argued for the same poin.. Continue reading
BuzzFeed News / Getty Images
On Thursday morning, Twitter Vice President for Public Policy Colin Crowell met with the House and Senate intelligence committees about the company's potential involvement with Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Among the information Crowell shared was that the company found around 200 accounts that seem to be linked to the same Russian groups that purchased roughly $100,000 of ads on Facebook to sway Americans and create divisions during the 2016 election. Twitter also revealed that of the 450 malicious accounts shared by Facebook, 22 had corresponding Twitter accounts. Many, Twitter said, had already been shuttered by the network.
Twitter also shared information on the Russian media organization RT after the company was singled out by intelligence agencies for its ties to the Russian government. Twitter told the committees that three RT accounts spent $274,100 on US ads in targeted US markets in 2016. Most of these accounts were “directed at.. Continue reading
BuzzFeed News; Alamy
As ad dollars that used to fund journalism pour into the coffers of Facebook and Google, the information business is experiencing a trend familiar to other American industries: The product they produce is now competing with cheaper versions coming from overseas.
Content farmers in the Philippines, Pakistan, Macedonia (of course), and beyond are launching websites and Facebook pages aimed at Americans in niches such as politics, mental health, marijuana, American muscle cars, and more.
Based on Facebook engagement and other metrics, some of these overseas publishers are now beating their American counterparts. In the process they’re building an industry centered on producing and exporting cheap (and sometimes false) information targeted at the US.
“This is like all of the basic stuff happening in economics and politics today,” said Tyson Barker, a political economist with the Aspen Institute Germany who specializes in international economic policy. “It's a glo.. Continue reading
Paul Sakuma / AP
Three Facebook users are challenging newly disclosed search warrants for their account information, arguing that the warrants are overbroad and would chill political activists from engaging in constitutionally protected speech online.
Federal prosecutors obtained search warrants in February seeking a broad range of information from Facebook about the three accounts over an approximately 90-day period. A judge initially blocked Facebook from telling users about the warrants at the government’s request, but federal prosecutors this month dropped the secrecy demand after Facebook and civil liberties and electronic privacy groups challenged the gag orders.
Now that the account holders know the government wants their information, they’re going to court.
Lacy MacAuley, one of the account holders, told BuzzFeed News it was a “total shock” to get an email from Facebook about a week and a half ago alerting her to the warrant for her account. She called the warrant, issued by t.. Continue reading