Google has yet to acknowledge the outage, which is affecting both desktop and mobile versions for users worldwide.
The Google Maps outage is affecting users worldwide.
Users had difficulty searching for locations on Google Maps Friday morning, in a widespread outage affecting both the desktop and mobile app versions of the service. It was out for over three hours, coming back online for some users starting at approximately 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT.
Though maps do appear, users cannot search for locations or pull directions for walking, driving, transit or bike. Further, Maps is unable to pull up data not already saved on a user’s device, so when users zoom out from their current location, Google displays a blank map.
“Wow, I’ve never seen a Google Maps outage like this,” one user tweeted.
According to Downdetector, users started reporting disruptions at 11:13 a.m. ET/8:13 a.m. PT. More and more users were reported disruptions at the time of publication, topping out at 12,735 reports at 12:29 p.m. ET/9:29 p.m. PT.
A 90-minute outage is unprecedented for Google, whose maps are also the backbone of apps like Waze and maps used in tech stacks for companies like Snapchat, Lyft, Accenture and Square. As of the time of writing, there were no problems calling a Lyft or seeing other users’ locations on Snapchat, though some Twitter users say they’re having trouble downloading Airbnb’s maps layer. Protocol has reached out to these companies for comment.
Plenty of users took to Twitter to say that the outage was interrupting their commutes. “The day I’m supposed to hit three outer burbs in Edmonton for interviews, Google Maps stops working. Wow,” reads one tweet. “WHY THE HELL IS GOOGLE MAPS DOWN ONLY WHEN I FORGET THE DIRECTIONS,” reads another.
The problem appears to be worldwide. More than a billion people used Google Maps by 2019 to get their directions every month, according to the company, with 5 billion users using apps which had Google Maps in their tech stack internationally. By the fall of 2021, 10 billion people had downloaded Google Maps on the Google Play store alone. Google hasn’t released total Maps downloads or a user count in 2022.
“We can confirm that the technical issue from earlier today is now fixed,” a Google spokesperson told Protocol. “All impacted Google Maps and Google Maps Platform services are now back up and running globally.”
This article was updated to include a statement from Google.
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Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering breaking news. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.
Rivian is building a massive factory in Georgia, and the state announced Monday that it’s handing over $1.5 billion in incentives to make that happen. The package is the biggest in state history, according to Bloomberg.
Rivian had to make some promises to get the package, which includes tax credits and subsidies. The company needs to hire 7,500 people, each of which earning an average annual salary of $56,000, by the end of 2028.
Rivian is investing $5 billion in the 2,000-acre “carbon-conscious” campus, planned for near the I-20 corridor east of Atlanta. The incentives package includes both tax credits and subsidies, with state and local incentives coming to a total of $1.28 billion and nearly $200 million in site and road improvements additionally. The company expects to start construction this year, with plans to begin production in 2024.
Rivian first announced its plans for the site in December. The factory will include a co-located battery cell production facility and have a target of producing 400,000 vehicles a year, double the capacity of its facility in Normal, Ill. That will go a long way toward helping Rivian ramp up production of its electric truck and SUV, which have been difficult to produce given the supply chain shortages that are rattling the entire EV industry. Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe recently predicted that the supply of EV batteries would become a huge issue in years to come — even bigger than the ongoing chip crunch.
The company said in its 2021 shareholder letter that it chose Georgia for the site due to factors like “sustainable business operations, talent pool, and proximity to supply chain and logistics” — though more than billion dollars in incentives certainly sweetens the pot.
According to Bloomberg, the state of Georgia will rake in about $330 million in tax revenue from Rivian.
Just a year after Facebook began its attempt to pivot to audio — or hang onto Clubhouse’s coattails — the company is pulling the plug on its podcast hub and ditching Soundbites, its TikTok-for-audio feature.
Facebook will stop allowing people to add podcasts to its service starting this week, according to a note sent to partners seen by Bloomberg, and will take down its central audio hub. Facebook is removing podcasts from its platform altogether after June 3. A Meta spokesperson told Bloomberg that it didn’t have a specific date for when the audio hub and Sound Bites features would be shutting down. The news follows Bloomberg reporting last month that Meta was planning on deprioritizing its audio efforts.
Facebook will reportedly not be letting users know that these features are shutting down, and is leaving it up to podcast publishers to let their listeners know, according to the note. Live Audio Rooms, Facebook’s Clubhouse copycat, will be integrated into Facebook Live, giving users the choice to go live via video or audio.
“We’re constantly evaluating the features we offer so we can focus on the most meaningful experiences,” the spokesperson told Bloomberg.
Facebook first went all-in on audio last April, releasing its live audio platform as well as its suite of podcasting tools, but it didn’t last long. Facebook’s audio efforts were attempts to capitalize on the pandemic-induced social audio craze started by Clubhouse and continued by Twitter Spaces. Those social audio products have declined in popularity as COVID-19 restrictions lifted and joining audio chatrooms to hear people talk about bitcoin or whatever became less of a priority.
Facebook also faced an uphill battle in the podcasting space, as giants like Spotify and Apple continue to dominate the market. The company is instead focusing on Reels, which are seeing significant engagement on Instagram (despite the fact that many of the short videos are lifted directly from TikTok) and its metaverse ambitions. RIP, podcasts.
In a heavily editorialized press release, Federal Communications Commission commissioner Nathan Simington shut down any talk of the agency stepping in to block Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. “The FCC cannot, and should not, block this sale,” he said.
First and foremost, Simington argued, the FCC doesn’t have the authority to block Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter. The agency does review certain mergers and acquisitions related to broadcast media and telecommunications to ensure they meet a public interest standard. Twitter, however, neither owns any broadcast licenses nor serves as a communications provider.
Beyond that, Simington dismissed “selective concerns” of media ownership. He noted that Google, YouTube, Facebook, the Washington Post and the New York Times are “each owned or controlled by one or two people or a single family.” Simington said there were “numerous examples” of common ownership of news and broadband services, which he cited to dismiss concerns about Musk controlling both Twitter and the Starlink internet satellite service.
It’s unclear who, exactly, Simington had in mind when addressing the calls by “some” for the FCC to block the deal. In the first place, federal regulators aren’t expected to block the deal. And if any agency were to do so, it almost certainly wouldn’t be the FCC, which has been relatively gridlocked all year with its board of commissioners evenly split along party lines. President Biden hasn’t yet been able to fill the vacant fifth seat.
Simington implied that there’s mounting pressure for the federal government to intervene, not on legal merits, but as a means of restricting free speech. Anticipating an attempted intervention, he wrote: “It would be not only unconstitutional, but plainly un-American, for any arm of the government to act against Twitter or Mr. Musk for such a purpose.”
Several prominent tech figures have likewise suggested that powerful forces are coalescing to thwart the takeover. “Elon’s proposed takeover of Twitter is a profound threat to unfree speech,” Marc Andreessen wrote on Twitter. Responding to one of Andreessen’s threads on the outsized power wielded by professional investment managers such as BlackRock’s Larry Fink, Musk observed that “decisions are being made on behalf of actual shareholders that are contrary to their interests … major problem with index/passive funds.” In a speech at a Miami crypto conference, Peter Thiel — who reportedly encouraged Musk to make a play for Twitter — identified Fink as part of a “financial gerontocracy” that uses ESG as “a factory for naming enemies.”
Several prominent Republicans have espoused a similar narrative. Rep. Darrell Issa of California said, “it’s not a coincidence the White House launched its Minister of Truth immediately after Elon Musk bought Twitter and backed free speech.” Sen. Ted Cruz juxtaposed the Twitter acquisition with the launch of the Disinformation Governance Board, which he called “a brazen attack on free speech.”
All of this is setting up what seems to be a win-win scenario for the Republican and libertarian base, at least in the near-term. If the Twitter acquisition goes through, then Musk succeeded in “enshrining free expression,” as Simington put it. If the deal is blocked — which, again, is unlikely — then it confirms the narrative that the mainstream media, institutional investors and the federal government are working together to thwart free speech.
After 23 members of Congress signed a letter to the EPA imploring the regulatory agency to make sure crypto mining did not violate federal environmental regulations, a group of bitcoin evangelists including Block CEO Jack Dorsey responded in a letter Sunday saying that the lawmakers have all wrong.
The letter, sent by California representative Jared Huffman on April 20, condemned the reopening of coal and gas facilities to power crypto mining. The letter also put the lawmakers on one side of the fiercely fought debate between proof of work and proof of stake consensus mechanisms, saying that proof of work was “inherently inefficient.” It cited bitcoin, ether, monero and zcash as examples of proof-of-work cryptocurrencies which caused them concern.
“Cryptocurrency mining is poisoning our communities,” the letter’s authors asserted, pressuring the EPA to see whether mining operations in the U.S. violate the Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act.
In their much lengthier response, the group of 55 bitcoin industry supporters picked apart Huffman’s letter point by point. The Congressional letter is plagued by “misconceptions about bitcoin and digital asset mining,” the authors said, and confuses emissions from energy generation with the emissions of mining itself. Bitcoin data centers, the authors argue, are no different than those used by Google, Apple or Microsoft.
The letter goes into painstaking detail, illustrating the different use cases for high-performance computing, emphasizing how little of the energy used to mine bitcoin comes from once-closed gas and coal plants (2%), and explaining that the relative emissions per bitcoin transaction will only decrease with time.
After some time in the technical weeds, the letter delivers an argument that isn’t new to crypto: Many companies try to avoid responsibility for, or obscure, Scope 3 emissions, which the EPA defines as emissions which result “from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly impacts in its value chain.” Amazon, for example, does not report emissions incurred in the creation of products sold by third-party sellers.
Here, crypto leaders are attempting to say that they should not be held responsible for emissions created by power generation facilities they use — even if those facilities are, say, a reawakened gas-powered plant that could blow New York state’s climate goals out of the water.
It’s fairly accurate to say Congress isn’t always up to speed on the inner workings of tech, and that many representatives and senators don’t really get all the ins and outs of, say, crypto mining. But shirking responsibility for carbon emissions isn’t going to help the industry, either. Many blockchain professionals understand this, pouring their efforts into carbon offsets or maybe, eventually, executing that long-awaited Ethereum upgrade.
Perceptions of unsustainability, true or not, are clearly generating ill feelings toward the industry among everyone from creators to gamers to politicians. If crypto wants to get on their good side, it’s not clear that letters that lecture Congress about the “education” it requires is the smartest way to go.
A group of Amazon workers in the company’s massive Staten Island warehousing complex just failed to earn enough votes to form a union. Their loss — if certified by the National Labor Relations Board — follows on the heels of a sweeping victory in favor of unionization by a different and much larger group of workers in the same New York City complex.
Out of about 1,500 eligible workers, 380 voted in favor of the union and 618 against, with two ballots void. The group of workers were voting whether or not to join the Amazon Labor Union, which is an independent union unaffiliated with major national groups. The first election, in Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse, represented about 8,000 workers, while the second election, in the LDJ5 facility, represented about 1,500 workers.
“We’re glad that our team at LDJ5 were able to have their voices heard. We look forward to continuing to work directly together as we strive to make every day better for our employees,” Kelly Nantel, Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement to Protocol.
Private sector unionization in the U.S. has hovered at all-time lows over the last few years. Around 6% of all private sector workers are unionized, according to the Department of Labor Statistics. But the Amazon votes and a simultaneous massive wave of unionization efforts sweeping Starbucks stores across the country could signal a shift in that dynamic as workers seek out better wages and benefits.
“These examples could be pretty powerful in terms of causing workers in workplaces around the country to understand that they do have a way to make things,” Paul Clark, the director of the labor and employment relations program at Pennsylvania State University, told Protocol after the first union victory in April.“This is going to send a signal to workers in the private sector all across the country that if you’re dissatisfied with your workplace and your employer, there’s an option for you.”
Amazon has been forced to raise salaries and offer other benefits and incentives in response to the tight labor market over the last few quarters, which has dramatically increased the company’s labor spending, according to its 2021 quarterly fiscal reports. The company announced in its first quarter report that it is no longer battling staffing and capacity issues. A wave of successful unionization could further twist Amazon’s arm to improve wages and benefits, though the loss at the second Staten Island facility could blunt momentum.
There are key differences between the LDJ5 workers who voted against the union and those who voted to unionize in April at the JFK8 facility. The former is smaller and largely part-time while the JFK8 group consists mostly of full-time workers.
The ALU is led by Chris Smalls and Derrick Palmer, activists who formed the group as part of their efforts to protest working conditions at the Staten Island complex of warehouses and delivery facilities. The ALU won the first union election by more than 500 votes, and Amazon is now contesting the results by accusing both the ALU and the NLRB of illegal interference in favor of the union.
The NLRB will hold a hearing on Amazon’s objections to the JFK8 election on May 23, after which an administrative judge will rule on whether those objections are valid and if their validity merits throwing out the results of the election. The hearing will be held in Arizona instead of New York because Amazon is accusing the New York officials of conduct in favor of the union that violated the law.
An ongoing effort to unionize workers in Bessemer, Alabama, currently sits further along in the same process of objections and hearings; after a majority of workers voted not to unionize in 2021, the NLRB ruled in favor of objections filed by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and threw out the results of the election, ordering a new vote that concluded in April 2022. The results of that second election are still pending based on rulings over contested ballots, though it appears likely Amazon will win a second time.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has also made organizing Amazon a national priority, advocating for bills on the state level that would force Amazon to be more transparent about productivity expectations in its warehouses and organizing groups of drivers and warehouse workers in the U.S. and Canada. Teamsters president Sean O’Brien applauded the ALU after their Staten Island victory in April and promised that the group would increase its organizing efforts and pressure on Amazon in response. And in Canada, a Teamsters group filed a petition in April for a union election in Alberta and the Northwest Territories for thousands of workers there.
The ALU did not immediately respond to request for comment.
This story was updated with a statement from Amazon.
Perhaps you’ve heard that batteries are in short supply. On Monday, the Biden administration announced that it plans to remedy the ongoing shortfall by providing nearly $3.2 billion in funding devoted to domestic lithium-ion battery manufacturing, processing and recycling.
“This funding announcement will punch above its weight in not only accelerating the transition to a clean transportation future, but also in securing one of the most important supply chains in the U.S. economy,” Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, told reporters.
Most of the advanced batteries that U.S. electric vehicle manufacturers rely on come from outside of the country, with China being a major supplier. This is largely because the U.S. is still lacking a cradle-to-grave battery supply chain, prompting concern that it could become dependent on foreign sources for the long haul. As the wild ride of nickel due to the Russian war against Ukraine shows, that could create a disaster if the supply chain gets too concentrated.
The nearly $3.2 billion in funding — which comes courtesy of the bipartisan infrastructure law passed last year — will be doled out in the form of cost-share grants to private U.S. companies, and require companies to match the federal funds. The minimum grant will be $50 million for existing plants and $100 million for new plants. The White House expects to fund anywhere from 16 to 30 grants in this initial round.
The infrastructure bill also included $7.5 billion for electric vehicle chargers, $5 billion for electric transit buses and $5 billion for clean and electric school buses. All of this money is essentially seed funding for kickstarting a real EV revolution, with the administration setting a goal of 50% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. being electric by 2030.
Deese said that Biden has prioritized the battery supply chain as a part of the administration’s comprehensive review of supply chains over the last year, in part because automakers have had to rely on “uncertain and unreliable” offshore suppliers.
The initial round of funding will not be directed to mining or extraction, though Mitch Landrieu, the White House’s senior adviser responsible for coordinating the law’s implementation, said in a press conference that “we need responsible and sustainable domestic sourcing of the critical materials used to make lithium-ion batteries such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite.” In late March, President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to increase the country’s output of these minerals, requiring companies to prioritize federal rather than foreign contracts.
These steps come as demand for EVs surges at the same time as gas prices skyrocket. Snarled supply chains have added another layer of challenges. While the more than $3 billion won’t immediately fix these issues, it could help smooth what has so far been a bumpy transition.
Calfornia’s last nuclear power plant standing could get a new lease on life. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he’s looking to score some federal cash that the Biden administration set aside last month to keep the country’s aging nuclear fleet up and running. That would help keep the carbon-free electricity flowing.
The Biden administration is trying to maintain nuclear reactors at risk of shutting down by offering $6 billion in funding approved last year as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. Diablo Canyon Power Plant is a prime candidate, and Newsom told the Los Angeles Times editorial board last week that he’s looking for a piece of that $6 billion pie to keep it open.
Right now, owner Pacific Gas & Electric is aiming to close it around 2025. The nuclear plant generated nearly 9% of all electricity in the state in 2020. Though its share of electricity generated is smaller than hydropower, wind and solar — all carbon-free forms of energy — the plant still has import in an era where every ton of carbon not dumped in the atmosphere matters.
Newsom said he has a May 19 deadline to draw funds for the plant. “We would be remiss not to put that on the table as an option,” he said.
Nuclear reactors are great for generating clean electricity, but many are approaching the end of their shelf life. They’re also expensive to operate compared to natural gas and renewables. Many utilities across the country have started to close reactors. That’s caused carbon emissions in some states to rise as a result. It happened most recently New York, which shuttered its last nuclear plant in 2021.
If Diablo Canyon closes, the plan could be to replace it with coal-fired power imported from Wyoming, which is even worse for the climate than gas. California has stringent climate goals, including reducing greenhouse emissions 40% below 1990 levels by the end of this decade. Keeping Diablo Canyon up and running could help keep that goal within reach.
Newsom said he’s been wanting to preserve Diablo since the summer of 2020, when a heat wave forced the state’s electric grid to implement blackouts. “Some would say it’s the righteous and right climate decision,” Newsom told the editorial board.
But while preserving existing nuclear power is an important climate buffer, we can only throw money at aging reactors for so long. California — and the world — also needs to double down on wind and solar to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
Lawmakers in both the U.S. and EU are grappling with the realization that Meta might not be able to comply with user data regulations, even if the company wanted to do so.
In a leaked internal document published by Motherboard last week, Facebook privacy engineers wrote that there are “tens-of-thousands of uncontrolled data ingestion points into Ads systems.” The document, which was written in 2021, likened Facebook’s open-data systems to ink poured in a lake of water. “How do you put that ink back in the bottle?” the engineers ask, in what is seemingly a concession that the company can’t trace some user data accessible to third parties.
Meta denied this characterization to Motherboard, however, as a spokesperson said the document “reflects the technical solutions we are building to scale the current measures we have in place to manage data and meet our obligations.”
The document does indeed show that Meta is feeling the effects of new and nascent privacy regulation around the world. The engineers said they anticipate “impactful regulations” in India, Thailand, South Korea, South Africa and Egypt. They also expected U.S. federal privacy regulation, though they correctly guessed that it wouldn’t come in 2021.
U.S. senators on both sides of the aisle didn’t buy Meta’s explanation.
“Facebook has lost control of what they are doing with your data,” Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn wrote on Twitter in response to the leak. “This is reckless and threatens the privacy and security of Americans. We need a national privacy standard.”
Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote: “If Big Tech companies don’t even know how the data they collect on us is used, we can’t rely on them to protect our privacy. We need a Data Protection Agency to hold them accountable and set standards for how our data is collected, protected, and used.”
Across the Atlantic, Dutch EU Parliamentarian Sophie in ‘t Veld called for an immediate investigation, explaining to Motherboard that “if this is true, basically, they’re not remotely compliant with GDPR, not remotely.”
The GDPR stipulates that companies can only collect data for “specified, explicit and legitimate purposes.” The EU legislation also includes a right to be forgotten clause that lets users request the erasure of their data “without undue delay.” In the leaked document, however, Meta engineers said it would take “multiple years” to build a system that effectively allows users to opt out of having their data processed.
The California Consumer Privacy Act also includes a right to be forgotten clause. In the absence of federal privacy regulation, the CCPA serves as the most important piece of online data privacy legislation in the U.S. The leaked document raises questions as to what effect federal regulation would have, if any, given Meta apparent struggles to comply with existing state law. Facebook claims to give California users the ability to exercise their “right to know” or “right to request deletion.”
For Meta shareholders, the document also raises questions about the company’s ability to maintain levels of profitability while restructuring data systems. The leaked document concedes that “there is no obvious solution yet, which doesn’t involve dramatic investment by Ads engineers.”
The engineers wrote that Meta “may allow certain opt-out data to be used in training, but not in ranking or targeting.” The Federal Trade Commission could demand Meta remove or destroy models built using data from users who opt out. The agency did so as part of a settlement with WW International (previously known as Weight Watchers), which was accused of harvesting data from children without parental permission. If Meta indeed faces a multiyear project timeline for building those capabilities, regulators might simply resort to recurring fines — if they even have enforcement capability in the first place.
Google fired Satrajit Chatterjee, an AI researcher in the company’s Brain group who criticized a research paper on computers designing computer chips that was published in the scientific publication Nature last year and involved work from researchers in Google’s chip and Brain teams.
The paper presented a method for automatically generating parts of a computer chip more efficiently than humans. Chatterjee disputed parts of the paper, and was fired in March after Google told his research team that he couldn’t publish a rebuttal of some of the claims made in the paper, sources told The New York Times. Researchers who had worked on a rebuttal argued that Google broke its own AI principles by rejecting the paper.
The company told The New York Times that Chatterjee was “terminated with cause,” but didn’t elaborate.
“We thoroughly vetted the original Nature paper and stand by the peer-reviewed results,” Zoubin Ghahramani, a vice president at Google Research, told The New York Times. Google did not immediately return Protocol’s request for comment. “We also rigorously investigated the technical claims of a subsequent submission, and it did not meet our standards for publication.”
This isn’t Google’s first time firing an AI researcher. Timnit Gebru, an AI ethicist who previously co-led Google’s ethical AI team, was forced out of the research group in late 2020 after expressing frustrations with the company’s diversity promises and questioning an ethics research paper. The company later fired Margaret Mitchell, the other co-lead of the team, for publicly criticizing the way Google handled Gebru’s departure.
Unrest within Google’s AI research team appears to be ongoing. Google ethical AI researcher Alex Hanna published a resignation letter earlier this year describing a “whiteness problem” within Google and other tech companies. Hanna followed software engineer Dylan Baker in joining Gebru’s Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, which launched late last year.
The creator of Bored Ape Yacht Club disrupted the Ethereum blockchain over the weekend after users rushed to buy its new virtual land NFTs, driving up transaction fees as the huge sales volume swamped the network’s capacity.
Yuga Labs began selling virtual land Saturday as part of its upcoming Otherside metaverse project. The company raised about $320 million worth of cryptocurrency in what Yuga Labs said is the “largest NFT mint in history.”
But there was so much demand, it created a serious bottleneck that also caused transaction fees to rise sharply, according to Bloomberg.
“We’re sorry for turning off the lights on Ethereum for a while,” Yuga Labs said in a tweet.
The company said some users’ transactions failed “due to the incredible demand being forced through Ethereum’s bottleneck.” Yuga Labs said it will be refunding gas fees of affected users.
Referring to the cryptocurrency used for the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, the company also said, “It seems abundantly clear that ApeCoin will need to migrate to its own chain in order to properly scale. We’d like to encourage the DAO to start thinking in this direction.”
Yuga Labs announced in March that it had raised a conventional $450 million funding round, which it planned to use to expand into gaming and the metaverse. The company said it’s building Otherside as a metaverse for gaming.
The European Commission announced Monday it thinks Apple is violating the bloc’s antitrust rules with its limits on rival providers of mobile wallets.
The commission sent its “preliminary view” to Apple that the company “abused its dominant position” in giving a boost to its own contactless payments system. Europe alleges Apple denies competitors access to the underlying NFC technology on its devices that allows phones to connect with payments systems in physical stores, leaving Apple Pay as the only tap-to-pay wallet.
Apple told the Wall Street Journal it is “setting industry-leading standards for privacy and security” while providing would-be competitors access to the technology on the same terms as it operates. The pushback echoes Apple’s defense in other antitrust cases, including those targeting its App Store: The company often insists that features that appear to create a closed ecosystem funneling consumers through its products are merely security protections.
The charges come as Europe is taking a big swing at U.S. tech giants. Monday’s “statement of objections” comes almost exactly a year after complaints from the EU about Apple’s handling of rival music apps, which also came amid prior antitrust cases and charges. Officials also agreed in March to new competition rules that would require major changes to the App Store and iMessage, as well as services from Google and Amazon.
In addition, the EU’s targeting of Apple Pay comes as the company is reportedly getting ready to allow iPhone users to receive contactless payments through the built-in NFC technology without additional hardware. Although it would serve as a replacement for Square’s dongle and other terminals for cash and credit card payments, it wouldn’t directly replace the software and services that Square and others provide.
The Wikimedia Foundation will stop accepting crypto donations after months of pressure from members of the Wikipedia community. The foundation said on Sunday it will close its BitPay account, which facilitated crypto gifts.
Members of the community had asked for the foundation to end crypto donations last month following a debate among 400 Wikipedia users. The group opposing the foundation’s crypto policy was primarily concerned with the negative climate impacts of crypto mining and the foundation’s reputation.
The majority of those participants ultimately decided that Wikimedia Foundation should stop taking crypto gifts. Although the foundation wasn’t obliged to respond, it did, saying it would discuss whether to stop taking crypto payments internally and provide an update by the end of April.
“Times change and situations change,” Megan Hernandez, Wikimedia Foundation’s VP of Advancement, said at the time.
Molly White, who goes by GorillaWarfare on Wikipedia, helped lead the push to stop crypto donations. “I’m really happy that the Wikimedia Foundation implemented the request from its community, and I’m really proud of my community for making what I feel was the ethical decision after a lot of thoughtful discussion,” White told Protocol. “There are just too many issues with crypto for any potential donation revenue to be worth the cost of helping to legitimize it.”
Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, the foundation’s chief advancement officer, wrote on Sunday that Wikimedia Foundation will continue to monitor the issue and “appreciate the feedback and consideration given to this evolving matter by people across the Wikimedia movement.”
“We will remain flexible and responsive to the needs of volunteers and donors,” Seitz-Gruwell said.
The foundation has accepted donations in bitcoin, bitcoin cash and ether since 2014. The foundation received $130,000 worth of crypto in the last fiscal year, which accounted for about 0.08% of its annual revenue.
“Wikimedia is my community, and I care very much about it, which is why I pushed for this change,” White said. “But generally, my goal is to inform and educate people about crypto so they can make their own decisions.”
Crypto mining has become a flashpoint as the world grapples with climate change. Proof of work is a computing-intensive technique used by bitcoin and Ethereum to keep the network secure that requires monster amounts of energy, often from dirty sources. (The latter is switching to a different approach that will consume less energy.)
Bitcoin alone has the energy footprint of the Czech Republic while Ethereum’s is on the order of Kazakhstan, according to calculations by crypto watchdog Digiconimist. Pressure to clean up crypto has been ramping up, and the Wikimedia Foundation’s decision could spark other campaigns to tackle crypto mining’s ballooning carbon footprint.
This post has been updated with comment from Molly White.
Twitter is reportedly preparing for an exodus of employees who may leave the company after it’s sold to Elon Musk.
According to Platformer, a newsletter by tech journalist Casey Newton, Twitter executives held an all-hands meeting Friday morning to answer questions from employees and, apparently, try to boost their morale.
“I believe there is something to be learned from this opportunity,” CEO Parag Agrawal reportedly told employees.
Twitter hasn’t agreed to any layoffs ahead of the sale, leaders are gearing up for what an employee phrased as an “undeniable exodus.” This anticipated turnover hasn’t started yet: The company’s attrition rate has stayed around 16%, Newton reported.
Minority employees might be especially likely to leave. One person asked Agrawal why employees from marginalized backgrounds should work for Musk, who doesn’t exactly seem interested in their concerns.
“Same reason I’ve said for everyone else,” Agrawal reportedly said. “You’re here doing your job. You’re here working with people you like working with. You believe in the work you do. You believe in your community. You believe [in] the impact your community [the work] has.”
Asked if Twitter could have avoided the takeover, Agrawal reportedly took some of the blame for the company not having “done things differently and better.” In the last five years, Twitter could have “been stronger technically,” inspired more trust around its policies and better monetized the product, he admitted. Any plans that Musk has to change Twitter’s product weren’t part of the decision to sell him the company, executives reportedly said.
One employee asked Agrawal why he personally voted for the sale. Unsurprisingly, he pointed to his fiduciary duty to shareholders, according to Platformer.
Surprise, surprise: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin threw cold water on yet another aspect of his party’s approach to climate policy. While the Biden administration has proposed expanding the popular electric vehicle tax credit, Manchin called the idea “ludicrous” during a Senate budget hearing on Thursday.
Manchin’s colleagues are angling to resurrect certain provisions in the catatonic-if-not-entirely-dead Build Back Better bill, including one to increase the existing $7,500 credit for electric vehicle purchases to as much as $12,500. But Manchin, who also basically killed the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan, isn’t having it.
Manchin cited both existing waiting lists for EVs — especially in light of tangled supply chains for the vehicles — and high fuel prices as rationale for his resistance. He suggested that lawmakers instead direct more funding toward developing hydrogen resources to decarbonize the transportation sector (a complicated and potentially fraught proposition). In February, Manchin joined three Republicans to launch a working group to develop a hydrogen hub in West Virginia, which would allow for the continued use of fossil fuels and would be a major win for natural gas and coal producers in Manchin’s state. The proposal has already passed the House, but getting Manchin on board will likely be necessary to get it through the Senate as well. Manchin has thrown a wrench in Democratic policy plans in the past, including the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better spending plan, which included climate provisions that would have impacted clean energy deployment and carbon removal research.
Manchin, who would appear not to care at all about supporting Democratic climate policies, recently convened a bipartisan meeting of senators to discuss energy security and climate change and gauge where there may be room for consensus. The senator told POLITICO that the group’s first meeting went smoothly, but they are “just starting.” But the perception that Manchin is dragging his feet has caused frustration among Democrats, who are skeptical an energy tax package could get support from 10 Republicans, and have their eye on the clock as the midterms quickly approach.
“This is our last, best chance to take action, and whether we do or not rests entirely in Manchin’s hands,” a senior Democratic aide said to CNN.
Salesforce just became the latest tech giant to commit to limiting the scope of its non-disclosure agreements, freeing workers up to talk about instances of harassment or discrimination they experience on the job. Salesforce and all California employers are already required to make these changes for workers in the state under California’s Silenced No More Act. But the new policy extends those protections to all Salesforce employees across the country.
“Our employees are key stakeholders, and it’s critical that we offer them the support to ensure they’re happy, healthy and protected,” the company wrote in a blog post Friday. Salesforce plans to implement the changes by the end of 2022.
A good deal of the credit for this shift goes to the so-called Transparency in Employment Agreements Coalition, a group of advocates and investors that has been using shareholder proposals to encourage tech giants, including Salesforce, Meta, Alphabet and Apple, to extend the policies enshrined in the Silenced No More Act to all of their employees. One of the leaders of that coalition, former Pinterest employee Ifeoma Ozoma, was instrumental in pushing that law forward in California. Another version of the law also recently passed in Washington state.
“From the beginning, my goal in assembling the coalition was for us to get these protections to as many workers in as many jurisdictions as possible, and this certainly marks a massive achievement of that goal,” Ozoma said of the Salesforce commitment. The company has offices in more than a dozen U.S. states. Now that Salesforce has committed to make these changes, the coalition is withdrawing its proposal.
Salesforce is not the first tech company this pressure campaign has worked on. After facing a similar proposal from the coalition earlier this month, Google confirmed in an SEC filing that employees are free to discuss workplace harassment, discrimination and retaliation, even under their current NDAs. Though the company insists that’s not a new policy, it had never before published the exact terms of its employee agreements — especially not in a place where investors and the SEC could hold them to it.
Apple, meanwhile, initially asked the SEC to exclude the coalition’s proposal calling for a report on its use of concealment clauses. Apple argued that the company had already “substantially implemented” the proposal in its business conduct policy. The SEC denied the request and is now reportedly looking into whether the company misled investors with its statements. In the meantime, Apple ended up committing in its proxy statement to incorporate the Silenced No More Act’s language in all U.S. separation agreements, which Ozoma counts as a major, hard-fought victory of the coalition’s work.
“The point of Silenced No More is enshrining the protections in the actual contracts people sign,” Ozoma said. “Not employee handbooks that can be and are changed at a whim.”
Ozoma and the coalition have also secured commitments to expand these protections from Twilio, Expensify and Pinterest, Ozoma’s former employer. Ozoma and her former colleague Aerica Shimizu Banks have been public about allegations of discrimination and retaliation at the company, which has prompted their ongoing activism.
The coalition’s work, coupled with the work of a growing number of state legislatures, suggests that the tech industry’s wall of secrecy is on its way out. Investors, lawmakers and workers themselves seem increasingly supportive of freeing employees from the gag orders that often wind up blowing up in their faces.
The only question now is: Who’s next?
Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter are starting to take shape. The Tesla CEO told banks that he plans to slash pay for board members and executives in a bid to get funding for the acquisition, Reuters reported. Insiders also told Reuters that Musk presented ideas for monetizing tweets.
Musk had previously tweeted that board members’ salary would be slashed to $0 if his bid succeeded, which would save Twitter $3 million per year. It turned out he wasn’t trolling. Bloomberg reported Thursday that Musk also plans to lay off employees to cut costs.
Despite being the richest man in the world (most days), it was unclear how Musk planned to fund the acquisition last week. He infamously tweeted that he had the “funding secured” to take Tesla private in 2018, though a court and the SEC say he did not, in fact, have funding secured. The billionaire has $90 billion in debt tied up in his Tesla, SpaceX and Boring Co. shares. But according to an SEC filing, Musk is using his Tesla shares as collateral for a $12.5 billion loan, in addition to $21 billion in cash he’s committed to the acquisition and additional loans secured against Twitter.
Musk allegedly told banks that cutting stock compensation for executives and the board would bring Twitter closer to industry standards. He referenced Pinterest and Meta’s recent earnings as proof that Twitter could significantly increase its profit margins, according to Reuters. In 2021, stock-based compensation at Twitter ran 33% higher than it did in 2020.
But when Musk was making his offer to banks, he didn’t only focus on cost-cutting. He also said that he would boost Twitter revenue by exploring new ways to monetize tweets. One method could be to charge companies fees for embedding or quote-tweeting verified users, for instance. Musk also wrote and deleted several tweets last week with ideas for the company’s Twitter Blue subscription service. Some of his suggestions include offering the Twitter verified blue checkmark, an ad-free interface and additional edit capabilities bundled with the $2.99 subscription fee.
Despite Twitter’s popularity, the platform has had a tough time convincing people to pay money for premium features like the ability to undo tweets. The company primarily relies on ads for profit, which Musk thinks is a disservice to users.
Telegram now supports crypto payments after the widely used messaging app previously gave up on its own token. The addition could make crypto payments on messaging platforms more mainstream.
The TON Foundation, which manages the toncoin token, has enabled fee-free payments—sending crypto to other users—using toncoin (TON) in the app. It also has added the ability to buy bitcoin within the app.
Telegram, which has about 550 million users, previously dropped its plan for its own token after a legal challenge from the SEC. The SEC sued Telegram in 2019 after it raised $1.7 billion to develop its token, calling it an illegal token offering. Telegram later paid a fine to the SEC and agree to return capital to investors.
Since then, Telegram’s CEO Pavel Durov has endorsed a separate spin-off token Toncoin that is apparently independent from Telegram. That is the coin that is now enabled for payments on Telegram.
The TON Foundation said it has enabled the ability to send Toncoin “without transaction fees to any Telegram user,” it announced on Twitter. “With this service, you’ll no longer need to enter long wallet addresses and wait for confirmations.”
The new payments service brings the potential for a global crypto payments service through the messaging app. Many in the crypto industry are working on ways to make crypto payments mainstream as a cheap and fast alternative to traditional payments — particularly for cross-border transactions.
There are efforts to do this using bitcoin, ethereum or new Layer 1 protocols, but many of these efforts face a challenge of building a global user base and viable product to enable crypto payments. Companies like Facebook parent Meta have sought to build such a service, but the company recently abandoned the idea. Telegram already has a global user base and product that could make crypto payments a mainstream product quickly.
The Ton Foundation recently said it has raised $1 billion from users for the project.
Three out of four tech workers plan to return to the office in some form this year. But many are worried about the health implications of doing so.
More than 70% of tech workers told Qualtrics in late February they were nervous about precautions like mask mandates ending, compared to 59% of workers across industries. Seventy-seven percent of tech workers still support vaccine mandates — significantly more than government workers (52%) or even healthcare workers (53%).
The pandemic has waned from its omicron peak, but cases are on the rise again. The seven-day average is currently a little under 51,000 cases across the U.S. The Northeast and West Coast as well as Colorado are currently relative COVID-19 hotspots, and all are locations with a high number of tech workers.
Although most workers are ready to meet in person, many still aren’t ready to do so in a crowded room. Across sectors, workers are largely comfortable with in-person meetings (78%) but less so with shaking hands (62%), large gatherings (54%) and hugs (52%). Sitting next to someone is OK for three out of four workers, but 61% said workstations need to be disinfected and 55% want to keep supplies separate.
So, how do you get workers to return to the office? Companies have been trying to lure workers back to the office with a few perks. Google, for example, offered workers free scooters to come back. The company also took away workers’ beloved bidets, though. (This move is completely unrelated to the pandemic but still.) What workers really want, though, are cash and public health safety measures.
According to Qualtrics, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers across industries said they want their colleagues to be vaccinated, while Gen Z wants a raise to compensate for in-office work. Given how expensive it is to go to the office now, that might be worth considering.
There are very few bills Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t signed from the Republican-controlled statehouse this legislative session. But on Wednesday, lightning struck after DeSantis vetoed a bill that would’ve removed incentives for rooftop solar power.
Making it harder to install solar panels on their roofs in sunny Florida was not the right move politically even before the Russian war against Ukraine sent gas prices surging around the globe. With people feeling the pinch at the pump and the meter, people have increasingly been turning to EVs and solar panels to bring down energy bills.
But the Florida legislation would’ve made it more challenging for individuals looking to go solar by reducing the amount of money that utilities paid to homeowners when their panels generate more power than needed. It’s a practice known as net metering, and it can be found in 47 states, including Florida. While homeowners love it since it gets them paid, utilities hate it since they’re the ones paying. Florida Power and Light was at the forefront of the opposition, and leaked emails show the powerful utility essentially helped draft the legislation. (The utility has a long, shady history of influencing Florida politics to get what it wants.)
After passing through both chambers in the state capital, though, it went to DeSantis’ desk for his expected signature — despite it being wildly unpopular. The Miami Herald noted the governor’s office received 16,809 emails, letters and phone calls opposing the net metering bill against just 13 contacts in favor of the legislation. DeSantis and the Republicans in the legislature have basically acted in tandem as the governor gears up for a likely presidential run in 2024, passing scores of bills constraining free speech and furthering the conservative agenda.
But the anti-solar bill was a bridge too far, though. The governor said in a letter announcing the veto that with gas prices so high, “the state of Florida should not contribute to the financial crunch that our citizens are experiencing.”
That sounds nice except it was just a little less than 11 months ago that DeSantis signed a bill into law barring cities across the state from implementing gas bans. If I were the type to insert memes into stories, here is where I insert famous Floridian DJ Khaled saying, “Congratulations, you played yourself.”
The anti-solar bill would’ve further constrained clean energy at a time when the world needs more carbon-free sources of electricity, not less. Climate advocates were ecstatic, but the victory may be short-lived. Republicans in the statehouse have already said they plan to reintroduce a modified version of the bill.
From Congress to climate activists, everyone is mad at the Postal Service’s plan to buy a bunch of gas-powered mail trucks. Now, the anger has manifested itself in a legal challenge: A host of environmental activist groups and 16 states are suing the agency for not electrifying its fleet.
Groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club filed lawsuits in California and New York on Thursday challenging USPS’s decision to replace its current trucks with nearly 150,000 gas-powered new ones. The lawsuit alleges that the USPS sidestepped necessary environmental reviews that needed to be done before making the decision, and violated the National Environmental Policy Act by releasing a draft environmental impact statement for its purchasing plan six months after it signed a deal with Oshkosh Defense to buy the trucks.
The USPS committed to purchasing 165,000 delivery vehicles from Oshkosh, with 90% being gas-powered trucks and 10% being electric vehicles. The gas-powered vehicles get slightly better mileage than their predecessors: 14.7 miles per gallon without air conditioning compared to 8.2 in the old vehicles. But with AC, gas mileage drops to 8.6 miles in the new vehicles.
It’s not exactly a great choice, especially when President Joe Biden has said the federal government will pull all the levers at its disposal to kickstart a climate revolution. The USPS fleet is a major one to tug on given that the investment in EVs would also mean building out charging infrastructure, including some available to average Americans. Electrifying the fleet would also reduce air pollution, a nice add-on bonus.
“The purpose of environmental review is to inform the Postal Service’s decision, not rubberstamp a plan it had already made,” Scott Hochberg, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Postal delivery trucks visit almost every neighborhood in the United States daily. It’s backward and bewildering that the USPS would show such disregard for climate and public health with its decision.”
The agency has been stubborn about electrifying its fleet due to “organizational and financial constraints,” despite the fact that switching to EVs is financially (and environmentally) a sound idea. The lawsuit was no surprise: Due to USPS’s refusal to budge, experts that attended a recent House Oversight Committee hearing about the USPS’ fleet expected it, and so here we are.
“The Postal Service conducted a robust and thorough review and fully complied with all of our obligations under (the National Environmental Policy Act),” USPS spokesperson Kim Frum told the Associated Press in a statement.
Robinhood said Thursday that it will no longer provide revenue guidance after the company posted results that missed Wall Street’s projections.
Robinhood’s stock fell sharply by about 9% in after-hours trading. The company reported a loss of $392 million, or 45 cents a share, on revenue of $299 million, which represented a 43% drop from the year-ago quarter.
The company was expected to post a loss of 36 cents a share on revenue of $355.8 million.
“We’re seeing our customers affected by the macroeconomic environment, which is reflected in our results this quarter,” CFO Jason Warnick said in a statement.
In a sign of even greater uncertainty about future results, Robinhood said it was changing the way it provided revenue projections by providing “certain limited purpose statistical and operational results on a monthly basis.”
“With this change, we no longer intend to provide revenue guidance,” the company said in a statement.
CEO Vlad Tenev said the company has “made huge strides against our roadmap,” citing the rollout of new products and services, including its much-anticipated crypto wallet.
Crypto trading has been a major revenue driver for the company, but Robinhood reported that revenue from that business fell 39% from the year-ago quarter.
The company reported results two days after announcing that it was cutting 9% of its workforce. Tenev cited a “rapid headcount growth” which “led to some duplicate roles and job functions, and more layers and complexity than are optimal.”
The belt tightening appears to have started at Netflix: A number of journalists working for the company’s entertainment site Tudum have been laid off, according to tweets by those affected. A Netflix spokesperson told Protocol Thursday that there were no plans to shutter the site, calling it “an important priority for the company.”
Netflix had launched Tudum as a kind of online entertainment magazine focused on content streaming on its service in December. The company had hired entertainment journalists from publications including Vice, Bustle and elsewhere to staff the site. It’s unclear how many Tudum writers currently remain at the company.
The layoffs come just days after Netflix’s Q1 2022 earnings report, which saw the company lose subscribers for the first time in over a decade. Following that earnings report, Netflix CFO Spencer Neumann said that the company would be pulling back on some of its spending to get costs under control.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Spencer Neumann’s name. This story was updated April 28, 2022.
Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced the House version of a bill on Thursday that would abolish Section 230. In April 2021, Sen. Bill Hagerty sponsored the same legislation in the Senate.
The bill introduction is largely symbolic, as Greene — a fringe Republican who previously supported QAnon conspiracy theories — has been stripped of her committee assignments. It would likewise face long odds in the Senate, even if Republicans retake the majority after November’s election. Still, the measure shows a growing appetite on the right to regulate social media platforms to their liking.
Republican lawmakers have long insisted that Sec. 230, which gives social media platforms legal immunity from the user content they host, enables the platforms to “censor” conservatives. It’s actually the First Amendment that gives companies extensive leeway to moderate views on their services as they see fit, but Republicans have repeatedly invoked Sec. 230 to score political points. In the lead up to midterms, many GOP office-holders and candidates have promised to reform the provision if, as expected, they retake power.
Other right-wing political figures, including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, have also endorsed the approach of treating social media as a utility that can’t turn customers away. Even with exceptions for illegal speech, though, abolishing Sec. 230 would put legal porn, spam and abuse on equal footing with more pedestrian posts. Greene’s measure would prohibit giving “any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person, class of persons, political or religious group or affiliation, or locality” and allow lawsuits for violations. It would also make some exceptions for obscene, “excessively violent” or harassing posts — much of which Sec. 230 also explicitly helps platforms combat.
“This bill isn’t original, isn’t constitutional,and only serves as a MAGA talking point,” Adam Kovacevich, the head of the Chamber of Progress, told Protocol. (Kovacevich’s organization takes funding from Meta and Twitter.)
Greene’s measure comes as conservatives are cheering Elon Musk’s expected takeover of Twitter in the name of “free speech,” which would likely mean more conservative content. Greene argues her measure would “protect him,” although current law would almost certainly already enable his designs, at least in the U.S.
Even though Greene represents the fringe of the right, her grievances against social media firms are widely shared by the broader Republican base. For instance, Greene took issue with Meta’s 2020 decision to remove sharing functionality for the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Many outlets tiptoed around the story at the time, airing concerns it was an example of widely expected electoral “misinformation,” but it has since been shown as largely true. Jack Dorsey, who was CEO of Twitter when the company blocked the story, later called the decision a “total mistake.”
For their part, Democrats have said Sec. 230 gives social media companies too little incentive to take down the worst content, meaning they’ve been unable to come together with Republicans to reform the provision despite bipartisan desire for change.
Activision Blizzard shareholders overwhelmingly approved a planned sale to Microsoft on Thursday, with 98% voting in favor of the proposed deal. But while the outcome of the vote was largely expected, the real hurdle going forward will be clearing the Biden administration’s newly invigorated FTC under appointee Lisa Khan.
Shares for Activision Blizzard traded on Thursday at about $77, well under the $95 premium Microsoft has agreed to pay if the deal is approved, suggesting some investors are concerned that the real risk lies in advancing the deal past the FTC.
Khan has been vocal about taking more aggressive action against Big Tech and adjacent industries since taking the job last year, and the agency is now pursuing a revised case against Facebook-owner Meta with the intention of scrutinizing its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. The deal has until June 2023 to close.
“Today’s overwhelmingly supportive vote by our stockholders confirms our shared belief that, combined with Microsoft, we will be even better positioned to create great value for our players, even greater opportunities for our employees, and to continue our focus on becoming an inspiring example of a welcoming, respectful, and inclusive workplace,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement.
Elon Musk has controversial ideas for Twitter around free speech and content moderation, and it’s apparently scaring advertisers.
Behind the scenes, Twitter has reportedly been trying to convince advertisers that the platform is still a good place to do business, according to the Financial Times. Some advertisers are worried that Musk’s thoughts around content moderation would hurt them and make the platform less brand-friendly. Car companies in particular are concerned that their advertising plans on Twitter would get back to Tesla if Musk took over. Fair!
The issue wouldn’t matter as much to Musk, who doesn’t care for advertising anyway. Tesla notably does not lean on any ads whatsoever. It’s a big part of Twitter’s business, though. The company’s ad revenue increased 23% to $1.11 billion this quarter.
Twitter is also dealing with the fallout of its Q1 earnings report, in which the company revealed it over-counted the number of daily users using its platform for three consecutive years. It turns out Twitter had overstated daily users by up to 1.9 million each quarter after accidentally counting several accounts as active even though they were run by one user. The problem is tied to a feature that allows users to more easily switch between separate accounts.
In any case, the number of daily active users — 229 million — rose nearly 16% this quarter compared to the same time last year. The company didn’t hold a corresponding call after reporting earnings, which could be its last if Musk ends up buying the company and taking Twitter private like he said he would.
“Given the pending acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, we will not be providing any forward looking guidance, and are withdrawing all previously provided goals and outlook,” the company said in a statement. The deal is set to close later this year pending regulatory and shareholder approvals.