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All the Apple gear, one monthly price
Good morning! This Monday, Facebook makes a moderation to-do list, Apple could finance all your gadgets, and Amazon's almost ready for drone deliveries.
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People Are Talking
On Protocol: The whole tech-employee pipeline needs to change, Stanford student Jasmine Sun said:
- "A lot of people are falling through the cracks. This very by-the-book, faux-meritocratic approach that is being used in our C.S. class is the same reason companies like Google have dismal diversity statistics."
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said the platform needed better content rules a long time ago, and he plans to fix that:
- "In 2018, I confusingly said racism is not against the rules, but also isn't welcome on Reddit. This gap between our content policy and our values has eroded our effectiveness in combating hate and racism on Reddit; I accept full responsibility for this."
Human curation is a key part of the future of streaming, WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt said:
- "I scroll up and down, right and left, on streaming services and some of the things being served to me have nothing to do with me. Nielsen tells us it can take some people nine minutes — an eternity. We feel there are things we can do to make it personalized. One of them is having human beings getting in there instead of endless racks of titles."
The Big Story
Facebook asks questions that everyone needs to answer
For as much as the world has talked about Facebook's moderation policies over the last week, for all the leaks and chatter online, the company itself hasn't said much publicly.
But on Friday, Mark Zuckerberg wrote a long, searching post (as he tends to do from time to time) about his thoughts on moderation. He was surprisingly detailed:
- He said Facebook will review its policies on some fronts: How it treats discussion of state use of force, particularly in times of unrest or emergency; how it moderates and promotes election integrity.
- Zuckerberg also promised to evaluate how Facebook makes those decisions, and to be more transparent about that process.
- And he committed to reviewing whether his company must "change anything structurally to make sure the right groups and voices are at the table." After last week, when it became clear only one black Facebook employee was consulted on the question of how to moderate Trump's posts, employees have been asking for this change.
Separately, Facebook deactivated roughly 190 accounts on Instagram and Facebook "linked to white supremacy groups that planned to encourage members to attend protests over police killings of black people," the AP reported.
- And the company's giving new pro-diversity guidance to people who run and moderate Facebook Groups.
Take out all the Facebook-specific stuff and there are playbooks here for every company having long-overdue conversations about diversity. Starting with: Who's in the room having those conversations? How should those conversations work, and how should their results be communicated to the broader staff?
- To the former question: Alexis Ohanian resigned from the Reddit board, and asked that his seat be filled with a black candidate. Reddit said it plans to honor that request.
- To the latter, I'll give you one good example of what not to do: LinkedIn held a global town hall about racial inequality, including an anonymous Q&A section, and it went off the rails in record time. The Daily Beast reported that the questions turned into a "dumpster fire," filled with racist comments and arguments.
And the moderation questions just keep coming. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all pulled a George Floyd-related Trump campaign video after receiving unspecified reports of copyright violation. The president was predictably furious.
- Our friends at POLITICO reported that one law firm was behind those complaints, which were focused on content from an artist it represents. It also filed a complaint with YouTube, but the video's still live there.
- And this is where things get messy! (OK, messier.) Tweets linking to that YouTube video are now all over Twitter — and not only does Twitter show the link, it lets you play the video inline. Should Twitter be taking those posts down? Where does one company's platform (and rulebook) end and another's begin?
A house full of Apple gear for a single monthly price
Longtime Source Code readers will know I have a deep obsession with the Everything Bundle — a single price for a variety of products, with one bill and one account. For years, rumors and reports and tea leaves have suggested Apple's working on something like that: a way to pay for all your Apple hardware, software and services for a single monthly price.
Now, Bloomberg reports that's getting closer. Apple is said to be planning to let people purchase iPads, Macs, monitors, Apple TVs, HomePods and a bunch of accessories with their Apple Cards, and pay for them over time.
- You can already buy an iPhone on a program like this — it's just an interest-free loan on your new device. But by broadening the program, Apple would make more products (like that $5,000 XDR monitor) feel affordable, and potentially broaden the appeal of the Apple Card.
Meanwhile, developer code seems to suggest we're going to see some software-subscription bundles, too.
Even if Apple doesn't technically offer a single Everything Bundle, the Apple Card could help the company to effectively accomplish the same thing. Apple seems to think of the Card as its version of the Power Card at Dave & Buster's: It's your ticket into its world, the passport to all the company's offerings.
The Transformation of Work Summit
Join us for Protocol's Transformation of Work Summit on June 23 at noon ET. A discussion of where in-demand skills meet job opportunity. First speakers announced: Congressional Future of Work Caucus co-chairs Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Representative Bryan Steil (R-WI). This event is presented by Workday.
From whitelist/blacklist to allowlist/blocklist
Leah Culver, co-founder of the Breaker podcast app, tweeted this on Friday night: "I refuse to use 'whitelist'/'blacklist' or 'master'/'slave' terminology for computers. Join me. Words matter."
Her thoughts inspired an argument on Twitter (surprise!) but rocketed around the programming community, and quickly led to others following suit. Not long after, Filippo Valsorda, a Google cryptographer and contributor to the Go programming language, suggested replacing all usages of whitelist and blacklist with allowlist and blocklist.
- Outside of the occasional bad-faith argument, it sparked a really interesting discussion that's been happening on and off for years about programming terminology. Are these terms about race? Are there broader political issues at play here? And what are the right terms here?
- This has been happening for a while, actually — and coding languages have been slowly changing their terminology for the last few years.
Valsorda tried to sidestep all the hand-wringing. "It's clear that there are people who are hurt by them and who are made to feel unwelcome by their use due not to technical reasons but to their historical and social context," he wrote. "That's simply enough reason to replace them." Plus, he said, the new names are actually far more self-explanatory.
Coming Up This Week
MIT's always-great EmTech Next conference starts today, with Eric Yuan, Stewart Butterfield and a bunch of other interesting speakers.
MongoDB World, a free virtual conference, runs tomorrow through Wednesday.
California is letting film and TV crews get back to work starting on Friday — with some very specific instructions and guidelines in place.
Adobe, Stitch Fix and Chewy reports earnings this week.
In Other News
- On Protocol: Location-based VR was supposed to be the future, but companies are worried that the industry won't survive quarantine. Sandbox, one of the early leaders in the category, already had to lay off 80% of its staff.
- When it came out that Uber was trying to acquire Grubhub, Protocol's Biz Carson told me to watch for a bidding war — and a bidding war we have! Just Eat Takeaway and Delivery Hero, two European companies looking for a way into the U.S. market, reportedly want to steal the deal.
- You saw those gaudy job-increase numbers, right? Well here's a good take on what's happening, and a dive into the "misclassification error" that may have made the numbers look better than they are.
- Don't miss this story from The Wall Street Journal about Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, who is reportedly getting ready to fight back in a big way against U.S. sanctions and accusations.
- Reliance's Jio Platforms took on even more investment. Silver Lake upped its stake by another $600 million, and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority put in $750 million. Both keep Jio Platforms at the same $65 billion valuation. (Here's why they're so interested in the company.)
- On Protocol: Black Lives Matter protesters are using Google Docs to share and organize information. That could put Google in a tricky spot with law enforcement.
One More Thing
Prime time for Prime Air
It was more than six years ago that Jeff Bezos went on "60 Minutes" to proclaim that he'd solved drone delivery and that Prime Air was about to take over the skies. *Looks at the sky* That hasn't gone so well. Thanks to inner turmoil, regulatory complications, and the fact that nobody's really solved the problem of how to drop a package in someone's backyard without destroying the contents or its recipient, the company's still having trouble getting its drone delivery program … off the ground. (Sorry.) Now, Amazon wants to finally launch Prime Air on Aug. 31, Business Insider reported. And Jeff Bezos is in a serious hurry to make it happen.
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