Image: Ben Sweet and Protocol
April 5, 2021
NFT of the day
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Good morning! This Monday, Facebook's huge data leak continues to be a problem, Amazon kinda-sorta apologized for the pee bottle thing, John Krafcik is leaving Waymo, and how to get married on the blockchain.
The Big Story
Your phone number is everywhere
533 million Facebook users had their data posted on a hacking forum. Facebook said it's "old data that was previously reported on in 2019," and that the vulnerability was fixed almost two years ago. But still, 533 million is a big number. And the data appears to be everywhere.
- The data has indeed been around for some time, Alon Gal, the security researcher who first noted the data dump, told the Washington Post. It had been sold and resold, bots had been built to query it and now it's being made freely available.
- Mark Zuckerberg's info was in the leak. Same for Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskovitz. So was mine, it turns out.
The dumped data includes names, phone numbers, account IDs, birthdates, locations and more. It's all a hacker might need to pull off social-engineering hacks, phish users or just spam the ever-living crap out of them.
- The fact that phone numbers were leaked might be the most consequential thing here, HaveIBeenPwned's Troy Hunt said after reviewing the leak. "Not just SMS, there are heaps of services that just require a phone number these days and now there's hundreds of millions of them conveniently categorised by country with nice mail merge fields like name and gender."
- Predica CTO Tomasz Onyszko said this "might be the first truly global phone book."
The half-life of a data set like this one is long, and even if Facebook patched the problem two years ago, its users are going to feel its effects for a long time.
Amazon's PR 'own-goal'
You never want to have to write a blog post acknowledging that yes, in fact, your work conditions are so brutal that some workers have to pee in bottles. And yet that's what Amazon had to do. It tried to bury the post on a Friday afternoon, but "Amazon acknowledges the pee" made the rounds anyway.
- Amazon's explanation, basically: We forgot about our drivers, we definitely shouldn't have let that tweet get sent and people have to pee in bottles all over the industry!
- "This was an own-goal, we're unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative [Mark] Pocan," Amazon wrote. Pocan, of course, was the recipient of Amazon's original, "You don't really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you?" tweet.
- Pocan's response? "Sigh. This is not about me, this is about your workers who you don't treat with enough respect or dignity. Start by acknowledging the inadequate working conditions you've created for ALL your workers, then fix that for everyone & finally, let them unionize without interference."
This continues to be a bad look at a bad time for Amazon. (And don't forget that Jeff Bezos himself was reportedly pushing for Amazon to fight back against its critics.) The Bessemer union fight continues, it's being sued over work conditions and there's more scrutiny than ever from Congress.
One thing Amazon has always had going for it is that, by and large, through it all, people love Amazon. But that can turn fast. And pee bottles are hard to forget.
LG quits the phone biz
The smartphone market is one company smaller now. After years of trying and failing to keep up with Samsung, Apple, Huawei and the rest of the high-end smartphone market, LG announced that it is finally throwing in the towel.
- "LG's strategic decision to exit the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector will enable the company to focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and business-to-business solutions, as well as platforms and services," the company said in a statement.
- LG reportedly tried to sell the business to Vingroup, the Vietnamese tech giant, but Reuters said the deal fell apart "due to differences about terms."
LG was never much of a player in mobile. It bet on Windows Mobile when the rest of the industry was starting to figure out Android, and then spent much of the last decade trying to leverage splashy features and unusual software to give it an edge. Instead, it hemorrhaged market share (and billions of dollars) without ever getting much momentum.
- LG leaving the market turns the U.S. into effectively a duopoly. Apple and Samsung own more than 80% of the market between them, and Alcatel is now the third-largest brand in the country with 3% share.
- Globally, of course, the landscape is much more competitive, and LG has long since been relegated to the "Others" category.
Not all of LG's work will go to waste. From cameras to processors to displays to networking components, the parts that made up smartphones now power everything from washing machines to cars. LG's going to hope it's not late to the future there either.
Technology has been the leading sector in trust since Edelman began its Trust Barometer 21 years ago. Since that time, trust in business has risen while trust in technology has declined – and this year, the decline has been dramatic.
Learn more and download Edelman's 2021 Trust in Technology report here.
People Are Talking
Tim Cook said that giving everyone a platform and a voice is in fact the wrong goal:
- "The web in some areas has become a dark place. Without curation, you wind up with this firehose of things that I would not want to put into an amplifier, which is what tech is in a large way. If you have a platform, you amplify things."
On Protocol: Genius Guild's Kathryn Finney wants to help founders end racism, and make a pile of money in the process:
- "I feel like we should have some benefit from our pain. We are the victims yet we don't get ... the economic benefits that come from solutions. That is one of the underpinnings of Genius Guild."
From Dan Rose's Twitter thread this weekend, a reminder that founders decide culture:
- "The key to a strong culture is consistency from the top. The CEO's job is to make sure everyone on the management team is on the same page. If a senior leader wants to create their own unique culture for their part of the org, they can't be allowed to stay."
Stop complaining about "too much capital" and start figure out what to do about it, Haystack's Semil Shah said:
- "There's no point in lamenting how much capital is in the ecosystem though. It's just wasted energy. Instead, limited partners and fund managers need to think about what game they want to play given the game being played on the field. I know many LPs who do lament this, only to see spectacular returns from the past decade; I know some VCs we both love on Twitter keep banging this drum, but it's all hot air."
Coming Up This Week
Amazon's union vote continues in Alabama. It seems likely to drag on a while, though.
Will the Facebook Oversight Board rule on Trump? (Probably not, but I will continue to write this here until it happens or the universe ends. And at this point I'd bet on the latter.)
In Other News
- Facebook is in turmoil over ads from the Chinese government. Some in the company say Facebook is helping Beijing spread propaganda about its treatment of Uyghurs, and execs as high as Chris Cox have gotten involved in the internal debate.
- Biden's struggling to find an assistant attorney general for antitrust, POLITICO reported, due to concerns that many candidates have represented critics of Big Tech. Terrell McSweeny reportedly removed herself from consideration for the role over the concerns.
- On Protocol | China: Your favorite startup might have its engineers in China. But few founders want to talk about it, fearful of becoming "the next TikTok."
- Waymo CEO John Krafcik is stepping down. Tekedra Mawakana and Dmitri Dolgov will become co-CEOs, while Krafcik will remain as an advisor.
- On Protocol | Fintech: EBay's going it alone on payments. After years of integration with PayPal, Alyssa Cutright is now building a new payments system for the company.
- LinkedIn is taking the week off. A majority of the company's 15,900 employees are getting a week's paid vacation, to help avoid burnout.
- On Protocol: Tech's shuttle drivers have been home for the last year like everyone else, but thanks to their unions (and to Facebook) they're still getting paid.
- Google's new phones will run on its own chips, 9to5Google reported. The new devices, due this fall, will run on "Whitechapel" chips, reportedly co-developed with Samsung.
- Russian iPhones now prompt users to install Russian apps on setup, in response to a new law aimed at reducing Russian dependence on foreign companies.
One More Thing
NFT of the day
Rebecca Rose and Peter Kacherginsky got married a few days ago. (Congrats!) Both are Coinbase employees, and so they exchanged their vows in a remarkably Coinbase-y way: by sending "virtual rings" to each other as digital tokens. They created a special token called Tabaat, only minted two of them, and honestly the whole thing is just extremely wholesome. The blockchain, it turns out, is pretty darn romantic.
To learn more about trust in technology and how the sector can recover its reputation, join Edelman for a discussion with tech industry leaders on what's next for Tech & Trust in 2021. This event is moderated by Protocol.
Click here to RSVP.
Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or our tips line, email@example.com. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.