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Trump is still banned from Facebook … for now

Trump

Good morning! This Wednesday, Facebook upholds the Trump ban (for now), Tim Sweeney justifies why he's out for Apple not Sony, and even Eric Yuan has Zoom fatigue.

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The Big Story

The Trump ban continues

The Facebook Oversight Board voted against reinstating the account of former President Donald Trump Wednesday, Protocol's Issie Lapowsky reported, upholding Facebook's decision to suspend him in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. But this story's not over.

  • The board also instructed Facebook to review the decision in order to determine and justify a proportionate response. The board asked for that new decision within six months.
  • "It is not permissible for Facebook to keep a user off the platform for an undefined period, with no criteria for when or whether the account will be restored," the board wrote in its decision.
  • The decision mostly makes the case that Facebook needs a better set of rules for this sort of thing. Or any set of rules at all. "In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve," it said, "Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities. The Board declines Facebook's request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty."
  • Of course, whatever Facebook does in six months could then be kicked back to the Oversight Board for review. So we might get to this all over again!

There's no mistaking the significance of this decision and the impact it could have on upcoming elections in the U.S. and abroad, even if some have dismissed the Oversight Board as a Facebook PR stunt. If polls are to be believed, Trump is still the favorite to become the Republican nominee four years from now.

  • Ahead of the board's announcement, Trump launched his own social tool, "From the Desk of Donald J. Trump," which is really less of a social network and more of a blog with heart buttons on every post. But part of the Trump strategy going forward is clearly to own more of its own ecosystem, to avoid issues like the one with Facebook.

This could be a big moment for Facebook. It has tried — and failed — to prove its political neutrality for most of its existence. But it could soon be in the position of prohibiting a leading candidate for the American presidency from using the platform, while the rest of the field gets access to Facebook's 3 billion users and hyper-targeted advertising tools. Even if Trump doesn't run, his continued deplatforming could diminish his ability to play kingmaker in Republican politics writ large.

Want to hear more on all this? Join us at 10 a.m. PT, as Oversight Board director Thomas Hughes chats with Issie about how the board made the decision, and what happens next.

Epic v. Apple

What's in a game?

Yesterday's testimony in Epic v. Apple was all about Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, Protocol's Nick Statt reports. He's the face of the company, the mastermind of Epic's fight with Big Tech, a pretty crappy Switch player and the person tasked with explaining the future of Fortnite. Which went … medium.

Is Fortnite a game? That was one of the questions bandied about a lot yesterday. Sweeney and Epic say it's a metaverse, a digital world, a place for concerts and creators. Apple says it's a game.

  • If it's just a game, Apple's argument that Epic should be picking its 30% commission fight with Sony instead — because PlayStation is the most dominant platform for Fortnite — might hold water. But if it's more than that, Epic may be able to take on the App Store model as a whole in a much more credible way, by arguing that the market dynamics of consoles and smartphones are very, very different.
  • "The long-term evolution of Fortnite will be opening up Fortnite as a platform for creators to distribute their work to users … and creators will make the majority of profits," Sweeney said. "With Apple taking 30% off of the top, it makes it very hard for Epic and creators to exist in this future world."

The strategies on both sides are coming into focus. Apple wants to paint Epic as a money-grubbing tech giant, coming after Apple not out of an interest in fairness but in an effort to blow up the App Store for financial gain. And Epic wants to build a huge economy out of Fortnite, and would very much like to not give a 30% cut of that economy to Apple.

People Are Talking

Basecamp's Jason Fried didn't walk back policy changes after a mass staff exodus, but he did apologize:

  • "Last week was terrible. We started with policy changes that felt simple, reasonable, and principled, and it blew things up culturally in ways we never anticipated. David and I completely own the consequences, and we're sorry. We have a lot to learn and reflect on, and we will."

I dare you to find a more 2021 paragraph than this one, from OANDA's Ed Moya:

  • "Dogecoin is surging because many cryptocurrency traders do not want to miss out on any buzz that stems from Elon Musk's hosting of 'Saturday Night Live.' Also known as the Dogefather, Musk will undoubtedly have a sketch on cryptocurrencies that will probably go viral for days and further motivate his army of followers to try to send Dogecoin to the moon."

Signal tried to run ads on Instagram that showed exactly the data they used to target the ad, and Signal's Jun Harada said they were quickly banned:

  • "Facebook is more than willing to sell visibility into people's lives, unless it's to tell people about how their data is being used. Being transparent about how ads use people's data is apparently enough to get banned; in Facebook's world, the only acceptable usage is to hide what you're doing from your audience."

Zoom's Eric Yuan said he had 19 Zoom meetings in a day recently, and has Zoom fatigue like the rest of us:

  • "I'm so tired of that. I do have meeting fatigue."

A MESSAGE FROM INTEL

"I've been working at Intel on developer solutions for 24 years, and when I think about the hardware that we provide, what our customers ultimately want to do with it is turn it into solutions, or essentially create new magic," says Intel's Bill Pearson: "Developers provide the magic."

Learn more

Making Moves

SaaStr, everyone's favorite hard-to-pronounce enterprise software conference, is going to be live and in person from Sept. 27-29.

Twitter bought Scroll, the ad-free news service, and plans to add it to its subscription service plans. It's also shutting down Nuzzel, which I find absolutely infuriating.

Rosie Rios is the newest board member at Ripple. She's a former U.S. treasurer, and will help the company figure out the future of crypto regulation.

John Justice left Google, leaving the Stadia team without a head of product — and short one of its most important members.

On Protocol | Policy: A Federal Appeals court ruled that Snap can't use Section 230 to get out of a lawsuit, meaning a Section 230 Supreme Court case could be coming soon.

Sherry House is Lucid Motors's new CFO, joining from Waymo.

In Other News

  • On Protocol | Fintech: How did Dogecoin get to here? Well, its surge prompted online brokers to support trading it, and being able to trade it more easily might in turn be fueling the surge.
  • TSMC's planning up to five new chip factories in Arizona, Reuters reported, beyond the one already promised in the state. Meanwhile, don't miss Nikkei Asia's story on Chinese efforts to achieve chip self-sufficiency.
  • On Protocol | Policy: Washington's tech issues are an opening for lobbyists, with plenty of opportunity for "educating" lawmakers who are scrambling to regulate the industry.
  • YouTube's making smart TV ads shoppable, with new calls-to-action that allow links to be sent straight from the TV to people's phones.
  • On Protocol: HTC will announce the Vive Focus 3 Business Edition and Vive Pro 2 next week, Protocol learned. Both will likely cost over $1,000.
  • Belgium's government was hit by a DDOS attack, taking down government websites, school IT systems and a vaccination appointment portal.

One More Thing

The 50/40 rule

One more tidbit from that study we mentioned yesterday: In very broad strokes, it turns out that the best rule of WFH thumb is just to think 50/40. About half the people can work from home, and the typical plan for those people involves two workdays a week at home (or 40% of the week).

"Business leaders often mention concerns around workplace culture, motivation, and innovation as important reasons to bring workers onsite three or more days per week," the study says. But there are also clear benefits to having a day or two of offsite work every week, across practically every category. In fact, the researchers found a lot of people would even take pay cuts to WFH two or three days a week going forward. Half the staff, at home two days a week. Your company might differ, but that's a pretty good starting point.

A MESSAGE FROM INTEL

"I've been working at Intel on developer solutions for 24 years, and when I think about the hardware that we provide, what our customers ultimately want to do with it is turn it into solutions, or essentially create new magic," says Intel's Bill Pearson: "Developers provide the magic."

Learn more

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Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.

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