Facebook vs. Mark Zuckerberg
Image: Alessio Jacona
Good morning! This Tuesday, Facebook's inner turmoil spills into public view, book publishers sue the Internet Archive, and a 30-year-old video game gets played for the first time.
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Tech-company statements keep coming, but the one most worth reading so far is Evan Spiegel's long note to Snap staff:
A group of civil rights leaders met with Mark Zuckerberg and were not impressed:
Jason Toff, a director of product management at Facebook (and a longtimer in Silicon Valley, with stints at Google, Twitter and Vine) tweeted on Sunday night that "I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we're showing up. The majority of coworkers I've spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard."
He was right. Lots of people at Facebook felt the same way after the company declined to take action on President Trump's tweets last week and remained largely silent on the matter of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and riots of the last few days. Internal dissent isn't new to Facebook — anyone who worked there the day after Election Day in 2016 knows that. But this time, more than I can ever remember, it's spilling out into public view:
It's not a coincidence that most of the public discussion about the goings-on at Facebook happened on Twitter. Many Facebook employees feel Twitter has done a better job of improving the conversation online, and have praised the company's decision to put warnings on Trump's tweets about violence and protests in Minnesota. (Though Twitter's facing a barrage of new tests of its policies — not least from Matt Gaetz, who likened Antifa to a terrorist organization in a tweet that Twitter says "violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.")
There's a disconnect here, I think. It feels like Zuckerberg is saying: There's no problem, this post doesn't break our rules. And Facebook employees are responding: That is the problem, we need better rules.
Oh, and it's not just Facebook. We're hearing that some Google employees are planning to take action together later this week, too.
A group of publishers sued the Internet Archive over the 1.3 million books that the group has made freely available online. (The system normally works sort of like a library, where one person gets access at a time — but during the pandemic the IA just gave everyone access to everything.)
The Internet Archive's defense is simple: We're just a library! "Publishers suing libraries for lending books, in this case, protected digitized versions, and while schools and libraries are closed, is not in anyone's interest," IA founder Brewster Kahle told The New York Times.
How Walmart is Helping Associates Live Better
To support associates' wellbeing, Walmart is:
Something tells me a lot of companies are going to have all-staff meetings in the coming days. There's … a lot to discuss. And actually, since the pandemic started, I've heard from a number of execs who said that replacing the all-hands has been one of the hardest things about going remote.
That was the thinking behind Askaway, an app built by a team at a software studio called MyPlanet. It's a pretty simple product: a quick Q&A tool that lets people ask questions, upvote others' questions to get them answered sooner, and set the agenda for the meeting. Since it's just a web app, you can screenshare it into whatever conferencing tool you use.
One big question Cottrell says he gets a lot: Should you allow anonymous questions? He said that, while it has sometimes brought in more critical questions, "we'd rather people ask the questions anonymously, so that we actually get the real view of what people are thinking and we can address them."
Richard Tom is the new CTO of WarnerMedia. He's a longtime partner of new CEO Jason Kilar: They worked together at both Hulu and Vessel, and will continue hacking together on the future of entertainment at Warner.
Forcepoint hired Myrna Soto as its new chief strategy and trust officer. She was previously the COO at Digital Hands, and will also join Forcepoint's Security Council.
Stitch Fix is laying off 1,400 people in California, and said it plans to hire 2,000 more — but the company's looking in lower-cost cities like Dallas, Minneapolis and Austin, rather than the Bay Area.
It's like one of those bonkers old Google interview questions: If I gave you a bunch of floppy disks and data tape, and told you there was an awesome video game in there somewhere, what would you do? The Video Game History Foundation figured it out. They spent months recompiling data, fixing and formatting drives and futzing with source code, before reconstructing a 30-year-old, unreleased Nintendo game called Days of Thunder. It's a great story, and a delightful racing game.
Walmart Hires 200,000 Associates Since March
Walmart used an expedited hiring process and worked with companies that have furloughed workers, including the restaurant and hospitality industries, to hire over 200,000 associates since March.
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