Sign up for Source Code — David Pierce’s daily newsletter on everything that matters in tech.
Source Code: What matters in tech, in your inbox every morning
Good morning! This Wednesday, a Facebook all-hands gets confrontational, organizing on Instagram gets complicated, and Zoom gets richer.
(Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to get Source Code every day.)
People Are Talking
Microsoft Teams wants to play nicely with competitors, but Microsoft 365 boss Jared Spataro said not that nicely:
- "The world has changed. We intend to compete and win."
The scooter industry is headed for huge consolidation, NGP Capital's Paul Asel said:
- "The move towards efficiency is happening irrespective of COVID-19. The Uber/Lime deal showed that this market is a natural duopoly, having so many operators per city is a money-losing exercise which causes consumer confusion."
The Big Story
Facebook employees demand transparency and change. Now.
"Why are the smartest people in the world focused on contorting and twisting our policies to avoid antagonizing Trump?"
That's just one of the questions Mark Zuckerberg faced during an all-hands call yesterday with about 25,000 employees, The New York Times reported, as he attempted to address everything from Facebook's moderation decisions to its diversity and inclusion initiatives.
- First, Zuckerberg explained (again) the rationale for leaving President Trump's post up. It didn't clearly incite violence, so it wasn't taken down. He called it a "tough decision," but promised the process behind it was thorough.
- One quote you'll hear a lot: Vox reported that Zuckerberg said Trump's "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" quote had "no history of being read as a dog whistle for vigilante supporters to take justice into their own hands."
- That didn't seem to make anyone feel better: Many employees seem to be less concerned with adhering to the rules and more interested in changing them.
- Zuckerberg may be interested, too: Bloomberg reported that "Facebook is exploring whether the company should change the policy or come up with other ways to flag violating posts besides taking them down entirely." That apparently includes labels on problematic posts, something Zuckerberg has previously said he didn't want to do.
One interesting tidbit from Vox's story: Zuckerberg said only a small group was involved in the decision on Trump's post, including himself, Sheryl Sandberg, policy VP Joel Kaplan, and head of diversity Maxine Williams. (Williams was reportedly the only black employee consulted.)
- Who the others were, he didn't say, but one name not on the list according to Zuckerberg was Guy Rosen, Facebook's head of integrity. (Check out Protocol's story on what's been happening to Yoel Roth, who has the same job title at Twitter.) Employees didn't like that Rosen wasn't involved in such a high-stakes decision.
Zuckerberg promised more transparency over complicated decisions in the future.
- But he hasn't changed his mind on Trump's posts.
- And he tried to end the meeting by convincing employees that Facebook is still making the world a better place. "The net impact of the different things we're doing in the world is positive," he said, per the NYT. "I really believe it is."
How many of those 25,000 people on the call agree with him? We're going to find out.
The messy work of hashtag activism
There are nearly 17 million posts on Instagram with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. Many of the most recent ones show the same thing: a black square, posted by millions of users in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for racial justice. Scrolling through the posts is a powerful experience.
But it created a problem: Many people used #blacklivesmatter as a way to organize and share information, and a wall of empty black boxes made information harder to find.
- "PLEASE do not use blacklivesmatter, blm, or any related hashtags for the blackout," Twitter user @ANTWTF said. "It is hiding valuable information that needs to be seen. RT for people who have already posted under the hashtag or are unaware so they can delete it‼️‼️‼️"
- At one point, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, offered tips on how to change the hashtag on a post so it'd file in the right place. "We're hearing asks from the community that posts related to Blackout Tuesday use the hashtag #blackouttuesday, and not #blacklivesmatter," he tweeted. "The #blacklivesmatter hashtag aggregates important information and resources for the community."
#blackouttuesday became the quasi-official hashtag of the movement, with nearly 26 million posts. But it was interesting evidence that, for all the talk of social's power of connectivity, these platforms aren't always good at helping people come together in all the complicated ways they want to.
- No wonder Snap Maps is so popular right now — it's the simplest way to actually see where people are, and what's going on, in real time.
- Most of these tools can be co-opted, of course; look no further than the way a bunch of K-pop fans managed to overwhelm an app the Dallas police were using to collect videos of protestors. Very few platforms have the tools required to avoid being overrun.
A MESSAGE FROM WALMART
Walmart Commits to Over $935 Million in Bonuses for Associates this Year
Walmart announced plans to provide another cash bonus for all U.S. hourly associates to recognize them for their many contributions to communities across the country during this unprecedented time.
The final rules for CCPA are finally in
Technically, the California Consumer Privacy Act has been law since January. Companies were given six months to figure out how to comply, while the state figured out the final rules and how to enforce them.
Enforcement never stops being tricky, as we've seen with GDPR. But at least now we have the rules: California AG Xavier Becerra submitted final regulations to the state's Office of Administrative Law yesterday.
- Most of the changes aren't substantive so much as clarifying. Who counts as a "third party?" What's "employment-related information?" Do you have to respond to requests in 10 days, or 10 business days? Who counts as an "average consumer?" Also, a lot of reordering and renumbering.
- The new rules also offer businesses a lot of specific guidance — on where to put links and notices on their websites, how to reach people offline, when they do and don't need to respond to requests, and more.
The law has been through the ringer recently, subject to open forums and public comments from a huge number of people.
- The list includes plenty of tech bigwigs: Roger McNamee, Brave's Johnny Ryan, Apple's Katie Kennedy, Okta's Fatime Khan, Google's Cynthia Pantazis, Mapbox's Thomas Lee and Kathleen Lu, and many others. Even Alistair McTaggart, who's already trying to write new privacy legislation, weighed in.
- Few commenters were more prolific than Kevin McKinley, the Internet Association's director of government affairs.
- All of which is to say, the tech industry has made very certain that its voice was heard.
There's a final review step for the rules, before they're signed into law. CCPA enforcement is scheduled to begin July 1, which means businesses have a month to get caught up on the rules and get on board.
Anthony Harrison has left Facebook. He was the company's global corporate communications leader — and I'm told he left a couple of weeks ago, before the recent problems started (and well before people started leaving because of the recent problems).
Rivian laid off about 40 employees, and hired a number of executives including a new COO: Rod Copes, a longtime motorcycle executive. Also joining the ranks are several former Tesla engineers and Georgios Sarakakis, a reliability expert who's worked at basically every futuristic car company out there.
Nextdoor co-founder Sarah Leary is now a partner at Unusual Ventures, focused on consumer investing. She's apparently already made her first (as yet unannounced) investment, too.
Twitter named Patrick Pichette as its new board chairman. Formerly Google's CFO, he's been on Twitter's board since 2017, and replaces Omid Kordestani, who will stay on as a director.
PagerDuty hired Manjula Talreja as its first Chief Customer Officer. She comes from a similar role at Salesforce, and will run PagerDuty's whole customer success team.
In Other News
- On Protocol: As teams head back to the office, they're looking into wearables as a way to track employees' movements, and their symptoms. But what can you really learn about COVID-19 from your Fitbit?
- The Zoom bump is very real. The company reported earnings yesterday, and crushed estimates and expectations across the board. Zoom is weird about how it reports numbers, but here's one eye-popping stat: The number of companies with more than 10 employees using Zoom has nearly quadrupled since last year.
- The DOD is trying to upgrade to IPv6, to keep up with the modern internet. It's been trying for almost two decades, actually. And it's still not going well.
- VW finally closed its huge investment in Argo AI. Argo is opening a European HQ in Munich, and is working on integrating its self-driving tech into both Ford and VW cars.
- On Protocol: After years of diversity initiatives, internal politics and public spats, we're at a breaking point in the tech industry's reckoning with power and race. And it's much bigger than Facebook and Twitter.
- The Center for Democracy and Technology filed a lawsuit saying Trump's recent executive order on social media "violates the First Amendment by chilling constitutionally protected speech of online platforms & individuals." I suspect it won't be the last.
- Roku added a huge library of live programming to The Roku Channel, where users can watch them for free. Good for content-hunting, but yet another development that makes Roku look a lot more like a streaming service.
One More Thing
Shopping season restarts soon, apparently
June 22. That, apparently, is the date Amazon would like all of us to come out of hiding and start buying crap again. The company has reportedly been telling sellers it's hosting a "summer sale" on the first day of the season, which it's been calling "Biggest Sale in the Sky." Which, sure. Expect big discounts, and a big push from Amazon now that its operations are getting back up to speed — it has a lot of sellers, buyers and shippers to make happy again as life starts to return to normal. Cheap battery cases for everyone!
A MESSAGE FROM WALMART
Walmart Repeats Cash Bonus for Associates
Bonuses will be $300 for full-time hourly associates and $150 for part-time hourly and temporary associates - totaling more than $935 million in bonuses this year.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to me, firstname.lastname@example.org, or our tips line, email@example.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.