February 28, 2022
Photoillustration: Getty Images; Protocol
Good morning! LiveJournal was Russia’s first connection to American tech. My name’s Owen, and I’m old enough to remember LiveJournal.
“The more you know, the less interesting it'll all seem.” That’s how LiveJournal co-founder Brad Fitzpatrick tried to calm restive users alarmed by a partnership the blogging service had struck with Russian internet company SUP in 2006. A year later, LiveJournal’s parent company sold it to SUP.
It was the first strand connecting Russian money and American tech, a web that would soon spin itself around most of the social media universe. And looking back on it from 2022, with Russian tanks besieging Kyiv, that history looks far more interesting.
Silicon Valley was still getting back on its feet in 2007. The real estate bubble was about to pop, which meant startups had to hunt far and wide for funding.
The big revelation came a decade later. The Panama Papers and Paradise Papers megaleaks revealed that the Kremlin had backed DST.
So what did Russia gain? A homegrown social media sector that has stayed under the Kremlin’s control.
The more you know, the more interesting it seems, doesn’t it? The Kremlin’s financial support of DST didn’t need to be part of a deliberate campaign. By encouraging Western companies to think of Russia as a ready source of funds and a market to exploit, Putin got what he wanted anyway. Sen. Mark Warner recently called on Big Tech to watch out for Russian influence operations. But it’s Russia’s long game that got short shrift.
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Airbnb is hoping to house 100,000 refugees fleeing from Ukraine, Brian Chesky announced:
JustAnswer’s Andy Kurtzig said the company is standing by its Ukrainian workers:
Mykhailo Fedorov, a Ukraine official, asked Tim Cook to stop offering Apple services and products to Russia:
MWC Barcelona starts today. After a quiet 2021 event, this year’s show is expected to have major announcements from several phonemakers.
eTail also begins today. The three-day ecommerce conference will be held in Palm Springs.
Notion is hosting an event on Wednesday called Block by Block, which will include announcements about new features and workshops.
“The Dropout” premieres Thursday. This is the Hulu version of the Theranos story, with Amanda Seyfried playing Elizabeth Holmes.
The EU is weighing a SWIFT ban and a freeze on Russian assets. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she would coordinate with the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and Italy to propose the sanctions to EU officials.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have turned off ads in Russia and Ukraine. Facebook is blocking Russian state media from advertising or monetizing in other forms; Twitter is pausing ads in Russia and Ukraine “to ensure critical public safety information is elevated and ads don’t detract from it”; and YouTube blocked several Russian channels from monetizing.
Meta described a hack it identified that targeted a group Ukrainian public figures, including military officials and politicians. It was attributed to a group referred to as Ghostwriter, which gained access to social media accounts and posted anti-Ukraine videos.
Elon Musk said Starlink internet satellites are active in Ukraine. The country’s vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation asked him to offer internet service.
Russia cut off some access to Facebook after trying to order the platform to stop fact-checking and labeling posts. Russia also cut off some access to Twitter.
Ukraine will allow crypto donations after all. The country is taking donations in bitcoin, ether and USDT and has raised over $10 million in crypto as of Sunday morning.
Hayden Stafford is leaving Pega next month, a spokesperson told Protocol. Stafford has been the company’s president of global client engagement since 2020.
A state bill ensuring new benefits for ride-hailing drivers is moving along. The Washington state house approved a bill guaranteeing drivers benefits like paid sick time and workers’ compensation, but it also classifies them as independent contractors.Discord wants to stop health misinformation, and will even take into account off-platform behavior.
Professor Jeffrey Lewis realized Russia was invading Ukraine long before the news went public. He wasn’t on the ground or scrolling through social media to notice what was happening; Lewis found out through Google Maps.
Traffic data on the platform showed a traffic jam before rush hour, suggesting that cars were being blocked as military vehicles drove by, The Washington Post reported. (Google yesterday temporarily disabled live traffic data in Ukraine.) The story is a good example of the ways technology can show people events from thousands of miles away, be it through TikTok videos or tweets. And now, tech is allowing people to see events up close in ways only governments could before.
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