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The world turns on Huawei
Good morning! This Wednesday, how is it July already? Also, the anti-Huawei chorus gets louder, Facebook boots out the Boogaloos, and company-brand face masks are heading your way.
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People Are Talking
Reddit's policy changes are partly about becoming a platform people are proud to use again, Steve Huffman said:
- "When I came back my first day of 2015, I told the company, 'One of my goals is for you to be proud to work here.' Because back then, the company was not in a good place. The people who worked at Reddit simultaneously loved Reddit — you wouldn't be at Reddit in 2015 unless you loved Reddit — and were not willing to wear their swag in public."
On Protocol: Asking tech companies to end police contracts is beside the point, Parrot founder Henri Seydoux said:
- "I think the answer has nothing to [do] with technology. I mean, police, they use cars, they even have T-shirts that are made by the same T-shirt makers. There is nothing that I can do."
How bad is facial-recognition tech? Detroit police chief James Craig said it's really bad:
- "If we were just to use the technology by itself, to identify someone, I would say 96% of the time it would misidentify."
The Big Story
Huawei's on the global outs
After more than a year of pushing from the U.S. government that only persuaded a handful of countries to follow its lead, other parts of the world now appear to be turning on Huawei.
India is reportedly considering shutting the company out of its 5G rollout plan (along with ZTE, which gets most of the same bad news without as much of the bad press). It would be a big move from a country that's a huge potential market, though maybe not a surprising one after its government kicked out TikTok and other China-made apps earlier this week.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the FCC officially named both Huawei and ZTE as national-security threats. That means none of the agency's billions of dollars earmarked for telecommunications equipment can be spent with those companies.
- FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said that "Communist China intends to surveil persons within our borders and engage in large-scale, industrial espionage. Nothing short of prohibiting subsidized Huawei and ZTE gear from our networks could address this serious national security threat."
Boris Johnson had similar thoughts about the U.K.'s plans. Without making any specific policy statements, and while taking care to say "I'm not a Sinophobe," Johnson said that "I do want to see our critical national infrastructure properly protected from hostile state vendors, so we need to strike that balance and that's what we'll do."
- The U.K.'s digital secretary Oliver Dowden went further, and said that the government has been watching what the U.S. has been doing for months. "Given that those sanctions are targeted at 5G . . . it is likely to have an impact on the viability of Huawei as a provider for the 5G network," he said.
Huawei and ZTE argue that they're not affiliated with the Chinese government and can be trusted around the world, an argument they've been making for a long time now.
- And there's really no firm public evidence that says otherwise. But there's plenty of public opinion, which continues to turn against Chinese tech companies and Huawei most of all.
Like so many things right now, this feels like a combination of political posturing and genuine worry. My money's on political posturing leading the charge, but it's hard to know. And what if it doesn't even matter?
- Andy Purdy, Huawei's CSO in the U.S., told Vice that banning a company's routers is never going to keep a country's networks safe. "There are at least five nations of the world that have the ability to virtually implant hidden functionality and malware, in hardware and software," he said.
- In other words: Blocking Huawei doesn't keep China out.
Facebook continues its crackdown
Silly me: I thought it was moderation day on Monday. Turns out it's moderation week! (And we reserve the right to rename it moderation month, year and decade, should the need arise.)
The latest: Facebook removed 220 Facebook accounts, 106 groups, 95 Instagram accounts and 28 Pages related to the far-right Boogaloo movement, in what it called "a strategic network disruption."
- Facebook has always removed Boogaloo content when it clearly threatened violence, the company said, but now it has classified the movement as a "dangerous organization" and decided to remove it from the platform entirely. It even yanked another 500 groups and pages that had related content.
At the end of Facebook's blog post about the crackdown, the company acknowledged that this is likely a forever cat-and-mouse game. "We will continue to study new trends," the post explained, "including the language and symbols this network shares online so we can take the necessary steps to keep those who proclaim a violent mission off our platform."
- And sure enough, there's still plenty of Boogaloo on Facebook properties. #boogalooboys is still active on Instagram, as are a number of accounts posting related content. And, as BuzzFeed pointed out, Boogaloo-related ads are still live on Instagram.
- Facebook told BuzzFeed there's more enforcement coming, but like with every moderation decision, lines blur fast. Some people say they're posting as a joke, others are making fun of or satirizing the movement, all while the actual extremists just get better at disguising their actions.
Meanwhile, the advertiser outrage continues. One study found that a third of major advertisers are likely to suspend social advertising — yesterday, Target was the largest company to jump in.
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America's COVID home videos
Protocol's Janko Roettgers writes: How do you make a commercial during COVID? Productions are still shuttered, and milking the archives for sentimental pre-pandemic footage starts to get old quickly. A growing number of advertisers are turning to amateur footage instead, with some help from Jukin Media.
The Los Angeles-based company has been licensing YouTube clips to brands for years, but Jukin CEO Jon Skogmo said that this type of licensing has grown significantly since shelter-in-place. "Brands really want to be part of that conversation," Skogmo said.
- With marketing plans thrown into disarray, amateur footage also allows advertisers to react a lot more quickly. "We had to turn these campaigns around in a few days," Skogmo said.
Jukin is working with more than 50,000 video makers, licensing their clips to brands and TV shows while also operating its own video distribution channels, and announced this week that it has paid out $25 million in licensing fees to date.
- Some of the company's most famous clips include Chewbacca Mom, Pizza Rat and David After Dentist, but another video made some headlines for a different reason last week: President Trump tweeted an edited clip of two toddlers hugging, which Twitter took down after receiving a DMCA notice from Jukin.
Skogmo explained that his company issues similar take-down notices every day, and that he would have done so regardless of who lived in the White House. "Protecting our copyright is part of our business," he said.
Bozoma Saint John is Netflix's new CMO. She's run marketing teams at Endeavor, Uber and Apple, and will replace Jackie Lee-Joe, who's leaving the company for personal reasons.
Mark Kinsella is Opendoor's new VP of engineering. He was previously the head of driver engineering at Lyft, and Opendoor specifically mentioned his IPO experience in its announcement. Just saying.
Ellis Briery is joining Contrary Capital to launch Contrary Talent, a new network connecting college students to startups. He was previously Triplebyte's head of talent.
In Other News
- Remember that landmark Supreme Court case where Booking.com wanted to trademark its domain name? The court ruled yesterday that it can do that, because Booking.com is "not a generic name to consumers."
- From Protocol: It seems like everyone's into this idea of apps running inside other apps, with both Snap and Apple betting big on it. But a startup called Koji thinks it can do an even better job.
- Good news: Verily, Alphabet's health care company, is spending a bunch of money on diversity initiatives. Bad news: It reportedly suspended bonuses to pay for that.
- Microsoft is providing free digital skills training to 25 million people, via LinkedIn, Github, and Microsoft Teams.
- Google won't open offices until September 7 at the earliest, security chief Chris Rackow reportedly told employees. Initially, the company expected to start bringing people back next week.
- Amazon made its first big gaming splash last month with the release of Crucible. But reviewers and players didn't like it — so Amazon's pulled the game, moving it back into closed beta.
- A group of top universities and tech companies — including Stanford, Google and Amazon — backed the National Research Cloud, a project to give academics access to Big Tech's cloud resources.
- Discord, gamers' favorite chat app, raised $100 million at a $3.5 billion valuation. It also changed its messaging to emphasize that it's not just for gamers — it's simply "Your Place To Talk." Catchy!
- Chime launched a credit card that works like a debit card: You can't spend more than the amount in your account. It's designed to help people build their credit score without getting into debt, and it means you can have yet another startup card in your wallet.
One More Thing
Tired: branded vests. Wired: branded face masks.
If you're going to wear a mask (and you really should), the least you can do is rep your company in the process. The Washington Post reported that as companies bring people back to the office they're providing them with branded pandemic kits to ease the process. And that COVID corporate swag is becoming big business: hand sanitizer, face masks, Zoom lights, socks, those funky key-pressing things, and more. Conference-goers, time to clear out the drawer filled with branded pens and thumb drives. Get ready for the 'rona swag.
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Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from 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.