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Nick Clegg could decide Trump’s fate on Facebook

​Nick Clegg

Good morning! This Thursday, who might decide Trump's future within Facebook, the strangely deep debates happening in Epic v. Apple, Google retreats on WFH and Peloton launched a huge recall.

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The Big Story

What's next for Trump and Facebook

Was the Facebook Oversight Board's ruling on Donald Trump just a punt to avoid having to actually make a decision? Board director Thomas Hughes said no. He told Protocol's Issie Lapowsky that the board's job is to enforce Facebook's rules, not invent them:

  • "Users must be able to understand what the penalties are, what the implications are, they must be empowered to have knowledge of the implications around the decisions that they take in terms of content and they must know about what's going to happen subsequently if they post different types of content."
  • "We acknowledge the decision that was taken on the day was appropriate for that moment," he said. "But the indefinite nature of it was not consistent with international human rights, and so it needs to be redone."

Elsewhere, the reaction to the decision went down pretty much as you'd expect.

  • Trump blogged about the decision, calling it "a total disgrace." Mark Meadows called it "a sad day for America," and promised that Republicans would double down on regulating Facebook and other Big Tech companies.
  • Democrats mostly celebrated the decision, and made no bones about calling on Facebook to ban him permanently.
  • And Sen. Elizabeth Warren tried to bring the conversation back to the point. "Facebook profits off of disinformation," she tweeted. "That was true when Donald Trump was allowed on the platform, and it's still true today. He should be banned for good, but that won't solve the larger problem. We still need to rein in disinformation and protect our democracy."

So what now? Facebook has six months to make a final decision, per the Oversight Board's ruling. And while that decision will ultimately be Mark Zuckerberg's, as is everything at Facebook, Nick Clegg is the person to watch.

  • Clegg has been an important policy voice for a long time, which you'd expect from the former U.K. deputy prime minister. And he has reportedly been involved with the Trump-Capitol question since the beginning.
  • "He has a track record of knowing what it's like to work inside a cabinet that needs to make decisions quickly and move at the speed of a country, or in this case a platform," Chris Cox told The New York Times about Clegg. And Clegg is actively pursuing building a political body inside Facebook because he feels like he has to.

So far, after months of debate and waiting, we haven't learned much of anything about Facebook or Trump or the future of either. But at some point, it appears Facebook is going to have to make some rules. And then abide by them.

Epic v. Apple

What's a computer?

I don't think anyone would have guessed how quickly Epic v. Apple would turn into a deep look at how the internet works and what counts as a computer. But given how much this case turns on market definitions — and thus whether Apple has a market monopoly — maybe it makes sense.

  • The court heard how not all devices are equal. Andrew Grant, an engineering fellow at Epic, spent time explaining the difference between a console — "a single-purpose device for entertainment," among other things — and a computer, smartphone or tablet.
  • Things went deep on business models, too. Microsoft's Lori Wright acknowledged that Xbox consoles are sold at a loss, and then subsidized through selling games and services. She said Microsoft has never earned a profit on the sale of an Xbox device.
  • The open web also became a talking point. Apple made the case that web apps can be great, and developers only choose to build native apps because of the perks offered by the App Store. Wright said that's not the case, and said that the Xbox Cloud Gaming service it's building for browsers is harder "both to build and maintain."

Ultimately this case is about app stores and purchasing systems. But it's increasingly obvious that in order to argue about those things, there needs to be a shared understanding of how it all works. And oh my goodness are we not even close to that.

People Are Talking

Gary Gensler is testifying in Congress today, and plans to talk about both banning payment for order flow and the gamification of trading:

  • "If we watch a movie that a streaming app recommends and don't like it, we might lose a couple of hours of our evening. If a fitness app nudges us to exercise, that's probably a good thing. Following the wrong prompt on a trading app, however, could have a substantial effect on a saver's financial position."

Peloton is recalling all its treadmills, and CEO John Foley apologized for mishandling safety concerns:

  • "I want to be clear, Peloton made a mistake in our initial response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's request that we recall the Tread+. We should have engaged more productively with them from the outset. For that, I apologize."

Banks are getting on board with crypto because otherwise they'll lose clients, NYDIG's Yan Zhao said:

  • "This is not just the banks thinking that their clients want bitcoin, they're saying 'We need to do this, because we see the data.' They're seeing deposits going to the Coinbases and Galaxies and Krakens of the world."

A MESSAGE FROM INTEL

ICYMI: "In the old way, the developer might have had to create custom code for each piece of silicon. So, we worked hard to create OpenVINO, which lets developers write one time, and then deploy that code across a variety of silicon from Intel."

Learn more

Making Moves

Galaxy Digital bought BitGo for $1.2 billion, the biggest crypto acquisition so far. Friends, this whole "cryptocurrency" thing might be big money. Just saying.

DeepMind is hiring in Toronto, and plans to have a small team there going forward.

Coinbase is closing its office in San Francisco next year, as it turns into a remote-first company.

Jade Raymond's new games studio is poaching Google Stadia employees left and right. At least six people have left the Googleplex to work for Raymond, who used to run a studio inside Stadia before leaving in February.

Clubhouse is funding 50 audio shows from creators, giving them $15,000 each to work on everything from "The Salty Vagabonds Club" to "Inside K-Pop" to "The Food Porn Trading Desk."

Zynga bought Chartboost, a mobile programmatic ad company, for $250 million. Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau said the acquisition will help it deal with the IDFA fallout.

In Other News

  • On Protocol: Google is loosening its work-from-home rules. It will allow some employees to work from home more than three days a week and relocate offices if they wish, a reversal of its previous plan.
  • Tencent's negotiating with CFIUS about keeping its Epic and Riot stakes, Reuters reported. CFIUS is reportedly concerned that the way the gaming companies handle user data could pose a national security risk.
  • The Department of Labor withdrew a gig-worker rule that had made it easier for companies to classify their workers as independent contractors. It was yet more bad news for Uber, and its stock plunged on its earnings.
  • Don't miss this story about Jeff Bezos's fight with the National Enquirer, which takes a close look at how the CEO used his business savvy to navigate the situation. It's adapted from the new book "Amazon Unbound" by Brad Stone.
  • On Protocol: Blue Origin's auctioning off a trip to space. Bidding opens in mid-May for a July 20 trip, so best start saving up now.

One More Thing

Can everybody see my screen?

I submit that the single worst thing about Zoom meetings is presenting a slide deck. There's that dumb thing where it automatically goes full-screen, you can't see people while you're presenting, you see your own face twice, it's all just bad.

But the Harvard Business Review has a couple of good tips for running meetings and giving presentations, particularly in a hybrid environment. It requires a lot of movement, a lot of webcam eye-contact and the most important rule of all: Keep it short. Eight-minute meetings are the best meetings.

A MESSAGE FROM INTEL

ICYMI: "In the old way, the developer might have had to create custom code for each piece of silicon. So, we worked hard to create OpenVINO, which lets developers write one time, and then deploy that code across a variety of silicon from Intel."

Learn more

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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