Image: The White House
May 29, 2020
Good morning! This Friday, the White House picks a free-speech fight, C-suite execs cause cybersecurity problems and streaming services jump on the co-watching bandwagon.
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People Are Talking
On Protocol: Restaurants need to diversify their revenue streams to survive post-COVID, Resy CEO Ben Leventhal said:
- "I think we can expect restaurants coming out of this to be imaginative and to be inventive and to find new ways to make money. So you could see that being chef experiences, meal kits, cooking lessons — a whole range of things that restaurants, we believe, will do coming out of this to make money."
Udemy co-founder Gagan Biyani tweetstormed a good story about how he failed with Sprig:
- "All of a sudden, everything changed. On Feb 22, 2016: our growth curve inverted. +2%/wk became -2%/wk. We scrambled to figure out why. Was it seasonality? Was it our rising prices? Was it the quality of the food? Everyone was running tests to figure out why and what to do."
The Big Story
Trump picks an old fight, while Twitter stands firm
"Do something." That was the directive from President Trump to his staff, according to a White House official who spoke to Protocol, after Twitter put a fact-check label on the President's tweets about mail-order ballots. So they did … something: grabbed an old draft of an executive order related to social media, spruced it up, and turned it into the document Trump signed on Thursday afternoon.
Protocol's Issie Lapowsky and Emily Birnbaum wrote a great story about the order, which aims to spur a review of Section 230 and classify social media platforms as protected public spaces. Lots of people, even in the White House, are frustrated with the way it came together. And Ron Wyden summed up a lot of the outcry in a tweet: "Trump's order is plainly illegal."
- The order is focused on free speech. "The President will take action to ensure that Big Tech does not stifle free speech and that the rights of all Americans to speak, tweet and post are protected," press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. You know, like the first amendment says: Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom to tweet sick dunks and RT dank memes.
- Twitter and Facebook both put out similar statements against the order. "Those rules apply to everybody," Facebook said. "Repealing or limiting Section 230 will have the opposite effect. It will restrict more speech online, not less."
Is this all a lot of bluster over something that'll either be defeated in court or be forgotten before it gets there? Probably. Will it still change the way we talk about Section 230, free speech, and the future of the internet? Yup.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to push the boundaries of social media rules. Late last night, seemingly emboldened, Trump began tweeting again about mail-in ballots and shooting protesters in Minnesota.
- Early on Friday, Twitter added a "public interest notice" to the second of those tweets, saying it "violated the Twitter rules about glorifying violence" but was being left up out of public interest. Users can no longer like or reply to the tweet, though.
- In other words: Don't expect this story to go away today.
In case you're looking for some weekend reading on the subject, here are a few articles to start with:
- Recode has a good refresher on what Section 230 is. And what it isn't.
- OneZero has a great story on why Twitter decided to fact-check Trump's tweets in the first place — and just how bad it knew the blowback was going to be.
- CNBC talked to a number of experts who think the White House's crusade for free speech could end up backfiring, because effectively bullying social media into doing whatever you want might be a dangerous precedent to set.
- And our friends at POLITICO assessed where things go from here, and how the fight with social media might affect the 2020 campaign.
Your company's biggest cybersecurity risk: the bosses
More than 75% of C-suite executives requested to bypass one of their company's security protocols over the last year. That's according to a study from MobileIron, a London-based security firm that surveyed business leaders across Europe and the U.S.
It turns out the biggest security risks in a company are the people at the top.
- C-level executives were the second most likely group to be targeted by cyberattacks, and the most likely to fall for them. They're also the most likely group to forget their password, request access for unsupported devices and try to turn off security features.
- The study found that the organizations surveyed each spend an average of more than $150,000 a year on password resets alone, and the C-suite accounts for a full third of that figure.
A whopping 84% of C-level execs said they'd been targeted by cyberthreats in the last year, mostly via phishing attacks.
- There's a disconnect here, MobileIron said: "Despite the added level of risk they face, and their apparent awareness of it, the C-Suite is also the most likely group to ask for mobile security protocols to be relaxed for them."
With more people working from home, employees of all kinds are asking for more help and more affordances. But there's a security cost to each one — so even if you're the boss and can get away with flouting the system, maybe keep that two-factor auth turned on?
A MESSAGE FROM WALMART
'Neighbors Helping Neighbors' With Help From Walmart
Walmart and Nextdoor announced the launch of a program to make it easier for neighbors across the country to help one another during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The next best thing to co-couch-potatoing
Watching movies and TV shows together over the internet has been a popular way to beat quarantine boredom. First, everyone tried — and failed — to watch videos over Zoom. Then, a bunch of hacks and tools emerged to simplify co-viewing. And now, the streaming services themselves are starting to jump on the bandwagon.
Protocol's Janko Roettgers pulled together a list of the best watch-together options for your weekend viewing:
- Hulu started testing a new Watch Party feature this week. For now, it's limited to web browsers, and you need to be a subscriber of its ad-free tier — presumably to keep the test group small while Hulu irons out bugs.
- Plex also just launched a Watch Together feature, which allows users to watch their own videos, as well as ad-supported content from its new streaming service, with friends. Plex's feature works with mobile apps and some streaming devices, but not the web version yet.
- HBO teamed up with Scener, a Chrome extension, to bring co-viewing to HBO Now and HBO Go. (No word on HBO Max yet, sorry.)
- Netflix Party, an unofficial Chrome extension for Netflix co-viewing, has seen its usage explode ever since the beginning of shelter-in-place, and has now been installed more than 10 million times.
This isn't the first time people have tried to make consuming media together over the internet a thing. Remember Turntable.fm? Chill.com? Rabb.it? In the past, this often failed because people simply don't like appointment viewing. But as with so many things during COVID, watch parties may actually succeed this time around.
What have you been watching in quarantine? I'm caught up on all my shows, I finished YouTube, and need something new to watch. Reply to this email with all your faves, or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rony Abovitz is stepping down as Magic Leap's CEO. Business Insider reported that he told his team that the company had secured new funding, as it continues to pivot to becoming an enterprise product.
Surabhi Gupta is Robinhood's new VP of engineering. She joins from Airbnb, and will be responsible for all things product engineering – including keeping the Robinhood app from crashing at inopportune moments.
Zoom hired Damien Hooper-Campbell as its chief diversity officer. He was previously in the same role at eBay, and has led diversity efforts at Google and Uber.
Rob Chesnut is leaving Airbnb, after four years as the company's chief ethics officer and general counsel. He'll still be an advisor to the company, and will also be "helping companies find purpose and drive integrity into their culture."
In Other News
- Nuro is working with CVS to do autonomous-vehicle prescription delivery in Houston. Starting in June, it'll deliver across three zip codes — and the two companies claim to have figured out how to automate every part of the process.
- Fast Company named its first Queer 50, a "list of LGBTQ women and nonbinary innovators in business and tech." Among the tech stars on the list: Apple's Deirdre O'Brien, Amazon's Stephenie Landry, Recode's Kara Swisher, Backstage Capital's Arlan Hamilton and Credit Karma's Nichole Mustard. And that's just in the top 10!
- Elon Musk collected his first performance-based payout from Tesla: a cool $775 million for keeping the company's market cap above $100 billion on a 30-day and six-month trailing average. It's just the first of 12 such bonuses he could earn in the coming years.
- There's a new kind of address in Google Maps. It's called a "Plus Code," and is a short alphanumeric string that maps to a specific physical location more accurately than your average street address. This might be a big deal for things like autonomous delivery, and for the billions of people who don't have a standard address.
- An app called SwissCovid is out, giving us the first real-world test of Google and Apple's exposure-notification tech. It's only in a pilot right now, with several thousand users across the country, but should be rolled out more widely in a few weeks.
One More Thing
The new rules of tech-speak
The other day, Protocol copy chief Karyne Levy got very excited in our Slack. Why? Because the AP Stylebook just updated its stance on a bunch of tech terms, as it does from time to time. (Remember when it was "proper style" to write e-mail?) I asked Karyne for a few of the greatest hits, and here's what she sent me:
- "The fact that they have a new entry on literally the word 'technology' is kind of funny, although they're using it to specify that technology really means 'information technology,' rather than 'science and technology.' But they also offer the advice to 'consider the audience,' which is their way of saying 'when you're writing for olds, you'll probably have to define things more.'"
- "Putting Big Tech in caps gives it so much power! But it also seems so shady, comparing it to Big Tobacco."
- "Cloud computing finally made it into the style guide. As did digital assistant, virtual assistant, and voice assistant. But my favorite is that it commands us not to refer to Alexa or Siri with female pronouns."
At the rate things move, the AP's six-paragraph redefinition of "technology" will only make sense for about a week. But it's a good start.
A MESSAGE FROM WALMART
Walmart Adds Another Way For Customers To Shop Safely
Walmart and Nextdoor's "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" program makes it easier for vulnerable community members to coordinate their grocery shopping completely contact-free.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to me, email@example.com, or our tips line, firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your weekend, see you Monday.