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Where to go when you’re mad at Twitter

Image: Protocol

Where to go when you’re mad at Twitter

Good morning! This Thursday, conservatives want to ditch Twitter, Slack wants to kill more email, and Ilumio wants to save your laptop from the internet.

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People Are Talking

Boston just banned facial recognition, and city Councilor Ricardo Arroyo said not a moment too soon:

  • "In a time where we're seeing so much direct action in the form of marches and protests for rights, any kind of surveillance technology that could be used to essentially chill free speech or ... more or less monitor activism or activists is dangerous."

The era of the FOMO-fueled "hype round" may be over, Financial Venture Studio's Ryan Falvey and Tyler Griffin said:

  • "Scheduling a call with a competitor to discuss what one is seeing in-market is an awkward and unpleasant distortion of casual deal-flow gossip over drinks, and it turns out that 'pattern matching' is extremely difficult when managers can't watch other investors play the game as well."

Section 230 needs reform, Sen. John Thune said in introducing the PACT Act, but not in the heavy-handed ways proposed so far:

  • "The internet has thrived because of the light touch approach by which it's been governed in its relatively short history. By using that same approach when it comes to Section 230 reform, we can ensure platform users are protected, while also holding companies accountable."

On Protocol: Actually, maybe what we need is a Digital New Deal, Maryland Professor Frank Pasquale said:

  • "In a lot of the policy space, we get incrementalist reform, and we get very small proposals to tinker at things around the edges. I wanted to provide something more comprehensive."

The Big Story

The new new home for the Twitter disillusioned

As we've mentioned here before, the Trump campaign has spent the last few months preparing for what happens if the president is banned, shadowbanned, or otherwise messed with on social media. As Twitter in particular continues to crack down on the president's account, one alternative that's gaining momentum is Parler.

Parler calls itself "an unbiased social media focused on real user experiences and engagement." It's been around since 2018, but never really registered on app store radars until around Memorial Day — also known as the day Twitter first added a fact-check link to a Trump tweet.

  • That same day, Eric Trump joined Parler. Conservative commentator Dan Bongino, who's an investor in the app, also told his 1.9 million followers that "Parler is everything Twitter isn't. It's free. Literally. Free to you, and free for your thoughts."
  • The app has been climbing the app store rankings ever since. Parler now has more than a million users, CEO John Matze told The Wall Street Journal, 10x more than a year ago.

It's not exclusively billed as a conservative answer to Twitter, but that's effectively how it's being used. And all over Twitter yesterday, in the wake of another spat between the platform and the president, conservative users urged their followers to #Twexit and go to Parler instead.

  • The app's sort of a mix of Reddit and Twitter. It's image- and text-heavy, and makes it easy to upvote or "echo" a post (which is the same as a retweet). It's not all conservative-leaning politics … but it's mostly conversative-leaning politics.
  • Suggested accounts run the conservative gamut, from Eric Trump and Rudy Giuliani to Laura Loomer and Mark Levin.
  • President Trump doesn't appear to have a Parler account, though there are plenty of parody and fan accounts. Ron and Rand Paul, Devin Nunes and Ari Fleischer are all active on the platform.

Is Parler just a flash in the anti-Twitter pan? Probably. It'll likely go the same way as Mastodon, Gab, Minds, MeWe and so many others that ultimately fade as users realize their reach remains much larger on Twitter and elsewhere.

  • Even Brad Parscale — who last tweeted "Hey @twitter, your days are numbered" with a link to a Parler post — doesn't seem to like the platform much. His Parler posts have been mostly about his issues with the platform, which he said isn't public-facing or polished enough.
  • Of course, there's one shortcut to success for all these platforms: Get the president himself to join, and bring his followers with him. Gab's had an account waiting for him for months, and the @donaldtrump Parler account appears to be ready as well.

Security

Your laptop is terrifying for CISOs

Protocol's Shakeel Hashim writes: Can you guess how many network connections eight laptops might make in a month? Illumio, a cloud security company, tested that with one of its customers — and it found just under 5 million attempted connections.

  • "Much of it is what you call background noise," Illumio CEO Andrew Rubin said — stuff you don't need to worry about. But some of those connections could be malicious. "Over 200,000 of them, if you're a security professional, you would look at and say 'that's not good.'"

Illumio maps connections between data-center devices, and lets companies block connections they don't want. That can stop one machine from getting infected and then infecting everything else in the network. This week, it launched the same product for laptops.

  • "We had been working on it for some time, long before COVID," Rubin said. But the pandemic, and the WFH revolution it spurred, "dramatically" accelerated the company's plans.
  • "It's created a massive amount of attack surface that none of us ever planned for," he said. As those 200,000 concerning connections show, our laptops and home networks have opened up a whole new world of cyber-risk.

That's not the only problem, either. Rubin points out that in The Old World, a broken laptop meant little more than a trip down the hall to IT, who'd swap it out for a new one. Now though? "I definitely don't have three more laptops piled up in the closet," he said. Nobody does: Remember when Google said it ran out of laptops to give employees?

  • For large companies that might need to replace tens of thousands of devices after a major cyber incident, "resilience" is a big problem. Because that's a lot of UPS labels.

A MESSAGE FROM CLEAR

CLEAR

CLEAR's touchless identity verification is available in 34 airports nationwide. Members verify their ID with their eyes and scan their boarding pass on a mobile device. With iris first technology, heightened cleaning, and social distancing set in place, you can travel safer with CLEAR. Touchless. No Crowds. Keep moving.

Learn more here.

Messaging

Slack's CPO on the shared future of messaging

If Slack's first job was to kill internal email, its new one is to take down the external stuff, too. Yesterday it launched Slack Connect, a way for companies to give outside people and organizations access to their Slack channels to make inter-organizational conversations easier.

The feature's been in the works for a couple of years, and seemed like potentially the beginning of a much more ambitious Slack vision, where it eventually becomes a giant messaging app for everyone. But Tamar Yehoshua, Slack's chief product officer, told me that's not exactly the plan:

  • "What we don't want to have happen," she said, "is a completely open system where you start getting spam." That part of email nobody should copy — same with phishing, annoying marketing, and the like.
  • "So we want to say, who are you doing real work with? Who are your partners? Who are your vendors? Where are your clients?" Those are the conversations Slack wants to work on, not the ones between you and your Aunt Marge.

Yehoshua said one particularly exciting feature of Slack Connect is using integrations — shared Trello boards, sending DocuSign forms, calendar syncing — across organizations. The kind of things that would usually be 40 emails between 15 people can now just be a Slack channel. "We've even seen people paying for their customers to be on Slack because they wanted to communicate with them," she said.

  • As for non-business uses of Slack? Yehoshua said she supports it: She's in Slacks with her family, with other ex-Googlers, and others. But work-talk is still the company's focus.

Making Moves

Jason Lee is Zoom's new CISO. He comes from Salesforce, and before that was at Microsoft. He's coming in at an interesting time, as Zoom wraps up its 90-day security overhaul and continues to try to keep up with its crazy growth.

Sonos is laying off 12% of its staff, and is closing six satellite offices and its store in New York. The changes are cost-cutting measures designed to help the company weather the pandemic.

Masayoshi Son stepped down from Alibaba's board. That follows Jack Ma's resignation from SoftBank's board, ending a 15 year run of close collaboration between the two companies.

In Other News

  • In what sounds like the least interesting "Law & Order" spinoff ever, Amazon is responding to its fake products problem with a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit that will "investigate cases where a bad actor has attempted to evade Amazon's systems and listed a counterfeit in violation of Amazon's policies." (Bum bum.)
  • Square launched food delivery options through a partnership with Postmates. After selling Caviar last summer, it seems Square's got its appetite back.
  • The Defense Department linked the Chinese Military to Huawei and Hikvision, according to a list seen by Axios, raising the prospect of new sanctions against the companies.
  • From Protocol: Google is changing its default privacy settings to automatically delete personal data for new users after 18 months.
  • Google agreed to pay for news in Germany, Australia, Brazil, and the Netherlands. It's a proactive step, after Australia's government recently proposed legislation that would force the company to pay publishers anyway.
  • Tencent is buying Iflix, the Malaysian streaming service. Reuters reported last week that it's also considering a takeover of the Chinese video streaming service iQIYI. Tencent and chill, anyone?
  • Don't miss this story from OneZero, about a social media cult turned pyramid scheme that used irony to hide its true colors.
  • And read this from The New York Times about how bad facial recognition meant a man was arrested for a crime he didn't commit.

One More Thing

Me at the zoo, 100 million times over

The first-ever YouTube video, "Me at the zoo," is neither the most popular video on YouTube nor the best. (For the record, this is the most popular and this is the best.) But the video with a guy and his elephants hit an important milestone this week: It's now been viewed 100 million times. Its creator even promised a sequel if he got 10 million subscribers — but since he's at 929,000 and hasn't published a video in 15 years, I'm not holding my breath for that one. Besides, it's only appropriate for "Me at the Zoo 2" to be on TikTok.

A MESSAGE FROM CLEAR

CLEAR

CLEAR's touchless identity verification is available in 34 airports nationwide. Members verify their ID with their eyes and scan their boarding pass on a mobile device. With iris first technology, heightened cleaning, and social distancing set in place, you can travel safer with CLEAR. Touchless. No Crowds. Keep moving.

Learn more here.

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from 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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