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Why Mark Zuckerberg U-turned on Holocaust denialism

Image: Alessio Jacona / Shashank Singh / Protocol
Zuckerberg U-Turn

Good morning! This Tuesday, Apple's launching a bunch of new stuff, Zuck's changing his mind on Holocaust denialism, and two hip startups may be going public.

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The Big Story

Apple needs the iPhone 12 to be a hit

Happy iPhone day! Today we all get to *checks notes* watch a YouTube infomercial about a new smartphone. Things kick off at 10 a.m. PDT. Anyway, here's a quick rundown of what to expect at today's "Hi, Speed" event, in rough order from most to least likely:

  • iPhone 12: Pretty much guaranteed. It looks like there will be four models, a new design, new display tech, 5G connectivity, and at least one with a lidar sensor.
  • HomePod Mini: Because the only thing wrong with the HomePod was that it was too big? Seriously, though, it's smart for Apple to keep pushing here: Living-room-smart-speaker is a powerful space to win.
  • New wireless chargers: Maybe with the MagSafe brand! Not quite AirPower, but it might be a way to charge two gadgets at once.
  • AirTags: The long-awaited Tile competitor, but it's been rumored for a long time.
  • AirPods Studio: The over-the-ear cans that Beats fans have been waiting for? Another one that's been long in the works, and the most recent rumors say it won't come today, but I wouldn't be shocked.
  • Apple Car: Wheels sold separately.

I said least likely would come last! Anyway, the iPhone launch continues to be the tone-setting gadget event of the year, and this year more than most. Apple has a lot of people's attention today, and it'll use it to try to explain the virtues of 5G, AR and more. The rest of the industry will be taking notes.

Apple needs the iPhone 12 to be a hit, both to keep its hardware beast rolling and to keep pulling people into its services ecosystem. I'd be shocked if there's no talk about Apple One today, and if iPhone 12 buyers don't get some sweet deal for Apple's Everything Bundle.

  • Along the way, it'll also have to prove it can keep supply chains churning, and that people will still buy $1,000 phones in messy economic times.

As for a sleeper announcement to watch out for? The Apple TV, which to my mind is Apple's single worst gadget. (The Siri remote, ugh.) But it could be one of Apple's best, and a crucial vessel for Apple Arcade, Fitness+, TV+ and more.

Moderation

Mark Zuckerberg changes his mind

Anna Kramer writes: If you want to understand how Facebook — and Mark Zuckerberg specifically — might be thinking differently about moderation, look no further than yesterday's announcement that the platform will prohibit Holocaust denialism. Why? Because in 2018, Zuckerberg cited Holocaust conspiracies as precisely the kind of content he wanted to protect — not because he believed them, but because he sees Facebook as a bulwark in defense of free speech.

Zuckerberg explained the shift in a Facebook post yesterday:

  • "I've struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust," he wrote. "My own thinking has evolved as I've seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence, as have our wider policies on hate speech."

Why now? Facebook has been facing increasing anger over its hate speech policies, both internally (culminating in the public resignation of several employees, including engineer Ashok Chandwaney) and externally (including the launch of a group of critics calling themselves the "Real Facebook Oversight Board.") The new policy might be part of an effort to quell that uprising.

  • "If they had wanted to support the Jewish community, this change could have been implemented at any point in the last nine years. In reality, we believe Facebook is acting now because of external pressure coming from a variety of sources," wrote Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and a member of the Real Facebook Oversight Board.

Plus, as Joe Biden's poll numbers continue to rise, Zuckerberg could be reckoning with the fact that a new Biden administration will probably be a lot less tolerant of platforms that seem lax about right-wing conspiracy theories.

Either way, while this may just be one policy about one issue, it's indicative of exactly how much Zuck has been forced to rethink Facebook.

People Are Talking

Full autonomy is coming to your Tesla soon(ish), Elon Musk said:

  • "Limited FSD beta releasing on Tuesday next week, as promised. This will, at first, be limited to a small number of people who are expert [and] careful drivers."

YouTube hasn't banned QAnon in part because it's not clear what that means, Susan Wojcicki said:

  • "I think with every policy, it has to be defined very clearly. Like what does that exactly mean, a QAnon group exactly? That's a kind of thing that we would need to put in terms of the policies and make sure that we were super clear."

Cory Doctorow wrote books that made hackers want to hack. Now he's writing ones designed to do something different:

  • "If you found yourself in tech because you were excited by how much self-determination and power and pleasure you got from mastering technology, and then found your entire professional life devoted to ensuring that no one else ever felt that, this is the time for your moral reckoning."

A MESSAGE FROM PHILIPS

Philips

Stronger care … from more efficient operations

In a defining moment for healthcare, it's even more crucial to deliver patient-centered care efficiently. At Philips, we are committed to providing intelligent, automated workflows that seek to improve patient care. More efficient healthcare means stronger, more resilient healthcare.

Learn more.

Making Moves

Disney reorganized to prioritize streaming, with a single division now dedicated to content and another focused just on distribution.

Anu Subramanian and Selby Drummond are joining Bumble, as CFO and chief brand officer respectively. Subramanian joins from Univision and Drummond from Snap.

Carl Pei has left OnePlus. He was one of the company's co-founders and is reportedly off to start his own hardware venture.

Brian Benedik and Erin Schaefer are joining Niantic. Benedik is the VP of global revenue, Schaefer VP of operations.

Nikhil Goel is leaving Uber. After running the Elevate team, he said he'll continue to work in the making-cities-better space.

Suzanne Xie is Stripe's new head of invoices. She was previously a director of product management at Twitter.

Bryan Rodrigues is AudioEye's new CMO. He comes from Tile, where he was VP of marketing and e-commerce.

In Other News

  • On Protocol: A racial justice protest took part of Tesla's Fremont factory offline, according to an internal email obtained by Protocol. An employee said the disruption was the result of a "peaceful direct action protest" — a different description to Tesla's top lawyer, who called it "malicious" sabotage.
  • Microsoft and the U.S. Cyber Command both independently took down TrickBot, The New York Times reports. Both efforts were proactive attempts to stop the Russian botnet from disrupting the election.
  • It's Prime Day! And it's off to a great start in Germany, where a trade union has already called for Amazon workers to join a two-day strike.
  • SoftBank is launching a SPAC. Axios reports that the company doesn't plan to take a SoftBank-backed company public, though. Meanwhile, Triller is reportedly in talks to go public via a SPAC, and Roblox announced that it's confidentially filed documents for an IPO. We'll have more on that in the new Protocol Gaming newsletter later today: Subscribe here.
  • Twilio bought Segment for $3.2 billion. Segment, which helps companies manage customer data, fits into the idea of Twilio being a "customer engagement company," chief product officer Chee Chew said.
  • Paytm's "mini app" store seems to be taking off. The company said that since its launch last Monday over 5,000 developers have shown interest in joining. That's partly driven by increased frustration with Google in the region.
  • On Protocol: Bloomberg has its own network that rivals that of cloud providers. CTO Shawn Edwards said the company doesn't go so far as to build its own servers, though.
  • Facebook donated £1 million to the Bletchley Park Trust, after the Alan Turing-inspired codebreaker museum said it would have to make huge changes (and staff cuts) because of the pandemic.

One More Thing

The best-ever use of a Nest

"It's Bob Wilson. You won the Nobel Prize." At 2:15 a.m. yesterday Wilson rang the smart doorbell of his colleague and neighbor Paul Milgrom — together, they did pioneering work on spectrum auctions — to tell him he'd won the award. Meanwhile, Milgrom's wife, who was in Stockholm, got to watch the news being delivered after she got a notification on her phone. If this isn't the best possible ad for the Nest Hello, I don't know what is.

A MESSAGE FROM PHILIPS

Philips

Stronger care … from more efficient operations

In a defining moment for healthcare, it's even more crucial to deliver patient-centered care efficiently. At Philips, we are committed to providing intelligent, automated workflows that seek to improve patient care. More efficient healthcare means stronger, more resilient healthcare.

Learn more.

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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