Science & Tech
“Difficult Times Ahead”: Musk Says Twitter Bankruptcy Possible As FTC Expresses “Deep Concern”
Twitter boss Elon Musk told employees at a recent all-hands meeting that the company is losing so much money that “bankruptcy is not out of the question,” according to The Information.
Twitter, which hasn’t turned a profit since 2019, has seen a “massive drop” in revenue according to Musk, as advertisers step back from spending campaigns.
Musk also suggested during the meeting that the company’s future depends on the success of the revamped $8 per month Twitter Blue subscription service – which is currently being bombarded by bots, scammers, and impersonators.
“The reason we’re going hardcore on subscribers is to keep Twitter alive,” Musk said, according to The Information, adding “Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn.“
Musk also announced that the company’s “work from anywhere” policy is now canceled, telling Platformer “If you can physically make it to an office and you don’t show up, resignation accepted.”
Banks balking at holding debt?
As Bloomberg notes, Wall Street banks that lent Musk $13 billion to fund Musk’s buyout have been quietly approaching hedge funds to see if they would be interested in chunks of buyout debt at deeply discounted prices as low as 60 cents on the dollar – which would mark one of the deepest discounts in a decade.
The lukewarm investor reception shows just how big of an albatross the Twitter debt is becoming for a Morgan Stanley-led cohort that committed to finance Musk’s acquisition of the social-media firm back in April, before credit markets cratered. The seven banks are now saddled with risky loans that they never intended to keep on their books, and face an increasingly uphill battle to minimize losses. -Bloomberg
In particular, the banks want to unload their $6.5 billion leveraged loan portion of the financing, and if the loans are trading at 60 cents, that implies everything below the secured tranche in the cap structure is impaired (more or less a donut), and the EV on the company is around $8 billion.
Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission has sounded the alarm over an exodus of top employees from the social media giant – the latest of whom was the company’s head of moderation and safety, Yoel Roth, who – as a longstanding left-leaning executive, provided some level cover for Musk.
The government watchdog agency said that it was “tracking the developments at Twitter with deep concern,” and that it’s considering taking action to ensure that the company is complying with a ‘consent order’ which requires the company to comply with certain privacy and security requirements related to allegations of past data misuse.
Twitter was first put under a consent order in 2011, and it agreed to a new order earlier this year. If the FTC finds Twitter is not complying with that order, it could fine the company hundreds of millions of dollars, potentially damaging the company’s already precarious financial state. -WaPo
“No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees,” said FTC director of public affairs, Douglas Farrar. “Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them.”
According to the report, FTC staffers said they were most concerned about the rapid rollout of new features which have yet to undergo full security reviews governed by the FTC consent decree. The agency also objected to Musk requiring staff to work in the office at least 40 hours per week, effective Thursday.
Former FTC officials warned that the departures of key privacy and security officials, as well as some of Musk’s proposed changes to Twitter products, opened the company to serious regulatory peril. -WaPo
Employees were not happy in the company’s slack channel following the all-hands meeting.
“What’s the motivation? Work hard or get fired?” asked one employee.
“How do you plan to restore totally destroyed trust?” asked another.
“I am ethically not okay with making the richest person in the world even richer. Also not okay with this alpha dog mentality – it’s already trickling down.”This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
Science & Tech
Musk Demands AP Back Claims Or Retract Article Over ‘Unchecked’ Stolen Election Tweets
Elon Musk has told AP to put up or shut up – after the outlet published an article alleging that “false claims of a stolen election thrive unchecked on Twitter,” refuting Musk’s claims during a CNBC interview that such claims would be fact checked on the platform.
“Either back up your claims @AP with actual source data or retract your story,” Musk tweeted on Friday.
The May 18 article written by Ali Swenson, who previously worked at a Magneto-funded fact checking nonprofit, the Center for Public Integrity, cites the CNBC interview in which Musk said that claims of stolen election on Twitter “will be corrected, 100 percent.”
Musk was responding to host David Faber, who asked about Twitter users claiming that the 2020 election was “rigged” or “stolen” and whether such tweets would be tagged with a community note or face other actions.
“To be clear, I don’t think it was a stolen election,” Musk replied, with the caveat that he believes there was someelection fraud.
“By the same token, if somebody is going to say that there is never any election fraud anywhere, this is obviously false. If 100 million people vote, the probability that the fraud is zero—is zero,” he added, before noting that it’s important to strike a balance in discussions regarding election integrity.
Regardless, people in America are allowed to question the outcome of elections – like Democrats did in 2016 when Hillary Clinton kicked off her self-pity tour – so CNBC and AP and the rest of them can pound sand with that little purity test.
According to the Associated Press article, since former President Donald Trump held a CNN town hall in which he reiterated his claims that the 2020 election was stolen, such claims have spread on Twitter.
“Yet many such claims have thrived on Twitter in the week since former President Donald Trump spent much of a CNN town hall digging in on his lie that the 2020 election was ‘rigged’ against him,” reads Swenson’s article, which provides no evidence. “Twitter posts that amplified those false claims have thousands of shares with no visible enforcement, a review of posts on the platform shows.”
The article cites media intelligence from firm Zignal Labs, which claims without evidence to have identified the 10 most widely shared tweets promoting a “rigged election” narrative following the town hall.
“While Twitter has a system in place for users to add context to misleading tweets, the 10 posts, which collectively amassed more than 43,000 retweets, had no such notes attached,” AP claimed – again without evidence.
More via the Epoch Times,
In his town hall appearance on CNN, Trump reiterated his view that the 2020 election was stolen.
The former president said that he performed “fantastically” in 2020, doing “far better” than in 2016 with 12 million more votes.
“When you look at that result and when you look at what happened during that election, unless you’re a very stupid person, you see what happens,” Trump said before adding that he believes the election was “rigged.”
“That was a rigged election, and it’s a shame that we had to go through it. It’s very bad for our country. All over the world, they looked at it, and they saw exactly what everyone else saw,” Trump said.
He pointed to the Twitter Files disclosures as an indication of apparent collusion between the FBI and Twitter to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story in the run-up to the election, which Trump said, “made a big difference.”
The seventh installment of the Musk-endorsed Twitter Files claimed that there was an “organized effort” on the part of federal law enforcement to target social media companies that reported on the explosive Hunter Biden laptop story, which was first published by the New York Post.
Hunter Biden Laptop Story
In the run-up to the 2020 election, the New York Post published a story about a laptop abandoned at a computer repair shop that purportedly belonged to Hunter Biden and contained emails suggesting that then-candidate Joe Biden had knowledge of, and was allegedly involved in, his son’s foreign business dealings.
The New York Post’s story titled “Smoking-gun Email Reveals How Hunter Biden Introduced Ukrainian Businessman to VP Dad” was published on Oct. 14, 2020.
Twitter first prevented sharing of the story for 24 hours before reversing the decision. However, the story did not circulate on the platform for weeks because of a policy requiring the original poster to delete and repost the original tweet.
Polling has indicated that if the public had been aware of the suppressed story ahead of the election, it may have cost then presidential candidate Joe Biden several percentage points of voters—possibly enough to thwart his bid for the White House.
“In Twitter Files #7, we present evidence pointing to an organized effort by representatives of the intelligence community (IC), aimed at senior executives at news and social media companies, to discredit leaked information about Hunter Biden before and after it was published,” wrote author Michael Shellenberger, who released screenshots on Dec. 19, 2022, that appeared to show message exchanges between top Twitter officials and the FBI in October 2020.
The FBI told The Epoch Times in an earlier emailed statement that it had only offered general warnings to Twitter about foreign election interference and never pushed for the platform to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Former Twitter executives have conceded that they made a mistake by blocking the Hunter Biden laptop story but denied that they were pressured to suppress the story by law enforcement.
However, documents filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) show that the FBI warned Twitter explicitly of a “hack-and-leak operation involving Hunter Biden” ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Twitter’s former head of site integrity Yoel Roth made the remarks in a signed declaration (pdf) attached to a Dec. 21, 2020 letter to the FEC’s Office of Complaints Examination and Legal Administration on behalf of Twitter.
Roth said in the attached declaration that he was told by the FBI at a series of meetings ahead of the 2020 election that the agency warned of the threat of hacked materials being distributed on social media platforms.
“I was told in these meetings that the intelligence community expected that individuals associated with political campaigns would be subject to hacking attacks and that material obtained through those hacking attacks would likely be disseminated over social media platforms, including Twitter,” Roth stated in the declaration.
“I also learned in these meetings that there were rumors that a hack-and-leak operation would involve Hunter Biden,” Roth added.
Roth said that Twitter’s Site Integrity Team determined that the New York Post’s articles about the laptop violated the platform’s policies on hacked materials and Twitter took action to suppress the distribution of posts sharing the articles.
He later acknowledged that it was a mistake for Twitter to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story.This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
Science & Tech
TSA Pilot-Tests Controversial Facial Recognition Technology At These 16 Airports
The next time you find yourself at airport security, prepare to look directly into a camera. The Transportation Security Administration is quietly testing controversial facial recognition technology at airports nationwide.
AP News said 16 airports, including Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall and Reagan National near Washington, as well as ones in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Jose, and Gulfport-Biloxi and Jackson in Mississippi, have installed kiosks with cameras (at some TSA checkpoints) that allow passengers to insert their government-issued ID and look into a camera as facial recognition technology asses if the ID and person match.
Here’s what to expect at airports utilizing this new technology:
Travelers put their driver’s license into a slot that reads the card or place their passport photo against a card reader. Then they look at a camera on a screen about the size of an iPad, which captures their image and compares it to their ID. The technology is both checking to make sure the people at the airport match the ID they present and that the identification is in fact real. A TSA officer is still there and signs off on the screening. -AP
“What we are trying to do with this is aid the officers to actually determine that you are who you say who you are,” said Jason Lim, identity management capabilities manager, during a recent demonstration of the technology to reporters at BWI.
TSA said the pilot test is voluntary, and passengers can opt out. The facial recognition technology has raised concerns among critics, like five senators (four Democrats and an Independent) who sent a letter in February to the TSA requesting the pilot test be halted immediately.
“Increasing biometric surveillance of Americans by the government represents a risk to civil liberties and privacy rights,” the senators said.
The letter continued:
“We are concerned about the safety and security of Americans’ biometric data in the hands of authorized private corporations or unauthorized bad actors.
“As government agencies grow their database of identifying images, increasingly large databases will prove more and more enticing targets for hackers and cybercriminals.”
Meg Foster, a justice fellow at Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology, is concerned that even though the TSA says it’s not storing biometric data, it collects, “What if that changes in the future?”
Jeramie Scott, with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that even though the TSA facial recognition kiosks are being tested, it could be only a matter of time before it becomes a more permanent fixture at checkpoints.
Despite the US being a first-world country, it has third-world protections for its people. There’s an increasing number of government agencies that want your biometric data. Even the IRS wants your face.This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
Science & Tech
Twitter launches encrypted DMs – but Elon Musk warns users NOT to trust the WhatsApp-style feature yet
Elon Musk has warned Twitter users that its new WhatsApp-style feature should not be trusted – after launching it just yesterday.
Encrypted messaging was released on Wednesday as part of Twitter’s goal to become he ‘most trusted platform on the internet’.
But Musk has now stressed the privacy feature is ‘not quite there yet’ despite his initial jokes that he could not view messages even with a ‘gun to [his] head’.
Twitter said: ‘As Elon Musk said, when it comes to Direct Messages, the standard should be, if someone puts a gun to our heads, we still can’t access your messages. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re working on it.’
Encryption converts messages into scrambled text that cannot be read by anyone except the intended recipient.The Daily Mail