Twitter Roiled by Layoff Talk as Deadline for Musk Deal Looms

Employees at Twitter are reeling following revelations that the workforce may face massive cuts in the year ahead regardless of who owns the company. According to documents obtained by The Washington Post, Twitter’s current management plans to trim the payroll by about $800 million, representing nearly 25 percent of the company’s staff. However, Twitter denies that report. Meanwhile, Elon Musk, who is being sued to force consummation of his $44 billion Twitter purchase, is said to be contemplating elimination of three times as many jobs. Continue reading Twitter Roiled by Layoff Talk as Deadline for Musk Deal Looms

Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Meta Platforms is planning staff reductions as part of a 10 percent cost reduction goal, reports say. Stalled growth and increased competition are among the reasons cited by 20 additional tech firms who have since the summer been contracting their workforce. In the case of Meta, it appears to also be a matter of reallocating funds so as not to drastically scale back its metaverse ambitions. Departments there are being reorganized and affected workers are being encouraged to apply for other jobs within the company. Word is Alphabet’s Google is also seeking to fill vacancies by reassigning existing staff. Continue reading Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Meta Tentatively Settles the Cambridge Analytica Privacy Suit

Meta Platforms has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by users who accused its Facebook platform of improperly sharing personal data with third parties including, most notoriously, the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica. Financial details were not disclosed, but on Friday both Meta and the plaintiffs said in a joint filing in San Francisco federal court that the parties reached a tentative settlement. The UK-based Cambridge Analytica shuttered in 2018 after a scandal involving use of Facebook data to influence voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Continue reading Meta Tentatively Settles the Cambridge Analytica Privacy Suit

Australia’s Highest Court Rules Google Links Not Defamatory

In a major reversal, Australia’s highest court found Google not liable for defamatory content linked through search results, ruling that the Alphabet subsidiary “was not a publisher” of the objectionable content. Google was sued for defamation for a 2004 article appearing in its search engine results, and both the trial court and a circuit court of appeals held Google responsible as a “publisher” because it was instrumental in circulating the contents of the offending article. The lower courts rejected Google’s reliance on the statutory and common law defenses of innocent dissemination and qualified privilege. Continue reading Australia’s Highest Court Rules Google Links Not Defamatory

Elon Musk Notifies Twitter of Plan to Cancel Acquisition Deal

Elon Musk is attempting to terminate his $44 billion deal to acquire social giant Twitter. Musk’s attorneys claimed in a regulatory filing that Twitter was in “material breach of multiple provisions” of the purchase agreement and “appears to have made false and misleading representations.” According to Twitter board chairman Bret Taylor, “The Twitter board is committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk and plans to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement.” The deal includes a $1 billion “breakup fee” and the company can hold the billionaire to his original agreement by taking him to court. Continue reading Elon Musk Notifies Twitter of Plan to Cancel Acquisition Deal

Google Revamps News Display, Works to Settle EU Disputes

Google News is trying to keep peace with publishers while adding functionality to its feed with a revamped desktop that lets users customize up to three topics on the home screen. For example, Local News, World News and Top Picks can be set to display across three-columns. Meanwhile, the global payment battle between content providers and Alphabet’s aggregator has achieved closure in France, where the competition authority said a settlement has been reached after a two-year legal battle and a $525 million fine. Terms include a pledge from Google to give news providers estimates of indirect revenue generated from news content that appears in its search results. Continue reading Google Revamps News Display, Works to Settle EU Disputes

Meta Platforms Will Adjust Ad Tech per Agreement with DOJ

Meta Platforms has agreed to change its advertising technology and pay a $115,054 fine to settle a Justice Department claim of race and gender discrimination by the algorithm used to display its housing ads. “Meta will — for the first time — change its ad delivery system to address algorithmic discrimination,” U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in a statement. “But if Meta fails to demonstrate that it has sufficiently changed its delivery system to guard against algorithmic bias, this office will proceed with the litigation.” Continue reading Meta Platforms Will Adjust Ad Tech per Agreement with DOJ

Stock Volatility at Twitter and Tesla Roil Musk’s Buyout Plans

Twitter’s tumbling stock price has spectators second-guessing Elon Musk’s motives in demanding more information for the acquisition deal to proceed. The billionaire’s “best and final” offer of $54.20 per share is now looking like a rich deal for Twitter, which has been hovering at about $38 per share. The Twitter board is understandably intent on keeping the $44 billion offer and $1 billion breakup fee in place, even as Musk tweeted ““this deal cannot move forward” until he sees proof of the company’s claim that spam and bots account for less than 5 percent of users. Continue reading Stock Volatility at Twitter and Tesla Roil Musk’s Buyout Plans

Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 22, which will allow gig workers for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and others to remain independent contractors. These three companies created the proposition to exempt them from a state labor law that would require them to treat drivers as employees and pay for healthcare, unemployment insurance and other benefits. Proposition 22 does include a wage floor and some benefits for drivers. San Francisco, headquarters for Uber and Lyft, presented the strongest opposition. Continue reading Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

CES 2020: Evaluating the Relevance of CDA’s Section 230

Suppose you post your latest travel photos on your website, and later, in the comments section, a drug dealer offers his illegal wares for sale. Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, noted CTA senior vice president of government affairs Michael Petricone, you cannot be prosecuted for drug sales. “Section 230 provides broad but not absolute immunity for Internet service providers for content published by users,” he said. “It’s important for platforms — but it can also encourage toxic online behavior.” Continue reading CES 2020: Evaluating the Relevance of CDA’s Section 230

Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

Facebook agreed to pay a $40 million penalty for providing incorrect metrics for average viewing time of ads on its platform. In 2016, Facebook admitted to the problem, and a group of small advertisers sued in California federal court, in part claiming that Facebook knew about the problem long before it admitted and fixed it. Facebook countered the impact was minimal because it doesn’t bill advertisers based on watch-time; plaintiffs disagreed, saying it is a “common indirect barometer to guide ad-buying decisions.” Continue reading Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

Federal Appeals Court Offers Mixed Ruling on Net Neutrality

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit yesterday upheld the federal government’s repeal of net neutrality in the latest ruling that impacts how companies connect people to the Internet. However, the appeals court also ruled that the FCC had overstepped in its decision to prevent state and local governments from establishing their own related rules. The mixed ruling will likely lead to continued debate over net neutrality regulation, especially on the state level. It is also seen as a victory for the Trump administration, which has supported deregulation, and FCC chair Ajit Pai, who believes the repeal is good for the economy and fosters innovation. Continue reading Federal Appeals Court Offers Mixed Ruling on Net Neutrality

Apple and Qualcomm Call Truce and Drop Patent Litigation

Apple and Qualcomm agreed to a new license agreement and announced they would dismiss all litigation worldwide between the two companies. The truce brings a close to an extended legal battle over royalties involving smartphone tech. Apple has agreed to pay Qualcomm an undisclosed amount and Qualcomm will supply modem chips to Apple as part of a new multiyear deal. Hours after the settlement between Apple and Qualcomm was announced, chip rival Intel revealed it would cancel its plans to manufacture modem chips for 5G smartphones. Continue reading Apple and Qualcomm Call Truce and Drop Patent Litigation

Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

Microsoft revealed plans to expand its Azure IP Advantage patent troll defense program by offering its customers building Azure-compatible IoT services with access to a library of 10,000 patents that can help protect them from IP lawsuits, especially related to cloud computing. The tech giant also announced that it is contributing some 500 patents to the non-profit LOT Network, founded in 2014, which provides patents from a growing number of member companies and additional sources to help protect startups against patent trolls. Continue reading Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

Apple and Samsung Settle Legal Battle Over Phone Patents

Apple and Samsung have settled their long-running patent dispute over allegations that Samsung had violated design and utility patents by copying various iPhone features. The seven-year battle began in 2011, initially resulting in a $1 billion ruling in favor of Apple. However, a number of appeals and countersuits sent the case to the Supreme Court and back, until yesterday when the two companies informed Judge Lucy Koh in a court filing that they had finally reached a settlement. Terms of the new agreement were not disclosed, but Samsung previously paid Apple $399 million for patent infringement. Continue reading Apple and Samsung Settle Legal Battle Over Phone Patents