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Category: blogSource: benzingaNov 28th, 2022

101 Christmas Gift Ideas Under $40

It is important to consider price when shopping for a gift. It becomes especially important when your holiday shopping list is long. Along with your personal finances and the number of people you’re shopping for, you can stay within budget in a number of ways. Since the holidays are already a stressful time, here are […] It is important to consider price when shopping for a gift. It becomes especially important when your holiday shopping list is long. Along with your personal finances and the number of people you’re shopping for, you can stay within budget in a number of ways. Since the holidays are already a stressful time, here are 101 Christmas gift ideas that are under $40. You don’t have to purchase these exact items. At the very least, though, they can inspire you to purchase thoughtful and practical gifts without breaking the bank. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   Gifts for Coworkers and Employees Whether you consider them a friend, your “work family,” or just want to show you your appreciation, giving coworkers or employees a gift at the end of the year is a give-in. At the same time, it can be challenging to buy gifts for coworkers and employees. Generally, these gifts should be thoughtful but not too personal. And the following suggestions strike that balance. Office Yoga Mug Featuring yoga poses such as “salute to the server” and “printer warrior 2,” your colleagues will love displaying this yoga desk mug. For your convenience, it comes pre-wrapped in a gift box. And, it only costs $17 Yeti Rambler This 18 oz. is perfect for both daily commutes and outdoor adventures. Thanks to the double-wall vacuum insulation, their water will stay cold throughout the day. You can even customize the bottle if you want. A pretty solid present for $30, in our opinion. Coffee Gift Card I know. Gift cards don’t always make for the most exciting or thoughtful gifts. But, for those who can’t live without their morning cup of Joe, then definitely appreciate this gift. Bonus points if you get them a gift card from their favorite coffee shop. DavidsTea Holiday Teas Variety Pack There’s something for every tea drinker here, from chocolate to fruity to spicy holiday blends. Sleigh Ride, Organic Orange Spice, Hazelnut Chocolate, and Caramel Shortbread are included in this $12 set. Coffee Mug Warmer Have you ever poured a cup of hot coffee in the morning only to have it sit on your desk for hours? To fix that, you can gift your colleagues a mug warmer, like the $25 Kin Element Mug Warmer and Lid Set. There are three temperature settings ranging from 104 to 140 degrees. By touching the front-facing sensor, you can switch between settings. In addition to changing color, the sensor indicates whether the temperature is high, medium, or low. Harry & David Thanks a Bunch Treats Tin What’s the point of buying just one gift when you can get an entire basket? Whether your colleague likes wine, sweets, savory snacks, fruit, or all of them, there’s a Harry & David gift basket that’s perfect for them. Here’s an affordable option we recommend: Thanks a Bunch Treats Tin. It’s filled with cookies and pretzel clusters for just $30. Zen Garden Research consistently shows plants increase productivity and decrease stress in the workplace. With that in mind, we think that this fresh succulent garden for $28 will accomplish just that. Additionally, it comes in a beautifully crafted planter gift box, and one garden sold provides six months of safe water for a developing country. Desktop Vacuum Cleaner Crumbs are inevitable if you eat at your desk. With a mini vacuum, you can help a coworker clean their desktop. With an included brush and nozzle, this one can reach hard-to-reach places and is USB chargeable. And it will set you back 15 bucks. Wireless Charger and UV Sanitizer Let’s face it, your phone is filthy. This small UV sanitizer kills 99 percent of bacteria and germs, so you can provide a germ-free workplace for your co-workers. In addition to keys and sunglasses, it can be used for earbuds and other small items that are frequently used. And it’s only $18. Two-Tone Pen Holder Designed after Japanese tea cups, this pen pot features a simple, minimalist design and natural colors. All materials used in its manufacture are 100% natural and sustainable. And it costs only $26. Stationery Sets At every meeting, you will find two types of coworkers: those who take notes and those who doodle. With some fresh stationery, you can cover all the bases either way. Their desk will immediately look brighter with Poppin Soft Cover Notebooks and Rifle Paper Co. pencils, while keeping track of tasks will be easier with the to-do list notepad and gel highlighters. Daily Planner Pad This notepad over at Etsy sorts tasks by top priority, later, and tomorrow to make work easier for your coworker. Also, it has an affordable $14 price tag. Moleskine Classic Notebook For coworkers who prefer classic notetaking, this Moleskine is a great office accessory. They can jot down meeting notes, reminders, and to-do lists on ruled, dotted, double layout, or plain pages. And, this classic notebook is $23. Bento Lunch Box Container Is your coworker always bringing lunch to work, or does he or she prepare meals at home? Food can be kept fresh and organized neatly in this bento box set. There are two stackable containers included, as well as a three-piece utensil set. Not bad for $15, right? The Work Wellness Deck There are 60 cards in this deck that contain daily actions that may help bring more balance to your colleague’s work life and health. Depending on what card they pull, they might need to practice breathing exercises, network, or be grateful. You can snag these cards over at Uncommon Goods for $19. Perfect Gifts for People That You Don’t Know Very Well It’s challenging to pick out a gift for someone you don’t know well, whether it’s a coworker, distant cousin, or neighbor. Choosing a gift that’s both neutral and useful while still being fun is the key to getting a gift that will please everyone. Holga Camera Would you like to print photos with Instagram filters? You can do that with the Holga camera, believe it or not. These popular Hong Kong-made cameras make a great gift for photographers. They also cost far less than today’s high-end digital SLR cameras. Case in point, this one is $40. A Take-It Everywhere Speaker This Bluetooth speaker is perfect for anyone, no matter what their favorite band is. Whenever and wherever they want to listen to music, they can do so. For charging, the speaker comes with a USB cable. And it’s only $20. Passport Holder and Luggage Tag Set Passport protectors and luggage tags are essential for international travelers. These handmade leatherette luggage tags and passport cover sets can also be personalized with the recipient’s monogram. It only costs $18 to boot Echo Friendly Reusable Straws Increasingly, towns and cities are banning plastic straws, so these silicone alternatives are useful gifts to give. In addition, each straw comes with its own portable carry case that can be folded and stored. A set of five costs just $19. Burt’s Bees Gift Set During the winter, your lips, hands, and feet become itchy and dry. Winter is a great time to gift a Burt’s Bees kit to rejuvenate their lips and skin. And it’s only $12. Mini Buddha Board Art Set Taking a cue from Etch A Sketch, Buddha boards are a relaxing, modern alternative. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, you’ll enjoy drawing your own creations and watching them slowly disappear. There’s something surprisingly meditative about it. And you can’t beat the $18 price tag. Slippers Seriously. Who doesn’t enjoy a pair of slippers to get their feet cozy and warm? Also, you don’t need to break the bank. For example, both Dream Pairs Women’s Cable Knit Faux Fur Slippers and RockDove Men’s Original Memory Foam Slippers are only $22. Sleep Mask When you don’t know the recipient very well, giving a practical gift is a smart way to be thoughtful. And this cotton sleep mask is certainly considerate after they get a great night’s sleep. Plus, it’s only ten bucks. Hair Towel Wrap For quick hair drying, these short fiber hair towels are made from a super-absorbent microfiber towel. Using a microfiber hair towel, you can dry your hair quickly without damaging it. And a 3-pack is only $14. Elmer Knit Beanie The snug fit of Herschel beanies makes them ideal for cooler weather. Besides being gender-neutral, they’re affordable enough that you can buy matching sets for your family and friends. You can snag it for $25. Magnetic Wristband During any DIY project, this magnetic wristband comes in handy. With its 10 strong magnets, things like screws, nails, bolts, and drill bits can be corralled for ease of use while you are doing home improvement projects. Best of all? It’s only $15. Beauty Sponge With plenty of awards and a cult following among makeup lovers, Beautyblender sponges make a great gift for beauty buffs. These edgeless, reusable sponges, foundation, powder, and other products will apply evenly. And it is just $20. Dog Treat Maker Those who own dogs will appreciate the convenience of making homemade, healthy treats with this nonstick press. As of this writing, you can grab this for $25 over at Amazon. Cable Organizer We cannot keep up with the clutter of cords and chargers as electronics proliferate. As a practical gift, this tech accessories case solves that problem, which, at this point, is a fairly universal one. It’s also under $20. Theme Baskets A gift can be designed to suit those on your gift list if you know what they like. Consider creating a gift basket based on a theme. For instance, get a set of mixing bowls, utensils, and a cookbook for the aspiring cook over at Half Price Books. Gifts like this show respect for someone’s interests and encourage them. And, you can dictate the price point. White Elephant Gifts In most cases, white elephant gift exchanges are just a funny way to break the ice during a gathering. You can purchase a fun gift or a cool gift that your coworkers will appreciate, or a sentimental present that a loved one can treasure. 100 Movies Scratch Off Poster They can reveal cool designs by scratching off the square each time they watch one of the iconic movies listed on the poster. And it’s a cool $15 at Uncommon Goods. Slinky When in doubt, some childhood nostalgia never hurts! There is nothing better than the Original Slinky, and it would cost you next to nothing to purchase it. Hot Dog and Bun Toaster Double the fun by toasting two hot dogs and their buns simultaneously! The retro-styled hot dog toaster is available in three colors: white, cream, or yellow, inspired by Oscar Mayer. It’s lightweight and easy to use. And it’s under $25 on Amazon. Mistaken Lyrics Coasters You’ll have them doing a double-take when they see these coasters. There are questionable lyrics stamped on each one of these. For instance, “Hold me closer, Tony Danza.” Totally worth the $28. Mini Bowling Game Set Presented as a white elephant gift, this Mini Bowling Game Set is fun and exciting. This set is perfect for those who need a stress-relieving desk game. Plus, it’s budget-friendly at just $12. Wacky Wavy Mini Tube Guy White elephant gifts can be hilarious, and this one is sure to stand out. Like your favorite car dealership decoration, this miniature motorized tube guy dances, wiggles, and shakes – only it fits right on your desk. And it’s under $20. Head & Scalp Massager After a long day, a scalp massager can help reduce stress and anxiety. Due to its small size and lightweight design, they can easily carry it wherever they go! Also, it’s just around $10. Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone With this microphone, you can transform every commute or gathering into a karaoke session. You can stream music straight from Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, or other streaming services with the microphone connected to any Bluetooth-enabled device. As of this writing, it’s $25 on Amazon. Silicone Wine Glass Holder Make someone’s day by giving them the gift of relaxation. Using this silicone wine glass holder, they can sip while showering or bathing. It doesn’t require adhesives, suction cups, or wall mounting. If they’re not into wine, consider a shower beer holder. Both are around $15. Food Dice With these innovative Foodie Dice, they can finally put an end to meal indecision. In total, 186,000 meal combinations are possible with each set, which includes nine dice dedicated to cooking methods, proteins, carbs, herbs, bonuses, and seasonal produce options. A pouch set is $24. Touchscreen Gloves In the winter, nothing is more frustrating than trying to use a touchscreen phone. Either you’re holding it with gloves on, or your fingers are numb. These Moshi Digits Touchscreen Gloves keep hands warm in the cold, and their unique grip patterns prevent phones from slipping out. You can buy a pair for $30. Cocktail Kit Besides a bartender’s spoon and muddler, three cocktail picks, and a hand-knit cocktail napkin, each kit includes ingredients for an Old Fashioned, Margarita, and Moscow Mule. You can take these kits on your next adventure in your back pocket, pack, or duffel. Each kit is $22 a pop. A Game of Cat and Mouth With this hectic pinball-like game, you will have hours of fun catapulting balls at one another. And it’s priced fairly at $20. Sneaker Balls The advantage of white elephant gift exchanges is that you don’t give someone these sneaker balls directly. Getting it through a game might make it more useful, but if you give it to your friend, they might take offense. They’re also only $15. White Elephant Ring Holder Yes. It’s literally a white elephant. This will definitely win you the award for the most cringe-worthy White Elephant gift. But hey, at least it’s useful. And, it’s a measly ten bucks. Gift Ideas for the Home If you’re shopping for someone who loves their house, give them something that will make it even better. 3-in-1 Avacado Slicer Avocado prep made easy. An easy-to-use, dishwasher-safe tool that facilitates everything from slicing to pitting. For $12, you might as well pick one up for yourself as well. Breakfast Sandwich Maker You can make breakfast, lunch, or dinner sandwiches in just minutes with this sandwich maker. With this breakfast maker, you can customize your sandwich by choosing your favorite bread, cheese, eggs, and meats. Plus, it will only set you back $30. Mini Waffle Maker Dash’s waffle maker whips up tiny 4″ waffles in no time. Furthermore, it’s available in a variety of fun colors and even in a heart-shaped design. And, it’s just $13. Crock Pot Give your friend or loved one an easy-to-make, mess-free slow cooker. Seriously, I can’t live without mine. You can buy a 4.5-quart size slow cooker for $25. W&P The Popper W&P’s collapsible popcorn bowl makes four cups of fresh popcorn. Plus, the lid doubles as a measuring cup. And it costs only $20. Milk Frother When making cappuccinos and other coffee drinks containing milk, a milk frother is essential. In addition, it can be used at home to aerate and froth cocktails. It’s available at Amazon for $25. Eco-Friendly Dishcloth Towels Colorful dish towels never go out of style, and these cheerful ones boast playful patterns and bright colors. Towels made of 100% cotton can be used to clean dishes, pans, and appliances and reduce paper usage. A set of 4 costs $11. Silicone Baking Mats Baking enthusiasts will appreciate these nonstick silicone baking mats that are safe for ovens, dishwashers, and freezers. They give home kitchens a professional vibe. And, a set of 2 is only $16. Compost Bin This compost bin is stylish, so they won’t mind leaving it out. In addition to a form-fitting lid that keeps out odors, it has a rotating handle that makes transporting it easy. It is, however, $33. Garden in a Bag Herbs are a favorite among chefs. This Garden in a Bag-Basil from Potting Shed Creations is just $10.50 and will let the chef in your life grow, tend, and use their own basil. Sherpa Throw Blanket It is crucial to have a warm blanket in the colder months of the year, and this sherpa option fits the bill perfectly. For cold nights, keep the blue plaid rug at the foot of the bed or on the living room couch. And, it’s just $18 at Target. Personalized Christmas Ornament Establish a new holiday tradition by giving a personalized ornament as a gift. If you head over to Personal Creations, you can do this for $20. White Noise Machine This well-rated sound machine helps promote self-care by helping you get a good night’s sleep. There are six sounds included: rain, brook, thunder, white noise, ocean, and summer night. The timer can also be set to automatically turn the device off with the help of an included AC adapter or batteries. It’s on sale for $24. Vertical Photo Holder It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. It is especially easy for grandparents to fall in love with updated pictures of their adorable grandchildren. This Kikkerland Photo and Card Holder in Black is a great way to keep lasting memories close. Make sure to print off some great photos to include as well. Butane Torch It’s the perfect tool for grilling or crème brûlée enthusiasts. And, it’s only $20. Gadget Gift Ideas For your tech-savvy friends and family members, there are a number of gifts in the $40 or below range. KZED Deep Tissue Massager A good massage relaxes muscles, relieves muscle stiffness, and improves soreness after exercise, and this massage gun by KZED does just that. You can customize the vibrations for a lighter or a deeper massage using the six types of massage heads. And, it’s a bargain at $36. iFixit Jimmy Those who constantly disassemble, hack, and mess around with their electronics will surely appreciate this gift. With the Jimmy tool from iFixit, you can wedge, pry, or shimmy open just about anything with its thin strip of steel. Besides scraping stickers and paint, it’s also useful for adjusting and repairing areas. For DIYers, it’s a must-have. And, it’s only $8. Wyze Cam V3 A home security camera is a must if you want to know what’s happening in your yard or if someone you know is concerned about porch pirates. If you are on a budget, Wyze sells a variety of affordable outdoor security cams. Among the Wyze Cam V3’s features are color night vision, intelligent motion detection, voice control, and a built-in siren — all for under $30. S1 Stealth Wallet With its minimalist design and water-resistant DTEX build, the S1 Stealth wallet from Dango Products is a great gift option. There are six card slots, as well as a pocket for a key or memory card, in this slim accessory. The S1’s RFID-blocking technology also protects users from identity theft and credit card fraud. It’s currently on sale for $20. Mini Drone This mini drone from Holy Stone is an excellent gift idea for beginners at $36. This drone is cleverly designed with protective shells around its rotors, is capable of a number of in-flight tricks, and has a flight time of about 20 minutes per charge. A trio of batteries and an intuitive controller are included. BoostCharge Fast Wireless Charging Pad Wireless chargers are great tech gifts under $40, and Belkin’s is one of the best. This compact accessory can rapidly charge iPhones and Android smartphones with a maximum power output of 15 watts. Signature M650 Wireless Mouse The Logitech Signature M650 wireless mouse is hands down the best under $40 gift you can give to a coworker, family member, or friend. Featuring a precise scrolling wheel and silent button, the gadget will leave a lasting impression. Spectra Infinity Xbox Controller Any Xbox or PC gamer will immediately enjoy the PowerA Spectra Infinity wired gaming controller. A high-quality knob with mappable keys, colorful LED lighting, and a handy volume dial make this accessory a must-have. Warranty coverage is provided by PowerA for two years. FosPower Emergency Solar Radio You can hear emergency broadcasts, charge your electronics with the sun, and have a reliable source of light with the FosPower Emergency Solar Radio. For peace of mind, this is definitely $31 well spent. Band 7 Fitness & Health Tracker This fitness tracker has design and hardware features that belong in a much higher price range, making it a fantastic under-$40 gift. A sophisticated sensor measures the heart rate and oxygen level continuously. This budget-friendly gadget tracks over a hundred activities and workouts, as well as sleep patterns and stress levels. Echo Wall Clock If you’re looking for a gift for someone who already uses an Amazon Alexa device, then the Echo Wall Clock is a great choice. With its built-in LEDs, this minimalist wall clock can display the progress of various timers you set with Alexa. You can use it to set timers for food, laundry, homework, and whatever else you can think of. Pretty cool for $30, if you ask me. GE Full-Color Direct Connect Smart Bulbs These GE Full Color Direct Connect Smart Bulbs for just $13 make it easy for friends and family to set the mood in their rooms. With no additional hardware required, you can choose from millions of color options. Using Alexa or Google Assistant, the bulbs can be dimmed or controlled from away from home. Dime Mini Multitool Gearheads will appreciate the compact, feature-rich Gerber Dime, a multitool crafted entirely in the United States. Among the 12 onboard tools are a flat-head screwdriver, a tiny plain-edge blade, a box opener, and scissors. It is backed by a lifetime warranty from Gerber. Not shabby for around $20. Justin Case Commuter Car Emergency Kit This roadside emergency kit includes jumper cables, a flashlight with batteries, a tow strap, a rain poncho, knit gloves, a first-aid kit, and Justin Case Roadside Assistance for 365 days, making it a perfect gift for anyone who forgets to leave their car lights on or forgets to turn it to E. Not too shabby for $24. Simply complete the enclosed membership form and mail it in to receive roadside assistance. After a few weeks, you will receive a one-year enrollment card in the mail. There is no membership fee. Best Buy Gift Card Not the most original gift. But, at least the recipient can buy the gadget they’ve asked Santa for. Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Kids If you’re looking to stretch your budget when shopping for the baby, child, or teen in your life, here are some gift suggestions. Lego Classic Creative Blocks While this classic, colorful Lego set comes with a few ideas for small projects, it promotes open-ended play. A brick-shaped storage container is a nice touch too. A great gift for just $12. View-Master Boxed Set As a kid, you probably enjoyed clicking through one of these – now you can share the joy with your own children, grandchildren, or niece or nephew. You can think of it as the original VR headset. But, for only $22. Carson BugView Finder By using this catch-and-release bug magnifier kids can explore the outdoors in a humane manner. Plus, it’s only $13. Tookyland 16 Pcs Wooden Soring Stacking Balancing Stone Rocks In addition to being more eco-friendly than plastic toys, wooden toys are more popular among minimalist parents. While helping kids develop hand-eye coordination, these Areaware-esque rainbow woodblocks look nice enough to display. And, it’s a steal at $16. Zutano Unisex-Baby Newborn Cozie Fleece Booties This pair of Zutano Cozie Fleece Baby Booties with Cotton Lining is soft, cozy, and perfect for wiggly feet. With an adjustable snap closure and a gentle ankle elastic, the baby booties stay securely on your child’s feet thanks to a fleece shell lined with interlock cotton. Prices range from $18 to $25. Think Wing Baby Teething Toys 5-Pack The set contains giraffes, bananas, and other fruit shapes as teething toys. And, it’s on sale at Amazon for $10. Doodle Bear This sweet stuffed animal is perfect for kids to scribble and scrawl all over-then toss it in the laundry when they’re done. To draw on this stuffed toy, three washable markers are included. Not bad for $22. Eeboo Our Solar System Puzzle As you complete this cosmically cool solar system puzzle, your kid will learn about outer space and explore the universe. Illustrations and amazing facts about the universe fill this puzzle as well. An out-of-this-world present for $16. Novie Interactive Smart Robot Kids will love learning fun tricks from this interactive robot toy. There are 75 tricks or commands that Novie can do, as well as interacting with other Novie robots when controlled by hand gestures. It’s available at Amazon for $29. Money Maze Bank This is a great way to give cash or a gift card – enclose them in a money maze and watch the recipient figure it out. Once the initial gifting is over, the Money Maze can be turned into an actual piggy bank with built-in security. Definitely a unique gift for $8. Selfie Ring Light Selfie rings are absolutely worth the investment if your teen enjoys taking selfies and takes high-quality photos. This is under $19 and comes with a tripod and phone holder. Fanny Pack Despite what you may think, fanny packs are very popular right now. This Patagonia bag sits at the waist for easy access to essentials or can be slung over the shoulder. The “light, comfy, and durable” features make it a favorite among reviewers. Apple AirTag This tag can be attached to a backpack, wallet, keys, or other easily lost items so your teenager can easily track them down with the Find My app whenever they lose them. Using the app, they can make the tag play a sound until they find their misplaced item. Totally worth the $29. Panasonic ErgoFit Earbuds If they’re still plugging in their headphones, like the cool kids area, get them a pair of Panasonic in-ears for like $10. Their sound is pretty good, and they are comfortable, with soft ear-hugging tips. Bombas Socks During the holidays, it’s basically your civic duty as a parent to buy socks for your teenager. Bombas socks are more comfortable and stylish than your local department store’s six-pack. In addition to feeling great on their feet, they give back to the community with every purchase. Subscriptions/Experiences Instead of material possessions, why not give the timeless and memorable gift of subscriptions or experiences? Meal Kit Delivery Service Are there any friends or family members who enjoy cooking but can never get to the grocery store? Perhaps they want to take their culinary skills to the next level, but aren’t sure where to start. Subscription food services provide the precise ingredients (premeasured) required for varied recipes, delivered right to your door. Using the instructions, anyone can cook a quality meal by simply opening the box. Home Chef, for example, allows you to send a $25 gift card. Speciality Food or Coffee As an example, a box of authentic New Orleans beignet mix would make a great gift for your family or friends for just five bucks. You can also add Café du Monde coffee and chicory to make the perfect gift. Sports Game or Concert Tickets Around the holiday season, there are all sorts of college bowl games and other sporting events. They will love the experience and you won’t usually have any trouble finding tickets. Make your music lover’s day by taking them to a show. Not sure what type of music they enjoy? Usually, you can find ideas on their Spotify or social media accounts. Theater Tickets Although the cinema is also great, I’m not talking about the movies. I’m talking real theater for an off-Broadway show, opera, ballet, or other fine arts performance. The cost of production tickets may be less than $25 at smaller, local theaters. For your friend or family member, it will be an unforgettable experience. Museum, Art Show or Tour Tickets Your gift recipient may not have experienced everything there is to do in a big city — even if they live there. The perfect gift could be tickets to an experience, whether it is a museum or city bus tour or even the aquarium downtown they visited as a kid. Tickets for CityPASS cost more than $40. You can, however, get some ideas of what to buy from the site itself. Annual Magazine Subscription It is likely that there is a magazine dedicated to the hobby of your friend or loved one. Purchasing a hard copy of the current issue will give you something to wrap along with your subscription. For instance, 12 issues of National Geographic for $39, or $20 for Kindle version. Book of the Month A new hardcover title is chosen by the BOTM team every month. If you’d rather skip the month, pick the book you’d like, or let the editors surprise you, you can do so. Adding up to two additional hardcovers to your order is only $9.99 each if you can’t get enough reading material. For 3 months, this will cost you $50. But, this is the gift that keeps giving. Groupon $30 & Under Experiences If you head over to Groupon, you can find a wide range of affordable experiences, including bowling, paintball, whale watching, or art classes. Donation in Their Name You may want to consider giving a charitable gift in honor of somebody who has everything they need. You will most likely receive something nice from a charitable organization for the recipient. It’s an excellent gift for your minimalist friend; you won’t mess up their home. Contribute to a Child’s 529 Make a contribution to the child’s 529 plan. It’ll be necessary to check to see if the parents have set one up, and if they have, you can contribute to the child’s college tuition. Any bit will help, given how expensive school has become these days. There is a tax advantage to setting up a 529 savings account in which the money is invested until the child’s tuition is due. It is possible to set up a 529 for a child without one already in his/her name. But you will need the child’s social security number. Give the Gift of Stocks and Index Funds You can easily purchase stocks of publicly traded companies with SparkGift, and easily gift those stocks to anyone. Following that, the recipient receives instructions via email on how to set up a brokerage account or add funds to an existing one. Whether it’s for newborns, teens, grandparents, or adults, SparkGift is perfect for everyone. For users under 18 years of age, a custodial account is set up to protect them from selling the farm. FAQs What should I get someone as a gift? If you are looking for a gift for someone, the best advice is to work out your budget within the $40 range and then determine what is still within your price range. After that, knowing the gift recipient and what they like to receive will definitely help. What is proper gift-giving etiquette? Cultures around the world have different protocols for giving gifts. Do not hesitate to ask your in-laws, family, or friends what you should do if they practice gift-giving differently than you do. If you want to know how to behave properly in various cultures, you can always do some research online. As long as your gift is thoughtful and you are genuine in your giving, the receiver will likely be pleased with whatever you give. Who is the recipient? Are they members of your immediate family? Is it a bestie or a new friend? A significant other? A co-worker? A gift’s personality and size will likely be determined by how close you are to the recipient and how close you feel to them. So, even if your new friend needs to relax, you don’t have to book a spa package for them. Stress balls are a good place to start. Is a gift card ever acceptable? Gift certificates that say, “go have a nice dinner at this fancy restaurant,” are definitely acceptable if they are thoughtful. The trick is to choose an amount that won’t force the recipient to spend too much money. However, as long as you keep the recipient’s preferences in mind, your gift should land. You shouldn’t spend more than you can afford. What’s your holiday budget? Choosing the perfect gift also requires knowing your budget – and sticking to it. By doing this, you will know where to shop and what to look for. Don’t forget that buying the perfect gift doesn’t have to break the bank. The truth is that this isn’t always the case. The best gift you can give, besides the affordable items listed as handmade, are gift vouchers. Article by John Rampton, Due About the Author John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old, while attending the University of Utah, he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months, he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time, he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and Finance Expert by Time. He is the Founder and CEO of Due......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkDec 9th, 2022

Elon Musk and Twitter are set to face off in court. Here"s everything that"s happened in the chaotic takeover saga so far.

Since the deal was announced in April, the back-and-forth has cast doubt on whether it would go through. Now, Twitter is suing Musk to close. CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk speaks at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing "Cyber Rodeo" grand opening party on April 7, 2022 in Austin, TexasSuzanne Cordeiro/Getty Images In early April, Elon Musk became Twitter's largest shareholder. Three weeks later, Twitter accepted Musk's $44 billion takeover over.  Now he wants out of the deal, and Twitter is suing Musk to hold him to his word.  When the news broke in April that one of Twitter's power users, Elon Musk, had become the company's largest single shareholder with a 9.2% stake, expectations for his increased involvement in shaping the platform shot up like a SpaceX Falcon rocket.Within a chaotic month of reactions and predictions, new features, policies, and strategies were speculated upon, a board seat was declined, and a $44 billion offer was accepted.Developments since April have been slower, but no less volatile, as share prices for both Twitter and Tesla took beatings and Musk searched for a way to renegotiate the deal, ultimately telling the company on Friday he was terminating the deal.Here's how it went down.A bit of backstoryThe saga begins in January when records show Musk began purchasing shares of Twitter on an almost daily basis.By March 14, he reached a 5% stake, representing a threshold that the US Securities Exchange Commission deems large enough to require public disclosure.But instead of revealing his stake by March 25 as required, Musk said nothing and continued quietly amassing shares at what experts told the Washington Post were artificially low prices. The following week, Musk implied that Twitter was undermining democracy by "failing to adhere to free speech principles.""Is a new platform needed?" he asked on March 26.Later that day, he said, "Am giving serious thought to this." He would go on to buy millions more shares of Twitter stock.Monday, April 4Musk revealed his ownership of 73,486,938 shares, worth 9.2% of Twitter, in a Monday 13-G filing with the SEC. The market and social media reactions were immediate.The stock price surged more than 25% on the news as investors began pricing for a potential sale of the company."Some investors are certainly hoping for a sale, but we believe the stock move is likely an overreaction for this broadly speculative possibility," Bernstein analysts led by Mark Shmulik said in a note.That evening, Musk tweeted a poll asking his followers if they "want an edit button."Tuesday, April 5The next day, Twitter notified the SEC of its intent to appoint Musk to its board of directors "as promptly as practicable," so long as he not own more than 14.9% of the company's shares.The stock shot up another 10% following the announcement, and Musk tweeted that he was looking forward making "significant improvements" to the service.Twitter's founder, Jack Dorsey, said he was "really happy" about the idea of Musk joining Twitter's board.A 13D (distinct from 13G) financial filing on Tuesday revealed that Musk had been on a Twitter buying spree nearly every day since early January.Wednesday, April 6On Wednesday, the Washington Post estimated, based on calculations, that Musk netted savings of $156 million by skipping the deadline to disclose his 5% stake back in March. By keeping his ownership quiet, Musk was able to buy shares at a 30% discount, finance experts said.Thursday, April 7Employee reactions continued to gather steam, with with one staffer calling Musk "a racist," and others expressing concerns over potential interference in the company's content moderation.Saturday, April 9On the day he was set to begin serving as a board member, Musk spent a fair amount time rattling off a list of changes he would like to see on the platform, including dogecoin payments, price cuts, and authentication checkmarks for its Blue subscription service.Sunday, April 10On Sunday, he tweeted — then deleted — a suggestion that Twitter's San Francisco headquarters be converted to a homeless shelter and a poll asking whether the company should "delete the w in twitter."Late on Sunday evening, Agrawal tweeted a note saying that "Elon has decided not to join our board," and explained that Musk had shared his decision the day before."I believe this is for the best," Agrawal added. "Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input."Monday, April 11Unconstrained by an agreement that he own less than 14.9% of the company, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told Insider's Isobel Asher Hamilton, that "this now goes from a Cinderella story ... to likely a 'Game of Thrones' battle between Musk and Twitter."Thursday, April 14Musk offers to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share in a deal valuing the company at $44 billion."Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company," he said in a letter to chairman Bret Taylor. "Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it."Twitter confirmed it recieved Musk's offer and said the board would review it, while Musk threatened to "reconsider" his 9.2% stake in the company if the board rebuffed him.Monday, April 25Twitter's board accepts Musk's offer, valuing the company at a 38% premium over its closing stock price on April 1, 2022, before his initial stake was disclosed.Under the deal, a shell company formed by Musk would acquire Twitter entirely, making it a privately held firm roughly nine years after its initial public offering.Friday, May 13Musk tweets that the Twitter deal is "on hold" while he investigates the company's statement that less than 5% of its accounts are spam or bots.Shares in Tesla, which Musk is using as collateral to finance the deal, had fallen by roughly 25% since the agreement was announced.Monday, May 16Twitter shares returned to the $38.31 price they had before Musk announced his stake — far below the $54.20 offered in the deal — as investors appeared to have their doubts about whether it would go through.Thursday, May 28The US Securities Exchange Commission weighed in, asking Musk to explain why he was late in disclosing when he reached a 5% stake in Twitter, as is required by law.Monday, June 6Lawyers for Musk filed a complaint with the SEC arguing that Twitter was "actively resisting and thwarting [Musk's] information rights," and threatening to jettison the deal.Ordinarily a prospective buyer would conduct this due diligence ahead of signing an agreement, but Musk elected to skip that process.Wednesday, June 8Days later, the Washington Post reported that Twitter would give Musk's team full access to the "firehose" stream of more than half a billion daily tweets.A source told Insider's Kali Hays that Musk would "mine it to make wild accusations" about bots or automated accounts on Twitter's platform.Thursday, June 16Musk virtually joins an all-hands meeting with Twitter for the first time to answer questions from employees.Among the revelations: layoffs would be likely, remote work would be limited, and aliens aren't likely to exist.Tuesday, June 21Twitter's board unanimously approved the merger agreement, moving the deal one step closer to its conclusion.Thursday, July 7The Washington Post reported that sources "close to Musk" described the deal as in "serious jeopardy," claiming that Musk's team has not been able to verify Twitter's spam and bot estimates.Meanwhile, a third of Twitter's recruiting team was laid off amid a hiring freeze that was implemented in May.Friday, July 8Lawyers for Musk notify the SEC that he plans to terminate the merger, citing "material breach of multiple provisions" of the agreement.Twitter's board quickly shot back saying they intend to pursue legal action to enforce the deal: "We are confident we will prevail in the Delaware Court of Chancery."Sunday, July 10Twitter taps one of the world's top corporate law firms that specializes in merger litigation, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, to make good on its pledge to close the deal.Musk responds with memes.Tuesday, July 12Lawyers for Twitter drop a 62-page lawsuit after the bell accusing Musk of "refusing to honor his obligations," and that he is backing out "because it no longer serves his personal interests."The suit was chock full of fiery lines, including calling Musk's exit strategy "a model of hypocrisy."It also claims Musk admitted to have not read a detailed report provided by Twitter about its bot calculation methodology — the very issue Musk says is his reason for backing out.The story isn't over yetIt's unclear exactly how all of this will play out in the coming days, but legal experts tell Insider that Musk is inching closer to a legal nightmare and a billion-dollar fee if the deal doesn't go through.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 13th, 2022

Elon Musk"s obsession with tweeting just notoriously backfired and may damn him in court against Twitter

Twitter filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to force Elon Musk to complete the $44 billion deal to purchase the social media company. On Tuesday, Twitter officially filed a lawsuit against Musk after he revealed his intention to pull out of a $44 billion purchase of the social media company.Chesnot/Getty Images Elon Musk cited a lack of transparency around Twitter's alleged bot issues as a reason to pull out of his deal. Musk previously tweeted that he wanted to "defeat the spam bots" when the deal goes through. Twitter's legal team claimed "Musk's exit strategy is a model of hypocrisy." Elon Musk's tweets may be catching up to him — again.On Tuesday, Twitter officially filed a lawsuit against Musk after he revealed his intention to pull out of a $44 billion purchase of the social media company.The lawsuit argued that Musk is "refusing to honor his obligations" to Twitter and its stakeholders by walking away from the deal. But it also claimed that his chief reason for terminating it — what he said is a lack of transparency around the number of spam accounts — is null.On top of arguing that the company has been open about its metrics and methodology for counting the number of users on the platform, the lawsuit said that getting rid of spam accounts was one of the reasons Musk wanted to purchase the company in the first place. The filing showed a screenshot of one of Musk's tweets from April 21, stating: "If our twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!"—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 21, 2022The lawsuit cited other cases where Musks states his plan to get rid of spam accounts by buying Twitter.One is a text message from Musk to Twitter's board chairman Bret Taylor on April 9, the day Musk announced that he wanted to buy the social media company, in which he said that "'purging fake users' from the platform had to be done in the context of a private company," according to the suit.There was also a press release formally announcing the deal on April 25, that restated Musk's intentions of "defeating the spam bots.""In his press release announcing the deal on April 25, 2022, Musk raised a clarion call to 'defeat the spam bots.' But when the market declined and the fix-price deal became less attractive, Musk shifted his narrative, suddenly demanding 'verification' that spam was not a serious problem on Twitter's platform, and claiming a burning need to conduct 'diligence' he had expressly forsworn," the lawsuit states."Musk's strategy is a model of hypocrisy," Twitter's lawyers argued.This would not be the first time Musk's tweeting habits have gotten the Tesla CEO in trouble.In 2018, after Musk tweeted that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private for $420 a share, the SEC sued Musk for misleading investors.Musk was shortly forced to step down from his chairman position at Tesla, the company he founded, and to pay a $20 million fine in a settlement agreement.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 12th, 2022

Reddit Allows Hate Speech to Flourish in Its Global Forums, Moderators Say

Reddit moderators around the world say that racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, misinformation and personal threats are running rampant on the site When Reddit moderator asantos3 clicked on a thread inside the group r/Portugueses in December and found it full of racist comments, he wasn’t exactly surprised. The group is often home to nationalist and nativist rhetoric, and in this instance, users here were responding angrily to a new law that allowed increased freedom of movement between Portuguese-speaking countries including African nations like Mozambique and Angola. “Wonderful, more stupid Blacks to rob me in the street,” read one comment in Portuguese, which received 19 likes. “This Africanization of Portugal can only lead the country to a third-world backwardness,” read another. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] So, asantos3, who moderates the much larger and more mainstream group r/Portugal, quickly sent a report to Reddit staffers with a link to the thread. Within minutes, he received an automated response: “After investigating, we’ve found that the reported content doesn’t violate Reddit’s Content Policy.” The response was disappointing but predictable for asantos3, who has served as a volunteer content moderator for six years. As part of his duties, he deletes comments that contain racism, homophobia, sexism and other policy violations, and sends reports to Reddit about hate speech coming from smaller satellite groups like r/Portugeses. Asantos3 spoke on the condition that he would be identified only by his Reddit handle. He says his duties have led to him being doxxed—with personal details including his Instagram and LinkedIn profiles posted online— and threatened. And asantos3 says that the company itself has repeatedly ignored reports of harassment from him and other moderators. “We mostly stopped reporting stuff, because we don’t have feedback,” he says. “We have no idea if they read our reports, or if there are even Portuguese-speaking people in the company.” Reddit’s problem is a global one, say current and former moderators. Indian subreddits like r/chodi and r/DesiMeta include Islamophobic posts and calls for the genocide of Muslims. In subreddits about China like r/sino and r/genzedong, users attack Uyghurs and promote violence against them. And members of r/Portugueses regularly traffic in anti-Black, anti-Roma and anti-immigrant sentiment. READ MORE: The Subreddit /r/Collapse Has Become the Doomscrolling Capital of the Internet. Can Its Users Break Free? “Anything outside the anglosphere is pretty much ignored, to be honest,” 11th Dimension, a former moderator of r/Portugal who stepped down from his role due to burnout, says. “It’s hard to convey to the company what’s racist and what’s not when the admins are so far from the details and the cultural differences.” TIME spoke to 19 Reddit moderators around the world who shared similar stories and concerns about the San-Francisco-based company’s reluctance to control hate-speech in its non-English language forums. Nearly all of the moderators agreed to speak on the condition that their real names would not be published because they say they have received death threats and other attacks online for their work. This all-volunteer corps of moderators, of which there are at least tens of thousands, is only growing in importance for the company. Reddit announced in December that it intends to make an initial public offering of stock in 2022. The company was recently valued at $10 billion, is one of the 25 most visited websites in the world according to multiple trackers and has made its international expansion a key aspect of its post-IPO growth strategy. But some of its most devoted users—its unpaid moderators—argue that while the company aims to be the “front page of the internet,” it has not invested in the infrastructure to combat vile content that is rife on many of its non-English language pages. Reddit has acknowledged that its expansion to international markets makes policing its platform more difficult, and some moderators said the company has taken steps in recent months to correct the longstanding problems. “When we begin to open in non-English speaking countries, moderation does get more complex,” a Reddit spokesperson said in a statement to TIME. “We are investing now to build and hire for non-English capabilities and add support for more languages.” READ MORE: Facebook Let an Islamophobic Conspiracy Theory Flourish in India Despite Employees’ Warnings These problems are not unique to Reddit. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have each struggled to contain hate speech and misinformation as they pushed into new markets around the world. Facebook groups and posts, for example, have been linked to real-world violence in India, the Philippines, Myanmar and other countries even as the platform spends billions of dollars a year on safety and security. This year, other Silicon Valley companies will be watching closely as Reddit embarks on a precarious balancing act: to gain legitimacy and generate revenue while retaining its freewheeling, decentralized structure. Can the company preserve free speech while protecting its users? And will its model of running a lean operation with few paid staffers allow it to adapt to the responsibilities of hosting growing, diverse communities around the world? More from TIME Many moderators and analysts are skeptical. “Reddit has very little incentive to do anything about problems [in subreddits] because they see them as a self-governing problem,” Adrienne Massanari, an associate professor at American University who has been studying Reddit for years and wrote a book on its communities, says. “They’re creating a very successful business model in pushing work to moderators and users, who have to be exposed to horrific stuff.” Using dog whistles to get around the rules Zach Gibson—Getty ImagesReddit Inc. co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman looks on during a hearing with the House Communications and Technology and House Commerce Subcommittees on Oct. 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. The hearing investigated measures to foster a healthier internet and protect consumers. Reddit, founded in 2005, is essentially a messaging board, but it could be compared to a high school extracurriculars fair. The site comprises hundreds of self-contained forums arranged by varied interests, from sports to makeup to art to pets. While many of these subreddits are innocuous, it’s no secret that Reddit has long been a haven for unseemly behavior. Reddit CEO, Steve Huffman, even explicitly stated in 2018 that racism was not against Reddit’s rules, elaborating that “on Reddit there will be people with beliefs different from your own, sometimes extremely so.” However, over the two years—following intense criticism rained down on the company over its hate speech and harassment policies, including in the wake of the murder of George Floyd—the company backed away from its original hands-off ethos and has been hard at work to clean up its communities and clamp down on noxious, racist behavior. Toxic communities like r/The_Donald have been banned; AI-powered tools aimed at curbing hate speech and abuse have been rolled out; backchannels between moderators and company employees have been established. READ MORE: Reddit Places a ‘Quarantine’ on The_Donald, Its Largest Community of Trump Supporters But many non-English moderators say that cleanup has not extended to the pages they monitor. R/India is one of the largest national subreddits, with 693,000 members. There, users will typically find a fairly tame mix of news links, memes and local photos. That’s partly down to the hard work of unpaid moderators to remove Islamophic content. A group of five r/India moderators, speaking to TIME over a Zoom call, say they can spend several hours a day actively responding to queries, removing hate speech and banning rogue accounts. (Old moderators approve the applications of new ones; the primary draws of the gig, according to moderators, are community-building and the ability to help shape a discourse.) One moderator for r/India has served in his role since 2011, when there was a more laissez-faire approach. Moderators soon realized that a hands-off moderation style “wasn’t working because it allowed the worst people to dominate the conversations,” he says. “There would be lots of people just saying things like ‘Muslims need to die.’” When moderators began to block these users, some would simply return with a new account and taunt them, creating an endless game of whack-a-mole. Moderators say they saw other users instead start or join offshoot groups that allowed more controversial posts. The largest of those r/India offshoots currently is r/Chodi, which was created in 2019 and has 90,000 members who create hundreds of posts a day. R/Chodi—which translates as a crude slang in Hindi—contains ample examples of far-right Hindu nationalism that often spills over into hate speech and sectarian bigotry. Dozens of posts a week denigrate Islam, often depicting Muslims as ignorant, violent or incestuous. “Poorer, dumber, breeding like rats. They’ve got it all,” one post says about Muslims in India, which is still online. “India needs to eliminate them before they rise up,” read another, which has since been deleted. (R/Chodi’s increased popularity has coincided with a steep rise in religious hate crimes in India.) As r/Chodi has faced criticism from communities like r/AgainstHateSpeech, the group’s own moderators have made efforts to halt the most overt examples of hate speech, including creating a list of banned words. But r/Chodi posters have simply turned to code words and increasingly slippery rhetoric, to get around the moderators and Reddit’s AI-driven natural language processing techniques, according to r/India moderators. Muslims are referred to using coded language such as “Abduls,” “Mull@s,” “K2as,” or, derisively, “Peace loving” people. Christians are referred to as “Xtians”; while Pakistan is called “Porkistan.” Reddit said in a statement that automation and machine learning “help moderators remove 99% of reported hateful content.” But, studies have shown that AI is far less powerful when working outside the language it was designed in. The moderators who spoke with TIME say they have tried to flag these alternative slurs to the Reddit administrators, paid employees who are largely based in the U.S., but have been mostly ignored. “I have tried to report these comments 20 or 30 times, easily,” a second r/India moderator says. “I’ve tried to collate these slurs and send them the translations, but it was never even replied to.” In a statement responding to the moderator’s claim, Reddit wrote that “harassment, bullying, and threats of violence or content that promotes hate based on identity or vulnerability” are prohibited on the platform and that they “review and work with communities that may engage in such behavior, including the subreddit in question.” Extremists around the world use code words in a way similar to the users of r/Chodi. The user DubTeeDub—who moderates r/AgainstHateSubreddits and wrote a widely shared open letter last year excoriating racism on the platform and demanding change—says that Reddit’s administrators have failed to keep up with racists’ constantly evolving dog whistles, such as Neo-Nazis putting Jewish names in triple parentheses to signal their identity. “It’s very clearly a white supremacist symbol, but the admins will just say, ‘that seems fine to me,’ and they’ll ignore it,” DubTeeDub, says. But the moderators of r/India feel that Reddit is not only allowing hate speech to spread on r/Chodi and other similar groups, but actively pushing users toward the group. They have found posts from r/Chodi within r/India itself, algorithmically suggested as “posts you may like” and giving the subreddit a veneer of tacit official approval. “These are very hateful subs, and we don’t want our subscribers going there,” a second r/India moderator says. “They can discover them on their own, but that should not be happening from inside our sub.” Reddit’s volunteer moderators face threats The fraught interplay between r/India and r/Chodi is emblematic of cat-and-mouse games playing out in subreddits in other parts of the world, especially as far-right political groups amass power in many countries and gain legions of followers. In Portugal, r/Portugueses (6,900 members) is filled with anti-Roma and anti-Semitic rhetoric, homophobia, and racist depictions of Africans. “How is it possible for someone to want to see a place like this full of Africans, Brazilians, Indians and I don’t know what else?” posted one commenter alongside an idyllic illustration of a Portuguese town. A screenshot from the Reddit community r/Portugueses, which often includes anti-Black, anti-Roma and anti-immigrant sentiment. “How is it possible for someone to want to see a place like this full of Africans, Brazilians, Indians, and I don’t know what else?,” the caption reads in Portuguese. Concerned moderators have attempted to report these posts and, in turn, become targets of abuse. One of the most common tactics is for zealous users to band together and report moderators for invented reasons in an effort to get them suspended or banned by unsuspecting admins. DubTeeDub says these types of tactics have led to his suspension at least seven times. But the attacks often turn much more personal and vicious, as trolls dig up moderators’ personal information. Asantos3, the r/Portugal moderator, says he’s been stalked across LinkedIn and Instagram. One user offered Bitcoin to anyone who could find out his address. “It’s so weird, but some of these actions are so common that we kind of ignore them now,” he says. In Brazil, a São Paulo-based student and r/Brasil moderator who gave his name as Tet said he was threatened and doxxed when he and other moderators tried to crack down on the hate speech on r/Brasilivre (176,000 members), on which users post transphobia, anti-Black racism and homophobic slurs. “Stay smart because we’re watching you. Don’t think I’m the only one,” wrote one commenter in Portuguese. “I will find each one of you and kill you slowly.” Another user posted Tet’s address and personal Facebook account, writing, “Just let the hate flow and f— with them… bring trouble to their lives.” Neither of those posters have active accounts anymore, and Tet has since stopped moderating the subreddit partly due to burnout. Perhaps it’s not surprising that there’s a high level of fatigue among moderators, who are often forced to see the worst aspects of Reddit on a daily basis. One r/India moderator tells TIME that women are especially vulnerable to harassment. “I know female mods are regularly hounded, targeted, not given space: it’s not a place to identify as a woman,” he says. How Reddit can move forward Many other social media platforms are struggling to balance free speech ideals with the aggressive spread of hate speech and misinformation on their platforms. This fall, documents released by the whistleblower Frances Haugen showed that Facebook deprioritized efforts to curtail misinformation. In July, Black soccer players for England’s national team received torrents of racist abuse on Facebook and Twitter following the Euro 2021 Championship final, provoking British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to demand “the urgent need for action” from social media companies. In India, Facebook allowed Hindu extremists to operate openly on its platform for months, despite being banned by the platform. Facebook, in response to criticism, has pledged to bolster its safety team and resources: it has 40,000 employees working on safety and security alone. Reddit, similarly, is pledging to ramp up its efforts, although its team is skeletal in comparison. Over the last year, the company has expanded its workforce from 700 to 1,300. A Reddit spokesperson said that the company opened offices in Canada, the U.K., Australia and Germany, and would “continue to expand to other countries” in an effort to get closer to their global communities. Reddit created a Mod Council to receive feedback from moderators last year. It is also testing a new feature to give users more advanced blocking capabilities to limit the mobilizing power of extremists, harassers and bigots. In October 2021, the company posted a statement laying out statistics about its efforts toward “internationalizing safety,” and wrote, “The data largely shows that our content moderation is scaling and that international communities show healthy levels of reporting and moderation.” Many Reddit moderators feel the site’s system of using volunteer moderators is less healthy than the company suggests. “There are a lot of people who just move on,” Jonathan Deans, a Scotland-based moderator of r/worldnews, says. “They’re like, ‘I’m sick of doing this. We just remove hateful comments all day, and what do we get out of it? Not really anything.” Massanari, the American University professor, argues that Reddit’s problems will continue to worsen without a concerted internal effort. “Reddit’s defense has been, ‘If you ignore these spaces, they’ll go away,’” she says. “But the scholars and experts who have researched extremism and hate speech for years have clearly said that the more you allow that stuff to continue, you get more and more extreme versions of it.” “We take safety extremely seriously and are committed to continuously enhancing our policies and processes to ensure the safety of users and moderators on our platform,” Reddit said in a statement. “We are seeing some improvements in the prevalence of hateful content as a result of our efforts, and we will continue to invest in our safety capabilities as well as moderator tools and resources.” Ellen Pao, the former interim chief executive of Reddit and current CEO of Project Include, agrees that the company’s unpaid moderation model has severe limits. When she led the company in between 2014 and 2015, Pao made it a priority to take down revenge porn and unauthorized nude photos and to ban toxic communities like the fat-shaming community r/fatpeoplehate, which spurred a huge backlash from many of Reddit’s most active users. Pao says that Silicon Valley has historically sidelined efforts like these in favor of their bottom lines. “You have these platforms that were founded by white men, who do not experience the same levels of toxicity, harassment and harm themselves, so they don’t see or understand these problems and let them fester,” she says. “It’s something they’ve been able to ignore for a long time.” Pao says that hiring more people whose jobs involve confronting these issues is the first step. “If you really care about your users, and if you really want to prevent harassment and harm, then why wouldn’t you take on those roles yourself?” she says. Back in Portugal, the moderator asantos3 is still spending his free time trying to clean up Portuguese-language subreddits. After receiving the automated message about the racist thread, he sent a frustrated note with more details to the Reddit’s staff administrators. This time, an admin wrote back—a rare occurrence in itself. But the note only reinforced the gap between him and the company: “I think some things may be getting lost in the translations here but am happy to take another look,” the admin wrote. “It would also help if you were able to explain a bit more directly how the linked article promotes hate.” Asantos3 responded with some details, and reported a few more comments in the thread, which asserted that the influx of Portuguese-speaking Africans would lead to “population replacement and genocide,” “kidnap and rape,” and “violent possessive monkey rage.” But he received the same automated brush-off and never heard back from a human. The whole thread, as of publication, is still online. “I’m feeling frustrated,” he said. “I guess it doesn’t matter at all.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeJan 13th, 2022

The biggest universities in Texas are blocking students from accessing TikTok on campus WiFi

Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin are among the universities blocking TikTok from campus WiFi and university devices. "TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users' devices ... and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government," Gov. Greg Abbott said in December.Marco Bello/Reuters Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin have blocked TikTok from campus WiFi. Texan universities are also banning TikTok from devices under Gov. Greg Abbott's recent directive. Abbott claimed the app offers a "trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government." Students and staff at some of Texas's biggest universities will no longer be able to scroll TikTok on campus WiFi while waiting for their next class or taking their lunch break.Texas A&M University — thought to be the state's biggest university with close to 70,000 students — is blocking TikTok from its IT network under a directive by Governor Greg Abbott, local news outlets reported on Tuesday.The University of Texas at Austin, which has around 52,000 students, made a similar announcement on Tuesday, saying that students wouldn't be able to access the video-sharing app if they were connected to the university's wired or WiFi networks.Both universities had said they had already started removing the app from government-issued devices, including university-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets, and desktop computers. A&M told staff in December to delete the app, stop posting, and remove all links to TikTok from university webpages, local news outlet The Eagle reported.Abbott issued a directive on December 6 ordering state agencies to ban their employees from downloading or using TikTok on any government-issued devices, citing cybersecurity concerns."TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users' devices ... and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government," Abbott said in the directive. TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, is based in China.FBI Director Chris Wray said in December that he had national-security concerns about TikTok and warned that China could use the app to collect user data for espionage operations.Representatives for the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Houston – Downtown, Texas State University, Lamar University, and the University of Texas at San Antonio told Insider that they had banned TikTok on university-issued devices and on campus wired and wireless networks. The University of North Texas says on its website that it has done the same.A spokesperson for the University of Houston told Insider that the college "immediately" ceased activity on all university-managed TikTok accounts following Abbott's order but hadn't made any changes to its wired and wireless services. The spokesperson added that the university had scanned more than 20,000 university-owned devices and removed the app from six of them."We no longer post to TikTok," A&M's Physics and Astromony Department wrote in the bio of its TikTok account, which has 1.5 million followers. It directed people to its YouTube channel instead. The department had previously posted on TikTok regularly, with many videos getting millions of views. It last posted the day before Abbott's directive was issued.Staff at Texas State and Lamar University, meanwhile, were told to not delete university-affiliated accounts but to make them private and remove all institutional branding, such as logos and contact information.Lamar University and the University of Texas at Dallas told students that TikTok would continue to work at its residence halls.  It's not just the Lone Star State. More than half of US states have banned TikTok on government-issued devices, including Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who all made the move in recent weeks. Colleges at other states have been blocking TikTok from their WiFi, too.The University of Texas at Austin said that it can consider exceptions to the ban for "legitimate uses of TikTok to support university functions," including law enforcement, investigations, and academic research, but said that this would have to be approved by the president, UT System chancellor, and governor's office.Even then, access would only be granted on devices connected to cellular services, not to the university's WiFi or wired network.Do you study or work at a US university that has banned the use of TikTok on campus WiFi? Email this reporter at the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 19th, 2023

A Bank of America Glitch Sent Customers Into a Panic Over Missing Funds

On Wednesday morning, Bank of America customers began reporting missing funds, sending many into a panic on Twitter. On Wednesday morning, Bank of America customers began reporting issues with payments processed through the money transfer service Zelle, which led to money disappearing from their accounts. Many customers took to Twitter to express their outrage as they began to notice the missing funds. One user tweeted, “I almost lost my mind when I saw $2,000 was missing from my account.” Another said, “So cool how @BankofAmerica magically disappeared a large Zelle transaction that HAD ALREADY POSTED and I had used to pay bills. Now I’m extremely in debt in my checking and I can’t get ahold of them. Unbelievable.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Zelle is a money transfer service that works with U.S. banks to move funds directly from one bank account to another. Zelle transfers are quick and free––making the service a popular alternative to credit card transactions that can take a few days to hit users’ accounts and often require fees and bank transfers. However, the service has been under fire by government officials for being an easy facilitator for fraud and theft. The website reported over 1,000 outage reports for Bank of America by 10:30 a.m. EST, coupled with a similar spike in Zelle outage reports. If you have Bank of America, Zelle is having an outage issue that's caused transfers over the last few days to disappear. They're working on it and it should be fixed today. Hopefully this helps you find out earlier than I did and without the heart attack it gave me first-thing. — Zaximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill (@YepItsZak) January 18, 2023 Over a customer support social media account, Zelle redirected users to Bank of America, saying, “The Zelle App & Network are up & running. We are aware of an issue that is impacting Bank Of America customers when sending & receiving payments. We recommend contacting Bank of America’s customer support team for additional updates.” Zelle does not offer any protection for payments made through their services—which means that there’s no safeguard for customers if a transaction goes wrong. Bank of America told TIME that, as of 3:00 p.m. EST, the issue has been resolved and customers are receiving their funds back. The Charlotte Observer reported that customers received a notice when they logged into their online bank accounts on Wednesday, saying that transactions were not missing, but delayed. “Zelle transactions made between January 14th and January 17th may be delayed in occurring and posting to accounts as requested,” the notice said. “Transfers will be completed and will appear in your account activity and balances as soon as possible.” So, I woke up to find hella Zelle deposits missing from my Bank of America account. When I called customer service they said “due to extenuating circumstances we cannot take your call” and the phone hung up. — GNCordova (@GNCordova) January 18, 2023 In 2020, Bank of America customers reported another major glitch, with accounts showing inaccurate balances of as little as $0. The company acknowledged the issue, saying at the time that any inaccuracies did not impact their actual funds. “Some clients may currently see an inaccurate account balance in online or mobile banking. There is no impact to their accounts and their information remains secure,” Bank of America said. Global payment service ACI Worldwide reported last year that fraud loss in the United States from Authorized Push Payments—scams that trick victims into willingly making large bank transfers to fraudsters—is expected to rise to $3 billion in 2026. WHAT THE HECK? @BofA_Help @BankofAmerica I want my money back ASAP! I don’t have money for gas! Stuck at home. Your customer service phone doesn’t work! WHATS WRONG? — Jeepeto Cuarentón (@JaimeSeija) January 18, 2023 In a report issued last fall, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren said four banks provided data reporting over 190,000 cases of fraudulent transactions on Zelle involving over $213 million of payments in 2021 and the first half of 2022. In the majority of the cases, the report noted, individuals were not repaid the amount they were defrauded. Zelle did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. Warren called out both services on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, writing “@BankofAmerica and @Zelle are apparently failing customers again, with money somehow disappearing from accounts. This should be fixed immediately and customers should be compensated. I’ve called out serious fraud issues on Zelle and this is their latest failure.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeJan 19th, 2023

The Benefits Of A Savings Culture & The Future Role Of China"s Yuan

The Benefits Of A Savings Culture & The Future Role Of China's Yuan Authored by Alasdair Macleod via, Savings are a vital component of any successful economy, and the foolishness behind the paradox of thrift is exposed in this article. It has been a huge error for Keynesian policy makers to discourage savings in the interests of temporary boosts to consumerism. It is probably too late now but encouraging people to save by removing all taxation from savings makes an enormous contribution to reducing price inflation and trade deficits, while enhancing national wealth. This is evidenced empirically and demonstrated by reasoned theory.  Furthermore, there is an error in assuming that there is no alternative to Triffin’s dilemma, which posited that for a nation to produce a meaningful level of reserve currency for external circulation it must run trade deficits. Triffin was describing the problems the United States gave itself under the Bretton Woods agreement, leading to the failure of the London gold pool in the late sixties. It still informs US policy makers today, and wrongly leads American commentators to believe that the dollar cannot be toppled from its pre-eminent position. But Triffin’s dilemma assumes that central banks must accumulate currency reserves. Unless a government has foolishly indebted itself in a foreign currency, there is no need for them to do so. Currency reserves add nothing to a domestic currency’s stability. Gold fulfilled this role successfully, and likely to do so again in future. It is a savings ratio of 45% which is at the root of China’s power. The lack of savings in America and its western alliance is their Achilles heel. Empirical evidence If there was one taxation policy which would reduce consumer price inflation, stabilise a fiat currency, encourage capital allocation for productive purposes, and improve government finances for the longer-term, what would it be? Remove all taxes from savings. This is the lesson from past-war West Germany and Japan, both of which suffered absolute defeat and economic destruction in the Second World War. Their currencies were worthless. But they recovered to become economic powerhouses in Europe and Asia respectively in little more than two decades. Both implemented savings-friendly taxation policies, which made capital available at stable interest rates for new industries to invest in production. Germany developed its Mittelstand, and Japan built on her vertically integrated Zaibatsu. Germany was fortunate in its Economy Minister, Ludwig Erhard. A free marketeer who on 20 June 1948 took the bull by the horns, Erhard unilaterally ended rationing on the same day as the new mark was introduced, presenting it as a fait accompli to the military governors in the British and American zones. In a week, shops had begun to reopen, and goods became widely available. In negotiations with the military governors, Erhard managed to obtain income tax concessions for savings, which through the banking system were invested making capital available for private sector reconstruction. While he struggled against both military governments in the two zones to retain lower taxes and for favourable treatment for savings into the 1950s, Erhard had laid the foundations for a savings driven, free market economy. By the 1980s, the only tax on savings was a 10% withholding tax on bank interest and bond coupons, which was not generally pursued by the German tax authorities in the knowledge that attempts to do so would simply drive savings beyond their reach into Luxembourg and Zurich. For this reason, Germany remained a savings driven economy with a strong currency right up to the mark’s incorporation in the new euro. Much to the confusion of British and American neo-Keynesians subscribing to their cherished savings paradox, Germany became the wealthiest of the European nations, other than perhaps Switzerland. In both cases, hard currencies accompanied wealth creation. Erhard’s post-war opposition was principally from General Sir Brian Robertson, the head of the British occupation government, and from the French. The commander of the American occupation zone, General Lucius Clay was more sympathetic with free market solutions. The Americans had promoted A Plan for the Liquidation of War Finance and Financial Rehabilitation of Germany (1946), written at Clay’s behest, one of the co-authors being Joseph Dodge. In 1949, Dodge was then appointed to advise the Japanese government on its post-war reconstruction as an aide to General MacArthur. And Dodge was instrumental in ensuring that up to a certain level, post office savings accounts were entirely tax free. It was probably a deliberate oversight on his part, but the tax law didn’t stop an account holder merely opening another savings account when the tax-free limit on an existing account was reached. Dodge implemented what became known as “The Dodge Line”. By insisting on a balanced national budget and shutting down the printing presses, he ended hyperinflation. The exchange rate between the yen and the dollar stabilised. Government economic intervention and interference was slashed across the board. Echoing John Cowperthwaite’s free market policies in Hong Kong, Dodge realised that the best economic progress was obtained by eliminating state interference, leaving it to Japan’s businessmen and entrepreneurs who, despite the war, retained the skills and connections to run their businesses. With MacArthur’s support, he ruthlessly eliminated subsidies and price controls. Dodge was eventually recalled to America, becoming Truman’s Director of the Budget where in the space of only a year he had cut the US federal deficit in half. Dodge’s free market approach was supplemented by the assistance of another American adviser, W Edwards Denning. Denning introduced quality control techniques to Japanese manufacturing which revolutionised production. As a consequence of Denning’s contribution, Japan rapidly evolved from a source of shoddy goods into a producer of the best consumer technology and the manufacture of world-beating high quality consumer goods. Behind this revolution was the tax incentive to save – a simple approach of assuming that taxed earnings put aside should not be taxed again. In both Germany and Japan, these were not the only factors that led to a successful emergence from total desolation, but they are the elements that ensured that both nations continued to flourish. And in Japan, despite the government fully embracing Keynesian philosophy in the wake of the late-eighties speculative bubble, the savings culture of “Mrs Watanabe, the Japanese housewife” persists to this day. After his stint in Japan and while Joe Dodge worked his budget magic for Truman, the British were going in the opposite direction, eschewing free markets, embracing Keynesianism, persisting with rationing until 1954, and imposing punitive taxes on savings. The decline of post-war Britain and much of Europe need not enter our narrative, but it was a feature of all nations which implemented economic policies of taxing savings. The theory behind savings The empirical evidence is clear. Since the Second World War, economies that embraced free markets and the role of personal savings outperformed those which saw savings as an easy source of tax revenue. Furthermore, we can easily explain why free markets succeed in creating wealth for all, while a state directed economy is anti-progress. It was demonstrated by the Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, who in an essay written in 1920 explained the futility of central planning due to a lack of the ability to perform economic calculation. Admittedly, he compared the full-blown socialism which Russia had embraced with free markets. But his conclusions, that the state is unable to allocate economic resources including capital as efficiently as profit-seeking capitalists applies equally to less aggressive forms of socialism. In a free market economy, individuals are compelled to make provision for the unknown vagaries of the future. Often through the medium of insurance policies and pension plans, they put aside a portion of their income to protect themselves from the financial consequences of ill-health and incapacity, provide for their old age, and to ensure there is something to pass on to their heirs. If the circulating medium is sound, no financial skill is required to preserve the value of savings in these arrangements and in the form of bank deposits. Within the limits of their acumen, those with some financial knowledge can venture into other forms of savings, such as bonds issued by their government agencies and corporations and even to acquire equity interests in ventures. As always, investors with skill and knowledge will improve their position relative to those less financially literate, which is anathema to redistributors of wealth. But the corruption of the value of credit that goes with monetary intervention by the state impoverishes those who lack investing skills most, always the poorest in society. It stands to reason therefore, that an economy that benefits most from the savings of the masses must protect the value of credit. The Keynesian revolution rode roughshod over this issue. Keynes dismissed capitalist savers as rentiers, a term with emotive connotations suggesting that they are workshy and greedy only for interest on their capital. His academic environment at Cambridge and afterwards the Bloomsbury set in London was certainly populated with these flaneurs. But this was not representative of the wider population which was to be deprived by his desire for the euthanasia of the rentier expressed openly in his General Theory. So it was that Keynes came up with the paradox of thrift, while he was working his way towards discarding Say’s law to justify his General Theory. In Chapter 23, he takes preceding crackpot theories on the subject as evidence of the destruction wrought by saving. Earlier in Chapter 3, on Observations of the Nature of Capital, he claimed that excess savings could lead to “the fate of Midas…  assuming that the propensity to consume and the rate of interest are not deliberately controlled in the social interest but are left mainly to the influences of laissez-faire”. In working his way towards a role for the state, which appears to be his objective here, Keynes makes a number of errors, the principal ones being glossing over the role of bank credit (there is only one indexed reference to credit, commercial bank or otherwise in the whole book!), and whether it is the borrower or lender who sets the rate of interest. To be absolutely certain of the role of savings in an economy, and as to whether there can be an excess leading to the fate of Midas, we must explore Keynes’s errors further. Variations in the rate of interest are not due to the ephemeral dispositions of rentiers but in large part to fluctuations in the supply of bank credit. It is the expansion of bank credit which leads to an economic boom, which when it leads to excessive demand and speculation by driving up prices engenders caution in the banker’s mind. Naturally, he then restricts the supply of credit, which raises the interest cost. This is why the cycle of bank credit would never permit “the fate of Midas” to occur. Clearly, Keynes’s conclusion that there can be a savings glut is based on his wilful ignorance of the nature of money and credit.[iii] Furthermore, Keynes’s basic assumption, that it is the greed of the rentier which forces an unnecessary and arguably immoral cost onto production is also incorrect. It is the same error that leads monetary policy makers today to assume that by manipulating the interest rate the general level of prices can be controlled. It was Keynes himself who earlier noted this error, which he named Gibson’s paradox after Arthur Gibson, who pointed out the lack of correlation between the two. Because Keynes was unable to explain the paradox, he simply proceeded as if it did not exist, and so has every monetary policy committee ever since. The paradox is real, and the explanation is simple, falling into two elements. The first is that savers are generally reluctant to save, because it means a deferment of consumption, an immediate satisfaction being exchanged for one in the future of less certain value. Therefore, a business requiring capital for production must bid up the rate of interest it is prepared to pay to a level where the consumer is willing to defer his enjoyment. It is this marginal rate that balances the demands for capital with the availability of savings in an economy. And it is not just a question of setting the rate of interest for recycling credit through the banks’ balance sheets. It sets the rates of return for all financial assets as well and the cost of funding for their issuers. The second element is the time-preference for which savers will naturally expect compensation. Time preference describes the value of possession of money or money substitutes. A saver loses the value of possession until his money or credit for money is returned. For simplicity’s sake, we must ignore counterparty risk but include expectations of changes in the purchasing power in the circulating media for the time that possession is lost. It becomes clear that if a potential saver is to part with possession of money or credit when the evidence points to its debasement, he will reasonably seek compensation. Therefore, for the saver interest rates are not the cost of money which he demands, except in a strictly minimally additional and marginal sense. For a central bank to assume that by varying the underlying rate of interest it can control the economy is therefore incorrect. Central banks have it the wrong way round, which explains why there is no correlation between their interest rate setting and the rate of price inflation.  Furthermore, Gibson pointed out that the correlation was between interest rates and the general level of wholesale prices, and not their rate of change. This correlation is consistent with a businessman’s economic calculation: in order to calculate the profitability of an investment, he must consider the price he will expect for his production, by necessity always referring to current levels. He can then calculate the interest cost he is prepared to pay to secure the capital necessary for his project, and therefore assess its profitability. The hope harboured by Keynes, that the state can stimulate the economy at the expense of savings beyond the very short term is incorrect. His paradox of thrift, which Keynes used to try to dissuade a propensity to save, was a conclusion drawn from these errors. They are in large part responsible for the plight in which the US, the UK, and various member states of the EU now find themselves.  Savings in the context of national finances More than any other factor, the propensity to save is a major influence on national finances, being a “swing factor” between a government’s budget and the national trade position. There is an important question most analysts ignore. It is the twin deficit hypothesis, whereby if the savings rate doesn’t change, a budget deficit leads to a matching trade deficit.  The reason the two deficits are linked in this way is because of the following national accounting identity: (Imports - Exports) ≡ (Investment - Savings) + (Government spending - Taxes) In other words, a trade deficit is the result of a budget deficit not funded by savings but by additional credit. This can be confirmed by following the money. For a budget deficit, there are only two sources of funding. Consumers put aside some of their spending to increase their savings in order to subscribe for government bonds. Otherwise, the banking system comes up with funding in the form of credit issued by the central bank or by commercial banks, putting additional credit into circulation which didn’t exist before. The financing of a budget deficit by credit expansion leads to excess credit in an economy without matching production. This is the point behind Say’s law, which defines the division of labour. We produce to consume, and the function of money and credit is one of intermediation between the two. Injecting extra credit into an economy does nothing to raise production, but it does increase overall demand, at least until it is absorbed into the economy in accordance with the Cantillon effect. Directly or indirectly, this excess demand can only be satisfied by imported consumer goods, because an increase in domestic production is unavailable.  The role of savings in the context of national finances is very important. An increase in savings is at the expense of consumption, which is why economists often refer to savings as consumption deferred. For consumption to remain deferred requires it to be invested, either into production or government debt usually through the banks, pension funds, insurance companies or other financial channels acting on the savers’ behalf. If the destination of additional savings is investment in government debt, they are turned into consumption by the government. By not being spent on additional consumer goods, the trade deficit falls relative to the budget deficit.  As noted above, despite the destructive Keynesian policies of its government, Japanese savers habitually respond to an increase in credit by retaining it in their savings accounts. Consequently, consumer price inflation is subdued, relative to that in other countries. While the Eurozone has employed similar interest rate policies and is suffering CPI-recorded debasement of over 10%, in Japan it is about 4%. As we note below, in China whose savings ratio is 45%, CPI measured inflation is currently less than 2%. The deployment of capital by Japan’s corporations, which is the counterpart of increased savings, is invested in improvements in technology and production methods, keeping consumer prices lower than they would otherwise be. Because Japanese savers are so consistent in their savings culture, Japanese corporations have benefitted from a relatively low and stable cost of capital, making business calculation more reliable. For Japan, savings are the positive swing factor in the twin deficit hypothesis. The same is true of any economy where there is a government deficit while at the same time there is a propensity in the population to save rather than spend. It is the driving force behind China’s export surpluses, because with the sole exception of Singapore, the Chinese are the biggest savers on the planet. The position of nations whose economic policies have been to tax savings and to encourage immediate consumption is diametrically different. It is consumption funded by the expansion of money and credit without increases in savings which has led to persistent US trade deficits, twinned with budget deficits.  The evidence confirms that a savings driven economy is more successful than a consumption driven economy. Not only does the former protect the currency’s purchasing power by reducing the need for reliance on foreign capital inflows to finance internal deficits, but empirical evidence clearly shows savings-driven economies are more successful at creating wealth for their citizens. Importantly, a currency backed by a savings culture can weather a greater level of credit expansion by its central bank without adverse consequences for prices. The condition which must apply is that fiat currencies continue to operate as media of exchange. The moment a major currency such as the US dollar fails, then all fiat currencies are likely to be destabilised. The cure for that risk is to tie currencies to legal money, which is gold. In the absence of that link, even the strongest fiat currency loses purchasing power over time. The Japanese yen has lost 95% of its purchasing power relative to gold since 1970, an average of 1.83% every year. But including tax-free bank interest, the Japanese housewife has probably just about retained the value of her post office savings account, unlike her taxed equivalents in the other major currencies. Supplying a reserve currency  As Robert Triffin, the Belgian-American economist put it, for a currency to be available internationally to act as the reserve currency requires irresponsible short-term domestic economic and monetary policies. Triffin originally described why this is the case in evidence before the US Congress in 1959. It was a dilemma, which would eventually lead to an erosion of confidence in the currency. He was proved right eight years later when the London gold pool failed, leading to the abandonment of the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971. In a twist of Triffin’s earlier warning whereby his predicted outcome is ignored, in recent years the dilemma has been taken to justify continual trade deficits, the counterpart of which is the accumulation of dollars in foreign hands. The eventual consequences are ignored. Currently, these dollars and the US financial assets in which they are invested total over $30 trillion, significantly more than US GDP. This total has fallen by over $3 trillion in the year to September, mainly due to a fall in market valuations. But there has been net foreign selling of existing US dollar assets as well, while the US trade deficit has added to the outflow by an additional trillion dollars. The US now appears to be in a similar position to that described by Triffin as the inevitable outcome of providing the world with its reserve currency. Furthermore, the scale of dollar and dollar denominated financial asset accumulation has been encouraged by a bond bull market on the back of a declining interest rate trend which has lasted forty years. Crucially, domestic funding of budget deficits as recorded by the savings rate has failed to match this foreign interest. However, domestic investors have made substantial portfolio gains along with foreign holders of dollars. Driving these gains has been the inflation of credit directed into financial activities thereby sustaining the bubble, while the Fed goosed valuations by suppressing interest rates to the zero bound. When the rate of consumer price inflation unexpectedly broke the bounds of statistical management — independent analysts had it far higher than official figures for many years citing changes in methodology — it became clear that the bull market in US asset values was over. Being in the early stages of a bear market, this fundamental change is yet to be widely recognised, but with official interest rates well below the CPI rate of increase, foreign investors are certain of yet more portfolio and currency losses. Domestic investors and bulls of their own currency assume foreigners will still demand dollars, when the evidence from the continuing trade deficit and the US Treasury’s TIC figures confirm they are already turning sellers. This dichotomy between foreigner and domestic users of a currency is not unusual. An examination of previous episodes of currencies in trouble confirms that the foreign exchanges are usually first to recognise they should be sold, while domestic users usually continue to believe that they will retain their value.  If it is not too late, the solution to stabilising today’s fiat currencies is to remove all obstacles to savers, in an attempt to increase the savings ratio. But when a currency is already on its way to eventual extinction, removing tax disincentives may not be enough, and other measures to reduce the budget deficit must be taken in order to reduce the trade deficit. But then we run into Keynes’s savings paradox: discouraging consumption in favour of savings is viewed by neo-Keynesians as recessionary when economic growth is already stalling. The Saudi’s decision to ditch dollars in favour of yuan — turning from petrodollars to petroyuan — couldn’t have come at a worse time for the dollar. In addition to facing a bear market for their dollar assets, foreign holders now find its mainstay justification is distinctly frayed. Almost certainly, the dollar is on the verge of a Triffin crisis. The future role of China’s yuan  This time, it appears that the dollar has nowhere to turn. Asia is now the most important geopolitical region, with some 3.8bn people rapidly industrialising. Member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Union, and BRICS are increasingly determined to move away from dollars, its hegemony, and influence. As the Saudis and the whole Gulf Cooperation Council of oil exporters are demonstrating, China’s yuan is being seen as the dollar’s replacement for inter-Asian payments. The roles of the euro, yen, and sterling in foreign reserves are also likely to diminish with the dollar as well.  At this stage the new global currency reserve position is still unclear, with the Eurasian Economic Union planning a trade settlement currency, and the Russians sending vague signals but yet to prognosticate. But in the context of Triffin and savings rates, China could hardly be more different from the US.  China has a savings rate of about 45% of its GDP. With this propensity to save, it is unsurprising that consumer price inflation is under two per cent. Moreover, government finances have taken a hit from China’s covid lockdown policies and a property development crisis, leaving a deficit of over $1 trillion equivalent for 2022. But even so, with such a high savings rate the surplus on the balance of trade for 2022 was still positive at $890bn. The Triffin dilemma suggests that for the yuan to become a replacement reserve currency the Chinese government will have to start spending like drunken sailors while taxing domestic savings to the hilt. Only then can a trade deficit be expected to arise. But such a volte face in economic policy would surely destroy the yuan’s credibility. After all, it took ten years from the suspension of the Bretton Woods agreement and interest rates rising to 20% for the dollar to then assume the role of a reserve currency in gold’s stead. We must question the need for central banks to maintain currency reserves in the future. Not only did the western alliance send a signal that they could be made worthless by its cartel at the stroke of a pen, but the shift from the petrodollar to the petroyuan is symbolic of a currency regime that has had its time. The possession of reserves originated with the requirement for central banks to back their currencies with legal money — gold. It is the abandonment of this link with money that led to possession of currency reserves, with dollar holdings at their core. But other than for limited international intervention purposes there seems to be little reason to hold them, particularly for those central banks who have become aware of the western alliance’s declining influence. China with its trade surplus while maintaining a balance in its payments by exporting capital has no need for other currency reserves beyond some minor liquidity. The capital being exported is in yuan in the form of bank credit, and it suits China with her plans for the industrialisation of Greater Asia and its suppliers in Africa and South America to make substantial investments for her greater good. The Chinese government controls its major banks and can direct the application of this surplus credit. There is no need therefore for China to destroy its finances to provide yuan as a reserve currency, as Triffin originally suggested. Clearly, there must be a revolution in central bank thinking underway in the broader Asian camp. Central banks are beginning to replace the major currencies in their reserves with yuan and even roubles. But these currencies are not available in sufficient quantities to replace their dollars, euros, yen, and sterling. This is why they are turning the clock back and beginning to accumulate physical gold. In a few words, it is China’s high savings rate which gives its government the resources, the power, and the opportunity to displace the American dollar and its hegemony from Greater Asia and much of the developing world. Our mistake leading to our relative decline was to listen to Keynes and his paradox of thrift. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/15/2023 - 20:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 15th, 2023

Twitter Files Expose How Dems/Media Defied Twitter "Facts" To Spread "Russian Bot" Hoax

Twitter Files Expose How Dems/Media Defied Twitter 'Facts' To Spread 'Russian Bot' Hoax What's this? Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and staff repeatedly pushed Twitter to remove perfectly legal content that they found offensive, according to Friday's installment of "The Twitter Files." 3.The real issue was Donald Trump retweeted the Biden pic. To its credit Twitter refused to remove it, with Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth saying it had obvious “humorous intent” and “any reasonable observer” - apparently, not a Schiff staffer - could see it was doctored. — Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 13, 2023 When Twitter pushed back, Schiff staffer Jeff Lowenstein pulled out the 'slippery slope' argument. 4.Schiff staffer Jeff Lowenstein didn’t give up, claiming there was a “slippery slope concern here.” — Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 13, 2023 Twitter also refused requests to ban content about Schiff and his staff, telling the congressman's office that this would not be "conceivable."  6.Even when Twitter didn’t suspend an account, that didn’t mean they didn’t act. Schiff’s office repeatedly complained about “QAnon related activity” that were often tweets about other matters, like the identity of the Ukraine “whistleblower” or the Steele dossier: — Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 13, 2023 Hilariously though, Schiff's office was concerned that if tweets were "deamplified" that law enforcement may have a harder time tracking the offending users. 8.Schiff’s office had a concern about “deamplification,” though: it might make it harder for law enforcement to track the offending Tweeters. — Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 13, 2023 But there's much, much more... As Mimi Nguyen Ly and Tom Ozimek noted earlier via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The latest Twitter Files release shows how prominent Democrats knowingly pushed a false Russiagate-related narrative about “Russian bots” promoting a key House Intelligence Committee memo that detailed efforts to spy on the Trump campaign, despite the lawmakers being told by Twitter executives that it wasn’t true. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) delivers remarks during a hearing in Washington, on Oct. 13, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images) The 14th instalment of the Twitter Files was released on Jan. 12 by journalist Matt Taibbi, who explained in a series of posts that, at a key moment in the Trump-Russia investigation, Democrats alleged that “Russian bots” were spreading an explosive report from then-Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). “At a crucial moment in a years-long furor,” Taibbi explained in one of the posts, “Democrats denounced a report about flaws in the Trump-Russia investigation, saying it was boosted by Russian ‘bots’ and ‘trolls.’” “Twitter officials were aghast, finding no evidence of Russian influence,” Taibbi continued. In support of this take, Taibbi shared screenshots of correspondence from Twitter executives to several Congressional Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), confirming that they had “not identified any significant activity connected to Russia with respect to Tweets posting original content to this [#ReleaseTheMemo] hashtag.” The #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag spread like wildfire on Twitter, topped its trending list starting on Jan. 18, 2018 and reflecting the widespread call to publicly release a then-classified memo submitted by Nunes, who at the time was the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Widely referred to as the Nunes memo (pdf), it was later declassified under then-President Donald Trump’s order on Feb. 2, 2018. The memo showed how the FBI under the Obama administration used unverified opposition research—the infamous “Steele Dossier” funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee—to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page as part of an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The claims made in the Nunes memo were confirmed by Justice Department Inspector-General Michael Horowitz in his report, released on Dec. 9, 2019. Ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 19, 2019. (Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images) Push From Democrats, Media Outlets Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) had introduced the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag on Jan. 18, 2018, and on the following day, joined a group of 65 House Republicans calling for the declassification of the memo. Many of the lawmakers, who collectively represent millions of voters, also sent out the hashtag on Twitter. Just days later, on Jan. 23, 2018, Democrat lawmakers, including Feinstein and Schiff, wrote an open letter to then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to investigate allegations of “Russian bots and trolls surrounding the #ReleaseTheMemo online campaign.” The letter from Feinstein and Schiff led Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to himself issue a letter (pdf) that also alleged the hashtag was a part of Russian disinformation campaigns. “We find it reprehensible that Russian agents have so eagerly manipulated innocent Americans,” he wrote in a letter issued later that day—even though before the letter’s issuance, Twitter’s staff told the senator’s staffers they did not believe Russian bots were behind the hashtag, Taibbi reported. Multiple legacy outlets also did the same, claiming Russian bots and trolls were behind the effort. All had cited the same source—the Hamilton 68 dashboard, a project with the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), an organization that tracks 600 Twitter accounts it claims are linked to the Russian government or repeat its news. According to Taibbi, executives inside Twitter at the time complained that “Hamilton 68 seemed to be everyone’s only source, and no one was checking with Twitter” to verify the claims. The headquarters for the social media company Twitter in San Francisco, on Nov. 11, 2022. (Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle via AP) Twitter Internally Disputed ‘Russian Bots’ Claims Taibbi shared an email from Emily Horne, who was at the time the global policy communications director of Twitter. The email, shared internally on Jan. 23, said that “it is extraordinarily difficult for outside researchers, who do not have access to our full API and internal account signals, to say with any degree of certainty that they believe an account is behaving suspiciously is 1) automated and 2) Russian.” Yoel Roth, who was Twitter’s trust and safety chief at the time, reportedly told colleagues: “I just reviewed the accounts that posted the first 50 tweets with #releasethememo and … none of them show any signs of affiliation to Russia.” Taibbi reported that “outside counsel from DC-connected firms like Debevoise and Plimpton” had advised Twitter to respond to lawmakers by using language like: “With respect to particular hashtags, we take seriously any activity that may represent an abuse of our platform.” According to an email screenshot shared by Taibbi, Twitter was also advised to say something to the effect of: “Our initial assessment indicates that these [hashtag] trends are driven primarily by organic, non-automated activity [if true], but we are continuing to analyze the data and … will inform Congress about what we find.” “Despite universal internal conviction that there were no Russians in the story, Twitter went on to follow a slavish pattern of not challenging Russia claims on the record,” Taibbi wrote. Absent any such challenge, “[a]s a result, reporters from the AP to Politico to NBC to Rolling Stone continued to hammer the ‘Russian bots’ theme, despite a total lack of evidence,” he reported. “Russians weren’t just blamed for #ReleaseTheMemo but #SchumerShutdown, #ParklandShooting, even #GunControlNow—to ‘widen the divide,’ according to the New York Times,” Taibbi added. Meanwhile, inside Twitter, staffers acknowledged that both the #SchumerShutdown and #ReleaseTheMemo hashtags “appear to be organically trending.” Read more here... Tyler Durden Sat, 01/14/2023 - 07:44.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 14th, 2023

"This Got Way Overhyped": 2016 Russian Twitter Trolls Were Dismal Failure: WaPo

"This Got Way Overhyped": 2016 Russian Twitter Trolls Were Dismal Failure: WaPo In a report that should come as a surprise to no one (especially after the TWITTER FILES drops), Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 US election via Twitter were a dismal failure that reached relatively few users, and had "no measurable impact in changing minds or influencing voter behavior," according to the Washington Post, citing a study published Monday from the NYU Center for Social Media and Politics. "My personal sense coming out of this is that this got way overhyped," said report co-author Josh Tucker, who co-directs the NYU center. "Now we’re looking back at data and we can see how concentrated this was in one small portion of the population, and how the fact that people who were being exposed to these were really, really likely to vote for Trump," he added. "And then we have this data to show we can’t find any relationship between being exposed to these tweets and people’s change in attitudes." Key findings via the Post: Only 1 percent of Twitter users accounted for 70 percent of the exposure to accounts that Twitter identified as Russian troll accounts. Highly partisan Republicans were exposed to nine times more posts than non-Republicans. Content from the news media and U.S. politicians dwarfed the amount of Russian influence content the electorate was exposed to during the 2016 race. There was no measurable impact on “political attitudes, polarization, and vote preferences and behavior” from the Russian accounts and posts. Recall just three weeks ago we learned that Twitter saw little to no evidence of foreign influence in the 2016 US election, which the FBI repeatedly sought. 21. Despite Twitter’s pushback, the FBI repeatedly requests information from Twitter that Twitter has already made clear it will not share outside of normal legal channels. — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 19, 2022 WaPo's caveat here is that Russian influence ops on other platforms may have been more successful. The study, published this morning in Nature Communications — an offshoot of the science journal Nature magazine — is years in the making. That’s due to the amount of time needed to acquire data from Twitter, conduct the study, carry out surveys and run it through the peer review process, Tucker said. And Twitter is easier to get data from than Facebook, given that posts are public, among other reasons, he said. Thus, the focus on Twitter, despite its smaller user base. Plus, there were some fundamental differences with observing how people absorbed information on Twitter versus Facebook, Tucker said. “One of the super interesting things we were able to do in this paper is show that lots of what people were exposed to here was not because they were following the accounts of these Russian trolls, but because they follow people who retweeted tweets that came from these Russian trolls, and that’s easier on Twitter, where almost everything is open,” Tucker said. -WaPo Except that we know Russian influence campaigns on Facebook in 2016 totaled roughly $100,000. So yeah, all of that was a lie. Tyler Durden Mon, 01/09/2023 - 22:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 9th, 2023

Twitter alternatives like Mastadon see downloads plunge

Emerging rivals include Mastadon, Hive Social, Counter Social, Post.News, Spoutible, and Jack Dorsey's upcoming Bluesky. Elon Musk and a Twitter logo are seen in this illustration photo in Warsaw, Poland on 30 November, 2022.STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images Elon Musk's chaotic reign at Twitter proved a huge boost to smaller rivals. Usage of several Twitter alternatives has surged in recent months. With tricky user interfaces, security issues, and uneven beta launches, success could be fleeting. Never before have there been so many possible alternatives to Twitter, even if none seem to be anywhere close to a real replacement for the platform.Long before Elon Musk came along, Twitter users bemoaned the service yet remained addicted to it. A potent mix of news, opinion, comedy, cringe and unpredictable drama has kept it a fixture for a decade-plus. And it is easy to use, the hallmark of American-born social media companies. Whatever the benefits of a decentralized network like Mastodon, easy to use it is not."There is a usability hurdle," said David Carr, senior insights manager at SimilarWeb, who has been tracking Mastodon's trajectory. "You have to choose a server and really, people don't like to make decisions. It's more like, 'Just tell me what to do.'"Still, Mastodon and other new potential Twitter rivals have grown, particularly since Musk officially took control of Twitter at the end of October, data gathered by Insider shows. Daily usage of Mastodon, Hive Social, and Counter Social are all up dramatically over the last two months. Meanwhile, at least half a dozen other Twitter-like platforms have recently been launched in beta or are set to be early next year, including Post.News, Spoutible, Mozilla.Social and Bluesky, founded by none other than Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey.If ever there was a time for a text-based platform to threaten the hold Twitter has over its user base, it's now. Investors are looking to back new social media companies, as not only Twitter, but Instagram and Facebook, have lost some of their edge. These emerging services probably won't be acquired, with antitrust authorities limiting Big Tech M&A, so they have a chance to grow on their own.Most importantly, people seem ready and willing to try something new. With refinement and good features, any of these platforms could feasibly be the next Twitter. Or they could fizzle out, and instead be the next Clubhouse. There are already signs of trouble for several of these new offerings: Downloads have plunged recently, suggesting interest may already be waning. See below for a complete look at some of the new platforms so far available for use and their performance since Musk took over Twitter.MastodonMastodon's emphasis on decentralization only appeals to the most tech-savvy.Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesMastodon was founded in 2016 in Germany by Eugen Rochko, so the only truly new part of the platform is the attention it's getting as a Twitter alternative. It is a text-based social platform, or "microblogging" site, home to independent servers, or "instances." New users have to find a server to join and be admitted to, along with a few other steps before being able to post and use the platform. In early November, the hashtag TwitterMigration was trending on Mastodon for several days as Twitter users set up accounts amid Musk's chaotic takeover. After the billionaire enacted his first round of Mass layoffs, former Twitter employees even set up their own server on Mastodon, Macaw.Social.For just the month of November, Mastodon's web traffic jumped 1,000% year-over-year on just 200 of its more popular servers, according to SimilarWeb data. The platform has about 1,000 servers set up, but some host only one user. Downloads of its iOS app are up more than 4,000% since Oct. 24, with daily active users up 6,000% to more than 1 million, according to Apptopia data. However, downloads have started to drop off over the last month, falling by 52%. Daily users have held steady though, at 1.4 million, a major increase from its usage prior to Musk's takeover of Twitter, which typically hovered around 20,000 daily users.   Hive SocialHive SocialHive was first launched in 2019 by Raluca Pop, now 24 years old. Unlike Mastodon, Hive is a centralized platform and its user interface is more straightforward and similar to the set-up process of Twitter or Instagram, in that all it takes to get an account and start posting is some basic information. The app is easiest to describe as a cross between Twitter and Instagram, with a focus on images and text and similar features like re-posting, comments and likes, with the addition of easy to add music and color themes.Like Mastodon, the service has seen huge growth since Musk took over Twitter. Downloads of the iOS app have grown 290,000% to 1.5 million since Oct. 24, with daily users up 660,000% to 321,000, according to Apptopia data. A major user security issue revealed at the end of November is at least partly to blame for Hive's 88% drop in downloads over the last month. Yet, it has maintained more than 500,000 daily users.Counter SocialA look at a homepage of Counter Social, a new Twitter alternativeCounter SocialCounter Social launched in 2020, started by the pseudonymous self-identified "hacktivist" The Jester. The platform is not trying to be all things to all people – it blocks entire countries from access, like Russia, China and Iran. It has a more unique interface that defaults to a dashboard showing a few columns of posts similar in look to TweetDeck. It refreshes constantly, offering a more kinetic feel than other social platforms, and there is a $4.99 per month upgrade available that unlocks a number of features, including live streams of network news, emergency radio traffic, and ephemeral file sharing and voice calls and various additional privacy features. The platform has received less public and media attention than Mastodon or Hive, but that doesn't mean it hasn't also grown in the wake of Musk's Twitter takeover. It's reached 110,000 downloads of its iOS app, an increase of 4,500% since the end of October, with daily users up 2,500% to about 18,000, according to Apptopia. Monthly usage is still up by 44%, although, like Mastodon and Hive, downloads have dropped off in the last month, falling by 83%. Post.News (beta)Post launched only in November, earlier than planned because as founder and former Waze CEO Noam Bardin wanted to capitalize on the moment created by Musk of people actively looking for alternatives to Twitter. It may have worked. Still in Beta, Post now has more than 300,000 active users and more than 600,000 people on a waitlist to join, according to Bardin. It has also received an undisclosed amount of funding from VC fund Andreessen Horowitz and Scott Galloway, the NYU professor and media personality. Bluesky (expected to launch in 2023)Born in 2019 as a research project at Twitter still under Jack Dorsey, Bluesky is now being built wholly independent of the platform he founded. Dorsey has shared little detail about Bluesky, beyond it being designed as a decentralized social network protocol. In October, not long before Musk took control of Twitter, Bluesky began to allow signups for a waitlist, saying its beta will "launch soon."   Spoutible (expected to launch in 2023)Spoutible comes out of Bot Sentinel, a tool created by Christopher Bouzy, that identifies, tracks and flags Twitter bots or accounts that are engaging in targeted or coordinated online attacks and disinformation campaigns. Announced at the start of December, Spoutible is being described as a new social platform that will allow users to "spout off" while avoiding harassment and other such issues. A beta version of the platform is expected in late January.Mozilla.Social (expected to launch in 2023)The latest Twitter alternative to be announced comes from Mozilla, the organization that runs the Firefox browser. Mozilla said just this week it is planning to launch its own publicly accessible instance in the "Fediverse." A portmanteau of federation and universe, the Fediverse is essentially a group of independent but interconnected servers that interact and offer their own software packages. Mastodon is also part of the Fediverse, for example. "An open, decentralized, and global social service that puts the needs of people first is not only possible, but it's absolutely necessary," Mozilla said. Mozilla.Social is expected in early 2023.Do you work for a social media company or are you someone else with insight to share? Contact Kali Hays at, on secure messaging app Signal at 949-280-0267, or through Twitter DM at @hayskali. Reach out using a non-work device.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 9th, 2023

AGs Slam White House Over Multiple Examples Of Big Tech Collusion To Censor Dissent

AGs Slam White House Over Multiple Examples Of Big Tech Collusion To Censor Dissent At least two state Attorneys General have slammed the White House for colluding with social media companies to censor dissent. Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey highlighted this effort in a Friday Twitter thread, noting how the Biden White House directed Twitter and Facebook to censor Robert Kennedy Jr., Tucker Carlson and Tomi Lahren. Here, the Biden White House directs Facebook to shut down conservative voices @TuckerCarlson and @TomiLahren (4/9) — Attorney General Andrew Bailey (@AGAndrewBailey) January 7, 2023 In another example, YouTube assures a government employee that they use machine learning to 'reduce the recommendations' of wrongthink.  Meanwhile, Louisiana AG Jeff Landry slammed the Biden White House over the Tucker Carlson censorship. As Tom Ozimek of The Epoch Times notes; Landry shared the document—an email exchange between White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty and an unidentified Facebook employee—in a Jan. 7 post on Twitter, with the comment: “Rob Flaherty tells facebook to censor” Tucker Carlson. “Since we’ve been on the phone—the top post about vaccines today is [T]ucker Carlson saying they don’t work. Yesterday it was Tomi Lehren [sic] saying she won’t take one,” Flaherty reportedly said in the message to the Facebook staffer, whose name and email address have been redacted. “This is exactly why I want to know what ‘Reduction’ actually looks like—if ‘reduction’ means ‘pumping our most vaccine hesitant audience with [T]ucker Carlson saying it doesn’t work’ then … I’m not sure it’s reduction!” Flaherty continued, per the document shared by Landry. Signaling action regarding the request, the unidentified Facebook employee then reportedly wrote: “Running this down now.” Rob Flaherty tells facebook to censor @tuckercarlson — AG Jeff Landry (@AGJeffLandry) January 6, 2023 The Epoch Times has reached out with a request for comment to Facebook parent Meta, Fox News Channel, and the White House, but no reply was received by publication. ‘Hard Evidence’ of Government Collusion With Big Tech Landry, together with Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, sued the Biden administration in May 2022 for allegedly pressuring and colluding with social media giants to suppress free speech. Schmitt on Jan. 5 was sworn in as a U.S. senator and has been replaced in his role as Missouri attorney general by Andrew Bailey. Bailey took to Twitter on Jan. 7 to say that when he took the oath of office, he swore he would protect the Constitution and explained “why.” “We now have hard evidence that President Biden’s Administration colluded with social media companies to censor differing viewpoints and silence ‘misinformation’ that was later deemed true,” Bailey wrote in a series of posts. Bailey shared a screenshot of an email from White House COVID-19 Digital Director Clarke E. Humphrey to an unidentified Twitter employee with the subject line “Flagging Hank Aaron misinfo” and requesting the Twitter staff to “get moving on the process for having it removed ASAP.” In her request, Humphrey provided a link to a Twitter post by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a known critic of the Biden administration’s narrative on COVID-19 vaccines. The offending tweet links to an article on the website of the Children’s Health Defense, an activist group chaired by Kennedy Jr. that left-leaning Wikipedia labels as “one of the main sources of misinformation on vaccines.” The article, from Jan. 22, 2021, says Aaron died 18 days after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine of an “undisclosed cause” and cites Kennedy Jr. as saying that his “tragic death is part of a wave of suspicious deaths among elderly closely following administration of COVID vaccines.” About a week later, the Fulton County Medical Examiner released Aaron’s cause of death as “natural causes” and that he didn’t have any COVID-19 symptoms, with his medical history listing prostate issues and hypertension. Besides requesting action on Kennedy Jr.’s tweet, Humphrey also added a request to “keep an eye out for tweets that fall in this same genre,” per the screenshot shared by Bailey. The Epoch Times has reached out to Twitter with a request for comment. ‘The Truth No Longer Matters to the White House’ Bailey also shared screenshots of several other messages that he said show collusion between Big Tech and the government to suppress free speech, including another message from Flaherty to an unidentified Facebook employee in which the White House official demands “assurances” that the social media company is taking actions “to ensure you’re not making our country’s vaccine hesitancy problem worse.” “The truth no longer matters to the White House,” Bailey captioned the post. “These emails confirm what we’ve known all along,” Bailey wrote. “The Biden Admin. has been colluding with social media companies to stifle opposing voices.” “I will continue to push back against this blatant attack on the 1st Amendment with every tool at my disposal,” he added. With Schmitt gone as attorney general, Bailey has taken his place as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against President Joe Biden, then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other administration officials. The lawsuit claims that Biden and other government officials worked with Big Tech companies like Meta, Twitter, and YouTube to censor conversation around matters relating to everything from COVID-19 and election integrity to the Hunter Biden laptop story, doing so under the guise of battling “misinformation.” The two Republican-led states accuse Biden and other officials named in the lawsuit of “falsely” attacking the Hunter Biden laptop story as “disinformation.” The story, which was first published by the New York Post in October 2020, detailed the contents of a laptop linked to Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son. The laptop was abandoned in a Delaware computer repair shop and included compromising pictures and emails regarding allegedly corrupt foreign business deals. Twitter labeled the story as “potentially harmful” and locked the New York Post’s main Twitter account while also blocking Twitter users from publishing the link to the story. GOP to Investigate ‘Weaponization of the Federal Government’ It comes as House Republicans have pledged to investigate allegations of collusion between federal agencies and private companies, and to do so, they’re looking to establish a subcommittee on the “weaponization” of the federal government. Read the rest here... Tyler Durden Sun, 01/08/2023 - 18:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 8th, 2023

Gemini"s Cameron Winklevoss accuses Genesis boss of stalling on returning $900 million to its customers, escalating their war of words

Cameron Winklevoss slammed crypto boss Barry Silbert over $900 million owed to Gemini clients in an open letter Monday, accusing him of "bad faith". Cameron Winklevoss.(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) Gemini's Cameron Winklevoss has accused DCG's Barry Silbert of stalling on repaying a Genesis loan. Winklevoss said Genesis, the lending arm of DCG, owes $900 million to the crypto exchange's clients. Silbert disputed the claims made by Winklevoss in a spat that could again dent faith in crypto, post-FTX. Gemini cofounder Cameron Winklevoss has blasted Digital Currency Group CEO Barry Silbert, accusing him of acting in bad faith by stalling on resolving a dispute with Genesis over nearly $1 billion in customers' crypto funds.Winklevoss kicked off a Twitter spat by publishing an open letter to Silbert on Monday, claiming DCG and its crypto lending arm Genesis are dragging their heels on a deal to return the frozen $900 million they owe to users of Gemini's Earn program. "For the past six weeks, we have done everything we can to engage with you in a good faith and collaborative manner in order to reach a consensual resolution for you to pay back the $900 million that you owe," wrote Winklevoss, who runs the crypto exchange with his twin brother Tyler."However, it is now becoming clear that you have been engaging in bad faith stall tactics," he added, calling on Silbert to commit to a resolution by Sunday.The public dispute between two major crypto businesses threatens to further undermine faith in the sector after the FTX implosion rocked the entire crypto industry and exposed firms to trouble. Gemini offers its customers up to 7.4% interest if they lend it their crypto holdings, which it then lends out to partners such as crypto broker Genesis.But in November, Genesis halted client withdrawals after the sudden collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX empire. DCG's crypto broker had outstanding loans to FTX's trading arm Alameda Research, The Wall Street Journal reported.The public dispute between two major crypto businesses threatens to further undermine faith in the sector after the FTX implosion rocked the entire crypto industry and exposed firms to trouble. Winklevoss said DCG owes its Genesis subsidiary $1.675 billion, a chunk of which is essentially money the broker owes to Gemini creditors. Those Gemini customers' funds were used by DCG to "fuel greedy share buybacks" and "illiquid venture investments," he said.The accusations triggered a response from Silbert, who pushed back on the claims."DCG did not borrow $1.675 billion from Genesis," Silbert tweeted. "DCG has never missed an interest payment to Genesis and is current on all loans outstanding; next loan maturity is May 2023."He added that DCG had delivered a proposal to Gemini's representatives on Thursday but never heard back from them. Meanwhile, Gemini and the Winklevoss twins are being sued for fraud by investors over the Earn Program's interest-bearing products. The program was abruptly halted in November, and that effectively wiped out customers who still had accounts, their complaint said.Gemini, DCG and Genesis did not respond to Insider's request for comment. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 3rd, 2023

Gemini"s Cameron Winklevoss accuses Genesis boss of stalling on $900 million loan payments, in another hit to crypto credibility

Cameron Winklevoss slammed crypto boss Barry Silbert over $900 million owed to Gemini clients in an open letter Monday, accusing him of "bad faith". Cameron Winklevoss.(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) Gemini's Cameron Winklevoss has accused DCG's Barry Silbert of stalling on repaying a Genesis loan. Winklevoss said Genesis, the lending arm of DCG, owes $900 million to the crypto exchange's clients. Silbert disputed the claims made by Winklevoss in a spat that could again dent faith in crypto, post-FTX. Gemini cofounder Cameron Winklevoss has blasted Digital Currency Group CEO Barry Silbert, accusing him of acting in bad faith by stalling on resolving a dispute with Genesis over nearly $1 billion in customers' crypto funds.Winklevoss kicked off a Twitter spat by publishing an open letter to Silbert on Monday, claiming DCG and its crypto lending arm Genesis are dragging their heels on a deal to return the frozen $900 million they owe to users of Gemini's Earn program. "For the past six weeks, we have done everything we can to engage with you in a good faith and collaborative manner in order to reach a consensual resolution for you to pay back the $900 million that you owe," wrote Winklevoss, who runs the crypto exchange with his twin brother Tyler."However, it is now becoming clear that you have been engaging in bad faith stall tactics," he added, calling on Silbert to commit to a resolution by Sunday.The public dispute between two major crypto businesses threatens to further undermine faith in the sector after the FTX implosion rocked the entire crypto industry and exposed firms to trouble. Gemini offers its customers up to 7.4% interest if they lend it their crypto holdings, which it then lends out to partners such as crypto broker Genesis.But in November, Genesis halted client withdrawals after the sudden collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX empire. DCG's crypto broker had outstanding loans to FTX's trading arm Alameda Research, The Wall Street Journal reported.The public dispute between two major crypto businesses threatens to further undermine faith in the sector after the FTX implosion rocked the entire crypto industry and exposed firms to trouble. Winklevoss said DCG owes its Genesis subsidiary $1.675 billion, a chunk of which is essentially money the broker owes to Gemini creditors. Those Gemini customers' funds were used by DCG to "fuel greedy share buybacks" and "illiquid venture investments," he said.The accusations triggered a response from Silbert, who pushed back on the claims."DCG did not borrow $1.675 billion from Genesis," Silbert tweeted. "DCG has never missed an interest payment to Genesis and is current on all loans outstanding; next loan maturity is May 2023."He added that DCG had delivered a proposal to Gemini's representatives on Thursday but never heard back from them. Meanwhile, Gemini and the Winklevoss twins are being sued for fraud by investors over the Earn Program's interest-bearing products. The program was abruptly halted in November, and that effectively wiped out customers who still had accounts, their complaint said.Gemini, DCG and Genesis did not respond to Insider's request for comment. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 3rd, 2023

9 ways to fix your iPhone if it"s not receiving texts from an Android device

When you're not getting messages from Android users on your iPhone, try toggling Airplane mode, checking your block list, restarting it, and more. If your iPhone isn't receiving texts from an Android, you can fix it in several ways.Hollis Johnson To fix an iPhone that is not receiving texts from Android phones, try toggling Airplane mode on and off. You can also try checking your block list, enabling group and MMS messages, and deleting old texts. Restarting your iPhone, updating it, and resetting your network settings can also fix the problem. Ordinary SMS texting — which is what Android phones rely on — is not nearly as sophisticated as iMessage, which iPhone users rely on. Even so, you should generally be able to exchange texts between iPhone and Android seamlessly — iPhones can receive SMS messages just as easily as Android. If you have trouble getting texts from Android devices on your iPhone, here are nine ways to troubleshoot the problem.Toggle Airplane modeIf you're having trouble getting SMS messages from Android users, remember that these can only arrive via your cellular network — not WiFi. Try turning the cellular radio off and on again to resolve any glitches. 1. Bring up the Control Center by swiping down from the top right corner if you're on iPhone X or later; or swiping up from the bottom if you're on iPhone 8 or earlier. 2. Tap Airplane mode – the button with an airplane on it – in the Control Center. Use the Control Center to toggle Airplane Mode on and off.Stefan Ionescu/Insider3. Wait a few seconds. 4. Tap Airplane mode again to re-enable the wireless networks.Make sure you're not blocking the Android numberIs it possible you've blocked the Android phone number? If you have, that would explain why you're not getting those texts. Here's how to check:1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone. 2. Tap Phone.3. Tap Blocked contacts.Tap "Blocked contacts."Stefan Ionescu/Insider4. Scroll through the list of blocked numbers (if there are any) and look for the Android user's phone number. 5. If you see it, swipe the number to the left and tap Unblock.Ensure group messaging is enabledWhile the ability to send and receive group messages among iPhones using iMessage is turned on by default, you might find that group texts using SMS isn't enabled for your iPhone. Not a problem, though — you can enable it with a few taps.1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.2. Tap Messages.3. In the SMS/MMS section, turn on MMS Messaging by swiping the toggle button to the right.Tap this toggle to turn on MMS Messaging.Stefan Ionescu/InsiderNote: Also, make sure that you have enabled cellular data or that your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi in order to receive MMS messages.Configure your iPhone to receive MMS messagesLikewise, if you have trouble receiving texts from Android users with embedded photos or videos, MMS might be turned off. You can enable MMS in the same place as group messaging:1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.2. Tap Messages.3. In the SMS/MMS section, turn on Group Messaging by swiping the toggle button to the right.Delete old text messagesWhen the iPhone's storage is full, it might not have the capacity to store anymore messages that you receive. If you have a ton of messages, it might be time to delete some of them to free up some space for new ones.1. Open the Messages app on your iPhone.2. Tap Edit in the top left corner of the screen.3. Tap Select Messages.4. Tap on any text message that you don't need – it will have a checkmark on the left to indicate that you have selected it.5. After you're done selecting the messages you want to remove, tap Delete in the bottom right corner.Tap "Delete."Stefan Ionescu/Insider6. In the pop-up, confirm your decision by tapping Delete.Quick tip: If you want to keep your old messages but still need to clear your iPhone's storage, you can try other ways to free up space. For example, you can delete or offload apps you don't need.Restart the iPhoneIf you've tried everything up to this point in the article and you're still not able to get Android texts, you might want to restart your phone, if you haven't already. This will fix temporary glitches in software and memory on your iPhone. If you need a reminder, here is how to restart any iPhone.Check for iOS updatesWhile unlikely, it's possible that an iOS update could fix your problem. See if there are any updates that need to be installed on your iPhone. 1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone. 2. Tap General. 3. Tap Software Update and install any updates.Tap "Software Update."Stefan Ionescu/InsiderReset your network settingsIf you've tried everything else in this list and you still can't get any texts from Android phones, it might be time to reset your iPhone's network settings. Remember that this troubleshooting step will erase all your network settings, including any saved WiFi network passwords and paired Bluetooth devices. Nonetheless, this might get your iPhone to start communicating with Android devices:1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone. 2. Tap General.3. Tap Transfer or Reset iPhone.Tap "Transfer or Reset iPhone."Stefan Ionescu/Insider4. Tap Reset.Tap "Reset."Stefan Ionescu/Insider5. In the pop-up menu, tap Reset Network Settings and confirm this is what you want to do.Contact your carrierIf resetting your network settings didn't work, it could be that your cellular provider is having a problem with their network coverage – maybe their SMS service is down. Contact them and find out if this is the case, and if it is, ask them when normal service will be restored.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 29th, 2022

The Truth About Temu, the Most Downloaded New App in America

Temu is the most downloaded new app in America. But it's also starting to develop a reputation for undelivered packages, mysterious charges, and incorrect orders. The most downloaded free app on both the App Store and Google Play for much of the last two months wasn’t TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram, but a shopping app that didn’t exist just four months ago. Temu offers steep discounts on a slew of products, mostly shipped directly from Chinese factories or warehouses. In addition to incredibly low prices, Temu can no doubt attribute its popularity to its strategy of giving free stuff to users who promote the app on their social networks and get friends and family to sign up. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] But the company—the U.S. offshoot of Chinese e-commerce giant Pinduoduo—is also starting to develop a reputation for undelivered packages, mysterious charges, incorrect orders, and unresponsive customer service. Temu has already been subject to more than 30 complaints to the Better Business Bureau, and has a BBB customer rating of less than 1.5 stars. “They’re making delivery promises, and people aren’t getting their stuff when they’re supposed to be,” Melanie McGovern, the director of public relations and social media for the BBB, tells TIME. When contacted by TIME, the company did not directly address questions about customer complaints or the concerns of the BBB. Temu’s business model—if it catches on—could also have major implications for U.S. retailers and the global supply chain in the coming year. What is Temu and how does it work? Upon first glance, Temu could leave some users questioning whether it’s legit. On top of really cheap consumer goods, Temu boasts opportunities to earn credits through spin-the-wheel games or if you convince your friends to join. Over the last couple months, posts praising Temu have spread like wildfire across Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok—though many of them use glowing language that appears to be recycled from one post to the next. But, at the moment, Temu is very much a real platform, offering a variety of real, heavily discounted products, from air fryers to wireless Lenovo earbuds ($8.98), computer keyboards ($15) to clothes ($1.69 for five pairs of socks). Users who turned to Temu this month as a lifeline for holiday shopping in the face of the highest inflation in a generation made it one of the fastest growing platforms in the U.S. What does Temu sell? The better question is what Temu doesn’t sell. Users on the Temu website or app are immediately besieged by deals of all kinds: running shoes for $17.48, universal wrenches for $4.48, talking toy hamsters for $6.99. A banner brags about items up to 90% off retail prices, thanks to a new year’s sale. The breadth of items and prices is remarkable, and the site’s aesthetic comes off as something like a virtual dollar store. TemuTemu offers extremely low prices on a range of inexpensive consumer goods shipped directly from Chinese factories and warehouses. But the strategy makes sense once you realize that Temu is a “sister company” of the Chinese e-commerce giant Pinduoduo, which has offered similar deals in China for the last few years. Pinduoduo has found success in China selling heavily discounted products straight from manufacturers to low-income buyers, as well as agricultural products to farmers. The company now has a market cap of $102 billion, and its stock price increased during a year in which competitors like Alibaba took severe hits. Pinduoduo launched Temu in September in order to court the American market, and Temu’s website lists an office in downtown Boston. A Temu spokesperson responded to questions from TIME with a statement from its website: that the company’s prices are enabled by a “deep network of merchants, logistic partners, and [Pinduoduo’s] established ecosystem built over the years.” How are people getting stuff for free on Temu? While Temu’s prices are cheap, many new customers actually aren’t paying anything at all. That’s because Temu has launched a campaign on social media in which the more you convince others to sign up, the more credit you earn. This has enabled some people who have earned enough credit to receive home goods without even giving Temu their credit card information. “It seems like they’re being subsidized to be a loss leader in order to gain market share, which is not unlike what Amazon did for a long time,” says Douglas Schmidt, a professor of computer science at Vanderbilt University. Brianna Lukey, who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, says she’s received $200 worth of items from Temu for free. She first heard about the app from a friend a month ago, and was initially leery of it: “I know there’s a lot of things that go around that may not be legit,” she says. “But this was.” Lukey posted about Temu on Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat, and eventually convinced friends to join the app, in the process earning a bunch of credits. She used them to order a ring light (priced at $25.48) for her plaster-art small business, Array of Aura’s, as well as an oils diffuser ($5.48), several necklaces, and a mouse and keyboard for her daughter ($19.98). Lukey says the keyboard works fine: “I didn’t think it would be that great quality. But it’s pretty good for being free,” she says. “So I’m grateful for it.” Temu may have given Lukey many items without her turning over any cash, but the company free advertising via Lukey’s social network in return. Temu is branding the campaign as a way for communities to band together to save money: their slogan is “Team Up, Price Down.” The strategy appears to be working: When Lukey posted a photo of her Temu shipment on Facebook, her post was soon deluged by 70 comments from her Facebook friends, which mostly consisted of people posting their own referral links in the hopes of scoring similar hauls. What’s the catch? One of the comments on Lukey’s post, however, was significantly less positive than the rest. Julie Roper Malloy wrote that the package she ordered from Temu containing Christmas gifts never arrived, despite the company’s pledge it would be delivered Dec. 19 at the latest. “Still waiting for my order from November! Thanks Temu, you’ve ruined Christmas!” she wrote. In a series of Facebook messages with TIME, Roper Malloy says she spent $178 on gifts from Temu for her family, including two drones and some makeup for her daughter. But the items never arrived. Malloy says she has contacted the company several times for a refund, which has also yet to arrive. “I will definitely be more diligent in the future when ordering online,” she wrote. Roper Malloy is not the only one to encounter problems with a Temu order. Temu itself acknowledges that its orders take longer to arrive than those from Amazon—typically 7-15 business days—as they come from “overseas warehouses.” But it appears that Temu also has had trouble delivering inside that larger time window. In October, the Boston branch of the Better Business Bureau opened up a file on Temu and has received 31 complaints about the website. Temu currently has a C rating on the BBB, and an average customer rating of 1.4 stars out of 5, albeit from only 20 reviews. (Complaints are separate from reviews, which do not factor into BBB’s official rating.) McGovern at the BBB says it’s unusual for such a new company to receive so many complaints in such a short amount of time. She notes that Temu has acknowledged and responded to every complaint posted to the BBB website, but many of those complaints remain unresolved. Temu’s parent company, Pinduoduo, has long been accused of hosting sales of counterfeits, illegal goods, or products that do not match their descriptions. (Pinduoduo wrote in its SEC filings that it immediately removes unauthorized products or misleading information on its platform, and freezes the accounts of sellers on the site who violate its policies.) There have been no BBB complaints that allege the goods Temu ships are counterfeit or fake. Additionally, in 2021, the deaths of two Pinduoduo employees spurred investigations and boycotts over the company’s working conditions, according to the New York Times. How Temu could affect the U.S. economy Schmidt, at Vanderbilt, who specializes in security and privacy, says that Temu’s data and privacy practices aren’t out of the ordinary: The company collects lots of personal data about users and then deploys that data to sell ads. However, he says that Temu’s rise could have a bigger impact not in terms of privacy concerns, but in terms of pressure on American companies and workers. If more and more American consumers flock to Temu to buy cut-rate goods, that could pressure Amazon and other competitors to slash their prices too, which would affect wages, Schmidt argues. “This is an interesting example of the manufacturing base in China getting sufficiently sophisticated that it no longer feels like it needs to go through distributors. They’re selling directly to consumers. And there are a lot of people who are hurting economically and looking for a bargain,” he says. “This is obviously going to put pressure on producers of goods to further slash their cost basis and profit structure—which could have the consequence of further eroding domestic manufacturing in the U.S.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 29th, 2022

Meet Pavel Durov, the tech billionaire who founded Telegram, fled from Moscow 15 years ago after defying the Kremlin, and has a penchant for posting half-naked selfies on Instagram

Before founding Telegram, Durov founded Russian social network Vkontakte. The site brought him fame — but it also made him a target of the Kremlin. Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov.Manuel Blondeau/AOP.Press/Corbis/Getty Images Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram and the "Zuckerberg of Russia," is worth $15.1 billion.  The Russian-born tech mogul fled from Moscow 15 years ago and now lives in Dubai. Durov has a big social-media presence, perhaps most notably for launching the "Shirtless Putin Challenge" on Instagram. Editor's note: This story first appeared in March 2022 and has been updated to reflect the most recent financial figures as well as Durov's recent comments about Fragment.Pavel Durov, 38, is the founder and owner of messaging app Telegram. The billionaire has been called the "Mark Zuckerberg of Russia."Telegram co-founder Pavel Durov, center, smiles following his meeting with Indonesian Communication and Information Minister Rudiantara in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2017.Tatan Syuflana/APDurov, who was born in St. Petersburg in Soviet Russia, has a net worth of $15.1 billion, per Forbes.The tech entrepreneur cofounded encrypted-messaging service Telegram with his brother Nikolai in 2013. The brothers were born into a family of intellectuals, according the Digital-Life-Design Conference website. Durov spoke at the conference in January 2012.Much of Durov's wealth comes from Telegram, which has 700 million active users and is valued at $30 billion.Durov did not reply to Insider's requests for comment for this story.Before founding Telegram, Durov founded a Russian social network called Vkontakte. The site brought him fame and money — but it also made him a target of the Kremlin. A post shared by Pavel Durov (@durov)  Durov created the network in 2006 and went on to sell a 12% stake in the company for $300 million in 2015.The site brought him fame: He became known as Russia's "biggest celebrity entrepreneur," per The New York Times. But it also came with political trouble, namely when Durov refused the Kremlin's demands to access Vkontakte data of Ukrainian protest leaders.Durov said he was fired in April 2014 from his position as the CEO of Vkontakte as state-backed entities sought to control the network, per Reuters. The Mail.Ru group, which is owned by oligarch Alisher Usmanov, bought the network for $1.47 billion later that year.Usmanov's press service told Insider the group sold Vkontakte in December. The network is now owned by state-run insurer Sogaz.Durov told the Times he was forced to leave Moscow in 2014 after a SWAT team appeared at his home.Durov's conflicts with the Kremlin didn't end with Vkontakte.Telegram founder had become a cult icon for antiauthoritarianism in the region.Peter Kovalev/TASS via Getty ImagesIn 2018, Telegram was banned in Russia after Durov denied the Kremlin access to user data. In response to the ban, hundreds of people protested, some of whom were holding signs of Durov illustrated as a saint (pictured above). The app was reinstated in Russia two years later.Today, Telegram is playing a major role in the war in Ukraine.Durov vowed in a Telegram post in March to protect the data of Ukrainian users. Durov is of partial Ukrainian descent, according to the post."When I defied [the Kremlin's] demands, the stakes were high for me personally," Durov wrote in the post. "I stand for our users no matter what. Their right to privacy is sacred," he added.On a November 30 post on Telegram, Durov announced that Telegram plans to build a cryptocurrency wallet. Durov added that the wallet, Fragment, "took only 5 weeks and 5 people including myself to put together."Durov claims some $50 million worth of usernames were purchased in less than a month on Fragment.Durov now lives in Dubai, where Telegram's operations are based.Palm Jumeirah in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on January 10, 2022.Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty ImagesDurov moved to Dubai in 2017 and relocated Telegram's operations to an office in Dubai's Media City, per Bloomberg. The network had been previously been based in Berlin.In an interview with Bloomberg in December 2017, Durov said moving to Dubai afforded him "better ways to use [his] money to benefit society," as the city has no personal income tax.According to the Russian edition of Forbes, Durov obtained citizenship in the United Arab Emirates in February 2021. The Forbes report details that Durov is a citizen of four countries.In January 2018, Durov wrote on Twitter that Telegram is "unlikely to ever consider any location be [its] permanent base."Durov became a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis in 2014 by investing $250,000 in the local sugar industry, according to The Moscow Times. The Caribbean nation has no income or inheritance tax, as well as capital gains tax.Durov was also naturalized as a French citizen in August 2021, according to France's government website.Durov is the wealthiest person in the United Arab Emirates, the Khaleej Times reported in 2021. A post shared by Pavel Durov (@durov) Durov is the youngest self-made billionaire in the Middle East, per the Khaleej Times.Durov has a big Instagram presence, with more than 785,000 followers. His posts range from photos showing off his Dubai lifestyle to shirtless snaps showing off his physique. A post shared by Pavel Durov (@durov) In August 2017, Durov's Instagram post parodying Russian President Vladimir Putin went viral.Durov's post on Instagram, aptly named the "Putin Shirtless Challenge," called for users to post photos of themselves bare-chested in the style of Putin."Two rules from Putin – no photoshop, no pumping. Otherwise you're not an alpha," Durov wrote in the post in August 2017. Over 3,000 posts with Durov's hashtag were uploaded on Instagram. To date, it's gotten over 120,000 likes.Despite having 1.3 million followers on Twitter, Durov doesn't follow anyone, but once followed Elon Musk.While not much is known about Durov's assets, he's been known to share the occasional yacht shot on Instagram. A post shared by Pavel Durov (@durov) He shared a photo from the deck of a Lurssen yacht off the coast of Italy in 2016.The cost of a Lurssen yacht starts at around $1 million and can run as high as $185 million, per Yacht World. Durov never confirmed if he owned the Lurssen yacht that he sailed in.Durov said in an Instagram post in August 2016 that while he wasn't a "fan of giant Lurssen yachts," he liked the manufacturer's sailing vessel. Lurssen currently only has one sailing yacht that was built in the 21st century.Durov posted another photo of a superyacht on Instagram in 2015.In a March 18 post on his official Telegram account, Durov claims he doesn't own any private jets, yachts, cars, or houses, adding that he is "unlike most billionaires."Durov's profile was once found on Tinder in 2017, according to Bloomberg. A post shared by Pavel Durov (@durov) Bloomberg reported that Durov was "half-naked" on his profile photo on the dating app."Not looking for anything serious or not serious here," he wrote on his profile, per the publication. "Just playing with the app," he added.Durov was once married to Daria Bondarenko, who he met in university, according to Russia Beyond, citing a documentary on Durov by filmmaker Rodion Chepel.In a 2020 blog post, Durov spoke out against Silicon Valley, writing that the region has "limited cultural life."Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov delivers his keynote conference during day two of the Mobile World Congress at the Fira Gran Via complex in Barcelona, Spain on February 23, 2016.Manuel Blondeau/AOP.Press/Corbis/Getty ImagesDurov wrote the post in response to journalist and YouTuber Yury Dud's film about Silicon Valley. The film has garnered 45 million views on YouTube.In the post, Durov listed seven reasons he did not want to move to Silicon Valley."The US is not the best place to live or run an IT business," Durov wrote. "Local programmers are expensive, spoiled and often unable to focus on work due to the flow of outside suggestions and ideas," he added. Durov also described the US as a "police state" and said he was attacked in San Francisco in June 2015 by thieves who wanted to steal his phone.From the tech platforms he has founded to his comments on his personal social-media accounts, Durov is no stranger to controversy.—Pavel Durov (@durov) March 18, 2017Part of the controversy stems from the nature of the social networks he has built. Telegram, for example, is the "app of choice" of terror networks like ISIS, per the Middle East Media Research Institute."We cannot make messaging technology secure for everybody except terrorists," Durov said in an interview with CNN in February 2016. "It's either secure or not secure."But he's also something of an instigator on his personal accounts.In 2014, for example, when the Russian state called for a ban on Vkontakte, Durov's response was to post a photo of a dog in a hoodie on Twitter. When Vkontakte was accused of hosting pornography, he changed his Twitter handle from "VK CEO" to "Porn King," according to The Calvert Journal. And in 2017, he shared his passport photo on Twitter, writing that it's "strangely suitable for media articles about terrorists using Telegram."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 28th, 2022

THE TWITTER FILES: How Twitter Rigged The Covid Debate

THE TWITTER FILES: How Twitter Rigged The Covid Debate Another day, another TWITTER FILES drop exposing the incestuous relationship between big tech and government. Today's edition, dropped by journalist David Zweig, focuses on 'how Twitter rigged the Covid debate' by taking direction from both the Trump and Biden administrations (while at the same time trying to censor the former president). What's somewhat notable is how aggressive government (and ex-government) officials were in trying to stifle free speech, while Twitter's non-government-linked employees would often push back (and then totally fold) - a theme we've observed in previous drops. In one such instance, former head of Twitter's Trust & Safety team Yoel Roth tells former FBI lawyer and then-Twitter Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker to calm his tits over a Trump tweet. Of course, in the end the government typically got its way, as you will read below. 1. THREAD: THE TWITTER FILES: HOW TWITTER RIGGED THE COVID DEBATE – By censoring info that was true but inconvenient to U.S. govt. policy – By discrediting doctors and other experts who disagreed – By suppressing ordinary users, including some sharing the CDC’s *own data* — David Zweig (@davidzweig) December 26, 2022 Zweig, who was granted access to internal files while on assignment for The Free Press, notes that "both the Trump and Biden administrations directly pressed Twitter executives to moderate the platform’s pandemic content according to their wishes." What's more, the censorship effort extended to Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others. 7. It wasn’t just Twitter. The meetings with the Trump White House were also attended by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others. — David Zweig (@davidzweig) December 26, 2022 Continued via The Free Press (emphasis ours), In July 2021, then-U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a 22-page advisory concerning what the World Health Organization referred to as an “infodemic,” and called on social media platforms to do more to shut down “misformation.” “We are asking them to step up,” Murthy said. “We can’t wait longer for them to take aggressive action.”  That’s the message the White House had already taken directly to Twitter executives in private channels. One of the Biden administration’s first meeting requests was about Covid, with a focus on “anti-vaxxer accounts,” according to a meeting summary by Lauren Culbertson, Twitter’s Head of U.S. Public Policy. They were especially concerned about Alex Berenson, a journalist skeptical of lockdowns and mRNA vaccines, who had hundreds of thousands of followers on the platform: By the summer of 2021, the day after Murthy’s memo, Biden announced publicly that social media companies were “killing people” by allowing misinformation about vaccines. Just hours later, Twitter locked Berenson out of his account, and then permanently suspended him the next month. Berenson sued Twitter. He ultimately settled with the company, and is now back on the platform. As part of the lawsuit, Twitter was compelled to provide certain internal communications. They revealed that the White House had directly met with Twitter employees and pressured them to take action on Berenson.  The summary of meetings by Culbertson, emailed to colleagues in December 2022, adds new evidence of the White House’s pressure campaign, and illustrates how it tried to directly influence what content was allowed on Twitter.  Culbertson wrote that the Biden team was “very angry” that Twitter had not been more aggressive in deplatforming multiple accounts. They wanted Twitter to do more. Twitter executives did not fully capitulate to the Biden team’s wishes. An extensive review of internal communications at the company revealed that employees often debated moderation cases in great detail, and with more care for free speech than was shown by the government.  But Twitter did suppress views—and not just those of journalists like Berenson. Many medical and public health professionals who expressed perspectives or even cited findings from accredited academic journals that conflicted with official positions were also targeted. As a result, legitimate findings and questions about our Covid policies and their consequences went missing. There were three serious problems with Twitter’s process. First: Much of the content moderation on Covid, to say nothing of other contentious subjects, was conducted by bots trained on machine learning and AI. I spent hours discussing the systems with an engineer and with an executive who had been at the company for more than a year before Musk’s takeover. They explained the process in basic terms: Initially, the bots were fed information to train them on what to look for—but their searches would become more refined over time both as they scanned the platform and as they were manually updated with additional chosen inputs. At least that was the premise. Though impressive in their engineering, the bots would prove too crude for such nuanced work. When you drag a digital trawler across a social media platform, you’re not just catching cheap fish, you’re going to snag dolphins along the way. Second: Contractors operating in places like the Philippines were also moderating content. They were given decision trees to aid in their process, but tasking non-experts to adjudicate tweets on complex topics like myocarditis and mask efficacy data was destined for a significant error rate. The notion that remote workers, sitting in distant cube farms, were going to police medical information to this granular degree is absurd on its face. Embedded below is an example template—deactivated after Musk’s arrival—of the decision tree tool that contractors used. The contractor would run through a series of questions, each with a drop down menu, ultimately guiding them to a predetermined conclusion. Third: Most importantly, the buck stopped with higher level employees at Twitter. They chose the inputs for the bots and decision trees. They determined suspensions. And as is the case with all people and institutions, there was both individual and collective bias.  At Twitter, Covid-related bias bent heavily toward establishment dogmas. Inevitably, dissident yet legitimate content was labeled as misinformation, and the accounts of doctors and others were suspended both for tweeting opinions and demonstrably true information. Take, for example, Martin Kulldorff, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kulldorff often tweeted views at odds with U.S. public health authorities and the American left, the political affiliation of nearly the entire staff at Twitter.  Here is one such tweet, from March 15, 2021, regarding vaccination. Internal emails show an “intent to action” by a Twitter moderator, saying Kulldorff’s tweet violated the company’s Covid-19 misinformation policy, and claimed he shared “false information.” But Kulldorff’s statement was an expert’s opinion—one that happened to be in line with vaccine policies in numerous other countries.  Yet it was deemed “false information” by Twitter moderators merely because it differed from CDC guidelines. After Twitter took action, Kulldorff’s tweet was slapped with a “misleading” label and all replies and likes were shut off, throttling the tweet’s ability to be seen and shared by others, a core function of the platform. In my review of internal files, I found numerous instances of tweets about vaccines and pandemic policies labeled as “misleading” or taken down entirely, sometimes triggering account suspensions, simply because they veered from CDC guidance or differed from establishment views.  For example, a tweet by @KelleyKga, a self-proclaimed public health fact checker with more than 18,000 followers, was flagged as “misleading,” and replies and likes disabled, for showing that Covid was not the leading cause of death in children, even though it cited the CDC’s own data. Read the rest here... Tyler Durden Mon, 12/26/2022 - 12:15.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 26th, 2022

Tesla Shares Jump After Twitter Users Vote For Elon Musk To Step Down As Chief Twit

Tesla Shares Jump After Twitter Users Vote For Elon Musk To Step Down As Chief Twit Update (0620ET):  Tesla shares gained nearly 5% in premarket trading after CEO Elon Musk polled Twitter users over whether he should "step down as head of Twitter."  With polling closed, and more than 17.5 million votes, the results stand at 57.5% answered "Yes" and 43.5% "No."  "Musk exiting Twitter could benefit Tesla, which has slumped 57% this year amid concerns that his chaotic takeover of Twitter has distracted him from Tesla," Bloomberg said.  *  *  *  Elon Musk, perhaps finally fed up with micromanaging Twitter or just really drunk after partying with Qatari royals (and Jared) after today's terrific World Cup Final... ...  has asked Twitter users and his 122 million followers whether he should step down as head of the social media site and pledged that he would abide by the result of the 12 hour unscientific poll. Four hours into the vote, with some 9 million votes cast, 56.7% of those polled said Musk should, in fact, stand down. It wasn't clear what percentage of bots of mailed in ballots had been cast. Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022 Musk prefaced the vote by tweeting that "Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again." Subsequently, in response to tweeted comments that Musk should "hire someone as Twitter CEO... that way when things go wrong you can blame that person, but you still ultimate control as the owner", the billionaire responded that "The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive." The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022 Musk also clarified to prospective replacements that any new CEO "must like pain a lot. One catch: you have to invest your life savings in Twitter and it has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May. Still want the job?" You must like pain a lot. One catch: you have to invest your life savings in Twitter and it has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May. Still want the job? — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022 Musk then stated that the whole exercise is a Catch 22 as "No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor." Which then begs the question how Musk will abide by a poll that seeks his replacement if there is "no successor" in mind. No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 19, 2022 He then doubled down by paraphrasing Jack Handey and, of course, Gladiator: Those who want power are the ones who least deserve it — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 19, 2022 Whether Musk was drunk or not when he sent out the tweet (early am Qatari time), the outcome as some cynics have noted, is unlikely to have any material impact on what happens at twitter. Let me predict the consequences of this poll: If „yes“, Elon will be CEO for a few months longer until he finds a devoted successor. If „no“, Elon will be CEO for a few months longer until he finds a devoted successor. — Zsolt Wilhelm (@ZsoltWilhelm) December 18, 2022 Musk’s pledge to hold votes on policy changes came after Twitter on Sunday announced it will remove accounts “created solely” to promote other social media platforms. Accounts promoting rivals and containing links to sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Mastodon will be taken down, the company said. A few hours later the tweet revealing that policy change was deleted. These tweets appear to have been deleted. — Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) December 19, 2022 Tyler Durden Mon, 12/19/2022 - 08:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 19th, 2022

Musk Asks Twitter If He Should Step Down; "Yes" Vote Leading With 8 Hours To Go

Musk Asks Twitter If He Should Step Down; "Yes" Vote Leading With 8 Hours To Go Elon Musk, perhaps finally fed up with micromanaging twitter or just really drunk after partying with Qatari royals (and Jared) after today's terrific World Cup Final... ...  has asked Twitter users and his 122 million followers whether he should step down as head of the social media site and pledged that he would abide by the result of the 12 hour unscientific poll. Four hours into the vote, with some 9 million votes cast, 56.7% of those polled said Musk should, in fact, stand down. It wasn't clear what percentage of bots of mailed in ballots had been cast. Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022 Musk prefaced the vote by tweeting that "Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again." Subsequently, in response to tweeted comments that Musk should "hire someone as Twitter CEO... that way when things go wrong you can blame that person, but you still ultimate control as the owner", the billionaire responded that "The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive." The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022 Musk also clarified to prospective replacements that any new CEO "must like pain a lot. One catch: you have to invest your life savings in Twitter and it has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May. Still want the job?" You must like pain a lot. One catch: you have to invest your life savings in Twitter and it has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May. Still want the job? — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022 Musk then stated that the whole exercise is a Catch 22 as "No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor." Which then begs the question how Musk will abide by a poll that seeks his replacement if there is "no successor" in mind. No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 19, 2022 He then doubled down by paraphrasing Jack Handey and, of course, Gladiator: Those who want power are the ones who least deserve it — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 19, 2022 Whether Musk was drunk or not when he sent out the tweet (early am Qatari time), the outcome as some cynics have noted, is unlikely to have any material impact on what happens at twitter. Let me predict the consequences of this poll: If „yes“, Elon will be CEO for a few months longer until he finds a devoted successor. If „no“, Elon will be CEO for a few months longer until he finds a devoted successor. — Zsolt Wilhelm (@ZsoltWilhelm) December 18, 2022 Musk’s pledge to hold votes on policy changes came after Twitter on Sunday announced it will remove accounts “created solely” to promote other social media platforms. Accounts promoting rivals and containing links to sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Mastodon will be taken down, the company said. A few hours later the tweet revealing that policy change was deleted. These tweets appear to have been deleted. — Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) December 19, 2022 Tyler Durden Sun, 12/18/2022 - 22:22.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 18th, 2022

Binance, the world"s biggest crypto exchange, is now under intense scrutiny after the FTX debacle. Here are 5 things you need to know.

Crypto exchange Binance is facing questions over its reserves and is under DOJ investigation, putting investors caught out by FTX's implosion on edge. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao.Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images Investors are worried that cracks are starting to appear at Binance after the shocking collapse of FTX. The crypto exchange giant faces questions about its reserves, and it is under investigation by the DOJ. As the crypto market lose confidence in the exchange, its CEO warned staff of "bumpy" times ahead.  Customers drained billions of dollars from Binance's crypto platform last week — just one reason the spotlight is glaring on the company in the wake of the FTX implosion.Spooked investors are on the alert for signs of trouble after the collapse of now-bankrupt FTX, the once-$32 billion crypto empire founded by Sam Bankman-Fried. Some are worried that cracks may be starting to appear at Binance.Here are 5 things to know about what's happening at Binance, and why it's got the crypto community wondering.People are worried about Binance's holdings of customers' fundsAfter FTX's bankruptcy showed its coffers were bare, crypto firms came under pressure to show their customers' holdings were safe and they could pay up if there was a rush of withdrawals. On top of that, a Reuters report said FTX's Bankman-Fried quietly transferred at least $4 billion in user funds to sister trading firm Alameda Research after it suffered losses.Binance sought to boost confidence in its own business by getting a "proof of reserves" report. It enlisted accounting firm Mazars to verify its holdings, to maybe reassure customers their funds are still in their accounts and not loaned out.But legal experts and others said the platform's users shouldn't be satisfied with the Mazars report, as it didn't dig into how good the financial controls were. Even though it suggested Binance's situation was solid, it also showed bitcoin liabilities were $245 million bigger than assets, an  the WSJ reported.Nearly half of the company's $75 billion reserves are in its own stablecoin BUSD and its native token binance coin (BNB), according to a Bloomberg report last month.On Friday, the accounting firm suspended its proof-of-reserves work with Binance and other crypto clients "due to concerns regarding the way these reports are understood by the public," the FT reported.Customers pulled a net $3 billion in funds in the space of a dayBinance has seen heavy withdrawals in recent days as questions about its reserves and a DOJ investigation built. Meanwhile, the arrest of FTX founder Bankman-Fried eroded trust in crypto further.On Tuesday, Binance logged its highest daily withdrawals since June, with net outflows of $3 billion over just 24 hours, according to Nansen data. The exchange was forced to temporarily freeze withdrawals of USD Coin while it boosted its holdings of the stablecoin.Just over a month ago, the crypto giant held $69.5 billion in digital assets in publicly disclosed wallets, according to Nansen. That total's now $54.7 billion due to large withdrawals and price fluctuation, it said.There's a DOJ investigation into Binance focused on money launderingAdding fuel to the fire were reports the US Justice Department has been investigating Binance over the company's compliance with financial crime rules.Prosecutors are considering whether to file criminal charges against its founder Changpeng Zhao and other executives, according to Reuters. These would cover money laundering conspiracy, unlicensed money transmission, and criminal sanctions violations.Reuters calculated that Binance processed over $10 billion in illegal payments in 2022 and said it tried to evade regulators, which the crypto giant disputed.Binance CEO "CZ" isn't fazed and says it's business as usualZhao, commonly known as "CZ",  has doubled down on trying to ease customers' worries about Binance's liquidity. He's pushed back against what he sees as "FUD" — the spread of baseless fear, uncertainty and doubt."People can withdraw 100% of the assets they have on Binance. We will not have an issue at any given day," he told CNBC on Thursday. "Crypto businesses have to hold user assets one-to-one, and that's what we do."Earlier in the week, Zhao shrugged off the heavy outflows from the exchange as "business as usual". And after Binance lifted its freeze on USDC withdrawals, he welcomed the welcomed the events as a credibility-building "stress test" of the exchange's resilience.But he warned Binance staff there's a "bumpy" road ahead While Zhao played down concerns, issues remain. The young billionaire told staff that FTX's problems have put "a lot of extra scrutiny and tough questions" on Binance, which need to weather a confidence crisis."While we expect the next several months to be bumpy, we will get past this challenging period — and we'll be stronger for having been through it," he said in a memo viewed by Bloomberg.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 17th, 2022