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Elon Musk Shares Mock Tweets Amid Tesla’s Cut From S&P 500 ESG Index Over Discrimination Claims, Accidents

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An S&P Dow Jones Indices executive told Reuters on Wednesday it has removed electric carmaker Tesla from the widely followed S&P 500 ESG Index because of issues including claims of racial discrimination and crashes linked to its autopilot vehicles, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded with harsh tweets including that “ESG is a scam”.

In its changes, effective May 2, the sustainability index also added soon-to-be-Musk-controlled Twitter and oil refiner Phillips 66 while dropping Delta Air Lines and Chevron, according to an announcement.

The back-and-forth over the index changes reflects a wider debate about the metrics used to judge corporate performance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, a growing area of investing.

Tesla has become the most valuable auto industry company by pioneering EVs and expanding into battery storage for electric grids and solar-power systems.

Factors contributing to its departure from the index included Tesla’s lack of published details related to its low carbon strategy or business conduct codes, said Margaret Dorn, S&P Dow Jones Indices’ head of ESG indices for North America, in an interview.

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Even though Tesla’s products help cut planet-warming emissions, Dorn said, its other issues and lack of disclosures relative to industry peers should raise concerns for investors looking to judge the company across environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

“You can’t just take a company’s mission statement at face value, you have to look at their practices across all those key dimensions,” she said.

Tesla representatives did not immediately respond to questions. The company has previously called ESG methodologies “fundamentally flawed.”

See also  Elon Musk to Meet EU Industry Chief Thierry Breton Today to Discuss Free Speech, Global Supply Chain Issues

Musk tweeted that “Exxon is rated top ten best in world for environment, social & governance (ESG) by S&P 500, while Tesla didn’t make the list! ESG is a scam. It has been weaponized by phony social justice warriors.”

Asked about the tweet, a representative for the index provider said Musk may have been referring to a list on a company blog post of the largest 10 constituents by market cap of the S&P 500 ESG Index after the removal of Tesla and others. The list is “not a ranking of best companies by ESG score,” the representative said.

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Exxon now accounts for 1.443 percent of the weight of the index. Apple was the largest at 9.657 percent.

Growing concerns

Investors concerned about issues like diversity and climate change have poured billions of dollars into funds using ESG criteria to pick stocks, prompting debate about how effectively the funds promote change or whether they push companies too much on issues that should be settled by government policy.

S&P Dow Jones Indices is majority-owned by S&P Global Musk and others have complained the firm and its rivals conflate too many issues by bundling ESG concerns into one total score.

For instance, a fund based on the S&P 500 ESG Index, the SPDR S&P 500 ESG ETF, received the low rating “D” by climate activist research group As You Sow, which noted despite its title and sustainability mandate, fossil fuel stocks make up 6.5 percent of fund assets.

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In the company blog post reviewing changes from April 22, S&P’s Dorn said the index aims to keep industries weighted the same as they are in the regular S&P 500 index “while enhancing the overall sustainability profile of the index.” In practice that means it can keep oil companies while leaving out big players like Facebook parent Meta Platforms and Wells Fargo.

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Dorn said Tesla’s ESG score had declined slightly from the “22” it received last year. At the same time the average score among other automakers improved, pushing Tesla out of the ESG index because of a rule against including lowest-quartile performers.

Dorn and others did not immediately describe other details such as the reasons Twitter or Phillips 66 were added or other companies dropped.

Among other big ESG ratings agencies, MSCI gives Tesla an “average” ESG rating, while the Sustainalytics unit of Morningstar Inc gives Tesla a “medium risk” rating, according to the firms’ websites.

On Wednesday a US safety regulator opened a special crash investigation into a Tesla crash this month in California, among more than 30 crashes under investigation involving advanced driver assistance systems.

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In February, a California state agency sued Tesla over allegations by Black workers that the company tolerated racial discrimination at an assembly plant, adding to claims made in several other lawsuits.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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Elon Musk Hints at Plans to Increase Character Limit for Tweets in Response to Twitter User

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Twitter could expand its character limit from 280, according to a tweet by new owner Elon Musk. The world’s richest man and Twitter’s new CEO responded to a user on the microblogging platform requesting the higher character limit, stating that it was part of the company’s plan. Twitter is also working on adding encrypted direct messages (DMs), and payment services, according a set of slides recently shared by Musk on Twitter. However, it is currently unclear whether the increased character limit will be the same as the longform tweet feature teased by the company’s CEO.

On Monday, Musk responded to a Twitter user asking him to expand the 280-character limit for on tweets on Twitter to 1,000 characters. Musk responded, stating :It’s on the todo list.”

Twitter, which is referred to as a “microblogging service”, originally had a 140-character limit for tweets, which was expanded to 280 characters in 2017. At the time, the company’s blog stated that “many people Tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after behaviour normalised…We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they Tweeted more easily and more often.”

The platform is one of the few services that limits users’ posts to a few hundred characters. Rival Facebook allow users to upload posts with thousands of characters.

Musk has shown interest in the idea of increasing the character limit on a number of occasions since his takeover of the platform, as per a report by Mashable.

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On November 27, a Twitter user suggested to Musk to increase the platform’s word limit from 280 to 420. “Good idea” Musk wrote in response.

See also  Tesla Asks Twitter Users to Pick Next Supercharger Location via a Poll

Prior to that, another user had suggested “get rid of character limits,” to which Musk responded: “Absolutely”.

Musk recently announced another major change for the platform with its multi-coloured verification system. A new three-coloured verification check mark system would replace the previous ‘Twitter Blue’ service which had to be pulled off within days of its release due to rising number of accounts impersonating well-known brands and personalities while carrying the ‘verified’ check. The new Twitter Blue verification service will tentatively be relaunched on December 2, according to Musk.


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WhatsApp ‘Message Yourself’ Feature Rolling Out on Android and iOS: Report

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WhatsApp is rolling out its Message Yourself feature to users globally. The app will now let you send a text to yourself, to store messages and files. Many users around the globe rely on WhatsApp chats to jot down quick notes or reminders, or crucial information. Until now, users would use a workaround to message themselves, or use a second WhatsApp account registered to another phone number, or rely on a chat window of a defunct WhatsApp account to store messages. WhatsApp will now let you do it easily via one of its new in-built features called Message Yourself.

According to a report by TechCrunch, the Meta owned messaging app has begun to roll out the ability to message yourself. The ‘Message Yourself’ feature will be similar to sending a text to another user, except that the message will remain in a separate chat on your phone.

Once the feature is rolled out, users will see a separate chat with their name followed by “(You)”. You will be able to jot down notes, shopping lists, keep reminders, store bookmarks. You will also be able to forward messages from other users, just like you can for other chats.

You can tap on the new chat button from the WhatsApp home screen and select your name. Once you tap on it, you will be able to send texts to yourself. If you are in another app, you can also use the sharing menu to send files, images, and other media to yourself.

WhatsApp says that the Message Yourself feature is now rolling out and should reach most Android and iOS users in the coming weeks, as per the report. Users can download the latest version of the app on Android and iOS to use the Message Yourself feature.

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Recently, the messaging app also introduced a new feature that will let iOS and Android users create polls in personal and group chats to get opinions or answers from their friends and contacts. Users’ responses to a poll’s question are protected via end-to-end encryption, according to the company.

See also  Elon Musk Confirms 10 Percent Layoff in Tesla, Paused Hirings Ahead of Expected US Recession

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Facebook Fined EUR 265 Million by Irish Data Privacy Regulator After Investigation Into Data Scraping

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Ireland’s data privacy regulator imposed an EUR 265 million (roughly Rs. 2,250 crore) fine on social media giant Facebook on Monday, bringing the total it has fined parent group Meta to almost EUR 1 billion (roughly Rs. 2,250 crore). The penalty resulted from an investigation, started last year, into the discovery of a collated set of personal data that had been scraped from Facebook between May 2018 and September 2019, and made available online. Facebook was also ordered to make a range of corrective measures.

Meta said it had cooperated fully with the investigation by Ireland’s Data Privacy Commissioner (DPC) and made changes to its systems during the time in question, including removing the ability to scrape its features in this way using phone numbers.

Monday’s fine is the fourth the DPC has levied against one of Meta’s companies. It is Meta’s lead privacy regulator within the European Union, and has 13 more inquiries into the social media group outstanding.

In September the watchdog hit its Instagram subsidiary with a record fine of EUR 405 million (roughly Rs. 3,435 crore), which Meta plans to appeal. Meta added in its statement on Monday that it was reviewing the decision related to the latest fine.

The DPC regulates Apple, Google, Twitter, Tiktok and other technology giants due to the location of their EU headquarters in Ireland. It currently has 40 inquiries open into such firms, including the 13 involving Meta.

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The regulator has the power to impose fines of up to 4 percent of a company’s global revenue under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) “One Stop Shop” regime introduced in 2018.

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The DPC said mitigating factors in Monday’s decision – which had been approved by all other relevant EU regulators – included the actions Facebook had taken.

“We’ll keep going until the behaviour does change,” Ireland’s Data Privacy Commissioner (DPC) Helen Dixon told Irish national broadcaster RTE on Monday.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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