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Musk Offers Billion-User Vision but Few Details to Twitter Staff

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Elon Musk pitched a vision Thursday to Twitter staff of a one-billion-user platform, but was hazy on potential layoffs, free speech limits and what’s next in his chaotic buyout bid.

The Tesla chief talked of letting people say pretty much whatever they want on Twitter while at the same time keeping it a friendly place that users enjoy visiting.

While fielding questions in his first meeting with staffers, the Tesla chief offered no updates on whether he will go through with a proposed $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,43,446 crore) takeover deal which he himself has called into doubt.

A transcript of the employees-only virtual meeting posted on the website Recode indicated Musk professed “love” for Twitter, joking that while some people express themselves with hairstyles he does so on the global messaging stage.

Musk said he wants to have “at least a billion people on Twitter” in what would be massive growth for a platform that has about 229 million now.

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Musk told Twitter employees he favours moderate political positions, but that users should be able to say outrageous things.

He qualified that by saying that freedom of speech doesn’t mean intrinsic freedom for comments to reach far and wide.

The Tesla chief has already made comments on how he’d run the platform — including lifting Donald Trump’s ban.

“People should be allowed to say pretty outrageous things that are within the bounds of the law, but then that doesn’t get amplified,” Musk said, according to the transcript.

“We have to strike this balance of allowing people to say what they want to say but also make people comfortable on Twitter, or they simply won’t use it.”

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Musk answered a question about possible layoffs by saying the company “needs to get healthy” when it comes to its financial situation.

See also  Meta Slams Apple Over Latest Ad Policy, Says iPhone Maker 'Undercutting Others' in Digital Economy

“Anyone who’s obviously a significant contributor should have nothing to worry about,” Musk told Twitter workers.

He endorsed advertising and subscriptions as ways to make money at Twitter, saying ads should be entertaining as well as legitimate.

Musk talked anew about making money at Twitter by charging to verify identities of those behind accounts, then making verification a factor in which tweets get higher ranking on the platform.

Regarding Twitter’s policy of letting people work from home, Musk said it would be an option only for those proven to be exceptional at their jobs.

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“The Musk Twitter all-hands call was the wrong call at the wrong time in our opinion,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a tweet.

“Lots of answers Musk could not provide given fluid nature of deal.”

Ives added that the virtual exchange spotlighted a contrast between the kind of culture fostered by Musk and the “Twitter DNA.”

Musk touched on his Tesla and SpaceX endeavours during the meeting, talking of sustainable energy and extending the “scope, scale and lifespan of consciousness as we know it.”

“Can we travel to other star systems and see if there are alien civilizations?” he asked rhetorically.

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“There might be a whole bunch of long-dead, one-planet civilizations out there that existed 500 million years ago.”

His comments came a day after a Verge report that SpaceX employees shared a letter internally complaining that Musk’s behaviour on Twitter is a distraction and embarrassment to the private space exploration enterprise.

Musk shocked the tech world with an unsolicited buyout bid in April for the platform that is a key exchange for news, entertainment and politics.

See also  Elon Musk Said to Address Twitter Employees for the First Time Since Acquisition Bid

The board eventually came around to supporting his $54.20 (roughly Rs. 4,230) per share offer, but since then he has cast doubt on the deal by clashing with the firm’s leadership over user numbers.

Musk has kept employees and Wall Street on edge over how the buyout saga will end.

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Reports coming out of the meeting evidently left the market unconvinced about the buyout, with Twitter shares slipping more than 2 percent in mid-day trade far below the purchase price agreed to by Musk.

Tesla shares, meanwhile, ended the formal trading day down more than 8 percent in an apparent sign investors are worried Musk’s focus is not on the electric car maker.

The proposed Twitter sale has stoked protests from critics who warn his stewardship will embolden hate groups and disinformation campaigns.

US securities regulators have also pressed Musk for an explanation of an apparent delay in reporting his Twitter stock buys.

For his part, Musk has repeatedly raised questions about fake accounts on the platform, saying on Twitter he could walk away from the transaction if his concerns were not addressed.

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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  US Supreme Court Puts Hold on Texas Law Barring Social Media From Censoring Posts

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  Snap Reportedly Plans to Lay Off Employees, Managers Discussing Job Cuts for Their Teams

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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.

See also  Elon Musk Said to Address Twitter Employees for the First Time Since Acquisition Bid

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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