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Donald Trump Snubs Twitter After Elon Musk Reactivates Former US President’s Account

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By Reuters | Updated: 21 November 2022

Donald Trump on Saturday said he had no interest in returning to Twitter even as a slim majority voted in favor of reinstating the former US President, who was banned from the social media service for inciting violence, in a poll organized by new owner Elon Musk.

Slightly over 15 million Twitter users voted in the poll with 51.8 percent voting in favor of reinstatement.

“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated,” Musk tweeted.

Trump’s Twitter account, which had over 88 million followers before he was banned on January 8, 2021, began accumulating followers and had nearly 100,000 followers by 10pm ET Saturday (8:30 AM Monday IST). Some users initially reported being unable to follow the reinstated account on Saturday evening.

Trump had appeared less than keen earlier in the day.

“I don’t see any reason for it,” the former president said via video when asked whether he planned to return to Twitter by a panel at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting.

He said he would stick with his new platform Truth Social, the app developed by his Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) startup, which he said had better user engagement than Twitter and was doing “phenomenally well”.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump, who on Tuesday launched a bid to regain the White House in 2024, praised Musk and said he had always liked him. But Trump also said Twitter suffered from bots, fake accounts and that the problems it faced were “incredible”.

Musk first said in May he planned to reverse the ban on Trump, and the timing of any return by Trump was closely watched – and feared – by many of Twitter’s advertisers.

The billionaire has since sought to reassure users and advertisers that such a decision would be made with consideration by a content moderation council composed of people with “widely diverse viewpoints” and no account reinstatements would happen before the council convened.

He also said Twitter would not reinstate any banned users until there was a “clear process for doing so.”

But this week, Musk reinstated comedian Kathy Griffin, who had been banned for changing her profile name to “Elon Musk” which violated his new rule against impersonation without indicating it was a parody account. There has been no new information about process or the moderation council.

No reason to return

A no-show by Trump could reduce concerns among major advertisers, who are already rattled by Musk’s drastic reshaping of Twitter.

He has halved the workforce and severely cut the company’s trust and safety team, which is responsible for preventing the spread of misinformation and harmful content.

These actions and Musk’s tweeting have pushed major companies to halt advertising on the site as they monitor how the platform handles hate speech.

On Saturday, Bloomberg reported Twitter could fire more employees in its sales and partnership divisions, citing unnamed sources, just days after a mass resignation of engineers.

If Trump returned to Twitter, the move would raise questions about his commitment to Truth Social, which launched on Apple’s App Store in February and Google’s Play Store in October. Trump has some 4.57 million followers on Truth Social.

Truth Social has been Trump’s main source of direct communication with his followers since he began posting on the app regularly in May. He has used Truth Social to promote his allies, criticize opponents and defend his reputation amid legal scrutiny from state, congressional and federal investigators.

His agreement with the company, however, opens the door for Trump to engage extensively on other platforms. Trump is obligated to give Truth Social a six-hour exclusive on any post – but is free to post “political messaging, political fundraising or get-out-the vote efforts” on any site, at any time, according to a May SEC filing.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Elon Musk Meets Tim Cook, Says Apple Never Considered Removing Twitter From App Store

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By Reuters | Updated: 1 December 2022

Elon Musk on Wednesday tweeted that the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from Apple’s App Store was resolved following his meeting with the iPhone maker’s Chief Executive Tim Cook.

“Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so,” the billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla said in a tweet.

Thanks @tim_cook for taking me around Apple’s beautiful HQ pic.twitter.com/xjo4g306gR— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 30, 2022

On Monday, Musk had accused Apple of threatening to block Twitter from its app store without saying why in a series of tweets that also said it had stopped advertising on the social media platform.

He had later tagged Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking “what’s going on here?”

The world’s most valuable firm spent an estimated $131,600 (roughly Rs. 1,07,42,900) on Twitter ads between November 10 and November 16, down from $220,800 (roughly Rs. 1,80,23,385) between October 16 and October 22, the week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to ad measurement firm Pathmatics.

In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48 million (roughly Rs. 390 crore) and accounting for more than 4 percent of total revenue for the period, the Washington Post reported, citing an internal Twitter document.

Twitter and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Musk’s latest tweet. Apple has not responded publicly to Musk’s earlier tweets.

Among the list of grievances tweeted by Musk on Monday was the up to 30 percent fee Apple charges software developers for in-app purchases, with Musk posting a meme suggesting he was willing to “go to war” with Apple rather than paying the commission.

The self-described free speech absolutist, whose company has in the past few days reinstated several Twitter accounts including that of former US President Donald Trump, has blamed activist groups for pressuring advertisers.

Ben Bajarin, the head of consumer technologies at research firm Creative Strategies, previously stated that Musk may have been reading too much into a regular process Apple goes through in-app reviews.

“App review from Apple is not perfect by any means and a consistently frustrating process for developers but from what I hear it is a two-way conversation,” he said.

“Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so,” the billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla said in a tweet.

On Monday, Musk had accused Apple of threatening to block Twitter from its app store without saying why in a series of tweets that also said it had stopped advertising on the social media platform.

He had later tagged Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking “what’s going on here?”

Twitter and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Musk’s latest tweet. Apple has not responded publicly to Musk’s earlier tweets.

Among the list of grievances tweeted by Musk on Monday was the up to 30 percent fee Apple charges software developers for in-app purchases, with Musk posting a meme suggesting he was willing to “go to war” with Apple rather than paying the commission.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Twitter Not Safer Under Elon Musk Leadership, Says Former Head of Trust and Safety

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By Reuters | Updated: 30 November 2022

Twitter’s former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth on Tuesday said the social media company was not safer under new owner Elon Musk, warning in his first interview since resigning this month that the company no longer had enough staff for safety work.

Roth had tweeted after Musk’s takeover that by some measures, Twitter safety had improved under the billionaire’s ownership.

Asked in an interview at the Knight Foundation conference on Tuesday whether he still felt that way, Roth said: “No.”

Roth was a Twitter veteran who helped steer the social media platform through several watershed decisions, including the move to permanently suspend its most famous user, former US President Donald Trump, last year.

His departure further rattled advertisers, many of whom backed away from Twitter after Musk laid off half of the staff, including many involved with content moderation.

Before Musk assumed the helm at Twitter, about 2,200 people globally were focused on content moderation work, said Roth. He said he did not know the number after the acquisition because the corporate directory had been turned off.

Twitter under Musk began to stray from its adherence to written and publicly available policies toward content decisions made unilaterally by Musk, which Roth cited as a reason for his resignation.

“One of my limits was if Twitter starts being ruled by dictatorial edict rather than by policy … there’s no longer a need for me in my role, doing what I do,” he said.

The revamp of the Twitter Blue premium subscription, which would allow users to pay for a verified checkmark on their account, launched despite warnings and advice from the trust and safety team, Roth said.

The launch was quickly beset by spammers impersonating major public companies such as Eli Lilly, Nestle and Lockheed Martin.

Roth also said Tuesday that Twitter erred in restricting the dissemination of a New York Post article that made claims about then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son shortly before the 2020 presidential election.

But he defended Twitter’s decision to permanently suspend Trump for risk of further incitement of violence after the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

“We saw the clearest possible example of what it looked like for things to move from online to off,” Roth said. “We saw people dead in the Capitol.”

Musk tweeted on November 19 that Trump’s account would be reinstated after a slim majority voted in favour of the move in a surprise Twitter poll.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Twitter Stops Enforcing COVID-19 Misinformation Policy, Experts Express Concerns Over False Claims

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By Associated Press | Updated: 30 November 2022

Twitter will no longer enforce its policy against COVID-19 misinformation, raising concerns among public health experts and social media researchers that the change could have serious consequences if it discourages vaccination and other efforts to combat the still-spreading virus.

Eagle-eyed users spotted the change Monday night, noting that a one-sentence update had been made to Twitter’s online rules: “Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy.”

By Tuesday, some Twitter accounts were testing the new boundaries and celebrating the platform’s hands-off approach, which comes after Twitter was purchased by Elon Musk.

“This policy was used to silence people across the world who questioned the media narrative surrounding the virus and treatment options,” tweeted Dr. Simone Gold, a physician and leading purveyor of COVID-19 misinformation. “A win for free speech and medical freedom!”

Twitter’s decision to no longer remove false claims about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines disappointed public health officials, however, who said it could lead to more false claims about the virus, or the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

“Bad news,” tweeted epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding, who urged people not to flee Twitter but to keep up the fight against bad information about the virus. “Stay folks — do NOT cede the town square to them!”

While Twitter’s efforts to stop false claims about COVID weren’t perfect, the company’s decision to reverse course is an abdication of its duty to its users, said Paul Russo, a social media researcher and dean of the Katz School of Science and Health at Yeshiva University in New York.

Russo added that it’s the latest of several recent moves by Twitter that could ultimately scare away some users and even advertisers. Some big names in business have already paused their ads on Twitter over questions about its direction under Musk.

“It is 100% the responsibility of the platform to protect its users from harmful content,” Russo said. “This is absolutely unacceptable.”

The virus, meanwhile, continues to spread. Nationally, new COVID cases averaged nearly 38,800 a day as of Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University — far lower than last winter but a vast undercount because of reduced testing and reporting. About 28,100 people with COVID were hospitalized daily and about 313 died, according to the most recent federal daily averages.

Cases and deaths were up from two weeks earlier. Yet a fifth of the U.S. population hasn’t been vaccinated, most Americans haven’t gotten the latest boosters, and many have stopped wearing masks.

Musk, who has himself spread COVID misinformation on Twitter, has signalled an interest in rolling back many of the platform’s previous rules meant to combat misinformation.

Last week, Musk said he would grant “amnesty” to account holders who had been kicked off Twitter. He’s also reinstated the accounts for several people who spread COVID misinformation, including that of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal account was suspended this year for repeatedly violating Twitter’s COVID rules.

Greene’s most recent tweets include ones questioning the effectiveness of masks and making baseless claims about the safety of COVID vaccines.

Since the pandemic began, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have struggled to respond to a torrent of misinformation about the virus, its origins and the response to it.

Under the policy enacted in January 2020, Twitter prohibited false claims about COVID-19 that the platform determined could lead to real-world harms. More than 11,000 accounts were suspended for violating the rules, and nearly 100,000 pieces of content were removed from the platform, according to Twitter’s latest numbers.

Despite its rules prohibiting COVID misinformation, Twitter has struggled with enforcement. Posts making bogus claims about home remedies or vaccines could still be found, and it was difficult on Tuesday to identify exactly how the platform’s rules may have changed.

Messages left with San Francisco-based Twitter seeking more information about its policy on COVID-19 misinformation were not immediately returned Tuesday.

A search for common terms associated with COVID misinformation on Tuesday yielded lots of misleading content, but also automatic links to helpful resources about the virus as well as authoritative sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 coordinator, said Tuesday that the problem of COVID-19 misinformation is far larger than one platform, and that policies prohibiting COVID misinformation weren’t the best solution anyway.

Speaking at a Knight Foundation forum Tuesday, Jha said misinformation about the virus spread for a number of reasons, including legitimate uncertainty about a deadly illness. Simply prohibiting certain kinds of content isn’t going to help people find good information, or make them feel more confident about what they’re hearing from their medical providers, he said.

“I think we all have a collective responsibility,” Jha said of combating misinformation about COVID. “The consequences of not getting this right — of spreading that misinformation — is literally tens of thousands of people dying unnecessarily.”

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

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By Reuters | Updated: 29 November 2022

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.

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.

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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Elon Musk Claims Apple Threatened to Pull Twitter From App Store, Ready to ‘Go to War’ Over In-App Purchases

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By Reuters | Updated: 29 November 2022

Elon Musk accused Apple of threatening to block Twitter Inc from its app store without saying why in a series of tweets on Monday that also said the iPhone maker had stopped advertising on the social media platform. The billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla said Apple was pressuring Twitter over content moderation demands.

The action, unconfirmed by Apple, would not be unusual as the company has routinely enforced its rules and previously removed apps such as Gab and Parler. The latter, which is popular with US conservatives, was restored by Apple in 2021 after the app updated its content and moderation practices, the companies said at the time.

Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022

“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?,” Musk last month, said in a tweet.

He later tagged Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking “what’s going on here?”

What’s going on here @tim_cook?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“It wasn’t clear to me how far up the Apple food chain that idea went internally and without knowing that, it isn’t clear how seriously to take any of this,” said Randal Picker, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

The world’s most valuable firm spent an estimated $131,600 (roughly Rs. 1,07,42,900) on Twitter ads between November 10 and November 16, down from $220,800 (roughly Rs. 1,80,23,385) between October16 and October 22, the week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to ad measurement firm Pathmatics.

In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48 million (roughly Rs. 391 crore) and accounting for more than 4 percent of total revenue for the period, the Washington Post reported, citing an internal Twitter document.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the report.

‘Go to war’

Among the list of grievances tweeted by Musk was the up to 30 percent fee Apple charges software developers for in-app purchases, with Musk posting a meme suggesting he was willing to “go to war” with Apple rather than paying the commission.

Did you know Apple puts a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through their App Store? https://t.co/LGkPZ4EYcz— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022

The fee has drawn criticism and lawsuits from companies such as Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, while attracting the scrutiny of regulators globally.

The commission could weigh on Musk’s attempts to boost subscription revenue at Twitter, in part to make up for the exodus of advertisers over content moderation concerns.

Companies from General Mills to luxury automaker Audi of America have stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition, and Musk said earlier this month that the company had seen a “massive” drop in revenue.

Ad sales account for about 90 percent of Twitter’s revenue.

The self-described free speech absolutist, whose company has in the past few days reinstated several Twitter accounts including that of former US President Donald Trump, has blamed activist groups for pressuring advertisers.

Ben Bajarin, the head of consumer technologies at research firm Creative Strategies, said that Musk may be reading too much into a regular process Apple goes through in app review.

“App review from Apple is not perfect by any means and a consistently frustrating process for developers but from what I hear it is a two-way conversation,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Elon Musk Says Twitter Will Add Encrypted DMs, Payments; Claims Signups at All-Time High as Advertisers Leave

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By Reuters | Updated: 28 November 2022

Twitter Chief Executive Elon Musk says new user signups to the social media platform are at an “all-time high”, as he struggles with a mass exodus of advertisers and users fleeing to other platforms over concerns about verification and hate speech.

Signups were averaging over two million per day in the last seven days as of November 16, up 66 percent compared to the same week in 2021, Musk said in a tweet late on Saturday.

He also said that user active minutes were at a record high, averaging nearly 8 billion active minutes per day in the last seven days as of November 15, an increase of 30 percent in comparison to the same week last year.

Twitter Chief Executive Elon Musk says new user signups to the social media platform are at an “all-time high”, as he struggles with a mass exodus of advertisers and users fleeing to other platforms over concerns about verification and hate speech.

Signups were averaging over two million per day in the last seven days as of November 16, up 66 percent compared to the same week in 2021, Musk said in a tweet late on Saturday.

He also said that user active minutes were at a record high, averaging nearly 8 billion active minutes per day in the last seven days as of November 15, an increase of 30 percent in comparison to the same week last year.

Musk’s “Twitter 2.0 The Everything App” will have features like encrypted direct messages (DMs), longform tweets and payments, according to the tweet.

Slides from my Twitter company talk pic.twitter.com/8LLXrwylta— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 27, 2022

In another tweet early on Sunday, Musk said he sees a “path to Twitter exceeding a billion monthly users in 12 to 18 months.”

Advertisers on Twitter, including big companies such as General Motors, Mondelez International, Volkswagen AG, have paused advertising on the platform, as they grapple with the new boss.

Musk has said that Twitter was experiencing a “massive drop in revenue” from the advertiser retreat, blaming a coalition of civil rights groups that has been pressing the platform’s top advertisers to take action if he did not protect content moderation.

Activists are urging Twitter’s advertisers to issue statements about pulling their ads off the social media platform after Musk lifted the ban on tweets by former US president Donald Trump.

Hundreds of Twitter employees are believed to have quit the beleaguered company, following an ultimatum by Musk that staffers sign up for “long hours at high intensity,” or leave.

The company earlier in November laid off half its workforce, with teams responsible for communications, content curation, human rights and machine learning ethics being gutted, as well as some product and engineering teams.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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