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Australia Unveils Plan to Counter Global Cybercrime Problem

Fraud Management & Cybercrime
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Legislation & Litigation
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Ransomware

Key Initiatives Include New Task Force and Ban on Ransomware Payments to Criminals

Australia Unveils Plan to Counter Global Cybercrime Problem
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Following a spate of cyberattacks and data breaches affecting millions of Australians, the government‘s cybersecurity minister this week announced the formation of a task force that will hunt down hackers and said she is contemplating a ban on ransomware payments.

See Also: Live Webinar | How To Meet Your Zero Trust Goals Through Advanced Endpoint Strategies

Australia Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil announced the formation of the Joint Standing Operation task force, which brings together experts from the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Signals Directorate.

The task force merges domestic police and foreign intelligence resources to provide assistance to victims and also to take down international cybercriminals. The Joint Standing Operation will “investigate, target and disrupt cybercriminal syndicates with a priority on ransomware threat groups,” according to a joint news release.

On Saturday, O’Neil reiterated that this task force is a way of “Australia standing up and punching back.”

“What they will do is scour the world and hunt down the criminal syndicates and gangs who are targeting Australia in cyberattacks and disrupt their efforts,” whether they’re in Russia or other countries, O’Neil announced on Twitter.

Some states in the United States have already banned ransom payments, and Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Texas are considering bans in the coming days to discourage attackers.

But banning ransom payments could have “terrible consequences,” experts warn. State agencies could end up paying more taxpayer money to recover and update systems after an attack, says Alan Brill, senior managing director in the cyber risk practice at Kroll consulting group (see: As States Ban Ransom Payments, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?).

Other Initiatives

Early next year, Australia is set to host a virtual international counter-ransomware task force as part of a global Counter-Ransomware Initiative. The initiative, hosted by the Department of Home Affairs Cyber and Critical Technology Coordination Center, will drive international cooperation and joint efforts to tackle the ransomware menace.

The government also aims to pass tougher privacy laws that will include harsher penalties for serious data breaches. “This will provide a strong incentive for companies and large organizations to do better to protect the data of their customers and prevent future breaches,” the government says.

In a proposed amendment, noncorporate entities will face a maximum penalty of up to AU$2.5 million for breaches. For corporations, the penalty will be three times the value of any benefit obtained through the misuse of the information, 30% of a company’s adjusted turnover in the relevant period, or AU$50 million – whichever is greater.

The current maximum civil penalty for noncorporate entities is AU$444,000, and the maximum for corporate entities is AU$2.22 million.

Latest on Medibank

The announcements follow several high-profile breaches in the last two months. One breach against the country’s largest private health insurer, Medibank, affected 9.7 million current and past customers.

On Tuesday, a Medibank spokesperson told Information Security Media Group that additional employee data was affected in the breach. An Excel spreadsheet containing the names of nearly 900 current and former employees was posted on the dark web, the spokesperson confirmed.

The leak site exposed employee names, email addresses, mobile phone numbers and device information, including the asset number and mobile equipment identity number.

In the health insurer’s annual general meeting, Medibank’s top executives defended their decision to not pay the ransom. They estimate, however, that up to AU$35 million of pretax, nonrecurring costs will affect earnings in the first half of 2023.

Class Action Lawsuit on the Horizon?

Two law firms are investigating potential class action lawsuits on behalf of customers affected by the breach. Bannister Law Class Actions and Centennial Lawyers launched one such initiative last week, and attorney Maurice Blackburn launched another after that.




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FRONT PORCH: Hubris and the march of folly

It is at once fascinating and disturbing to observe how the lust for power, greed and other blinding ambitions, so often lead to folly and failure. Politicians, businesspeople and others over millennia, though repeatedly warned of their delusions, have pursued courses of action leading to disaster and defeat.

Folly is often more our companion than wisdom. It is defined as “the lack of good sense or judgment”; “a foolish act or idea: foolish behavior” and “the lack of… normal prudence and foresight”.

Folly is the grand subject of historian, author and journalist Barbara Tuchman in her sweeping book, “The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam.” Born in 1912, Tuchman died in 1989 at age 77. She was a two-time Pulitzer Prize Winner for General Non-fiction and a university lecturer.

She frames the criteria: “To qualify as folly, the policy adopted must meet three criteria: it must have been perceived as counter-productive in its own time, not merely by hindsight. … Secondly a feasible alternative cause of action must have been available.”

She continues: “To remove the problem from personality, a third criterion must be that the policy in question should be that of a group, not an individual ruler, and should persist beyond any one political lifetime.” A review of her book at www.stoneschool.com/ Reviews/MarchOfFolly. html casts the criteria as such:

“… Acts have to be clearly contrary to the self-interest of the organization or group pursuing them; conducted over a period of time, not just in a single burst of irrational behavior; conducted by a number of individuals, not just one deranged maniac; and, importantly, there have to be people alive at the time who pointed out correctly why the act in question was folly (no 20/20 hindsight allowed).”

Tuchman recalls a variety of examples of historic folly:

“Why, to begin at the beginning, did the Trojan rulers drag that suspicious-looking wooden horse inside their walls despite every reason to suspect a Greek trick?

“Why did successive ministries of George III insist on coercing rather than conciliating the American colonies though repeatedly advised by many counsellors that the harm done most be greater than any possible gain?”

Protestant Secessions, the British loss of its American colonies, the American debacle in Vietnam. Along the way she also provides lesser examples of folly.

Tuchman’s criteria have been tweaked by others to address quite a number of contexts, some as epic as George W. Bush’s Iraq War to other less grave follies in government and politics. Successive political parties and governments here at home have pursued folly, some more vigorously than others.

Often, temporary victories intoxicate, blinding a group to impending disaster and grave danger ahead. In the U.S., the Democratic Party kept nominating presidential candidates who were sure losers, until Bill Clinton recast and steered the party to victory.

Democrats were initially delighted with the nomination of Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis as the party’s 1988 presidential nominee. They were fairly certain that they could defeat the Republican nominee George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan’s successor.

Their groupthink and delusion proved politically fatal. Bush went on to run a more effective campaign and trounced Dukakis, who was not the strongest candidate for the Democrats. It was after the 1988 shellacking that the Democrats pulled their heads out of the sand and nominated a viable candidate.

Folly should not be confused with failure to achieve various objectives, such as certain setbacks and defeats by those struggling for equality, including women and gays and lesbians, though some tactics in these struggles might prove folly.

For Tuchman, self-interest is defined as what is in the long-term best interest of an organization or group, not the narrow or benighted interests of a few who seek to use an organization or government to pursue their overweening ambitions or to exact revenge or banish past ghosts.

Tuchman describes the mindset of those prone to folly:

“Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts.”

The book review at www.stoneschool.com notes the role of those who warned of folly and the likely disaster on the horizon:

“In the case of the Trojan Horse, the … role is played by Laocoon, a blind priest, who chastises Trojan leadership the moment the wooden equine is found. ‘You can’t bring that thing in here,’ he says, ‘it might be full of Greek soldiers’.

“Later, as it becomes evident the will to bring it in is strong, he suggests helpfully, ‘Well, if you’re going to bring it in, at least poke it with a spear and see if anybody yelps.’ “

He was of course ignored. The resulting defeat of the Trojans could have been prevented. Those who divined that they knew better and who convinced themselves that they were more clever than others, could not countenance their fatal error, despite numerous warnings, and until it was too late.

The book review notes: “The third section of the book is entitled The British Loss of North America and treats the American Revolution from a rarely-seen perspective: that of an avoidable and silly loss of valuable colonies occurring primarily due to stiff British necks (upper lips being of no service).

“The extent to which the war was unpopular in Britain is covered, as well as the many Laocoons decrying the idiocy of antagonizing the colonists, including some viewed in the American version of events as villains.”

One has to distinguish in history and life what is a real victory and what may be a Pyrrhic victory. This requires discernment and wisdom, which Tuchman defines in the spheres of politics and government as “the exercise of judgment acting on experience, common sense and available information.”

Those who ignore common sense and readily available information in the public domain in the pursuit of overweening self-interest, often look back and wonder how they could have been so wrong, after convincing themselves of their own delusions.

The apocryphal tale of Marie Antoinette’s instruction that the peasantry should eat cake, suggests the extent of delusion and absence from reality of some drunk and giddy with their own sense of power and the prowess of their intellect.

Intellectual acuity does not necessarily translate into good judgment, restraint and prudence. Indeed, intellect can be so fetishized, ignoring streams of wisdom from myriad sources, including the experience of others offering warnings and red flags to those blinded and deafened by euphoria.

The author Willa Cather advises, “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they have never happened before.”

One of these stories is hubris. In the Western classics from Icarus to Oedipus, Antigone, Macbeth, King Lear, Cleopatra and others, excessive pride or hubris, “a belief that [one] is somehow above the fates, or in control of destiny”, typically leads to failure as one is ensnared by one’s own unbridled arrogance.

Throughout history there were political leaders, generals and their advisers, convinced that they were marching to victory, but instead were about to march themselves and others over a cliff.

Even after folly is revealed, some erroneously still believe that they followed the right course of action. Such is the march of folly, which keeps repeating itself.


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Twitter-Musk News Timeline: Musk Backtracks on Remote Work, Senators Call for FTC Review

Twitter’s new owner and CEO, Elon Musk, is putting his stamp on the influential microblogging social network. Immediately after Musk bought Twitter on Oct. 27, the billionaire began making amjor changes that include firing top executives and laying off half the staff. 

Twitter’s saga with Musk, who also runs automaker Tesla and aerospace company SpaceX, was chaotic even before he took control. He signed a deal in April to acquire the company but then attempted to back out of it, leading Twitter to sue him. After months of pretrial skirmishes, Musk closed the acquisition right before a court-ordered deadline. 

Here’s the most recent news about Musk’s takeover of Twitter:

Nov. 17: Musk changes stance on remote work while senators want FTC investigation

An email sent to Twitter employees on Nov. 9 said remote work would be banned, but it appears things have changed. A message emailed to employees on Thursday had Musk saying remote work can be available, if approved according to a report from Bloomberg

“All that is required for approval is that your manager takes responsibility for ensuring that you are making an excellent contribution,” Musk said in the email. He also wanted employees to have in-person team meetings at least once a month. 

This flip-flop comes hours before the 5 p.m. ET deadline Musk laid out to employees to sign on to an “extremely hardcore” work culture. 

Thursday also saw a letter from a group of Democratic senators sent to Lina Khan, the chairwoman of the US Federal Trade Commission. Outlined in the letter are what the legislators described as “alarming steps” taken by Musk including new features that have been used for scams, an increase in hate speech and the removal of cybersecurity executives within the company, potentially putting users’ personal data at risk. The senators point out that this action could mean the company is in violation of the FTC’s consent decree to protect this data as part of a settlement with the commission in 2011

“We urge the Commission to vigorously oversee its consent decree with Twitter and to bring enforcement actions against any breaches or business practices that are unfair or deceptive, including bringing civil penalties and imposing liability on individual Twitter executives where appropriate,” the senators said. 

Among the seven Democratic senators are Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey. 

Twitter violated the consent decree back in May when the FTC found the company used security data like phone numbers and email addresses to target advertising at users. This led to a $150 million settlement paid by Twitter. 

Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Nov. 16: Musk demands ‘hardcore’ work culture. Dorsey’s ‘nope’

Musk emailed all staff to outline his vision for “Twitter 2.0,” which will require an “extremely hardcore” culture, with long hours and high intensity, according to Pragmatic Engineer writer (and former Uber engineer) Gergely Orosz. Employees must agree to this on Thursday or leave with three months of severance pay. 

During testimony Wednesday over a Tesla shareholder case alleging that his salary as CEO is excessive, Musk also reportedly told the court that he does not want to be CEO of Tesla, and that his chief executive leadership of Twitter is a temporary arrangement.

“I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else to run Twitter over time,” he said, according to CNBC.

Twitter didn’t respond to a request for comment.

When a follower asked Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey if he’d consider returning as CEO, Dorsey responded with a firm “nope.” There’s no indication that he got an offer to return — the follower’s query came after Dorsey engaged in conversation about Twitter’s future and expressed confidence that the site would survive. His previous tenure as CEO ended in May 2021, and he left its board of directors in May 2022. 

Nov. 15: Workers fired for speaking about Musk on Slack

Employees who criticized Elon Musk in Twitter’s Slack channels were fired overnight via email, Platformer’s Casey Newton said a tweet. They were apparently told their “recent behavior has violated company policy.” It’s unclear how many people were affected.

Twitter didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Nov. 14: Musk wants greater Twitter video support

Speaking via video link, Musk told business leaders during the G20 summit in Bali that he wants to see Twitter support more longer-form video to bring in more content creators. He also noted that he’s been working “at the absolute most amount … from morning til night, seven days a week” since the acquisition.

Nov. 13: SpaceX reportedly buys major Twitter ad package

SpaceX, Musk’s aerospace company, ordered a Twitter “takeover” advertising package for its satellite internet service Starlink, CNBC reported. This will seemingly promote the service on people’s Twitter timelines in Spain and Australia and can cost more than $250,000. It comes after some advertisers paused campaigns due to the upheaval at Twitter. 

SpaceX didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Nov. 12: Thousands of contract employees seemingly terminated

Twitter cut thousands of contract employees, according to Platformer’s Casey Newton, Axios and CNBC, with Newton reporting that around 4,400 of Twitter’s roughly 5,500 contractors were affected. Most didn’t get any notice and found out because they lost access to the company’s email and internal communications systems, Newton reported.

The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Nov. 11: Twitter Blue subscription option vanishes

The option to sign up for the $8 a month subscription service Twitter Blue is no longer available on Twitter’s iOS app, as earlier reported by The Verge. The shift comes days after the service launched for Apple devices and prior to its Android launch. Attempting to subscribe on desktop directs you to the iOS app.

CNET can confirm that this manifests in two distinct ways: the option to subscribe has vanished from the sidebar, and tapping the link gives you an error message. 

A Twitter Blue error against a blue and black background on an iOS version of the app

Trying to subscribe to Twitter Blue on the iOS app resulted in this message on Nov. 11.


Twitter/Screenshot by CNET

“Thank you for your interest!” it reads. “Twitter Blue will be available in your country in the future. Please check back later.”

It’s unclear why the company paused signups for the service, but a large number of users reportedly bought verification to impersonate brands and celebrities. An internal note posted on its Slack said it stopped people from subscribing “to help address impersonation issues,” according to tech outlet Platformer’s Zoë Schiffer.

Twitter didn’t immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment.

Nov. 10: Musk bans remote work and warns of bankruptcy, attorney says he’s risking billions in FTC fines

Musk sent his first emails to employees on Nov. 9, warning that “the economic picture ahead is dire.” He banned remote work unless he personally approved it, according to Bloomberg, while The New York Times reported that he told workers “the absolute top priority is finding and suspending any verified bots/trolls/spam.”

An attorney on Twitter’s privacy team posted a message in the company’s Slack warning that Musk’s focus on monetizing its users is making him take dangerous steps, The Verge reported. It’s apparently at particular risk of incurring billions in fines from the Federal Trade Commission in the wake of a May settlement regarding the use of personal info to target ads.

Twitter’s chief privacy officer, Damien Kieran; Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner; and Chief Compliance Officer Marianne Fogarty all resigned, The Verge noted. Kissner’s departure confirmed her departure in a tweet.

Musk also reportedly told employees bankruptcy was a possibility, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. Two more Twitter executives — Yoel Roth, the company’s head of trust and safety, and Robin Wheeler, who led marketing and sales at Twitter — also resigned, according to the report. Wheeler then decided to stay at the company after Musk persuaded her to do so, Bloomberg reported. Roth, Wheeler and Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

Nov. 9: Musk tries to reassure advertisers amid confusion about check marks

Twitter’s rollout of a new verification system is messy. Twitter started adding gray check marks and an “official” label to high-profile Twitter accounts but then scrapped some of the changes hours later.

In an hour-long live audio chat on Twitter later in the day, Musk said the new labels are an “aesthetic nightmare when looking at the Twitter feed” and “another way of creating a two-class system.” 

Esther Crawford, who oversees early-stage products at Twitter, tweeted that the company would still be rolling out the “official” label but to government and commercial entities first. Twitter also started allowing people to add blue check marks to their profiles if they pay $8 a month for a Twitter Blue subscription. Scammers are already using the new system to create fake accounts. Twitter said it would suspend accounts engaged in deceptive tactics and impersonation.

In the audio chat, Musk discussed Twitter’s plans for a content moderation council and decisions by companies to temporarily pause their advertising campaigns on Twitter.

“I don’t think having hate speech next to an ad is great. Obviously,” he said. Musk also said he thinks it will take Twitter a couple of months to create a content moderation council. 

He signaled, though, that he isn’t planning to slow down when it comes to changing Twitter. 

“The rate of evolution of Twitter will be an immense step change compared to what it has been in the past,” he said. “You know, if nothing else, I am a technologist and I can make technology go fast.”

Nov. 6: Paid check marks may be pushed back, Musk cracks down on impersonation

Paid verification reportedly delayed until after election

Twitter is postponing the rollout of verification badges connected to an $8 monthly subscription service until after the midterm elections, according to The New York Times.

Impersonators get the boot

Musk warned that any Twitter account engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying that it’s parody would get hit with a permanent ban. In reaction, some users changed their names to “Elon Musk,” which led to their suspension.

Nov. 5: Paying for check marks, hearing from Dorsey

Pay-for-verification plan shows up in iOS update

Version notes for the latest iteration of Twitter’s app for the Apple iPhone showed up in the App Store, with a What’s New section that pointed to the verification feature. The notes tell users that “starting today” if you “sign up now” for an $8-a-month Twitter Blue subscription, “your account will get a blue checkmark, just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow.” It appears, though, that the program hasn’t actually kicked in yet. Read more here.

Dorsey weighs in

With news reports saying Twitter had laid off about half its staff, co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey took to the service to offer words of encouragement and to place blame on himself.

“I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologize for that,” Dorsey tweeted. He also called Twitter staffers past and present “resilient” and said, “I am grateful for, and love, everyone who has ever worked on Twitter. I don’t expect that to be mutual in this moment.”

In April, Dorsey expressed his support of Musk taking over the company, but he also said that in principle, he thought no one should own or run Twitter and that it should instead be “a public good.”

Nov. 4: Musk says Twitter has had ‘massive drop’ in revenue

Since Musk’s takeover, several major advertisers, such as Tesla rival General Motors, food company General Mills and pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer, have temporarily paused their ad campaigns on Twitter. Musk tweeted that Twitter has had a “massive drop” in revenue, which he blamed on activist groups pressuring advertisers. Musk didn’t say in his tweet how much Twitter’s revenue has fallen, nor did he identify the activists. In the tweet, Musk also said Twitter hasn’t changed its content moderation policies. 

Musk also made an appearance at the Baron Investment Conference, where he noted that Twitter grappled with revenue challenges before the acquisition and that he tried to get out of the deal.

His remarks came after Twitter started laying off employees. Musk later tweeted that there was “no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day.” Without specifying how many people were laid off or what percentage of the workforce, Musk added they were “offered 3 months of severance.” Reportedly, about half of Twitter’s 7,500-person work force was laid off.

Civil rights groups that met with Musk spoke out about the layoffs.

“For starters, there’s no way to keep election integrity in place if you are cutting capacity to do the monitoring in #TwitterLayoffs,” tweeted Rashad Robinson, president of racial justice group Color of Change. The group is part of #StopToxicTwitter, a coalition of more than 60 organizations that are urging major advertisers to pause spending and invest in content moderation. Partners listed on the coalition’s website include the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Public Citizen, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Volkswagen Group and others reportedly paused ad spending because of concerns that ads could appear alongside problematic content on the platform.

Nov. 3: Musk looks for ways to cut costs, lawsuit filed

Musk wants to cut costs and make Twitter less dependent on advertising. 

Reuters, citing two sources familiar with the matter and an internal Slack message, reported that Musk directed Twitter’s team to find more than $1 billion in infrastructure cost savings.

The company is looking at other ways to make money outside of advertising, including “paywalled” videos and paid direct messages, The New York Times reported, citing two people with knowledge of the matter and internal documents.

Musk is already making changes to Twitter’s work culture. Bloomberg reported that Musk has removed “days of rest” from Twitter’s employee calendars and plans to cancel the company’s remote work policy. Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Twitter reportedly told employees in an email that layoffs would happen. A lawsuit seeking class action status, accused Twitter of violating the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which requires large companies to give least 60 days of advance notice before mass layoffs, as previously reported by Bloomberg.

Nov. 2: Musk reportedly plans to cut half of Twitter’s workforce

Musk plans to cut about 3,700 jobs at Twitter, or half of the social media company’s workforce, Bloomberg reported. Affected staffers are to be informed of their fate by Nov. 4, sources told the news outlet.

Musk also plans to reverse the company’s existing work-from-anywhere policy, requiring remaining employees to report to an office, the unidentified sources said.

In one scenario for reducing Twitter’s workforce being considered, laid off workers will be offered 60 days’ worth of severance pay. Twitter users have been bracing for layoffs since Musk announced his bid for Twitter in April. One report indicated that Musk planned to cut 75% of jobs at Twitter.

Nov. 1: Musk suggests charging for verification

In a series of tweets, Musk floated the idea that Twitter charge $8 per month for a verified blue check mark as part of its subscription plan. The company’s subscription service, known as Twitter Blue, currently costs $5 per month but doesn’t include verification as a perk.

Twitter currently doesn’t charge to verify accounts with a blue check mark, and the badge is supposed to be given out to accounts that the company determines are “notable, authentic and active.” The blue check mark is meant to help users determine if an account of a celebrity, journalist or other public figure is fake or not.

Musk tweeted that the price would be adjusted by country and that the subscription would include “priority in replies, mentions & search, which is essential to defeat spam/scam,” as well as the “ability to post long video & audio.” He also said users would see “half as many ads.” 

Earlier in the day, The Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter Blue subscribers will lose access to ad-free articles from publishers like Vox, the Los Angeles Times and Insider. There have been various reports of different prices for a Twitter Blue subscription, with the company also reportedly having considered increasing the subscription price to $20 a month.

It’s unclear from Musk’s tweets if verified users would have to pay for a subscription or lose their blue check mark. Musk tweeted there would be “a secondary tag” for public figures, like the one now used for politicians.

The company’s chief customer officer, Sarah Personette, also revealed in a tweet that she resigned.

Meanwhile, Twitter said it has removed 1,500 accounts since Oct. 29 for posting hateful content.

Oct. 31: Official CEO, board dissolved, layoff plans, no Trump decision yet, content moderation limited

Days after naming himself “Chief Twit” on his Twitter profile, Musk confirmed he’s the company’s CEO through a securities filing. Other changes to Twitter’s leadership are also underway. A related securities filing shows Twitter’s board of directors was dissolved the day Musk took over and identified Musk as the “sole director” of the company. 

He also reportedly plans to lay off 25% of Twitter’s workforce, The Washington Post reported, citing anonymous sources. 

Musk, who has previously said he would reverse former US President Donald Trump’s permanent ban from Twitter, is still getting questions about whether he’ll follow through on that. Twitter booted Trump from its platform in 2021 following the deadly US Capitol Hill riot because of concerns that his remarks could incite more violence. 

“If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if Trump is coming back on this platform, Twitter would be minting money!” Musk tweeted

Twitter also limited some Trust and Safety employee access to internal tools, Bloomberg reported, curbing their ability to moderate content and address misinformation ahead of next week’s US elections. They can apparently still edit or remove posts that could result in real-world harm.

“This is exactly what we (or any company) should be doing in the midst of a corporate transition to reduce opportunities for insider risk. We’re still enforcing our rules at scale,” Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, tweeted in response to Bloomberg’s story.

Oct. 30: Musk toys with checkmark changes and Vine revival, tweets misinformation

Musk has been busy suggesting changes to Twitter. He tweeted a poll about whether Twitter should bring back Vine, a short-form video app that Twitter shut down in 2017. 

Twitter also reportedly plans to charge $20 per month for its Twitter Blue subscription service, and verified users would lose their blue checkmark if they don’t do so in 90 days, The Verge reported, citing anonymous sources. Platformer’s Casey Newton reported that Twitter is thinking about charging $5 a month to verified users if they want to keep their blue checkmarks.

Musk also tweeted and then deleted a link to an article with a baseless conspiracy theory about last week’s attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in San Francisco. The article came from a website called the Santa Monica Observer. Fact-checking website Media Bias/Fact Check noted the outlet publishes right-wing misinformation. 

Oct. 29: Twitter battles a surge in racist slurs

Twitter is trying to combat anonymous accounts that started to tweet racist slurs hours after Musk took over Twitter. 

Twitter head of safety and integrity Yoel Roth tweeted that the company has “seen a small number of accounts post a ton of tweets that include slurs and other derogatory terms.” He added that “more than 50,000 tweets repeatedly using a particular slur came from just 300 accounts.”

“Bottom line up front: Twitter’s policies haven’t changed. Hateful conduct has no place here. And we’re taking steps to put a stop to an organized effort to make people think we have,” he tweeted.

Oct. 28: Twitter to form content moderation council

Advocacy groups have raised concerns that Musk’s control over Twitter would allow more hate speech and misinformation to surface on the platform. Musk has vowed publicly he doesn’t want Twitter to become a “free-for-all hellscape” but has also said that he’s “against censorship that goes far beyond the law.”

Musk said the company would form a content moderation council with “widely diverse viewpoints.” The company won’t make any major content decisions or account reinstatements before the council convenes, he tweeted.

A securities filing on Oct. 28 also noted that Twitter’s stock is being delisted on the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter, a publicly traded company, became a private one. 

Oct. 27: Musk takes over Twitter, fires executives

Musk became Twitter’s new owner and reportedly fired key executives at the company, including Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal policy, trust and safety.

Earlier in the day, Musk tweeted a letter to advertisers. The billionaire, who once tweeted that he hated advertising, now posted that “advertising, when done right, can delight, entertain and inform you.” 

Musk met with employees throughout the week, carried a sink into Twitter’s headquarters as a photo op and changed his profile to “Chief Twit” before news broke that the deal had been completed.

CNET staff contributed to this report.




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Tencent Says Joint Venture With China Unicom Important to Set Up

On November 16, at its third quarter performance meeting, a senior executive of Chinese Internet giant Tencent responded to questions related to the establishment of a joint venture with China Unicom, a Chinese state-owned telecommunications operator.

One executive said, “We have indeed established a joint venture with China Unicom. Such cooperation is very important. Both sides can explore content distribution networks (CDN) and edge computing capabilities, and can do more development and serve more customers.”

“At present, the business plans are still being worked out by the two companies. The short-term benefits will be limited, but the establishment of the joint venture is a milestone, making the resources and technologies of both companies better applied. At the same time, no matter which company we cooperate with, we are more concerned about what advantages the joint venture company can bring,” added the executive.

SEE ALSO: Tencent Distributes Meituan Shareholding Worth of $20B

According to an official document released on October 27 by the Anti-Monopoly Bureau under China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), Tencent and China Unicom have received unconditional approval to establish a joint venture following the completion of a review on October 18.

The newly established joint venture will be mainly engaged in the CDN field and edge computing. It will be jointly controlled by subsidiaries of each firm, namely Shenzhen Tencent Industry Venture Capital and Unicom Innovation Venture Capital. After the transaction is completed, China Unicom, Tencent and an employee stock ownership platform will each hold 48%, 42% and 10% of shares, respectively.

CDN is a widely used as a content transmission system, which is used to transmit files including multimedia information to device users faster and more reliably by means of its featureset, including caching algorithms, load balancing and application acceleration. On the other hand, edge computing is different from the traditional centralized data center system and undertakes the required computing work in the decentralized edge data center closer to the device user, thus shortening the physical distance between the data center and the user thus giving faster transmission speeds.

Liao Xuhua, a senior analyst at Chinese research firm Analysys, said in a media interview that most of the bandwidth costs often mentioned by video websites, livestreaming platforms and short video platforms are actually CDN costs. Although CDN is a relatively mature technology with less optimization space and a relatively low profit margin, it is one of the products with the highest income for cloud computing vendors at present. With China Unicom’s network facilities and Tencent‘s algorithm ability, CDN may be further optimized, thus reducing user bandwidth costs.

The latest financial report shows that its total revenues on a non-IFRS basis were 140.1 billion yuan ($19.7 billion), a decrease of 2% over the third quarter of 2021. The profit attributable to equity holders of the company for the quarter was 32.3 billion yuan, an increase of 2% year-on-year.




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Google Maps for iOS Gaining Augmented Reality Live View Search in Select Cities

Google is bringing a new augmented reality Live View feature to its Maps app, allowing smartphone users to visually search for restaurants, coffee shops, and other businesses that are located nearby.

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Using Live View, you can open up Maps and tap the camera icon in the search bar to see what’s around you, from shops and banks to ATMs and bars. Google Maps will provide AR-powered directions and arrows, giving you an idea of how far a location is from you and how you can get there. In addition, you can also see key information about each place overlaid right on the screen, such as whether it’s open, what the price range is, and how it’s rated.

Google says that users can tap on place categories to see what restaurants, bars, dessert shops, parks, and transit stations are within walking distance.

Google previewed search with Live View back in September, but now the feature is ready to launch. It will be rolling out in London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco, and Tokyo starting next week.

Google is also rolling out new features that will make it easier for electric vehicle owners to find the best charging station for their vehicles with a “fast charge” filter, plus Google is expanding information about wheelchair accessible, stair-free places around the world.

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