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The Download: Twitter’s Decline and Merger Explained

The Download: Twitter’s Decline and Merger Explained

The Download: Twitter's Decline and Merger Explained

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This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.

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We are witnessing the brain death of Twitter

Twitter’s state since Elon Musk’s takeover looks like brain death: the processes that keep it online continue to beat, but what Twitter was before Musk will never return.

In recent weeks, Twitter has disbanded its Trust and Safety Council and welcomed back high profile extremists, far-right figures, Holocaust deniers and other previously banned figures. Those who don’t buy into Musk’s vision for the platform are leaving, and Musk’s enthusiasm for cutting jobs, cutting costs and destroying Twitter’s security infrastructure has also pushed advertisers leaving in droves.

MIT Technology Review performed analysis in Hoaxy, a tool created by Indiana University to show how information travels on Twitter by looking at both keyword frequency and interactions between individual accounts. The results hint at Musk’s new role in this network: as a room monitor for the far right, placing himself at the center of problematic conversations previously pushed to the fringes. Read the full story.

—Abby Ohlheiser

What you really need to know about this new merger

There has been a breakthrough in fusion. No, for real this time. While researchers have been talking about using it to build limitless clean energy for decades, their statements have never been very significant, until now.

A national lab has achieved a major research milestone, it was confirmed earlier this week, finally executing a reaction that released more energy than was contained in the powerful lasers used to start it. Here’s why the announcement is important, what it means and what you should take away from it. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

Casey’s story is from The Spark, his weekly climate and energy newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

Podcast: Optimize for Convenience

We are in the midst of another major retail disruption, which has been accelerated by the pandemic, and which seeks to take advantage of the convenience of e-commerce and apply it to physical environments. In this episode, we examine how AI is at the center of this transition. Listen to it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you usually listen.

The unavoidable

I’ve scoured the internet to find you today’s funniest/important/scariest/fascinating stories about technology.

1 FTX Lawyers Say They “Don’t Trust” The Bahamian Government
They claim that authorities could try to siphon digital assets from the collapsed crypto exchange. (Reuters)
+ Bahamian regulators were tipped off by an FTX associate. (FT$)
+ Sam Bankman-Fried has always said he’s pro-regulation. He can get his wish. (Atlantic $)

2 Twitter has suspended accounts dedicated to tracking private jets
Including one that follows Elon Musk’s own plane. ($Bloomberg)
+ Twitter has changed its policy to prohibit users from sharing a person’s “live” location. (The Interception)
+ Musk sells billions of Tesla shares again. (The edge)

3 Russia is rapidly running out of ammunition in Ukraine
Its army will soon be reduced to using Cold War supplies, according to the Pentagon. (Motherboard)
+ Iranian-made drones were shot down over kyiv. (The Guardian)
+ The war will only get worse for Russia. (FT$)
+ GPS signals are also disrupted in cities across the country. (Wired $)

4 A group of influencers have been accused of securities fraud
US authorities claim to have manipulated stock prices via Twitter and Discord. (NBC News)
+ The seven men earned approximately $100 million through the pump and dump scheme. (Motherboard)

5 The golden age of mobile gaming is over
Revenues are expected to fall for the first time. (FT$)
+ It’s been a tough year for tech, overall. (Economist $)

6 Lab-grown seafood is on the horizon
But unlike most cultured meat, lab-grown seafood will replicate expensive cuts. (voice)
+ Microplastics filter into plankton. (Slate $)
+ Will lab-grown meat make it to our plates? (MIT Technology Review)

7 Quantum computing is locked in a two-horse race
China and the United States seem to think the other is in the lead, in fact. (New Yorkers $)
+ Quantum computing has a hype problem. (MIT Technology Review)

8 We’re getting closer to discovering more dark matter
However, we still don’t know what it’s made of. (Wired $)

9 How Pokemon Upped Its Fashion Game
Designer threads are essential for budding sneakers. (NPR)

10 Shop around the world’s tech markets 📱
From smartphone repairs to karaoke mics, there’s something for everyone. (Rest of the world)

quote of the day

“He’s become this pied piper for otherwise serious people…it’s like Silicon Valley after Trump’s election and families are kinda torn apart.”

—Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former chief information security officer, describes how Elon Musk split friendships among California tech workers during an appearance on the Dead Cat podcast, Insider reports.

The big story

Metaverse is a new word for an old idea

February 2022

In less than a year, the metaverse has gone from a niche term to a household name. Its metamorphosis began in July 2021, when Facebook announced that it would dedicate the next decade to bringing the Metaverse to life: an immersive and rich digital world combining aspects of social media, online gaming, and augmented and virtual reality.

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t step back and ask, not what the Metaverse is or who will do it, but where it came from. Knowing the history of a technology, or the ideas it embodies, can reveal potential pitfalls and lessons already learned, and open a window into the lives of those who learned them. The Metaverse, which is not as new as it seems, is no exception. Read the full story.

—Genevieve Bell

We can still have beautiful things

A place of comfort, pleasure and distraction in these strange times. (Have ideas? Send me a message ortweet them to me.)

+ The Dutch approach to ‘total football’ seems like a great way to nurture an inquisitive mind.
+ Radiooooo is an amazing website that dives into music from any country, any decade.
+ Beer is big business these days. Here’s all the slang you need to know to make sure you know what you’re talking about next time you’re at a bar.
+ Creating a structurally sound gingerbread house is surprisingly difficult. Here are some tips to help you get started.
+ Why some video games get better with age.

Tech

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