The Download: befriending crows, and Twitter under Musk

Estimated read time 3 min read


By Jillian C. York, Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I made it big on Twitter. Now I don’t think I can stay.

For a long time, it was worth it for writer Mikki Kendall to stay on Twitter because Twitter had the power to change your life. She broke big on Twitter more than 10 years ago with a hashtag, #solidarityisforwhitewomen. It was great for her career, giving her access to a global audience and unprecedented access to the editors who made her a published author.

But even before Elon Musk bought the platform, she’s found herself tweeting less and less. Whereas she used to socialize regularly on the platform, TikTok, Instagram and private groups are becoming increasingly more attractive ways to spend time online. And while harassment and a lack of time are partly to blame, for those who used Twitter to build a career, to sustain their careers, or simply to connect, the real question is: Where do we go from here? Read the full story.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Big Tech is becoming boring
As stocks drop, so does Wall Street’s appetite for zanier, riskier ventures. (Vox)
+ The tech boom the pandemic triggered is well and truly over. (Bloomberg $)
+ The tech stock decline is bad news for US pensions. (The Guardian)
+ Advertisers are spending less money on social media, too. (FT $)
+ Tech’s richest have lost close to half a trillion dollars this year. (WSJ $)

2 Several new covid variants vying for dominance
Their ability to skirt our existing immunity is a real problem. (The Atlantic $)
+ Variants tend to spread across Europe before the US. (Slate $)
+ Vaccines that prolong the immune response could give better protection. (New Scientist $)
+ Is a covid and flu “twindemic” on the horizon? (MIT Technology Review)

3 Twitter is planning to start charging for verification
Elon Musk reckons people will cough up $20 a month for the privilege. (The Verge)
+ Musk is reportedly planning to lay off 25% of Twitter’s staff. (WP $)

4 Stop the Steal’s organizer is whipping up dissent in Brazil
Ali Alexander is mobilizing Brazilians after Lula beat Bolsonaro to the presidency. (Insider $)
+ Social media chatter in El Salvador is leading to mass arrests. (Rest of World)
+ How claims of voter fraud in 2020 were supercharged by bad science. (MIT Technology Review)

6 How cryptography can help sexual assault survivors to get justice
Systems that share data securely are being used to build cases against repeat offenders. (The Guardian)

7 We’re still in the dark over how TikTok affects our mental health
But it seems important to find out. (The Guardian)
+ For many teens, the app is a gateway to self-diagnosis. (NYT $)
+ Dementia content gets billions of views on TikTok. Whose story does it tell? (MIT Technology Review)

8 Eric Schmidt is worried by China’s rapid AI advances
He wants the US government to spend a lot more money on AI research in response. (Protocol)
+ Do AI systems need to come with safety warnings? (MIT Technology Review)


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