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    Musk says Twitter value is down to $20 billion, calls firm an “inverse startup” / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 19:15

Elon Musk's Twitter profile displayed on a phone screen in front of a Twitter logo and a fake stock graph with an arrow pointing down.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

Elon Musk told Twitter employees that the company is now worth about $20 billion, less than half the amount he paid for it. The New York Times reported that Musk provided the $20 billion figure in an email sent to staff on Friday to announce a new stock compensation program.

"According to Mr. Musk's email about the new stock compensation program, Twitter employees will receive stock in X Corporation, the holding company he used to buy the company. Those awards will be granted under the $20 billion valuation. Mr. Musk also said in the email that he believed Twitter could someday be worth $250 billion," the NYT article said.

Musk "warned workers that Twitter remained in a precarious financial position and, at one point, had been four months away from running out of money," the article said. Musk's email reportedly said bankruptcy was averted because of the "radical changes" he implemented—like staff cuts that reduced the company headcount from about 7,500 to under 2,000 .

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    The fight to expose corporations’ real impact on the climate / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 11:21

Discarded electronics

Enlarge (credit: Walter Zerla via Getty Images)

Say you are a maker of computer graphics cards, under pressure from investors questioning your green credentials. You know what to do. You email your various departments, asking them to tally up their carbon emissions and the energy they consume. Simple enough. You write a report pledging a more sustainable future, in which your trucks are electrified and solar panels adorn your offices.

Good start, your investors say. But what about the mines that produced the tantalum or palladium in your transistors? Or the silicon wafers that arrived via a lengthy supply chain? And what of when your product is shipped to customers, who install it in a laptop or run it 24/7 inside a data center to train an AI model like GPT-4 (or 5) ? Eventually it will be discarded as trash or recycled. Chase down every ton of carbon and the emissions a company creates are many times times higher than it first seemed.

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    Microsoft wins battle with Sony as UK reverses finding on Activision merger / ArsTechnica · 6 days ago - 19:37

Promotional image of a PlayStation 5 game console and controller.

Enlarge / Sony's PlayStation 5. (credit: Sony)

UK regulators reviewing Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard reversed their stance on a key question today, saying they no longer believe Microsoft would remove the Call of Duty franchise from Sony's PlayStation consoles.

Last month, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) tentatively concluded that a combined Microsoft/Activision Blizzard would harm competition in console gaming. At the time, the CMA said evidence showed that "Microsoft would find it commercially beneficial to make Activision's games exclusive to its own consoles (or only available on PlayStation under materially worse conditions)." The agency also raised concerns about the merger affecting rivals in cloud gaming.

The preliminary finding was a victory for Sony, which has consistently expressed doubts about Microsoft's promise to keep putting Call of Duty games on PlayStation. But Microsoft argued that the CMA's financial model was flawed and was able to convince the agency to reverse its conclusion. In an announcement today , the CMA said it "received a significant amount of new evidence."

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    Twitter to un-verify people who don’t pay $8/month starting on April Fools’ Day / ArsTechnica · 6 days ago - 17:02

Close-up view of the official Twitter Blue account with its verified checkmark.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

Four and a half months after the chaotic rollout of paid checkmarks , Elon Musk's Twitter is following through on a plan to remove verification from individual accounts that don't pay $8 per month for a Twitter Blue subscription.

"Starting April 1, we'll be winding down our legacy Verification program and accounts that were verified under the previous criteria (active, notable, and authentic) will not retain a blue checkmark unless they are subscribed to Twitter Blue," a Twitter FAQ says. Twitter also stopped accepting applications for verification checkmarks under the old criteria.

"To keep your blue checkmark on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue here ," Twitter said yesterday. "Organizations can sign up for Verified Organizations here ."

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    Cops raided Afroman’s home, then sued him for using footage in music videos / ArsTechnica · 6 days ago - 16:03 · 1 minute

Singer-songwriter Joseph Foreman, better known as "Afroman," clowns around poolside at an Orange County hotel.

Enlarge / Singer-songwriter Joseph Foreman, better known as "Afroman," clowns around poolside at an Orange County hotel. (credit: Don Bartletti / Contributor | Los Angeles Times )

Seven Ohio cops who raided a rapper known as Afroman’s house last summer are now suing the rapper after Afroman made music videos using footage from the raid. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office police officers allege that the rapper is profiting off unauthorized use of their likenesses, not only in the music videos but also on merchandise created after Afroman’s social media posts and music videos went viral on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

Cops suing say they’ve been subjected to death threats, ridicule, reputation loss, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress, and other alleged harms and will continue to suffer unless the court forces Afroman to destroy all the merchandise and posts bearing their likenesses.

Ars couldn’t immediately reach Afroman, whose real name is Joseph Foreman, for comment, but Vice talked to him in January. Afroman told Vice that after the raid, he suffered, too, losing gigs and feeling powerless. He decided to create music videos for songs called “Lemon Pound Cake,” “Why You Disconnecting My Video Camera,” and “Will You Help Me Repair My Door” to reclaim his good name.

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    TikTok CEO fails to convince Congress that the app is not a “weapon” for China / ArsTechnica · 7 days ago - 22:21

TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Enlarge / TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. (credit: Kent Nishimura / Contributor | Los Angeles Times )

For nearly five hours, Congress members of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew over concerns about the platform's risks to minor safety, data privacy, and national security for American users.

“The American people need the truth about the threat TikTok poses to our national and personal security,” committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wa.) said in her opening statement, concluding that “TikTok is a weapon.”

Rodgers suggested that even for Americans who have never used the app, “TikTok surveils us all, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is able to use this as a tool to manipulate America as a whole.”

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    Meta slams telco fee proposal, says ISPs should pay their own network costs / ArsTechnica · 7 days ago - 20:53

Illustration of fiber cables with colored lights on the ends.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | MirageC)

Proposals to pay for broadband networks by imposing new fees on Big Tech companies "are built on a false premise," Meta executives wrote in a blog post today.

"Network fee proposals do not recognize that our investments in content drive the business model of telecom operators," Meta executives Kevin Salvadori and Bruno Cendon Martin wrote. Meta's comments came a few weeks after Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters spoke out against the proposal being reviewed by European regulators .

Meta executives said telecom operators and content application providers (CAPs) "are symbiotic businesses, occupying different but complementary roles in the digital ecosystem. Every year, Meta invests tens of billions of euros in our apps and platforms—such as Facebook, Instagram, and Quest—to facilitate the hosting of content. Billions of people go online every day to access this content, creating the demand that allows telecom operators to charge people for Internet access. Our investment in content literally drives the revenue and business model of telecom operators."

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    Tech makers must provide repairs for up to 10 years under proposed EU law / ArsTechnica · 7 days ago - 18:37

DIY repair mobile phone at home. Woman repairing mobile phone at home, changing damaged part.

Enlarge / Smartphone repairs could be required for up to five years, while other products, like washing machines, may require up to a decade of vendor repairs. (credit: Getty )

Makers of numerous product categories, including TVs, vacuums, smartphones, and tablets, could be required to enable repairs for their products for up to 10 years after purchase, depending on the device type. The European Commission on Wednesday announced a proposal it has adopted that would implement long-term repair requirements on electronics makers, if the European Parliament and Council approve it.

The regulation would apply to any devices with repairability requirements in the EU, including vacuum cleaners, washer-dryers, welding equipment, servers, and data-storage devices. The EU is currently hammering out right to repair requirements for smartphones and tablets.

Already, the EU requires vendors to repair or replace products within two years of purchase for free if the product is defective. The new regulation would require companies to provide a free repair (instead of replacing the product) if doing so would be the same price or cheaper than replacing it.

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