Techmeme
December 17, 2019, 11:30 PM

Top News

Daniel Cooper / Engadget:
Googler says she was fired for sending pop-ups on labor rights via modified internal browser plugin; Google: she “abused privileged access” in altering the tool  —  Google stands accused of firing a fifth employee who was suspected of attempting to organize a labor union at the search giant.
Wall Street Journal:
Sources describe Peter Thiel's expanding influence at Facebook, where he advises Zuckerberg on White House dynamics and holding firm on the political ads policy  —  Billionaire investor thinks political-ad policy shouldn't change; some directors and executives disagree
Sara Fischer / Axios:
Facebook pilots a program in the US to use part-time contracted “community reviewers” to expedite the fact-checking process and aid its fact-checking partners  —  Facebook is creating a new pilot program in the U.S. that will leverage part-time contracted “community reviewers” to expedite its fact-checking process.
Josh Constine / TechCrunch:
Alex Kantrowitz / BuzzFeed News:
Ex-Facebook staffers on how Facebook's focus on growth metrics in performance reviews prodded staff to game the system and ignore other impacts of their work  —  Facebook often uses its vast size as an excuse for its failures.  Meanwhile, it's ordering employees to make it bigger.
iFixit News:
Mac Pro needs little to no tooling for basic fixes and upgrades, scores a 9/10 on repairability; components are modular but some are proprietary, like SSD cards  —  Teardown of the reinvented 2019 Mac Pro, which returns to a properly repairable design that happens to not grate cheese very well.
Joseph Cox / VICE:
Ring device testing shows it lacks safeguards that would deter credential stuffing and brute force attacks, making 2FA a key part of securing accounts  —  It's not so much being watched.  It's that I don't really know if I'm being watched or not.  —  From across the other side of the world …
Catalin Cimpanu / ZDNet:
After a cyber attack, Canadian medical lab LifeLabs paid a ransom to recover the stolen data of 15M+ customers, which included login info and test results  —  Data breach took place in early November, and hackers also gained access to 85,000 laboratory test results.
CNN:
The Epilepsy Foundation files criminal complaint against 30+ unidentified Twitter users for coordinated attack of seizure-inducing videos to its feed last month  —  (CNN)Attackers sent videos of flashing and strobing lights to people on Twitter last month as part of a cyberattack which deliberately targeted people with epilepsy.
The Information:
Sources: early last year, Alphabet and Google's leadership set a timeline for its cloud group to best its rivals by 2023, and considered leaving the market  —  Google's cloud unit, which sells computing services to big companies, is under pressure from top management to pass Microsoft or Amazon …
Andrew Higgins / New York Times:
After a massive outcry over the police raid on Nginx Moscow offices, Rambler's board orders company execs to ask law enforcement to terminate the criminal case  —  A case linked to a $670 million acquisition shows that there may be a limit to the authorities' abuse of law enforcement to advance corrupt business interests.
Josh Constine / TechCrunch:
Alchemy, which is building middleware that connects Dapps to underlying blockchains like Ethereum, raises $15M from Pantera, Stanford, Coinbase, and others  —  Meet the $15M-funded Microsoft of cryptocurrency  —  The top cryptocurrency companies have quietly begun to outsource their infrastructure problems to a tiny stealth startup.
Bret Kinsella / Voicebot.ai:
Report: Amazon had revenue of $1.4M from Alexa's in-skill purchases in the first ten months of 2019, which was well short of its target of $5.5M  —  The Information published (N.B. paywall) an article this morning saying that Amazon earned $1.4 million Alexa skill revenue through the first 10 months …
Danny Palmer / ZDNet:
WhatsApp fixes bug that allowed a rogue group member to render the app unusable, forcing a reinstall and loss of group chat content  —  Researchers detail security flaw that allowed hackers to crash WhatsApp and permanently delete contents of group chats - and urge users to update the app to protect against attacks.
Sara Fischer / Axios:
Facebook is funding a free 45-minute online Reuters course for journalists on spotting and handling manipulated media, now in English, French, Spanish, Arabic  —  Facebook is spending six figures to fund a course on manipulated media and deepfakes for newsrooms, executives tell Axios.
Bloomberg Law:
NLRB rules that employers can ban workers from using company email for union and other organizing purposes, overturning the Board's ruling from 2014  —  Businesses can ban workers from using company email for union and other organizing purposes, the National Labor Relations Board decided in a Dec. 17 decision.

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Adithya Venkatraman / App Annie:
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