Facebook fired back at the Wall Street Journal following the newspaper’s multi-part series that outlined employee concerns about a litany of issues at the social media giant, from the trafficking of humans through the site to turning a blind-eye to the mental health of teenagers.
“The Facebook Files,” published last week, found Facebook employees know the social media giant is “riddled with flaws.”
On Saturday, Facebook responded by slamming the series as full of “deliberate mischaracterizations” in a statement penned by Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president of global affairs.
“At the heart of this series is an allegation that is just plain false: that Facebook conducts research and then systematically and willfully ignores it if the findings are inconvenient for the company,” Clegg wrote.
The Journal reviewed internal company research reports, online employee discussions, and drafts of presentations made to management to reveal the platform ignored its impact on young women, maintained a system that protects elite users from being reprimanded for breaking content rules, and more. The investigation found a number of damning instances where researchers identified and escalated information about the negative effects of the platform where the company did not immediately react.
The report also revealed that Facebook spent 2.8 million hours, or approximately 319 years, looking for false or misleading information on its platforms in the US in 2020. Some content that was missed related to the promotion of gang violence, human trafficking, and drug cartels, the Journal said.
In one instance, Apple threatened to kick Facebook off its App Store following an October 2019 BBC report that detailed human traffickers were using the platform to sell victims. The new Journal investigation found that Facebook knew about the trafficking concerns prior to receiving pressure from Apple, with one researcher writing an internal memo stating that a team looked into “how domestic servitude manifests on our platform across its entire life cycle: recruitment, facilitation, and exploitation” throughout 2018 and the first half of 2019.
“With any research, there will be ideas for improvement that are effective to pursue and ideas where the tradeoffs against other important considerations are worse than the proposed fix,” Clegg wrote. “What would be really worrisome is if Facebook didn’t do this sort of research in the first place.”
Welcome back to Insider Weekly. I’m Matt Turner, co-editor in chief of business.
Regular readers might notice a few subtle changes to this newsletter. The goal: To take you inside some of the top stories of the past week, and connect you with the reporters behind them.
This week, you’ll hear from correspondent Ben Bergman. His story breaks down why Mailchimp staffers are furious over its $12 billion sale to Intuit. Since his story published, Ben’s been hearing from employees at other companies who say they’re in the same position as those Mailchimp employees, along with people at different companies who say they’re the “anti-Mailchimp.”
Financial software giant Intuit recently announced a $12 billion deal to buy Mailchimp, infuriating current and former employees of the email marketing platform.
Mailchimp withheld equity from employees – but the founders had promised they’d never sell. However, as correspondent Ben Bergman reports, the two founders are now walking away with $5 billion each and employees feel jilted.
“I heard from so many employees who were very upset by this and feel that it’s very hypocritical – especially for a company that had an egalitarian, little-guy image – to sell out like this,” Ben said.
“One plus of working at a VC-backed startup is that employees at these startups tend to get equity,” Ben said. “When these companies are acquired or go public, it’s not uncommon for employees – dozens or even hundreds of them – to become overnight millionaires when companies exit. These employees didn’t really see any of the upside.”
Tanza Loudenback was Insider’s personal finance correspondent – until she quit without another job lined up. But luckily for anyone else hoping to do the same, Tanza documented all the steps she took to prepare for this moment. Some of her top advice for making the leap:
Don’t wing it. Tanza outlined why you need three plans in place before quitting.
Figure out how long you can last without a paycheck. (She has a handy chart for you.)
Know that the “Great Resignation” doesn’t mean a dream job is waiting for you.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain has been widely hailed as the most qualified presidential chief of staff in modern history. But he didn’t get to pick this moment – and has found himself mired in a summer of controversy.
Correspondent Adam Wren takes us inside the chaos Klain’s been stuck managing, including floods, droughts, a worsening pandemic, an anemic August jobs report, and Afghanistan. As one expert told Adam: “The chief-of-staff job spares no one. It’s thankless. Dick Cheney blames the job for his first heart attack.”
Uber Chief Technology Officer Sukumar Rathnam is stepping down as the company’s head of engineering – and according to sources, his departure comes amid increasing friction with the company’s chief product officer.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi shared a memo with staff explaining the changes. You can read that memo here. Per our reporting, tensions would occasionally trickle down in a disruptive way to the engineering and product teams.
Amazon’s plans to roll out brick-and-mortar grocery stores where customers can use their phones to order groceries like produce and meats was known as Project Como, the Wall Street Journal reported. The stores are intended to appeal to people who like to pick up groceries on their way home from work and to rival discount retailers like Walmart, which has expanded its grocery pick-up sites.
Though over 800 people are working on a home robot project known as “Vesta,” company employees worry that the project will crash and burn like the company’s failed Fire Phone, Insider’s Eugene Kim reported. The home robot is expected to be an Alexa-powered home-roaming device equipped with multiple cameras and a screen.
Work to create the Amazon Echo was code-named Project D and was created by Lab126, the company’s hardware division. In the process, the device’s name was changed from Amazon Flash to Amazon Echo, and the word chosen to activate the device was changed from “Amazon” to “Alexa,” out of fear that utilizing a commonly used word like Amazon would lead to the device turning on while Amazon ads played on television.
The Bureau’s analysis, which was shared with The Observer, focused on 60 sites and spanned three months. Ads for many household names – both in the US and UK – featured on such sites, it found.
The companies whose ads were displayed appear to have unwittingly helped fund sites that spread false COVID-19 information, The Observer added.
Ads for Amazon services were discovered on more than 30 sites that distributed fake news, including ones making baseless claims about Bill Gates, according to The Observer. The Microsoft cofounder has regularly been the subject of vaccine conspiracy theories.
Amazon and Nike did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
According to the report, Honda, Walgreens, and eBay were also among those whose ads were found on misinformation-spreading sites.
A spokesperson for American Honda told The Observer: “We are currently working to determine how our advertising may have appeared on the websites in question. We would never support Covid misinformation or knowingly allow our advertising on such websites.”
The analysis found that the ads were being placed through the “opaque by design” digital advertising market, which is estimated to be worth more than $455 billion this year.
Even before these revelations surfaced, Amazon was facing scrutiny in relation to COVID-19 misinformation.
Books about hoax COVID-19 cures and anti-vaccination claims are frequently featured as top sellers on the digital retailer’s site. As a result, US lawmakers are investigating the issue, Insider Bethany Dawson reported.
A “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit model alleged that Twitter’s algorithm contributed to copyright infringement by cropping photos of her that were posted by other users. This created unauthorized derivative works, she said.
Earlier this month, Genevieve Morton sued Twitter in federal court, alleging in part that the company had been slow to remove her copyrighted material, which was posted by unauthorized accounts.
Morton sought at least $10 million in damages. It’s “frustrating” trying to control your own image, Morton told Insider.
Morton said: “Technology companies and social media platforms should be on the side of the artists and content creators because that’s what makes these sites interesting and valuable.
She added: “When I learned Twitter had developed artificially intelligent cropping tools using male engineers who impose their own biases, enough was enough.”
The lawsuit, filed on September 3, listed both Twitter and TweetDeck as defendants. It also listed Magic Pony Technology, a photo-algorithm company acquired by Twitter in 2016, as a defendant.
Morton’s lawyer, Jennifer Holliday, declined to discuss the lawsuit in detail, saying only that it appeared to be the first time Twitter had been sued over the algorithm. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.
In her complaint, Morton, whose Twitter account @genevievemorton had more than 80,000 followers, said another un-associated account, @city_tits, had posted two of her copyrighted photos without permission.
The lawsuit listed the owners of that handle as defendants, though they weren’t identified by name. The account has since been suspended for violating Twitter’s rules.
Morton filed take-down requests for both photos. One removal took about three months, the other about five weeks, the lawsuit said.
While the @city_tits posts were live, they got a total of 67 likes, the complaint said. Morton sought at least $150,000 in damages for each of those likes, totalling more than $10 million, the filing said.
But Morton’s lawsuit said the actual damages could be higher. Because Twitter doesn’t display how many times a post was viewed, it was unclear how many Twitter users saw the photos in question while they were live, the lawsuit said.
If there were more than 67 instances of infringement, the total damages request would probably be higher.
Morton sued Twitter last year for a similar instance, alleging that @SpyIRL had posted some of her copyrighted material.
Twitter filed a motion to dismiss most of the claims, which the court granted under Section 230, said Eric Goldman, associate dean at Santa Clara University School of Law, in a blog post. That case is ongoing.
In Morton’s new lawsuit, she added a charge against Twitter over its algorithm.
Her complaint accused the company of using the “saliency algorithm to crop and alter the infringed images without Ms. Morton’s authorization cropped Ms. Morton’s infringed images, creating an unauthorized derivative work.”
For Morton’s lawsuit to succeed, she’d have to establish that Twitter “clearly fostered inducement, which is something that most social media platforms do not do,” Peter Lee, a law professor at UC Davis School of Law, said via email.
Lee added: “The twist here, however, has to do with the allegation that Twitter’s algorithm deliberately altered Ms. Morton’s images. If Twitter did this to allow such images to elude automated searches for infringing material and to induce infringement, then it’s possible that Twitter could face liability for infringement.”
Between July and December 2020, Twitter received about 170,000 takedown notices for copyrighted material, according to the company’s Transparency Center.
About 60% of requests during that period resulted in material being removed from the platform, up about five percentage points from the previous six months, the company said.
Porsche’s first attempt at an all-electric car has turned out to be a smash hit, with the Taycan flying off of dealer lots. There are several Taycan models and two body styles to choose from, but the $103,800 Taycan 4S gets the best range of the bunch.
9. Polestar 2 – 233 miles
The Polestar 2 is the first EV from Polestar, a new EV brand that spun out from Volvo. The 2021 model gets 233 miles of EPA range, but a future single-motor model due out in January is set to deliver upwards of 260 miles, according to the company.
A 2021 Polestar 2 starts at around $60,000, but the 2022 model will run you as little as $47,200.
Jaguar’s squat little crossover starts at $70,000. The all-wheel-drive SUV delivers a whopping 394 horsepower and 512 pound-feet of torque, Jaguar says. It’ll hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, the company claims.
7. Audi E-Tron GT – 238 miles
The E-Tron GT is Audi’s new electric sport sedan to take on the Tesla Model S and future EVs like the Mercedes-Benz EQS. It starts at around $100,000, and a high-performance RS version is available too. That one will run you $140,000.
6. Kia Niro EV – 239 miles
The base Kia Niro EV costs just over $39,000. There’s also a $44,650 Premium trim that gets you upgraded materials and features, but no more range.
Check out Insider’s full review of the Niro EV here.
5. Chevrolet Bolt EUV – 247 miles
Chevrolet broadened its EV lineup in 2021 by launching a crossover version of the Bolt EV called the Bolt EUV. That stands for Electric Utility Vehicle, in case you’re wondering.
Despite having “utility” in its name, the $33,000 vehicle actually offers slightly less cargo space than the Bolt EV hatchback. It also has a skosh less range due to its higher ride height.
There’s just one problem for potential Bolt EUV buyers: Amid GM’s massive recall of Bolt EVs with faulty batteries, the carmaker has halted production of the EUV until at least mid-October.
4. Hyundai Kona Electric – 258 miles
Hyundai’s popular subcompact SUV has had a battery-powered sibling in the US since 2019. All trims deliver the full 258 miles of estimated range. A base 2022 Kona Electric will run you $34,000 to start, down more than $3,000 from the 2021 model.
3. Chevrolet Bolt EV – 259 miles
Chevy gave the Bolt EV a sleek refresh for 2022, adding on slimmed-down LED headlights and a color-matched grille panel. The new Bolt offers the same range as its predecessor, but comes in thousands cheaper at $31,000.
However attractive a buy the Bolt EV may be, you may need to wait a while to get your hands on one. Chevy has halted production of the EV until it can secure more reliable battery packs.
2. Volkswagen ID.4 Pro – 260 miles
The ID.4, VW’s first EV for the US market, gets up to 260 miles of EPA-rated range in the Pro trim, which starts at $39,995. The sold-out first-edition model can travel 250 miles on a full battery.
1. Ford Mustang Mach-E – 305 miles
Ford’s first electric SUV gets an impressive 305 miles of range in the California Route 1 trim, which retails for $50,400. The model comes standard with the Mach-E’s larger battery pack and rear-wheel drive.
The $42,895 base model, the Mustang Mach-E Select, earns an EPA range rating of 230 miles.
The Times obtained a recording of the meeting. It also spoke to activist employees who said they were disappointed because Cook only answered two questions out of several that they had wanted to ask the CEO.
After Cook received the question about pay equity, Apple’s head of HR, Deirdre O’Brien, said the company regularly looks for gaps in its compensation practices.
“When we find any gaps at all, which sometimes we do, we close them,” O’Brien said, per The Times.
Cook was asked how the company is protecting employees from Texas’ new abortion law. In response, he said the company is investigating whether it can help mount legal challenges against the law.
He also said that the company’s medical insurance will cover employees in Texas if they need to travel outside the state to obtain an abortion.
One activist employee, Janneke Parrish, told The Times that when discussing the meeting on the company’s internal Slack message board, some employees said they were impressed by Cook’s answers, but she was underwhelmed.
Parrish said she had submitted a question asking what specific steps Apple had taken to close pay gaps and achieve parity for women and people of color in getting promotions. The question was not answered, however.
Apple did not immediately reply to Insider when contacted for comment. In a statement to The Times, it said: “We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace.”
“We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters,” it added.
SpaceX’s Inspiration4 crew spoke with actor Tom Cruise on Thursday to share details about their experience on the civilian mission.
The Inspiration4 Twitter account shared a “Top Gun” GIF followed by a caption that wrote: “Rook, Nova, Hanks, and Leo spoke to @TomCruise sharing their experience from space. Maverick, you can be our wingman anytime.”
Maverick is the call sign character Cruise plays in the film.
No specific details of the conversation between Cruise and the crew were released, AP reported.
Aside from Cruise, the four crew members – Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski – chatted to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
In a tweet on Thursday, Musk announced that he had spoken to them. “All is well,” Musk said in his Twitter post, without mentioning any specific details about the conversation.
The crew also spoke to patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, on Thursday, according to a tweet the hospital sent on Friday morning.
Inspiration4 is raising money for the hospital by auctioning off items, including a ukulele and an issue of TIME magazine, which they took into space.
iPhone 12 Mini (medium, Preferred: AT&T)Refurbished iPhone 11 Pro Max (64GB) (medium, Preferred: Verizon)iPhone 11 (medium, Preferred: Verizon)Refurbished iPhone 11 Pro (64GB) (medium)MagSafe Charger (medium, Preferred: Apple)Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini
Product Card (medium, Preferred: Apple)iPhone 12 Mini (medium, Preferred: AT&T)
An improvement on previous models in terms of design and camera quality, the iPhone 12 is our current pick for the best iPhone you can get overall. It comes in five colors: white, black, blue, green, and red. Depending on your storage needs, you can choose from the 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage sizes. You can also pick between the normal 6.1-inch display and the 5.4-inch display Mini. The Mini has shorter battery life since it’s a smaller phone.
Though the phone came out a year ago, deals for it aren’t very common just yet — it’s even difficult to find available from other retailers without being locked to a carrier. Right now, the best place to find it unlocked is from Apple, but if you’re willing to enter a contract with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint, you can find stock from other retailers, like Amazon and Walmart.
iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
iPhone 12 Pro (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)iPhone 12 Pro Max (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
Apple no longer sells the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max through its online store, but other retailers still offer these models. Though they’re being replaced by new iPhone 13 versions, the 12 Pro series still feature excellent cameras in low light and an elegant design. The Pro Max will cost you an extra $100, but it has a larger 6.7-inch display and longer battery life than the smaller 6.1-inch version. Both are available in four colors: graphite, silver, gold, and pacific blue. You can choose between 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB depending on your needs.
Just like their smaller siblings, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max don’t typically see especially good deals.
iPhone SE (2020)
iPhone SE (2020) (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)
Though it only comes with a single-lens camera, the iPhone SE is the best value you can find out of an iPhone. It has an older design, similar in look and feel to the iPhone 8; it’s also the only modern model that retained the home button. It runs using the same powerful chip as the iPhone 11 and can cost as little as $399 if you settle for the 64GB. It comes in three colors: white, black, and red.
iPhone SE deals are pretty common to come across nowadays — if you’re lucky you can even find one free from carriers like AT&T or Verizon.
iPhone XR (medium)
The iPhone XR has a big, 5.94-inch screen and still includes modern features like Face ID, the Touch ID replacement that uses your front-facing camera to unlock your phone, and wireless charging. Though it’s no longer sold directly on Apple’s site, it’s one of the cheapest iPhone options you can buy without compromising too much on performance. You can choose between white, black, blue, yellow, coral, and red.
If you don’t mind buying renewed, Amazon and Best Buy are worth looking into. Right now the street price for one is $499 for the 64GB storage size.
iPhone 11 (medium, Preferred: Verizon)
Though it’s the past generation of iPhone, the iPhone 11 still has great value worth considering if you want to pay less. It has a fast A13 Bionic chip, long battery life that we found lasted over 32 hours, wireless charging, and a dual-camera setup. It comes in six colors: white, black, green, yellow, purple, and red.
Its street price has dropped down to $499 for the 64GB storage capacity.
iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
iPhone 11 Pro (medium)iPhone 11 Pro Max (medium)
The iPhone 11 and 11 Pro Max are still great options for their solid triple camera system, speedy A13 Bionic chips, and Face ID to replace TouchID for unlocking your phone. The Pro offers up to 18 hours of battery life with video playback and the Pro Max offers up to 20 hours. We think they’re still a good value if you can find them at a decent deal price.
Apple no longer sells the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, but you can still find them from other retailers — though they’ll likely be locked in with carriers like Verizon and AT&T. If they see a reasonable discount, it may be worth buying so long as you don’t mind entering a contract with a carrier to do so.
Frequently asked questions
Where can I find the best iPhone deals?
Retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, Woot, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are great places to find brand new iPhones with promotional discounts. Though the Apple Store may be your go-to, it’s rare to find iPhone deals from the store.
There are tons of places to find discounts from, but we’ll keep this story updated with the best deals available from any retailer.
Here are the best refurbished iPhone deals available now.
Refurbished iPhone 11 Pro Max (64GB) (medium, Preferred: Verizon)Refurbished iPhone 11 Pro (64GB) (medium)Refurbished iPhone XR (64GB) (medium)
Should I trade in my old iPhone?
It depends on the promotional offer, but oftentimes trading in an old model will knock a hefty sum off a brand new one. Usually, cell service providers like Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint will have ongoing trade-in deals worth considering, year-round.
When do new iPhones come out?
The newest generation of iPhone was announced on September 14, with preorders starting September 17. The iPhone 13 will be generally available starting September 24.
When is the best time to buy an iPhone?
As with most tech, the best discounts tend to crop up during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The previous year’s models tend to see all-time lows at this time, especially with a new generation usually announced in September. It’s unlikely that the newest generation will see any price drops, though; models usually need to be out for at least a year before retailers start offering discounts.
Amazon Prime Day is also a good time to find discounts, but the deal event usually lands mid-summer, meaning the newest models are only a few months away.
What is the cheapest iPhone available?
The 2020 iPhone SE is undoubtedly the best budget iPhone available. Starting at only $399, it provides the full iOS experience and runs on the same chip as the iPhone 11. Right now, you can even get one free, with a new line on an eligible Verizon Unlimited plan.
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
You can now watch Clint Eastwood’s “Cry Macho” in theaters and on HBO Max.
To watch the movie at home, you need an ad-free HBO Max subscription ($15/month).
“Cry Macho” will remain on HBO Max through October 17.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyMax Monthly Plan (ad-free) (small)
Clint Eastwood is back with a new western that you can watch at home and in theaters. Directed by and starring Eastwood, “Cry Macho” will remain available to stream on HBO Max through October 17.
Mike Milo, an injured rodeo rider played by Eastwood, goes on a journey through rural Mexico to help his old boss find his son. Searching for a fresh start, Milo encounters more than he anticipated, including Macho the rooster. The movie is based on N. Richard Nash’s novel that was released in 1975.
According to Variety, Eastwood first considered directing and starring in a “Cry Macho” movie in 1988. Instead, he decided to star in the final “Dirty Harry” film, “The Dead Pool.” “Cry Macho” is Eastwood’s first movie to receive a simultaneous theatrical and streaming release.
Where to watch ‘Cry Macho’
“Cry Macho” is now available to watch in theaters and on HBO Max with an ad-free subscription. The Clint Eastwood movie will remain part of the HBO Max streaming catalog until October 17.
A subscription to HBO Max‘s ad-free plan costs $15 a month. As part of a limited-time deal, new and returning members can get 50% off their first six months, bringing the cost down to $7.49 a month. The promotion is available through September 26. Although the streaming service has a less expensive ad-supported plan for $10 a month, only the ad-free HBO Max plan gives you access to same-day theatrical releases.
If you’re a Hulu subscriber and have not previously tried HBO Max, you can claim a free one-week trial of the add-on service.
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