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#TechStates

thinkin

Is Elon Musk a good billionaire?

He’s the world’s richest man and the mastermind behind Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and Paypal. His tweets make headlines, impact share prices and attract lawsuits. He’s opposed to a billionaire’s tax and has threatened staff planning to unionise. He operates differently than most other successful tech leaders, yet behind all the controversy it seems Elon Musk is always in pursuit of his higher purpose.Is his vision for humanity – where the problems of sustainable energy are solved and humans are well on the way to becoming a multi-planetary species – just the wild ambitions of an eccentric billionaire showman? Is Elon Musk just another ruthless tycoon or is he a good billionaire? Is there such a thing?In collaboration with TxP, a London-based network bridging the worlds of tech and policy.  editor and invited experts Luke GbedemahReporter Dr Anton HowesInvention historian, author of ‘Age of Invention’ Jacob MchangamaDanish lawyer, human-rights advocate, and author of “Free Speech: A Global History from Socrates to Social Media” Phumzile Van DammeFormer South African MP, Founder, South African Elections Anti-Disinformation Project and member of the Real Facebook Oversight Board Tom ChiversScience writer, author of ‘How to Read Numbers’

thinkin

Does Netflix have a political agenda?

This is a digital ThinkIn.With a rapidly growing global membership base of over 215 million in more than 190 countries, huge sums of money, and a maturing recommendation system, Netflix has significant political and social force. But recent data from YouGov indicates that Netflix’s positive-impression rating among Republicans in the U.S. is falling, down 16% from the beginning of 2018. This comes as a result of the commissioning of left-leaning content, some hires of senior Obama staff, as well as a deal with Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions for original programming. On the other hand, despite public protests and staff walkouts, the streaming giant stood by comedian David Chappelle. Until recently, it appeared Netflix successfully walked a political tightrope, but could a tumbling share price and a slowdown in new subscribers signal a change of direction? Does profit mean more than politics or social change?  editor and invited experts James HardingCo-founder and Editor Gina KeatingAuthor of “Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs.” She has written about media, law, and government as a staff writer for Reuters and United Press International for more than a decade Karen McNallyReader in American Film, Television and Cultural History at London Metropolitan University Lucas ShawReporter for Bloomberg, Leader of for media, telecom, entertainment team, and author of newsletter on Hollywood called “Screentime: A front-row seat to the collision of Hollywood and Silicon Valley.” Micheal FlahertyCo-founder and president of Walden Media, Producer of Netflix vs. The World

thinkin

Is Instagram bad for you?

This is a digital-only ThinkIn. Join us for a discussion about Instagram – especially its impact on young people, mental health and body image. How much was Facebook aware of the problems Instagram is causing, and to what extent did profit outweigh people when considering the influence the platform has on young people? Instagram’s latest global ad campaign is based on the strapline that a users’ identity is “yours to make”, a hollow claim when you see the pressure social platforms put on the self esteem and body image of young people. Is Instagram inherently flawed as an idea, or are there ways to fix the platform without damaging its popularity? As it turns a decade old, with popular competitors stealing its audience, is Instagram on its way out anyway? And how have the real impacts of Instagram on people escaped scrutiny for so long? editor and invited experts Luke Gbedemah Reporter Dr. Lis Sylvan Managing Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University Ian Russell Chair, Molly Rose Foundation Kyle Dent Head of AI Ethics, Checkstep

thinkin

In conversation with Google’s Matt Brittin

This is a digital-only ThinkIn. As one of the superpowers of the internet, Google’s technology, tools and services  touch the daily lives of billions of people who go online every day. Google’s enormous presence and influence comes with great responsibility. Society expects higher standards from corporations and Governments are paying closer attention than ever to how big tech operates. Matt Brittin will be in conversation with James Harding, Tortoise editor and co-founder, about how Google approaches this responsibility, and the role digital technology, tools and skills can play in enabling a sustainable and inclusive recovery from Covid19 – from tackling climate change to supporting an evolving labour market. editor and invited experts James Harding Co-Founder and Editor Matt Brittin President of EMEA Business & Operations for Google

thinkin

Tech States: what we’ve learnt, and what next?

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.For our last Open News meetings of the year, Tortoise journalists and members, with expert contributors who’ve worked with us throughout 2021, will come together to take stock of what our reporters have uncovered about what’s driven the news this year, and what it has told us about the forces that are shaping our world. What have we learned? What questions remain unanswered, and what new ones have arisen? At Tortoise, we always said that we would stay interested when the rest of the news media moves on. We start with Tech States, our ongoing investigative work into how the big technology companies operate, and the way the decisions of these few, giant private companies are changing our lives, and our democracies. How will Meta, otherwise known as Facebook, shape 2022 and beyond? editor Luke Gbedemah

thinkin

Will technology widen the power gap? In conversation with Azeem Azhar

This is a newsroom ThinkIn. In-person and digital-only tickets are available.Azeem Azhar, writer, entrepreneur and creator of the hit Exponential View newsletter and podcast – argues that accelerating technology risks leaving our social institutions behind, with devastating implications for our way of life. His newsletter, Exponential View is regarded as one of the best researched and most thought-provoking newsletters in tech. In his new book, Azhar draws on nearly three decades of conversations with the world’s leading thinkers, to outline models that explain the effects technology is having on society. New technology, he shows, is developing at an increasing, exponential rate. But human-built institutions – from our businesses to our political norms – can only ever adapt at a slower, incremental pace. The result is an ‘exponential gap’ – between the power of new technology and our ability to keep up.  Pre-order Azeem’s book Exponential: How Accelerating Technology Is Leaving Us Behind and What to Do About It. editor Alexi MostrousInvestigations Editor

thinkin

Sensemaker Live: Can’t we just ditch social media and get along?

Long stories short Elon Musk said he would make his own smartphone if app stores ban Twitter.Michelle Donelan, the UK culture secretary, said content that could encourage suicide would be criminalised by the Online Safety Bill.The US government banned sales of Chinese telecom and surveillance equipment. Apple stumble Unrest at a Foxconn manufacturing facility has revealed fundamental problems with Apple’s production process – using cheap labour in illiberal economies. Eventually, investors and the public will take notice. Foxconn’s Zhengzhou manufacturing plant in China produces 70 per cent of global iPhone supplies. In late October, the plant reported a number of Covid-19 cases among its 79,000 or so workers (the exact figure is unknown), but claimed it could continue production “in compliance with local epidemic prevention policies.”  Since then 40 workers have been hospitalised after violent clashes with police and security personnel;20,000 workers (mostly new recruits) have left the site rather than endure lockdowns in “iPhone City”;Foxconn has offered $1,400 to protesting workers if they agreed to stop protesting, leave the premises and resign; More than 30 per cent of the site’s production for this month has been affected;Six million iPhones have gone unmade and Apple’s share price has fallen 1.9 per cent Foxconn initially aimed to prevent workers fleeing the site, confining them to dormitories and factory floors. Footage of workers climbing fences to escape the premises soon went viral. Foxconn maintained that production was stable, but Apple issued a statement saying that the facility was “currently operating at a significantly reduced capacity”. Why are workers protesting? Pay and Covid safety. A “technical error” led to workers being underpaid compared to salaries advertised on local recruitment posters. As Foxconn scrambled to bring in more workers to maintain production, it appears to have made promises it couldn’t keep. One analyst at a Chinese advisory company says: “Foxconn was already running like a military base. Many young workers, with very low wages and very bad conditions.” Zero Covid. The root of the trouble is zero Covid. “Xi [Jinping] is personally identified with the zero Covid policy, and it is intended to show the superiority of the Chinese system, so it is not a policy that can easily be abandoned, changed or allowed to be challenged,” says Professor Steve Tsang, Director of SOAS China Institute. “It will stay in place until Xi finds something that he can claim as superior to zero Covid and is built on the success of zero Covid.” An Apple statement seen by The Wall Street Journal says that the company has its own staff on site in Zhengzhou and is working to address employees’ concerns. What will Apple do? Whatever it takes to make up shortfalls in iPhone output caused by lockdowns.  What won’t apple do? “Apple won’t abandon its strategy of exploiting cheap labour [in China],” says May, who works for a labour rights organisation in China and preferred not to be identified. But it may look outside China in the short term for extra manufacturing capacity because it’s terrified of missing sales targets over the holiday season. Waiting times for the iPhone 14 have doubled in the past month, and investors are bracing for lower-than-expected Christmas sales. An immediate question for Apple is whether it can rely on China to supply such a large share of its flagship product. A bigger question over the longer term is what risks it might incur over Foxconn’s treatment of its workers.  The dog that hasn’t barked. One insider says monthly turnover of workers at Foxconn was “rumoured to be as high as 20 per cent every month”. So far it hasn’t had to contend with much angst over workers’ rights. There’s been no “Qatar moment” for Apple or Foxconn – yet. Instead the priority for 14 boom years for shareholders and smartphone addicts alike has been continuity of supply. And so… To India? Apparently so. Late last month, Apple said it planned to make a quarter of all iPhones in India by 2025, and would move 5 per cent of production there later this year.  Protests over the past four days in China have made Apple’s supply chain look more fragile than ever. Having already lost some six million units from Foxconn, it won’t want to gamble on losing many more.  A message from our sponsor New research from McKinsey & Company suggests that consumer faith in a company’s cybersecurity, data protections, and responsible use of AI can make or break a company’s growth. Companies leading in this area are more likely to see at least 10% revenue and EBIT growth annually.  Read the research: ‘Why digital trust truly matters’ to see what digital trust leaders are doing differently. Apple ContradictionApple has previously claimed that analytics services on its devices are not used to personally identify users. New analysis suggests that the services do create a permanent ID number linked to a user’s full name, phone number, date of birth and email. All quite personal. The ID number is sent to Apple alongside diagnostics on how the device is used, according to Gizmodo. Apple has maintained that it offers greater privacy and security than its competitors by protecting personal data. Apple plans to grow its advertising business – a notoriously invasive industry – to $6 billion by 2025. It is not yet clear how it will do that without further compromising user privacy and its own values. Microsoft Sony’s successMicrosoft is using PlayStation’s success as a stick to beat it with. Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been stalled by antitrust concerns. The company has claimed that it will not enjoy a monopolistic advantage if it completes the deal, partially because Sony – its chief rival in gaming – has exclusive games that are “better quality” than its own. Microsoft is trying to emphasise that Sony (which owns PlayStation) is already dominant in the market, diminishing concerns about its own strength.  Meta Tax dataFacebook has been receiving sensitive financial information from tax filing services. The Markup has reported that a piece of Facebook code – called Meta Pixel – sends data including user names, income, refund amounts and filing status to Facebook to inform its advertising algorithms. Meta Pixel harvests the data even if the user does not have a Facebook account. In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook said “We did NOT know and were never notified that personal tax information was being collected by Facebook from the Pixel.” Some of the tax filing services in question have been asked to deactivate the code on their platforms. Google xPhoneElon Musk said he would develop his own smartphone if Google’s Play Store – or Apple’s App Store – drops Twitter. “If there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone,” Musk tweeted. Google removed the right-wing social media platform Parler in the wake of the Capitol Hill insurrection on 6 January 2020, over its failure to moderate posts that encouraged violence. As yet, there’s no indication that Twitter will be removed from Google Play, but a ban could be enforced if content moderation on Twitter consistently fails to remove incitement. Amazon Tax billAmazon could see a bigger tax bill next year, after changes to the UK’s business rates for warehouse and online retailers. Amazon has typically offset or avoided taxation in the UK by investing in staff, infrastructure and banking abroad (in Luxembourg). This may change next year as new rates for firms that operate online stores would increase Amazon’s bill by around £29 million before any relief. Amazon has curbed the hiring and building sprees that it launched during the pandemic, so may see less relief than normal next year also. Tencent MoontonTencent’s years-long feud with Bytedance will include a trial over copyright infringement. Tencent is accused of infringing on the popular video game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, including illegal reproduction. The game is made by Shanghai Moonton Technology, which Tencent tried to acquire before being outbid by ByteDance. The competition over successful titles has been made all the more tense by a recent shortage of new gaming licences granted by the Chinese government.  Thank you for reading the Tech States Sensemaker and do ask your friends to sign up. We’ll send it to you every Wednesday but if you’d rather opt out, just update your preferences and follow the link sent to you by email. Please email opinions, tips or stories to luke.gbedemah@tortoisemedia.com. If you’d like to arrange for your organisation or group to receive this newsletter, drop us a note here. Luke Gbedemah@LukeGbedemah Sponsored by

thinkin

Banning Trump: did Facebook call it right?

Long stories short Elon Musk said he would make his own smartphone if app stores ban Twitter.Michelle Donelan, the UK culture secretary, said content that could encourage suicide would be criminalised by the Online Safety Bill.The US government banned sales of Chinese telecom and surveillance equipment. Apple stumble Unrest at a Foxconn manufacturing facility has revealed fundamental problems with Apple’s production process – using cheap labour in illiberal economies. Eventually, investors and the public will take notice. Foxconn’s Zhengzhou manufacturing plant in China produces 70 per cent of global iPhone supplies. In late October, the plant reported a number of Covid-19 cases among its 79,000 or so workers (the exact figure is unknown), but claimed it could continue production “in compliance with local epidemic prevention policies.”  Since then 40 workers have been hospitalised after violent clashes with police and security personnel;20,000 workers (mostly new recruits) have left the site rather than endure lockdowns in “iPhone City”;Foxconn has offered $1,400 to protesting workers if they agreed to stop protesting, leave the premises and resign; More than 30 per cent of the site’s production for this month has been affected;Six million iPhones have gone unmade and Apple’s share price has fallen 1.9 per cent Foxconn initially aimed to prevent workers fleeing the site, confining them to dormitories and factory floors. Footage of workers climbing fences to escape the premises soon went viral. Foxconn maintained that production was stable, but Apple issued a statement saying that the facility was “currently operating at a significantly reduced capacity”. Why are workers protesting? Pay and Covid safety. A “technical error” led to workers being underpaid compared to salaries advertised on local recruitment posters. As Foxconn scrambled to bring in more workers to maintain production, it appears to have made promises it couldn’t keep. One analyst at a Chinese advisory company says: “Foxconn was already running like a military base. Many young workers, with very low wages and very bad conditions.” Zero Covid. The root of the trouble is zero Covid. “Xi [Jinping] is personally identified with the zero Covid policy, and it is intended to show the superiority of the Chinese system, so it is not a policy that can easily be abandoned, changed or allowed to be challenged,” says Professor Steve Tsang, Director of SOAS China Institute. “It will stay in place until Xi finds something that he can claim as superior to zero Covid and is built on the success of zero Covid.” An Apple statement seen by The Wall Street Journal says that the company has its own staff on site in Zhengzhou and is working to address employees’ concerns. What will Apple do? Whatever it takes to make up shortfalls in iPhone output caused by lockdowns.  What won’t apple do? “Apple won’t abandon its strategy of exploiting cheap labour [in China],” says May, who works for a labour rights organisation in China and preferred not to be identified. But it may look outside China in the short term for extra manufacturing capacity because it’s terrified of missing sales targets over the holiday season. Waiting times for the iPhone 14 have doubled in the past month, and investors are bracing for lower-than-expected Christmas sales. An immediate question for Apple is whether it can rely on China to supply such a large share of its flagship product. A bigger question over the longer term is what risks it might incur over Foxconn’s treatment of its workers.  The dog that hasn’t barked. One insider says monthly turnover of workers at Foxconn was “rumoured to be as high as 20 per cent every month”. So far it hasn’t had to contend with much angst over workers’ rights. There’s been no “Qatar moment” for Apple or Foxconn – yet. Instead the priority for 14 boom years for shareholders and smartphone addicts alike has been continuity of supply. And so… To India? Apparently so. Late last month, Apple said it planned to make a quarter of all iPhones in India by 2025, and would move 5 per cent of production there later this year.  Protests over the past four days in China have made Apple’s supply chain look more fragile than ever. Having already lost some six million units from Foxconn, it won’t want to gamble on losing many more.  A message from our sponsor New research from McKinsey & Company suggests that consumer faith in a company’s cybersecurity, data protections, and responsible use of AI can make or break a company’s growth. Companies leading in this area are more likely to see at least 10% revenue and EBIT growth annually.  Read the research: ‘Why digital trust truly matters’ to see what digital trust leaders are doing differently. Apple ContradictionApple has previously claimed that analytics services on its devices are not used to personally identify users. New analysis suggests that the services do create a permanent ID number linked to a user’s full name, phone number, date of birth and email. All quite personal. The ID number is sent to Apple alongside diagnostics on how the device is used, according to Gizmodo. Apple has maintained that it offers greater privacy and security than its competitors by protecting personal data. Apple plans to grow its advertising business – a notoriously invasive industry – to $6 billion by 2025. It is not yet clear how it will do that without further compromising user privacy and its own values. Microsoft Sony’s successMicrosoft is using PlayStation’s success as a stick to beat it with. Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been stalled by antitrust concerns. The company has claimed that it will not enjoy a monopolistic advantage if it completes the deal, partially because Sony – its chief rival in gaming – has exclusive games that are “better quality” than its own. Microsoft is trying to emphasise that Sony (which owns PlayStation) is already dominant in the market, diminishing concerns about its own strength.  Meta Tax dataFacebook has been receiving sensitive financial information from tax filing services. The Markup has reported that a piece of Facebook code – called Meta Pixel – sends data including user names, income, refund amounts and filing status to Facebook to inform its advertising algorithms. Meta Pixel harvests the data even if the user does not have a Facebook account. In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook said “We did NOT know and were never notified that personal tax information was being collected by Facebook from the Pixel.” Some of the tax filing services in question have been asked to deactivate the code on their platforms. Google xPhoneElon Musk said he would develop his own smartphone if Google’s Play Store – or Apple’s App Store – drops Twitter. “If there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone,” Musk tweeted. Google removed the right-wing social media platform Parler in the wake of the Capitol Hill insurrection on 6 January 2020, over its failure to moderate posts that encouraged violence. As yet, there’s no indication that Twitter will be removed from Google Play, but a ban could be enforced if content moderation on Twitter consistently fails to remove incitement. Amazon Tax billAmazon could see a bigger tax bill next year, after changes to the UK’s business rates for warehouse and online retailers. Amazon has typically offset or avoided taxation in the UK by investing in staff, infrastructure and banking abroad (in Luxembourg). This may change next year as new rates for firms that operate online stores would increase Amazon’s bill by around £29 million before any relief. Amazon has curbed the hiring and building sprees that it launched during the pandemic, so may see less relief than normal next year also. Tencent MoontonTencent’s years-long feud with Bytedance will include a trial over copyright infringement. Tencent is accused of infringing on the popular video game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, including illegal reproduction. The game is made by Shanghai Moonton Technology, which Tencent tried to acquire before being outbid by ByteDance. The competition over successful titles has been made all the more tense by a recent shortage of new gaming licences granted by the Chinese government.  Thank you for reading the Tech States Sensemaker and do ask your friends to sign up. We’ll send it to you every Wednesday but if you’d rather opt out, just update your preferences and follow the link sent to you by email. Please email opinions, tips or stories to luke.gbedemah@tortoisemedia.com. If you’d like to arrange for your organisation or group to receive this newsletter, drop us a note here. Luke Gbedemah@LukeGbedemah Sponsored by

thinkin

Toxicity in tech: Why are Google’s leading AI ethics researchers being ‘silenced’?

Long stories short Elon Musk said he would make his own smartphone if app stores ban Twitter.Michelle Donelan, the UK culture secretary, said content that could encourage suicide would be criminalised by the Online Safety Bill.The US government banned sales of Chinese telecom and surveillance equipment. Apple stumble Unrest at a Foxconn manufacturing facility has revealed fundamental problems with Apple’s production process – using cheap labour in illiberal economies. Eventually, investors and the public will take notice. Foxconn’s Zhengzhou manufacturing plant in China produces 70 per cent of global iPhone supplies. In late October, the plant reported a number of Covid-19 cases among its 79,000 or so workers (the exact figure is unknown), but claimed it could continue production “in compliance with local epidemic prevention policies.”  Since then 40 workers have been hospitalised after violent clashes with police and security personnel;20,000 workers (mostly new recruits) have left the site rather than endure lockdowns in “iPhone City”;Foxconn has offered $1,400 to protesting workers if they agreed to stop protesting, leave the premises and resign; More than 30 per cent of the site’s production for this month has been affected;Six million iPhones have gone unmade and Apple’s share price has fallen 1.9 per cent Foxconn initially aimed to prevent workers fleeing the site, confining them to dormitories and factory floors. Footage of workers climbing fences to escape the premises soon went viral. Foxconn maintained that production was stable, but Apple issued a statement saying that the facility was “currently operating at a significantly reduced capacity”. Why are workers protesting? Pay and Covid safety. A “technical error” led to workers being underpaid compared to salaries advertised on local recruitment posters. As Foxconn scrambled to bring in more workers to maintain production, it appears to have made promises it couldn’t keep. One analyst at a Chinese advisory company says: “Foxconn was already running like a military base. Many young workers, with very low wages and very bad conditions.” Zero Covid. The root of the trouble is zero Covid. “Xi [Jinping] is personally identified with the zero Covid policy, and it is intended to show the superiority of the Chinese system, so it is not a policy that can easily be abandoned, changed or allowed to be challenged,” says Professor Steve Tsang, Director of SOAS China Institute. “It will stay in place until Xi finds something that he can claim as superior to zero Covid and is built on the success of zero Covid.” An Apple statement seen by The Wall Street Journal says that the company has its own staff on site in Zhengzhou and is working to address employees’ concerns. What will Apple do? Whatever it takes to make up shortfalls in iPhone output caused by lockdowns.  What won’t apple do? “Apple won’t abandon its strategy of exploiting cheap labour [in China],” says May, who works for a labour rights organisation in China and preferred not to be identified. But it may look outside China in the short term for extra manufacturing capacity because it’s terrified of missing sales targets over the holiday season. Waiting times for the iPhone 14 have doubled in the past month, and investors are bracing for lower-than-expected Christmas sales. An immediate question for Apple is whether it can rely on China to supply such a large share of its flagship product. A bigger question over the longer term is what risks it might incur over Foxconn’s treatment of its workers.  The dog that hasn’t barked. One insider says monthly turnover of workers at Foxconn was “rumoured to be as high as 20 per cent every month”. So far it hasn’t had to contend with much angst over workers’ rights. There’s been no “Qatar moment” for Apple or Foxconn – yet. Instead the priority for 14 boom years for shareholders and smartphone addicts alike has been continuity of supply. And so… To India? Apparently so. Late last month, Apple said it planned to make a quarter of all iPhones in India by 2025, and would move 5 per cent of production there later this year.  Protests over the past four days in China have made Apple’s supply chain look more fragile than ever. Having already lost some six million units from Foxconn, it won’t want to gamble on losing many more.  A message from our sponsor New research from McKinsey & Company suggests that consumer faith in a company’s cybersecurity, data protections, and responsible use of AI can make or break a company’s growth. Companies leading in this area are more likely to see at least 10% revenue and EBIT growth annually.  Read the research: ‘Why digital trust truly matters’ to see what digital trust leaders are doing differently. Apple ContradictionApple has previously claimed that analytics services on its devices are not used to personally identify users. New analysis suggests that the services do create a permanent ID number linked to a user’s full name, phone number, date of birth and email. All quite personal. The ID number is sent to Apple alongside diagnostics on how the device is used, according to Gizmodo. Apple has maintained that it offers greater privacy and security than its competitors by protecting personal data. Apple plans to grow its advertising business – a notoriously invasive industry – to $6 billion by 2025. It is not yet clear how it will do that without further compromising user privacy and its own values. Microsoft Sony’s successMicrosoft is using PlayStation’s success as a stick to beat it with. Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been stalled by antitrust concerns. The company has claimed that it will not enjoy a monopolistic advantage if it completes the deal, partially because Sony – its chief rival in gaming – has exclusive games that are “better quality” than its own. Microsoft is trying to emphasise that Sony (which owns PlayStation) is already dominant in the market, diminishing concerns about its own strength.  Meta Tax dataFacebook has been receiving sensitive financial information from tax filing services. The Markup has reported that a piece of Facebook code – called Meta Pixel – sends data including user names, income, refund amounts and filing status to Facebook to inform its advertising algorithms. Meta Pixel harvests the data even if the user does not have a Facebook account. In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook said “We did NOT know and were never notified that personal tax information was being collected by Facebook from the Pixel.” Some of the tax filing services in question have been asked to deactivate the code on their platforms. Google xPhoneElon Musk said he would develop his own smartphone if Google’s Play Store – or Apple’s App Store – drops Twitter. “If there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone,” Musk tweeted. Google removed the right-wing social media platform Parler in the wake of the Capitol Hill insurrection on 6 January 2020, over its failure to moderate posts that encouraged violence. As yet, there’s no indication that Twitter will be removed from Google Play, but a ban could be enforced if content moderation on Twitter consistently fails to remove incitement. Amazon Tax billAmazon could see a bigger tax bill next year, after changes to the UK’s business rates for warehouse and online retailers. Amazon has typically offset or avoided taxation in the UK by investing in staff, infrastructure and banking abroad (in Luxembourg). This may change next year as new rates for firms that operate online stores would increase Amazon’s bill by around £29 million before any relief. Amazon has curbed the hiring and building sprees that it launched during the pandemic, so may see less relief than normal next year also. Tencent MoontonTencent’s years-long feud with Bytedance will include a trial over copyright infringement. Tencent is accused of infringing on the popular video game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, including illegal reproduction. The game is made by Shanghai Moonton Technology, which Tencent tried to acquire before being outbid by ByteDance. The competition over successful titles has been made all the more tense by a recent shortage of new gaming licences granted by the Chinese government.  Thank you for reading the Tech States Sensemaker and do ask your friends to sign up. We’ll send it to you every Wednesday but if you’d rather opt out, just update your preferences and follow the link sent to you by email. Please email opinions, tips or stories to luke.gbedemah@tortoisemedia.com. If you’d like to arrange for your organisation or group to receive this newsletter, drop us a note here. Luke Gbedemah@LukeGbedemah Sponsored by