The US has just witnessed a change of power and a Twitter transfer of
As Joe Biden became US president, the social media company switched over the linked account to the new administration. In normal times, it would be a trivial detail, but Donald Trump so amplified the importance of the service as his mouthpiece, it sometimes felt like rule by tweet.
That might justify the need for a clean sheet and explain why, unlike four years ago, when President Trump took over the handle, Joe Biden isn’t automatically keeping the account’s current followers.
The Washington Post explains its 33m followers will get a notification about the transfer with the option to follow Biden’s President Of The United States account if they wish. Twitter did not explain why it was introducing an opt-in policy, which Joe Biden’s digital director Rob Flaherty complained was a break with 2017 protocol, before admitting:
“Anyway, the nice thing about Joe Biden is that he truly couldn’t care less about Twitter followers. Or Twitter!” in a tweet.
That will be a relief to many after the past four years. The New York Times has just compiled a staggering interactive list of every tweet containing an insult since 2015. It stretches to 48,000 words.
Mr Biden’s transition website has a list of executive actions he is carrying out on Day One of his presidency. None of them concern tech and he may not be quick to reverse any executive orders by his predecessor concerning tech threatening national security. The last came on Tuesday and was aimed at thwarting foreign use of cloud computing products for malicious cyber operations against the US.
Tech did feature in a final list of full pardons granted by the president overnight. Clemency was given to Anthony Levandowski, co-founder of Google’s self-driving car project, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison last August for stealing trade secrets to help build a rival vehicle at Uber. The judge had called him a “brilliant, groundbreaking engineer that our country needs”, the White House pointed out, adding that he had “paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good”.
1. The EU and US techMargrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s vice-president for competition and digital policy, told Brussels Briefing this week it hoped to stay aligned with the Biden administration. She has also warned that Big Tech companies will face a flurry of countries passing laws to curb their power if they do not support the EU’s approach to regulation. The commission has started asking Google’s rivals about its advertising practices.
2. Netflix reaches ‘turning point’ on contentNetflix said it would no longer raise debt to fund its spending spree on television shows and films as its quarterly earnings report showed it had passed 200m subscribers. Those numbers and the raising of subscription fees means it can pay for content through cash flow, “a turning point in our story”, according to its CFO. Meanwhile, the BBC is looking at how it could cut a fifth of output as the UK broadcaster struggles with its finances.
3. Jack’s backAlibaba founder Jack Ma has resurfaced in a video praising China’s teachers, marking the first time the billionaire has been seen in public since Ant Group’s planned $37bn initial public offering was halted nearly three months ago. Alibaba shares rose 6 per cent. Nikkei Asia has been looking at its battle with Shopee in Vietnam through its Lazada subsidiary.
4. Singapore’s Spac attack as Wall St waversGoldman Sachs chief David Solomon says the boom in listings of blank-cheque companies on Wall Street is unsustainable, casting doubt on a financing tool used to raise nearly $79bn from investors last year. However, Singapore’s stock exchange is accelerating plans to become the first major bourse in Asia to list these Spacs or special purpose acquisition companies, aiming to capitalise on a surge of foreign investment in fast-growing tech start-ups. #techAsia has this and more from the region.
5. Can QuantumScape live up to the hype? QuantumScape sped to a near-$50bn valuation last month after reporting a battery breakthrough that would help make electric vehicles “the world’s dominant form of transportation”. But its subsequent share plunge has highlighted the perils of joining the rush into tech stocks, particularly those involved in battery-powered vehicles.
Any coverage of Samsung’s robotic gadgets should come with a cautionary note since we have had neither sight nor sound of its much-ballyhooed Ballie robot ball since last year’s CES. Nevertheless, it came up with another range of robots this year. Cnet covers the JetBot 90 AI Plus robot vacuum, Bot Care personal assistant robot and Bot Handy robot that can clean up messes and move things around a house. It thinks the JetBot is closest to fruition, going on sale in the first half. Its object recognition technology can identify and classify objects to decide the best cleaning path, the vacuum empties its own bin at its charging station and there is a built-in camera that enables it as a home monitoring device.