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    Musk says Twitter must show data behind spam estimate or he’ll kill the deal / ArsTechnica · 2 days ago - 17:15

Illustration of a chat bot on a computer screen.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Carol Yepes)

Elon Musk has cast more doubt on his willingness to buy Twitter, criticizing the company's CEO and saying the "deal cannot move forward" until Twitter provides data behind its estimate of spam accounts. Musk also said this week that renegotiating the deal at a lower price is "not out of the question."

Musk says he thinks at least 20 percent of Twitter accounts are fake or spam, while Twitter said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that fewer than 5 percent of monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) are spam or fake. Those numbers are not incompatible, as Musk seems to be talking about all accounts, while Twitter's 5 percent stat refers to accounts that are logged in and can see ads each day.

But Musk has insisted that Twitter's data is wrong, and he demanded to see proof and ratcheted up his claims in a tweet on Tuesday :

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    Big Tech asks Supreme Court to block Texas ban on “viewpoint” moderation / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 17:06

The US Supreme Court Building seen during daytime.

Enlarge / The US Supreme Court Building. (credit: Getty Images | Grant Faint)

Big Tech lobby groups have asked the US Supreme Court to block a Texas state law that prohibits social media companies from moderating content based on a user's "viewpoint."

The state's so-called "censorship" law was previously blocked by a federal judge who ruled that it violates the social networks' First Amendment right to moderate user-submitted content. But the law was reinstated last week by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which granted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's motion to stay the preliminary injunction.

The Fifth Circuit ruling came in a majority vote of three judges. Instead of seeking an en banc hearing with all the Fifth Circuit court's judges, two tech groups submitted an emergency application to the Supreme Court on Friday. The appeal was filed by NetChoice and the Computer & Communications & Industry Association (CCIA), which represent companies including Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo.

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    Social media sites work to limit spread of Buffalo shooting footage / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 15:21

An icon for the Twitch app displayed on a smartphone screen.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Thomas Trutschel )

Twitch, the Amazon-owned livestreaming site that caters primarily to gamers , said it removed streamed footage of a shooting in Buffalo, New York, this weekend "less than two minutes after the violence started."

An 18-year-old white man used an assault rifle to fire on crowds of shoppers in a Buffalo supermarket Saturday, authorities said . The attack—which killed 10 and injured three, including 11 Black victims—is being investigated as a hate crime after the shooter allegedly posted a lengthy manifesto citing 4chan posts regarding the racist "great replacement theory" as his motivation.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Saturday that the shooter "had a camera and was livestreaming what he was doing" during the attack. The Twitch channel that had hosted that video has now been taken down, with its content marked as "currently unavailable due to a violation of Twitch’s community guidelines or terms of service."

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    Musk says Twitter deal “on hold” over concern about number of spam accounts / ArsTechnica · 6 days ago - 15:28

In this photo illustration, Elon Musk's twitter account is displayed on a smartphone in front of a background with the twitter logo.

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Elon Musk today said his deal to purchase Twitter is "temporarily on hold" while he awaits details on the number of spam and fake accounts on the site, but he later added that he remains "committed" to the acquisition.

"Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5 percent of users," Musk wrote in a tweet Monday morning . In a follow-up tweet two hours later, he wrote , "Still committed to acquisition."

The first tweet saying that the deal is "on hold" included a link to a May 2 Reuters article noting that Twitter had "estimated in a filing... that false or spam accounts represented fewer than 5 percent of its monetizable daily active users during the first quarter."

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    Bitcoin plunges to lowest price since 2020 amid broader sell-off / ArsTechnica · 7 days ago - 21:40

Bitcoin plunges to lowest price since 2020 amid broader sell-off

Enlarge (credit: R.Tsubin / Getty)

The price of one bitcoin briefly fell below $27,000 on Thursday morning, the lowest price for the cryptocurrency since 2020. The world's leading virtual currency bounced back later in the day and now trades at $28,600. But that's still 20 percent below the price one week ago and 57 percent below last November's peak.

Bitcoin's fall is part of a broader cryptocurrency sell-off. Ethereum is currently down 8 percent over the last 24 hours and 28 percent over the last week. Additionally, cardano (39 percent), dogecoin (36 percent), and litecoin (32 percent) have all fallen during the past week.

Perhaps most alarming for the cryptocurrency world: "Stablecoin" tether lost its peg to the US dollar early Thursday, briefly dipping to 96 cents. Tether is now trading at $1 once again.

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    “Radical” ruling lets Texas ban social media moderation based on “viewpoint” / ArsTechnica · 7 days ago - 17:55

A Texas state flag blowing in the wind.

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A federal appeals court has reinstated a Texas state law that bans "censorship" on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, allowing Texas to enforce the law while litigation continues.

A US District Court judge had granted a preliminary injunction blocking the law in December, ruling that it violates the social networks' First Amendment right to moderate user-submitted content. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed the injunction to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and a panel of three judges issued a ruling Wednesday that stayed the preliminary injunction.

The ruling did not explain the judges' reasoning. "It is ordered that appellant's opposed motion to stay preliminary injunction pending appeal is granted," the ruling said. The panel ruling was not unanimous, but it didn't say how each judge voted.

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    El Salvador buys more bitcoin after ratings agency downgrades its debt / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 11 May - 18:25

Nayib Bukele, president of El Salvador.

Enlarge / Nayib Bukele, president of El Salvador. (credit: Kellys Portillo/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images)

Bitcoin's price has plunged in recent days, briefly falling below $30,000 on Monday evening and again on Wednesday morning. Nayib Bukele, the bitcoin-boosting president of El Salvador, sees bitcoin's low price as a buying opportunity. He announced on Monday that El Salvador had purchased another 500 bitcoin. With one bitcoin worth around $31,000, this represented a $15.5 million bet.

Bukele has made the embrace of bitcoin a signature of his presidency. Last year, El Salvador became the first nation in the world to make bitcoin legal tender alongside the US dollar. In an effort to encourage adoption of bitcoin, El Salvador launched wallet software called Chivo and offered Salvadorans $30 if they gave it a try.

Bloomberg calculates that El Salvador has accumulated a total of 2,301 bitcoins since it started buying them last September. Most were bought at prices above $45,000, so this nation of 6 million people has lost tens of millions of dollars speculating on bitcoin.

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    “War upon end-to-end encryption”: EU wants Big Tech to scan private messages / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 11 May - 18:05 · 1 minute

Illustration of an eye on a digital background.

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A European Commission proposal could force tech companies to scan private messages for child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and evidence of grooming, even when those messages are supposed to be protected by end-to-end encryption.

Online services that receive "detection orders" under the pending European Union legislation would have "obligations concerning the detection, reporting, removal and blocking of known and new child sexual abuse material, as well as solicitation of children, regardless of the technology used in the online exchanges," the proposal says. The plan calls end-to-end encryption an important security tool but essentially orders companies to break that end-to-end encryption by whatever technological means necessary:

In order to ensure the effectiveness of those measures, allow for tailored solutions, remain technologically neutral, and avoid circumvention of the detection obligations, those measures should be taken regardless of the technologies used by the providers concerned in connection to the provision of their services. Therefore, this Regulation leaves to the provider concerned the choice of the technologies to be operated to comply effectively with detection orders and should not be understood as incentivising or disincentivising the use of any given technology, provided that the technologies and accompanying measures meet the requirements of this Regulation.

That includes the use of end-to-end encryption technology, which is an important tool to guarantee the security and confidentiality of the communications of users, including those of children. When executing the detection order, providers should take all available safeguard measures to ensure that the technologies employed by them cannot be used by them or their employees for purposes other than compliance with this Regulation, nor by third parties, and thus to avoid undermining the security and confidentiality of the communications of users.

A questions-and-answers document describing the plan emphasizes the importance of scanning end-to-end encrypted messages. "NCMEC [National Center for Missing and Exploited Children] estimates that more than half of its CyberTipline reports will vanish with end-to-end encryption, leaving abuse undetected, unless providers take measures to protect children and their privacy also on end-to-end encrypted services," it says.

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