Clubhouse vs Twitter Spaces.

And Microsoft's Fiverr rival, 25x25 Initiative and your WhatsApp account.

Good morning. Right Click brings you the hottest tech news in a simple 2-min email. (And no, this isn’t about which-smartphones-launched-latest.)


WhatsApp won't delete your account if you say no to their privacy policy. But it will make it useless: You can't send/receive messages or call someone. You can receive calls for a few weeks.

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25% by 2025.

Many Big Tech companies have made very little progress when it comes to diversity. Over half of their employees are white and male.

  • Twitter's leadership, for example, is 61.8% male and 56% white.

To solve this problem, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group launched the 25×25 initiative. And it recently showed us the list of the companies included in this initiative. This list of 20 companies includes Facebook, Twitter and Zoom among others.

And what do they have to do? Make sure 25% of their leadership comes from people of underrepresented groups (people of colour and women). Or, boost the number of these underrepresented people to 25%. And the deadline? 2025.

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Twitter Spaces vs Clubhouse.

— Backdrop: Clubhouse is an audio-only social app where a host interviews someone, while others listen to them live. It’s kinda like an internet-based conference call with up to 5k listeners. Clubhouse’s popularity has been rocketing. First, Elon Musk appeared on a show on the app, followed by Mark Zuckerberg.

Twitter’s making its own Clubhouse clone. It’s called Twitter Spaces and is in beta, iOS-exclusive. When someone you follow hosts a Twitter Space, their profile comes up in the space where fleets usually appear with a purple circle around it.

A new format: The unusual thing is the format. Audio-only conversations. The last social format that was so promising was when Snapchat launched Stories. And Instagram copied it followed by almost all social media apps. This means it’s not necessary that the Clubhouse will enjoy all the value this new format creates. Twitter’s already developing a clone. And 5 days after Mark Zuckerberg was interviewed in a Clubhouse room, this happened:

Twitter’s covering all creators: Clubhouse rooms are for people who already have a following. People like Elon Musk. They’re referred to as the upper class of their creator economy. For the middle class — people who are not as popular but their following is growing — Twitter acquired Revue, a newsletter-creation tool.

While we’re on it: Clubhouse has been downloaded about 4.7 million times to date since launch, according to Apptopia.

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A lot of bitcoins or the environment. You can’t choose both, Tesla.

A while ago Tesla bought $1.5B worth of Bitcoin. And some more whiles ago Tesla aspired to be environment-friendly.

When Tesla bought a lot of bitcoin, prices went up. An all-time high. And more people started mining bitcoin. Which costs a lot of energy which in turn causes greenhouse gas emissions, thus polluting the atmosphere.

If bitcoin were a country, its annual electricity consumption would rank 30th in the world.

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No Mo' Contractors.

Uber always says that Uber drivers don't work at Uber they just use Uber to get customers. And Uber does this so it doesn't have to give drivers sick pay and protection from unfair dismissal.

But UK's Supreme Court says no, no, no, Uber drivers and Uber workers. Uber has been fighting this lawsuit for like 5 years. And now it lost it. Now, this means every driver on Uber gets the same benefits as Uber employees.

What's Uber doing about it? Urging the EU to classify drivers as contractors but still give them some benefits of an employee. California passed a proposal like this earlier.

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Apple is talking to many suppliers to get LiDAR sensors for its upcoming self-driving car. These lidar sensors, kind of, allow the car's self-driving system to see what's around. And that's why it's a key component.

Microsoft is building a Fiverr and Upwork rival integrated into LinkedIn. But why? Why not. A lot of freelancers use LinkedIn and a lot more people who hire those freelancers use LinkedIn. It’s like Twitter making newsletter tools and Clubhouse tools because a lot of people who write newsletters and host CH rooms use Twitter.


Go Read This.

How Koo became India’s Hindu nationalist–approved Twitter alternative. (Rest Of World). This is an interview of Koo’s (the Indian Twitter alternative) founder Aprameya Radhakrishna.

He talks about how he initially built Koo for local language speakers and then added English when Twitter got into troubles in the US. And how despite so many right-leaning people on the app, the app and its founder are apolitical.

The interview took a weird turn at the end when the reporter asked him about the Farmer’s Protest:

So there will be government-regulated laws that would govern the speech on Koo? 

“No, you’re randomly putting words in my mouth. I’m not enjoying this conversation. I’m an independent person; I’m apolitical. We want to unify India. Do you have a problem with me saying that? We’re not a government mouthpiece. We’re not a mouthpiece for any political party. We are apolitical.”

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~ Kunal Mishra.

an Internet Firewall?

Twitter under pressure. Gig workers get insurance. And the SAFE TECH bill. (RC13)

Good morning. Here’s what’s happening: the Indian government told Twitter to shut some accounts down or else find its employees behind the bars. Twitter refused to remove journalists’, activists’, and politicians’ accounts but blocked some other accounts. Accounts of critics of the government.

Government silencing critics. Banning accounts. Perhaps soon banning platforms that don’t ban those accounts. And Indian copies of those platforms popping up (Koo, an Indian copy of Twitter). These are all symptoms of a Chinese disease: an Internet firewall. And it’s worse than coronavirus.


Need To Know

1/ Jeff Bezos is the latest to follow his passion. Later this year, he will step down from being the CEO to Exec Chair “to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions.”

  • Andy Jassy, the current CEO of AWS, Amazon’s Web Hosting business will take over as the CEO of the whole company.

2/ After 18 months, the 4G internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir is finally lifted. Although it was already partially lifted last year in 2 of the 20 districts, the speed was limited to 2G. And that was when the Supreme Court found this ban unwarranted and demonstrated “abuse of power” by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government.


Good for Gig-workers

Over a dozen companies including Amazon, Zomato, Ola and Uber have contributed ₹500 crores to Govt’s Social Security Fund, which is 1-2% of their revenue.

This money will provide health insurance to one million gig workers in India. (Gig workers are people working on a contract and are not treated as employees. Like Zomato’s valets, Uber and Ola drivers, Amazon delivery guys.)

With this in place, gig workers can now enjoy more facilities which were previously only provided to employees.

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SAFE TECH Act Bill.

Backdrop: There’s a law called Section 230 in the US which says a platform cannot be held sued if a user posts something on it that’s illegal. So if someone spreads violence through Twitter, you cannot sue Twitter, you can sue that user.

This caused problems: Because again and again someone misused a platform, and the platform would throw their hands up in the air saying don’t look at me.

But this law is important: Without this law, the internet wouldn’t exist. If you could go and tweet anything you like and Twitter is held responsible for it, Twitter can’t exist.

This is exactly why this law is also called “the 26 Words That Created the Internet.”

"No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

Enter SAFE TECH Act: It’s a middle land between removing section 230 and keeping it. This bill means:

  • Platforms cannot claim safety from Section 230 for cases of civil rights violations, antitrust laws, cyberstalking or actions regarding wrongful death.

  • Section 230 will not apply to paid speech like ads.

  • And, this act limits Section 230 to only speech, not all behaviours. (Illegal gun selling, for example)

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Cool To Know

1/ Mark Zuckerberg showed up at The Good Time Show on Clubhouse. And it’s surprising because interviews like this are rarely his thing. He talked about FB Reality Labs and AR and VR with hosts of the show, Sriram Krishnan and his wife, Aarthi Ramamurthy. And given the growth of Clubhouse and Facebook’s nature, Facebook will build a similar app/feature to compete.

2/ People from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China are now discussing political system and human rights on Clubhouse. And that means the app’s ban in the country might be imminent.

3/ Remember Parler? That app was banned from everywhere because Trump used it to encourage the Capitol Hill attackers and the platform did nothing to stop him. Parler offered Trump’s organisation to buy a 40% stake in the platform for making whatever Trump says exclusive to Parler. People say Trump was never a part of the discussion.

4/ Google paid $6.7 million for Bug Bounties (aka for people who found out bugs on Google’s products)


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Facebook's headache list

And Apple's big numbers, socials following creators. (Right Click 12)

Good morning. It’s the time of the year when companies show off their big report cards — revenues, users, sales. So we’ll start with analysing what’s behind those numbers and what’s ahead of ‘em.

We’ll cover:

  • All the ways the Chinese helped Apple make a big profit

  • Facebook’s numbers and its number of headaches

  • FB, Twitter go where most creators have gone before


Need to Know

1/ Bye Dance: ByteDance, the company behind TikTok, is wondering why the hell are they still in India right now. TikTok is banned. And there’s no sign of it coming back. So, ByteDance is closing it’s India business and dropping 90% of staff (over 1800 people).

2/ Labels gone wrong. Quite literally. Apple last year announced that apps on its App Store will now have privacy nutrition labels that tell you what data the app tracks and stores. But app makers lied. Many labels were false. They under-reported how much data they tracked.

3/ Oversight Board, Facebook’s personal Supreme Court, is taking a tough decision on whether to keep trump or remove him permanently off Facebook. And it needs your comment. Go drop your opinion here. (I wrote about why it’s a tough decision here)

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Apple’s big numbers, thanks to the pandemic

Apple launched the iPhones late. Had to close some of its retail stores. Priced products higher. And Apple still earned an all-time high $111.4 billion, up 21%. Compare that with 2019’s numbers: $91.8 billion, up only 9%.

So just nod your head when I say the pandemic did wonder for Apple. iPhones did $65 billion. iPad sales up 41%. Mac sales up 21%. Apple now has 1B customers using 1.65B Apple devices.

But why exactly?

While we’re on it: Although the Chinese virus did increase Apple’s sales and China’s a big market, China is not a great place to make devices, Apple thinks. Mostly because Trump, who definitely hated China and thus US-China relation isn’t working out. President Biden will likely ease out the tension. But still, Apple’s done with Making in China. That means Apple will slowly bring its plants out of China to — you guessed it — India and Vietnam.

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Facebook’s numbers, headaches and plans

The pandemic means both good and bad things for Facebook: People are using social media more often. But advertising revenue is down.

So Facebook’s milking its cow (the users) to the fullest. That means people are shown more ads and Facebook’s average revenue per user is up to $2.34.

Advertising revenue is up 21% at $84,169 million. But more notably, “Other” revenue is up 71% to $1,796 million. (“Others” = money from selling Oculus VR headsets and Portal video chatting devices)

But that’s the least concern for Facebook. The main problem is Apple. Why? Apple’s increasing privacy controls on Apple devices. That means Facebook can track less data about people, which means ads will be less personalised. And ad revenue will be hit hard.

Now, it important to know that Apple’s not doing it only for its customers’ good. If FB’s ad revenue drops, it’s forced to ask people to pay for a Premium subscription with no ads. (Like YouTube Premium). And Apple’s policies dictate it can take a direct 30% cut from the money FB makes this way on Apple devices.

#2 on Facebook’s headache list are people and groups who incite violence or fight over politics. This is much easier to deal with. FB’s just stopped to recommend such groups to people.

Ending on a positive note: Facebook’s new revenue focus, e-commerce is getting bigger and should soon be a back-up plan for Facebook. You know, just in case something happens to the ad business.

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They go where creators go.

Facebook and Twitter now want their share of profit from the newsletter boom — the rise of Substacks and other newsletters. Here’s how they’re doing it:

Facebook is making its own Substack alternative. The main difference here is Substack earns when fans pay for good writing. But Facebook, an ad company, can put ads on newsletters and share money with writers.

This is good for writers who have a hard time figuring out ads on Substack, which doesn’t have any native ad support. And this is also good for Facebook, which can track which newsletters a user reads and show more ads based on it.

The same goes for Twitter, which instead of making a newsletter platform, bought one: Revue. But there are no ad options yet.

The Big Picture: Newsletters and podcasts are things traditional social media platforms don’t support natively. You can post your entire newsletter or podcast on FB/Insta. But things are changing. Why? because creators are flocking to newsletters and they’re following them.

My bet: Something similar might happen for podcasts. The only reason why it isn’t happening is that markets crowded with big players throwing loads of money: Spotify, Amazon and perhaps Apple in the future.

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To keep Trump or not to?

And let's watch birds. (RC11)

Good morning. Today’s Right Click is more about social media than normal. Because, well, there’s more happening about social media than normal. Let’s get to it.

  • Facebook is passing its Trump ban decision to its personal Supreme Court

  • Twitter’s getting people to watch out for bad birds.


For Starters

  1. White House’s official website now has Dark Mode. So we can all agree Joe Biden’s government is off to a cool start! Plus, he also added support for Spanish (US’s second most common language), which Trump had removed because apparently, it was “a lot of work to do.”

    And there’s an easter egg too: If you go to the website’s HTML code, you’ll find a hiring message from the US Digital Service, the agency that made this site:

    “If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better”  

  2. Amazon wants to help Joe Biden reach his 100M vaccinations in 100 days goal. By administering vaccinations on its facilities and providing the tech and communication needed for distribution. But why? Amazon — and other Big Tech — didn’t get along with Trump, and looks like they want a better relationship with Biden.

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To keep Trump or not to?

Facebook banned Trump’s account in the first week of the new year because of all the violence he encouraged. And now Facebook has a big question to deal with: Should Trump’s banned FB account be restored?

And Facebook can’t decide it on it’s own. Because:

  • If it bans Trump permanently, some people will complain that FB, a private company, has so much unaccountable power on it’s hand.

  • If it bring Trump back, some people will complain Facebook’s doing it for the engagement and hence ad revenue Trump drives. Plus, Trump can again share misinformation and violence encouraging posts.

BUT Facebook has a special weapon to deal with this. And it’s called the Oversight Board.

Oversight what? Think of Oversight Board as Facebook’s personal Supreme Court. Facebook made it yester years for this very situaution — when something comes up that Facebook can’t decide on it’s own.

  • Obviously, that’s not how Facebook describes its Oversight Board. It calls the Board: “an independent board of experts and civic leaders” which takes final decisions on what should be removed from FB and what shouldn’t.

  • So if FB takes your post down from Facebook or Instagram — and they refuse to put it back — then you can appeal to this Board.

Here’s how this works: FB brought its decision — to ban Trump — to the Board for review. Now, 5 members will look at it and draft a written decision. This decision will be shown to all of the 20 members who will either pass it or make the 5 guys review it again. If passed, FB’s got a week to implement it.

But but but. This is the Board’s first big decision. And people are closely looking forward to how independant this Board is from FB. And some say either decision will make it look like it’s not independent:

  • If it keeps Trump banned: It’s just approving Facebook’s original decision.

  • If it restores Trump’s account: It’s doing what’s good for Facebook’s business (Trump drives engagement and buys ads on FB)

Bottomline: For the Board, this decision will define how analysts will look into its future decisions. For most poeple, it’s the answer to “Is the Board trustworthy?” But remember, the decision need not be binary — keep Trump or not — rather it can be keep Trump with limited reach or a review process for each post.

(This one took a while, share this on Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp)

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Watch Bad Birds

When you allow poeple to say anything on the internet some of them say things that shouldn’t be said. Like stuff that’s violence encouraging, racist, abusive, fake etc. Social media platforms deal with this problem with content moderation.

Basically, when you report a FB post — or when a lot of poeple do so — it’s sent to a human moderator sitting behind a screen deciding if it should be taken down.

  • Life of those moderators are miserable. And sadly, FB can’t make an AI to do this dirty job anytime soon.

The result? mental illnesses and PTSD to many mods and a $52M fine to FB.

So Twitter is taking a different approach. Crowdsourcing moderation. Kinda like Wikipedia. And Twitter’s calling it Birdwatch.

How this works: When you report a tweet with Birdwatch, you write a short note telling why this tweet should be removed or what’s wrong in the tweet. When a lot of people do it, Twitter can display a warning label on the tweet or remove it.

For example: here’s a misinformation tweet

and here’s a helpful birdwatch note:

How to be a birdwatcher: Birdwatch is currently only available in the US. But it will be released broadly soon. Anyways, your account must have these things to watch the birds:

  • verified phone and email address

  • a trusted US phone carrier (to prevent accounts made by fake phone numbers

  • 2 factor authentication (so no one else is using one’s account)

  • no recent Twitter rule violation

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What Else

🐦 Twitter bought Revue, which let’s writers write long-form newsletters. Kinda like Substack. The trend is Twitter’s buying a lot of creator tools like podcasts and video chat startups. Twitter says Revue will remain a standalone platform. It also made Revue’s Pro features free for all and it’s revenue share down to 5%.

🚶 Apple launches Time to Walk which is a audio show of sorts where “influential and interesting people” share their stories and memories while walking and thus (somehow) encouraging you to walk too. Only for Fitness+ subscribers. First 4 episodes include country music star Dolly Parton, NBA player Draymond Green, Musician Shawn Mendes, and Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba.

🗞 Facebooks News tab comes to UK where FB partnered with a host of media houses to curate and give news recommendations for users. Will FB be the top source for news?


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Apple Podcast+, anyone?

WhatsApp delays privacy changes. And more. RC10

Good morning. Today, the US President Trump will drop his “President” title. And President-elect Biden will drop the “elect.” This is big. We’ll see how this moment affects the tech industry.


For starters

  1. Twitter’s preparing to welcome President Biden to his @POTUS (President Of The US) account tomorrow. The @POTUS account currently Trump uses will become @POTUS45 and @PresElectBiden will become @POTUS. Followed by the transition of @WhiteHouse, @VP, @ FLOTUS and @PressSec

  2. Byjus signed a $1 billion deal to buy Aakash, the test prep leader with 200 centres all over the country. It’s one of the largest edtech acquisitions in the world and also the answer to why’s Byju’s raising so much money.

  3. Amazon’s selling Alexa’s AI tech to companies who want their own voice assistant but can’t build or maintain anything like that. Basically, these companies can add their own commands and features, and change the “Hey Alexa” wake word for anything they like.

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How about Apple Podcast+?

Apple seriously needs to find out who’s leaking insider information to the press. After Apple Car, someone told Bloomberg anonymously about Apple’s plans for a Podcast subscription.

This only seems obvious because:

  • One, the word “Podcasts” was popularised by Apple’s iPods.

  • Two, most of the podcast listeners in the US already use Apple’s Podcast app, which is free.

  • And Apple already bought 2 podcast startups (ScoutFM and Pop up Archive) and was trying to buy Wondery, a podcast studio before Amazon closed the deal.

The name: Apple Podcasts+ — I made it up based on Apple’s previous subscription names. (TV+, Fitness+…)

The Fight: The podcast subscription market is crowded. Spotify and now Amazon are already throwing millions of dollars buying Podcast Startups to make exclusive shows. Can Apple bring anything new to the table? Probably not.

  • But same goes Apple TV+. Netflix and Amazon are fighting here already. And Apple still entered the market with nothing new.

What Apple will do: Same as what everyone else did. Buy or partner with podcasters to make their shows exclusive to Podcast+ or launch original shows.

Bonus points for the bundle: If you buy Apple Podcasts for (say) $5 a month and you already use (say) Spotify for $10, you are more likely to ditch Spotify and buy Apple One for $15 a month to get Apple TV+, Music, Arcade, iCloud and maybe Podcast+

Death to Open Podcasting. If Apple, Amazon and Spotify make almost all podcasts exclusive to their platform — meaning you can’t hear them on any other app — the podcast industry will change forever and for worse.

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WhatsApp delays privacy policy changes for 3 months.

But will it help? I hardly think so.

Here’s why:

  1. All the buzz this policy change made on Twitter was dying away anyway. The news of this delaying will just re-fuel another wave of tweets.

  2. Worse still, WhatsApp will ask you to accept this policy again after 3 months. And this trend will revive again.

  3. WhatsApp still has a pretty strong grasp on its Indian users. You can’t switch to Telegram/Signal completely until all the people you chat with have switched as well. And they won’t switch until all people they chat with don’t switch. So basically people who don’t care as much about their privacy or are too reluctant to change will stop others from uninstalling WhatsApp. (It’s called Network Effects)

So, how to break network effects? Make chat apps like emails. No matter which service you use — Gmail, Apple Mails, Outlook — you can email anyone. Why isn’t there something like this for chat apps already? 

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What Else?

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