Week in Review - Facebook needs to back down

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Saturday, February 20, 2021 By Lucas Matney

Hello friends and welcome to Week in Review.

Last week, I talked about legislation in Australia that was threatening business as usual for tech platforms. This week, Facebook pulled news sharing and discovery off the platform in Australia as a response to the legislation. More on that further below, but I want to talk about global internet regulation more broadly first.

If you're reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

The big thing

Internet regulation has been a looming specter for years. American regulators have been quick to threaten and slow to carry out busting up the party for American tech companies, but I think we’re moving towards a period of deep cuts that will really challenge what the web has become.

We talked about it a bit last week with Australia’s legislation pushing tech platforms to pay news publishers for access to content, but we saw it actually get carried out this week as Facebook shut off Australian news sources from its global web of users while restricting users in Australia from viewing or sharing any news links.

Australia is taking an aggressive stance with news publishers, they’re also talking about one of the more aggressive anti-encryption bans. The United States might be less sensitive to the plights of declining newspaper revenues but the DoJ has already expressed misgivings about encryption. Meanwhile, India is plotting a ban on cryptocurrencies that could take down access to the legit exchanges in the country.

It’s a sign that the “open web” is under attack and it’s also a sign that the “open web” proponents should probably be pushing platform owners to be operating with a greater eye towards self-preservation. Running game theory in the wild west leads to some versions of the future that probably isn’t ideal.

Finding consensus among global governments is the fool’s errand of fool’s errands, it should be easier for mainstream tech platforms to dig deep and find solutions to the issues governments are grappling with rather than clinging to the theatrics and courses of least resistance. Centralized platforms are going to find themselves mired in building for a lowest common denominator global internet unless they can self-police.

That’s going to be extremely frustrating to “open web” advocates who see this as a betrayal, but in reality it’s a desperate act to find a shared solution for a sustainable web operating on the backs of a few giant platforms.  These advocates are likely going to find new solutions that work for them including peer-to-peer platforms or they’ll just start their own companies. But I think it should be an uncontroversial take that the worst thing that can happen is huge platforms push their luck and we end up with a global web legislative backlog that takes a century to undo and cripples the web’s utility. Facebook is the global boogeyman and the one that probably needs the biggest dose of humility.

The big thing image

Image Credits: Yuichiro Chino / Getty Images

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Other things

Facebook pulls nuclear option in Australia
The biggest story of the week in the tech world was the continuation of what we talked about last week with Facebook calling Australia’s bluff and kicking news content off the platform. Seemingly in protest of pending legislation aiming to push digital platforms to pay media orgs for access to content, Facebook halted Australian users abilities to share or view news content while global users were unable to share or view Australian publishers. It’s a jarring flip to switch, but as Google plays ball signing early deals with news publishers to stay in business, it’s wildly unclear what Facebook’s future looks like in Australia.

Parler is back
After a few weeks offline following its de-platforming from Google’s Play Store, Apple’s App Store and — most critically — Amazon Web Services, Parler is back and under a new CEO. The right-wing social media site won’t be taken offline so easily now, but questions remain whether it can develop a wide following without support from major app platforms.

SpaceX scores $850 million
While Tesla has gotten plenty of attention in 2020, Musk’s space company isn’t doing so poorly either. This week, reports emerged that the space company was raising $850 million from private investors who seem exceptionally bullish on the company’s Starlink internet project.

Epic Games takes Apple antitrust fight to Europe
The battle over App Store payments has been taken overseas. This week, Fortnite-maker Epic Games filed a complaint against Apple’s App Store practices in the EU, signaling they are fully intent on making life difficult for the tech giant.

Elon Musk bulks up Starlink
After yet another launch, the total number of active in-orbit Starlink satellites is around 1,000, showcasing that the company is nearing primetime as it opens orders for future customers. This follows Musk’s admission earlier this month, that he plans to one day spin Starlink out of SpaceX as its own public company.

TikTok joins patent troll protection group
The patent system in the United States is pretty broken leading to plenty of potential poor-faith patent infringement lawsuits across the board. My colleague Frederic dove into a patent troll protection agency called LOT which is aiming to provide “herd immunity” to patent holders.

Other things image

Image Credits: SpaceX

Extra things

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:

What’s coming up next for Extra Crunch Live
“Extra Crunch Live is off to a kick-ass start this year. Lightspeed's Gaurav Gupta and Grafana's Raj Dutt taught us how to nail the narrative. Felicis Ventures' Aydin Senkut and Guideline's Kevin Busque showed us how valuable a simple pitch deck can be. And just yesterday, Accel's Steve Loughlin and Ironclad's Jason Boehmig discussed the challenges of pricing and packaging your product. Next week, we'll sit down with Bain Capital Ventures' Matt Harris and Justworks' Isaac Oats..” More

Tips for filing a green card for my soon-to-be spouse
“Dear Sophie: My fiancé is in the U.S. on an H-1B visa, which is set to expire in about a year and a half.

We were originally planning to marry last year, but both he and I want to have a ceremony and party with our families and friends, so we decided to hold off until the pandemic ends. I'm a U.S. citizen and plan to sponsor my fiancé for a green card.

How long does it typically take to get a green card for a spouse? Any tips you can share? More

4 strategies for deep tech startups recruiting top growth marketers
“[H]ow do deep tech companies connect and cultivate strong relationships with talented nontechnical growth people outside of their industry? In this article, I answer this question, articulating exactly how to:

  • Write role descriptions that entice talented growth people.
  • Create company marketing materials that brands your startup well to talent.
  • Craft thoughtful end-to-end candidate experiences for growth talent.
  • Close top growth candidates.” More
Extra things image

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