Twitter, Facebook, Lobbyists, and A Major Shakeup to Big Locomotive

Twitter’s got 99 problems but Russian Propaganda ain’t one.

Twitter seems to spawn terrible things. Gamergate thrived there. Nazi’s organize there, and it may be where the nuclear wars of our future begin. Last week, the service banned advertising from Kremlin propaganda organizations RT and Sputnik:

Twitter’s ban comes as United States authorities are pressuring Russia Today to register as a foreign agent under a World War II-era law intended to stop Nazi propaganda.
Amazing that a media related law passed before most of our parents were born can still be doing important work re: suppressing Nazi’s.

Unfriend them while they’re down.

Since the election, tech companies have been under more scrutiny by the government and the general public. It’s opened the door to legacy media and other companies from the time before online to try and score some regulation on big tech companies. But big tech isn’t afraid to get catty:

“It is unfortunate that companies that have been slow to innovate in a changing consumer-first marketplace are looking for wins through regulation or by scoring cheap political points,” said Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, a lobbying group that represents Amazon, Facebook and Google.

It never hurts to have deep pockets:

House and Senate staffs say lobbyists for the big technology companies have swarmed their offices in recent weeks. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have sharply increased their lobbying spending — a combined $14.2 million in the third quarter, up from $11.9 million a year earlier.

But Facebook seems to want to solve the problem on its own, without increased regulation. So they did what any self-respecting high tech silicone valley company would do: they held focus groups to test messaging.

Among the test messages were “we’re not a news organization” and “we can combat the problems with automated buys with other automated tools.”
Catchy. Ship ‘em!

Meanwhile, Big Shakeup at Big Locomotive:

Legacy Corporation, GE, is exiting the railroad business

Although GE is one of the world’s biggest makers of freight locomotives, the business is cyclical and has been suffering lately from slack demand. In the first nine months of 2017, the unit’s revenue slipped 8% and profits fell 15%. The division accounted for $4.7 billion of GE’s total revenue of $123.7 billion last year.

Somewhere, a brand manager at GAP has indigestion:



Watches Will Set You Free!

Apple’s announcements last month left people mostly talking about the iPhone X. Lost in the initial reaction was the new Apple Watch with cellular connectivity. It struck me as something I don’t want or need. Another 10 dollars a month (which my wife doesn’t want to spend) for another way to make phone calls (which I don’t like having) on my wrist (where I don’t want to have them).

But as these new watches have made their way out into the world, I’ve seen reports of an unexpected benefit to the Dick Tracey watch lifestyle: Freedom from Smartphones.

Jared Sinclair wrote about it best:

Apple Watch with cellular supports a critical slice of the features a smartphone provides, which means I get to enjoy best of both the old and new worlds: I am free from the temptation to waste quiet moments on social media and soul-crushing national news, but not at the expense of missing out on texts and phone calls from friends and family, or getting directions home, or triaging the occasional urgent email. This newfound flexibility is, simply put, mind-blowing.

I’ve never seriously considered going back to a flip phone or getting one of the rereleased Nokia 3100 dumb-phones. But I’ve flirted with the idea of the idea.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to be bored again?”

“Wouldn’t it be fun to not worry about whether those studies showing that we’re dumb when our phones are even nearby are accurate?”

“What if I could stop staring at Twitter in anger for hours on end, and instead could stare angrily at cable news for hours on end?”

What if we didn’t have that instant hit of dopamine within reach at all times?

Maybe the Apple Watch with LTE can provide a way of getting there without becoming unreachable for emergencies or donut orders.