SAN FRANCISCO — Bitcoin was conceived more than a decade ago as “digital gold,” a long-term store of value that would resist broader economic trends and provide a hedge against inflation.
But Bitcoin’s crashing price over the last month shows that vision is a long way from reality. Instead, traders are increasingly treating the cryptocurrency like just another speculative tech investment.
Since the start of this year, Bitcoin’s price movement has closely mirrored that of the Nasdaq, a benchmark that’s heavily weighted toward technology stocks, according to an analysis by the data firm Arcane Research. That means that as Bitcoin’s price dropped more than 25 percent over the last month, to under $30,000 on Wednesday — less than half its November peak — the plunge came in near lock step with a broader collapse of tech stocks as investors grappled with higher interest rates and the war in Ukraine.
The growing correlation helps explain why those who bought the cryptocurrency last year, hoping it would grow more valuable, have seen their investment crater. And while Bitcoin has always been volatile, its increasing resemblance to risky tech stocks starkly shows that its promise as a transformative asset remains unfulfilled.
institutional investors like hedge funds, endowments and family offices that have poured money into the cryptocurrency market.
declining revenue and a loss of $430 million in the first quarter. The company’s stock has fallen more than 75 percent overall this year.
The Nasdaq is already in bear-market territory, having ended Wednesday down 29 percent from its mid-November record. November was also when Bitcoin’s price hit a peak of nearly $70,000. The crash has been a reality check for Bitcoin evangelists.
Ukrainian counteroffensive near Kharkiv appears to have contributed to sharply reduced Russian shelling in the eastern city. But Moscow’s forces are making advances along other parts of the front line.
American aid. The House voted 368 to 57 in favor of a $39.8 billion aid package for Ukraine, which would bring the total U.S. financial commitment to roughly $53 billion over two months. The Senate still needs to vote on the proposal.
Russian oil embargo. European Union ambassadors again failed to reach an agreement to ban Russian oil, because Hungary has resisted the adoption of the embargo. The country is preventing the bloc from presenting a united front against Moscow.
Bitcoin has rebounded from major losses before, and its long-term growth remains impressive. Before the pandemic boom in crypto prices, its value hovered well below $10,000. True believers, who call themselves Bitcoin maximalists, remain adamant that the cryptocurrency will eventually break from its correlation with risk assets.
Michael Saylor, the chief executive of the business-intelligence company MicroStrategy, has spent billions of his firm’s money on Bitcoin, building up a stockpile of more than 125,000 coins. As the price of Bitcoin has cratered, the company’s stock has dropped roughly 75 percent since November.
In an email, Mr. Saylor blamed the crash on “traders and technocrats” who don’t appreciate Bitcoin’s long-term potential to transform the global financial system.
“In the near term, the market will be dominated by those with less appreciation of the virtues of Bitcoin,” he said. “Over the long term, the maximalists will be proven correct, because billions of people need this solution, and awareness is spreading to millions more each month.”
Even more recently, corporate leaders were reminded of how fraught engagement can be. Disney, for example, faced internal backlash when its leadership declined to take a strong stance against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education act, which critics often refer to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. But when the chief executive did take a public stance, the company was crucified on social media, and the state revoked its special tax benefits.
From Opinion: A Challenge to Roe v. Wade
Commentary by Times Opinion writers and columnists on the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Now, with the expected demise of the country’s landmark abortion law, corporate leaders are confronting the hottest of hot-button issues. In a Pew Research poll in 2021, 59 percent of Americans said they believed that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 39 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases. People on all sides of the issue feel strongly about it, with nearly a quarter of Americans saying they will vote only for candidates who share their views on abortion, according to Gallup.
That all adds up to many reasons a company would want to avoid making any statement on abortion — and all the more reason that customers and workers could come to see it as necessary. A company’s position on the end of Roe could have repercussions for how it hires in an increasingly competitive labor market, and how customers view its brand.
“Abortion is a health care issue, health care is an employer issue, so abortion is an issue for employers,” said Carolyn Witte, chief executive of Tia, a women’s health care company. On Tuesday, Tia announced that it would provide medication abortions through its telemedicine platform in states where it operated and where doing so was legal.
For some major companies that have been known to weigh in on political and social issues, this week has been unusually quiet. Walmart, Disney, Meta, PwC, Salesforce, JPMorgan Chase, ThirdLove, Patagonia, Kroger and Business Roundtable were among the companies and organizations that declined to comment or take a position, or did not respond to requests for comment about whether they plan to make public statements about their stance on abortion. Hobby Lobby, which in 2014 brought a suit to the Supreme Court challenging whether employer-provided health care had to include contraception, made no public statement and did not respond to a request for comment.
Other companies did wade in. United Talent Agency said it would reimburse travel expenses for employees affected by abortion bans. Airbnb said it would ensure its employees “have the resources they need to make choices about their reproductive rights.” Levi Strauss & Company, which has said its benefits plan will reimburse employees who have to travel out of state for health care services such as abortions, said abortion was a business issue.
Concerns center around Twitter’s ability to moderate content
Fear Musk’s views on moderation may allow trolling to flourish
Twitter management, employees make daily decisions -spokesperson
April 7 (Reuters) – News of Tesla (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk taking a board seat at Twitter (TWTR.N) has some Twitter employees panicking over the future of the social media firm’s ability to moderate content, company insiders told Reuters.
Within hours of the surprise disclosure this week that Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” acquired enough shares to become the top Twitter shareholder, political conservatives began flooding social media with calls for the return of Donald Trump. The former U.S. president was banned from Facebook and Twitter after the Jan 6. Capitol riot over concerns around incitement of violence.
“Now that @ElonMusk is Twitter’s largest shareholder, it’s time to lift the political censorship. Oh… and BRING BACK TRUMP!,” tweeted Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert on Monday.
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Despite Twitter’s reiteration this week that the board does not make policy decisions, four Twitter employees who spoke with Reuters said they were concerned about Musk’s ability to influence the company’s policies on abusive users and harmful content.
With Musk on the board, the employees said his views on moderation could weaken years-long efforts to make Twitter a place of healthy discourse, and might allow trolling and mob attacks to flourish.
In the wake of Trump’s ban from Facebook and Twitter, the billionaire tweeted that many people would be unhappy with U.S. tech companies acting “as the de facto arbiter of free speech.”
Musk has not articulated what he wants to do as a new board member but he has telegraphed his intentions with his Twitter activity. A week before Musk disclosed a 9.1% stake in Twitter, he polled his 80 million followers on whether the site adhered to the principle of free speech, and the majority voted ‘no.’
The employees, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, point to Musk’s history of using Twitter to attack critics. In 2018, Musk came under fire for accusing a British diver who had helped rescue children trapped in a cave in Thailand of being a pedophile.
Musk won a defamation case brought by the diver in 2019.
When asked for comment, a Twitter spokesperson repeated a statement from Tuesday that the board “plays an important advisory and feedback role across the entirety of our service,” but daily operations and decisions are made by Twitter’s management and employees.
“Twitter is committed to impartiality in the development and enforcement of its policies and rules,” the spokesperson said.
Some employees that Reuters spoke to were not so sure about the company’s commitment to this.
“I find it hard to believe (the board) doesn’t have influence,” said one employee. “If that’s the case, why would Elon want a board seat?”
But other employees Reuters spoke to said that Musk’s involvement could help quicken the pace of new feature and product launches, and provide a fresh perspective as an active user of Twitter.
Neither Tesla nor Musk responded to requests for comment.
Twitter’s board figures prominently in discussions within Twitter, more so than at other tech companies, one employee said. That is because unlike Meta Platforms Inc, where founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg controls the company through a dual class share structure, Twitter only has a single class of shares, making it more vulnerable to activists like Musk. Teams within Twitter often consider how to communicate a strategy or decision to the board, for instance, the employee said.
On Thursday, Musk tweeted an image from 2018 of him smoking weed on the Joe Rogan podcast on Spotify, with the text: “Twitter’s next board meeting is going to be lit.”
One employee familiar with the company’s operations said there were no current plans to reinstate Trump. A Twitter spokesperson said there were no plans to reverse any policy decisions.
But a veteran auto analyst who covers Musk’s operating style at Tesla said such a decision may only be a matter of time.
“If Donald Trump was actually rich, he would have liked to have done the same thing but he couldn’t afford it. So Elon is doing what Trump would have liked to have done,” said Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid.
“I wouldn’t be surprised” if Twitter restores Trump’s account now that Elon owns nearly 10% of the company,” he said.
Longer term, employees said Musk’s involvement may change Twitter’s corporate culture, which they say currently values inclusivity. Musk has faced widespread criticism for posting memes that mocked transgender people and efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19, and for comparing some world leaders to Hitler.
Several employees were alarmed by the warm welcome Musk received from Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and cofounder Jack Dorsey, which prompted them to hit the job market this week.
“Some people are dusting off their resumes,” one person said. “I don’t want to work for somebody (like Musk).”
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Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco; Editing by Kenneth Li, Aurora Ellis and Bernadette Baum
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
While Meta adjusts, some small businesses have begun seeking other avenues for ads. Shawn Baker, the owner of Baker SoftWash, an exterior cleaning company in Mooresville, N.C., said it previously took about $6 of Facebook ads to identify a new customer. Now it costs $27 because the ads do not find the right people, he said.
Mr. Baker has started spending $200 a month to advertise through Google’s marketing program for local businesses, which surfaces his website when people who live in the area search for cleaners. To compensate for those higher marketing costs, he has raised his prices 7 percent.
“You’re spending more money now than what you had to spend before to do the same things,” he said.
Other tech giants with first-party information are capitalizing on the change. Amazon, for example, has reams of data on its customers, including what they buy, where they reside, and what movies or TV shows they stream.
In February, Amazon disclosed the size of its advertising business — $31.2 billion in revenue in 2021 — for the first time. That makes advertising its third-largest source of sales after e-commerce and cloud computing. Amazon declined to comment.
Amber Murray, the owner of See Your Strength in St. George, Utah, which sells stickers online for people with anxiety, started experimenting with ads on Amazon after the performance of Facebook ads deteriorated. The results were remarkable, she said.
In February, she paid about $200 for Amazon to feature her products near the top of search results when customers looked up textured stickers. Sales totaled $250 a day and continued to grow, she said. When she spent $85 on a Facebook ad campaign in January, it yielded just $37.50 in sales, she said.
“I think the golden days of Facebook advertising are over,” Ms. Murray said. “On Amazon, people are looking for you, instead of you telling people what they should want.”
Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, took an unusual step last week: It suspended some of the quality controls that ensure that posts from users in Russia, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries meet its rules.
Under the change, Meta temporarily stopped tracking whether its workers who monitor Facebook and Instagram posts from those areas were accurately enforcing its content guidelines, six people with knowledge of the situation said. That’s because the workers could not keep up with shifting rules about what kinds of posts were allowed about the war in Ukraine, they said.
Meta has made more than half a dozen content policy revisions since Russia invaded Ukraine last month. The company has permitted posts about the conflict that it would normally have taken down — including some calling for the death of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and violence against Russian soldiers — before changing its mind or drawing up new guidelines, the people said.
The result has been internal confusion, especially among the content moderators who patrol Facebook and Instagram for text and images with gore, hate speech and incitements to violence. Meta has sometimes shifted its rules on a daily basis, causing whiplash, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly.
contended with pressure from Russian and Ukrainian authorities over the information battle about the conflict. And internally, it has dealt with discontent about its decisions, including from Russian employees concerned for their safety and Ukrainian workers who want the company to be tougher on Kremlin-affiliated organizations online, three people said.
Meta has weathered international strife before — including the genocide of a Muslim minority in Myanmar last decade and skirmishes between India and Pakistan — with varying degrees of success. Now the largest conflict on the European continent since World War II has become a litmus test of whether the company has learned to police its platforms during major global crises — and so far, it appears to remain a work in progress.
“All the ingredients of the Russia-Ukraine conflict have been around for a long time: the calls for violence, the disinformation, the propaganda from state media,” said David Kaye, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and a former special rapporteur to the United Nations. “What I find mystifying was that they didn’t have a game plan to deal with it.”
Dani Lever, a Meta spokeswoman, declined to directly address how the company was handling content decisions and employee concerns during the war.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Meta said it established a round-the-clock special operations team staffed by employees who are native Russian and Ukrainian speakers. It also updated its products to aid civilians in the war, including features that direct Ukrainians toward reliable, verified information to locate housing and refugee assistance.
Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s chief executive, and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, have been directly involved in the response to the war, said two people with knowledge of the efforts. But as Mr. Zuckerberg focuses on transforming Meta into a company that will lead the digital worlds of the so-called metaverse, many responsibilities around the conflict have fallen — at least publicly — to Nick Clegg, the president for global affairs.
announced that Meta would restrict access within the European Union to the pages of Russia Today and Sputnik, which are Russian state-controlled media, following requests by Ukraine and other European governments. Russia retaliated by cutting off access to Facebook inside the country, claiming the company discriminated against Russian media, and then blocking Instagram.
This month, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine praised Meta for moving quickly to limit Russian war propaganda on its platforms. Meta also acted rapidly to remove an edited “deepfake” video from its platforms that falsely featured Mr. Zelensky yielding to Russian forces.
a group called the Ukrainian Legion to run ads on its platforms this month to recruit “foreigners” for the Ukrainian army, a violation of international laws. It later removed the ads — which were shown to people in the United States, Ireland, Germany and elsewhere — because the group may have misrepresented ties to the Ukrainian government, according to Meta.
Internally, Meta had also started changing its content policies to deal with the fast-moving nature of posts about the war. The company has long forbidden posts that might incite violence. But on Feb. 26, two days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Meta informed its content moderators — who are typically contractors — that it would allow calls for the death of Mr. Putin and “calls for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion,” according to the policy changes, which were reviewed by The New York Times.
Reuters reported on Meta’s shifts with a headline that suggested that posts calling for violence against all Russians would be tolerated. In response, Russian authorities labeled Meta’s activities as “extremist.”
Shortly thereafter, Meta reversed course and said it would not let its users call for the deaths of heads of state.
“Circumstances in Ukraine are fast moving,” Mr. Clegg wrote in an internal memo that was reviewed by The Times and first reported by Bloomberg. “We try to think through all the consequences, and we keep our guidance under constant review because the context is always evolving.”
Meta amended other policies. This month, it made a temporary exception to its hate speech guidelines so users could post about the “removal of Russians” and “explicit exclusion against Russians” in 12 Eastern European countries, according to internal documents. But within a week, Meta tweaked the rule to note that it should be applied only to users in Ukraine.
The constant adjustments left moderators who oversee users in Central and Eastern European countries confused, the six people with knowledge of the situation said.
Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments
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Putin’s advisers. U.S. intelligence suggests that President Vladimir V. Putin has been misinformed by his advisers about the Russian military’s struggles in Ukraine. The intelligence shows what appears to be growing tension between Mr. Putin and the Ministry of Defense, U.S. officials said.
The policy changes were onerous because moderators were generally given less than 90 seconds to decide on whether images of dead bodies, videos of limbs being blown off, or outright calls to violence violated Meta’s rules, they said. In some instances, they added, moderators were shown posts about the war in Chechen, Kazakh or Kyrgyz, despite not knowing those languages.
Ms. Lever declined to comment on whether Meta had hired content moderators who specialize in those languages.
take action against Russia Today and Sputnik, said two people who attended. Russian state activity was at the center of Facebook’s failure to protect the 2016 U.S. presidential election, they said, and it didn’t make sense that those outlets had continued to operate on Meta’s platforms.
While Meta has no employees in Russia, the company held a separate meeting this month for workers with Russian connections. Those employees said they were concerned that Moscow’s actions against the company would affect them, according to an internal document.
In discussions on Meta’s internal forums, which were viewed by The Times, some Russian employees said they had erased their place of work from their online profiles. Others wondered what would happen if they worked in the company’s offices in places with extradition treaties to Russia and “what kind of risks will be associated with working at Meta not just for us but our families.”
Ms. Lever said Meta’s “hearts go out to all of our employees who are affected by the war in Ukraine, and our teams are working to make sure they and their families have the support they need.”
At a separate company meeting this month, some employees voiced unhappiness with the changes to the speech policies during the war, according to an internal poll. Some asked if the new rules were necessary, calling the changes “a slippery slope” that were “being used as proof that Westerners hate Russians.”
Others asked about the effect on Meta’s business. “Will Russian ban affect our revenue for the quarter? Future quarters?” read one question. “What’s our recovery strategy?”
Wall Street has been quick to shift its Covid-19 protocols after New York State dropped its indoor mask mandate last month. At JPMorgan Chase, masks are now voluntary for vaccinated and unvaccinated employees, and the firm will discontinue mandatory Covid testing as well as the reporting of Covid infections by April 4. At Morgan Stanley, where vaccines are required to enter the office, the mask requirement was dropped early last month.
Goldman Sachs dropped mask requirements on Feb. 14, though it still requires testing. Citigroup dropped its mask requirement last week. Wells Fargo has maintained more rigid Covid protocols than some of its finance peers, requiring unvaccinated employees to wear a mask at all times unless they are eating, drinking or alone in an enclosed room.
Other industries that have made a push for in-person work, such as real estate, have also reformulated their Covid guidelines in recent weeks. BlackRock, which has asked its 7,600 U.S. employees to return to the office at least three days a week, no longer requires masks in its U.S. offices, though employees have to be vaccinated to enter the building and are asked to test twice a week. Prologis, a logistics real estate firm, said its office mask guidelines were consistent with local regulations. Guardian Life Insurance, which has about 6,300 U.S. employees, does not have an in-office mask requirement in most areas of the country.
Still, some tech companies are holding firm on Covid safety protocols. Google requires any unvaccinated employees with approval to enter its offices to test regularly and wear a mask. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, requires anyone entering the office to be vaccinated — including with a booster starting March 28 — and follows local guidelines on masking.
Intuit announced on Wednesday that starting on May 16, its 11,500 U.S. employees would return to the office in a hybrid model, in which teams determine how many days per week workers should be in person. While the company requires anyone entering its offices to be vaccinated, it follows local and state guidelines on masking, meaning masks are not required in any of its U.S. offices.
“We’ve tried to stress that people should feel comfortable doing whatever feels best for them,” said Chris Glennon, Intuit’s vice president of global real estate and workplace. “We are seeing some folks masking, particularly in public areas, but by and large most are not masking.”
Youtube logo is placed on a Russian flag in this illustration picture taken February 26, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
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Russia demands YouTube stop spreading threats to Russians
Facebook, Instagram blocked in Russia; Google under pressure
Russia says it has tools to develop its own social media
March 18 (Reuters) – Russia on Friday demanded that Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google stop spreading what it called threats against Russian citizens on its YouTube video-sharing platform, a move that could presage an outright block of the service on Russian territory.
The regulator, Roskomnadzor, said adverts on the platform were calling for the communications systems of Russia and Belarus’ railway networks to be suspended and that their dissemination was evidence of the U.S. company’s anti-Russian position. It did not say which accounts were publishing the adverts.
“The actions of YouTube’s administration are of a terrorist nature and threaten the life and health of Russian citizens,” the regulator said.
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“Roskomnadzor categorically opposes such advertising campaigns and demands that Google stop broadcasting anti-Russia videos as soon as possible.”
Google removed an advertisement that was flagged by the Russian government, according to a source familiar with the matter who declined to describe it.
The dispute was the latest in a series between Moscow and foreign tech firms over Ukraine.
YouTube, which has blocked Russian state-funded media globally, is under heavy pressure from Russia’s communications regulator and politicians.
Outraged that Meta Platforms (FB.O) was allowing social media users in Ukraine to post messages such as “Death to the Russian invaders”, Moscow blocked Instagram this week, having already stopped access to Facebook because of what it said were restrictions by the platform on Russian media. read more
Russian news media including RIA and Sputnik quoted an unnamed source as saying YouTube could be blocked next week or as early as Friday.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday wrote a fierce criticism of foreign social media firms, mentioning by name both Meta and YouTube, but he hinted that the door leading to their possible return to the Russian market would be left ajar.
“The ‘guardians’ of free speech have in all seriousness allowed users of their social media to wish death upon the Russian military,” Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012 and is now deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, wrote on the messaging app Telegram.
Medvedev said Russia has the necessary tools and experience to develop its own social media, saying the “one-way game” of Western firms controlling information flows could not continue.
“In order to return, they will have to prove their independence and good attitude to Russia and its citizens,” he wrote. “However, it is not a fact that they will be able to dip their toes in the same water twice.”
VKontakte, Russia’s answer to Facebook, has been breaking records for activity on its platform since Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The site attracted 300,000 new users in the two weeks after Russia began what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarise and “de-Nazify” its neighbour.
On the day Instagram was blocked in Russia, VKontakte said its daily domestic audience grew by 8.7% to more than 50 million people, a new record.
Anton Gorelkin, a member of Russia’s State Duma committee on information and communications, pointed Russians to services that would help them move videos from YouTube to the domestic equivalent, RuTube.
“It’s not that I’m calling for everyone to immediately leave YouTube,” he said on his Telegram channel. “But, probably, in light of recent events it is worth following the principle of not keeping all your eggs in one basket.”
He said earlier this week that YouTube may face the same fate as Instagram if it continues “to act as a weapon in the information war”.
Russian tech entrepreneurs said this week they would launch picture-sharing application Rossgram on the domestic market to help fill the void left by Instagram. read more
In November, Gazprom Media launched Yappy as a domestic rival to video-sharing platform TikTok.
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Reporting by Reuters
Editing by Andrei Khalip, Angus MacSwan, Frances Kerry and Grant McCool
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After war began last month, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine turned to Mykhailo Fedorov, a vice prime minister, for a key role.
Mr. Fedorov, 31, the youngest member of Mr. Zelensky’s cabinet, immediately took charge of a parallel prong of Ukraine’s defense against Russia. He began a campaign to rally support from multinational businesses to sunder Russia from the world economy and to cut off the country from the global internet, taking aim at everything from access to new iPhones and PlayStations to Western Union money transfers and PayPal.
To achieve Russia’s isolation, Mr. Fedorov, a former tech entrepreneur, used a mix of social media, cryptocurrencies and other digital tools. On Twitter and other social media, he pressured Apple, Google, Netflix, Intel, PayPal and others to stop doing business in Russia. He helped form a group of volunteer hackers to wreak havoc on Russian websites and online services. His ministry also set up a cryptocurrency fund that has raised more than $60 million for the Ukrainian military.
The work has made Mr. Fedorov one of Mr. Zelensky’s most visible lieutenants, deploying technology and finance as modern weapons of war. In effect, Mr. Fedorov is creating a new playbook for military conflicts that shows how an outgunned country can use the internet, crypto, digital activism and frequent posts on Twitter to help undercut a foreign aggressor.
McDonald’s have withdrawn from Russia, with the war’s human toll provoking horror and outrage. Economic sanctions by the United States, European Union and others have played a central role in isolating Russia.
Mr. Zelensky was elected in 2019, he appointed Mr. Fedorov, then 28, to be minister of digital transformation, putting him in charge of digitizing Ukrainian social services. Through a government app, people could pay speeding tickets or manage their taxes. Last year, Mr. Fedorov visited Silicon Valley to meet with leaders including Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple.
Russia invaded Ukraine, Mr. Fedorov immediately pressured tech companies to pull out of Russia. He made the decision with Mr. Zelensky’s backing, he said, and the two men speak every day.
“I think this choice is as black and white as it ever gets,” Mr. Fedorov said. “It is time to take a side, either to take the side of peace or to take the side of terror and murder.”
On Feb. 25, he sent letters to Apple, Google and Netflix, asking them to restrict access to their services in Russia. Less than a week later, Apple stopped selling new iPhones and other products in Russia.
Russia damaged the country’s main telecommunications infrastructure. Two days after contacting Mr. Musk, a shipment of Starlink equipment arrived in Ukraine.
Since then, Mr. Fedorov said he has periodically exchanged text messages with Mr. Musk.
were put on pause following the invasion. Russia, a signatory to the accord, has tried to use final approval of the deal as leverage to soften sanctions imposed because of the war.
But while many companies have halted business in Russia, more could be done, he said. Apple and Google should pull their app stores from Russia and software made by companies like SAP was also being used by scores of Russian businesses, he has noted.
In many instances, the Russian government is cutting itself off from the world, including blocking access to Twitter and Facebook. On Friday, Russian regulators said they would also restrict access to Instagram and called Meta an “extremist” organization.
Some civil society groups have questioned whether Mr. Fedorov’s tactics could have unintended consequences. “Shutdowns can be used in tyranny, not in democracy,” the Internet Protection Society, an internet freedom group in Russia, said in a statement earlier this week. “Any sanctions that disrupt access of Russian people to information only strengthen Putin’s regime.”
Mr. Fedorov said it was the only way to jolt the Russian people into action. He praised the work of Ukraine-supporting hackers who have been coordinating loosely with Ukrainian government to hit Russian targets.
“After cruise missiles started flying over my house and over houses of many other Ukrainians, and also things started exploding, we decided to go into counter attack,” he said.
Mr. Fedorov’s work is an example of Ukraine’s whatever-it-takes attitude against a larger Russian army, said Max Chernikov, a software engineer who is supporting the volunteer group known as the IT Army of Ukraine.
“He acts like every Ukrainian — doing beyond his best,” he said.
Mr. Fedorov, who has a wife and young daughter, said he remained hopeful about the war’s outcome.
“The truth is on our side,” he added. “I’m sure we’re going to win.”
Daisuke Wakabayashi and Mike Isaac contributed reporting.
The salad days of Facebook’s lavish employee perks may be coming to an end.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, told employees on Friday that it was cutting back or eliminating free services like laundry and dry cleaning and was pushing back the dinner bell for a free meal from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., according to seven company employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The new dinner time is an inconvenience because the last of the company’s shuttles that take employees to and from their homes typically leaves the office at 6 p.m. It will also make it more difficult for workers to stock up on hefty to-go boxes of food and bring them to their refrigerators at home.
The moves are a reflection of changing workplace culture in Silicon Valley. Tech companies, which often offer lifestyle perks in return for employees spending long hours in the office, are preparing to adjust to a new hybrid work model.
At Meta, for example, many employees are scheduled to return to the company’s offices on March 28, though some will continue to work from home and others will come into the office less often.
The changes at Meta could be a warning shot for employees at other companies that are preparing to return to the office after two years of the coronavirus pandemic. Google, Amazon, Meta and others have long offered creature comforts like on-site medical attention, sushi buffets, candy stores and beanbag chairs to lure and retain top talent, which remains at a premium in the tech industry.
Meta has had a difficult past few months, though company officials say the changes to perks are not related. For the first time in years, investors have been questioning the long-term prospects of the company’s advertising business model. Its market capitalization has dropped by half, to $515 billion. And some employees are debating whether they should be searching for new jobs as they see the value of their stock-based compensation plummet.
Meta discussed the changes to its perks program for months as it explored how to shift to the new, hybrid workplace model, said two employees. The company has also expanded employees’ wellness stipends from roughly $700 to $3,000 this year in an attempt to accommodate for removing some of the other in-office perks.
“As we return to the office, we’ve adjusted on-site services and amenities to better reflect the needs of our hybrid work force,” a Meta spokesman said in a statement. “We believe people and teams will be increasingly distributed in the future, and we’re committed to building an experience that helps everyone be successful.”
Many workers were quick to gripe in the comment section underneath the post announcing the change, according to several employees who viewed the post. Just minutes after the changes were announced, employees asked whether the company was planning to compensate them in new ways and if Meta had undertaken an employee survey to evaluate how the changes would impact the staff.
Meta executives, who have been trying to thread the needle of cracking down on misinformation tied to the war in Ukraine and facing an outright ban of Facebook and Instagram in Russia, appeared to have little patience for the questions.
In a tone several employees described as combative, Meta’s chief technical officer, Andrew Bosworth, assertively defended some of the changes and chafed at the perceived sense of entitlement on display in the comments, according to the employees who saw the thread. Mike Schroepfer, the outgoing chief technical officer, also wrote in the comments in support of the changes.
Another employee who worked on the company’s food service team pushed back even more strenuously, according to two people who saw the post.
“I can honestly say when our peers are cramming three to 10 to-go boxes full of steak to take them home, nobody cares about our culture,” the employee said, pushing back on assertions from others that the changes would be damaging to Meta’s workplace culture. “A decision was made to try and curb some of the abuse while eliminating six million to-go boxes.”
It appeared that many employees agreed. As of midday Friday, the employee’s post was the most liked comment in the thread, with hundreds of workers expressing support.
For months, former President Donald J. Trump has promoted Truth Social, the soon-to-be-released flagship app of his fledging social media company, as a platform where free speech can thrive without the constraints imposed by Big Tech.
At least seven other social media companies have promised to do the same.
Gettr, a right-wing alternative to Twitter founded last year by a former adviser to Mr. Trump, bills itself as a haven from censorship. That’s similar to Parler — essentially another Twitter clone backed by Rebekah Mercer, a big donor to the Republican Party. MeWe and CloutHub are similar to Facebook, but with the pitch that they promote speech without restraint.
Truth Social was supposed to go live on Presidents’ Day, but the start date was recently pushed to March, though a limited test version was unveiled recently. A full rollout could be hampered by a regulatory investigation into a proposed merger of its parent company, the Trump Media & Technology Group, with a publicly traded blank-check company.
If and when it does open its doors, Mr. Trump’s app will be the newest — and most conspicuous — entrant in the tightly packed universe of social media companies that have cropped up in recent years, promising to build a parallel internet after Twitter, Facebook, Google and other mainstream platforms began to crack down on hate speech.
211 million daily active users on Twitter who see ads.
Many people who claim to crave a social network that caters to their political cause often aren’t ready to abandon Twitter or Facebook, said Weiai Xu, an assistant professor of communications at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. So the big platforms remain important vehicles for “partisan users” to get their messages out, Mr. Xu said.
Gettr, Parler and Rumble have relied on Twitter to announce the signing of a new right-wing personality or influencer. Parler, for instance, used Twitter to post a link to an announcement that Melania Trump, the former first lady, was making its platform her “social media home.”
Alternative social media companies mainly thrive off politics, said Mark Weinstein, the founder of MeWe, a platform with 20 million registered users that has positioned itself as an option to Facebook.
certain subscription services. His start-up has raised $24 million from 100 investors.
But since political causes drive the most engagement for alternative social media, most other platforms are quick to embrace such opportunities. This month, CloutHub, which has just four million registered users, said its platform could be used to raise money for the protesting truckers of Ottawa.
Mr. Trump wasn’t far behind. “Facebook and Big Tech are seeking to destroy the Freedom Convoy of Truckers,” he said in a statement. (Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said it removed several groups associated with the convoy for violating their rules.)
Trump Media, Mr. Trump added, would let the truckers “communicate freely on Truth Social when we launch — coming very soon!”
Of all the alt-tech sites, Mr. Trump’s venture may have the best chance of success if it launches, not just because of the former president’s star power but also because of its financial heft. In September, Trump Media agreed to merge with Digital World Acquisition, a blank-check or special purpose acquisition company that raised $300 million. The two entities have raised $1 billion from 36 investors in a private placement.
But none of that money can be tapped until regulators wrap up their inquiry into whether Digital World flouted securities regulations in planning its merger with Trump Media. In the meantime, Trump Media, currently valued at more than $10 billion based on Digital World’s stock price, is trying to hire people to build its platform.
Trump supporter, and the venture fund of Mr. Thiel’s protégé J.D. Vance, who is running for a Senate seat from Ohio.
Rumble is also planning to go public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company. SPACs are shell companies created solely for the purpose of merging with an operating entity. The deal, arranged by the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald, will give Rumble $400 million in cash and a $2.1 billion valuation.
The site said in January that it had 39 million monthly active users, up from two million two years ago. It has struck various content deals, including one to provide video and streaming services to Truth Social. Representatives for Rumble did not respond to requests for comment.
removed it from their app stores and Amazon cut off web services after the riot, according to SensorTower, a digital analytics company.
John Matze, one of its founders, from his position as chief executive. Mr. Matze has said he was dismissed after a dispute with Ms. Mercer — the daughter of a wealthy hedge fund executive who is Parler’s main backer — over how to deal with extreme content posted on the platform.
Christina Cravens, a spokeswoman for Parler,said the company had always “prohibited violent and inciting content” and had invested in “content moderation best practices.”
Moderating content will also be a challenge for Truth Social, whose main star, Mr. Trump, has not been able to post messages since early 2021, when Twitter and Facebook kicked him off their platforms for inciting violence tied to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
With Mr. Trump as its main poster, it was unclear if Truth Social would grow past subscribers who sign up simply to read the former president’s missives, Mr. Matze said.
“Trump is building a community that will fight for something or whatever he stands for that day,” he said. “This is not social media for friends and family to share pictures.”