Protocol - Meta leaves politics at the door

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By Sarah Roach and Nat Rubio-Licht
June 24, 2022


Good morning! For years, Facebook has been touting its efforts in the political landscape. But after making four metaverse-related announcements this week, it’s clear where Mark Zuckerberg’s head is.

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​Meta wants out

 

Here’s what you should know about Meta and politics: Meta doesn’t want to be involved in politics anymore. It never really did, but that’s besides the point.

Meta pulled out of sponsoring the U.S. 250th anniversary project, yanking the remaining $8 million of its initial $10 million donation. Meta would have served as the project’s exclusive “social connectivity” partner and was its single largest source of funding.

  • Meta previously announced that it was reviewing its partnership with the project following a report that revealed accusations of mismanagement and misused federal funds.

Meta is reportedly reducing its support for CrowdTangle, its misinformation-checking tool, and is expected to eventually completely scrap it after the midterms.

  • CrowdTangle has been essential for spotting and reducing the spread of misinformation, especially related to elections. Meta said it has plans for a “more valuable” tool, but it didn’t divulge details.

And the company’s core election team has dispersed, The New York Times reported yesterday. Some are still working on elections, but sources who spoke to the Times made it clear that Meta’s biggest priority is now the metaverse and politics are in the rearview mirror.

  • That’s quite the pivot from when Mark Zuckerberg promised to make election integrity a focus. That was during the 2020 election.
  • But, as our colleague Issie Lapowsky pointed out, Zuckerberg never really wanted to be involved in politics. He wanted to focus on product and leave the politics part to Sheryl Sandberg and, later, Nick Clegg when he got a promotion. “He took product, and I took the rest,” Sandberg once said in an interview.

After Facebook’s role in the 2016 election, Zuckerberg couldn’t escape politics. But with Sandberg out and Meta’s increasing focus on the metaverse, it’s clear that Zuckerberg wants to shrink Meta’s influence in the U.S. political landscape. And with the midterms coming up, now might not be the time to ease up on its election work.

Sarah Roach (she/her/hers) and Nat Rubio-Licht (they/them/theirs)

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​Heat pumps <3

 

I spent yesterday learning about heat pumps. And if I learned anything, it’s that heat pumps are awesome and need a better name. And tech isn’t paying nearly enough attention to them.

Heat pumps are the electric alternative to AC and fossil-fuel heating. They have the potential to save millions of metric tons of carbon pollution. And even though they’re a bit expensive up front, they can save a lot of money in the long run. The government and companies are only just starting to get in on the hype.

  • Joe Biden used the Defense Production Act to get companies to ramp up heat pump production, and there's a Senate bill out there trying to electrify HVAC.
  • Companies are getting into heat pumps, too. Dandelion Energy works on heat pump installation, and BlocPower puts heat pumps in low-income buildings.

But no one is giving heat pumps the love they truly deserve. Efforts on the government level don’t have enough cash or support behind them, and when was the last time you heard (or wanted to hear) a company exec speak passionately about heat pumps?

  • Simply put, heat pumps are boring compared to the other climate tech solutions out there, my colleague Climate Editor Brian Kahn told me. “It's not as exciting as starting something new, like a rideshare company or investing in carbon dioxide removal,” he said.
  • But that doesn’t mean we can’t get people pumped up about them. “It's a really cool chance for technology that people will use every day. In most places you have to heat or cool your home at some point,” Brian said.

Heat pumps are going to save the climate, as long as companies make sure everyone knows how cool they are.

Sarah Roach

Brian’s going to be writing a lot more about heat pumps this summer; sign up for the Climate newsletter for more stories like this.

SPONSORED CONTENT FROM TRUSTED FUTURE

 

How to build an equitable and inclusive future

At the same time that the pandemic demonstrated all that is possible in an interconnected world, we saw in new and increasingly stark ways how certain communities continue to be marginalized and harmed by a persistent digital divide and how effectively that divide exacerbates our society’s other inequities.

Click here to read more from Trusted Future

People are talking

 

Credit Karma’s Colleen McCreary said “last one hired, first one fired” is risky:

  • “This can haunt companies when they return to hiring. This creates skepticism with prospective employees — often for years afterward.”

Sen. Cynthia Lummis thinks her bipartisan crypto regulation bill will eventually win out:

  • "It has been thoroughly vetted by the industry and the regulators already. They're familiar with it."

Making moves

 

Kaseya bought Datto, a cybersecurity and data backup company, for $6.2 billion.

Cristiano Ronaldo partnered with Binance to promote NFTs. The soccer star will create his own NFT collection as part of the deal.

Margaret Durkin joined TechNet as executive director for Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic Region. Durkin previously worked in contract lobbying and advocacy.

Mike Kaplan is LeoStella’s new VP of business development. He’s held leadership roles at NASA, Boeing and most recently Belcan.

In other news

 

Yelp is closing its offices in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., as it shifts toward fully remote work.

Netflix laid off 300 employees yesterday, the second time the company made cuts in a month.

Intel paused the opening of its new Ohio chip factory over concerns about the Bipartisan Innovation Act, which would give millions in funding for chip production.

A House of Representatives panel passed a bipartisan online privacy bill that requires tech companies to only collect personal data if it's necessary for their services.

Don’t put your brand in the metaverse. A recent survey found that people don’t care if your brand is in the metaverse.

Crypto exchange Voyager set a limit on withdrawals, only allowing users to withdraw $10,000 and 20 transactions in a 24-hour period.

Influencers in China should know what they're talking about. Regulators are now requiring creators to have certain qualifications for discussing topics like law, finance and medicine.

Amazon built CodeWhisperer, a tool that helps software developers write code and scans for security and bias issues.

Add this to your calendar: The admins of meme pages are staging an “Instarrection” at Instagram’s New York City office next month to protest the platform’s treatment of creators.

Your data of the day: COVID-related absenteeism cost companies as much as 1.9% of their revenue, according to a report from Forrester.

NFT party people

 

On the ground at NFT.NYC, Protocol Fintech Reporter Ryan Deffenbaugh described the feeling of the event as optimistic and electric. Many didn’t talk about the elephant in the room (*cough cough* crypto crash *cough cough*). Though it might seem like a “collective delusion,” survivors of past crypto winters inspired hope. Gavin Gillas, co-founder and CEO of Project Venkman, said that amid the crash, “it is time to build.”

There were also quite a few highlights, including a Bill Murray-themed NFT collection, protesters holding “God Hates NFTs” signs and a Snoop Dogg impersonator by the name of Doop Snogg. Wouldn’t be an NFT party without some spectacle, right?

SPONSORED CONTENT FROM TRUSTED FUTURE

 

How to build an equitable and inclusive future

There is so much more we need to do to make sure our future is more equitable and inclusive and maximizes America’s potential. It is not enough just to ensure everyone is connected. We also need to extend the full scope of digital opportunity to the people, the communities, and the institutions.

Click here to read more from Trusted Future

 

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you Sunday.


Correction: In yesterday's newsletter, we mistakenly said that Instagram is testing using facial recognition, but it is in fact using facial analysis tools.

 

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