Whatsapp Co-founder Brian Acton on Twitter: ‘it Is Time. #deletefacebook’

For some context:

In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16 billion, making its co-founders — Jan Koum and Brian Acton — very wealthy men. Koum continues to lead the company, but Acton quit earlier this year to start his own foundation. And he isn’t done merely with WhatsApp — in a post on Twitter today, Acton told his followers to delete Facebook.

Facebook has lost the plot (if it ever had it to begin with)

MG Siegler:

If I had to sum up the past year of Facebook in one word, it wouldn’t be a word at all. It would be an emoji. And that emoji would be this one: 🤦‍♂️

Seemingly not an hour goes by these days that I don’t open Techmeme and see some ridiculous headline related to the latest Facebook faux pas. At best, the mistakes are eye-roll-inducing. At worst, they’re jaw-droppingly awful. And there are plenty in between which are just some combination of boneheaded, cringe-worthy, tactless, or tasteless. To make matters worse, Facebook clearly has a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. Whenever they try to respond to a situation, they just exacerbate the issue.

Which raises the question: why?

Certainly a part of it is simply scale. Facebook is used by over 2 billion people. Mistakes happen at companies with far less reach, but literally almost all eyes are on Facebook. Another part is undoubtedly the extraordinary times in which we live. Times in which foreign governments learn how to manipulate social networks to drive political instability. And, of course, Facebook just seems to be in sort of a rut. All companies have ups and downs. Facebook seems to be one in which amazing highs are met with astonishing lows.

Still, it seems to me that a lot of these wounds are self-inflicted. Not just in choices the company makes from a product and policy standpoint, but also how they choose to react to issues when they arise. Even on Friday night, when it seemed like they were doing the right thing by making a swift, decisive move around a very complicated situation, it turns out, no — Facebook was simply reacting quickly because publications were about to run stories about the pilfering of data from their network for mass political profiling. And what’s worse, Facebook was apparently threatening said publications if they ran said stories.


Let’s just review the headlines since the beginning of the year, shall we?

Mark Zuckerberg devoting the year to fixing Facebook (shouldn’t that alwaysbe his job?). Facebook running surveys for which news outlets to trust (what could go wrong crowd-sourcing this?). Messenger Kids (this one didn’t take long to backfire)! Re-engagement mass spam (the thirst is real). Facebook’s friendly pollster (who quit after 6 months). Spyware (like, actual spyware)! Two years of political indecisiveness and cluelessness (and a human punching bag coverstory). An actual fall in users (for the first time ever?). More spam(which then tricks you into publicly posting, no less). Teeing up Trump retweet-bait (on Twitter, no less). Mass shootings, the VR game we’ve all been waiting for (Jesus Christ). Back on Twitter wading into things one probably shouldn’t (as you can see in the comments). Potentially cool facial recognition feature sounds incredibly creepy all of a sudden (timing matters). Survey says: maybe don’t send a survey asking people how they feel about adults asking kids for sexually explicit images (why do you need to ask about this?!). More sex stuffAdding features to Messenger Lite to make it heavy (sigh). More fun with spywareSorry for the child abuse recs (Jesus Christ). And finally, today’s Cambridge Analytica shitshow (and more Twitter fun).¹

Whew. Again, that’s just the past three months! And I’m positive I missed a bunch. My current running gag on Twitter is that there must be a tech press mole planted inside Facebook who is causing the company to do such things. Because nothing else makes sense. You just can’t have this many screw-ups.


And beyond the stupidity and potential danger, I find myself increasingly annoyed simply because it’s certainly not helping to paint our increasingly embattled industry in any better a light. Reading these headlines, you’d think Facebook, and by extension, the tech sector in the Bay Area is the worst place in the world, full of jokers and jerks.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of jokers and jerks. But there are also plenty of brilliant, hard-working people. We can quibble about whether there are more or less than in other industries and other places, but that’s not the point. The point is that I now believe Facebook doesn’t just have an image problem, as I’m sure many around the company would want you to believe — “the press is out to get us!” Facebook has a self-awareness problem.

To put it more bluntly: it seems like Facebook has lost the plot. And given their scale, this is more than a little terrifying.

Facebook Exit Hints at Dissent on Handling of Russian Trolls

Nicole Perlroth, Sheera Frenkel, and Scott Shane:

Facebook’s chief information security officer, Alex Stamos, will leave the company after internal disagreements over how the social network should deal with its role in spreading disinformation, according to current and former employees briefed on the matter.

Mr. Stamos had been a strong advocate inside the company for investigating and disclosing Russian activity on Facebook, often to the consternation of other top executives, including Sheryl Sandberg, the social network’s chief operating officer, according to the current and former employees, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

An Audiophile’s Review of the Apple AirPods

Vlad Savov, The Verge:

As The Verge’s resident headphones obsessive, I’m not supposed to like the AirPods. My initial reaction upon first seeing them many months ago was to pour scorn on Apple’s designers for crafting a pair of expensive and easy-to-lose cigarette butts. The AirPods were the resurrection of the awful Bluetooth headsets of years past, I thought. But this year, I finally got around to testing a pair of the AirPods for myself, and I finally understand why everyone who owns them loves them.


My wireless-doom scenario is walking into my kitchen, which is so full of metal things that it’s like a Faraday cage, while leaving my music source device in the bedroom: every non-Apple pair of wireless headphones I test becomes unusable in that situation. With the AirPods (and the Beats Solo and Studio 3, which have the same W1 wireless chip) connected to my MacBook Pro, I maintained a pretty decent connection with only minor dropouts in the kitchen.


The design of the AirPods case is a total masterpiece. It’s tiny but holds multiple extra charges for the earphones, and the rounded sides make them irresistible fidget toys. The tension of the case lid is perfect, delivering a satisfying snap when it opens and closes.

Good bye Android Wear, Hello Wear OS By Google


Android Wear was founded on the belief that wearable technology should be for everyone, no matter what style you wear on your wrist or what phone you have in your pocket. Since then, we’ve partnered with top watch and electronics brands to create more than 50 watches to help you manage your fitness, connect with the people who matter most, and show you the information you care about. The best part: We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible with wearables and there’s even more exciting work ahead.

As our technology and partnerships have evolved, so have our users. In 2017, one out of three new Android Wear watch owners also used an iPhone. So as the watch industry gears up for another Baselworld next week, we’re announcing a new name that better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all — the people who wear our watches. We’re now Wear OS by Google, a wearables operating system for everyone.

This move is an interesting one, while I really don’t see anyone ever actually calling it “Wear OS By Google” rather than simply “Wear OS”, anyone who makes devices that are powered by it will have to say the full name, which puts Google’s name on the packaging.


What HomePod Should Become

Ryan Christoffel, writing for MacStories on what the HomePod is and what it needs to be:

Today the HomePod is all about music, but it could be so much more.

From its debut last June at WWDC to launch day this February, HomePod’s primary purpose has been clear: it’s an Apple Music accessory. Music has been the sole focus of Apple’s marketing, including the recent Spike Jonze short film – yet it’s an angle many have trouble accepting.

In a pre-Amazon Echo world, HomePod being a great Apple Music speaker would have been enough. But in 2018 we expect more from smart speakers, and we expect more from Apple.

HomePod succeeds as a music speaker, but it’s not the device we expected – at least not yet. Due to its arrival date more than three years after the birth of Alexa, we expected a smarter, more capable product. We expected the kind of product the HomePod should be: a smart speaker that’s heavy on the smarts. Apple nailed certain aspects with its 1.0: the design, sound quality, and setup are all excellent. But that’s not enough.

HomePod isn’t a bad product today, but it could become a great one.


By becoming a true hub for all our Apple-centric needs.


HomePod is best equipped to hear requests, with its six-microphone array always at the ready; no iPhone or other device can compete with that. Also, those microphones possess the power to ignore what’s currently playing from the HomePod to focus on your voice. Plus, it’s already the device charged with handling most ‘Hey Siri’ inquiries, even when your iPhone or iPad might be closer; that can be frustrating now, but if HomePod’s Siri had no domain limitations, we wouldn’t mind it taking all requests. Finally, it’s the only Siri device that sits in one place all day, every day, so you know exactly where to speak. With HomePod, you don’t have to first locate a device (iPhone and iPad), press a button (Mac and Apple TV), or turn your wrist (Apple Watch) before making your request: just speak into the air, and Siri will hear you.

If Siri knew all things about your Apple devices and services, and could interact with them all, then HomePod would be the perfect vehicle to tap into that power. You could ask Siri on the HomePod to:

  • Check your iPhone’s battery charge.
  • Play an audiobook.
  • Add a show to your Up Next queue.
  • Download a specific app to your iPhone.
  • Pause or resume Apple TV playback.
  • List upcoming birthdays for your contacts.
  • Provide a delivery status on your Apple Store order.
  • Put all your devices in Do Not Disturb mode.
  • Play a specific movie or show on the Apple TV.
    • Or on the bedroom TV, or the iPad, or iPhone.
  • Locate your iPhone or iPad.
    • Each device could play a ding if it’s nearby, and if not, HomePod could offer to load a map on your nearest device.
  • Make a phone call.
  • Switch your AirPods to the Apple TV.
  • Set an Apple Store support appointment.
  • Open an app on a certain device.
  • Access files stored in iCloud Drive on the device of your choice:
    • “Put my Release Notes presentation on the TV.”
    • “Open the Budget spreadsheet on my iMac.”
  • Put a screensaver on the TV.

None of these things can currently be done by HomePod, but I think they would all be reasonable to expect from an upgraded Siri. None of these would infringe on the company’s user privacy stance, because the data at play in these requests is already available to Apple.

It may not seem like too extensive a list, but I think it covers all the reasonable gaps in Siri’s Apple-related knowledge. Some items listed are impossible with Siri now, but plenty already work on some devices – just not HomePod.

The list is fairly concise because Siri on HomePod already can do a lot. It has most of the bases covered. The problem is that as long as Siri can’t do everything, we’ll avoid relying on it for much of anything. Every time Siri responds to a query with, “I can’t do that,” users learn to doubt Siri’s capabilities. By expanding Siri’s reach in a few key areas – to all the Apple-related requests a person might reasonably have – every existing Siri domain will benefit, because that element of doubt will be removed.


Apple does have a big head start though. Not in the smart speaker category specifically, but in its ecosystem – a core factor that will be increasingly essential to smart speakers in the future.

Here’s how the rest of the ecosystem landscape sits currently:

  • Amazon. Missing the phone, watch, PC, and enterprise-capable tablets. Its vibrant third-party Alexa ecosystem is a strength, but without attractive computing hardware outside of speakers, it will never achieve the kind of seamless user experience people want.
  • Microsoft. Failures in the smartphone market come back to bite it; it could be a dark-horse candidate, but success will be really hard without a competitive smartphone.
  • Sonos. Not a chance. Besides the fact that it only makes speakers, Sonos is also entirely dependent on third parties. It’s trying to offer the best of all ecosystems by integrating with as many existing platforms as possible, but the big players will always reserve the best features and experiences for their own hardware.
  • Google. It has a much better chance than anyone else to get there, but I don’t know that it will. When your ecosystem is as fragmented as Google’s, it’s hard to nail a seamless experience across devices and services. The Pixel and Home line of products is a good start, they just need greater market penetration; also, Chrome OS-powered computers need to become legitimate options for getting work done.

A full ecosystem – complete with smartphones and traditional computers – matters so much to a smart speaker’s success because voice input will never replace touch entirely, only supplement it.


Voice computing has significant potential for expansion in our lives, but as it takes that extra load, I suspect we’ll find it less and less tolerable for voice-activated computers to live in an entirely different ecosystem than touch-input devices. With different platforms comes not only different apps and services, but also different terminology and user experience. The best computing experience will be offered by a family of related devices designed to complement each other.

Right now, Apple has the best shot at making that happen.

HomePod can be much more than it is today. Music, HomeKit, and basic trivia are all important, but they’re just the beginning. The end is a truly smart speaker, powered by a truly smart Siri – our personal hub of Apple computing.

Stephen Hawking was a brilliant physicist and a pop culture icon

Thuy Ong, writing for The Verge:

Physicist Stephen Hawking, known for his pioneering brilliance, died today at the age of 76. He is best known for his work on black holes and theoretical physics, but he also made many pop cultural appearances in films, TV shows, books, and comics. Hawking has been referenced and made direct appearances in shows like The Simpsons, Futurama, and The Big Bang Theory as well as the X-Men comics, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Doctor Who.

Most famously, Hawking made multiple appearances in The Simpsons. In one scene in the season 10 episode “They Saved Lisa’s Brain,” Homer has a beer with Hawking at Moe’s Tavern. “Your theory of a donut-shaped universe is intriguing, Homer,” Hawking quips. “I may have to steal it.” He was featured in an MC battle with the band Flight of the Conchords in another episode, complete with an E=mc2 neck chain. Hawking has called The Simpsons “the best thing on American television,” stating that “almost as many people know me through The Simpsons as through my science.”

The Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman paid tribute to Hawking on Twitter:

Hawking also showed up on Futurama, where main character Fry falsely believes him to have invented gravity — to which Hawking replies, “Sure, why not?” In an appearance on The Big Bang Theory, Hawking noted an arithmetic mistake in Sheldon’s paper, and he played poker with Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton on the Holodeck in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Hawking’s sense of humour was a major factor in who he was, he saw humour in many places.

You can see some of his sense of humour in his interview with John Oliver below, where when asked, “You’ve stated that there could be an infinite number of parallel universes. Does that mean there’s a universe out there where I am smarter than you?”Hawking offers the following reply: “Yes. And also a universe where you’re funny.”

Apple Music hits 38 million paid subscribers


Apple Inc’s streaming music service now has 38 million paid subscribers, up from 36 million in February, the company said on Monday.

Apple is locked in race for subscribers with Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and others as streaming music becomes the dominant form of paid music consumption. Apple’s number compares to 71 million premium subscribers at the end of 2017 at industry leader Spotify, which plans to list shares in the coming weeks on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SPOT.

 Apple said Eddy Cue, senior vice president of internet software and services, disclosed the most recent subscriber number for Apple Music at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Amazon Music Unlimited has 16 million paying subscribers, and Pandora Media Inc has 5.48 million total subscribers. Google does not release paid subscriber numbers for its service, Google Play Music.

Apple, Spotify, Google and other services charge $9.99 a month for music. Amazon offers its service to members who already pay for its Prime membership, which includes shipping, video content and other benefits, for $7.99 per month.

Fired OpenTable Employee Booked Hundreds of Fake Reservations Through Rival Service

Sidney Fussell, writing for Gizmodo:

A “rogue” OpenTable employee booked more than 300 fake reservations in Chicago restaurants, the online reservation service recently said, leaving 45 Chicago food spots with dozens of empty seats for dinner. The bizarre tactic was apparently a smear campaign meant to make a rival reservations app, Reserve, look bad. The employee has been fired and Open Table says it plans to reimburse the restaurants for the damages.

As first reported by Eater, the unnamed Open Table employee used a series of false emails to book reservations using Reserve. Restaurants would block off these tables, but no one would show up. As The New York Times reports, kitchens prepped unnecessary amounts of food for these phantom diners, and walk-ins were turned away as restaurants awaited people who would never come. This carried on for roughly two months, beginning in late December until mid-February.

Noting the bizarre spike in no-shows, company investigators noticed the overwhelming majority of these no shows were from Reserve. Reserve’s executives reached out to Open Table who realized that, basically, the call was coming from inside the house.

“We agreed that this person acted by themselves and terminated them quickly thereafter,” Christa Quarles, Open Table’s CEO, told the Times. “It was a really cut-and-dried situation in our mind.”

In a statement released Monday, Open Table apologized and promised to reimburse the effected restaurants:

This behavior goes against everything we stand for. Our culture and values at OpenTable are founded on the principle of integrity, and that absolutely encompasses how we embrace competition in the marketplace. The only reason we exist is to help restaurants grow. When they succeed, we succeed. Taking any action that puts restaurants in harm is a direct attack on us as well.

As in any restaurant that makes a mistake, the first rule of hospitality is to make it right with the customer. And we intend to do the same. As a result, we have already begun outreach to the restaurants affected and will reimburse them for lost revenue


This action absolutely does not reflect our mission of helping restaurants grow and thrive, and we will continue to work hard to earn the trust and respect of the OpenTable community every day.

‘Mind-reading’ A.I. produces a description of what you’re thinking about

Digital Trends:

Think that Google’s search algorithms are good at reading your mind? That’s nothing compared to a new artificial intelligence research project coming out of Japan, which can analyze a person’s brain scans and provide a written description of what they have been looking at.

To generate its captions, the artificial intelligence is given an fMRI brain scan image, taken while a person is looking at a picture. It then generates a written description of what they think the person was viewing. An illustration of the level of complexity it can offer is: “A dog is sitting on the floor in front of an open door” or “a group of people standing on the beach.” Both of those turn out to be absolutely accurate.