Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey steps down and hands reins to technology chief Agrawal

Dorsey will remain on the board until his term expires at the 2022 annual shareholder meeting. (AFP)
Dorsey will remain on the board until his term expires at the 2022 annual shareholder meeting. (AFP)
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Updated 29 November 2021

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey steps down and hands reins to technology chief Agrawal

Dorsey will remain on the board until his term expires at the 2022 annual shareholder meeting. (AFP)
  • Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, steps down and hands over his role to CTO Parag Agrawal
  • Dorsey said he chose to step down due to the strength of Agrawal’s leadership and his confidence in the “ambition and potential” of Twitter’s employees

LONDON: Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey is stepping down from his role and Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal will now lead the company, the social networking site announced on Monday.
The appointment of Agrawal, a 10-year veteran of Twitter, marks an endorsement of a strategy the company previously laid out to double its annual revenue by 2023 and also indicates an increasing focus on Twitter’s long-term ambition to rebuild how social media companies operate.
Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter in 2006, is leaving after overseeing the launch of new ways to create content through newsletters or audio conversations while simultaneously serving as CEO of his payments processing company Square Inc.
He also navigated the tumultuous years of US President Donald Trump’s administration before banning the Republican from the platform after the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.
The CEO change is effective immediately and Dorsey will remain on the board until his term expires at the 2022 annual shareholder meeting, the company said.
In an email to employees on Monday, Dorsey said he chose to step down due to the strength of Agrawal’s leadership, the naming of Salesforce Chief Operating Officer Bret Taylor as the new chairman of the board and his confidence in the “ambition and potential” of Twitter’s employees.
“I’m really sad ... yet really happy,” he wrote. “There aren’t many companies that get to this level,” adding that his move to step down “was my decision and I own it.”
“We recently updated our strategy to hit ambitious goals, and I believe that strategy to be bold and right,” Agrawal said in an email to employees. “But our critical challenge is how we work to execute against it and deliver results.”
Shares of Twitter surged 9 percent in early trading following the news, which was first reported by CNBC, before paring those gains in the afternoon. Shares of Square were flat in afternoon trading.
Over the past year, Twitter has fought to end years-long criticism that it has been slow to introduce new features for its 211 million daily users and was losing ground to social media rivals like Instagram and TikTok.
Under Dorsey’s leadership, Twitter acquired email newsletter service Revue and launched Spaces, a feature that lets users host or listen to live audio conversations.
The company also rolled out advertising improvements to help brands find Twitter users likely to be interested in their product, a key component of the company’s goal to double annual revenue by 2023.
However, shares of Twitter have slumped in recent months, adding pressure on Dorsey to end his unusual arrangement of being CEO of two companies.
In early 2020, Dorsey faced calls from Elliott Management Corp. to step down, after the hedge fund argued that he was paying too little attention to Twitter while also running Square Inc.
Dorsey fended off the pressure by giving Elliott and its ally, buyout firm Silver Lake Partners, seats on Twitter’s board.
Dorsey will now focus on leading Square and other pursuits such as philanthropy, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The company’s board has been preparing for Dorsey’s departure since last year, the source said.


UK government to cut funding for BBC: Mail on Sunday report

UK government to cut funding for BBC: Mail on Sunday report
Updated 16 January 2022

UK government to cut funding for BBC: Mail on Sunday report

UK government to cut funding for BBC: Mail on Sunday report
  • Freezing license cost at its current £159 would provide some relief to consumers battling rising costs of living
  • But it would also be a large blow to the BBC’s finances as it tries to compete with privately funded news outlets

LONDON: Britain’s government will cut the BBC’s funding by ordering a two-year freeze on the fee that people pay to watch the broadcaster, the Mail on Sunday reported.
The future of the license-payer funded British Broadcasting Corporation is a perpetual topic of political debate, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government most recently suggesting its funding needs to be reformed.
Set against an inflation rate expected to reach a 30-year high of 6 percent or more in April, freezing the license cost at its current 159 pounds ($217.40) would provide some relief to consumers battling sharply rising costs of living.
But it would also be a large blow to the BBC’s finances as it tries to compete with privately funded news outlets and the likes of Netflix and other entertainment streaming services funded by consumer subscriptions.
In November, the government launched negotiations to agree how much the TV license would cost, part of a five year funding settlement due to begin in April 2022.
The Digital, Media, Culture and Sport department declined to comment when asked about the Mail on Sunday report.
Culture secretary Nadine Dorries said that the license fee settlement would be the last such agreement and tweeted a link to the Mail on Sunday article.
“Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content,” she said on Twitter.
The BBC declined to comment on Dorries’ tweet or the Mail on Sunday report.
The opposition Labour Party said the funding cut was politically motivated.
“The Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary seem hell-bent on attacking this great British institution because they don’t like its journalism,” said Lucy Powell, Labour lawmaker and culture policy chief.
The BBC’s news output is regularly criticized by UK political parties. Its coverage of Brexit issues — central to Johnson’s government — has long been seen as overly critical by supporters of leaving the European Union.
Last week, one Conservative lawmaker said BBC coverage relating to parties in Johnson’s Downing Street residence during coronavirus lockdowns amounted to a “coup attempt” against the prime minister.


Sudan revokes license of Al Jazeera Mubasher citing unprofessional coverage

Al Jazeera has given prominent coverage to the demonstrations and late last year also aired an interview with Burhan. (File)
Al Jazeera has given prominent coverage to the demonstrations and late last year also aired an interview with Burhan. (File)
Updated 16 January 2022

Sudan revokes license of Al Jazeera Mubasher citing unprofessional coverage

Al Jazeera has given prominent coverage to the demonstrations and late last year also aired an interview with Burhan. (File)
  • Sudan has been gripped by political turmoil since top military leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan launched a coup on October 25

KHARTOUM: Sudan has revoked the license of Al Jazeera Mubasher, part of the Qatar-based network, accusing it of “unprofessional” TV coverage of anti-coup protests, the channel said Sunday.
“The Sudanese authorities announce they revoked the accreditation of Al Jazeera Mubasher and barred its team from working in Sudan,” tweeted the news channel.
Sudan has been gripped by political turmoil since top military leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan launched a coup on October 25.
The military power grab triggered mass protests by pro-democracy movements demanding civilian rule that has met with a deadly crackdown.
At least 64 protesters have been killed, according to pro-democracy medics, and a police officer has also lost his life.
Al Jazeera has given prominent coverage to the demonstrations and late last year also aired an interview with Burhan.
In November, days after the interview, it said that its Khartoum bureau chief Al-Musalami Al-Kabbashi had been arrested at his home.
Kabbashi was released three days later with no official charges announced against him.
The editor-in-chief of the armed forces newspaper Ibrahim Al-Hory later accused Kabbashi of publishing “false” information and of airing “old video footage... that instigated strife” in the country.
Burhan declared a state of emergency on October 25, ousted the government and detained the civilian leadership.
Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok was placed under house arrest but later reinstated in a deal with the military.
Hamdok then resigned on January 2 warning that Sudan was at a dangerous crossroads threatening its very “survival.”
Burhan has insisted the military’s move “was not a coup” but a push to “rectify the course of the transition.”


DirecTV drops Trump-friendly One America News

Subscription television service DirecTV has decided not to renew its contract with One America News Network (OAN), an ultra-conservative, conspiratorial US channel that backs former US president Donald Trump. (Drew Angerer/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)
Subscription television service DirecTV has decided not to renew its contract with One America News Network (OAN), an ultra-conservative, conspiratorial US channel that backs former US president Donald Trump. (Drew Angerer/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)
Updated 16 January 2022

DirecTV drops Trump-friendly One America News

Subscription television service DirecTV has decided not to renew its contract with One America News Network (OAN), an ultra-conservative, conspiratorial US channel that backs former US president Donald Trump. (Drew Angerer/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)
  • The right-wing TV channel has been friendly to Donald Trump and widely criticized for spreading misinformation including the former president’s false claim that he won the 2020 election

BOSTON: DirecTV plans to drop One America News Network, significantly shrinking the reach of the right-wing TV channel friendly to Donald Trump and widely criticized for spreading misinformation including the former president’s false claim that he won the 2020 election.
The satellite television provider said Saturday that it has informed OAN’s owner, Herring Networks. Inc., that it will no longer carry its two channels when their contract expires. The other, AWA, is a lifestyle channel. The decision is believed to remove OAN from millions of homes.
“We informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires,” a DirecTV spokesman said in an emailed statement.
The spokesman would not say when the contract expires, but Bloomberg News, which first reported development on Friday, said it expires in early April.
San Diego-based Herring Networks did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Bloomberg said DirecTV is OAN’s largest distributor. On its website, Herring says OAN is carried by Verizon FiOS and several smaller TV providers. It can also be streamed online. Major cable companies including Comcast and Charter do not carry OAN.
AT&T has a 70 percent stake in DirecTV, which has carried OAN since April 2017 after AT&T settled a lawsuit demanding it carry the channels. Herring Networks had claimed AT&T reneged on an agreement to carry OAN on DirecTV, which it acquired in 2015.
OAN became a darling of Trump during his presidency and has continued to report his claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him – a claim directly contradicted by the facts and exhaustive reporting. It has carried Trump live in post-presidency appearances, its reporters declining to challenge his contrafactual claims.
Trump came to OAN’s defense at a rally Saturday night in Arizona, praising the network — “I love One America News,” he said — and threatening to call for a boycott of DirecTV’s parent company, AT&T.
“This is horrible,” Trump said. “This is a great network. These are great people. I watch it all the time and you really get the truth. And they want to cancel them now because of politics — for purely political reasons. It’s a disgrace what’s going on.”
He added, “But I don’t think that people are gonna stand for it” and, noting the company’s founders were in the crowd, said, “Maybe what we should do is not use AT&T.”
Dominion Voting Systems sued OAN and other right-wing broadcasters in August, claiming they damaged the election technology company’s business by trumpeting lies spread by Trump adherents that it was complicit in an election-rigging conspiracy.
DirecTV does not provide a breakdown of its subscribers, but AT&T reported that as of the second quarter of 2021 it had a total of 15.4 million paid premium TV subscribers including DirecTV, AT&T U-verse wireline video and the online service AT&T TV.
The paid TV market has been steadily shrinking as more people abandon it for streaming services.


Twitter suspends account linked to Iranian supreme leader after Trump video post

The video, posted Wednesday on the website of Khamenei’s office, appears to show Trump, on the golf course at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida. (Screenshot)
The video, posted Wednesday on the website of Khamenei’s office, appears to show Trump, on the golf course at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida. (Screenshot)
Updated 15 January 2022

Twitter suspends account linked to Iranian supreme leader after Trump video post

The video, posted Wednesday on the website of Khamenei’s office, appears to show Trump, on the golf course at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida. (Screenshot)
  • The video showed the Trump-like figure being targeted by a robot under the shadow of a large drone on a golf course

LONDON: A Twitter account linked to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was suspended on Saturday, days after it carried a video depicting the hypothetical assassination of former US President Donald Trump.

The animation, which shows a golfer resembling Trump being targeted in a drone strike, was also posted on Khamenei’s official website, where it was described as the “winning animation from the people in the ‘Hero’ contest conducted by Khamenei.ir on the topic of revenge on Trump, (former US Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo and the murderers of Gen. Soleimani.”

It was tweeted from the Persian-language account with the text: “Revenge is definite.”

The video showed the Trump-like figure being targeted by a robot under the shadow of a large drone on a golf course.

“The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told AFP.

According to Twitter, the company's top priority is keeping people safe and protecting the health of the conversation on the platform.

The social media giant says it has clear policies around abusive behavior and will take action when violations are identified.

Khamenei and other top Iranian officials have continually vowed retaliation for the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad in January, 2020.

A similar account linked to Khamenei was blocked by Twitter last year for sharing a similar image — with a golfer resembling Trump carrying the words: “Vengeance is inevitable.”

* With AFP


US anti-trust suit says Google, Facebook chiefs approved ‘illegal’ market pact

US anti-trust suit says Google, Facebook chiefs approved ‘illegal’ market pact
Updated 15 January 2022

US anti-trust suit says Google, Facebook chiefs approved ‘illegal’ market pact

US anti-trust suit says Google, Facebook chiefs approved ‘illegal’ market pact
  • The antitrust suit is one of three engaging Google on different fronts
  • Suit says the online search colossus sought to oust competition by manipulating ad auctions

SAN FRANCISCO, US: Top bosses of Google and Facebook were directly involved in approving an allegedly illegal 2018 deal to cement their dominance of the online advertising market, US court documents revealed Friday.
The records, part of an anti-trust lawsuit by a coalition of US states targeting Google, make serious allegations against Big Tech giants long accused of holding monopolies.
According to the states’ accusations, the online search colossus sought to oust competition by manipulating ad auctions — the ultra-sophisticated system that determines which ads appear on web pages based on the anonymized profiles of Internet users.
The legal documents filed in a New York court clearly refer to Sundar Pichai, chief of Google’s parent firm Alphabet, as well as Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg — even if their names were redacted.
“Google CEO Sundar Pichai also personally signed off on the terms of the deal,” the suit said.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (AP file photo)


The documents note that the economic terms were emailed to Facebook’s CEO and he was advised: “’We’re nearly ready to sign and need your approval to move forward.’“
Google did not respond to a request for comment Friday, but has adamantly denied manipulating the digital ad market.
It was the third time the suit was amended, and did not list Facebook or its parent company Meta as defendants.
“Meta’s non-exclusive bidding agreement with Google and the similar agreements we have with other bidding platforms, have helped to increase competition for ad placements,” a spokesperson said in reply to an AFP inquiry.
“These business relationships enable Meta to deliver more value to advertisers while fairly compensating publishers, resulting in better outcomes for all.”
Google referred to the agreement internally as “Jedi Blue,” the color being a reference to Facebook’s logo, according to the filing.
“No rational developer would choose to have its auctions rigged by the market’s two largest buyers,” the suit said.
“So, Google and Facebook swore themselves to secrecy about the terms of their agreement.”
The antitrust suit is one of three engaging Google on different fronts.
The US government filed its blockbuster lawsuit in October of last year, accusing Google of maintaining an “illegal monopoly” in online search and advertising.
The country’s biggest antitrust case in decades, it opens the door to a potential breakup of the Silicon Valley titan.
While Google ad revenue has continued to grow, its share of the booming US online ad market is ebbing under pressure from competitors such as Facebook, Amazon and others, according to eMarketer.