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With Twitter deal on hold, Musk says a lower sale price isn’t ‘out of the question’

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Billionaire Elon Musk is continuing to clash with Twitter over the accuracy of its bot count, and hinted today that he may try to renegotiate the $44 billion deal. Musk told attendees at a Miami conference that a deal at a lower price wasn’t “out of the question,” reported Bloomberg. Musk’s potential bid for a lower price is an unexpected twist, given that the SpaceX exec agreed to pay a 38 percent premium on Twitter when he reached a deal with the company’s board back in April.

“Currently what I’m being told is that there’s just no way to know the number of bots,” Musk said at the conference. “It’s like, as unknowable as the human soul.”

Musk’s potential bid for a lower price is an unexpected twist, given that the SpaceX exec agreed to pay a 38 percent premium on Twitter when he reached a deal with the company’s board back in April. 

Last Friday, Musk had announced that a buyout of Twitter was “temporarily on hold” due to concerns that the number of bots on the platform was much higher than the company estimated. The billionaire tweeted that his team would do an independent analysis on bot count and also tried to crowdsource bot estimates from his own followers. Musk was later reprimanded by Twitter’s legal team for revealing — in a tweet, of course — the company’s methodology for estimating the proportion of bot accounts across the platform.

Earlier today, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal explained in a series of tweets that external estimates of bots are likely wrong, since the platform includes private data in its count.

“Unfortunately, we don’t believe that this specific estimation can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information (which we can’t share),” tweeted Agrawal.

Musk responded to Agrawal’s explanation with a series of his own tweets, one that included a single poop emoji. Musk also suggested that Twitter verify whether users are human or not by calling them on the phone.

Tesla expert Dan Ives — an analyst at financial advisory firm Wedbush Securities — put the chances of Musk going through with the deal at under 50 percent. If Musk chooses to walk away, he’ll be subject to a $1 billion “kill fee”. But according to legal experts who spoke to The Washington Post, Twitter could sue Musk for the financial damages inflicted on the company due to the hasty reversal of the deal.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.





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Here’s Google’s letter saying employees can relocate to states with abortion rights

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In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, Google’s chief people officer Fiona Cicconi sent a staff-wide email to employees on Friday informing them of Google’s response to the ruling. Among other things, the email states that Googlers that they can “apply for relocation without justification,” and that people in charge of the relocation process “will be aware of the situation” in assessing their requests.

The Supreme Court’s ruling does not make abortion illegal throughout the US — instead, it leaves the decision up to individual states. A number of states have immediately restricted abortion rights, including Louisiana, Missouri and Kentucky. Other states, including California, where Google is headquartered, have vowed to protect abortion rights within their borders.

Here’s the letter in full:

Hi everyone,

This morning the US Supreme Court issued a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that rolls back Roe v. Wade.

This is a profound change for the country that deeply affects so many of us, especially women. Everyone will respond in their own way, whether that’s wanting space and time to process, speaking up, volunteering outside of work, not wanting to discuss it at all, or something else entirely. Please be mindful of what your co-workers may be feeling and, as always, treat each other with respect.

Equity is extraordinarily important to us as a company, and we share concerns about the impact this ruling will have on people’s health, lives, and careers. We will keep working to make information on reproductive healthcare accessible across our products and continue our work to protect user privacy.

To support Googlers and their dependents, our US benefits plan and health insurance covers out-of-state medical procedures that are not available where an employee lives and works. Googlers can also apply for relocation without justification, and those overseeing this process will be aware of the situation. If you need additional support, please connect 1:1 with a People Consultant via [link to internal tool redacted].

We will be arranging support sessions for Googlers in the US in the coming days. These will be posted to Googler News.

Please don’t hesitate to lean on your Google community in the days ahead and continue to take good care of yourselves and each other.

The Verge has reached out to Google to clarify whether the relocation policy is new, or if it’s be changed due to the Supreme Court’s decision. We will update this story if we hear back.



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Period tracker app Flo developing ‘anonymous mode’ following Supreme Court ruling

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Flo, one of the most widely used period tracking apps, says it intends to launch a new in an effort to address privacy concerns in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. “We will soon be launching an ‘Anonymous Mode’ that removes your personal identity from your Flo account, so that no one can identify you,” the company said in a statement shared on Twitter. 

It’s not clear how this will work or when it might launch. We’ve reached out to Flo for more details on “anonymous mode.”

Period tracking apps have come under particular ever since a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked last month. Privacy advocates and legal experts have that data collected by period tracking apps, which is often shared with other entities, could be used to fuel investigations into people seeking abortion services. News of the Supreme Court’s decision led to renewed calls on social media for people to delete period tracking apps from their phones and remove their personal details from the services.

Notably, Flo itself has a messy history when it comes to protecting users’ privacy. The app came under fire after The Wall Street Journal reported the app was sharing users’ sensitive information, including details about their menstrual cycles and if they were trying to get pregnant, with Facebook, Google and other third-parties.

The company reached with the FTC in 2021 over allegations it misled users about how their data was handled. Flo said at the time that the settlement “was not an admission of any wrongdoing.” The company said in in May that it had “successfully completed” an independent privacy audit that was a requirement of the settlement.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.





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T-Mobile is happily selling customers’ app habits to advertisers

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T-Mobile’s advertising business is offering a new way for marketers to pry into your app-using habits. Ad Exchanger reports that the un-carrier’s new program is called App Insights, and it’s now fully operational after spending a year in beta. The program allows third-party marketers to buy T-Mobile customer data and centers around a key piece of information that it has unique access to: what apps you use.

Customer data is anonymized, and it’s pooled together with others of similar interests and behaviors, so companies can’t buy a specific user’s app history. Still, it’s creepy. The company’s advertising segment touts this offering loud and clear on its website, with the phrase “Apps speak louder than words” splashed across the top of the page. It also invites prospective clients to “leverage app insights, the strongest indicator of consumer intent.” That’s gross. Thankfully, you can opt out.

T-Mobile advertising with text reading apps speak louder than words

Ah, that old adage.
Image: T-Mobile Advertising Solutions

T-Mobile offers an Android and iOS app called “Magenta Marketing Platform Choices” that allows you to see which companies have your data and opt out entirely. You can also use App Choices if you don’t want to, you know, download a T-Mobile app to opt out of T-Mobile app tracking. According to Ad Exchanger, iOS users are excluded from the program even if they’ve opted in to app tracking.

This kind of creepy behavior from carriers isn’t new, and it’s not likely to get better. With companies like Google and Apple allowing people to opt out of tracking more easily, marketers are looking for different ways to peek into your online habits. Wireless carriers have eagerly jumped in to provide that information, and T-Mobile is only the latest to do so.



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