10 things in tech you need to know today
Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Monday.
- Snap CEO Evan Spiegel defended Snapchat's much-derided redesign in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Spiegel said that the app's redesign led to a 40% engagement increase for "premium content."
- Airbnb says it's banning "party houses" after a shooting at a Halloween party in California killed five people. Airbnb has always banned unauthorized parties, but it plans to increase enforcement of that policy and expand manual screening of "high risk reservations."
- Google announced it is buying Fitbit for $2.1 billion on Friday. With the deal expected to close in 2020 Google is paying $7.35 per share, a major premium on Fitbit's current stock price.
- Facebook decided an LGBTQ clinic's ads promoting HIV prevention were "political," and blocked the ads until the clinic cleared an authorization process meant for politicians. The conflict highlights Facebook's inconsistent enforcement of ad rules, as well as a broader problem: It's not clear how the company defines "political."
- Alleged Jeffrey Epstein collaborator Ghislaine Maxwell reportedly attended a retreat hosted by Jeff Bezos last year. Bezos throws an annual secretive retreat called "Campfire" and invites celebrities, tech entrepreneurs, and business leaders.
- Sources told Reuters the US is formally investigating TikTok on national security grounds. Specifically, the government will probe ByteDance's $1 billion acquisition of US lip-syncing app Musical.ly in 2017, the sources said.
- TikTok executives are declining to show up to a congressional hearing on the tech industry's relationship on China, the Washington Post reports. The hearing set up by Senator Josh Hawley is scheduled for Tuesday, and TikTok's refusal to take part when it reportedly already under scrutiny as a potential national security threat is likely to anger lawmakers.
- Mark Zuckerberg dressed up as a drop of water for Halloween. Zuckerberg, his wife, Priscilla Chan, and their two children dressed as a garden.
- Microsoft-owned GitHub doubled down on its ICE contract as employees protest and even resign in disgust. GitHub last week defended its contract in a memo obtained by the LA Times, saying that a lack of technology at ICE might actually be hurting immigrants being detained by the agency.
- Florida police are listening to Alexa recordings for a murder case in which a woman was fatally stabbed with a spear, ABC News reports. Police believe recordings from Echo dot devices present in the house at the time of the murder could provide evidence.
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