10 things in tech you need to know today
Joshua Roberts/Reuters and Mandel Ngan/Reuters
Jeff Bezos and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Thursday.
- UN investigators backed bombshell claims that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hacked Jeff Bezos' phone. Investigators said they had credible information that Bezos was hacked by a WhatsApp number belonging to the Crown Prince in May 2018.
- Saudi officials close to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly knew of plans to hack Bezos phone. The unnamed officials also said that senior adviser to the crown prince, Saud al-Qahtani, was also involved in the hacking as part of a broader intimidation campaign against Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in October 2018 at the hands of Saudi agents.
- Jeff Bezos broke his silence after reports that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hacked his phone by commemorating the journalist whose killing was linked to the Saudi government. In his first public comment since the initial reports, Bezos tweeted a photo on Wednesday showing himself attending a vigil in 2019 for Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose death has been linked to the Saudi government.
- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly taunted Jeff Bezos with a sexist meme in a sign that the crown prince had access to the Amazon CEO's private messages. The forensic analysis of Bezos' phone was first obtained by Motherboard.
- Saudi Arabia denied hacking into Jeff Bezos' phone and called for an investigation into the "absurd" claims. The Saudi Embassy in the US called via Twitter on Wednesday for "an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out."
- TikTok is reportedly on the hunt for a US-based CEO, and it could be the company's latest step to distance itself from ties to China. The CEO would oversee TikTok's day-to-day operations and "non-technical functions," and work alongside the app's two most senior executives: TikTok chief Alex Zhu, who is based in Asia, and Vanessa Pappas, who heads TikTok's US operations.
- Trump tweeted a record 125 times on the day House prosecutors mounted their case against him at his impeachment trial. Most of Trump's postings were re-tweets of Republican members of Congress, staff on his re-election campaign, and Fox News hosts defending him against the Democrats' impeachment case.
- After its launch was delayed due to "high demand," the $1,500 Motorola Razr foldable smartphone finally has a release date. Motorola's revival of the iconic Razr phone will be available to pre-order in the US starting on January 26, and it'll be available to buy online and in stores in the US starting on February 6, the company announced Wednesday.
- Sheryl Sandberg spoke at a private event in Davos and revealed that Facebook is rolling out a new privacy checkup to 2 billion people as part of efforts to be more accountable. Sandberg said the company had learned from the 2016 election.
- Elon Musk asked whether he should put "The Witcher" game into Teslas, and hinted he might add "Minecraft" and "Kerbal Space Program" as well. Musk has been extremely taken with the recent screen adaptation of "The Witcher" on Netflix.
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