Start Up No.1760: Telegram escapes Brazil ban, Online Safety Bill redux, Vimeo backpedals (a bit), Cameron’s green screwup, and more

The end of Daylight Saving(s) Time isn’t a certainty in the US, despite a Senate bill supporting it. CC-licensed photo by Amy Bayer on Flickr.

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A selection of 11 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m @charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Brazil Supreme Court lifts ban on messaging app Telegram • Agence France-Presse via NDTV


The Supreme Court judge who had ordered messaging app Telegram blocked in Brazil reversed the ruling Sunday, after the tech company complied with an earlier decree to make changes to the platform.

“Considering that the (court’s requested changes) were fully attended to, I revoke the decision to fully and completely suspend the operation of Telegram in Brazil,” Judge Alexandre de Moraes wrote in a document released by the court.

Citing what he called Telegram’s failure to comply with orders from Brazilian authorities and remove messages found to contain disinformation, Moraes had ordered the app blocked immediately in Brazil.

Following the suspension order, Telegram founder Pavel Durov apologized to the Supreme Court and blamed a “communication problem” that he said was due to misplaced emails.

He asked the court to postpone the order to allow time for Telegram to appoint a representative in Brazil and improve communications with the court. The judge on Saturday gave Telegram 24 hours to enact changes so he could lift the ban.

On Sunday, Moraes said the company informed him it had adopted several anti-disinformation measures, including the “manual” monitoring of the 100 most popular channels in Brazil.

It now also will tag specific posts as misleading, restrict several profiles that disseminated disinformation and promote verified information.

Friday’s order to block the app throughout the country never actually went into effect and Telegram had continued to function normally throughout the weekend.


The moderation is a reminder, of sorts, that Telegram isn’t an end-to-end secure system. The app was briefly facing a ban because the team overlooked an official email demanding the changes, at pain of being banned.

The result is a boon for Jair Bolsonaro, whose supporters use Telegram. The moderators will have their work cut out.
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A quick take on three pretty terrifying changes to the Online Safety Bill • Heather Burns

Burns is a tech policy and regulation specialist, formerly at the Open Rights Group:


the UK is, indeed, taking the “world-leading” stance – not duplicated by any other western nation – of requiring any business or organisation whose online presence could possibly be accessed in the UK to proactively monitor and scan for legal content.

That means you and your business and your project, not just the five or six companies the people who cooked up this law think the Internet is.

This hits everyone and everything.

I want to give you good news here. I want to give you something productive, I want to give you something constructive to work with and take to your elected representatives.

But I keep hearkening back to all the discussions I’ve had, in the various capacities I’ve worked in, in the three years this Bill has eaten up my life, with tech people. Not big tech, not corporate lobbyists, not EvilCorp, just real people working in startups or small businesses or open source projects. Independently of each other, all of them have said the same thing: the UK is not worth it.

They are all focusing on the EU market, its half a billion consumers, and the compliance obligations of the DSA. Those obligations, as onerous as they are, rest within a framework which respects and safeguards the rights to freedom of expression and privacy, as opposed to the UK’s steady progress on stripping away those rights and imposing a requirement, on them, as the operators of services, to invade them.

If it comes to it, these people have told me, they will block UK users, and end their services here, rather than deal with UK gov’s Orwell shit.


I find it hard to believe that the big social networks would give up on the UK – they could probably absorb the cost – but smaller ones might not think the moderation cost worthwhile, thus reinforcing the extant monopolies. There will be more analysis in the coming weeks, no doubt. But Burns is certain it’s very bad.
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Facebook is locking out people who didn’t activate Facebook Protect • The Verge

Barbara Krasnoff:


Early in March, a bunch of Facebook users got a mysterious, spam-like email titled “Your account requires advanced security from Facebook Protect” and telling them that they were required to turn on the Facebook Protect feature (which they could do by hitting a link in the email) by a certain date, or they would be locked out of their account.

The program, according to Facebook, is a “security program for groups of people that are more likely to be targeted by malicious hackers, such as human rights defenders, journalists, and government officials.” It’s meant to do things like ensure those accounts are monitored for hacking threats and that they are protected by two-factor authentication (2FA).

Unfortunately, the email that Facebook sent from the address resembled a rather common form of spam, and so it’s probable that many people ignored it.

It actually wasn’t spam. In fact, it was real. The first deadline to hit for many people was Thursday, March 17th. And now, they are locked out of their Facebook accounts — and are having trouble with the process that Facebook has provided to get them back in.


Too much security: not often you hear about that.
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Is Clubhouse dead? Not if you are in south Asia • Rest of World

Ramsha Jahangir, Mosabber Hossain, Abhaya Raj Joshi, Vinay Aravind and Zinara Rathnayake:


The frenzy around voice-based social media platform Clubhouse has settled in recent months, with the app seeing a decline in downloads in some countries facing competition from clone apps and Twitter’s Spaces feature.

But in South Asia, where the app gained popularity in mid-2021 after it launched its Android version, many users have found specific uses for Clubhouse. For instance, in India, a Clubhouse room is dedicated to reciting the Hanuman Chalisa every morning between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Here’s what people in South Asian countries are now using Clubhouse for…


Pakistan: Urdu poetry. Bangladesh: strategic talk. Nepal: stocks. India: “conversations no one else was having” (though the end of lockdown has meant less participation). Sri Lanka: psychology. As varied as the people.
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Apple’s M1 Ultra chip is good for you, but a problem for Intel, AMD, and Nvidia • Yahoo Finance

Daniel Howley:


Apple has always done well among creative professionals thanks to its products’ designs and capabilities. But Windows-based machines caught up to Apple in recent years, with manufacturers like Microsoft pushing out systems with powerful processors and graphics cards.

But with the M1 Ultra, Apple has a chip that could outperform its PC rivals and give Apple the performance crown. And that’s more than enough reason for gamers and creators to jump to Apple’s side.

There’s just one caveat: the M1 Ultra is only available in the Mac Studio. You can’t buy one off the shelf and slap it into any old computer. That’s a major letdown for enthusiasts who build their computers.

According to Ives, however, Apple may eventually make the M1 Ultra available to other computer makers, giving consumers the ability to build their own M1 Ultra-based systems while putting Apple in direct competition with Intel, AMD, and Nvidia.

“This latest M1 Ultra is a game changer on the graphics front and ultimately is competitive versus Nvidia,” [Wedbush analyst, Dan] Ives said. “Now it’s about how big Apple goes outside Cupertino and selling its chip to third parties.”

Of course, Apple could simply hold on to its chips and use them to lure prospective customers.


Hoo boy. Apparently Dan Ives has been covering the tech sector for Wedbush since 2018 (and on Wall Street “for two decades” covering software and “broader technology”). Last year he thought an Apple Car was “inevitable” (sometime) and in 2019 that Apple would do a big content acquisition. And now, sell its chips to rival OEMs.

I’m going to call that 0 for 3, Dan.
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Improving Vimeo’s policy on video bandwidth • Vimeo blog

Anjali Sud is chief executive of Vimeo, and has been getting an earful of angry creatives over the vague “you’re in the top 1%” rule that would require them to pay fees to keep their videos streaming there:


After fully reviewing our existing bandwidth policy and listening to feedback from some of our highest bandwidth users, we will be making the following changes and commitments:

Shifting our bandwidth threshold from a percentage to a flat 2TB. We historically have determined that users who are in the top 1% of bandwidth usage are subject to bandwidth charges. To improve clarity and transparency moving forward, we will be setting the monthly bandwidth threshold at 2TB (or 2,000 GB)— which would impact even fewer than 1% of our users. Users can access their bandwidth usage report directly on their Vimeo account to track usage.

…• Rolling out an exemption policy. We will be rolling out an exemption policy moving forward where creative professionals would not be restricted by the 2TB bandwidth threshold, as long as they aren’t using Vimeo to monetize those videos elsewhere. We will have more details that we’ll share within the next 30 days, and you’ll be able to find that information on our help center.


It’s the second update that’s arguably the most significant: aiming to be a venue for creative content (because otherwise there’s a risk of being carpeted with tedious corporate crap, and who wants to be among that?).
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Senate plan for permanent daylight saving time faces doubts in the House • The Washington Post

Dan Diamond:


While the Sunshine Protection Act, which unanimously passed the Senate on Tuesday, would nationally shift clocks an hour later to maximize daylight, some doctors have argued that adopting permanent standard time would be a healthier option and better align with humans’ natural rhythms.

Pallone, who held a hearing last week on daylight saving time, said he shares the Senate’s goal to end the “spring forward” and “fall back” clock changes linked to more strokes, heart attacks and car accidents. But he wants to collect more information, asking for a long-delayed federal analysis on how time changes might affect productivity, traffic and energy costs, among other issues.

…The White House also has not communicated its position on permanent daylight saving time, congressional aides said. While President Biden, as a freshman senator, voted for that in December 1973 — the last time that Congress attempted to institute the policy nationwide — he also witnessed the near-immediate collapse of support amid widespread reports that darker winter mornings were contributing to more car accidents and worsened moods. Members of Congress introduced nearly 100 pieces of legislation to change or do away with the law before it was finally repealed in October 1974.


So the argument’s been going on for 50 years – nearly half the time that DST’s been in use anywhere (it began in 1908, and one of its first proponents was an entomologist). I bet if there is a change, it’ll just get commented out in any codebases, ready to be reused when people decide they prefer the spring forward/fall back pattern. (Though I think it would be nice to not have the gloom of winter abruptly imposed one Sunday in October.)

By the way, American readers, DST is the reason why you’re currently getting email an hour later: the UK and US (and Canada?) are out of step in their application of DST. The UK won’t change for another week.

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Have iPhone cameras become too smart? • The New Yorker

Kyle Chayka:


For a large portion of the population, “smartphone” has become synonymous with “camera,” but the truth is that iPhones are no longer cameras in the traditional sense. Instead, they are devices at the vanguard of “computational photography,” a term that describes imagery formed from digital data and processing as much as from optical information. Each picture registered by the lens is altered to bring it closer to a pre-programmed ideal. Gregory Gentert, a friend who is a fine-art photographer in Brooklyn, told me, “I’ve tried to photograph on the iPhone when light gets bluish around the end of the day, but the iPhone will try to correct that sort of thing.” A dusky purple gets edited, and in the process erased, because the hue is evaluated as undesirable, as a flaw instead of a feature. The device “sees the things I’m trying to photograph as a problem to solve,” he added. The image processing also eliminates digital noise, smoothing it into a soft blur, which might be the reason behind the smudginess that McCabe sees in photos of her daughter’s gymnastics. The “fix” ends up creating a distortion more noticeable than whatever perceived mistake was in the original.


Goes in to lots of detail (with a briefing from Apple) about how the photographic sausage is made – while also questioning whether it’s a sausage we really want to consume. However, given the millions of these sausage-makers (iPhones) being sold, it’s a bit like a paean to veganism in a meat-eating world.
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2007: ‘Bizarro World’ • The Boston Globe

Billy Baker, in August 2007:


I am not a video game person, but like most everyone of my generation, I was hooked on Mario. It was hard not to be – that little plumber from Brooklyn was an ’80s icon, on par with E.T. and the Rubik’s Cube. He had his own cartoon, his own lunchbox, his own breakfast cereal. Symphony orchestras played his theme song. I had to see how a teenager was chasing perfection in a game that had its heyday, and sold 40 million copies, before he was born. He was amazing.

And so I contacted Mr. Kelly R. Flewin – he always signs his correspondence this way – a 29-year-old gas station attendant in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the senior referee at, to find out how important the record was in the gaming world. During a late-night phone call after business had quieted down at the station, he told me that any record in one of the more popular classic games – like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, or Tetris – would always set the classic gaming world on fire.

“It’s funny,” I told Flewin. “We have an old Nintendo Game Boy floating around the house, and Tetris is the only game we own. My wife will sometimes dig it out to play on airplanes and long car rides. She’s weirdly good at it. She can get 500 or 600 lines, no problem.”

What Flewin said next I will never forget.

I replied: “Oh, my!”

After I hung up the phone, I went to the bedroom and woke my wife, Lori.

“Honey,” I said. “You’re not going to believe this, but I just got off the phone with a guy who’s in charge of video game world records, and he said the world record for Game Boy Tetris is 327 lines, and he wants us to go to New Hampshire this spring so you can try to break the world record live in front of the judges at the world’s largest classic video game tournament.”


This is a lovely story that, in that way of the internet, has come back to life recently. To be read after watching King Of Kong, if possible.
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At SXSW, a pathetic tech future struggles to be born • Vice

Edward Ongweso:


It did not really hit me that I was in a special sort of hell until I was walking aimlessly through Austin for SXSW and came across a venue with a few inflated geodesic domes. There were large 3D anthropomorphic rabbits plastered everywhere, which I gathered were somehow related to crypto though it wasn’t clear how. Large screens inside and outside of the domes streamed a panel where a member of Linkin Park crafted a song that would be minted as an NFT as a discussion about the liberatory potential of the metaverse carried on. And somewhere, a loud voice rang out a cultish mantra: “This is changing the future. This is FLUF House. This is the Hume Collective, so remember why you are here. Remember the power that you have. The power of this community, and when it gets hard, remember you are not alone.”

This week, while at SXSW to speak on two panels about crypto-skepticism and algorithmic labor, I was able to check out if crypto, NFTs, web3, and the metaverse really were taking over Austin. What I found was a deeply underwhelming, mundane, and frankly pathetic series of demonstrations and setups that suggest if these digital technologies do take over the world, it’ll be because of how much money their biggest boosters have and how easy it is for that money to generate interest as opposed to anything of true social utility.

…For some attendees, I’m sure all this felt like the future was here. And yet, despite all the talk I heard about ushering in a new era of diversity and inclusion, it was hard to not notice that every room felt largely the same: mobs of white wealthy men who quickly volunteered that they worked in finance, tech, marketing, or some buzzy fusion of the three.


In its way, this reminded me of Mat Honan’s amazing report from CES 2012, “Fever dream of a guilt-ridden gadget reporter“.
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Cameron’s decision to cut ‘green crap’ now costs each household in England £150 a year • The Guardian

Michael Savage:


With energy prices already soaring and bills set to rise even further this year, it suggests [Prime Minister David] Cameron’s decisions [in 2013] to effectively end onshore wind projects in England, cut solar subsidies and slash energy-efficiency schemes played a large part in rising bills. It comes with the government preparing to announce its much anticipated energy strategy this week, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine further drives up energy prices. It is expected to push measures such as solar and onshore wind power generation, as well as North Sea oil projects. However, there are concerns that the Treasury is holding back more radical action.

Many of this week’s measures could reverse action taken by the coalition government. Analysis by Carbon Brief looked at the cumulative effect of ending onshore wind subsidies, cutting energy efficiency funding and scrapping a programme to make all new homes carbon neutral. It also factored in cuts to solar energy subsidies.

With the energy price cap already at £1,277 a year and rising to £1,971 in less than a fortnight and an expected £3,000 in October, the analysis found that maintaining the green policies would have reduced energy costs by £8.3bn a year for the economy overall, part of which would equate to £150 a year per household.

Ed Miliband, the shadow climate change secretary, said: “The government said they were ‘cutting the green crap’ but it was a disaster – with bills for working families much higher as a result. This demonstrates once again that going green is the right way to have energy security, cut bills, and tackle the climate crisis.”

…The number of homes having their lofts or cavity walls insulated each year dropped by 92% and 74% in 2013 respectively and has never recovered. Subsidies ended for onshore wind turbines, and planning reforms made them harder to build. Meanwhile, solar power was excluded from government support in 2015.


Economise now, pay far more later. A tale repeated again and again. Cameron’s rule turns out to have been full of absolute howlers that have led us down a highly undesirable path.
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• Why do social networks drive us a little mad?

• Why does angry content seem to dominate what we see?

• How much of a role do algorithms play in affecting what we see and do online?

• What can we do about it?

• Did Facebook have any inkling of what was coming in Myanmar in 2016?Social Warming, my latest book, and find answers – and more.

Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified

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