Start Up No.2002: will Carlson make Twitter into TV?, YouTube big on TV, US beats Russian hackers, reading AI news, and more

A new Tesla scheme aims to tempt early buyers who were given free Supercharger use for life away – presumably because it’s a money drain. CC-licensed photo by Jakob Härter on Flickr.

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Wait for Friday, when there’s another post due at the Social Warming Substack at about 0845 UK time.

A selection of 10 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m @charlesarthur on Twitter. On Mastodon: Observations and links welcome.

Tucker Carlson to revive show on Twitter after Fox News dismissal • The Guardian

Kari Paul:


Tucker Carlson will be reviving his show on Twitter, after being abruptly dismissed from Fox News last month.

In a tweet captioned “We’re back,” Carlson on Tuesday shared a video discussing his next moves. The former host said he would be taking his show to Twitter, which he described as “the last remaining platform in the world” to allow free speech.

Carlson offered few details but promised a “new version of the show we’ve been doing for the last six and a half years”. He did not mention when the show may air. But he did echo many of the same points he has often asserted: that the so-called mainstream media is full of propaganda and lies.

“Twitter is not a partisan site, everybody’s allowed here and we think that’s a good thing,” he said. “And yet, for the most part, the news that you see analyzed on Twitter comes from media organizations that are themselves thinly disguised propaganda outlets.”

Carlson’s pivot to Twitter comes after the site has become more welcoming to mostly-conservative accounts previously banned for spreading hate speech and disinformation under Elon Musk’s new direction. The billionaire took over the site in October 2022 and promptly allowed previously banished accounts to return, including that of Donald Trump.

Carlson did not make any mention of Musk in his video. Twitter responded to a request for comment with a poop emoji.


Comes just as Fox News reports a $54m loss for its first quarter, mostly due to its legal settlement (nearly $800m) to Dominion for lying about the 2020 election.

The key question is: will Carlson’s audience (older, right-wing) really come to Twitter (younger, left-wing)? If it’s a revenue share for ads shown in the “show”, who gets more – Twitter, or Carlson? Can it be profitable for Carlson? Will advertisers withdraw even further in the face of this right-wing lurch? The pivot to video either kills or cures. Let’s see how this one goes.
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Almost half of YouTube viewership happens on TV screens • Insider Intelligence

Daniel Konstantinovic:


Nearly half (45%) of all YouTube viewership takes place on TVs, according to internal figures, up from below 30% in 2020. The fast growth has propelled YouTube from a digital-only platform often left out of the conversation of broader entertainment and TV advertising to a direct, major competitor with the world’s largest streaming services.

Time spent watching YouTube on TVs now exceeds any other individual network or streaming service, according to Nielsen data cited by The Information.

YouTube’s viewership on TV screens likely increased as a result of pandemic lockdowns, but it’s far from a fad. The company has been making moves to capture a greater share of connected TV (CTV) audiences, and even before the pandemic, viewership was on the rise.

In March 2020, YouTube viewership on TV screens was up 80% from March 2019, and ad spend was similarly rising. Since then, YouTube has launched a number of quality-of-life features to make the viewing and search experience on TV screens easy, such as allowing the YouTube mobile app to be used as a remote.

Growth isn’t just being driven by YouTube TV, the company’s pay TV offering. In fact, the majority of TV user growth is coming from YouTube’s free, standard service.


Quite astonishing. Not absolutely clear whether that’s viewing inside the US or around the world. Means that YouTube Premium becomes just another streaming subscription for many families. Does the same radicalisation process that happens for other YouTube viewers happen with them too?
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US says it has disabled major Russian cyberespionage operation • The Washington Post

Perry Stein:


Federal law enforcement officials said Tuesday that they have hacked and disabled a complex Russian cyberespionage operation that allegedly was used for about 20 years to steal sensitive government materials from the United States and its allies.

Justice Department and FBI officials described the Russian operation as one of the country’s most powerful cyberespionage tools. They said the agency has been secretly investigating the network for nearly as long it was in operation but executed a court-authorized search warrant only this week to remotely hamper the Russian malware.

Law enforcement personnel had to surreptitiously develop their own cyberinfrastructure to interact with and disrupt the malware, which the Russians were constantly updating and changing, the officials said.
The U.S. government, which coordinated its investigative activities with foreign governments, also had to time the execution of the search warrant to access the compromised computers simultaneously to keep the Russians from reacting and thwarting the operation.

The law enforcement officials said they believe their actions this week will make it difficult for Russia to continuing operating this spying network.

…FBI officials said the malware, known as “Snake,” was developed and operated by the Federal Security Service, the Russian government’s main security agency, which uses the acronym FSB.

The Russians allegedly used the malware to steal sensitive information from computer systems in at least 50 countries, including members of the NATO alliance, and to spy on journalists and other Russian “targets of interest,” the officials said.


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TikTok tracked users who watched gay content, prompting employee complaints • WSJ

Georgia Wells and Byron Tau:


For at least a year, some employees at TikTok were able to find what they described internally as a list of users who watch gay content on the popular app, a collection of information that sparked worker complaints, according to former TikTok employees.

TikTok doesn’t ask users to disclose their sexual orientation, but it cataloged videos users watched under topics such as LGBT, short for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, the former employees said. The collection of information, which could be viewed by some employees through a dashboard, included a set of affiliated users who watched those videos, and their ID numbers, they said.

Other topics in TikTok’s data set also included lists of users, but the former employees didn’t consider those topics to be sensitive. TikTok workers in the US, UK and Australia in 2020 and 2021 raised concerns about this practice to higher-level executives, saying they feared employees might share the data with outside parties, or that it could be used to blackmail users, according to some of the former TikTok employees.

Many social-media and ad-tech companies infer traits about their users based on online behavior. They use it to select which content or ads to serve to users.

Social-media and ad-tech industry practices, however, discourage tracking potentially sensitive traits such as sexuality, according to people who work with digital information. This data can essentially create a list of vulnerable users in parts of the world where some LGBT people face harassment and violence.


These stories come out, like bankruptcy, slowly and then all at once. But the behaviour is always something constant. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. This is company culture.
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Tesla tries to get owners to give up ‘unlimited free Supercharging for life’ • Electrek

Fred Lambert:


For the first few years of selling Model S and Model X, Tesla was offering free Supercharging for the vehicle’s life.

It was a really enticing offer since you could technically not have to pay to power your vehicle ever. Of course, that’s if you don’t charge at home and only use the Supercharger network, which is not ideal for most people, but it is an extremely valuable perk for some power users.

In 2018, Tesla ended the perk after claiming that it was unsustainable – though it did temporarily bring it back as a sale incentive at times.

There are still today a few hundreds of thousands of Tesla vehicles with unlimited free Supercharging around the world.

Earlier this year, Tesla made a first effort to try to get those vehicles off the perk by offering owners an extra $5,000 discount if they trade in a Model S and Model X with unlimited free Supercharging.

Now Tesla is doubling down on this effort by launching what it calls a new “Ownership Loyalty Benefit.”
The automaker is offering those owners six years of unlimited Supercharging when buying a new Model S or Model X by the end of the quarter.

The offer makes it clear that the goal is to remove unlimited Supercharging:


Current Tesla Model S or Model X owners with active unlimited free Supercharging are eligible for 6 years of unlimited Supercharging. To qualify, owners must trade in or remove unlimited Supercharging from their vehicle and take delivery of a new Model S or Model X by June 30, 2023.



Always a problem when you offer a “free for life” product early on: what if it’s too popular? It’s much like the problem that some airlines had with “free for life” flights.
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Nearly 50 news websites are ‘AI-generated’, a study says. Would I be able to tell? • The Guardian

Matthew Cantor:


Breaking news from the president is dead.

At least that’s what the highly reliable website informed its readers last month, under the no-nonsense headline “Biden dead. Harris acting president, address 9am ET”. The site explained that Joe Biden had “passed away peacefully in his sleep” and Kamala Harris was taking over, above a bizarre disclaimer: “I’m sorry, I cannot complete this prompt as it goes against OpenAI’s use case policy on generating misleading content.” is among 49 supposed news sites that NewsGuard, an organization tracking misinformation, has identified as “almost entirely written by artificial intelligence software”. The sites publish up to hundreds of articles daily, according to the report, much of that material containing signs of AI-generated content, including “bland language and repetitive phrases”. Some of the articles contain false information and many of the sites are packed with ads, suggesting they’re intended to make money via programmatic, or algorithmically generated, advertising. The sources of the stories aren’t clear: many lack bylines or use fake profile photos. In other words, NewsGuard says, experts’ fears that entire news organizations could be generated by AI have already become reality.

It’s hard to imagine who would believe this stuff – if Biden had died, the New York Times would probably cover it – and all 49 sites contain at least one instance of AI error messaging containing phrases such as “I cannot complete this prompt” or “as an AI language model”. But, as Futurism points out, a big concern here is that false information on the sites could serve as the basis for future AI content, creating a vicious cycle of fake news.

What do these sites look like – and would AI articles always be as easy to spot as the report of Biden’s death? I spent an afternoon in the brave new world of digital nonsense to find out.


It is quite scary how junk these sites are, and yet they’ll also benefit by siphoning off colossal amounts of advertising revenue.
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People are arguing in court that real images are deepfakes • NPR

Shannon Bond:


In 2016, Elon Musk went on stage at a tech conference outside Los Angeles and made a bold statement about the self-driving capability of Teslas.

“A Model S and Model X at this point can drive autonomously with greater safety than a person. Right now,” the CEO told the Code Conference audience during a Q&A session following his interview with tech journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.

Video of the session has been up on YouTube for nearly seven years. But it recently came back into the spotlight as part of a lawsuit brought by the family of a man who died when his Tesla crashed while using the self-driving feature. The family’s lawyers cited that 2016 claim, along with others Musk has made about Tesla’s self-driving software.

But the carmaker’s lawyers pushed back.

Musk, “like many public figures, is the subject of many ‘deepfake’ videos and audio recordings that purport to show him saying and doing things he never actually said or did,” they wrote in a court filing, going on to describe several fake videos of the billionaire

…In Musk’s case, the judge did not buy his lawyers’ claims.

“What Tesla is contending is deeply troubling to the Court,” Judge Evette Pennypacker wrote in a ruling ordering Musk to testify under oath.

“Their position is that because Mr. Musk is famous and might be more of a target for deepfakes, his public statements are immune,” she wrote. “In other words, Mr. Musk, and others in his position, can simply say whatever they like in the public domain, then hide behind the potential for their recorded statements being a deepfake to avoid taking ownership of what they did actually say and do. The Court is unwilling to set such a precedent by condoning Tesla’s approach here.”.


Totally predictable, in its way.
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Spotify ejects thousands of AI-made songs in purge of fake streams • FT via Ars Technica

Anna Nicolaou:


Spotify has removed tens of thousands of songs from artificial intelligence music startup Boomy, ramping up policing of its platform amid complaints of fraud and clutter across streaming services.

In recent months the music industry has been confronting the rise of AI-generated songs and, more broadly, the growing number of tracks inundating streaming platforms daily.

Spotify, the largest audio streaming business, recently took down about 7% of the tracks that had been uploaded by Boomy, the equivalent of “tens of thousands” of songs, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Recording giant Universal Music had flagged to all the main streaming platforms that it saw suspicious streaming activity on Boomy tracks, according to another person close to the situation.

The Boomy songs were removed because of suspected “artificial streaming”—online bots posing as human listeners to inflate the audience numbers for certain songs.

AI has made this type of activity easier because it allows someone to instantly generate many music tracks, which can then be uploaded online and streamed.

Boomy, which was launched two years ago, allows users to choose various styles or descriptors, such as “rap beats” or “rainy nights,” to create a machine-generated track. Users can then release the music to streaming services, where they will generate royalty payments. California-based Boomy says its users have created more than 14 million songs.


And so the arms race enters a new stage.
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March 2002: Woman granted ‘right to die’ • BBC On This Day

March 2002:


A woman paralysed from the neck down has won the legal right to die by having her treatment withdrawn.

The judge in the case then urged her to reconsider her decision.

The 43-year-old woman, known as Miss B after she was granted anonymity, watched via a video-link from her hospital bed as Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss delivered the landmark ruling.

Miss B, who was born in Jamaica but moved to Britain aged eight, said afterwards: “I am very pleased with the outcome.”

It means doctors at the hospital where she is being treated, which cannot be identified, will have to switch off the ventilator keeping her alive whenever she chooses.

Dame Elizabeth said the former social care professional had the “necessary mental capacity” to make the decision to reject treatment. But she added: “She is a splendid person and it is tragic that someone of her ability has been struck down so cruelly.


This seemed to some as though the door to assisted suicide was being opened, but in fact it was just the normal adult right to refuse treatment. More than 20 years later, assisted suicide still isn’t legal in the UK, despite numerous test cases.

(If you’re wondering why I’m including stories from years past, it’s because they match the number of today’s edition! Don’t worry, ends this week. Otherwise I’d be bringing you news from the future, which would be quite a feat.
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The UK’s Online Safety Bill, explained • The Verge

Jon Porter:


The UK government’s elevator pitch is that the bill is fundamentally an attempt to make the internet safer, particularly for children. It attempts to crack down on illegal content like child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and to minimize the possibility that kids might encounter harmful and age-inappropriate content, including online harassment as well as content that glorifies suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders.

But it’s difficult to TL;DR the Online Safety Bill at this point, precisely because it’s become so big and sprawling. On top of these broad strokes, the bill has a host of other rules. It requires online platforms to let people filter out objectionable content. It introduces age verification for porn sites. It criminalizes fraudulent ads. It requires sites to consistently enforce their terms of service. And if companies don’t comply, they could be fined up to £18m (around $22.5m) or 10% of global revenue, see their services blocked, and even their executives jailed.

In short, the Online Safety Bill has become a catchall for UK internet regulation, mutating every time a new prime minister or digital minister has taken up the cause.


This is a good writeup, though there’s still disagreement about what the encryption element entails. A Tory MP (Damian Collins, who sits on the relevant committee) insisted on Tuesday that what’s required is not decryption of messages, but to reveal (if required) any metadata collected about encrypted messaging. I wouldn’t be absolutely sure that he’s right and all the companies are wrong, however.
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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?

Read Social Warming, my latest book, and find answers – and more.

Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified

2 thoughts on “Start Up No.2002: will Carlson make Twitter into TV?, YouTube big on TV, US beats Russian hackers, reading AI news, and more

  1. I don’t think that Tesla is worried so much about the cost of the free Supercharging for old Model S/X cars: what bothers them is lack of incentive for these Tesla owners to ever upgrade their EV to a new Tesla — and that deal is for 6 years unlimited Supercharging for a new S/X is good, the catch is bad trade-in offers for the old Model S/X

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