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Month: April 2018

Walmart Looks to Scale Back in U.K. and Brazil, With an Eye on India


That’s the headline of a story just out with my colleagues Sarah Nassauer and Luciana Magalhães: It begins:

The world’s biggest retailer has concluded it can’t take on the whole world by itself.

Walmart Inc. is in discussions to give up control over hundreds of stores in the U.K. and Brazil, two big markets where it has struggled for years, according to people familiar with the talks. At the same time, it is preparing to pour billions of dollars into an Indian e-commerce startup to crack a promising market that has long eluded the U.S. giant.

After spending decades building stores around the globe and taking on local players, Walmart is forming joint ventures in competitive markets and focusing investments in areas executives think will provide growth to a company with $500 billion in annual sales. The strategy shift comes as Walmart works to fend off Inc. and a growing crop of discount grocers in the U.S. and abroad.

And more on India:

At the same time, Walmart in advanced discussions to buy a majority stake in Flipkart Group, a homegrown startup that has become India’s largest e-commerce company. The deal isn’t yet complete and could fall apart, said a person familiar with the Flipkart discussions. Flipkart said it was valued at $11.6 billion in a funding round last year.

Click through to read the rest.

Newley’s Notes 131: India’s Tech Market; Hong Kong Trip Notes; Exuberant Black Labs

hong kong

Edition 131 of my email newsletter went out on Monday.

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Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes.

🇭🇰 We’re back in Delhi after an action-packed four days in Hong Kong last week. I was there for our annual Wall Street Journal D.Live tech conference, where top executives from the region gathered for panel discussions and networking.

Our our main takeaway story from the event sums things up, amid ongoing political tensions between Washington and Beijing: A U.S.-China Trade War Would Reshape Tech Investment.

A snippet from one attendee, mentioned in the story: “‘Chinese companies will be more likely to invest in emerging markets such as India and Southeast Asia,’ said Fan Bao, the chairman and chief executive of investment bank China Renaissance Partners.”

Meanwhile, here’s a wrap-up of the panels, including tidbits from India’s Paytm (mobile payments and e-commerce), Southeast Asia’s Lazada (e-commerce) and Grab (ride-hailing), Google in India and more.

🍴 On a more personal note, a culinary highlight of the trip, in a city where good food is abundant, was a dinner one night at Yardbird. It’ a “modern izakaya” restaurant in Sheung Wan that reminded me in its approach somewhat to David Chang’s Momofuku).

Standout dishes: the liver mousse; meatball yakitori; and “KFC” (Korean fried cauliflower). A ordered expertly, as she always does. Highly recommended.

💎 Oh, and I also saw a very bling-tastic Hong Kong vanity license plate on a blue BMW: “PLAYHARD,” it said.

On to this week’s NN:

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🇮🇳 1) By me, online and in Thursday’s print WSJ: Why Tech Titans Are Betting on India, in 14 Charts [WSJ] — My colleagues MinJung Kim, Rosa de Acosta and I pulled together data showing the opportunities — and very real challenges — of investing in the country’s nascent internet economy.

📵 2) A story I helped my colleague Dan Strumpf with while in HK: American Hustle: ZTE’s Surprise U.S. Success, Now Under Threat [WSJ] — A look at how the Chinese telecoms giant is likely to be hit by the U.S. government blocking sales of American products to the company.

🛍️ 3) Amazon Prime has 100 million-plus Prime memberships [Recode] — Many have speculated about how many members they’ve got; now we know: A lot. As Rani Molla notes, that’s fewer than HBO (142 million) and Netflix (125 million), but more than Spotify (71 million) and Hulu (17 million).

🚢 4) The Secret Language of Ships [Hakai Magazine] — From loan lines to symbols denoting bulbous bows and more, a fascinating look, accompanied by nice photos, of signs and symbols on huge seafaring craft.

🏙️ 5) A story that’s been kicking around inside my head since I read it: Was There a Civilization On Earth Before Humans? [The Atlantic] — “We’re used to imagining extinct civilizations in terms of the sunken statues and subterranean ruins,” Adam Frank writes. “These kinds of artifacts of previous societies are fine if you’re only interested in timescales of a few thousands of years. But once you roll the clock back to tens of millions or hundreds of millions of years, things get more complicated.”

Bonus link: Frank and a colleague’s International Journal of Astrobiology paper, “The Silurian Hypothesis: Would it be possible to detect an industrial civilization in the geological record?”

🧠 6) Standing Up at Your Desk Could Make You Smarter [NY Times] — Richard A. Friedman, director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College, writes about a new report showing endless hours sitting could result in “possible impairment in learning and memory.” And exercise might not even help.

😮 7) Headline of the week: Experience: I was swallowed by a hippo [The Guardian] — “There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger,” says Paul Templer in this riveting account. “It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf.”

🌐 8) Wondrous thing of the week: GlobeGenie — click the “teleport” link to be “transported” to random spots around the globe, then explore the destinations via Google Maps. So cool. Not new, but new to me.

 9) The Woman Who Gave the Macintosh a Smile [New Yorker] — Alexandra Lange on Susan Kare, who designed the Mac’s first icons.

Bonus link: Scans of the very notebook containing her sketches.

🐶 10) Silly dog video of the week: “JUST CUT THE BULLSHIT AND THROW IT STEVE.

If you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend. If you received this from a pal, you can sign up here.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley’s Notes 130: Zuckerberg Testimony Takeaways; Apple Leakers; Goats On Bridges

Newleys notes

Edition 130 of my email newsletter went out last week.

If you’d like NN delivered to your inbox, simply enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.

Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

😶 1) Shot: Facebook hearings didn’t move the needle on regulation. [Axios] — That’s Axios’s big takeaway after Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony. Among the other important themes, Kim Hart and David McCabe write: “Confusion over the digital ads ecosystem,” Zuckerberg’s many mentions of AI applications for fighting scourges like fake news, and the “trust gap” between Facebook and its users.

🕵️ 2) Chaser: I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes. [NY Times] — Opening the file “was like opening Pandora’s box,” Brian X. Chen writes.

₿ 3) A Sidelined Wall Street Legend Bets on Bitcoin [] — In this tech-related longread of the week, Gary Shteyngart profiles Michael Novogratz.

🍎 4) Headline of the week: In a Leaked Memo, Apple Warns Employees to Stop Leaking Information. [Bloomberg] — A reminder that Apple — and other Silicon Valley firms that wield enormous power — are furious when their staff talk to the press. My favorite line from the memo to staff: “While it may seem flattering to be approached, it’s important to remember that you’re getting played.”

🍜 5) Where to Find Bangkok’s Best Street Food While You Can [NY Times] — My pal Matt Gross spent a week in the Thai capital eating tasty food from roadside vendors. The piece is an illuminating look at at the ever changing nature of cuisine and culture in that great city.

🏍️ 6) The American Chopper meme, explained. [Vox] — Matthew Yglesias sheds some light on something you may well have seen online, and scratched your head at, over the last week or so.

👩‍💻 7) How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You) [WaitButWhy] — Another epic post from Tim Urban, featuring characteristic humor, rudimentary art, and mind-boggling flow charts.

📺 8) That One Night: The Oral History of the Greatest ‘Office’ Episode Ever [Rolling Stone] — Ten years after “The Dinner Party” aired — yep, the one in which Pam, Jim, Andy and others pay a visit to Michael and Jan at their condo — the actors weigh in on what Rolling Stone calls “a master class of dark comedy.”

🐐 9) So 2 Goats Were Stuck On A Beam Under A Bridge… — The feel good story of the week comes from Pennsylvania. The photos are required viewing. The creatures wandered out onto a narrow beam on a bridge 100 feet above the ground. And got stuck. Click through to find out what happened. (Thanks, Arun!)

⏳ 10) Mesmerizing YouTube videos of the week: The Sand Tagious YouTube channel features dozens of sound-rich videos showing the manipulation of modeling sand. Volume all the way up on this one.

If you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend. If you received this from a pal, you can sign up here.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley’s Notes 129: My Ode to ‘Wild Wild Country;’ Amazing Satellite Images; on Work and Creativity

Edition 129 of my email newsletter went out last week.

If you’d like NN delivered to your inbox, simply enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.

world map of circuits

Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes.

An administrative note: I’m changing the NN format slightly to provide me with a little more flexibility in assembling these missives.

You’ll notice there are no longer separate sections for 1) for my WSJ stories, 2) my blog posts, and 3) “5 cool tech-ish reads this week.” Now it’s one simpler, single list. But fret not: All the same awesomesomess remains – and now with added emoji! 👏👏

Anyway, on to this week’s NN…

10 items worth your time this week:

🙏 1) By me at Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh docu-series ‘Wild, Wild Country’ — Yes, It’s That Good [] – My notes on this fantastic Netflix series, along with links I found for more reading on the cult, ranging from a two-part 1986 New Yorker piece to various books and a new interview the Oregonian investigative journalist featured in the shows. This is one of those rare documentaries that lingers with you for days or weeks after you’ve watched it.

🐊 2) Why Zuckerberg’s 14-Year Apology Tour Hasn’t Fixed Facebook. [Wired] – Zeynep Tufekci, an academic who studies social media, provides important context: The Facebook founder has been apologizing for years. The first graf:

IN 2003, one year before Facebook was founded, a website called Facemash began nonconsensually scraping pictures of students at Harvard from the school’s intranet and asking users to rate their hotness. Obviously, it caused an outcry. The website’s developer quickly proffered an apology. “I hope you understand, this is not how I meant for things to go, and I apologize for any harm done as a result of my neglect to consider how quickly the site would spread and its consequences thereafter,” wrote a young Mark Zuckerberg. “I definitely see how my intentions could be seen in the wrong light.”

📰 3) Related: The Death of the Newsfeed [] – Noted venture capitalist and tech commentator Benedict Evans writes about how newsfeeds, like Facebook’s, go from being chronological (when there are few users), to algorithmic (when there are too many users to show every post from your friends), and what that means for user experience. Thought experiment: If WhatsApp and its groups feature existed when Facebook launched, would FB ever have achieved its massive global scale? I think not.

✍️ 4) Do Capybaras Dream of Google Docs? [] – “Google Docs, at any given moment,” Katy Waldman writes, “might be one or both things: an unremarkable feature of office life and a theatre for the mysteries of creativity.” I’m not sure I completely grasp this piece, but I do love it.

🛰️ 5) Earth’s Wonders Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before [Medium/] – A cool collection of satellite images showing cities and geographic features from “off angles.” Many are gorgeous.

🐕 6) Ancient Maya traded dogs for use in religious ceremonies, new study shows [Ars Technica] – Head scratcher of the week.

🇹🇭 7) The Surprising Reason that There Are So Many Thai Restaurants in America [Vice] TLDR: “gastrodiplomacy”! Thanks, Wendy!

👩‍💻 8) A 2-Year Stanford Study Shows the Astonishing Productivity Boost of Working From Home. [] – But don’t miss the interesting caveat.

🎨 9) Does Having a Day Job Mean Making Better Art? [NY Times] – A thought-provoking look at work and creativity.

🎤 10) One glorious thing: Marvin Gaye (Acapella) I heard it through the Grapevine. [YouTube].

What’s new in your world? Hit me with your updates.

If you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend. If you received this from a (smart and cool) pal, you can sign up here.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Cryptocurrency Mania Comes to the Premier League?

IMG 5850

File under: Life in 2018, cryptocurrency edition:

My favorite Premier League team, Arsenal, now shows ads at its grounds for Cashbet Coin, which bills itself as the club’s “official cryptocurrency partner.”

I did a little digging.

Apparently I missed this Reuters story from January:

English soccer team Arsenal is entering the cryptocurrency world by signing a deal to promote new digital tokens being sold by an American gaming software company.

California-based CashBet said on Wednesday that the Premier League club had agreed to become its “exclusive and official Blockchain Partner” ahead of the upcoming “initial coin offering” (ICO) of its new cryptocurrency, “CashBet Coin”.

The partnership makes Arsenal “the first major team in world football to officially partner with a cryptocurrency”, CashBet said in a statement.

Who knew?

Newley’s Notes 128: China and 5G; Smartphones and our Eyes; Earthworm Jerky

2018 04 08 sunset

Edition 128 of my email newsletter went out last week.

If you’d like NN delivered to your inbox, simply enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.

Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, in which I share the best of what I write and the best of what I read.

If you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend. If you received this from a pal, you can sign up here.

🇨🇳 What I Wrote in The Wall Street Journal

China’s Huawei Is Determined to Lead the Way on 5G Despite U.S. Concerns — For this story, which I wrote with my colleague Stu Woo, I traveled down to Chennai to see an obscure technical standards setting conference up close. The piece begins:

CHENNAI, India—The U.S. government is trying to thwart Huawei Technologies Co.’s ascent in wireless technology, but the Chinese company is determined to prevail.

Far from Washington, where the government has called Huawei a national security threat, the world’s largest maker of cellular-tower equipment is trying to guide the development and design of the next generation of mobile networks, dubbed 5G.

Huawei is sending large teams to industry-sponsored meetings—including one held recently in this south India port city. Just as the home-movie industry agreed years ago on specifications for DVD players, wireless-technology companies are now meeting to establish 5G standards.

The story ran in the print WSJ and attracted more than 80 comments online.

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

😬 1. More fuel for the Facebook user data fire: Buzzfeed News’s Ryan Mac, Charlie Warzel and Alex Kantrowitz reported on an internal 2016 Facebook memo in which a vice president talked about aggressive tactics to grow its user base, such as “questionable contact importing practices” and “subtle language that helps people stay searchable.”

The upshot, they write: The memo “reveals the extent to which Facebook’s leadership understood the physical and social risks the platform’s products carried — even as the company downplayed those risks in public.”

📊 2. Speaking of which: How to Opt Out of Data Broker Sites.The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica user data scandal is really about how third parties use our personal details. Here’s a list of several such sites, with links to their opt out pages.

🚗 3. Searching for a peaceful drive in the U.S. countryside? Look no further than the America’s Quietest Routes website, which tells you the sleepiest routes to drive in each state, based on traffic counts.

🍴 4. Nutrition-related read of the week: Grubstreet’s “The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right” actually delivers on that ambitious headline. Mark Bittman and Yale University’s Dr. David L. Katz talk paleo, keto, carbs, and more.

(None of this will be a surprise to those who took my advice in 2012 and read “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics.” It remains the most instructive book on food I’ve ever read.)

👓 5. On eyesight and smartphones. In Wired, the always-excellent Virginia Heffernan tackles the thorny subjects of aging, our failing vision, and gadgets. “If you were a nomadic goatherd in the Mongolian grasslands, you might not even consider presbyopia a pathology,” she writes.

🌲 Quote of the week

Humans had lived in nature for 5 million years. We were made to fit a natural environment. So we feel stress in an urban area…When we are exposed to nature, our bodies go back to how they should be.

That’s from Japanese scientist Yoshifumi Miyazaki, whose studies have shown that exposure to nature — or “forest bathing” — can lower stress hormones.

🥩 1 Silly, High-Protein Thing

Speaking of healthy (?) eating, you can buy earthworm jerky on Amazon. Product description: “This bag of earthworm contains 5 grams of 100% edible dehydrated large Earthworms.” One bag will set you back $14.99.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh docu-series ‘Wild, Wild Country’ — Yes, It’s That Good

wild_wild_country_posterI really enjoyed the new Netflix docu-series “Wild Wild Country,” which you may have heard about. It was released last month and has been garnering some positive reviews and tons of online buzz.

It’s the story, told over six, hour-long episodes, of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his devotees, known as Rajneeshis.

Thousands of the disciples, from both India and many other countries, followed him from India to the U.S., where they built a commune in the early 1980s outside a tiny town in Central Oregon.

The orange-clad followers clashed with locals and authorities before ultimately…well, you’ll have to give it a watch to see how it ends (if you don’t already know).

Some of the things I loved about the series:

  • The directors, Chapman and MacLain Way, manged to portray sympathetically not just members of the Bhagwan cult, but also the town’s residents, with many long interviews in which participants in the saga shared their first-person accounts. (Many were in the twenties or thirties during the time the events took place, so are now in their fifties or sixties.)
  • The series contains on a ton of contemporaneous footage, from local TV news accounts that aired at the time to what looks like footage shot by Rajneeshis themselves to document goings on at their commune.
  • The music is fantastic, really adding emotional content. (Some reviews I’ve read say the music is too overbearing, but I quite liked it.)

I’ve been digging around to try to learn more about the movement (don’t worry — just out of curiosity, not in a desire to join it!). Here are some resources I’ve found:

Update, April 7: Columbia Journalism Review has an interview with Les Zaitz, the Oregonian investigative reporter featured in the series.

He reveals what it was like report on the story, recounts his trip to India to learn more about Bhagwan and Sheela, and more. The close quote:

I’ve always been struck by just how dangerous and evil some of these people were. I’m not sure the Netflix series has accurately captured that. This was not just a group of people that lost their way. This was a very dangerous group that put a lot of lives at risk.

Newley’s Notes 127: Uber Quits SE Asia; Facebook Gets Unfriended; Smoldering T-Rexes


Edition 127 of my email newsletter went out last week.

If you’d like NN delivered to your inbox, simply enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.


Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, in which I share the best of what I write and the best of what I read.

If you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend. If you received this from a pal, you can sign up here.

The big Asia tech news this week is that Uber is quitting Southeast Asia. First China, then Russia, and now it’s leaving another region. That thrusts India and Brazil — two of the biggest remaining emerging markets in which it’s fighting — into the spotlight.

Meanwhile Alibaba is pouring another couple billion bucks into the Amazon of Southeast Asia.

On to this week’s NN!

🚘 What I Wrote in The Wall Street Journal

Uber Sells Southeast Asia Business to Rival Grab — The story begins:

Uber Technologies Inc. said Monday it would relinquish its battle for Southeast Asia’s riders, selling its local operations in exchange for a minority stake in homegrown champion Grab Inc.

In exchange for its operations in Southeast Asia, Uber is gaining a 27.5% stake in Singapore-based Grab, which has more monthly active users across much of the region than Uber, according to app analytics firm App Annie.

Uber’s Latest Retreat Leaves Brazil, India as the Key Battlegrounds — The story, which I wrote with my colleague P.R. Venkat, begins:

Uber Technologies Inc. has pulled back from several emerging markets but it is determined to hold on in two of the world’s most populous: India and Brazil.

In both, Uber has its hands full. But the potential is enormous for any company that comes to dominate.

Alibaba Bets Another $2 Billion on Southeast Asia — The story, which I wrote with my colleague Liza Lin, begins:

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Executive Chairman Jack Ma is doubling down on Southeast Asia, investing another $2 billion in e-commerce subsidiary Lazada Group and naming trusted confidante Lucy Peng as its chief executive.

The investment announced Monday comes on top of the $2 billion the Chinese e-commerce giant has poured into Lazada since buying a majority stake in 2016.

Singapore-based Lazada operates online marketplaces in six Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia, selling everything from lipstick and car wax to instant coffee and smartphones.

Stay tuned for more on Uber, and Southeast Asia e-commerce.

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

(Or in the case of some of these items this week, not so cool. But important…)

1. Trump + Data Firm + Facebook = Perfect Storm. The Cambridge Analytica story, as you no doubt noticed, has exploded into a huge issue for Facebook.

Let’s try to sum things up: A Channel 4 News undercover investigation of the data firm connected to Trump led to scrutiny of how an academic obtained Facebook user details.

My colleagues Deepa Seetharaman and Katherine Bindley put together a good Q&A explaining what the fuss is about.

Then Mark Zuckerberg was criticized for taking so long to respond to the crisis, and issuing what seemed like a lame apology.

Later, adding fuel to the fire, Ars Technica reported that Facebook’s Android app logs some users’ phone call and messaging information. As my colleague Robert McMillan wrote: “While Facebook says there was nothing improper in its call logging, it is the latest example of Facebook users coming to the realization they are sharing vast quantities of data with the company—wittingly or not—each time they agree to one of its privacy settings or feature requests.”

Then on Monday the Federal Trade Commission confirmed reports that it has “opened a non-public investigation into Facebook for its user privacy practices,” Axios’s Dan Primack wrote.

Facebook’s stock dropped 14% last week — the most in one week since 2012.

2. An Uber self-diving struck and killed a woman in Arizona. It’s unclear why the car didn’t stop. Police released video of the crash showing the “safety driver” looking down, not at the road. Here’a detailed analysis from technologist Brad Templeton on what might have gone wrong.

3. Longread of the week: “War of Words: Meet the Texan Trolling for Putin.” Sub-head of this Texas Monthly piece: “In 2014, Russell Bonner Bentley was a middle-aged arborist living in Austin. Now he’s a local celebrity in a war-torn region of Ukraine—and a foot soldier in Russia’s information war.”

4. Remember the game “Oregon Trail”? Target is now selling a $25 handheld version. I want one bad. Looks to be lovingly made, too: there’s a tiny floppy disk for a power button! Here’s a video review.

5. Just FYI: Iggy Pop has an Instagram account for his pet cockatoo.

🦖 Quote of the week

“We knew he had a temper, but today he blew his top.”

That’s from an AP story about a huge animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex that went up in flames at a theme park in Canon City, Colorado. Click through for a memorable image.

📹 1 Silly Thing

Hide the Pain Harold Visits Manchester, England. Video is here. More on Harold and his eponymous meme is here.

🤳 NN reader feedback of the week:

“That’s EXACTLY the kind of thing an influencer would say.”

That’s from my kid bro M, responding to my blog post about taking a break from the Instgram app, in which I said IG has been pestering me to re-join, despite not having an enormous following there. “And I’m not even a power user, much less an ‘influencer,'” I wrote. “I have several hundred followers, but less than a thousand.”

Point taken.

Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley’s Notes 126: Say Hi to Our Puppy, Ginger!; Facebook’s CA Problem; Toto’s ‘Africa’ FTW


Edition 126 of my email newsletter went out a couple weeks back (I’m late it posting it here).

If you’d like NN delivered to your inbox, simply enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.

Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, in which I share the best of what I write and the best of what I read.

If you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend. If you received this from a pal, you can sign up here.

💬 What I Wrote at

🐶 — Just posted: Introducing our Desi Dog, Ginger. TLDR: Say hello to our new puppy! The post includes lots of pics (like the one above) and information on her “designed by Darwin” genetic makeup.

🤳 — The Emails and Texts That Show How Badly Instagram Wants me Back. About a month ago I deleted the Instagram app on my phone. Then I started getting messages from IG begging me to return…

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

1. Just out: New info on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. In a piece with The Observer headlined “How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions,” The New York Times reported yesterday on the platform and the firm that worked with Pres. Trump during the 2017 election:

An examination by The New York Times and The Observer of London reveals how Cambridge Analytica’s drive to bring to market a potentially powerful new weapon put the firm — and wealthy conservative investors seeking to reshape politics — under scrutiny from investigators and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.


Details of Cambridge’s acquisition and use of Facebook data have surfaced in several accounts since the business began working on the 2016 campaign, setting off a furious debate about the merits of the firm’s so-called psychographic modeling techniques.

But the full scale of the data leak involving Americans has not been previously disclosed — and Facebook, until now, has not acknowledged it. Interviews with a half-dozen former employees and contractors, and a review of the firm’s emails and documents, have revealed that Cambridge not only relied on the private Facebook data but still possesses most or all of the trove.

Cambridge paid to acquire the personal information through an outside researcher who, Facebook says, claimed to be collecting it for academic purposes.

During a week of inquiries from The Times, Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak and questioned whether any of the data still remained out of its control. But on Friday, the company posted a statement expressing alarm and promising to take action.

Facebook, meanwhile, insists it wasn’t a breach, as Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier reports.

Here’s Axios’s Sara Fischer and David McCabe on the larger significance:

The scandal is another example of Facebook blaming outdated policies and ignorance for its platform being abused by bad actors — while struggling to contain the public relations fallout. The company is also tangling with the media outlets reporting on it.

Meanwhile Recode’s Kurt Wagner describes how CA was able to collect Facebook data on 50 million users: It began when about 27,000 people used Facebook Login to access an app called “thisisyourdigitallife…”

Bottom line: I think the backlash against big tech is clearly upon us. I see more and more folks on Twitter — certainly a filter bubble, but still — mentioning the r-word: regulation.

💉 2. Another huge story this week: The SEC charged Elizabeth Holmes, founder of blood testing startup Theranos, with fraud. The government’s investigation began after my WSJ colleague John Carreyrou in late 2015 broke the story regarding questions surrounding the company.

At Buzzfeed News, Stephanie M. Lee has a piece called “The Seven Biggest Lies Theranos Told.”

🎧 3. You haven’t truly heard Africa’s “Toto” until you’ve heard it playing in an empty mall. Go ahead, give it a listen. That’s from a thought provoking Jia Tolentino New Yorker piece about the emotions she encountered listening to the works of a 20-year-old Kaukauna, Wisconsin native, who edits song to make them sound like they’re coming from different rooms.

💱 4. John Oliver explains cryptocurrencies. Title says it all. Available on YouTube here.

🗣️ 5. Tech longread of the week: “Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet.” Another from the New Yorker, this time Andrew Marantz on how the popular site is trying to bring trolls to heel — without quashing free speech.

🔭 Quote of the week

“People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.”

That’s from a nice NYT roundup of quotes from Stephen Hawking, who passed away on Wednesday. Another of my faves: “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special.”

🤙 1 Silly Thing

“AIRBOARDERS: (Official Movie Trailer)”. Nothing to see here — just a bunch of cool L.A. dudes air getting radical…with business cards. NSFW: language

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


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