May 29, 2020

Trump wants to lower tech’s liability forcefield

May 29, 2020
The Hustle
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Come transform how you see opportunity. On June 8th, I’m hosting a 2-week bootcamp that shows you how to spot big business opportunities. Whether you’re starting your own thing or growing something where you work, we’ll walk you through a systematic framework for identifying ideas. 

Things we’ll cover: The Unbundling method (spotting opportunities big companies are missing), how to listen to users effectively (most people are horrible at this), and frameworks for coming up with $100m ideas. 

It starts a week from Monday. This is a live bootcamp, and we’re not sure if we’ll ever do it again.

Use the code “hustle100” for $100 off. 

Sign up for The Ideation Bootcamp.

— Sam, founder of The Hustle

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A Social Shakeup

Here’s what to know about Trump’s executive order on social media

Even by Twitter standards, it’s been a very strange week. It culminated yesterday, in President Trump’s signing of an executive order that could reshape how the internet’s social giants treat the tweets, memes, and screeds we post on our feeds.

A quick backstory

This week, Trump fired off tweets that made everyone ask: WWJDD (What Will Jack Dorsey Do?).

The answer: Twitter added fact-checking links to 2 Trump tweets about fraudulent voting by mail. Fact-checkers have said mail-ballot fraud is extremely rare, and PolitiFact hit Trump with a pants-on-fire grade.

Twitter later added hundreds of fact-check notes to other non-Trump tweets.

Jack poked the bear

There are 2 big legal issues at play in the order Trump signed. The First Amendment, and a bedrock internet law known as Section 230.

As for the former: The First Amendment doesn’t apply to private companies like Twitter and Facebook. But the order tries to redefine the platforms’ free-speech obligations anyway.

And Section 230 is where it gets interesting

The law is essentially a liability force field — it protects tech companies from being sued over what users post. 

It’s also widely misunderstood — it was designed to encourage tech companies to moderate discussions, not to enjoy total freedom while users slug it out in an unregulated Wild West.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle have said 230, which dates back to 1996, could use a fresh coat of paint — or be scraped off the wall entirely. That said, many critics see Trump’s order as little more than retaliation for the fact-check.

Here’s what the order does

In 4 bullet points, translated from Bureaucratese to English:

  • It narrows tech companies’ protection. Once they play editor and start removing or restricting access to permitted content, the force field goes away.
  • It calls for clarity from the FCC. Clarity on which moderation moves are out of bounds, that is.
  • It could clamp down on ad spending. Specifically: ad spending by government agencies on platforms “that violate free speech principles.”
  • It includes federal and state reviews. The order says complaints submitted to a White House bias-reporting form will be forwarded to the FTC and the Justice Department. And it calls for a working group to create model state legislation on “unfair or deceptive” practices.

But will the order hold?

Don’t hold your breath, legal experts say. Expect it to end up in court. (For context: Several people have sued social platforms for alleged bias, but a review by The Verge found they keep losing.)

The White House order could also backfire. At The Guardian, Alex Hern said tech’s bigwigs could respond by taming discussions with a chainsaw rather than a scalpel, “deleting posts, or blocking users, rather than simply fact checking or reducing the reach of the worst material.”

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Sunday Sneak Peek

If you can buy it, you can flip it. Rob and Melissa Stephenson, the Florida couple behind a site called Flea Market Flipper, are living proof. They’ve bought baby strollers, treadmills, and all kinds of other stuff — then sold the items for a profit. They’ll even teach you the tricks of the trade, at their Flipper University. Our Zack Crockett got an up-close look at their business. While you wait for the story to flip into your inbox on Sunday, watch this week’s preview.

Money Trees

TikTok’s new rival makes for a great side hustle

Whoever said money can’t buy love has never heard of Zynn. 

It’s the top free iPhone app in the US right now. It looks a lot like TikTok. And it’s shelling out cash to Americans faster than the stimulus checks. 

Create an account? Zynn will send you $1, redeemed through PayPal. Invite 5 friends? Cha-ching, up to $110. Every video you watch earns a handful of points, which you can convert into cash or Amazon gift cards.

Some users say they’ve seen big paydays, but others are less sold: Several users complained that they hadn’t received their earnings. One venture capitalist called it a “giant referral pyramid scheme.” 

TikTok can’t hip-thrust its way out of this one

It’s no accident that Zynn launched in the US last month, a year after TikTok first giddy-upped into the American mainstream with “Old Town Road.”

In China, the companies behind Zynn and TikTok are fierce competitors: Zynn (which is called Kuaishou in China) is the country’s 2nd most popular app after TikTok (known to Chinese users as Douyin). This month, Kuaishou sued Douyin for “unfair competition.”

Zynn has lived in TikTok’s shadow — both feature short videos, an endless scroll, and near-identical “discover” pages.

Paying people to use your app has a rich history

Whipping out the checkbook helped the Chinese news app Qutoutiao and the ecommerce giant Pinduoduo build huge followings, according to The Information

And Zynn can afford to run itself into the red for a little while: Last year, the company pocketed $5.7B in revenue.

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TLDR: 10 Quick Takes to Catch You Up

Today, the White House puts off a summer bummer of economic projections, Amazon wants to make its pandemic workforce permanent, and Cyprus really, really wants you to visit.

1️⃣  Fitbits can do more than lazy-shame you: Preliminary research suggests they can spot COVID-19 symptoms, too.

2️⃣  The White House won’t be issuing economic predictions this summer — no one wants to send out a report that just says “bad.”

3️⃣  Impossible Foods looks to be going D2C, which means our plant-based future has finally come knocking. 

4️⃣  How did Luckin Coffee fake so many sales? With multimillion-dollar coffee vouchers and a made-up employee.

5️⃣  Amazon will offer permanent roles to 125k of the warehouse workers it has hired during the pandemic — the big hiring binge wasn’t just a flash in the Eye of Bezos.

6️⃣  Nuro’s driverless robots will cart prescriptions to CVS customers in Houston, just the latest way Dr. Bot is helping folks get their meds.

7️⃣  The ACLU sued Clearview AI, the startup with the Very Big Brother facial-recognition tech.

8️⃣  Google will start factoring “page experience” into search results, so designers: Make those page load times work.

9️⃣  The House of Representatives passed proposed tweaks to the government’s beleaguered Paycheck Protection Program for small business relief. 

🔟  Attention, tourists: Cyprus will spot you some money if you catch COVID-19 within its borders.

SPONSORED

This German doctor has leveled up skin care  with technology that acts like a GPS

It’s called TFC8®, and it’s a patented complex of natural amino acids, vitamins, and molecules created by Professor Augustinus Bader — the University of Leipzig’s Director of Applied Stem Cell Biology and Cell Technology.

(Say that five times fast…)

Smarter skincare, courtesy of Prof. Bader

So how does this bottled-up breakthrough work?

Unlike other skin care products that can literally miss the mark, TFC8® acts like a GPS, expertly guiding key nutrients to the cells that need them and redirecting on the fly to address skin concerns as they arise. 

That means it can target fine lines, wrinkles, uneven texture, and even hyperpigmentation, so you and your skin are completely covered (and hydrated). We’re not crying, you’re crying. 

It didn’t take long for this unparalleled effectiveness to rocket Augustinus Bader’s smart skincare to cult status – turns out, people love when things actually work. 

If you’re looking to upgrade to clean, effective skincare backed by real science (instead of whatever magic serum your influencer cousin is pushing on TikTok), try Augustinus Bader’s The Cream (for combination to oily skin) or The Rich Cream (for drier skin) today.

Skin science →
Book It

Ready to revisit that reopened business? You may need a reservation

Reservations used to be, um… reserved …for special occasions. If you wanted to nosh at that buzzy restaurant with the Michelin star, appointment dining might have been your only option.

But now that more businesses are reopening, you’ll start seeing appointment-driven everything: reservation shopping, reservation hiking, even reservation auto safaris.

And Modern Retail says reservation platforms are expanding their services to help businesses control who gets in when. 

Take a number, please

Popular apps like Resy and OpenTable are going beyond seated dining: OpenTable rolled out a free (for businesses and consumers) tool for reserving time slots at grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

Stores at some malls are letting customers join virtual waitlists — a push notification will buzz when it’s time for some mall madness.

No crowd control? 

Smile, you’re Internet Famous.

The reservation route is bound to get more crowded, because there’s an easy way for businesses to get lots of attention when we’re taking baby steps out of lockdown. One picture of shoulder-to-shoulder customers is worth a thousand apologies.

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The Hustle Says

We upped The Hustle’s Instagram impressions by 416% this quarter, and it’s all thanks to Eric and the team over at Bitesize. Wanna get more out of your social media? Get in touch with ’em here.

Your top performing sales reps can race a Ferrari. You just need to get in on Blueboard’s Choose Your Own President’s Club offering and get a free Sales Incentives Planning Guide. (Hip leather tracksuit not included.)*

Our shopping hack? Buying high-quality returns. You can save up to 70% and help the environment by shopping through sites like BLINQ. Use code BLINQHUSTLE for 10% off, because we <3 you.*

*This is a sponsored post.

Insecurity Deposits

Renters vs. robots: A flawed screening process is thwarting tenants

Getting locked out sucks, especially when you didn’t even forget your keys.

According to The Markup and The New York Times, more renters are falling victim to faulty background checks that keep them from getting in the door in the first place. 

What’s to blame? A lax screening process, relying on automated tools that erroneously flag would-be tenants. And you thought your relationship with your landlord was bad.

Your doppelganger might have a long rap sheet

In one survey, landlords cited troublesome tenants as their top concern, and 9 out of 10 said they run checks (of the criminal background and credit variety) on all applicants.

Screening companies prospered and multiplied thanks to growth in the rental industry, but proper regulations have yet to catch up.

Automated checks are churning out errors, from mistaken drug-trafficking charges to evictions that never happened.

Big Brother is just making stuff up at this point

Screening companies don’t have to register with any government agency, and the reports typically aren’t checked by a real-life human to prevent obvious mistakes. Maybe this is Wall-E’s revenge for leaving him in that trash heap.

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Weekend Wasters

Welcome to another edition of Weekend Wasters, where everything’s a waste of time and the clicks don’t matter! (If you didn’t get that reference, you didn’t watch enough ABC in the early 2000’s… oof.)

This week’s theme? Flashback Friday. Slip on your Zubaz and let’s do this:

PLAY RETRO BINGO with this 90’s Bingo Set. Is “Accidentally killed your Tamagotchi” the free space? Because if so, we’re winning every round. (Honorable mention: “Owned a Furbie”.)

KICK IT POOLSIDE — but like, still indoors — with poolside.fm. Pick a playlist that fits your #vibe, enjoy the old-school music vids, and cry softly over the fact that you never got to live in Miami in the 80’s. Damn.

REVISIT THE ARCADE with this aptly-named website that lets you play tons of your favorite childhood video games. The best part? You don’t have to dig through the couch for more quarters. 

MAKE MOZZARELLA that would bring a tear to Tony Soprano’s eye with this beginner cheesemaking kit. After all, baking bread is so *checks watch* one and a half weeks ago. And before you get upset, the first episode of the Sopranos aired in January 1999, so technically this works. 

BUY ZUBAZ PANTS!!! If you read that intro section and thought, “Huh, wish I had a pair of Zubaz to slip into” well, it’s your lucky day — they’re still in business, baby! Oh, and if you buy a pair and send us a pic, we’ll post it on our Instagram. Happy shopping!

Sponsored

Gary Vee is disrupting the wine industry

Did you know that Gary Vaynerchuk rose to fame as a…. wine critic?

After college, he took over his dad’s liquor store, renamed it ‘The Wine Library’, and launched a daily wine vlog. He grew the business to $60M/year before leaving to start VaynerMedia in 2009.

But now, he’s back in biz — the wine biz, that is. 

In 2019, Gary launched Empathy, a D2C wine company. 

Want to treat yo’ self and others? $10 from every case of their limited edition Bubbly Rose goes to No Kid Hungry.

Get a pack →
Shower Thoughts

If we made Hustle-branded loofahs, would you buy one? (Full disclosure: We can’t promise they would make you think good shower thoughts.) Email us if you’re interested. 

1. You always have teeth stuck between your teeth.

2. Squirrels have long, thin tails that just happen to be bushy. If not for that, they would look just like rats. Rats everywhere.

3. The invention of the Internet is ultimate proof that stupidity doesn’t come from a lack of knowledge.

4. Spiders invented 3D printing first.

5. The less hair you have on your head, the more face you have to wash.

Bonus: If no customers complain about a bulletproof vest, it’s either very good or very bad.

via Reddit
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