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Meta allows Trump back on Facebook and Instagram



Meta announced Wednesday that it will allow former President Donald Trump back on Facebook and Instagram two years after his initial suspension. 

In a Wednesday blog post, Meta announced that it would reinstate Trump’s accounts sometime over the next few weeks. If Trump once again violates Meta’s content policies, the company said that his accounts would be subject to additional suspensions, ranging from one month to two years, “depending on the severity of the violation.”

“As a general rule, we don’t want to get in the way of open, public and democratic debate on Meta’s platforms – especially in the context of elections in democratic societies like the United States,” Clegg said in Wednesday’s blog post. “The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying – the good, the bad and the ugly – so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box.”

As part of Wednesday’s announcement, Meta updated its policies to account for content that doesn’t explicitly violate its rules but could encourage violent or harmful behaviors similar to the January 6th attack on the Capitol. If this content is identified in the future, Meta said it restrict its distribution, like limiting a user’s ability to share a post. The company could also restrict an account’s access to advertising tools.

Trump was banned from Facebook and Instagram following the deadly January 6th attack on the Capitol two years ago. At the time, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Trump was suspended for provoking violence and praising the rioters’ actions. Meta was one of the first platforms to ban the former president, effectively removing all of his accounts from mainstream social media services.

At first, Meta indefinitely banned Trump, but the company later revised that decision after receiving guidance from its Oversight Board, an internal panel of experts that advise the company’s content moderation decisions. The board argued that an indefinite ban was inappropriate and called on Meta to prepare new policies governing harmful speech from public figures. By June 2021, Nick Clegg, Meta’s vice president of global affairs, announced that Trump’s suspension would last two years, and the company would decide whether to reinstate his accounts once “the risk to public safety has receded.”

In that same June blog post, Clegg said that the company would roll out a “strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr. Trump commits further violations in the future,” up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts.”

Trump’s Twitter account was reinstated last November. After purchasing the company, Tesla CEO Elon Musk ran a Twitter poll asking whether the former president should be allowed to return to the site. Trump has yet to make an official return to Twitter, exclusively using his personal social media platform, Truth Social, as his primary means of communication.

Responding to Meta’s announcement Wednesday, Trump tore into the company on Truth Social. “FACEBOOK, which has lost Billions of Dollars in value since ‘deplatforming’ your favorite President, me, has just announced that they are reinstating my account,” he said. “THANK YOU TO TRUTH SOCIAL FOR DOING SUCH AN INCREDIBLE JOB.”

The account reinstatements come months after Trump formally announced that he would be running for reelection in 2024. Throughout his 2016 and 2020 campaigns, the Trump team spent millions on Meta platform ads alone. While Trump was kicked off his most-favorite platform, Twitter, his campaigns have spent significantly more money on Facebook and Instagram. Twitter banned political ads from its platform in 2019. 

Earlier this month, Trump’s 2024 reelection campaign petitioned Meta to unblock the former president’s access to his accounts.

“We believe that the ban on President Trump’s account on Facebook has dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse,” the campaign said in a letter to Meta last week.

In anticipation of Meta’s decision, two Democratic lawmakers urged the company to continue Trump’s bans in a December letter. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), head of the House’s investigation into the January 6th attack, signed onto the letter writing, “For Meta to credibly maintain a legitimate election integrity policy, it is essential that your company maintain its platform ban on former president Trump,” according to CNN.

More than a year after being banned from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Trump launched his own social media platform called Truth Social in February 2022. As of publication, Trump has amassed over 4.5 million followers on Truth Social compared to the nearly 34 million Facebook followers and 90 million Twitter followers before his bans. 

UPDATED January 25th, 2023 at 5:59PM ET: Added a statement from Trump on Truth Social.

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YouTube says it’s fixing the bug that let someone fake a new oldest video



YouTube is setting the record straight: “Me at the zoo” is still the oldest YouTube video.

“Me at the zoo,” uploaded on April 23rd, 2005 and featuring YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim standing in front of elephants at the San Diego Zoo, is an important piece of internet history, as it marks the oldest video on one of the most influential video services on the planet. But earlier on Thursday, a video started circulating that, somehow, had an even earlier upload date: April 5th, 2005.

Titled “Welcome to YouTube!!!”, the 48-second video definitely looks like something that could have been used to test out a mid-aughts video website. The video has just one image: a low-res graphic with a YouTube logo with the text “Welcome to YouTube!!!!” that’s attributed to Chad, Steve, and Jawed, a likely reference to co-founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. The video is backed by Van Halen’s iconic song “Jump.”

But if you watch the (now unlisted) video on YouTube’s website, you’ll probably spot some suspicious red flags. You might notice, for example, the “Live chat is disabled for this Premiere” notice under the video. Premieres let people pre-schedule videos to play at a certain time with features like live chat, and they definitely were not a thing on 2005 YouTube. You might also spot that the video was uploaded by a mysterious account named enn who joined YouTube in September 2005, which is months after this supposed earliest video was posted to the site. The account claims that the join date was “reset during a database update.”

While I was writing this article, the description said that the video “premiered” on April 5th; for a video this old, there typically wouldn’t be a “premiered” descriptor ahead of the date. (The description also points to a Discord server that’s filled with sketchy-seeming links and posts with derogatory slurs, and I strongly recommend against visiting it.) But shortly before publishing, the video reverted to premiering 23 hours ago.

In a statement to The Verge, YouTube spokesperson Kimberly Taylor said that “we’re aware of an issue that allowed the upload date of this video to be changed, and are working on a fix. Rest assured, the oldest video on YouTube will always be ‘Me at the zoo’ which was uploaded on April 23, 2005 by one of our co-founders and helped kickstart more than 17 years of creativity on YouTube.”

We tried contacting the uploader on Discord for comment, but they aren’t accepting friend requests or DMs from people who aren’t already their friend.

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Berlin-based design platform Kittl raises $11.6M Series A to take on Adobe and Canva • TechCrunch



To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PST, subscribe here.

Did you know you can buy 3D printed key caps to replace, say, your escape key with a cat? Today, that’s our delightful little morsel of whimsy, courtesy of Frederic’s review of a new keyboard (scroll all the way to the bottom for a photo of the adorable little kitteh). — Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: Mike writes that Kittl is carving out a piece of the graphics world dominated by giants like Canva and Adobe, raising $11.6 million in Series A capital for its design platform that it says “easily turns ideas into graphic products” without the tough learning curve of other platforms.
  • This startup is turning up the heat: European smart thermostat startup Tado was planning to go public, but instead went after another round of funding, gathering up $46.9 million as it pursues profitability. Paul has more.
  • “It’s always crypto winter being a Black founder”: That’s how Iddris Sandu, Spatial Labs’ founder, described going after funding for his web3 company. The infrastructure and hardware company picked up $10 million in seed funding to create products and shopping experiences using augmented reality, Dominic-Madori writes.

Startups and VC

Fintech startup Stripe has set a 12-month deadline for itself to go public, either through a direct listing or by pursuing a transaction on the private market, such as a fundraising event and a tender offer, according to sources familiar with the matter. The news comes as a surprise considering the rather dry public market activity in the tech world, Mary Ann and Natasha M report.

There was a brief, beautiful moment for a few months in 2021 when it felt like robotic investments might be immune to broader market forces. We all fundamentally and implicitly understood this to not be the case, but it was a nice moment nevertheless, Brian muses. Now, however, it’s becoming clearer that the thing we thought was happening with robotic investments is definitely happening.

Another handful of tech-newsy goodness:

Teach yourself growth marketing: How to perform growth experimentation through A/B testing

Image Credits: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Despite the myth, sharks don’t need to keep swimming to keep breathing. Early-stage startups, on the other hand, are not so fortunate.

If driving growth is a priority, companies must run an ongoing series of A/B tests that can help refine marketing messages and make their product pipelines more relevant to customers’ needs.

In part three of a five-article series on growth marketing fundamentals, Jonathan Martinez explains how to properly manage A/B tests, identify statistical significance when reviewing data, and prioritize experiments that maximize reach and impact.

Three more from the TC+ team:

TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!

Big Tech Inc.

In a census of its own making, GitHub says it has 100 million active users, Paul reports. This is a substantial jump from the 3 million it had 10 years ago and even a healthy increase from just three months ago when Microsoft, which acquired the company five years ago, announced GitHub had over 90 million users.

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies in the United States and Europe got together to seize Hive’s ransomware infrastructure, including leak sites and decryption keys, Carly reports. She writes that Hive is “one of the most prolific ransomware operations,” focusing mainly on healthcare and public health entities, claiming responsibility for breaches at Illinois-based Memorial Health System in August 2021 and most recently targeting Tata Power, a top power-generation company in India, in October.

And we have four more for you:

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Jumia’s investors rethink their stakes — for better and worse • TechCrunch



Baillie Gifford, the Edinburgh-based asset management firm long known to have a penchant for pre-IPO tech companies, has reduced its shares in African e-commerce giant Jumia, per the latest 13G/A filing released by the asset manager.

According to the filing, Baillie Gifford disclosed ownership of 18.75 million shares in Jumia, representing 13.69% of the company. In Jumia’s previous filing from a year ago, the asset management firm had 19.85 million shares, owning 10.06% of the company at the time. That’s a 5.50% decrease in shares and a 0.67% drop in ownership.

The Scotland asset management firm, well into its centenarian years, has been an early backer of reputable private and public tech companies such as Amazon, Google, Salesforce, Tesla, Airbnb, Spotify, Lyft, Palantir and SpaceX. It has also invested in deals across other geographies, including China’s Alibaba and NIO, and African-based internet businesses Naspers and Jumia.

Baillie Gifford bought Jumia shares in 2019, three years after the e-commerce giant went public. The Scottish mortgage trust firm, which is Jumia’s largest institutional investor, has sold and bought back a portion of its shares every January since then, with this recent move being its most significant share drop yet. Baillie Gifford remains the e-commerce platform’s largest shareholder.

Last November, following several years of reporting losses, Jumia made changes to its management after installing Francis Dufay as acting CEO to replace co-founders Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara, who resigned from their co-CEO roles. The move came with instant cuts across various product lines and redundancies, including letting go of a few executives from its Dubai office. All this is to chase profits that have eluded the company.

In Q3 2022, the African e-tailer made considerable progress in trimming its losses by 13% from $52.5 million to $45.5 million, its lowest in six quarters. Despite this progress, public confidence in the e-commerce outfit seems to have waned. Jumia has seen its share price reduced by 51% within the past year and saw its stock drop to $3.88 per share after Wednesday’s news; it trades slightly above $4 with a market cap of $404 million. The e-tailer closed the third quarter with a liquidity position of $284.7 million, among which $104.3 million is in cash and cash equivalents.

Baillie Gifford’s decision to sell some of its shares may have to do with Jumia’s performance on the bourse. On the other hand, it could be the investment firm’s way of cutting back on the mounting losses it began to incur last year, particularly around growth stocks, which have taken massive hits in the face of rising interest rates and recession fears (last week, the investment group admitted 2022 was a “humbling year” after it lost more than $14 billion on stakes in Tesla and Shopify, according to Financial Times). Yet that doesn’t explain why the fund group, with over $230 billion AUM, increased its position in other loss-making companies, such as Chinese EV maker NIO and, this past week. Jumia’s next earnings call next month should shed more light on the matter.

It’s not all gloom for Jumia, though, as other large shareholders, including D. E. Shaw, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America, took a different route and increased their shares in the company, owning 2.21%, 1.27% and 1.40%, respectively, per Nasdaq.

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