Hillicon Valley — Twitter poised to ease political ad ban

Twitter said it’s planning to lift its ban on political ads and focus more on “caused-based” advertising.

In other news, SpaceX kicked off the year with its first rocket launch. We’ll also take a peek at what’s to come in the tech world at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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Twitter to scale back ban on political ads

Twitter on Tuesday announced plans to scale back its ban on political ads and allow more “cause-based” advertising on the platform.

“We believe that cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics. Today, we’re relaxing our ads policy for cause-based ads in the US. We also plan to expand the political advertising we permit in the coming weeks,” the company’s safety team tweeted.

“Moving forward, we will align our advertising policy with that of TV and other media outlets,” Twitter said.

The social media platform banned all political ads in 2019, a move championed by Twitter co-founder and then-CEO Jack Dorsey.

Dorsey said at the time that paying to increase the reach of political messages on the platform can make the decision to follow an account or retweet a post “compromised by money.”

Read more here.

First launch of 2023

On the heels of a record-breaking year, SpaceX kicked off the new year with its first rocket launch and landing of 2023. If Elon Musk has his way, this would be the first of nearly 100 launches for the rocket company this year, setting the pace for an ambitious year for private space companies.

A sooty Falcon 9 booster leapt off its launch pad at Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 9:56 a.m. EST on Tuesday, followed up by the rocket’s first stage returning to Earth just eight minutes later.

  • The flight, which was the 15th for this particular booster, ferried 114 small satellites into space as part of SpaceX’s 6th dedicated rideshare mission, called Transporter-6.

  • Nearly an hour later, those passengers — a bevy of small satellites and small orbital transfer vehicles that carried satellites for a later deployment into different orbits — began to separate from the rocket’s upper stage.

The whole process, a complex orbital ballet of satellites shooting into space in perfect sequence, took more than half an hour to complete.

The mission is the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company’s sixth dedicated rideshare mission to date, and SpaceX announced during the live broadcast that it plans to launch at least three of these missions this year.

The company also plans to offer rideshare opportunities on its Starlink launches, which it says averages one a week.

Read more here.


We’re at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, featuring new products and innovations to come as well as business leaders, regulators and policymakers discussing the state of the tech industry and the challenges ahead.

At an unveiling of some exhibitors Tuesday evening, we saw products ranging from Atmos Gear’s new electric inline skates (which The Hill’s on-the-ground reporter Rebecca Klar did not venture to test out) and Prinker’s temporary tattoo printer (which Rebecca did try).

There’s a big focus on the metaverse this year — and defining what the metaverse even means.

Steve Koenig, vice president of research with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which organizes the trade show, said the metaverse is “closer than you think,” and said metaverse technology goes beyond the immersive virtual reality worlds to encompass services that blend the physical and virtual worlds.

That was a common theme throughout discussions Wednesday, too. During a panel, Cathy Hackl, chief metaverse officer and founder at consulting firm Journey, said the metaverse doesn’t equal VR or “one specific company.” She said beyond the gaming world, the fashion industry is also leading the way in incorporating metaverse tech.

“I wholeheartedly believe the world’s next Coco Chanel is a 10-year-old girl designing skins on Roblox,” she said.

Other panelists compared the need for companies to develop metaverse and Web 3 strategies to how they approached creating an online presence with the rise of the internet two decades ago. Today, asking someone about their “Web 3 strategy” is akin to asking someone “what’s your internet strategy” in 1994, said Adam Friedman, an executive at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

“Everyone is going to have one, you may just not realize it,” he said.

What’s to come?: Later this week we will hear from CISA Director Jen Easterly about cybersecurity preparedness and senators about federal tech priorities for the 118th Congress.


The business software giant Salesforce is set to lay off 10 percent of its workforce, nearly 8,000 employees, and cut back its office spaces, according to a letter to employees on Wednesday citing concerns about the direction of the economy.

“The environment remains challenging and our customers are taking a more measured approach to their purchasing decisions,” the company’s chief executive officer, Marc Benioff, said in the letter.

The decision by Salesforce is the latest in a string of moves by tech companies to turn to layoffs amid fears of inflation and a looming recession. In November, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, announced it would lay off 11,000 employees. In the same month, HP said it planned up to 6,000 layoffs over the next three years.

It was also reported in November that Amazon was planning to lay off as many as 10,000 workers, but the company says it has not determined the final number of positions that will be affected

Read more here.


An op-ed to chew on: Semi-protecting semiconductors poses a risk to national security

Notable links from around the web: 

Tom Zhu: Elon Musk’s right-hand man at Tesla (CNN / Laura He)

Drone advances in Ukraine could bring dawn of killer robots (The Associated Press / Frank Bajak and Hanna Arhirova)

One more thing: Coinbase to pay $100M settlement

The U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase reached a $100 million settlement with New York regulators to resolve an investigation that found the company was “vulnerable to serious criminal conduct,” according to a press release published Wednesday.

New York Superintendent of Financial Services Adrienne A. Harris announced in the press release that Coinbase will pay a $50 million penalty to New York for violating virtual currency, money transmitter, transaction monitoring and cybersecurity regulations.

These violations made the platform susceptible to fraud, possible money laundering, suspected activity related to child sexual abuse material and potential narcotics trafficking, according to the release.

Coinbase will also invest an additional $50 million to improve its compliance program as a part of the settlement.

Read more here.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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