Elon Musk tries to get out of the Twitter deal

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When U.S. marshals shot and killed a 32-year-old black man named Winston Boogie Smith Jr. in a parking lot in Minneapolis on June 3, 2021, the city was already in the midst of a police crisis. George Floyd had been murdered by a member of the police force the previous May. As protests resumed across the city, cops couldn’t keep up.

Into the void have entered private security groups, hired primarily to prevent damage to property. But the organizations have often ended up handling protest activity – a task typically reserved for the police and one for which most private security guards are untrained.

According to documents obtained by MIT Technology Review, during the protests following Smith’s death, several private organizations provided security services in and around the parking lot where the murder took place. One company, Conflict Resolution Group (CRG), routinely provided Minneapolis police with information about activists that was sometimes false and deeply politicized. Read the full story.

—Tate Ryan-Mosley and Sam Richards

Cross-border digital repression is on the rise

Around the world, activists have fled authoritarian states for their safety. But in their new homes, the bullying continues, albeit in the digital realm, through phishing attacks, no-click spyware hacks, social media page deletions, SIM card hacks and false invitations to conferences.

Although physical threats against activists tend to grab the headlines, digital harassment, which can be carried out with the click of a mouse, occurs frequently behind the scenes and appears to be on the increase. Read the full story.

—David Silverberg

The unavoidable

I’ve scoured the internet to find you today’s funniest/important/scariest/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Elon Musk is desperately trying to give up buying Twitter
But the terms of the deal mean it won’t be easy for him to walk away. (WP $)
+ Twitter is said to be “ready to go to war” to make the deal happen. (FT $)
+ Musk himself seems utterly opposed to shutting it down, at this point. (Slate)
+ He is due to speak tomorrow at the Silicon Valley Elite Retreat at Sun Valley. (Bloomberg $)
+ Twitter, for its part, claims to delete a million spam accounts every day. (Reuters)

2 License plate readers make it difficult to travel for an unsupervised abortion
Even if you take an Uber, rent a car or take the bus. (Wired $)
+ Abortion Data Subpoenas Could Get Extremely Complicated, Extremely Quickly. (Bloomberg $)
+ Anti-abortion activists collect data they’ll need for post-Roe lawsuits. (MIT Technology Review)

3 The James Webb Space Telescope is set to send its first images next week
Prepare to be dazzled. (IEEE Spectrum)
+ NASA criticized Russian cosmonauts for posing with anti-Ukrainian flags. (The edge)

4 Charging your electric car at home is a luxury
And not everyone can afford it. (Reverse)
+ The United States has only 6,000 fast-charging stations for electric vehicles. (MIT Technology Review)

5 How Chinese influencers are making millions from racist videos in Africa
Reflecting the magnitude of the demand for this kind of sickening content. (Rest of the world)

6 Netflix Tech Complaints Fall on Deaf Ears
The streaming giant was once known to be receptive to feedback from staff. Not anymore. (The edge)
+ The showrunners are also kept in the dark about the future of their shows. (Vulture $)

7 One way to get a new job: announce your dismissal on social networks
Create the perfect job, then wait for recruiters to arrive. (WSJ $)

8 NFT startups hire managers to promote positive vibes
Crisis? What crisis?! (The Guardian)
+ Crypto banks are all running out of money. (NY Magazine $)
+ A former manager has accused crypto lender Celsius of running a Ponzi scheme. (Reuters)

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