Twitter Fined $150 Million By FTC For Alleged User-Privacy Violations

The Federal Trade Commission levied a $150 million fine on Twitter, alleging that the social network let advertisers use private data to target specific users — without informing users of the practice.

According to the agency, Twitter violated a 2011 FTC order that “explicitly prohibited” the company from misrepresenting its privacy and security practices. In addition to the $150 million fine, Twitter is banned from “profiting from its deceptively collected data,” the FTC said.

In August 2020, Twitter disclosed that it expected to face an FTC fine of $150 million to $250 million related to the allegations.

In a blog post, Twitter chief privacy officer Damien Kieran wrote, “Keeping data secure and respecting privacy is something we take extremely seriously, and we have cooperated with the FTC every step of the way. In reaching this settlement, we have paid a $150M USD penalty, and we have aligned with the agency on operational updates and program enhancements to ensure that people’s personal data remains secure and their privacy protected.”

In a statement about the FTC’s fine against Twitter, FTC Chair Lina Khan said, “Twitter obtained data from users on the pretext of harnessing it for security purposes but then ended up also using the data to target users with ads. This practice affected more than 140 million Twitter users, while boosting Twitter’s primary source of revenue.”

According to a complaint filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, Twitter in 2013 began asking users to provide either a phone number or email address to enable two-factor authentication, an enhanced form of security (beyond just a password).

From 2014 to 2019, more than 140 million Twitter users provided their phone numbers or email addresses after the company asked for the info, according to the complaint. Twitter, however, “failed to mention that it also would be used for targeted advertising,” allowing marketers to target specific ads to users by matching the information with data they already possessed or obtained from third-party data brokers, the FTC alleged.

Source: Variety

A $350,000 Bored Ape NFT Was Sold For Only $115

A Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT has just been sold for 115 DAI ($115) in what appears to be either a costly mistake or a hack.

Data from OpenSea shows the previous owner with the moniker “cchan” accepting a 115 DAI bid on Monday for BAYC #835. That’s 99.9% lower than the current floor price — the lowest price one is available to buy — of the popular NFT collection.

The same owner also sold Mutant Ape #11670 for 25 DAI ($25) to the same buyer. The floor price for mutant apes is 22.6 ETH ($76,000).

While it is not immediately clear why the owner would accept such low offers, the situation seems to be a mistake with cchan confusing DAI for ETH. There were three other high-value bids for the Bored Ape between 75 ETH and 106 ETH placed by other collectors that were not accepted.

The floor price for BAYC sits at 106 ETH ($350,000) as of the time of writing. But the NFT in question sports sunglasses and a cigarette, several traits that mean it would typically sell higher than the current floor price. (It’s hard to specify exactly how much it specific NFT should be valued — a wider problem that has been perplexing NFT traders when it comes to using them for loans).

Apart from being sold much lower than the floor price, the sale also represents a major loss for cchan, seeing as the BAYC NFT was initially acquired for 16 ETH in August last year.

Source: The Block

The IRS Will Ask Every Taxpayer About Crypto Transactions This Tax Season — Here’s How To Report Them

Cryptocurrencies, also known as virtual currencies, have gone mainstream. That’s for sure. For example, you can use bitcoin BTCUSD, -0.35% to buy a Tesla TSLA, +1.75% and to buy or pay for lots of other things. However, using cryptocurrencies has federal income tax implications. Here’s what you need to know at 2021 tax return time if you made crypto transactions last year.

Understand this: the IRS wants to know about your crypto transactions
The 2021 version of IRS Form 1040 asks if at any time during the year you received, sold, exchanged, or otherwise disposed of any financial interest in any virtual currency. If you did, you are supposed to check the “Yes” box. The fact that this question appears on page 1 of Form 1040, right below the lines for supplying basic information like your name and address, indicates that the IRS is serious about enforcing compliance with the applicable tax rules. Fair warning.

When to check the ‘Yes’ box on crypto transactions
The 2021 Form 1040 instructions clarify that virtual currency transactions for which you should check the “Yes” box include but are not limited to: (1) the receipt of virtual currency as payment for goods or services that you provided; (2) the receipt or transfer of virtual currency for free that does not qualify as a bona fide gift under the federal tax rules; (3) the receipt of new virtual currency as a result of mining and staking activities; (4) the receipt of virtual currency as a result of a hard fork; (5) an exchange of virtual currency for property, goods, or services; (6) an exchange/trade of virtual currency for another virtual currency; (7) a sale of virtual currency; and (8) any other disposition of a financial interest in virtual currency.

If in 2021 you disposed of any virtual currency that was held as a capital asset through a sale, exchange, or transfer, check the “Yes” box and use familiar IRS Form 8949 and Schedule D of Form 1040 to figure your capital gain or loss. See Examples 1 and 4 below.

If in 2021 you received any virtual currency as compensation for services, check the “Yes” box and report the income the same way as you would report other income of the same nature. See Example 3 below.

When to check the ‘No’ box on crypto transactions
You cannot leave the virtual currency transaction question unanswered. You must check either the “Yes” box or the “No” box.

A transaction involving virtual currency does not include holding virtual currency in a wallet or account, or the transfer of virtual currency from one wallet or account that you own or control to another that you own or control. If that’s all that happened last year, check the “No” box.

Also check the “No” box if your only virtual currency transactions in 2021 were purchases of virtual currency for real currency, including the use of real currency electronic platforms such as PayPal PYPL, -1.43%.

Source: MarketWatch

McDonald’s Always ‘Broken’ McFlurry Machines Now Under FTC Investigations

After being spotlighted at the middle of a legal battle between manufacturer and external company, McDonald’s infamous McFlurry machines are once again caught up in a flurry of investigations.

Over this summer, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reportedly sent letters to various McDonald’s franchisees questioning them about the ice cream machines, which appear to be always somehow broken. It’s such a prevalent occurrence that it’s even become a meme.

But jokes aside, it has been reported by the Wall Street Journal that after franchise owners have expressed difficulties in repairing the machines in their stores, the FTC took the matter into its own hands.

According to the report, it wants to know more about the review process for the fast-food giant’s suppliers and equipment. There’s also the matter of whether restaurant owners are allowed to even work on the machines in their individual stores in the first place.

It was highlighted in a previous report that the manufacturer of these frosty machines, Taylor, wanted the restaurants to rely solely on Taylor technicians to fix the machines when they went down.

This comes after more legislation regarding Right to Repair—for electronics and heavy equipment in particular—was introduced earlier this year in July, seeing the law crack down on manufacturers who may otherwise take advantage of consumers.

Maybe McFlurries won’t be such an elusive treat in time to come, thanks to the FTC.

Source: WOOD TV8

What The Russell Westbrook Trade Means For The Los Angeles Lakers

The quest to maximize whatever elite years remain in LeBron James took another turn, and perhaps the sharpest one yet, with the Los Angeles Lakers getting Russell Westbrook in a major Draft-day trade.

This was a deal that required the Lakers to cross their fingers while shaking hands with the Washington Wizards. That’s because, as combustible as Westbrook is — he’s rewritten all the triple-double records in the book — his skill-set fits only in certain systems and situations. Placing Westbrook next to LeBron and also Anthony Davis will require adjustments and sacrifices with everyone involved in this Big Three experiment, but especially with Westbrook.

First, the deal itself: Westbrook, the 2024 second-round pick and 2028 second-round pick go to the Lakers and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and the 22nd pick go to Washington, as first reported by The Athletics’ Shams Charania.

Westbrook is easily the heavyweight in the deal, as a former MVP and nine-time All-Star who’s coming off his third career season averaging a triple-double – 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists in his only season with the Wizards.

Westbrook now goes to his fourth team in four years, and just as curious, he’s aligned with yet another superstar in an effort to develop championship chemistry. There was no payoff in Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant and then Paul George, or the Rockets with James Harden, and certainly not the rebuilding Wizards who had little to offer as help besides Bradley Beal.

With the exception of reaching the NBA Finals with Durant — and that happened almost 10 years ago — Westbrook has advanced as far as the conference finals just twice despite those starry tandems.

Westbrook proved last season at age 32 that he’s still a highly productive point guard who plays at a rapid pace. That aids him at reaching the rim for layups, pushing the ball upcourt on the fast break, and out-rebounding taller players even in traffic. It also results in turnovers, too, as a result of his high-risk, high-usage style.

He’ll be teammates with LeBron, a player he respects, and a player who’d be willing to adjust for someone of Westbrook’s caliber. One area where LeBron can and probably must sacrifice is ball-handling. While LeBron assumed that role since arriving in LA three years ago to great success, Westbrook is most effective with the ball. Without it, Westbrook must play off the ball, where his shooting issues become more glaring.

Also, Westbrook has never had a big man with Davis’ talent. Therefore, the change of scenery plus an uptick in the caliber of running partners should trigger something positive within Westbrook, or at least the Lakers hope.

Whether it results in another championship is anyone’s guess, though. LeBron and Davis are coming off a frustrating season because of injuries largely to blame for their first-round playoff exit. Now they’ll get a celebrated third partner who will allow them to recharge and reboot.

The reason for adding Westbrook is clear: The Lakers are doing whatever they can, within the constraints of the salary cap, to give LeBron as many swings at the championship plate as possible. With LeBron entering a 19th season, he’s running out of time to get a fifth ring. And Westbrook is running out of teams.

Source: NBA

Retired Fortune 100 Executive Thomas B. Walsh Answers To Why So Many People Settle For Low-Paying Jobs With Expensive College Degrees

“Settle” for low-paying jobs?

You can’t be serious, Dude.

There was a time in the US when you could get a great job if you earned a bachelor’s degree in “anything.”

The catch is that JFK was president at the time.

Most parents (and their students) are oblivious to how college really works today.

In some ways it is hard to blame them. Colleges and universities have a powerful public relations team, pushing the message 24/7 that “college is for all.”

The team is made up of educators, guidance counselors, financial aid officers, politicians, pop culture, special interest groups–like the College Board, and college administrators—who are the biggest beneficiaries. Their influence is everywhere.

Many, many years ago, my “anything” degree, Philosophy, was from a state university in fly-over country, better known for its football team than scholarship. (As I vaguely remember, my GPA wasn’t that robust either.)

However, I had a successful career in IT, and retired as an executive from a Fortune 100 company.

The bad news is that college doesn’t work that way anymore.

Years ago very few high school grads (7%) went on to college. (They tended to be the “smart kids.”) If you graduated with a degree in anything, i.e. English, Gender Studies, Comp-lit, Philosophy, etc., you could get a good job.

Over the years a greater and greater portion of high school grads answered the call,

“You have to go to college!”

We are now at 45%. Probably half these teenagers don’t have the “academic firepower” to handle a serious, marketable major.

Back in the day having a college degree was a big deal. By the year 2000, the quality of a college education had deteriorated significantly, and college grads were a-dime-a-dozen. There were too many graduates, but not enough suitable jobs.

Then we got hit with the Great Recession of 2008.

In the US almost anyone can find a college or university that will accept them and their parent’s money.

You might even manage to graduate with some degree or another.

The problem comes when you try to find a real job. Employers aren’t stupid. They are going to sort through that gigantic stack of resumes and find the smart kids.

Today college is a competition for a relatively few (1,100,000) well-paying, professional jobs. Every year colleges and universities churn out 1,900,000 graduates with shiny new bachelor’s degrees. We don’t know the exact number, but a heck of a lot of minimum wage jobs are held by young people with college degrees in stuff like English, Gender Studies, Comp-lit, Philosophy, etc.

Given the high cost of college, that just doesn’t make any economic sense.

PS

The “Anything” Degree

Two decades ago in his book, Another Way To Win, Dr. Kenneth Gray coined the term “one way to win.” He described the OWTW strategy widely followed in the US as:

  • “Graduate from high school.
  • Matriculate at a four-year college.
  • Graduate with a degree in anything.
  • Become employed in a professional job.”

Dr. Gray’s message to the then “academic middle” was that this was unlikely to be a successful strategy in the future. The succeeding twenty years have proven him inordinately prescient and not just for the “academic middle.”

The simple explanation is that it comes down to “supply” (graduates) and “demand” (suitable jobs).

Fifty years ago only seven percent of high school graduates went on to college. In post-WW II America our economy was booming while the economies of many European and Asian countries were–only slowly–being rebuilt. The “Law of Supply and Demand” strongly favored the freshly minted college graduate.

Parents and students noticed how college really paid off, and the “great gold rush” to the halls of higher learning began.

Today my local, Midwest run-of-the-mill high school sends eighty percent of their graduates on to college.

Most of them are going to be very disappointed.

Source: Quora