Elon Musk is trying to get out of his Twitter contract

When US Marshals killed a 32-year-old Black man named Winston Boogie Smith Jr. in a parking garage in Minneapolis on June 3, 2021, the city was already in a full-blown police crisis. George Floyd was killed by a member of the police last May. As protests flared up again across the city, the police could not keep up.

Into the void stepped private security groups, hired primarily to prevent property damage. But the organizations often ended up managing protest activities – a task usually reserved for the police, and for which most private security guards are not trained.

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 garage where the murder took place. One company, Conflict Resolution Group (CRG), regularly provided Minneapolis police with information about activists that was sometimes false and deeply politicized. Read the full story.

—Tate Ryan-Mosley & Sam Richards

Digital repression across borders is on the rise

Around the world, activists have fled authoritarian states for their safety. But in their new homes, the intimidation continues, albeit in the digital realm, through phishing attacks, spyware zero-clicks, social media site takedowns, SIM card hacking and fake conference calls.

While physical threats to activists tend to make headlines, digital harassment, which can be carried out at the click of a mouse, often happens behind the scenes – and appears to be on the rise. Read the full story.

—David Silverberg

Required reading

I’ve combed the internet to find you the funniest/most important/scary/fascinating stories about technology today.

1 Elon Musk is desperately trying to back out of buying Twitter
But the terms of his contract mean it won’t be easy for him to leave. (WP$)
+ Twitter is reportedly ‘willing to go to war’ to get the deal done. (FT $)
+ Musk himself seems pretty dead set against shutting it down, at this stage. (shale)
+ Tomorrow he is scheduled to speak at the elite Sun Valley Retreat in Silicon Valley. (Bloomberg $)
+ Twitter, for its part, says it removes a million spam accounts every day. (Reuters)

2 License plate readers make it more difficult to travel to an unsupervised abortion
Even if you take an Uber, rent a car or take the bus. (wired $)
+ Subpoenas for abortion records can get extremely messy, extremely fast. (Bloomberg $)
+ Anti-abortion activists are gathering the data they need for prosecution after Roe. (MIT Technology Review)

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

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

5 How Chinese influencers make millions from racist videos in Africa
Reflecting the volume of demand for this type of sick content. (rest of the world)

6 Complaints from Netflix tech workers fall on deaf ears
The streaming giant used to be famously receptive to staff feedback. Not anymore. (boundary)
+ The showrunners are also being kept in the dark about the future of their shows. (vulture $)

7 One way to get a new job: advertise your layoff on social media
Create the perfect position, then wait for the recruiters to come. (WSJ $)

8 NFT startups are hiring managers to promote positive vibes
Crisis? What crisis?! (The Guardian)
+ All crypto banks have run out of cash. (NY Mag $)
+ A former manager has accused crypto lender Celsius of running a Ponzi scheme. (Reuters)

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