Good news for my East Coast readers: You are three hours closer to the weekend than those of us in Silicon Valley.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
A Snapchat photo filter that lets people see themselves in highly feminized or masculine form has proven wildly popular. It's drawn a mixed reception, though, from people whose real-life journeys have taken them beyond the roles assigned to them at birth.
Between the lines: The filter has proved to be a surprisingly powerful tool for people to imagine themselves in another gender. It also has highlighted society's continuing challenges with understanding people who are transgender, intersex, nonbinary and gender non-conforming.
The big picture: While some in the LGBTQ community have been critical of the filters as making a joke out of a serious matter, others say the filters have allowed them to explore themselves in the safety of a digital world.
How it works: The filters, which are powered by machine learning and debuted late last week, transform a Snapchat user's hair, facial shape and other aesthetics to make them either more traditionally masculine or feminine.
What they're saying:
For the record: Snapchat declined to share statistics on use of the filters, but a spokesperson said the Lens team is working with others throughout Snap, including employee resource groups, to ensure its lenses are diverse and inclusive.
Our thought bubble: Different parts of our society are still in vastly different places when it comes to talk about gender. Some see it as a rigid binary to be enforced, others as a journey to be traversed, and still others as a source of humor. How one sees Snap's filter depends largely on the face staring into the selfie cam.
The FCC on Wednesday announced a proposal to combat robocalls that would let phone companies block calls for consumers by default and would allow consumers to opt in to receiving calls only from a "white list" of their contacts.
Why it matters: This is one of the most complained-about issues in America, Axios' Sara Fischer writes. The FCC gets roughly 200,000 complaints each year about robocalls. Nearly 48 billion robocalls were made in 2018, according to YouMail Robocall Index.
Details: The plan allows wireless carriers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint to automatically apply spam-blocking’s technologies to consumers wireless plans by default.
Driving the news: While the problem impacts almost every cellphone user in America, data from Robocall Index shows that area codes from certain parts of the country are much more likely to be used for robocalls.
How it works: Robocalls from certain areas in the U.S. don't necessarily reflect where the call is coming from — often scammers use a popular technique called "neighbor spoofing" that copies the local area code to entice answering.
Be smart: The FCC has been trying to deal with the robocall problem for years, but it hasn’t made much progress. Meanwhile, wireless providers have taken steps to establish a protocol called STIR/SHAKEN to authenticate calls.
What’s next: If the FCC proposal is approved, it could go into effect as early as the end of this year.
Go deeper: Read Sara's original story here.
Google’s chief economist raised some eyebrows during a talk yesterday when he claimed that web search was actually a hard business to compete in — despite the company reaping massive profits for years from its search ad business, Axios' David McCabe reports.
What they're saying: “My claim is, if you look at web search, it’s really a tough business,” Hal Varian said at a conference presentation at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
That claim drew a skeptical response from incoming American Prospect editor David Dayen and Yale economist Fiona Scott Morton.
The big picture: In addition to the multiple competition cases brought against Google in Europe, the company faces growing domestic complaints of anticompetitive behavior.
Meanwhile, executives from Yelp and News Corporation, both regular critics of Google, also posed questions to Varian at the conference.
Industries began tallying up the likely costs of President Trump's latest executive orders this week targeting Huawei, the Chinese telecom manufacturer that sits at the center of the U.S./China trade dispute.
Two words for you: Sheep pig. (Courtesy @41Strange on Twitter)