Saturday's technology stories

Jan 22, 2021 - Technology

Review of Trump ban marks major turning point for Facebook

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's decision to ask its new independent Oversight Board to review the company's indefinite suspension of former President Trump is likely to set a critical precedent for how the social media giant handles political speech from world leaders.

What they're saying: "I very much hope and can expect … that they will uphold our decision," Facebook's VP of global affairs Nick Clegg tells Axios.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jan 22, 2021 - Technology

What we know about the Apple car

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Apple's moves toward breaking into the market for self-driving cars have come in fits and starts, but it has big ambitions for the space and is moving forward both with its own efforts and with potential partnerships with automakers.

Why it matters: Apple has great businesses in phones and computers, but its long-term growth potential will depend on conquering an entirely new market. Improving health care and playing a role in autonomous vehicles appear to be its two biggest bets on that front.

Instacart cuts nearly 1,900 in-store jobs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Instacart is laying off nearly 1,900 of its part-time employees who assemble customer orders at grocery stores, including a 10-person union at a Kroger-owned store in Skokie, Illinois, as Motherboard first reported and the company confirmed to Axios.

The big picture: Instacart is cutting positions that come with employment status and related benefits — an anomaly within the gig economy and even Instacart's own business, which relies on independent-contractor delivery drivers.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jan 22, 2021 - Technology

Google's parent shuts down effort to deliver internet via balloons

Image: Loon

Alphabet is shutting down Loon, one of its "moonshots," which aimed to deliver internet service via high-altitude balloons.

Why it matters: The effort was one of several approaches designed to get high-speed connectivity to some of the world's most remote spots and proved useful in the aftermath of disasters that shut down traditional infrastructure.