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Twitter embraces crypto

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Introducing: Twitter’s crypto team

It’s official, Twitter is embracing crypto. The social media giant has announced a dedicated crypto team, marking the latest push by chief executive Jack Dorsey (a big bitcoin fan himself) to engage with digital assets and decentralised apps, and the ballooning communities around them.

So what will this new crypto team be doing? It is not just about enabling users to pay for things on Twitter via bitcoin — iOS users have had the ability to send and request bitcoin tips since September.

The social media company now wants to look at how to incorporate decentralised tech into its products and infrastructure.

Twitter has hired renowned crypto engineer Tess Rinearson to lead this effort. Her appointment comes amid growing buzz in some Silicon Valley circles around the Web 3.0 movement, which seeks to challenge Big Tech companies that store user data on central servers and seek to monetise it.

In the web3 ecosystem, by contrast, decentralised apps run on public blockchains, meaning data is not collected by any one party, while users can be offered token-based rewards for participating.

Twitter’s not the first social platform to show enthusiasm for web3. Reddit and Discord also hinted that they were exploring ways to integrate with decentralised apps and embrace some of the concepts of web3 to their platforms.

Centralised vs decentralised apps: which are better?

A centralised app is controlled by a single company, and they run off a single server or a cluster of servers. After the user downloads it (say Twitter, for example), the app works by sending and receiving information from this server.

A decentralised app runs on a decentralised network (ie a blockchain).

This approach has several benefits: The apps are less likely to crash and be hacked because they do not rely on one company’s servers. They are also harder to censor and erase because you cannot change a blockchain.

But they are slow, harder to maintain, and complicated for the average users. And ultimately, it is more difficult for a single company to control and operate decentralised apps.

Recommended reading: If you’re not up-to-date with all the latest crypto jargon, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our A-Z glossary of all the key terms.

Would you pay for Twitter?

In other Twitter news, if you live in the US, you can now pay $2.99 a month for extra features. The social platform’s premium offering, Twitter Blue, is centred around ad-free news and the ability to unsend tweets (although note that is not the same as being able to edit your tweets, a feature superusers have long since coveted).

In the long term, the social media platform might hope Twitter Blue will help to diversify where the app gets its money from. Some 89 per cent of its revenues come from ads and, like other social platforms, it took a hit when Apple made privacy changes to iPhones earlier this year. Twitter Blue has been available in Australia and Canada since June and it is also being rolled out to New Zealand, but the company has not revealed how many users have taken up the paid version yet. The premium feature raises the age-old question: will people pay to use social media apps that have long been free?

Would you pay to get extra features from Twitter? Tell us what you think in this poll.

The Internet of (six) Things

1. Google hasn’t managed to shake that €2.4bn antitrust fine
The tech giant has lost its appeal against a landmark European antitrust decision that ruled Google had abused its position to the detriment of rivals to its shopping service. It marks the first big victory for competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s antitrust enforcement.

Things could have been a lot worse for Google today though had it not won this UK Supreme Court appeal.

2. Apple ordered to open up App store to external payment options
Another tech giant falling foul of the courts this week is Apple, after federal judge Yvonne González Rogers, who is presiding over the iPhone maker’s legal fight with Epic Games, ordered Apple to comply with an injunction to open up its App Store to rival forms of payment.

3. Seoul will be the first city government to join the metaverse
If prowling your virtual office doesn’t sound exciting enough, Seoul residents will soon be able to visit a virtual city hall to file complaints. This raises a terrifying thought: will local councils be next?

4. A Lord of the Rings metaverse sounds far more exciting
And it’s not outside the realms of possibility. Unity, the video game engine company, has acquired Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings effects studio Weta Digital in a $1.6bn deal, and said the long-term goal is to use the acquisition to help create a metaverse.

5. Tencent is still reeling from Beijing’s crackdown
The Chinese company has experienced its slowest quarter for growth since 2004 when it went public, and its third-quarter results offer a snapshot of how it has been hit as government scrutiny engulfed everything from finance to education and online entertainment.

6. Bitcoin ATMs are being used to launder money
They are meant to allow customers to easily buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies using cash. But the convenient, anonymous transactions also mean easy money for fraudsters, who have been using them to aid drug trafficking, money laundering and a variety of frauds.

Tech tools

What do you get an adrenaline junkie for Christmas? If you’re looking to splurge, how about a tool that can turn your skis or snowboard into a snow scooter? Yes, someone really is charging €995 for a set of handlebars and foot holders that you screw into your skis or board, but despite the hefty price tag, we can’t lie, we are tempted. Other high tech sports gadgets you might want to check out include Finis smart swimming goggles ($235) that show you your real time stats in the corner of the lenses, or a running jacket that weighs less than a pack of cards (Vollebak’s Race to Zero running gear starts at £85).

If you would rather spend the holiday season lying back watching films, the XGIMI MoGo Pro Plus mini projector (£559) also makes Jamie Waters’ list of the best gadgets for Christmas. Less than 15cm in height, it’s small enough you can fit it in your hand luggage.

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