Monday, August 28, 2023

On Our M-End "Virtual Route 66" On Our World

 As August 2023 draws to a close, our team presents the following courtesy to the Visual Capitalist in our World as we look forward to the continued privilege to serve after Labor Day Weekend here in the United States: 

X, previously Twitter, is set to eliminate the block feature, according to Elon Musk. The function to block unwanted interactions will only be available for direct messages, Musk confirmed on Friday. It's uncertain if the change complies with Apple and Google app store terms, both of which require user-blocking features. 


  • On X, blocking stops users from engaging fully with an account, including no viewing, quoting, or addressing.
  • The function has allowed X users to prevent harassment and hateful replies from appearing in their feeds.
  • Meanwhile, the "mute" feature, which will reportedly remain on the platform, only hides posts from the individual user's view.
  • The blocked user knows about the block, while muted individuals remain unaware.

Zoom out:

  • Critics warn that curtailing the block function might worsen harassment problems on X, which has already struggled with a spike in violent, hateful, and inaccurate posts since Musk acquired the platform last October.

Q: Do you think removing the block feature on X is a good or bad idea? Let us know here.


Meta's Threads, the text-first social media platform, is set to release a web version to compete with Twitter. While the exact date has not been disclosed, Instagram's head suggested it could be soon.

Why it matters: Threads made its debut on Android and iOS in early July as a minimalist clone resembling Twitter, now X. The Threads web-based version is expected to cater to more "power" users, including brands, advertisers, and journalists. It could also give Meta's Threads a "significant advantage" in its rivalry against X, with a bigger reach, more features, and improved data collection, according to Silicon Valley tech executive Sam Saliba.

What the numbers say: In July 2022, X reported a daily active user count of 237.8 million. Meanwhile, Threads achieved a remarkable 100 million users within its initial five days, setting a new record. However, active users declined by about 75% since then, sitting at around 25 million as of late July, according to data from Meta and Sensor Tower.

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Tesla has taken legal action against two former employees implicated in a major data leak to a German news outlet, referred to as the "Tesla Files." According to a notice on Maine's Attorney General's website, the May data breach that impacted over 75,000 people was the result of "insider wrongdoing."


  • On May 10, the German newspaper Handelsblatt received 100 GB of data from "informants" within Tesla.
  • These Tesla files included 23,000 internal documents, with 2,400 reports of self-acceleration problems and 1,500 instances of braking malfunctions. 
  • The data also involved employee names and contact details, such as addresses, emails, and phone numbers.
  • An investigation revealed that two former Tesla employees "misappropriated the information in violation of Tesla’s IT security and data protection policies," according to a letter from Tesla sent to those impacted.
  • In the letter, Tesla said it has sued the two former employees, which resulted in a seizure of electronic devices that reportedly contained data.


Montana's attorney general has requested a judge to uphold the state's ban on TikTok. The ban, which is set to take effect Jan. 1, bars app stores from offering TikTok to Montana residents, making it the first state to fully ban the app.


  • Shortly after Montana's governor signed the ban, TikTok sued to block the law, saying it infringes on the constitutional free speech rights of the company and users.
  • On Friday, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen stated in a legal filing that Montana has the right to ban harmful products and it doesn't violate the First Amendment.
  • If that wasn't the case, the state "would be powerless to ban a cancer-causing radio merely because that radio also transmitted protected speech," or to prohibit sports-betting apps because they share informative videos, he argued.
  • A hearing on the case is scheduled for Oct. 12.

Zoom out:

  • With over 150 million U.S. users, ByteDance-owned TikTok has faced calls for a nationwide ban due to concerns about potential foreign influence and safeguarding of user data.
  • TikTok estimates that it has 380,000 users in Montana, more than a third of its population.

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