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Recode Daily: ‘You get an Amazon HQ2 and you get an Amazon HQ2!’

Plus: The free holiday shipping wars have begun; Oath changes its silly name; you love voice texting or you hate it; Me Voting in 2016 vs. Me Voting in 2018.

A U.S. postal worker drags a cart full of Amazon packages from a delivery truck to a building. Spencer Platt / Getty

In a surprise decision, Amazon plans to split its new HQ evenly between two cities, rather than selecting one centralized city for its so-called “HQ2” project. After narrowing its nationwide search to 20 finalist cities, the online retail giant is reportedly in late-stage talks with Crystal City, Va., as well as the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens in New York City. Here’s how other companies, including Okta and Bank of America, have handled the multiple-HQ arrangement. Meanwhile, countering moves by rivals Target and Walmart, Amazon expanded free shipping to all U.S. customers for a limited time during the holiday season, waiving the $25 minimum purchase amount. [Karen Weise and J. David Goodman / The New York Times]

Amazon employees angered about the company’s commercial ties to law enforcement agencies are hoping to ramp up pressure on management at the company’s all-staff meeting on Thursday. A group of company workers who signed an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos this summer denouncing the company’s sale of facial recognition software to the police are encouraging their colleagues to submit questions on the topic in the hope of having them addressed by Bezos or other top Amazon executives. [Jason Del Rey and Shirin Ghaffary / Recode]

Fox News, NBC and Facebook stopped running an ad from the Trump campaign that attempts to tie Democrats and the caravan of asylum-seeking migrants in Mexico to an undocumented Mexican immigrant who was convicted of murdering two police officials in 2014. A longer version of the ad had already been turned down by CNN, which called it racist. Meanwhile, Trump’s deployment of up to 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in advance of the migrant caravan is shaping up to cost $220 million, according to Defense Department officials. A Pentagon risk assessment found that the caravan did not pose a threat and would not make it to the U.S. for about a month and a half. [Niraj Chokshi and Daniel Victor / The New York Times]

The Supreme Court declined to hear challenges to net neutrality regulations adopted in 2015 by the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama administration and upheld by a federal appeals court the next year. The 2015 regulations, which were repealed by the FCC at the end of 2017, had barred broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or content. Declining to overturn the decision does not undo the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, but it leaves in place a legal precedent that could benefit net neutrality advocates if the rules are ever reintroduced. [Adam Liptak / The New York Times]

Oath is changing its much-ridiculed name, rebranding its collective media assets — including HuffPost, TechCrunch, Engadget and Tumblr — as Verizon Media Group starting next year. The internet had a lot of fun last year after Verizon confirmed plans to group all of the combined AOL and Yahoo brands together under the awkward new moniker. We’ll miss it as much as we miss Tronc. [Ashley Carman / The Verge]

The most controversial mode of communication in 2018 is voice texting — a short voice message meant to replace a text. Once upon a time, it was as stylish to hate voicemail as it now is to hate Facebook, but against all odds, voicemail has made a slow but miraculous comeback in a more digestible form: Last year, WeChat revealed that its users sent 6.1 billion voice texts each day, Facebook Messenger is home to 1.3 billion monthly active users and WhatsApp hosts about 60 billion messages per day. And for all those enraged by voice texts, there appears to be a growing contingent of people who are equally ardent senders of them. [Alyssa Bereznak / The Ringer]

Top stories from Recode

Social media growth is over in the U.S. — its most valuable market.
There’s room for growth around the world, but advertising revenue overseas is significantly lower. [Rani Molla and Kurt Wagner]

An old-guard investment firm, CRV, has made a hire to compete for the new megadeals.
Matt Heiman has jumped from Greylock Partners to CRV, an early-stage venture capital firm founded in 1970, to help lead its new push into later-stage consumer companies. [Theodore Schleifer]

This is cool

Me Voting in 2016 vs. Me Voting in 2018.

The meme midterms.

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