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Recode Daily: China considers putting the brakes on crypto mining

Plus: Google’s cofounders are notably MIA at company meetings, Congress holds a committee about white nationalism on social media, and Facebook says it’s using AI to be more respectful of friends who’ve passed away.

A man’s face with gold coins representing bitcoins over his eyes.
China may say bye-bye to bitcoin mining.
Artyom Geodakyan / TASS via Getty Images
Shirin Ghaffary is a senior Vox correspondent covering the social media industry. Previously, Ghaffary worked at BuzzFeed News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and TechCrunch.

China may ban bitcoin and other cryptocurrency mining. The country, which is home to the world’s largest cryptocurrency mining farms, may put a stop to the practice. Authorities are concerned that the data centers hosting the mining machines are contributing to massive energy waste and pollution. Historically, China’s cheap electricity and coal supply has made it a favorite for bitcoin miners. The new rules were proposed by China’s top economic planning body. If passed, they may decentralize the distribution of data miners, and some say it may drive up the price of bitcoin. One blockchain investor, Jehan Chu, told Reuters he believes, “China simply wants to ‘reboot’ the crypto industry into one that they have oversight on, the same approach they took with the Internet.”
[Brenda Goh, Alun John / Reuters]

Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have reportedly been skipping out on company-wide meetings they used to regularly attend. The two have yet to attend any of Google’s weekly town halls in 2019, according to BuzzFeed News. The leaders’ absence from the TGIF meetings is “the longest attendance lapse in company history” and important because it “comes at a time when Google is wrestling with tough questions from its employees on a variety of issues, ranging from harassment to censorship.” In previous times, rank-and-file employees used the meetings to ask Page and Brin questions in a public setting. The article also notes that Google is no longer giving its employees as much access to recorded archives of the meetings; “this combined with the cofounders’ absence from the town halls has some employees wondering whether Google’s traditionally open culture will hold up.”
[Alex Kantrowitz, Caroline O’Donovan / BuzzFeed News]

Racist and anti-Semitic comments flooded the YouTube live stream of the congressional hearing on white nationalism. The internet seemed to prove the purpose of the congressional hearing on white nationalism on Tuesday. Almost as soon as the hearing started, anti-Semitic and white nationalist comments bombarded the chat section of a YouTube livestream of the meeting. In response, YouTube disabled comments from being posted alongside the video. Yesterday’s hearing comes two weeks after a terror attack in New Zealand that left 50 people dead was streamed live on Facebook and posted to YouTube. Many members of Congress criticized social media companies such as Facebook and YouTube for not doing enough to stop the spread of hate speech on their platforms.
[Tony Romm / The Washington Post]

Facebook says it’s using AI to stop prompting users to interact with deceased friends as though they were still alive. It’s certainly unsettling to be prompted to casually say hi to a friend who’s passed away. That’s why Facebook says it’s using AI to stop connecting people with their deceased friends the same way they would with those still alive. Facebook currently offers a feature to “memorialize” an account when somebody passes away, but those accounts have been “treated similarly to any other Facebook user” — meaning their friends could be prompted to invite the dead to parties or to share birthday wishes. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg introduced the changes in a blog post Tuesday.
[Alex Hern / The Guardian]

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