Elon Musk says he wants video chat, voice calls and encrypted DMs for Twitter 2.0, Amazon Alexa on pace to lose $10 billion this year and Google seeks to lay off 10,000 poor performing googlers

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Wednesday, November 23rd and I’m your host, Samira Balsara.
Elon Musk told Twitter employees he wants video chats, voice calls and encrypted DMs for Twitter 2.0, according to a leaked recording of a meeting obtained by the Verge. The new owner said it would seek the help of the founder of encrypted instant messaging service, Signal. Musk also explained how Twitter could allow for secure calls without having to give out the user’s number, which is the case for Signal. It is unclear so far whether these communication features will be available to all users or through the $8/month Twitter blue subscription.
Amazon Alexa voice assistant unit is one of the hardest hit areas of the company’s current massive layoff plans, Business Insider reported. The Alexa division, which has been around for 10 years has been unable to create a revenue stream of its own and has lost $3 billion in just the first quarter of 2022, which is double the losses of any other division. Business Insider says that the division is set to lose $10 billion this year. Amazon Echo is one of the best-selling items on Amazon, but the goals to monetize the use of the device never materialized as users would rather ask the AI for simple, non-monetizable commands like play music rather than trust the AI  to purchase and pay for items using their voice, Insider said.
Pressure from an activist hedge fund is having Google implement a type of stack ranking and performance improvement plan that could shed 10,000 employees, Forbes reported.  The performance system will lay off employees rated as poor performers and may strip others of bonuses and stock grants. According to the Information, Google managers have been asked to rank six per cent of employees—representing 10,000 people—as low performers, compared to the traditional two per cent. The activist hedge fund also claimed that the company’s headcount is “excessive” compared to prior hiring trends and that the search engine can be efficiently run with fewer highly compensated professionals.
Major tax filing services including H&R Block, TaxAct and TaxSlayer have been quietly transmitting sensitive information to Facebook when Americans file their taxes online, the Markup found. The data is sent through a widely used code called the Meta Pixel which includes information like names, email addresses, and often more sensitive information like users’ income, filing status, and dependents’ college scholarship amounts. This information can be used by Facebook to power its advertising algorithms and is gathered, regardless of whether the person using the tax filing service has an account on Facebook or any other Meta-owned platforms. As of Monday, TaxSlayer and Ramsey Solutions had removed the pixel from their tax filing sites and TurboTax had stopped sending usernames through the pixel at sign in. H&R Block’s site continues to gather information on health savings accounts and college tuition grants, but says it is reviewing Markup’s findings.
That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash briefings or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Also, catch the next episode of Hashtag Tendances, our weekly Hashtag Trending episode in French, which drops every Thursday morning. If you have a suggestion or a tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thank you for listening, I’m Samira Balsara. 

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