Month: July 2016

Madeleine Sweet:

While [Milo] Yiannopoulos uses the term “free speech” to declare what Twitter, in his opinion, deprived him of — he clearly could not have meant it in the legal sense, though he likely meant to evoke the same sense that many horrible Americans have; this sense that they can spew whatever bigotry they want without repercussion because “the first amendment”. Perhaps he did mean it in the legal sense, in which case he is as dumb as all of his bigoted drones trolling the #FreeMilo hashtag (also: free him from what?) and attempting to make some correlation between the bill of rights and [Twitter] banning a bigot and a hate-monger from their forum.

Much like when Brendan Eich was removed as Mozilla’s CEO after his contributions to Prop 8 became known, and when Charles Johnson was banned from Twitter for raising funds to “take out” DeRay Mckesson, it was entirely within the realm of reason for Yiannopoulos to be banned as well. By goading his followers into targeted harassment repeatedly and expressing no contrition for it, he became an unwelcome and toxic presence.

Yiannopoulos’ defence is that Twitter is a “safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists”. Racism and xenophobia aside, it should be noted that, last summer, Twitter began a crackdown on accounts that tweeted in support of ISIS. The result? A 40% decline in related activity.

In a weird way, Yiannopoulos is right: Twitter has a much bigger problem with abuse than any single user can represent. But he’s part of the problem. Twitter should not be a safe space for inciting hatred and targeted violence.

Update: Leigh Alexander, writing for the Guardian:

Banning one man won’t undo the small but poisonous cultural legacy he’s created, nor erase the playbook for defamation and harassment online that he’s played a key role in scripting. Twitter has far, far more work to do.

Without this further work, Yiannopoulos’s ban – and even the subsequent catty gloating from us folks on the left – all just stands to aggravate a wound that’s been attracting flies to social media discourse for too long already. An isolated ban just lets Yiannopoulos make himself a martyr for “free speech” – it enables him to argue that social media offers special treatment to those on the political left that it does not accord the right, and perpetuates the pernicious myth that the main interest of the progressive left is in shutting its ears to offensive things or in “censoring” those who ruffle feathers.

Joe Saward brings us a strange but intriguing rumour:

The suggestion last week that Apple may be discussing the acquisition of the Formula One group has led to a lot of interest and a lot of opinion. […]

Right now, it is unclear whether an Apple-F1 deal is a serious possibility, but it is clear that discussions have been taking place. Logic is often the wrong way to look at F1 because decisions tend to be driven by the enthusiasm of the decision-makers, who then argue for F1 within the companies involved. In this respect, Apple should be watched because Cue is a petrolhead – not to mention a member of the board of Ferrari SpA.

Saward is a reliable, long-time F1 reporter; this rumour should not be dismissed out of hand, no matter how bizarre it seems. He clarified on Twitter that he heard rumours from multiple sources in Baku and Austria about these discussions. This is unclear and volatile so far, but, as it brings together two of my favourite things, I’m fascinated already.

Why would Apple do this? Formula 1 is a huge brand, especially outside of the United States. If they want exclusive shows and other content — and they do — a pre-existing global network of live events that is broadcast to a dedicated fanbase around the world makes some sense.

Update: Then again, Siri still doesn’t support F1 queries.

Leslie Jones, who played Patty Tolan in this year‘s Ghostbusters film, spent today screencapping and tweeting some of the racist and sexist crap she has to put up with on a regular basis. Susan Cheng of Buzzfeed has compiled several of the tweets, along with a bunch of words of support from friends and other users.

What’s clear is that Twitter remains a platform on which it is trivial to hurl insults, epithets, and hate at other users with virtually no recourse. It took Twitter four and a half hours to respond to Buzzfeed with confirmation that they had suspended the accounts in question, and Cheng posted her article well after Jones had begun exposing those users.

Does Twitter simply not see harassment as a big deal? Their tech staff is overwhelmingly white and male, as is their leadership. Do you really think these problems would persist if they had a more diverse staff that were, depressingly, more often on the receiving end of this kind of hatred?

Jim Dalrymple:

Apple has been quietly rolling out iTunes Match audio fingerprint to all Apple Music subscribers. Previously Apple was using a less accurate metadata version of iTunes Match on Apple Music, which wouldn’t always match the correct version of a particular song. We’ve all seen the stories of a live version of a song being replaced by a studio version, etc.

Using iTunes Match with audio fingerprint, those problems should be a thing of the past.

It baffles me that Apple Music rolled out with an entirely different matching techniques when, probably two or three offices over, the iTunes Match team built a perfectly decent audio fingerprinting system. Duplicative efforts in this vein seem like they should have been eliminated when the executive staff was shuffled in 2012.

According to iMore’s Serenity Caldwell, this change also means that the files stored in Apple Music will be DRM-free. While it hasn’t been confirmed by anyone at Apple, it seems like iTunes Match is slowly being eliminated, which makes sense — it, too, is duplicative of a number of Apple Music features.

Dare Obasanjo:

The low relative numbers of black engineers at many tech companies is a reflection of how these companies approach recruitment and hiring. If 7% of Apple’s tech employees are black and it is literally the most valuable company in the world and Slack can have 8.9% of its engineering staff be black then break records by being the fastest enterprise startup to hit a $1 billion valuation, it’s a farce for other tech companies to imply that hiring more than 1% black engineers can’t be done without lowering their standards.

What an incredibly insulting statement it is for hiring managers to claim that increasing the number of nonwhite, non-male employees at their companies necessitates a lowering of standards.

Bo Ren, in what I promise is an uplifting piece towards the end:

[We] are told that we don’t cut it, even when we have the same or higher qualifications. There is a gulf between a privileged mediocre candidate and an excellent minority candidate. It’s the tension between the B, B+, B- folks versus the A, A-, A+ folks. Yet, even after college, there’s still grade inflation for mediocre white men.

It is flawed to look to women in power as indicators of progress in diversity. Just having Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, and Marry Barra (all white women) in power is not enough for furthering diversity. If you are an excellent, smart, Ivy League graduate, who is an early employee of a big tech company, you will do just fine despite difficulties and biases along the way. But what about the the other candidates who are not as fortunate?

There are other industries that are heavily skewed towards particular combinations of gender and ethnicity, but the ongoing focus on improving diversity in tech is because it shouldn’t be skewed. Its promise is an egalitarianism that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Tech is an inherently complex industry, with people working in everything from design and creative pursuits to physical engineering and finance. It should span the gamut, particularly due to its growing influence and power. Yet it remains an industry largely dominated by white male figures in all positions, from interns to CEOs.

And it shows: Apple debuted a Health app in iOS 8 without the capability to track menstrual cycles; Google’s photo recognition software tagged black people as “gorillas”; software from both HP and Microsoft has had problems with recognizing the faces of darker-skinned users; and, just this year, Microsoft held a party with dancers dressed as erotic schoolgirls mere hours after holding a luncheon discussing women in gaming.

Do we think any of these issues would have occurred if any of these companies hired more people of colour, more women, or more people who live at the intersection of multiple sources of discrimination?

As we move into the second half of July, tech companies are probably preparing their public diversity reports, as they’ve done for the past two years. Last year’s numbers were a scant improvement across the board from the previous year’s figures, with Facebook — in particular — performing poorly. Yours truly:

More companies released their full EEO-1 reports this year than last year, demonstrating a desire for more transparency but also revealing in much greater detail just how few improvements they’ve made. Facebook, for example, hired precisely 36 black Americans this year, out of over a thousand new employees.

Based on a report yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, those numbers aren’t much better this year. Georgia Wells writes:

The share of Hispanic and black employees in the company’s U.S. workforce didn’t budge from a year ago, remaining at 4% and 2%, respectively. The percentage of women at Facebook inched up 1 percentage point to 33%.

Facebook blamed its problem on the “pipeline,” meaning the number of women and minorities entering the tech industry.

That’s bullshit. The Washington Post busted this myth almost exactly one year ago. Cecilia Kang and Todd C. Frankel reported then:

“It’s not even remotely a pipeline issue,” said Andrea Hoffman, who runs Culture Shift Labs, which helps companies find minority and female talent. Her company recently hosted a brunch in Palo Alto, Calif., for minority job-seekers in tech and finance. The 200 seats were snapped up, and she had to make a waiting list for 200 more.

“For anybody to tell me the talent isn’t out there,” she said, “I know emphatically that’s not true.”

Wells asked a similar expert the same thing this year and got a near-identical response:

“There are a ton of opportunities to increase demographic representation in tech companies with the people that already exist in the workforce,” said Joelle Emerson, chief executive of Paradigm, a diversity consultancy that works with many Silicon Valley firms.

She added that there are more black and Hispanic computer-science graduates than are offered jobs with tech firms in the U.S.

It might be another year of middling progress in corporate diversity in the tech sector. Brace yourself for recycled excuses.

Reggie Ugwu of Buzzfeed scored interviews with the teams who make the playlists for Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play, and the resulting article is a fascinating look inside our expectations for what playlists should be:

Music fans, [Apple Music curator Scott Plagenhoef] argues, echoing Iovine, can smell the difference between a service where much of the product is dictated by algorithms or charts and one that is guided by more knowledgeable but equally passionate versions of themselves. By building its house on a foundation of experts, Apple Music has bet that it can be marginally more trustworthy to users than the competition, and that that margin could make a tie-breaking difference.

“Music taste is so nuanced, it’s so personal,” Plagenhoef says. “I think one of the worst things you can do to somebody is get really close to who they are and then present them with something that’s close to what they want but not quite there. You don’t want to be the people who say, ‘Well, you like Fleet Foxes, so you must like Mumford & Sons.’”

Plagenhoef’s statement is rather peculiar considering the number of times I — and other Apple Music users — have seen “Intro To…” playlists for artists that we’re deeply familiar with. The title of this kind of playlist has since been changed to “Essentials”, but it amounts to the same thing. Spotify’s playlists aren’t much better for me, though that’s likely because I use it far less than I do Apple Music. The playlists may be made by hand, but the method by which they’re served is still entirely automated, and it doesn’t work well enough.

Back in the days of iTunes Radio, there used to be a slider that would allow you to set whether you’d prefer to discover new music or listen to more familiar songs. I’d love to see that in Apple Music, too, but as a setting within For You. And I would really like for Apple Music to use my Genius library data.

Mark Rumold of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (via Michael Tsai):

In a dangerously flawed decision unsealed today, a federal district court in Virginia ruled that a criminal defendant has no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in his personal computer, located inside his home. According to the court, the federal government does not need a warrant to hack into an individual’s computer.

I’m not sure how I missed this news, nor why it isn’t being plastered everywhere. The EFF notes that it’s unlikely to hold up on appeal, but there is now a case that states that you have no privacy on your own computer in your own home. Unreal.

The Washington Post just launched their first bot, joining 11,000 others on Facebook Messenger. And, well, it’s not great. Joseph Lichterman, Nieman Lab:

For instance, I asked it for coverage about Pokémon Go — but it gave me stories on Evan Bayh’s Indiana Senate bid, an op-ed from a mom about why she doesn’t limit her kids’ screen time, a piece from April listing online April Fools hoaxes, a story about a D.C. kidnapping, and a review of the X-Factor TV show.

Marburger acknowledged the issue, and said those language processing issues are the main thing the Post is trying to work out now as it rolls the bot out to users.

That’s Joey Marburger, the Post’s head of product. Facebook has got media companies trying to develop natural language processing.

More to the point, are people actually using Facebook Messenger bots? Back in March, they were the new apps that Apple absolutely had to respond to. Between then and now, I’ve tried a few of the popular bots and beta tested a couple of other ones, and it’s been underwhelming. In the early days of the App Store, I remember everyone rushing to try as many apps as they could. Facebook’s bots don’t seem to have that effect.

Maybe Facebook Messenger bots will behave like the Amazon Echo: starting quietly and gradually growing to define a niche. But if the language processing must be handled on an individual developer basis, I bet users will continue to find these bots more of a nuisance than helpful.

XOXO Festival has been one of the best on the circuit since its inception in 2012. This year’s lineup of speakers is especially more notable for being more diverse than XOXO or, indeed, almost any conference with a tech focus. Speakers include people you probably know — like Sarah Jeong, Talia Jane, and John Roderick — and others that you may not.

Unfortunately, there’s a bittersweet note to this year’s edition:

First, some big news: XOXO will not be returning in 2017.

We haven’t yet decided if this is the last one for now, or the last one ever, but we can say with 100% certainty that there will not be a festival next year. Certainly if XOXO does return, it’s likely that it will look very different to the event we’ve been running for the last five years.

Unfortunately, it seems that so many of the best indie conferences have a four-to-five-year lifespan. Çingleton lasted for four years; before it, the C4 Conference was also four years old when it was shuttered. XOXO has, so far, outlasted either of those by one year. I’m unable to make it this year, so I hope it comes back in 2018. It would be a shame if it doesn’t.

Attendance is by random selection via a registration survey. Registration is open until Monday, July 18.

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

The latest numbers from market research firm IDC reveal that Mac sales experienced a slight year-over-year decline in the second quarter, dropping to 4.4 million from 4.8 million during the year-ago period.


Overall PC sales totaled an estimated 62.4 million worldwide in the second quarter, a year-over-year decline of 4.5 percent, as the PC market continues to decline. Nevertheless, North American PC shipments increased for the first time in five quarters, reflecting the strength of the U.S. dollar and “relative market stability.”

Apple’s sales decline is an 8.3% reduction compared to the year-ago quarter. Given that the most recent Macintosh news — the discontinuation of the Thunderbolt Display notwithstanding — was a spec bump of the MacBook, this is completely unsurprising. MacRumors’ own buyers’ guide shows a “Don’t Buy” indicator below every Mac except the MacBook.

Of the current lineup, fully half of all Macs — the Mac Pro, the Retina MacBook Pro, and the MacBook Air — are the most stale that those products have ever been.1 I’m not counting the non-Retina MacBook Pro as part of the Mac lineup because Apple seems to be winding down their promotion of the product. For the record, though, it would be the most stale product in Apple’s lineup by far: it hasn’t been refreshed in 1492 days, or just over four years.

The Mac Pro hasn’t been substantially updated since the new cylindrical model launched in December of 2013. The pro Macintosh situation is so dire that some designers and developers, like Mike Rundle and Sebastiaan de With, have opted to deal with the moderate hassle of building a “hackintosh” in order to get the performance they need for their work. Critical products like the MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro are well over a year old, too.

I look at models like the iMac and the MacBook and I see investment in the Macintosh. They’re beautiful and capable machines. But then I gaze over the rest of the lineup, and I’m disheartened. My MacBook Air turns four next month and, while it’s still humming along nicely, I am interested in replacing it with something that has a high-resolution display and greater performance. I’m not sure I see enough value in replacing it with a computer that is over a year old, fresh out of the box.

  1. Okay, the Air is out by eight days: 491 days since the last update, compared to its previous record of 499. ↥︎

Theresa May is set to become the next Prime Minister of the ironically-named United Kingdom on Wednesday, after David Cameron’s resignation. Under the Investigatory Powers Bill, proposed by May last year and passed earlier this year, the web browsing history of all Britons will be available to law enforcement without a warrant for up to a year.

So, back when this was announced in November, the Independent asked to see Theresa May’s browsing history. Jon Stone quotes their predictable denial of the request:

“We have decided that your request is vexatious because it places an unreasonable burden on the department, because it has adopted a scattergun approach and seems solely designed for the purpose of ‘fishing’ for information without any idea of what might be revealed.”

I wonder if the Home Office realizes that they’ve provided the perfect opposing argument to the bill in question. “Scattergun”, “vexatious”, and burdensome are precise descriptors of mass surveillance and intelligence-gathering activities.

Facebook PR:

We put people first in everything we do at Messenger, and today we are beginning to roll out a new option within Messenger to better support conversations about sensitive topics. Your messages and calls on Messenger already benefit from strong security systems — Messenger uses secure communications channels (just like banking and shopping websites) as well as Facebook’s powerful tools to help block spam and malware. We’ve heard from you that there are times when you want additional safeguards — perhaps when discussing private information like an illness or a health issue with trusted friends and family, or sending financial information to an accountant.

To enable you to do this we are starting to test the ability to create one-to-one secret conversations in Messenger that will be end-to-end encrypted and which can only be read on one device of the person you’re communicating with. […]

Given that their entire business model is built on exploiting users’ privacy, Facebook has been making some significant investments in securing some aspects of what they do. Last year, they introduced PGP-encrypted emails; now, they’ve added end-to-end encrypted conversations in Messenger.

I have a problem with the naming of this feature: “secret conversations”. This phrase is repeated throughout their press release, so it doesn’t seem like a throwaway remark. It implies that there isn’t an expectation of privacy within a regular conversation. Enabling end-to-end encryption is not “secretive”, nor does it indicate that one is hiding something — it should be expected that a chat is private.

Starting a secret conversation with someone is optional. That’s because many people want Messenger to work when you switch between devices, such as a tablet, desktop computer or phone. Secret conversations can only be read on one device and we recognize that experience may not be right for everyone. It’s also important to note that in secret conversations we don’t currently support rich content like GIFs and videos, making payments, or other popular Messenger features.

iMessages are end-to-end encrypted, sync between devices,1 and support GIFs and videos. I’m not sure why Facebook couldn’t make this work, though it might have something to do with iMessage being hardware-integrated — a given Apple device’s UDID can register up to five iMessage accounts, for example, so there might reasonably be deeper-level verification at play. Facebook has released a full technical whitepaper (PDF) if you’d like to learn more.

  1. Not well, mind you, but they try. ↥︎

Jerry Beilinson of Consumer Reports:

Commercials for the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge showed hip-hop’s Lil Wayne pouring Champagne over the phone and dunking it in a fish tank.

You can tell the reviewer is an older white guy because a reference to Lil Wayne doesn’t really need to be clarified as “hip-hop’s Lil Wayne”, as if there were another one. I digress.

The Active version of the S7, which is available to AT&T customers for $800 and up, is being marketed as equally water-resistant. While Consumer Reports generally doesn’t evaluate phones for this feature, we do perform an immersion test when a manufacturer claims that its product is water-resistant. When we recently evaluated the Galaxy S7 Active, it failed this test.

Companies that label their devices “water-resistant” can cite a variety of benchmarks. In this case, Samsung says its phone follows an engineering standard called IP68 that covers both dust- and water-resistance, and that the phone is designed to survive immersion in five feet of water for 30 minutes. That’s the spec we used in testing the Galaxy S7 Active.

Bizarrely, the only model that failed was the sports-marketed Active variant; the other Galaxy S7 models performed fine in the same water resistance test. You’d think that the one ostensibly designed for an active lifestyle would be even more water resistant than their counterparts.

For comparison, the Apple Watch is only rated as IPX7 water resistant, which means that it may be submerged in shallower water — just three feet — for up to thirty minutes, yet Craig Hockenberry swims with his. I have also swum with mine for about an hour at a time, and it’s fine, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 6S has been widely speculated to be water resistant, with a YouTube video emerging last year showing both models submerged underwater for over an hour, while powered on and running a timer. One of the reasons often cited for the rumoured removal of the headphone jack in the next iPhone is to make it waterproof.

Just goes to show that under-promising and over-delivering is still a far better product decision than the opposite.

Update: As of July 21, Samsung says that they’ve fixed a manufacturing defect that was affecting the Active model, and they’ll replace any previous S7 Active affected by water damage. A good, timely response.

Josh Constine of TechCrunch spoke to Facebook about what’s allowed under their “Community Standards” guidelines. They weren’t completely forthcoming, and some of the aspects of their policy are concerning:

Even a single report flag sends the content to be reviewed by Facebook’s Community Standards team, which operates 24/7 worldwide. These team members can review content whether it’s public or privately shared. The volume of flags does not have bearing on whether content is or isn’t reviewed, and a higher number of flags will not trigger an automatic take-down.

This probably prevents abuse, insomuch as a mob can’t force the takedown of a post through excessive flagging. However, a high number of reports could be indicative of something that ought to be addressed with immediacy; as it’s very hard to tell which is the case, Facebook’s policy is probably best.

There have been instances of Facebook posts mysteriously disappearing and they often blame it on a bug or an infrastructure problem. That seems fishy to me. It has long been speculated that a certain threshold of flags would get a post automatically pulled; as this no longer seems to be the case, I’m not sure what would get a post removed in a seemingly-automated way.

There is no option to report content as “graphic but newsworthy,” or any other way to report that content could be disturbing and should be taken down. Instead, Facebook asks that users report the video as violent, or with any of the other options. It will then be reviewed by team members trained to determine whether the content violates Facebook’s standards.

This is a serious omission. As I noted earlier today, there ought to be a mechanism for separating news items from the rest of the site. They clearly need to be treated differently.

I don’t want to be a writer — now or ever — who tries desperately to find a tech angle for major news stories. In the case of the murders this week of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five police officers in Dallas, it is especially pertinent to place empathy, listening, and compassion ahead of anything else. Ali Tomineek’s poem is a good place to start.

I do want to touch upon Facebook Live, though, which factored into Castile’s death and the handing-over of a weapon from a misidentified person of interest in Dallas.

Sonya Mann:

Facebook pulled down Diamond Reynolds’ video of her boyfriend dying and then claimed it was due to a “technical glitch” — frankly, this strikes me as an outright lie. I would bet money that Facebook users reported the video and some underpaid moderator in another country, given no context, axed it because they thought it was just another snuff film.

It has since been reported by a tabloid, the Register, that law enforcement officials were behind the removal of the video.

Mann continues:

I’ve argued before that human societies can’t escape from centralized power. Facebook is a centralized power with a huge and increasing influence over the information that is available to people, both in crisis and on a daily basis.

Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler, Vice:

As Facebook continues to build out its Live video platform, the world’s most popular social network has become the de-facto choice for important, breaking, and controversial videos. Several times, Facebook has blocked political or newsworthy content only to later say that the removal was a “technical glitch” or an “error.”

Charlie Warzel, Buzzfeed:

The video is another solemn chapter in our endless conversation about racial injustice and excessive police force. But for Facebook, it may well be a defining moment in how the world’s biggest social network handles the darker side of real-time, brought about by the company’s failure to answer substantive policy questions about its handling of a gruesome but important video posted to a platform that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly touted as Facebook’s top priority.

Facebook Live is rapidly becoming entwined with some of the biggest news stories of the year, but past accusations of editorializing and bias have tainted its reputation as an effective medium for sharing these events. If Facebook is to become a news carrier, they ought to compartmentalize the sections of their platform that are directly relevant to the news, and give that product the unique ethical and moral gravity it deserves. Facebook Live is clearly no longer just a feature.

Mat Honan, writing for Wired in 2014:

Interactive notifications will spur all sorts of new behaviors. (And yes, Android already has interactive notifications, but the ones in iOS 8 look to go beyond what KitKat can do.) Some of these will be simple, like the ability to reply to an email or text message. But they’re powerful in that you can do this without quitting whatever you’re already doing. And this interactivity is not just limited to system apps. Third-party developers can take advantage of this new capability as well, so you could comment on something on Facebook, respond to a tweet, or even check in on Foursquare. But others are going to be radical, stuff we haven’t imagined yet. Once developers begin to really harness what interactive notifications can do in iOS 8 — and they will — it’s going to cause one of the most radical changes since third-party apps. With the advent of iOS 8, notifications are the new interface frontier.

Kyle Vanhemert, also writing for Wired, in 2015:

With iOS 9, the bulk of interaction will happen elsewhere, dispersed among intelligent notification panels, powerful search tools, and context-specific suggestions that put relevant apps a flick away. The dependable home screen will still exist, but for the first time, it feels secondary. These days, the smartphone experience is just too fast and fluid to be pinned to a grid.

David Pierce, writing for — yep — Wired today in an article titled “With iOS 10, Your iPhone’s Basically Just a Lockscreen Now”:

That’s a key feature, because the lockscreen is the biggest change in iOS 10. That press-to-unlock thing is designed to keep you on the lockscreen, because it’s where you’ll want to be.

Relentlessly assuming that Apple is in the process of killing off the home screen in iOS seems to be a pet passion for Wired’s writers. I don’t see it, though. I may reply to tweets from the push notification banner, but that isn’t a substitute for launching the app from my home screen.

Kara Swisher at Recode, with one hell of a scoop:

Under terms of a contract that has been seen by Recode, whoever acquires Yahoo might have to pay Mozilla annual payments of $375 million through 2019 if it does not think the buyer is one it wants to work with and walks away.

That’s according to a clause in the Silicon Valley giant’s official agreement with the browser maker that CEO Marissa Mayer struck in late 2014 to become the default search engine on the well-known Firefox browser in the U.S.

That contract seems like a no-lose situation for Mozilla if Yahoo is acquired. If they like the new owners, Mozilla will likely retain the existing default search contract. If they don’t, they get a billion dollars by 2019 in addition to funds from whatever new contract they strike with a different search engine.