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Apple threatening to pull Twitter from its app store, Elon Musk alleges

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Elon Musk accused Apple of threatening to block Twitter Inc. from its app store and says the iPhone maker has stopped advertising on the social media platform because it is afraid of free speech.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla accused the smartphone maker of no longer advertising on Twitter, insinuating it is because the company is trying to censor content on the internet.

“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?” Musk said.

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Later in the day, he also said Apple is considering removing Twitter from its app store, without providing any evidence of that.

He later tagged Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking “What’s going on here?”

Although Apple has said nothing about any such plan, it would not be without precedent. The company routinely enforced its rules on to third-party apps in its app store, a policy that led to the removal of apps such as Gab and Parler, which is popular with U.S. conservatives.

Parler was restored by Apple in 2021 after the app updated its content and moderation practices, the companies said at the time.

War of words

Musk also said “yes” in response to a user question on whether Apple was threatening Twitter’s presence in the app store or making moderation demands.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The company spent an estimated $131,600 US on Twitter ads between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, down from $220,800 US between Oct. 16 and Oct. 22, the week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to ad measurement firm Pathmatics.

A rising list of firms from General Mills Inc. to luxury automaker Audi of America have stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition.

Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, said earlier this month that Twitter had seen a “massive” drop in revenue and blamed activist groups for pressuring advertisers. Ad sales account for about 90 per cent of Twitter’s revenue.

The platform has in the past few days reinstated the account of former U.S. President Donald Trump, as well as comedian Kathy Griffin and U.S. House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The Trump reinstatement prompted a coalition of civil rights activists to say last week that they were urging Twitter’s advertisers to issue statements about pulling their ads off the platform.

At a presentation for advertisers in May, some ad agencies and brands were already skeptical on concerns that Musk would scale back content moderation and security protection on the platform.

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Big banks raise prime lending rates to 6.7% after Bank of Canada hike

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Canada’s six biggest banks raised their prime lending rates following an eighth consecutive increase to the Bank of Canada’s benchmark interest rate.

The central bank’s target for the overnight rate now sits at 4.5 per cent following a quarter-point hike on Wednesday.

The central bank’s policy rate sets borrowing rates for other lending institutions, which feeds into terms for Canadian consumer loans like mortgages.

After Wednesday’s decision, TD Bank, Scotiabank, BMO, RBC, CIBC and National Bank all raised their prime lending rate by 25 basis points to 6.7 per cent.

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This marks the highest point for the prime lending rate in Canada since 2001, according to data from RateSpy.com.

Believing inflation is set to “decline significantly,” the Bank of Canada signalled Wednesday that it was ready for a pause after 425 basis points of hikes to its policy rate.

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Home Depot investigation: Data shared without consent

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OTTAWA –

Retailer Home Depot shared details from electronic receipts with Meta, which operates the Facebook social media platform, without the knowledge or consent of customers, the federal privacy watchdog has found.

In a report released Thursday, privacy commissioner Philippe Dufresne said the data included encoded email addresses and in-store purchase information.

The commissioner’s investigation discovered that the information sent to Meta was used to see whether a customer had a Facebook account.

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If they did have an account, Meta compared what the customer bought at Home Depot to advertisements sent over the platform to measure and report on the effectiveness of the ads.

Meta was also able to use the customer information for its own business purposes, including user profiling and targeted advertising, unrelated to Home Depot, the commissioner found.

It is unlikely that Home Depot customers would have expected their personal information to be shared with a social media platform simply because they opted for an electronic receipt, Dufresne said in a statement.

He reminded companies that they must obtain valid consent at the point of sale to engage in this type of activity.

“As businesses increasingly look to deliver services electronically, they must carefully consider any consequential uses of personal information, which may require additional consent.”

Home Depot told the privacy commissioner it relied on implied consent and that its privacy statement, available through its website and in print upon request at retail outlets, adequately explained the company’s use of information. The retailer also cited Facebook’s privacy statement.

The commissioner rejected Home Depot’s argument, saying the privacy statements were not readily available to customers at the checkout counter, adding shoppers would have no reason to seek them out.

“The explanations provided in its policies were ultimately insufficient to support meaningful consent,” Dufresne said.

He recommended that Home Depot stop disclosing the personal information of customers who request an electronic receipt to Meta until it is able to put in place measures to ensure valid consent.

Home Depot fully co-operated with the investigation, agreed to implement the recommendations and stopped sharing customer information with Meta in October, the commissioner said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.

 

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Meta funds a limited number of fellowships that support emerging journalists at The Canadian Press.

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Rent increased more than 18% last year for new tenants, new numbers show

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A surge in demand pushed Canada’s rental market to its tightest level in two decades last year, with the vacancy rate in purpose-built apartments dipping below two per cent and rent for new tenants going up by 18 per cent.

Those were some of the main takeaways from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s annual report on the state of Canada’s rental market.

The figures cited above were for purpose-built rental apartments, so they don’t include what’s happening in condos, or in apartments built out of occupied family homes.

For purpose-built rentals, the national vacancy rate fell to 1.9 per cent last year, its lowest level since 2001.

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Booming demand for apartments pushed up the price to get one, too, with the average rent hitting $1,258 a month. That was up by 5.6 per cent from the previous year’s level, and roughly twice the annual average seen for the past 30 years.

But rent didn’t go up at the same pace for every unit.

Apartments where there was a change in tenants saw the rent go up by 18.9 per cent. Those where there was no change in tenancy saw rents go up by only 2.9 per cent, on average. “This reflects the fact that, once a tenant vacates a unit, landlords are generally free to increase asking rents to current market levels,” the CMHC said.

That gap was even more stark in two of Canada’s biggest cities, Toronto and Vancouver, where average rents for a unit that saw a tenant change went up by 29 and 24 per cent, respectively.

Geordie Dent, the executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants Association, has spent more than a decade as a watchdog for the rental market in Toronto. He says the situation is as dire as he’s ever seen, with a surge in so-called “renovictions,” where landlords are eager to take advantage of higher market rents by evicting tenants and raising rents to someone new

“There’s an incentive for them to try to illegally evict people and raise the rent,” he told CBC News in an interview. He says he hears stories every day of people staying in unsuitable housing situations because of desperation. “They’re afraid that if they get kicked out of their current place for a new one, rent’s going to be like $1,000 higher.”

 

Geordie Dent, the executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association, says the situation in Toronto’s rental market is the worst he’s ever seen.

Things aren’t much better across the country in Vancouver, either. The vacancy rate fell to just 0.9 per cent, with the average price for a two-bedroom hitting $2,002 a month. That’s up by 5.7 per cent from last year, but it’s up by 24 per cent among units that have seen a tenancy change.

Some of those in the lower mainland’s rental market fear the system is irreparably broken.

Vinny Cid was working and living in Victoria, but when his job allowed him to work remotely in 2021, he made the decision to move home with his parents.

He, his sibling and his two parents share a rental home in Richmond, B.C. for $2,800 a month which suits their needs, but he says they are only able to get that because his parents have lived in the unit since 2016.

“The rental situation has devolved quickly,” he told CBC News in an interview Thursday. “I check rental listings almost daily, and something similar today would cost $4,000 or more.”

“It’s depressing to see how prices have spiraled out of control very quickly,” he said.

While his situation works for him for now, should his employment or needs change, he suspects he would have to leave the province, or even the country. And he says he worries for those who don’t have the income and family support he has.

“Everybody is being told to either improvise or get pushed out,” he said. “In terms of outlook, it doesn’t look good.”

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