Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Monday.
Jeff Bezos' girlfriend's brother is suing the Amazon CEO for defamation, claiming he was falsely accused of providing incriminating photos to the National Enquirer. Michael Sanchez says he never possessed Bezos' intimate photos, contradicting a New York Times report that found evidence that Lauren Sanchez sent leaked texts and photos to her brother. Apple shut down all stores and corporate offices in China amid the continued Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. Apple, which earns about a quarter of its operating income in China, said it will keep its online store open during the shutdown. Uber suspended 240 user accounts in Mexico after they rode with drivers believed to have come into contact with the coronavirus, Bloomberg reports. There have not yet been any confirmed cases of coronavirus in Mexico. Facebook shelled out $11.2 million to run its first Super Bowl commercial. The company's CMO and ad agency Wieden and Kennedy told Business Insider how it came about. Mark Zuckerberg said during an interview on Friday that if he were starting a company today, he wouldn't do it in Silicon Valley. "There's a lot of advantages to building a company that is not in such a monoculture," said Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg also said he's become "more religious" after becoming a father and going through recent struggles with the company. "The last few years have been really humbling for me," said Zuckerberg. Airbnb quietly acquired cloud storage startup Minbox in 2016. The previously unreported purchase was one of several quiet acquisitions by Airbnb in 2016. WeWork named former Brookfield executive Sandeep Mathrani as CEO. Mathrani will replace Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham, who have served as co-CEOs since the company's founder Adam Neumann was ousted in 2019. Twitter gave a state university access to a student's parody account after it complained that he was mocking the school. Twitter told Business Insider it made a "mistake," and that "the school should not have been provided access to this account." Amazon Web Services attacked a Microsoft-commissioned study claiming that its Azure cloud is faster and cheaper. Microsoft has made similar claims before, with an exec recently claiming that its Azure cloud was 5 times cheaper than AWS in certain situations.
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Amazon fires employees who were critical of warehouse working conditions during coronavirus pandemic
Amazon fired two internal critics of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was revealed by...Amazon fired two internal critics of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was revealed by The Washington Post on Monday. Another employee was told not to show up to work. "We support every employee's right to criticize their employer's working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies," a spokesperson told Business Insider. We terminated these employees for repeatedly violating internal policies." Prior to the news, many Amazon employees had requested anonymity when discussing conditions in their workplace, fearing retaliation. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Amazon fired two employees who had been critical of the company's response to the coronavirus pandemic, especially with regards to the company's warehouse workers, according to reports, a third employee was told not to return to work. Speaking to The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, user-experience designer Emily Cunningham said she and another designer, Maren Costa, were let go last week on Friday. The New York Times later confirmed that a third worker, Chris Hayes, was told not to come back to work. The three had been involved in inviting employees to a virtual chat between Amazon tech and warehouse workers, The Times said, adding that Costa and Cunningham had circulated a petition on internal channels in March regarding warehouse labor practices related to the pandemic. Cunningham and Costa were also openly critical of Amazon's climate policy, The Post said. "We support every employee's right to criticize their employer's working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider. "We terminated these employees for repeatedly violating internal policies." In late January of this year, Amazon employees protested Amazon's climate policies and its external communications policy. The protest was in part due to the fact that Costa and another employee were threatened with termination for speaking out, according to CNBC. At that time spokesperson Jaci Anderson told CNBC: "While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems." Cunningham, who did not immediately return a request for comment, told The Post she was fired for her activism. "Because of how effective we've been in getting Amazon to take leadership in the climate crisis, they've wanted me gone for a while," she said. On Twitter, she also criticized the company's treatment of warehouse employees. "It's bad y'all," her pinned tweet reads. Numerous Amazon employees have reached out to Business Insider claiming that their safety is not the top priority in the company's warehouses and delivery stations, all requesting anonymity for fear of retaliation. "The number of people in an Amazon warehouse must be one of the largest gatherings that is still allowed to happen," @marencosta said. "If Amazon is so proud of how they’ve responded, why is it so afraid of letting people talk about it?" — kate conger (@kateconger) April 14, 2020 Amazon has declined to provide Business Insider a list of its facilities that have reported cases of COVID-19, only confirming the infections after employees leak word to members of the media. In response, Amazon has said they are supporting infected workers and "following guidelines from health officials and medical experts, and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site." While the company has taken steps to protect its workforce amid the pandemic, instituting temperature checks and issuing protective equipment, employees still complain that they are not always provided face masks, nor are they able to maintain proper social distance. Experts have also questioned Amazon's effort to build a COVID-19 test lab, fearing it could increase competition for scarce testing resources. Last week, one employee at an Amazon facility outside Philadelphia told Business Insider that workers started "freaking out" after receiving an automated message that one of their colleagues had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The company later confirmed that 15 employees immediately walked off the job. Have a news tip? Email this reporter: firstname.lastname@example.orgJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Camel milk can cost $30 a litre. Why is it so expensive?
Jeff Bezos's legal response to Michael Sanchez is an all-out assault that accuses him 8 times of betraying his own family
Lawyers for Jeff Bezos hit back at a defamation lawsuit from Michael Sanchez, seeking money for...Lawyers for Jeff Bezos hit back at a defamation lawsuit from Michael Sanchez, seeking money for what he claims are slights on his reputation by Bezos and his staff. The most striking part of the document is the insistence with which it repeats a single point: that Sanchez betrayed his sister by making her relationship with Bezos public knowledge. The familial dynamic is irrelevant to the legal substance of the complaint — but seems to be part of a deeper attack on Sanchez's moral character. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Lawyers for Jeff Bezos on Monday filed a response to an accusation that he and his staff defamed Michael Sanchez by claiming he sent nude photos to The National Enquirer tabloid. The response was blunt: It said Sanchez's suit should be thrown out, on the grounds that Bezos never made that claim, and that, even if he did, it was pretty much true. However, aside from the legal argument, the document is remarkable for the ferocity with which it attacks Sanchez's character, accusing him eight times of a "betrayal" his sister Lauren, now Bezos's girlfriend. The attack came in a 24-page motion to dismiss Sanchez's suit, filed February 3 and reviewed by Business Insider. It was written by Bezos's attorney William Isaacson. Here are some excerpts of the document, which pointedly repeat variants of the phrase "betrayed his sister" over and over (emphasis ours): The first two are in a section on the background to the case: "Mr. Sanchez claims he is [suing Bezos] because he is now unhappy about news coverage concerning the media maelstrom that he helped cause after receiving the $200,000 and betraying his sister. ... "Following the Enquirer publication, Mr. Sanchez sought to and became a central actor in kicking off worldwide public discussion about the sister he betrayed and Mr. Bezos — and in particular, the leaks to the Enquirer." The third argues that the fact that Sanchez leaked to the Enquirer became public thanks to reporting protected by the First Amendment: "In the year since the Enquirer story, dozens of news organization shave reported on who disclosed Mr. Bezos' texts to the Enquirer—reporting at the heart of the First Amendment. "This reporting has exposed the appalling truth that Michael Sanchez betrayed his sister by selling her out to the Enquirer by providing it with personal information and text messages after he was paid $200,000." The fourth argues that Sanchez is wrong to allege defamation because he cannot prove that Bezos or his staff said what he accuses them of (again, emphasis ours): "Mr. Sanchez believes it is important that he did not, according to him, specifically disclose nude photos, a distinction of no consequence under the First Amendment or to the media articles discussing his leaking of private information and betrayal of his sister. Further, neither Defendant has ever accused Mr. Sanchez of leaking nude photos specifically — and not once does the Complaint allege an instance where either Defendant made this accusation." The fifth and sixth are included as "factual background," and the seventh is a quotation from a Fox News article about Sanchez (emphasis ours): "Michael Sanchez's betrayal of his sister soon became the subject of widespread reporting. "On February 10, 2019, the Daily Beast reported that 'multiple sources inside AMI' confirmed that Mr. Sanchez had betrayed his sister and "supplied the couple's racy texts" to the Enquirer. Mr. Sanchez initially lied to the media and denied leaking information and personal texts to the Enquirer. "The Wall Street Journal followed on March 18, 2019, reporting that Mr. Sanchez 'sold the billionaire's secrets for $200,000 to the Enquirer's publisher.' Michael Sanchez eventually admitted he helped the Enquirer break its story — 'He also admitted that what he did could be seen as a betrayal of his sister and of Bezos.'" The eighth says the Lauren Sanchez stopped talking to Sanchez. "After Michael Sanchez's 'deal with the devil' became known, Lauren Sanchez stopped all communications with her brother due to the betrayal." The repetition is clearly intentional and a departure from the often-dry language of legal complaints. Although the familial nature of the response is irrelevant to Bezos's formal argument (which is about the definition of defamation, and whether it has been met), the legal filing takes every opportunity to emphasise the moral element: that Sanchez did not upset just anybody, but his sister. The filing refers to Lauren Sanchez as "his sister" 19 times, almost three times as often as it uses her name. It seems partly designed to attack a motive hinted at in Sanchez's suit, cited by Bezos's lawyers, which argued that Sanchez himself was motivated to protect his family, rather than harm it. Bezos's team says it saw a draft version of Sanchez's response, which reads: "Mr. Sanchez opted to get ahead of the story to limit the backlash against Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez, and to protect Ms. Sanchez's parents and children, exactly as he has done many times in the past." The court will now decide whether to dismiss Sanchez's suit, which you can read more details of here, or to allow it to continue towards a full trial.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 62 new emoji and emoji variations were just finalized, including a bubble tea emoji and a transgender flag. Here's how everyday people submit their own emoji.
Jeff Bezos accused his girlfriend's brother of 'extortion' in an escalating legal battle over nude photos leaked to the National Enquirer
Jeff Bezos in a court filing on Monday accused Michael Sanchez, the brother of his girlfriend...Jeff Bezos in a court filing on Monday accused Michael Sanchez, the brother of his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, of extortion. According to the Daily Beast, which reviewed the filing made in California, Bezos and his legal team claim that Sanchez is "leveraging the current media environment to harass" Bezos and his own sister for financial gain. The motion follows a defamation lawsuit from Sanchez on Friday in which he claimed that Bezos falsely told journalists that Sanchez provided Bezos' nude photos to the National Enquirer. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Jeff Bezos in a court filing on Monday accused Michael Sanchez, the brother of his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, of extorting him via a defamation suit dealing with leaked nude photos of Bezos sent to the National Inquirer. It is an escalation of a legal battle which centers on who sent the pictures to the outlet. Sanchez says that Bezos defamed him by blaming the leak on him. Bezos says that accusation is itself attempted extortion. According to the Daily Beast, which reviewed the filing made in California, Bezos and his legal team say that Sanchez is abusing the legal system to lure the tech billionaire into an expensive dispute. "Extortion rears its head again in this lawsuit, this time not only aimed at Defendants but also directly threatening speech protected under the First Amendment," William Isaacson, Bezos' attorney, wrote in the filing, according to the Beast. According to the Beast, Bezos' motion seeks to dismiss Sanchez' lawsuit under a California law, which takes action against frivolous lawsuits, referred to as "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation," or SLAPP. The motion follows a defamation lawsuit brought by Sanchez on Friday in which he made accusations of Bezos and a security consultant hired to investigate Bezos' phone after it was allegedly hacked. That filing said Bezos falsely told journalists that Sanchez provided nude photos of Bezos to the National Enquirer. Sanchez maintains that he was not the source of the photos. Bezos' team began investigating his phone in January 2019 after the Enquirer published a story about him having an affair. He and his then-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, announced their divorce not long after. After the Enquirer story was published, Bezos accused the tabloid's parent company, American Media Inc., of blackmailing him by threatening to publish his nude images. In his filing, Isaacson, the Bezos lawyer, wrote that: "By filing this lawsuit, Mr. Sanchez hopes to put himself back on the front pages and extract money from Defendants by leveraging the current media environment to harass them." Last month, The New York Times reported that intimate messages between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez came into the possession of the National Enquirer tabloid via her brother. According to the newspaper, Sanchez sent the messages, including photos, to her brother, Michael, who received $200,000 upon signing a contract granting the Enquirer's parent company exclusive rights to them. The Enquirer has maintained that its source of the messages was Michael Sanchez, but Bezos hired a private investigator, Gavin de Becker, to dig deeper. In exchanges with Business Insider last year, Michael Sanchez repeatedly denied sharing "penis photos" with AMI but evaded answering questions about whether he had leaked messages obtained by the National Enquirer.SEE ALSO: WhatsApp disclosed 12 security flaws last year, including 7 classified as 'critical,' after Jeff Bezos phone was reportedly hacked Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 62 new emoji and emoji variations were just finalized, including a bubble tea emoji and a transgender flag. Here's how everyday people submit their own emoji.