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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Facebook and Twitter Finally Respond to Trump

New year, new … coup? On Wednesday, supporters of President Trump stormed the US Capitol building and violently disrupted a congressional session to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. They were spurred on in no small part by the president himself, who urged them to march on the Capitol and then later took to Twitter to double (quintuple?) down on his false claims of election fraud. As result, a slew of social media companies opted to suspend Trump's account for varying lengths of time, citing his rhetoric as inflammatory and dangerous.

This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED politics writer Gilad Edelman joins us to talk about why companies like Facebook and Twitter decided to finally take action to shut down Trump's accounts. Then he gets a crash course on the wild world of CES—the first-ever all-virtual staging of the consumer tech industry’s tentpole event kicks off Monday.

Show Notes

Read Gilad’s story about Facebook and Twitter suspending the president’s accounts here. Follow all of our CES coverage here.


Gilad recommends that if you buy an item of clothing you like, consider buying more than one. And also the Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker. Lauren recommends the Headspace meditation app. Mike recommends a Black Manhattan cocktail.

Gilad Edelman can be found on Twitter @GiladEdelman. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

If you have feedback about the show, or just want to enter to win a $50 gift card, take our brief listener survey here.

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[Gadget Lab intro theme music]

Michael Calore: Hi everyone. Happy new year! Gadget Lab, 2021. What up? Welcome. I am Michael Calore, a senior editor at WIRED. I am joined remotely, as always, in the new year by my cohost, WIRED senior writer Lauren Goode. Happy new year, Lauren.

Lauren Goode: Happy new year, Mike. And our producer, Boone Ashworth, just told us that this is our 40th remote episode since we started working from home during the pandemic. I mean, I'm sure we've taped remote episodes before, but I guess that means it's been almost a year at this point.

MC: Forty weeks of delivery truck noises and cats meowing and toilets flushing and doors slamming in the background, so thank you for bearing with us.

LG: Yes. Thank you for being forgiving of our less-than-ideal audio.

Gilad Edelman: Wait, your cat can flush toilets?

MC: I trained her, yes. I trained her to do that. It's way better than scooping. That voice that you just heard, the voice of God is, of course, WIRED's politics writer, Gilad Edelman, who's coming to us from Washington, DC. Hello, Gilad.

GE: Hey guys. We doing new year's resolutions?

MC: Maybe later in the show. Save that for recommendations.

LG: Restore democracy. That's the resolution.

MC: Actually, that's true. So, normally this time of year, at the beginning of January, we would be dedicating an entire episode of this show to CES, the giant Consumer Electronics Show that's happening next week. But, of course, given the events happening in DC this week, we feel that we really need to address the news. So, we'll be talking about CES in the second half of the show, but we're going to spend the first part of this episode talking about the events of January 6, 2021, the day an armed mob of Trump supporters stormed to the US Capitol and tried to stop Congress from verifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.

We're taping the show on Thursday. So, from where we sit right now, the Capitol was stormed 24 hours ago, and since then we've seen a lot of developments, not only in governmental procedure but also on the big internet platforms—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, et cetera. That's where we're going to concentrate on today. The show is called Gadget Lab, so we're going to zoom into our phone screens and go deep. Gilad, we have you on the show because you've been following this issue closely. You just published a story about it. So let's start with this. Once all the action in DC started yesterday, on the 6th, how did the platforms first react?

GE: So, the moment when the social media platforms really inserted themselves into the unfolding story yesterday came kind of ironically, after Trump sort of did the thing that everybody was asking him to do. As the violence and chaos unfolded, there was a lot of “Where is Donald Trump?” Why isn't he calling these people off? No one was really surprised that he wasn't calling them off. He had just whipped them into a lather and sent them to the Capitol, essentially. But still, you had Joe Biden, the president-elect go on TV and say, among other things, "Trump, you got to call this off." And so not long after that, Trump released a brief video in which he told people to go home and we need to have peace. But in that minute-long video, maybe 40 seconds of it were him repeating how the election had been stolen and no one had ever seen something so horrible. I'm paraphrasing here.

And so it didn't really go over that well among the crowd who had been calling on him to say something. Because even as he was saying go home, he was repeating the same theory that underlay all the chaos in the first place. And so not long after that, I confess I don't remember the precise sequence, but it didn't take long for Facebook and YouTube to pull that video down and for Twitter, at first, to basically freeze it so you couldn't retweet, reply to, or like it, and then eventually Twitter took it down as well.

MC: Right, and in that period of time when Twitter froze it, you could still quote-tweet it, right?

GE: You could still quote-tweet it. You could still view it. So if you went to Trump's Twitter feed, you could view it, and it had like 12 million views. But this was sort of a bridge moment in Twitter's evolving stance toward content that it deems violates its rules but comes from public figures. Twitter has been really loathe to take stuff actually down, because it makes the argument that there is news value in knowing what a world figure or a national political figure like Trump has said. And so what they've tried to do are things to slow the virality while allowing people to see it. So they were sort of in a way station on that, but they quickly ratcheted up to “No, we're pulling this down.”

LG: What rationale did they give for taking the video down?

GE: So, at first, it was a little bit unclear. We were just told that the videos violated policies. And then Facebook said they had judged that it was more likely to encourage further violence than tamp it down. So, basically, they looked at this video in which Trump says, "Go home, be peaceful," but also says, "We were robbed, the election was stolen," and decided that, on balance, it was likely to provoke more violence. Now, personally, as this was unfolding and I'm kind of watching it happen in real time, I thought that was kind of weird. Because if you watch the video as I did, and if you read it—I've got the whole text of it in my story that's up on WIRED now if people want to read it—the “election was stolen” stuff, that's not new. Right? Trump's supporters already buy into that, but he did tell them several times in that little video, "Go home."

And so it seemed a little bit like a stretch to me to treat that as inciting violence insofar as the bad part was the stuff that Trump has always been doing. And so it kind of raised the question, well, wait a minute, if you're going to ban Trump from saying the election was stolen in this video, don't you have to ban all the other times when he says it? And then that's exactly what happened. So, the die was kind of cast there, because shortly after they pulled the video down, they start pulling other stuff down. Trump was tweeting things that were kind of in the same spirit as the video where it was like, "Hey, be peaceful, don't be violent. The election was stolen from us." And so pretty quickly, Twitter and Facebook start taking those posts down. And then you start wondering, well, I mean, we kind of know what all his future ones are going to be, and then, lo and behold, they just decided to freeze his ability to post.

LG: And one of the things that Mark Zuckerberg said in his own post on Facebook this morning that I think caused some confusion was that he was suspending Trump's account indefinitely, but also it would be for two weeks, which seems to put a clear end date on how long Trump's account would be frozen for and also coincides with the end of the Trump presidency. Now, my thinking was, OK, so then after that point, if this transition does actually happen as it's supposed to, Trump becomes a private citizen, and at that point, the rules in which he's engaging on social platforms change. But also why would Zuckerberg say it's just two weeks? What's the thinking behind that?

GE: So, as I read the announcement, it's at least until inauguration. As I read the blog post from Mark Zuckerberg, it's at least two weeks. So the account has been blocked indefinitely, and then at the very end, it says for at least the next two weeks, until the peaceful transition of power is complete. So it seems like they're not really committing themselves to any particular course of action after Joe Biden assumes the presidency, but at least until then, his accounts on Facebook and Instagram are going to be frozen. Meanwhile, as we're recording this, Trump's Twitter account has been frozen until he deletes the offending tweets, and then there's a 12-hour freeze period. I've seen reports that he apparently has deleted those tweets already, not totally clear, and at the same time, I really would not be surprised if, by the time people are listening to this, Twitter has decided, "You know what? We're just going to freeze his account like Facebook." So, it's a really fast-moving situation here.

MC: Gilad, one of the things in your story that you mentioned is that this video went out over social media, and at home we were all watching it and commenting on it and saying, "Oh, there he is talking on Twitter." But the fact that he's appealing to the crowd of people at the Capitol to go home is a little weird, because it's very unlikely that the people who are actually at the Capitol are stopping the mayhem to watch a minute-long video of Trump speaking on the internet.

GE: Yeah, I think this goes to a broader issue with how people think about what the platform's responsibility is when it comes to this kind of speech. Yeah, as you say, we don't really know. I'm skeptical that the guy with the horns and the body paint and the fur coat was pausing to watch the video. On the other hand, maybe people in the crowd watched and maybe word got out about what Trump said, but we really don't know. But there is this kind of tendency to imbue what Trump says on social media with a lot of power, perhaps sometimes out of proportion to its actual impact. I mean, what happened yesterday was Trump in-person, he tells the crowd, "We're going to march over to the Capitol." That's really powerful, and that is not something that Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube have any power over.

And so one thing I think that has characterized Trump's whole presidency is a desire among people who don't like what he's doing for the platforms to just kind of do something about it. And so we're kind of seeing that here. It's less that Trump really did anything different from what he usually does. It's more that things in the world got so crazy that the calculus of letting him keep doing that started to shift.

LG: Gilad, we're talking a lot about these real-time reactions on social media platforms to what's been going on in the Capitol over the past 24 hours. But I'm wondering what the role of the social media platforms really was leading up to this event. I mean, how could officials, both government officials and law enforcement agencies, not have been somewhat aware that this kind of attempt at a coup might've happened or that these threats would escalate into violence when Donald Trump himself has been tweeting about January 6th for weeks? And we know that there's been activity in the far reaches of the internet where people have been discussing plans for this kind of thing.

GE: That's the really interesting part. I mean, to the extent that social media platforms had power to control yesterday's events, I think the ship really sailed before yesterday. As you say, Trump was tweeting, encouraging people to come to the rally. In one tweet, he said, "It's going to be wild." I mean, that's wink, wink—it's like winking with both eyes. It's pretty hard to miss.

LG: Right.

GE: But at the same time, it's tricky for these platforms that have been celebrated for their ability to help people organize protests, or whatever, to shut that down. I mean, people are allowed to protest even when they're really wrong, as people who think the election was rigged in this case are really wrong. So, the closer you got to the actual violence, the less there was left for anybody to stop it but also the more urgent the case seems to become to do something about it.

As to your question of how the Capitol Hill police could have been so caught so off guard here, I don't know. That's what everybody in DC is wondering. As you watch the videos of people storming the Capitol in the first place, it's so striking to compare the police presence that greeted them with some of the police presences that greeted Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer, including here in DC. Where was the wall of imposing armed cops or national guardsman? I don't know, and I think people are expecting answers to that. I will say that there are a lot of protests in Washington, DC, and they don't go like this. There've been a lot of pro-Trump protests in Washington, DC, and they haven't gone like this. So, everyone says, "How did they not see this coming?" I mean, I didn't see it coming. I didn't think that people were literally going to break into the Capitol. So, I have a little bit of sympathy for these people because what happened yesterday was, in some ways, unprecedented.

LG: We should also note that as we're taping this, it's just crossed the wires that Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, says that the 25th Amendment should be invoked to remove President Trump from office, and if it isn't, Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment. So this is definitely a developing story.

MC: Absolutely. We do have to move on and talk about CES, but I encourage everybody to go to WIRED and read Gilad's story about how the events of this week played out on social media. And I'm sure there'll be more stories to come as more bans are handed down or not handed down and as things change. So, let's take a quick break. And when we come back, we will get into CES.


MC: All right, welcome back. The role of social platforms in our democracy and questions around content moderation are certainly the most important conversations in consumer tech right now. But we cannot forget there is also CES happening next week. The consumer tech fest is going to be even weirder than it usually is, and that's really saying something, because normally at this time, we would be packing our bags and flying to Las Vegas, where CES takes place every year, going back to the 1980s.

But this year, CES will be all virtual due, of course, to the pandemic. This means we will not be gathering together to touch and play with all the shiny new gadgets. We will not be eating from terrible buffets. We will not be having our annual team karaoke night. But the show must go on. The event kicks off with livestreamed events on Monday, January 11. And we are still going to try to do our best to analyze the show from afar. So, for a bit of fun, we thought we would actually turn the tables for the segment and toss it to Gilad, who has never been to CES before. He is kind of a foil to me and Lauren, in a way, since Lauren and I have somewhere around 25 years of collective CES experience between us. Is that right? Jeez.

LG: Well, I've covered it, this'll be my 11th.

MC: Yeah.

LG: Yeah.

MC: Same with me.

LG: OK. All right.

MC: I think. So, yeah.

LG: So, basically, our CES is old enough to drink.

MC: Basically, yes. Which is important. Gilad, so, hot seat: Time for you to shine. What can we tell the newbs about CES so that it makes sense to them? What do you want to hear about next week?

GE: OK. Here's what I'm picturing for normal CES. And this is by far the longest conversation already that I've ever had about it. So, I'm like, you're in a big convention center. You're in a big hotel, and with carpeted floor and people are set up at tables, and you can walk around to the tables, and like this one has a virtual-reality headset that you can put on, and there's probably a line at that one because it's kind of cool. And then sort of in less-prime real estate, there's some dumb, like a better printer that no one really gives a crap about, and somewhere in the middle and then like, oh, they're like, "Whoa, there's the ones with the sex tech over there." That's probably sort of titillating. And then there's probably a keynote event with the new Android phone or something and it's got a better camera. Do I have it?

MC: Pretty close. I mean, it's three convention centers and six hotels.

GE: Dang.

LG: It's big. It's like nearly 3 million square feet normally, across Las Vegas.

MC: So, this year, instead of doing that—you have that part exactly right, where you walked from booth to booth and you see things that are kind of cool with lines, and you see things that are not cool at all and they're pretty sad. But, this year, instead of doing that, it's going to be like, people send us an email, we click on a link, and then we look at a press release and a photo and a video.

GE: Mm. Yeah. So what do you think they're going to do to make that still cool?

LG: So far? I don't know. If any early briefings are indications, not all that much. We've had several months now of virtual briefings to figure out how to try to make them cool. And it just seems like people are just doing the same thing we've been doing, which is, here's the Zoom link or BlueJeans or Cisco Webex, or I don't know. Now I'm just like making stuff up. I could literally make up a videoconferencing company name right now, and no one would know the difference.

GE: Well, I do all my meetings on WaterBottle.

LG: WaterBottle. That's a great new one. I heard that they're going to IPO later this year. In some cases, they tell you they're going to do a live briefing, and then you get this strange sense within the first 30 seconds that you're actually watching a preproduced video that happened this morning. And then you see the product and it looks cool, or maybe not cool, and shiny, and then you hear about the new features and how it's using AI, and also like, I don't know, is antimicrobial this year or something because everyone's concerned about germs. But you can't actually get to experience it, or hear it, or touch it, or feel it, like Mike mentioned earlier. So it definitely is a challenge. We're going to miss out on some of the fun oddities and novelties of CES this year, for sure.

MC: And the novelties are the interesting thing, because CES is always make-believe. Right? When you go to CES, the company shows you it's new, crazy television that they're actually going to sell, but then they show you like two or three things that they're never going to sell. They're never going to make them. They're just showing them to you because they want something flashy for you to get excited about and write about. But also, it's sort of like an illustration of how the company is thinking about the future. Right?

GE: This is like me in the weekly pitch meetings where I'm like, "Yeah, I've got four stories in the works," but I know that I'm not going to write three of them.

MC: Yeah. And the stories that you talk about are the ones that you know that someday it would be awesome if you were actually able to write. But they're—

GE: Yeah, if I were actually able to write, that would be awesome. I agree.

LG: Yeah. Maybe it's not actually a full story that you're pitching. Maybe it's like a little nugget of something that's going to end up in another story someday. Like, there's an idea there, and so sometimes we're shown things that feel like components or features, but they're not full products. Eventually, that component might be cool, but it might make its way into different tech things that we use every day. But it's like, at the end of the day, a consumer is not going to go find it at Best Buy right now.

MC: Yeah.

GE: So I feel like the pressure is even higher on you guys to make CES fun for our readers, given that CES is not bringing as much fun to you. You've really got to add the juice.

MC: Yeah. I think, especially considering that that flashy fun aspect of it really only works in a big room where everybody's applauding and people are gasping, and you can actually see how giant the giant television screen is. So, it's really like, having it be all virtual and just seeing all these things on the same computer screen that you use for Zoom or Slack or writing emails, it's like all of that drama is sucked out of it, and you're left trying to fill that drama hole, and nine times out of 10, it cannot be done. You have to be the most optimistic, wide-eyed tech reporter to get excited about something you just saw in a press release.

GE: Is that not Lauren?

LG: I don't know, Gilad. You're looking at me on Zoom right now. Do I appear wide-eyed?

GE: Absolutely.

LG: I mean, another thing that we should probably note is just the event, in general, is down-scaled this year. Last year, there were more than 4,000 exhibitors who showed off tech gadgets. This year, the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the CES, said that there around 1,800 exhibitors. And then some of the big tech companies like Google and Amazon who would normally spend millions of dollars setting up these giant booths and installations and brand activations, and Google would like take over part of Las Vegas, they're not really participating this year.

One of the values of CES, at least what I hear from tech companies and marketers and people who are in the tech industry, the value is the backroom meetings that people make during the show. And obviously, people aren't doing those this year, because you can't do backroom meetings in-person due to the pandemic. So the whole thing just feels like, it feels a little bit scaled down. And then the fact that it's happening against the backdrop of all of these major national events right now, it just really put CES in a different perspective this year.

GE: Well, I mean, we've really been taking your crap on the all-remote CES, probably want to edit some of that out. So, surely there's some stuff that we're looking forward to, right? So, what are the most anticipated things that are going to be shown off at this year's CES going to be?

MC: Well, I mean, CES is a B2B show. Right? So, businesses show up to show off their new things to businesses that are going to be selling them at retail or buying them at scale or doing some sort of business with them. So, like, all of the computer manufacturers are showing you the laptops that are going to be out in September. All the TV manufacturers are showing you the TVs that are going to be coming out in the summer. All of the smart-home companies are showing you the things that are going to be available this summer. So, that stuff is still happening. And this steady march of consumer-electronics innovation is still happening. Just because CES is virtual this year doesn't mean that there's going to be a whole lot of action around people making their own chips and ditching Intel chips. That sort of long-calendar event is still going to continue uninterrupted, even though CES is virtual. So there's still stuff like that, that we'll be able to talk about. We're still going to be able to see the new laptops and robot vacuums.

GE: That's what I was going to ask about. Can we talk about robot vacuums? Those have been around for a while. I hate vacuuming. But I'm also wary of robots.

LG: I can actually see a vacuum behind you right now.

GE: OK. The vacuum is there.

LG: I see that. It looks pretty large.

GE: The vacuum is there. So, my mom got me this vacuum. Thank you, Mommy. And I vacuumed the rug in my bedroom the other day because it was dirty. And then I noticed the rest of my room is dirty too. I should vacuum this. I don't feel like it. I'll leave the vacuum in my room as a kind of admonishment that, surely, it'll make me vacuum tomorrow.

MC: See, this is why you need a robot vacuum.

GE: This was three days ago.

LG: Yeah. I have to say two things really changed my vacuuming life in recent years. One is I have tried a Roomba before. I had one for a while in my last apartment, and it was really useful, particularly if you have pets, because you can just set them to run throughout the day. And then you're probably getting all kinds of fur and dust and other things that you wouldn't normally get just from manual vacuuming. And the second is, I do have a handheld vacuum now, but it's one of those Dyson V7s that's battery-powered, which is not great for the environment, because eventually the battery will lose its juice, and perhaps this vacuum won't last as long as something that's wired or cabled. But it is so fantastically convenient and so light that I find myself pretty much vacuuming every day with this thing. So it's a cordless, battery-operated Dyson vacuum, and it was totally worth the money.

GE: I feel like the solution is for you and me to be roommates if you vacuum every day.

LG: Sure. Yeah, I might just wait until after the attempted coup to move to DC if that's OK.

GE: There's an apartment open in my building, actually, for way less than I pay. I think now's the time.

LG: I think it might actually be now. I've been saying I want to get back to the East Coast. Can I just say one more thing about—

GE: You heard it here first, WIRED listeners, Lauren and I are moving in together. Literally, we've never met in person.

LG: Yeah, we actually haven't. Also, you should probably check with your other roommate first.

GE: Mm, she'll be fine with it.

LG: I'm sure. I'm totally sure. So, she's probably on a Zoom call right now for her job going, "God, did you just offer our apartment to someone else?"

GE: Yeah, sounds like something she'd say.

LG: So, we're getting the note from our producer that we're going way over here, but, Boone, there's so much to talk about. I did want to make one comment about some of the trends we'll see at CES this year. I think Mike made all of the right points about how we won't necessarily see things ship, and sometimes we're seeing concepts, or we're seeing things that are being sold B2B. But I'm kind of excited to see the displays this year. Our colleague, Brian Barrett, has written about microLED before, which is just super good looking but also a low-power form of LED backlighting, and we're going to start to see that in more and more TVs, and I think that's going to be pretty cool.

And I think on the laptop side of things, we're going to see more laptops running on ARM-based chips. Apple, of course, just announced in late October, early November, its very first MacBooks running on its own ARM-based M1 chips, which was huge news in the industry, because it means that they're very slowly moving away from Intel chips in PCs, and that's a really big deal. And I think we're going to see more companies follow suit there, and also AMD chips powering laptops, AMD Chromebooks, I think, in particular.

MC: Mm-hmm. So, a rise in Chromebooks.

LG: Yep. Adrienne So, who's been on the Gadget Lab a bunch of times before—we love Adrienne, she and I are both really into covering the connected health and fitness space. And there's just been an explosion of that this year, because we're all stuck at home and people can't necessarily go to their gyms or go safely to the gym, and so people are starting to invest in more home equipment, and I think we'll see some cool stuff around that this year too.

MC: I'll tell you what I'm looking forward to this year. When the spectacle is not there, it leaves room for other things to shine. So, like the last however many years, 10, 15 years, the big news at CES has always been the big flashy thing that everybody talks about, like, "Did you see the flying car?" Because somebody always shows up with a flying car, and while that's cool and interesting, it's make-believe, and it takes a lot of the column inches away from the things that actually matter to you and me. Things like new e-bikes, new fitness wearables. We do cover that stuff. But if you hear anything about CES, you're hearing about the flying car. Well, the flying car isn't going to be there this year. Right? The "proverbial flying cars" are all staying home. So, it's not there to suck up all the oxygen in the room, and maybe we'll have more time to talk about those smaller, more interesting, more practical things. That's really what I'm looking forward to.

LG: Yes. That is what I'm looking forward to too because I'm looking forward to bringing those smaller, more practical things, plus my home fitness equipment into Gilad's apartment when I move in.

GE: I'm going to have to throw out a lot of stuff.

LG: Do you like Peloton, Gilad?

GE: I'm open to it. I'm very open to it.

LG: OK, cool. All right.

MC: You all, you're about to get into-

GE: As long as you're paying for it.

LG: I'll pay for it.

GE: Oh yeah.

MC: This is verging on sponcon guys, come on. All right. Let's take a break, and when we come back, we will do our recommendations.


MC: All right. Now that we know everything about CES, Gilad, please tell us what is your recommendation for things that our listeners should check out?

GE: So, this is one that I think of because I wish I had followed it. When you find like a shirt or shoes that really is comfortable and versatile and fits you really well, buy several. Because sometimes … Like, I've got these great boots that are kind of, they're waterproof. They're good hiking boots but they're really good everyday shoes. They're just very, very versatile. And they're starting to kind of fall apart. And I went and looked online and they've gotten, for some reason, way more expensive than when I first bought them so I don't really want to buy them again. And if I knew that now, if I knew that when I bought them, I may have bought two pairs. Same thing with shirts I've gotten in the past. So, if you find that staple, that wardrobe staple, consider stocking up because you can't assume that they're going to still be making them when you re-up.

LG: Gilad, if you had to name one of those items that we could link to that you really like, what would you say?

GE: Well, the whole issue is that they're not making them any, like …

LG: Oh, I see.

MC: Also, you'd be giving up your wardrobe. People should find their own wardrobe. Right? You don't want to dress like Gilad. You want to dress like you.

LG: Yeah.

GE: Yeah.

LG: I love it. Thank you, Gilad.

MC: Lauren, what is your recommendation?

LG: My recommendation is sliced lemons in Tupperware. I'm just kidding. For those of you who have listened to prior Gadget Lab episodes, you will understand the joke. My recommendation this week, you're going to need it more now than ever, is the Headspace app. Maybe I've recommended this before. Not really sure. But I recently decided to splurge on an annual subscription because if you buy the annual subscription, which is … Excuse me, $70 a year, it only ends up being about $5.80 per month. You can also try it monthly, but it ends up being $12.99 a month. It is a meditation app. You can choose from a few different coaches/teachers. I'm not sure if they … I think maybe they call them meditation teachers, Andy or Eve. And I find it to be really helpful and just nice to take 10 to 12 minutes to yourself each day if you can. And you're not totally unplugging because you're using an app on your phone, but if you can sort of block everything else out, it's really great and freeing for your mind. So, I recommend giving that a try.

I also, this is my second recommendation, but I also started listening to the Floodlines podcast from The Atlantic over the holiday break, which is hosted by Vann R. Newkirk and is about Hurricane Katrina, and it is a fantastic podcast, and I highly recommend it.

GE: Can I do a second one too? I'm starting to feel bad that I never had an actual thing that people can buy because I know our readers are just crassly materialistic.

MC: Go for it.

GE: One of the most underrated products of our time is the Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker.

[Mike laughs heartily]

GE: Do you know what I'm talking about?

MC: Yes, I know what you're talking about.

LG: Mike seems to.

GE: It's like $20, $30 and the battery never runs out. I charge this thing. I use it all the time and I charge it like every three months. It's insane. I don't know how this technology exists, but it's isolated somehow only this one Bluetooth speaker. If you don't like having to charge your Bluetooth speaker a lot, I highly recommend the Anker SoundCore. Great product.

MC: I'm laughing because Anker, they operate on volume. Right? They have the factories and they can crank this stuff out and sell it for super cheap on Amazon. Their storefront is basically Amazon. I mean, I'm oversimplifying it for comedic effect, but that's how Anker moves through the world. So, that's why I was laughing because it's the same Bluetooth speaker quality that you get from any other Bluetooth speaker, except it's like half the price.

GE: But the battery, dude. Are you trying to tell me that other speakers have this battery life?

MC: I don't know. I don't know. I never sat them down side by side and done like run-out tests on them so I can't say.

GE: Now you're making me feel bad, like I'm just talking crap at our listeners because I am too unwashed and don't know the difference.

MC: No, no.

LG: Maybe Anker is going to hear this, and they're going to listen to the whole show, and they're going to start making vacuum cleaners for you, Gilad.

GE: That'd be tight because those vacuum cleaners would never run out of battery.

LG: They would last forever.

MC: They do make vacuum cleaners.

LG: Oh, there we go.

MC: I believe the Eufy brand-

LG: Look at Gilad's face.

GE: Let's go!

LG: All of you can't see Gilad's face through Zoom, but it's like, he is now the wide-eyed tech reporter.

MC: Yes. They do make vacuum cleaners. The Eufy brand is an Anker sub-brand. So, E-U-F-Y RoboVacs or Anker RoboVacs. And they do, they run forever. They run for 851 years before you need to recharge. But you do have to empty the bin within that time.

GE: Fair. Fair.

LG: Mike, what's your recommendation?

MC: I'm going to recommend an alcoholic cocktail. It's called the Black Manhattan. It is a twist on the regular Manhattan, which you may know has rye whiskey, a little bit of vermouth, some bitters, shaken and served up, usually with a cherry. The Black Manhattan replaces the vermouth with an amaro, which is a class of Italian bitter apéritif, or digestif, I guess probably more appropriately. So, if you've had something like Averna from Sicily or fernet, the really fragrant kind of cough syrupy thing that bartenders like to trick you into drinking.

GE: So bad. So bad.

MC: I love it. I love fernet.

GE: It's mouthwash.

MC: If you have one of those dark Italian bitters, amari is the plural, amaro is the singular, thank you very much, you can make a Black Manhattan. So, all you do is you mix one shot of rye, with a half shot of your amaro, and then you add the shaking bitters and the orange slice if you like. Shake it up and serve it up. So, it's like a Manhattan because it still tastes like whiskey, but it has a little bit of like bitterness to it that gives it a nice, refreshing tinge. And it's a beautiful color because it's the same color as a Manhattan, but it's darker. So, that's my recommendation. Try it out.

I had a bottle of Averna that was like half full and I've had it for years. I'm like, "What can I make with this?" And I just looked up Averna recipes and saw the Black Manhattan. I was like, "That is my drink." And I had one like every night for the last half of December. So, the bottle's gone now and I'm moving on, but I can tell you that my journey through the world of the Black Manhattan was a very pleasant one.

LG: Thank you for this recommendation, Mike. Does that mean that we should start calling you Michael … What is it? Caloro instead of Calore? Because you're singular.

MC: No, no. Yes, I am singular.

GE: He's very singular. Jinx.

MC: All right. Well, thank you everybody for listening. That is our show. And thank you to Gilad for joining us.

GE: Thanks for having me, guys. Always a pleasure.

LG: Yes, thanks for joining us, especially when things are so busy and you're filing stories under intense deadlines right now. So, thank you.

MC: And I encourage everybody to go to WIRED.com to read Gilad's latest story and any stories that he's going to be writing over the next week because I'm sure this situation is going to continue to crank out content from the desk of Gilad Edelman. Thank you for being here and thank you all for listening. If you have feedback, you can find all of us on Twitter, just check the show notes and be sure to check in next week for our CES coverage. We'll be back next week with a CES wrap-up show. This show is produced by Boone Ashworth. Thank you for listening. Goodbye.

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