President-elect Joe Biden is set to have a very different relationship with the tech industry from when he served as vice president. Tech companies have grown more powerful over the past four years — and more perilous. They have continued to amass data and wealth. But they have been used as tools for election interference and disinformation, contributing to the divide in the nation.
As leaders in Silicon Valley, China and Washington raced to seal the fate of one of the world’s fastest-growing social media companies, a shouting match broke out in the Oval Office between two of President Trump’s top advisers. In front of President Donald Trump, trade adviser Peter Navarro, and other aides, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin began arguing that the Chinese-owned video-sharing service TikTok should be sold to a US company.
Hours after President Trump’s incendiary post about sending the military to the Minnesota protests, he called Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The post put the company in a difficult position, Zuckerberg told President Donald Trump. The same message was hidden by Twitter, the strongest action ever taken against a presidential post.
Apparently, the Federal Trade Commission has finalized a settlement with Google in its investigation into YouTube for violating federal data privacy laws for children. The settlement — backed by the agency’s three Republicans and opposed by its two Democrats — finds that Google inadequately protected kids who used its video-streaming service and improperly collected their data in breach of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which prohibits the tracking and targeting of users younger than 13, the people said.
YouTube said it will remove false videos alleging that major events like the Holocaust didn’t happen, as well as a broad array of content by white supremacists and others in a move to more aggressively crack down on hate speech.
Democratic Reps plan a sweeping review of Facebook, Google and other technology giants to determine if they’ve become so large and powerful that they stifle competition and harm consumers, marking a new, unprecedented antitrust threat for an industry that’s increasingly under siege by Congress, the White House and 2020 presidential candidates.
Facebook will begin banning posts, photos and other content that reference white nationalism and white separatism, revising its rules in response to criticism that a loophole had allowed racism to thrive on its platform. Previously, Facebook only had prohibited users from sharing messages that glorified white supremacy -- a rhetorical discrepancy, in the eyes of civil-rights advocates, who argued that white nationalism, supremacy and separatism are indistinguishable and that the policy undermined the tech giant's stepped-up efforts to combat hate speech online.
Facebook said it is investigating whether an organization backed by Internet billionaire and Democratic megadonor Reid Hoffman violated the social media giant’s policies when it set up several misleading news pages in a bid to target US voters with left-leaning political messages. The probe focuses on News for Democracy, whose Facebook ads and affiliated pages about sports, religion, the American flag and other topics were viewed millions of times during the 2018 midterm elections, according to an analysis of the company ad archive conducted by New York University.
Facebook executives in recent years appeared to discuss giving access to their valuable user data to some companies that bought advertising when it was struggling to launch its mobile ad business, according to internal emails quoted in newly-unredacted court filings. In an ongoing federal court case against Facebook, the plaintiffs claim that the social media giant doled out people’s data secretly and selectively in exchange for advertising purchases or other concessions, even as others were cut off, ruining their businesses.