Scott Rosenberg

Elon Musk paid $44 billion for a media property

Twitter's most precious asset isn't its technology, its business, its data, or its employees. What makes Twitter unique is the attention it has won from the media profession — and that is what Elon Musk bought for $44 billion. Journalists fell in love with Twitter because it's a fast, open medium for sharing news. Then their presence on the platform transformed what was once just a buzzy, ephemeral social network into a conduit for world leaders, public institutions and social debates.

Decentralization crusades are the internet's "Groundhog Day"

Every decade or two, a new wave of innovators tells us they've found the technological key to eliminating society's gatekeepers and empowering individuals — but every time the music stops, big companies remain in charge. These recurring waves of decentralizing energy have repeatedly failed to empower individuals and build small-is-beautiful paradises. But they've been highly effective at unseating incumbents in the industries they target for disruption.

The internet in the United States is splitting along party lines

New investments flooding partisan media platforms are starting to restructure the US internet business around the nation's

Tech's globalist dream is dying

The tech world order that came together in the '90s at the Cold War's end is falling apart as a new rift between Russia and the West opens and a great retrenchment begins. The breakup of the USSR in the early '90s opened an era in which internet use rapidly spread around the globe and US tech companies viewed the entire planet as both factory floor and market. Working from that assumption helped a handful of companies grow to previously inconceivable size, wealth and power.

How's Putin's truth lockdown challenges the promise of an open internet

The internet promised a world in which no government could fully hide the truth from its people. Russia's free-speech crackdown following its invasion of Ukraine is testing that premise as never before. How everyday Russians view the conflict is likely to determine their willingness to support Vladimir Putin and his war. Russia has succeeded in driving out or shutting down some of the most popular internet services while also squelching the remnants of Russia's own independent news operations.

Governments around the world are increasingly regulating tech companies

Governments are limiting or banning applications, content and connectivity itself — and Big Tech companies, rich and powerful as they are, can't or won't fight back. From the Arab Spring to the Black Lives Matter protests, the internet has helped organizers build popular movements and even, on occasion, overthrow governments.

Facebook's accountability bind

Facebook's leaders know they have to demonstrate accountability to the world, but they're determined to do so on their own terms and timetable. Since the 2018 Cambridge Analytica affair, the company has moved to provide more transparency and oversight, but its limited programs often leave journalists and scholars as the de facto whistleblowers for problems on its platform. In August 2021 Facebook shut down the accounts of New York University researchers whose tools for studying political advertising on the social network, the company said, violated its rules. Facebook has become a sort of g

The push for a "PBS of the internet"

A new policy paper from the German Marshall Fund p

Biden's win gives tech industry the chance for a Washington reset

Joe Biden's transformation into president-elect Saturday kicks off a new era for tech, giving an industry that's found itself increasingly at odds with government the chance for a reset. Biden's ascent could see the restoration of some tech-friendly Obama-era policies but is unlikely to end the bipartisan techlash that grew during Trump's term.

The WeChat ban vs. the First Amendment

The Trump Administration said it would challenge a federal court ruling Sept 20 that temporarily blocked its attempt to curb the use of Chinese messaging and e-commerce app WeChat in the US. WeChat's ban has had a lower profile than TikTok's, but the fate of the app, widely used by Chinese people around the world to stay in touch with family and friends, is at least as consequential. The ruling suggests that WeChat's fate in the US could be decided not only on grounds of national security and commercial regulations but also around freedom of speech principles.