Tony Romm

New data show how Iran tried to manipulate public opinion on Twitter

Twitter accounts originating in Iran masqueraded as foreign journalists and concerned US citizens in their attempt to push political messages on the social media site until they were suspended earlier in 2018.

Facebook purged over 800 accounts and pages pushing political messages for profit

Facebook said that it has purged more than 800 US publishers and accounts for flooding users with politically oriented content that violated the company’s spam policies, a move that could reignite accusations of political censorship. The accounts and pages, with names such as Reasonable People Unite and Reverb Press, were probably domestic actors using clickbait headlines and other spammy tactics to drive users to websites where they could target them with ads, the company said.

Google CEO visits Congress to combat charges of conservative bias ahead of key hearing

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai paid a rare visit to Washington (DC) on Sept 28 to defend the company against allegations that it silences conservatives online, part of an effort to defuse political tensions between the company and Congress ahead of a hearing later in 2018. At a gathering with a dozen Republicans, House Majority Leader Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stressed to Pichai that party lawmakers are concerned about “what’s going on with transparency and the power of social media today,” particularly given the fact that Google processes 90 percent of the world’s searches.

Inside the private DOJ meeting that could lead to new investigations of Big Tech

Officials from 14 states' top legal offices and the Justice Department have begun a coordinated conversation about ways to keep tabs — and potentially rein in — the fast-growing tech giants. The gathering had been designed to focus on social media platforms and the ways in which they moderate content online, following complaints from President Donald Trump and other top Republican lawmakers that Silicon Valley companies deliberately seek to silence conservative users and views online.

White House distances itself from reports that President Trump could target Facebook, Google and Twitter with a new executive order

The White House sought to dis­tance it­self from re­ports that President Donald Trump is con­sid­er­ing an ex­ec­u­tive ord­er that would sub­ject tech giants like Facebook, Goo­gle and Twitter to federal in­ves­ti­gat­ions into al­leged po­lit­i­cal bias. For weeks, top tech com­panies have been on edge, fear­ing that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion could seek to regu­late the in­dus­try in re­sponse to the president’s tweets at­tack­ing so­cial media sites for si­len­cing con­ser­va­tives online.

Google draws conservatives' ire after a leaked 2016 video on Breitbart shows company executives consoling employees after Trump victory

A leaked video of Google executives trying to console employees who were upset after the election of President Trump has infuriated conservatives, who say the remarks illustrate the search giant's political bias and should prompt regulators to take a close look at the company.

Google’s location privacy practices are under investigation in Arizona

Google's alleged practice of recording location data about Android device owners even when they believe they have opted out of such tracking has sparked an investigation in AZ, where the state's attorney general could potentially levy a hefty fine against the search giant. The probe, initiated by Republican AZ Attorney General Mark Brnovich, could put pressure on other states and the federal government to follow suit, consumer advocates say — although Google previously insisted it did not deceive consumers about the way it collects and taps data on their whereabouts.

Top states say they haven’t been invited to the Justice Department's meeting about tech companies

Democratic attorneys general from key states said they have not yet been invited by the Justice Department to its upcoming review of tech companies, prompting criticism that the Trump administration's inquiry is a politically-charged attack on the tech industry. 

Justice Department to consider allegations of censorship on Facebook, Twitter

Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to meet with state attorneys general in Sept 2018 to discuss whether tech companies may be “intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas.” The meeting will also consider whether tech platforms “may have harmed competition” with their actions, a hint that the Justice Department may be weighing antitrust action against the firms. Legal experts said the agency's announcement “clearly suggests” a willingness to intervene on behalf of conservative critics who say they are victims of discrimination by the companies. The Justice Department’s statement:

Twitter rolls out new political ad policies, will exempt news outlets

Twitter said that it would begin requiring some organizations that purchase political ads on topics such as abortion, health-care reform and immigration to disclose more information about themselves to users, part of the tech giant’s attempt to thwart bad actors, including Russia, from spreading propaganda ahead of the 2018 election. The new policy targets promoted tweets that mention candidates or advocate on “legislative issues of national importance,” Twitter executives said. To purchase these ads, individuals and groups must verify their identities.