Facebook moved to clamp down on any confusion about the November 2020 election on its service, rolling out a series of changes to limit voter misinformation and to prevent interference from President Donald Trump and other politicians. The social network, in one of its most sweeping sets of election actions, said it planned to bar any new political ads on its site in the week before Election Day. It said it would also strengthen measures against posts that try to dissuade people from voting.
As COVID-19 has shifted life online, residents of towns like Monterey (MA) — they lack internet at home — have had to drive to public Wi-Fi hot spots to stay connected. Disparities in internet access took center stage during the Aug. 18 Massachusetts US Senate debate between incumbent Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) and his challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA).
Listen, liberals. If you don’t think Donald Trump can get re-elected in November, you need to spend more time on Facebook. Since the 2016 election, I’ve been obsessively tracking how partisan political content is performing on Facebook, the world’s largest and arguably most influential media platform. Every morning, one of the first browser tabs I open is CrowdTangle — a handy Facebook-owned data tool that offers a bird’s-eye view of what’s popular on the platform. I check which politicians and pundits are going viral. I geek out on trending topics.
As the Republican National Convention kicked off, the Trump campaign touted 5G among the president’s second-term goals, specifically stating he would “win the race to 5G and establish a national high-speed wireless internet network.” This phrasing is a head-scratcher given the Trump orbit’s past flirtations with nationalizing 5G, an approach taking multiple forms over the years and deeply opposed by many at the Federal Communications Commission and on Capitol Hill.
Social media companies say they’re preparing for a protracted battle against online misinformation come Election Day, particularly given there may not be an immediate winner. Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity, said his nightmare scenario for the election is that bad actors use any delays in the outcome to stoke “fear, uncertainty and doubt” online. Unprecedented problems for an unprecedented election: “When we talk about the election, we talk about the leadup to election night, we talk about election day as a pivotal moment. This year is different,” Roth said.
Aug 17's session of the Democratic National Convention featured multiple tech industry veterans weighing in to support Joe Biden’s presidential bid, including Republicans, despite the broad skepticism his party has taken toward Silicon Valley since the Obama years. Two notable Biden advocates: Susan Molinari, the former House GOP lawmaker who was a top lobbyist for Google from 2012 to 2018, and Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi and a former chief executive for eBay and Hewlett Packard Enterprise who a decade ago was the Republican nominee for governor in California.
That’s why the next item on the Congressional agenda, and on a prospective Biden administration’s agenda, should be a thorough review of a system in which Internet service providers have no obligation to provide service to the areas most in need. Providing an essential service like high-speed Internet should be a requirement enshrined in law. The big telecom companies don’t see sufficient financial incentive to invest heavily in rural broadband, and no one can make them do it. Congress needs to step up and not rely on the Federal Communications Commission to solve this problem.
A Biden presidency would put the tech industry on stabler ground than it's had with President Trump. Although Biden is unlikely to rein in those Democrats who are itching to regulate the big platforms, he'll almost certainly have other, bigger priorities. Democrats familiar with the Biden campaign's work on tech made these predictions: