Platforms

Our working definition of a digital platform (with a hat tip to Harold Feld of Public Knowledge) is an online service that operates as a two-sided or multi-sided market with at least one side that is “open” to the mass market

Iran-based political influence operation - bigger, persistent, global

An apparent Iranian influence operation targeting internet users worldwide is significantly bigger than previously identified, encompassing a sprawling network of anonymous websites and social media accounts in 11 different languages. Facebook and other companies recently said that multiple social media accounts and websites were part of an Iranian project to covertly influence public opinion in other countries. A Reuters analysis has identified 10 more sites and dozens of social media accounts across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

How President Trump could hurt Google

While President Donald Trump has few direct ways of going after Google, his administration and allies in Congress could find ways to make life difficult for the company. Antitrust officials at the Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission, for example, could investigate whether the search giant is abusing its market dominance. Trump's Republican allies in Congress could subject the company to more unpleasant, high-profile hearings.

President Trump broadens attack on Silicon Valley companies

President Donald Trump escalated a brewing battle with various technology companies, issuing a warning to Facebook and Twitter after blasting Google earlier in the day. "Google and Twitter and Facebook, they’re really treading on very, very troubled territory," President Trump cautioned during an event at the White House. "If you look at what is going on with Twitter and if you look at what’s going on in Facebook, they better be careful because you can’t do that to people," he added. The president did not provide specifics to clarify his remarks.

Big Tech braces for hostile DC in Sept 5 Hearings

The Facebook/Google/Twitter trio are better prepared for this upcoming round of Congressional testimony on Sept. 5. Almost a year after the three companies first testified together in front of Congress for Russian meddling, the three social media giants will be returning to Capitol Hill to talk about censorship and election interference. Many recall CEO Mark Zuckerberg's positive performance during televised Facebook hearings in April following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but the last time these three companies faced Congress together, the reviews were brutal.

Tumblr is explicitly banning hate speech, posts that celebrate school shootings, and revenge porn

Tumblr is changing its community guidelines to more explicitly ban hate speech, glorifying violence, and revenge porn. The new rules go into effect on September 10th. “It’s on all of us to create a safe, constructive, and empowering environment,” Tumblr writes in its blog post.

FBI's encryption fight with Facebook could have broad impact on smartphone users' privacy

The FBI is asking a federal judge in CA to force Facebook to break the encryption on its Messenger app so investigators can listen in on an alleged MS-13 gang member's voice conversations. The case, which remains under seal, raises some of the same privacy concerns as the FBI’s unsuccessful effort to force Apple to engineer a way into the encrypted iPhone of one of the San Bernardino (CA) mass shooters. But the FBI’s request in the Facebook case could have a broader impact, since the bureau reportedly wants to intercept communications in real time.

President Trump warns social media companies against ‘silencing millions of people’

President Donald Trump blasted efforts from social media companies to "censor" controversial messages and clamp down on "fake news," urging tech companies to allow Americans to figure out the truth for themselves. The president's message comes amid efforts by major social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to examine Russian election interference efforts on their sites, as well as moves from some companies to ban right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from displaying his content on their platforms.

Can Facebook, or Anybody, Solve the Internet’s Misinformation Problem?

“The work you see now from Facebook, Microsoft and others to be more proactive is a trend that is positive — it’s part of the solution, and I would want to see that trend continue,” said Graham Brookie, director of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council, a think tank that has been working with Facebook on election-security issues. “Is this a solution? No, definitely not.”  

We now know Russia isn't the only foe that's learned to exploit U.S. social media

Silicon Valley’s biggest social media companies provide some of the best tools for spreading propaganda. Social media poses an ongoing risk that will only grow without a coordinated effort to prevent manipulation. “The main takeaway from Facebook's announcement is not just that Russia-style meddling is exportable, but that it's inevitable,” said Chris Meserole, a fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. “If Moscow authored the playbook, Tehran read it word for word, and they won't be the only country to do so.

Facebook Removes Data-Security App From Apple Store

Apple ruled that Facebook's data-security app violated Apple's data-collection policies designed to limit data collection by app developers. Apple informed Facebook that Onavo also violated a part of its developer agreement that prevents apps from using data in ways that go beyond what is directly relevant to the app or to provide advertising. The app, called Onavo Protect, has been available as a free download through Apple’s app store for years, with updates regularly approved by Apple’s app-review board.