Morning Consult Tech: Musk Says Twitter Deal Temporarily on Hold Pending Details About Fake Accounts
 

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May 13, 2022
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  • Elon Musk said his $44 billion takeover of Twitter Inc. is “on hold” until he receives details about the company’s estimate in a filing this month that spam or fake accounts make up fewer than 5% of users on the platform. Musk has previously said one of his biggest priorities for the platform is to remove spam accounts. (CNBC)
  • Legislation introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) would establish a new five-person federal commission to protect consumers from big technology companies, including having the power to scrutinize their content recommendation algorithms and establish transparency rules around content moderation on their platforms. The Digital Platform Commission Act would also empower the commission to require regular public risk assessments about violent content on the platforms. (The Washington Post)
  • Four House committee and subcommittee chairs have written to the chief executives of ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, Meta Platforms Inc., Twitter and YouTube to formally request that they archive content that could show war crimes committed by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine. The Democratic chairs of the Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs committees, as well as subcommittees contained within each, said they are concerned that the automatic removal of some content could “lead to the loss of important content” and urged them to create an archive for future war crimes trials. (NBC News)
  • Twitter’s general manager of revenue, Bruce Falck, and Kayvon Beykpour, general manager of consumer, are leaving the company amid Musk’s planned takeover, with the company also set to pause hiring and cut costs. Beykpour said in a series of tweets that he was asked to depart while on paternity leave, and according to people familiar with the matter and messages viewed by The Wall Street Journal, his departure has left some employees feeling uneasy about their own futures. (The Wall Street Journal)
 

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What Else You Need to Know

General
 

Mark Zuckerberg on his big metaverse bet: ‘I feel a responsibility to go for it.’

Janko Roettgers, Protocol

Calling Meta’s metaverse push ambitious is a massive understatement: The company is spending billions of dollars a year on the development of next-generation augmented and virtual reality devices and the software that will run on them, as well as all-new social VR platforms like Horizon to rival gaming giants and Web3 startups.

 

Technology-Focused Bills Advance Through Senate, House Committees

Alexandra Kelley, Nextgov

A slew of technology-centric legislation cleared Congressional chambers on Wednesday, notably the Senate version of the National Manufacturing Extension Partnership Supply Chain Database Act.

 

DOJ Loses Bid to Sanction Google for Withholding Documents

Peter Blumberg, Bloomberg

Alphabet Inc.’s Google dodged court sanctions after it was called out by the Justice Department for hiding documents from government lawyers.

 

D-Wave sets up latest quantum computer in California

Jane Lanhee Lee, Reuters

Vancouver-based quantum computing firm D-Wave Systems Inc said on Thursday it has deployed its latest quantum computer to the University of Southern California.

 

Apple Suppliers, Top Chipmaker Succumb to China Lockdowns

Bloomberg

China’s biggest chipmaker and a major iPhone supplier cut their outlooks for the second quarter, joining a growing list of manufacturers warning about the fallout from lockdowns aimed at containing the country’s worst Covid outbreak in two years.

 

Amazon Shareholders Should Reject CEO Pay Package, Advisers Say

Matt Day, Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc. shareholders should vote to reject the pay packages of Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy and other top leaders, two influential investor advisory firms recommended, citing massive stock grants executives are set to receive regardless of how well the company performs in the coming years.

 

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai on inflation, investing in growth and free speech on the internet

Jordan Novet, CNBC

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that while consumers are putting the Covid pandemic in the rearview mirror, the economy is clearly a growing concern for the company and the broader market.

 

Samsung in Talks to Hike Chipmaking Prices by Up to 20%

Sohee Kim, Bloomberg

Samsung Electronics Co. is talking with foundry clients about charging as much as 20% more for making semiconductors this year, joining an industry-wide push to hike prices to cover rising costs of materials and logistics.

 
Antitrust and Competition
 

Democrats split on Big Tech measures in Congress

Fadel Allassan, Axios

Lawmakers could consider a slate of antitrust legislation in Congress ahead of the 2022 midterms. But conversations with Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) at an Axios event Thursday signaled disagreement even among Democrats on the impact of those bills.

 

EU Parliamentarian Welcomes Tech Antitrust Push in Congress

Leah Nylen, Bloomberg

The European Union lawmaker behind the bloc’s new gatekeeper rules for digital platforms endorsed US congressional efforts to rein in the largest technology companies, saying regulators can be more effective by acting together.

 
Artificial Intelligence/Automation
 

AI Hiring Tools Can Violate Disability Protections, Government Warns

Richard Vanderford, The Wall Street Journal

Employers that use artificial intelligence to assess workers and job seekers need to be careful to comply with laws protecting disabled people, two U.S. federal agencies said, expressing skepticism about a technology that many businesses have tapped amid widespread labor shortages.

 
Telecom, Wireless and Internet Access
 

Rural ISPs catch a break as FCC decides not to slash USF support

Diana Goovaerts, Fierce Telecom

Rural broadband providers breathed a sigh of relief this week, after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it would waive steep cuts to Universal Service Fund (USF) support which were set to take effect in July.

 
Mobile Technology
 

Airbnb unveils new way to book longer stays ahead of summer travel season

Catherine Thorbecke, CNN

Airbnb on Wednesday announced new ways to search for and book homes on the platform in response to the rise of remote work and the number of customers choosing longer stays.

 

SoftBank-Backed Messaging App IRL Says It Has 20 Million Users. Some Employees Have Doubts About That

Mark Matousek and Amir Efrati, The Information

IRL, a four year old social app, appears to be a fast-growing alternative to Facebook and messaging app Discord. It enables young people to chat in groups about shared interests, such as book clubs and sports, and to plan real-world events around those interests.

 

Conservative parents take aim at library apps meant to expand access to books

David Ingram, NBC News

Campaigns that started with criticizing school board members and librarians have turned their attention to tech companies such as OverDrive and Epic, which operated for years without drawing much controversy.

 

Mark Zuckerberg shows off Meta’s next headset (kind of)

Lucas Matney, TechCrunch

Mark Zuckerberg took to his personal Facebook page today to show off a demo of the company’s unreleased “high-end” VR headset.

 
Cybersecurity and Privacy
 

F.B.I. Told Israel It Wanted Pegasus Hacking Tool for Investigations

Mark Mazzetti and Ronen Bergman, The New York Times

The F.B.I. informed the Israeli government in a 2018 letter that it had purchased Pegasus, the notorious hacking tool, to collect data from mobile phones to aid ongoing investigations, the clearest documentary evidence to date that the bureau weighed using the spyware as a tool of law enforcement.

 

Ukrainian cybercriminal sentenced to 4 years in U.S. prison for credential theft scheme

AJ Vicens, CyberScoop

A Ukrainian man convicted in February of trafficking in stolen username and password credentials was sentenced to four years in federal prison Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.

 

U.S. cities are backing off banning facial recognition as crime rises

Paresh Dave, Reuters

Facial recognition is making a comeback in the United States as bans to thwart the technology and curb racial bias in policing come under threat amid a surge in crime and increased lobbying from developers.

 

Texas man gets 5 years for stealing 38,000 PayPal account credentials

Suzanne Smalley, CyberScoop

A Texas man whom federal prosecutors say bought 38,000 compromised PayPal account credentials from an illegal online marketplace and used them to steal from the true account owners was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday, the Justice Department said.

 

US signs multilateral treaty to combat cybercrime

Ines Kagubare, The Hill

The U.S. on Thursday signed the Second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention, a multilateral treaty aimed to protect citizens from cybercrime and hold cybercriminals accountable.

 

Anonymous Social Media App Yik Yak Exposed Users’ Precise Locations

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

Privacy researchers have found that it’s possible to find out the precise location of Yik Yak posts, potentially exposing users to doxing or stalking.

 
Social Media and Content Moderation
 

Facebook Promised to Remove “Sensitive” Ads. Here’s What It Left Behind

Angie Waller and Colin Lecher, The Markup

Facebook pledged to remove race, health conditions, and political affiliation from ad-targeting options, but The Markup found advertisers can still easily target the same people.

 

U.S. groups urge social media companies to fight ‘Big Lie,” election disinformation

Doina Chiacu, Reuters

Social media companies including Facebook, Twitter , YouTube and TikTok must act now to blunt the effect of false information – including Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that his 2020 defeat was the result of fraud – in this year’s U.S. midterm congressional elections, rights groups said on Thursday.

 

Tech groups plan to ask SCOTUS to toss the Texas social media ruling

Issie Lapowsky, Protocol

Tech groups fighting Texas’s social media “censorship” law may file an emergency application with the Supreme Court as early as Friday, according to two sources familiar with the case.

 

Democrats warn potential Trump return to Twitter could foment more violence

Mike Lillis, The Hill

Democrats on Capitol Hill are sounding alarms this week over the possibility that Donald Trump could return to Twitter, warning that providing the former president with such a powerful megaphone could lead to violence on par with last year’s Capitol riot.

 

How Twitter lost the celebs

Taylor Lorenz et al., The Washington Post

Elon Musk was right that Twitter’s most popular accounts have gone quieter over the years. Hollywood insiders explain what happened — and why Musk’s ownership might only make it worse.

 

Prince Harry helping launch Global Child Online Safety Toolkit

Judy Kurtz, The Hill

Prince Harry, the duke of Sussex, is helping to launch an online safety toolkit aimed at children.

 

Congratulations, Elon Musk! Trump is your problem now.

Rebecca Kern, Politico

Donald Trump’s potential return to Twitter could bring a whole new minefield for Elon Musk to navigate.

 

A mother is suing TikTok because she says her daughter died from a choking challenge that was allegedly recommended by its algorithm

Weilun Soon, Insider

A Pennsylvania mother is suing TikTok and its parent company ByteDance for allegedly recommending a choking challenge to her daughter. The 10-year-old girl died after taking part in the deadly dare.

 
Tech Workforce
 

Apple Extols Its Benefits to Retail Staff as It Faces Union Push

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc., confronting unionization efforts at several of its stores, has begun holding meetings with employees and posting notices that extol the company’s benefits.

 

Salesforce tells employees worried about abortion access that it will help them relocate

Jordan Novet, CNBC

Salesforce told employees in a Slack message on Thursday that the company will help them relocate if they’re worried about access to abortions or other medical procedures following an expected ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that would strike down Roe v. Wade.

 

Ex-Meta Executive David Marcus Forms Company Focused on Bitcoin

Kurt Wagner and Hannah Miller, Bloomberg

Former Meta Platforms Inc. executive David Marcus, who spearheaded the social giant’s digital currency efforts before departing last year, is launching a new company focused on building technology to promote Bitcoin.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

America’s sorely needed internet declaration is far from redundant

Ya’ara Barnoon, The Hill

After a somewhat fractious process, the United States launched the Declaration for the Future of the Internet last week with over 60 global partners. The signatories recommitted to an internet that is “open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure.”

 
Morning Consult