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Policy

Tech is reshaping the world — and not always for the better. Whether it’s the rules for Apple’s App Store or Facebook’s plan for fighting misinformation, tech platform policies can have enormous ripple effects on the rest of society. They’re so powerful that, increasingly, companies aren’t setting them alone but sharing the fight with government regulators, civil society groups, and internal standards bodies like Meta’s Oversight Board. The result is an ongoing political struggle over harassment, free speech, copyright, and dozens of other issues, all mediated through some of the largest and most chaotic electronic spaces the world has ever seen.

Featured stories

Netflix drops lawsuit against The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’s creators

The streamer sued Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear for copyright infringement in July, claiming the pair “stretches ‘fan fiction’ well past its breaking point”

Emma RothSep 24

San Francisco police can now watch private surveillance cameras in real time

The city’s board of supervisors voted to approve the controversial measure, which was opposed by the EFF and the ACLU

Corin FaifeSep 23
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Richard LawlerSep 22
TikTok politics.

Ahead of the midterm elections, TikTok made big changes to its rules for politicians and political fundraising on the platform, as Makena Kelly explains... on TikTok.


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Richard LawlerSep 22
The Twitter employee who testified about Trump and the January 6th attack has come forward.

This summer, a former Twitter employee who worked on platform and content moderation policies testified anonymously before the congressional committee investigating the violence at the US Capitol on January 6th.

While she remains under NDA and much of her testimony is still sealed,  Anika Collier Navaroli has identified herself, explaining a little about why she’s telling Congress her story of what happened inside Twitter — both before the attack, and after, when it banned Donald Trump.


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Russell BrandomSep 22
The latest Alex Jones defamation hearing is not going well for Alex Jones.

The Infowars host has already been hit with millions of dollars in damages for spreading lies about Sandy Hook — but today’s hearing suggests he could be on the hook for even more.


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Adi RobertsonSep 22
Congress is trying to make Google pay news outlets for links again.

The controversial Journalism Competition and Preservation Act — which would let news publishers negotiate payments for being linked by sites like Google — suffered a setback earlier this month thanks to a surprise Ted Cruz amendment trying to limit the platforms’ moderation options. After some negotiations between Cruz and sponsor Amy Klobuchar, it’s back for markup today, and it’s got critics even more worried than before.


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Jay PetersSep 21
Twitter has disclosed yet another security issue.

In some instances, accounts would remain logged in on mobile after a user voluntarily reset their password, according to a blog post. It’s not a great look for a company already under significant scrutiny for its security practices following explosive allegations from its former head of security.


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Sarah JeongSep 21
The real victims of Facebook catfish scams are the scammers, who have been human trafficked into scamming as a job.

Extraordinary investigative work from Cambodian news outlet VOD, interviewing Indonesian migrant workers who were allegedly brought to Cambodia and set to work as pretend beautiful women who would like you to invest in their cryptocurrency platform.

The workers say they lived and worked in the same building, and that their personal phones were taken away; one said he was beaten and tased for a mistake. The workers were rescued after one of their siblings saw a “TikTok describing forced labor and detention” that made him suspicious of his sister’s working conditions — he eventually sought out an NGO that intervened.


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The collapse of Three Arrows Capital has not put a dent in unsecured crypto lending.

And because crypto is a relatively “concentrated ecosystem,” there are systemic risks, S&P analyst Alex Birry tells Reuters. Which means the domino effect we saw this summer? That could absolutely happen again.


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Sarah JeongSep 21
Is it just me or are right-wing extremists a little too into Tolkien?

The obvious example is Peter Thiel naming his surveillance company Palantir (after an unspeakably evil scrying artifact that irreversibly corrupts its users?) but once you notice one profile of an alt-right or extremist figure mentioning how much they love Lord of the Rings, you start seeing it everywhere — including the footnotes of specious lawsuits attempting to undermine the 2020 election.

Anyways, you should read this, about an ascendant hard-right politician in Italy, whose politics are intertwined with high fantasy fandom in a way that will be unsettling to nerds of good conscience. And if you want to read more about Italy’s neo-fascist Camp Hobbit youth rallies in the 1970s, Atlas Obscura has you covered.


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Russell BrandomSep 21
Republicans are not wild about antitrust enforcement.

The US government’s two biggest antitrust regulators — FTC chair Lina Khan and Justice Department antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter — appeared for a Senate Oversight hearing on Tuesday, and there were two quick takeaways:

1) Republicans still are eager to notch some kind of win against Khan and the Democratic FTC majority

2) They don’t really know how to do it yet.

Expect a lot of fireworks here if Republicans take back the Senate majority in November.


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Mitchell ClarkSep 21
“You think Big Brother is watching you on the subways? You’re absolutely right.”

New York City is planning on adding two surveillance cameras to its subway cars, around 13,000 in total. The Gothamist pointed out governor Kathy Hochul’s (frankly incredible) remarks about the move.

She said the similarity to 1984’s Big Brother is intentional. “If you’re concerned about this, best answer is don’t commit any crimes on the subways.”


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Signal, the encrypted messaging app, gets free promotion from Twitter’s lawyers.

Last year, Elon Musk tweeted “Use Signal,” leading to a spike in new users. Twitter’s lawyers said in a footnote in a previous filing that Musk had been messaging with investor Marc Andreessen of a16z on Signal about a Twitter investment. The problem for Twitter’s discovery process is that Signal messages can be set to auto-delete; Musk’s lawyers maintain he doesn’t ordinarily use Signal for business. Now, there’s a sealed motion that.... contains Musk’s Signal tweet. 👀


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Mitchell ClarkSep 20
More testimony on how working at Tesla is a nightmare for women.

Rolling Stone interviewed five women involved in the several sexual harassment lawsuits against the automaker.

Hearing them describe how they were treated, and how Tesla failed to defend them (and sometimes actively punished them) is difficult.


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Mitchell ClarkSep 20
It sounds like the DOJ isn’t happy with the Apple v. Epic ruling

According to TechCrunch, the Department of Justice will be allowed to argue its concerns about the original ruling during the appeal trial.

The DOJ is worried the decision as it stands could make future antitrust cases more difficult — which is especially important considering reports that it’s working on its own antitrust action against Apple.


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My “I’m not on the run” t-shirt is raising questions answered by my t-shirt.

South Korean authorities have requested that Interpol tell international authorities to arrest Do Kwon, the co-founder of the company behind the Terra/Luna cryptocurrency debacle, The Financial Times reports. Kwon tweeted this weekend that he is not on the run, actually, and authorities are just mad that he tweeted that their size is not size. Posters gonna post, I guess.


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Russell BrandomSep 19
Your bitcoin chart of the day.

This great chart from Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal shows tech stocks following the price of major cryptocurrencies. Basically, when Bitcoin has a bad week, it takes the whole industry down with it.


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Emma RothSep 18
Collapsed crypto co-founder Do Kwon insists he’s “not on the run.”

South Korean authorities issued a warrant for Kwon’s arrest after the fall of his company’s Terra stablecoin wiped out $60 billion in funds. Kwon was initially thought to be somewhere in Singapore, but now local police can’t find him. On Twitter, Kwon maintains that he’s not running from the police and says he’s willing to cooperate.

I am not “on the run” or anything similar - for any government agency that has shown interest to communicate, we are in full cooperation and we don’t have anything to hide.

South Korean prosecutors aren’t buying it and said in response that Kwon is “obviously on the run.”


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Nilay PatelSep 17
The Fifth Circuit really blew up the First Amendment by upholding the Texas social media law.

The law still isn’t in effect, but the court’s opinion sets up a Supreme Court battle over the future of content moderation and the First Amendment. Mike Masnick has a good (if wonky) breakdown up already. It’s… well, it’s one of the dumbest First Amendment opinions in a long time.

The fact that Oldham claims, that “the Platforms are no different than Verizon or AT&T” makes me question how anyone could take anything in this ruling seriously.