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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.

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Russell BrandomSep 26
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?


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Russell BrandomSep 26
Edward Snowden has been granted Russian citizenship.

The NSA whistleblower has been living in Russia for the 9 years — first as a refugee, then on a series of temporary residency permits. He applied for Russian citizenship in November 2020, but has said he won’t renounce his status as a U.S. citizen.


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Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.


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The Verge
Richard LawlerSep 26
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.


Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther WangSep 26
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TikTok
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.