FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Affirming the FCC’s authority over social media companies, chair Ajit Pai has launched an official effort to “clarify” how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act applies to them. “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech — but they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he said. President Trump has often called for social media companies to be stripped of Section 230 protections. Continue reading FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

On the heels of a cyberattack on Twitter this summer, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) called for a dedicated regulator to oversee big social media platforms. In a 37-page report, the department described the July 15 attack in which accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others were hacked and used to promote a cryptocurrency scam. Three people have since been charged with posing as employees to launch that attack, which relied on relatively simple tactics. Continue reading New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

Pentagon, FCC Draw Up Rival Plans for Military 5G Spectrum

The Pentagon and the Federal Communications Commission are preparing separate plans for Defense Department-controlled 5G wireless spectrum, both dubbed the Beat China for 5G Act of 2020. The Pentagon would create a military cellular network and lease extra capacity to the private sector. The FCC wants to auction some of the spectrum in late 2021. The Pentagon’s more detailed plan may go public before the November 3 presidential election. The spectrum is currently used for military radar and aviation. Continue reading Pentagon, FCC Draw Up Rival Plans for Military 5G Spectrum

YouTube Users Turn to Established and Indie News Channels

In light of the fact that 26 percent of Americans say they get news on YouTube, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey in January of 12,638 U.S. adults who consumed news on YouTube, asking about their experiences. The Pew study analyzed the news channels consumers watched and the content of videos on these channels, relying on a subset of videos published in December 2019. The study found a news environment on YouTube in which established news organizations and indie news channels “thrive side by side.”

Continue reading YouTube Users Turn to Established and Indie News Channels

Proposed Legislation Would Weaken Shields for Social Media

The Justice Department sent Congress draft legislation to weaken Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, leaving Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms vulnerable to legal action for content posted by users. The proposed changes would create liability for platforms that allow “known criminal content” to remain once they are aware of it. President Trump claims that social media companies are biased against conservatives. The platforms have not been protected against some civil suits. Continue reading Proposed Legislation Would Weaken Shields for Social Media

Twitter Hack Technique Is Being Replicated for Other Attacks

Last month, three alleged hackers were arrested for manipulating Twitter to control 45 accounts of high-profile figures including Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden and Elon Musk. Now, the technique these young malefactors used — dubbed “phone spear phishing” — is being used by so many other bad actors that experts dub it a crime wave. Phone spear phishing, also known as “vishing,” a mashup of “voice phishing,” has been used this last month to attack banks, web hosting companies and cryptocurrency exchanges, said investigators. Continue reading Twitter Hack Technique Is Being Replicated for Other Attacks

California Judge Rules Uber and Lyft Are Violating State Law

In California, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman confirmed Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s decision that Lyft and Uber are violating California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). Schulman paused the injunction for 10 days to allow those companies to appeal his decision. AB5 requires that the two ride-hailing companies reclassify their California drivers as employees, making them eligible for healthcare and overtime among other perks. Due to COVID-19, Uber suffered a 67 percent decline in the June quarter. Continue reading California Judge Rules Uber and Lyft Are Violating State Law

TikTok Counters Critics, Regulators With More Transparency

TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer published an open letter aimed at regulators intent on curbing its reach. After listing some of the app’s accomplishments in its thus-far short term in social media, he focused on charges critics are levying. He admitted that, “with our success comes responsibility and accountability,” but insisted that the company is made up of “responsible and committed members of the American community that follows U.S. laws.” The company has launched an effort to win over critics with increased transparency. Continue reading TikTok Counters Critics, Regulators With More Transparency

Latest Twitter Hack Puts Spotlight on Internal Security Issues

Since 2015, Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and the company board have been warned annually about internal cybersecurity risks. In fact, there are about 1,500 employees plus contractors with the power to make changes in 186 million daily user accounts, and the company had experienced breaches due to internal sources. Then, on July 15, hackers tricked employees to compromise 130 Twitter accounts, including those of Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Elon Musk, stealing data from eight unidentified accounts. Continue reading Latest Twitter Hack Puts Spotlight on Internal Security Issues

Prominent Twitter Accounts Hacked for Cryptocurrency Fraud

On Wednesday, scammers launched one of the most audacious attacks in recent memory, posting messages from the Twitter accounts of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Kanye West, Bill Gates and Elon Musk that if people sent Bitcoin, the famous person would send back double the money. The first attack targeted high-profile cryptocurrency leaders and companies, but soon broadened to include a list of prominent U.S. politicians and entertainment and tech executives. It appears that an internal Twitter account was involved in the attacks, but it has yet to be determined whether an employee was willfully complicit. Continue reading Prominent Twitter Accounts Hacked for Cryptocurrency Fraud

PACT Act Intends to Update Section 230, Protect Consumers

Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) introduced the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, which would hold Internet platforms such as Facebook and Google responsible for hosting illegal content and require them to reveal their moderation practices. The Act would change parts of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that shield such platforms from liability for the content their users post, and is intended to require platforms to quickly remove offending content. Continue reading PACT Act Intends to Update Section 230, Protect Consumers

DOJ Favors Withdrawing Section 230’s Immunity for Big Tech

The Justice Department recommended, in a 25-page report, that lawmakers repeal portions of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which has given website operators broad immunity for what people post on their services. The proposed repeal would take away that immunity, forcing social media platforms and similar sites to be responsible for the videos, words, images posted by their users, while assuring that their moderation is consistent. The DOJ’s recommendation will have to be enacted by Congress. Continue reading DOJ Favors Withdrawing Section 230’s Immunity for Big Tech

New Facebook Feature Provides Option to Avoid Political Ads

Facebook debuted a feature, first to a small group, to allow U.S. users to opt out of seeing political, electoral and social issue ads in Facebook and Instagram feeds. After months of refusing to take action on these ads, even those with lies, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg admitted that, “everyone wants to see politicians held accountable for what they say — and I know many people want us to moderate and remove more of their content.” Facebook also announced its intent to register 4 million new voters in the next few months.

Continue reading New Facebook Feature Provides Option to Avoid Political Ads

New Twitter Policy Aims to Combat Fake Photos and Video

Twitter announced yesterday that it would be more assertive in identifying fake and manipulated content on its platform. Beginning next month, the company plans to add labels or remove tweets that feature such manipulated images and video content. While short of an outright ban, the new policy is meant to address the growing concern of users frustrated by the practice of disinformation spread via social platforms. However, it also highlights the challenges faced by social media companies in regards to balancing freedom of speech, parody and satire, and false or manipulated content. On Monday, YouTube announced its plans to better manage misleading political content on its site. Continue reading New Twitter Policy Aims to Combat Fake Photos and Video

Google Reconsiders Micro-Targeted Ads Ahead of Election

Google is tweaking its policies in advance of the 2020 presidential election. The company has decided to restrict just how minutely political advertisers can target an online audience. While advertisers will still be able to target ads based on age, gender, location and content of the websites that users visited, they will no longer be able to target audiences based on public voter records or political affiliations described as “left-leaning,” “right-leaning” or “independent.” Meanwhile, social giant Facebook is considering a similar move. Continue reading Google Reconsiders Micro-Targeted Ads Ahead of Election

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