January 6 panel sheds light on Twitter’s role in the insurgency

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January 6 panel sheds light on Twitter’s role in the insurgency

For weeks, lawmakers investigating the Jan. 6 uprising have focused on the multi-pronged campaign led by the former president. donald trump and its allies to nullify the 2020 election. But for the first time on Tuesday, their public hearings largely veered away from the role social media companies may have played in the attack on the Capitol.

Members of the House select committee cited tweets from Trump that prompted supporters who stormed the Capitol and testimony from a former Twitter employee who said their internal warnings about the potential for violence were largely ignored.

“The creation of the internet and social media has given today’s tyrants tools for propaganda and disinformation that yesterday’s despots could only have dreamed of.” Representative Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) said in his opening remarks at the seventh panel hearing.

The session offered the first public window into witness statements the panel obtained from social media staffers and may provide insight into other damaging testimony the committee will present later.

The former staffer, whose voice and identity were withheld by the committee, said they believed Twitter had been easy on Trump for years because he “appreciated” the “power” of be his favorite platform.

“If former President Donald Trump was another Twitter user, he would have been permanently suspended a very long time ago,” the witness said in pre-recorded testimony.

Twitter permanently suspended Trump two days after the uprising, citing fears he could incite further violence in the real world.

But for years the platform has come under fire for its handling of its account, including a policy allowing certain tweets from world leaders that would otherwise break its rules.

Raskin said the former staffer testified that Twitter was “considering adopting a stricter content moderation policy” after Trump told extremist group Proud Boys to “stand back and be ready” during of a presidential debate – but ultimately opted against it.

“My concern was that the former president, for the first time apparently, was speaking directly to extremist organizations and giving them directives,” the witness said. “We had never seen this kind of direct communication before and it worried me.”

Jessica Herrera-FlaniganTwitter’s vice president of public policy for the Americas, said in a statement that the company was “clear about our role in the broader news ecosystem” regarding the Jan. 6 attack, but that it “had taken unprecedented measures and invested considerable sums”. resources to prepare for and respond to threats that have emerged” in the 2020 elections.

Twitter has rolled out “numerous policy and product interventions to protect the public conversation,” including declaring the Proud Boys a violent extremist group in 2018 and permanently suspending accounts linked to the group and the Jan. 6 attack, a- she declared.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida) said the panel learned that, the day before the insurgency, “there were serious concerns on Twitter about the planned violence.”

“For months I had been pleading, anticipating and trying to make it clear that … if we didn’t intervene in what I saw happening, people were going to die,” the ex-employee said.

They added: “On January 5, I realized that no intervention was coming.”

“Today’s shocking whistleblower testimony confirms what many of us have known for years: Big Tech has repeatedly failed to contain calls for violence on their platforms,” ​​said Nora Benavidezsenior attorney and director of digital justice and civil rights for advocacy group Free Press.

While previous hearings have touched on Trump’s tweets, none have spent much time on how social media companies’ content decisions factored into the attack.

The evidence is likely only a fraction of the testimony the panel obtained about how social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, shaped January 6.

The committee subpoenaed major social media platforms for a slew of documents related to their policies and handling of content related to Trump’s attempts to nullify the election. The panel also called on experts to research the role of social media in the attack, as we reported.

But little has been revealed about the committee’s plans for this information – so far.

Twitter is suing Elon Musk, kicking off an epic court battle

The lawsuit, which seeks to force the billionaire to fulfill his promise to buy the company for $44 billion, marks the ‘first legal volley in what is expected to be one of the most high-profile business lawsuits in recent history’ , my colleagues Elizabeth Dwoskin and Rachel Leman report.

“Having staged a public spectacle to put Twitter on the line, and having proposed and then signed a seller-friendly merger agreement, Musk apparently believes that he – unlike all other parties subject to Delaware contract law – is free to change of opinion, dump the company, disrupt its operations, destroy shareholder value and walk away,” the company wrote in its complaint.

“Experts said they expect months of agonizing legal drama to unfold in the Delaware Court of Chancery, a small clubby court that decides the outcome of some of the biggest business wrangles in the United States. “, wrote my colleagues. “The process will likely subject Twitter to a grueling level of public scrutiny, forcing the platform to open its books and expose internal deliberations in ways that could further damage its stock price and reputation.”

The FTC’s rankings dropped in an annual survey of workers during Khan’s first year.

The agency has long advertised that it ranks at the top of medium-sized government agencies, my colleague Cat Zakrzewski reports. But in the latest ranking, the Federal Trade Commission dipped to 22 on the list.

The notes were published as president Lina Khan concludes his first year in office, which has been hampered by limited resources and an ever-expanding political agenda. Its ability to deliver on its grand promises to transform technology regulation and improve the agency depends on the morale of its staff.

“I can’t think of a manager on the planet who wouldn’t be worried about that kind of return,” said William E. Kovacic, former Republican Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. “You need the willing and committed support of your people, otherwise you can’t do the bold things you want to do.”

Khan described steps she was taking to strengthen communication and feedback within the agency, and embarked on a listening tour with staff members. She also encourages staff to submit anonymous suggestions.

Federal court strikes down FCC rules on foreign broadcast sponsors

A federal court has thrown out Federal Communications Commission rules requiring broadcasters to check whether a foreign government has paid a station to air material, Reuters’ David Shepardson reports.

“The FCC cannot require broadcasters to check federal sources to verify the identity of sponsors,” Judge justin walker of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia wrote for the three-judge panel.

The National Association of Broadcasters trade group challenged FCC rules requiring broadcasters to independently verify sponsors, arguing they placed an “onerous” burden on broadcasters. In response to the ruling, FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement on Tuesday: “Consumers deserve to believe that the public airwaves are not unknowingly leased to foreign private actors.”

Rosenworcel told The Technology 202 in March that the dispute had “taken on new significance” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which raised scrutiny from social media platforms, streaming platforms and broadcast networks broadcasting Russian propaganda.

Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk was filled with memes the mercurial billionaire posted about the legal saga.

The edge Alex Heath:

CNBC Contributor Alex Kantrowitzwho earlier predicted that Twitter would submit a poo emoji Musk tweeted as evidence:

The edge Adi Robertson:

Treasury Department wants to hear your thoughts on crypto (protocol)

Intel: We will delay Ohio factory without federal funds (Axios)

Amazon gave Ring videos to police without permission from owners (Politico)

Hunter Biden phone hack claims misinformation policies of testing platforms (The Verge)

Elon Musk’s effort to end Twitter deal puts pressure on CFO (Wall Street Journal)

Elon Musk’s Twitter battle ignites right-wing online agitators (The Verge)

Companies want DOJ’s Apple investigation to speed up (Axios)

Microsoft goes on the offensive in Europe to tackle cloud issues (Wall Street Journal)

Amazon issued 13,000 disciplinary notices at a single US warehouse (Reuters)

NASA unveils first images from the James Webb Space Telescope (The Washington Post)

  • Representative John Curtis (R-Utah) and executives from Amazon and Google speak at an event hosted by the Information Technology Industry Council at 11 a.m. today.
  • Consumer advocates discuss EU Digital Markets Law and the Digital Services Act at an event Thursday at 9am
  • Assistant Secretary of Labor Julie Su discusses technology and the future of work at a Washington Post Live event Thursday at noon.
  • Brian Deesewho heads the White House National Economic Council, discusses the White House Competition Council at an Aspen Institute event Thursday at 3 p.m.
  • Federal Trade Commissioner Noah Phillipsa Republican, speaks at an American Enterprise Institute event on the Consumer Wellness Standard Monday at 1:30 p.m.
  • Patreon CEO Jack Conte discusses the creator economy at a Washington Post Live event Monday at 4 p.m.

ThisThat’s all for today — thank you so much for joining us! Be sure to tell others to subscribe to The Technology 202 here. Get in touch with advice, comments or greetings on Twitter Where E-mail.

Robert M. Larson