First in MT: survey sheds light on broadband inequalities
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– Public support: A new survey first provided to MT reflects the state of broadband access in the United States as Congress debates providing $ 65 million to bridge the digital divide.
– Remember El Paso: Two years after a mass shooting in Texas sparked a debate over how social media platforms should deal with extremists online, many are still grappling with what to do.
– Platform or publisher? Twitter’s partnership with AP and Reuters marks a new chapter in the collaboration between social media platforms and news editors.
IT’S TUESDAY AND MY INBOX IS FULL OF OUT-OF-OFFICE MESSAGES. WELCOME TO TECH MORNING. Please take the time to read this classic New York Times article titled “If Only Laws Were Like Sausages.” An instructive point for this week of infrastructures.
BROADBAND RESULTS ARE IN – A Consumer Reports survey released today gives new insight into what Americans think about their Internet access, just as Congress prepares its massive infrastructure package. The survey finds that nearly 50% of Americans with broadband in their homes are unhappy with the price they pay (shocking, we know) – and shows that about 75% of Americans support municipal or community broadband “because it would ensure that broadband access is treated like other vital infrastructure such as highways, bridges, water supply systems and power grids, allowing all Americans to have one. equal access.
President Joe Biden initially promised that its infrastructure plan would focus on strengthening municipal broadband networks, supporting smaller competitors of telecom giants. But the final version of the infrastructure package does not focus on municipal broadband, and it is unclear exactly how the money will be distributed. The bill sets aside $ 42.5 billion for a new broadband equity, access and deployment program, which will be allocated in each state, as well as $ 14.2 billion for a broadband benefits program. affordable connectivity and a $ 250 million grant program to help states fund digital inclusion efforts.
What the numbers show – Consumer Reports conducted its survey in June, collecting responses from 2,565 adults. According to the survey, 32% of Americans without broadband internet service say it’s because it costs too much, while a quarter say it’s because broadband isn’t available where they live. .
The survey also reinforces Democrats’ emphasis on racial disparities in broadband access. A greater percentage of black and Hispanic Americans than white Americans say it is “quite” or “very” difficult to pay their monthly Internet fees. “This investigation reinforces what we already suspected: Getting millions of Americans online is too expensive and, in many cases, the service is inadequate,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy adviser at Consumer Reports.
2 YEARS SINCE EL PASO – On August 3, 2019, a gunman killed 23 people, most of them Mexican nationals and Latin Americans, and injured 23 others at a Walmart in El Paso. The tragedy has drawn new attention to the role of major and fringe social media networks in spreading white supremacist ideologies, after the shooter was linked to hateful internet communities and said he was radicalized against them. immigrants online.
Two years later, social media platforms continue to question how – and how aggressively – to eliminate and contain the dissemination of extremist content. Many platforms have new moderation policies in place, but experts and lawmakers say they still have a long way to go.
– On the fringe: The anonymous 8chan bulletin board, which the El Paso shooter allegedly used to post a manifesto for white supremacy just before the shooting, is gone (at least in its original form). But small, usually unmoderated “free speech” platforms continued to emerge – and continued to attract extremists. For example, GETTR, the pro-Trump social network launched last month, has been inundated with propaganda disseminated by supporters of the Islamic State, report Mark Scott and Tina Ngyuen of POLITICO. The site is also chock-full of content promoting the Proud Boys, a white nationalist group, as well as posts from more mainstream conservative influencers such as Fox News host Sean Hannity and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The platform presents itself as a sanctuary of “censorship” by the big tech platforms.
– In the mainstream:: Meanwhile, just last week, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a coalition that counts Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft as members, announced a new initiative to crack down on white supremacist and terrorist groups. far right.
Ivy Choi, spokesperson for YouTube, said that since 2019, the video-sharing site has “further refined our systems and strengthened our policies, and as a result, the channels of many prominent extremist figures have been removed from YouTube. “. Choi said YouTube removed more than 11,000 channels and 82,000 videos for violating YouTube’s violent extremism policy in the first quarter of this year.
Facebook, meanwhile, has banned more than 250 white supremacist organizations from its platform, a Facebook spokesperson said on Monday. And he identified more than 890 groups as militarized social movements, the company said in a blog post in January. These groups are prohibited from maintaining Facebook pages and groups, as well as Instagram accounts.
But these same companies have been accused of allowing hate messages to spread as recently as this week. New research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Tiktok failed to delete 84% of the anti-Semitic messages reported to them.
– Role of the Congress: Representative Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), speaking at an event organized by the League of Latin American Citizens United on El Paso and disinformation on social media, said that these tech platforms “n ‘have not yet been properly regulated or controlled, either by their business owners or unfortunately by Congress.
She praised the House Judiciary Committee work on antitrust law, but added, “This is not happening fast enough and we do not yet have enough support to push for laws that will protect social media communities. I hope we can gain momentum.
RAISE THE CONVERSATION – Twitter has gotten into trouble more than a few times over the past year because of its “trending topics” feature, which critics say can be manipulated to amplify misinformation and fuel controversy. So, on Monday, the company announced a new partnership with Associated Press and Reuters to help elevate more accurate information on its platform. AP and Reuters will help write descriptions on Twitter’s trending topics and insert factual context into the midst of “developing discourse,” according to the announcement.
The AP and Reuters are also fact-checking partners with Facebook, but Twitter’s new partnership seems more practical. This could be a timely move for Twitter, which, along with Facebook, has continued to face scrutiny over its role in spreading disinformation about Covid-19.
– Social media vs news editors: The partnership will also provide a new frontier in the love-hate relationship between social media platforms and news publishers. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google have partnered closely with news organizations at news events, strengthening credible reporting in search results and user feeds. But news publishers are growing anger at social media – especially Google and Facebook – for gobbling up ad dollars without paying media, even as tech companies increasingly rely on them to verify content. on their platforms. Twitter’s announcement, however, takes this dance a step further, allowing AP and Reuters to step in directly when misinformation begins to set in. It remains to be seen whether this will translate into a happy ending for both parties – or what the financial terms of the partnership will be.
Ray johnson, the former operating partner of Bessemer Venture Partners, has been appointed CEO of the Technology Innovation Institute (TII). … Pallavi Guniganti, former legal advisor to FTC commissioner Christine Wilson, is now a senior public policy executive at Amazon. … Former Senior Director of Azure Space at Microsoft Chirag Parikh will act as executive secretary of the National Space Council.
Return of the mask: Facebook and Amazon are demanding masks in their U.S. offices amid the spread of the Delta variant, Protocol reports.
Amazon’s Army of Cameras: Documents obtained by The Information show how Amazon uses high-tech video cameras in its vans to keep an eye on its drivers.
Mark one for crypto: “Last-minute pressure from the cryptocurrency industry to change the language of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was finalized over the weekend has succeeded in reducing some of the scrutiny to which industry participants will face the IRS, “according to The New York Times.
Bessemer’s fight resumes: A federal labor official on Monday recommended that a regional branch of the National Labor Relations Board overturn the results of an unsuccessful union election at an Amazon factory in Bessemer, Alabama, after finding that the tech giant interfered and violated workers’ rights. POLITICO’s Rebecca Rainey has more for the pros.
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