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Post-election hearing

How Twitter and Facebook think they handled the election

Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg will tell Congress they aced the U.S. election, thank you very much, and please don't over-regulate us.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on Oct. 28.

Both Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg will offer their fullest comments yet about how they'd like to see Section 230 reformed.

Photo: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg are set to testify before Congress. Again. The hearing will be focused on evidence-free allegations that their platforms routinely censor right-wing voices. Again. But this time, the hearing will take place only a few weeks after election night, and it will focus on how the platforms handled their most consequential test since 2016.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's Tuesday hearing, titled "Breaking the News: Censorship, Suppression, and the 2020 Election," will be the third time the tech executives address Congress this year, and it's certain to be rife with political theater.

But it will be important to hear how Dorsey and Zuckerberg, the heads of two of the world's most powerful social networks, reflect on their handling of the 2020 election, especially after their mistakes and negligence in 2016 set off so-called "techlash" in Washington. And those reflections will double as a defense as Republicans and Democrats question their decisions over the last several weeks.

Both Dorsey and Zuckerberg will also offer their fullest comments yet about how they'd like to see Section 230 reformed.

Here are the most important sections of Zuckerberg and Dorsey's prepared remarks.

Mark Zuckerberg

"We partnered with election officials to remove false claims about polling conditions and displayed warnings on more than 150 million pieces of content after review by our independent third-party fact-checkers."

"We strengthened our enforcement against militias, conspiracy networks, and other groups to help prevent them from using our platform to organize violence or civil unrest in the period after the election. We have already removed thousands of these groups from our platform, and we will continue our enforcement during this transitional period."

"Earlier this year, we announced a partnership with a team of independent external academics to conduct objective and empirically grounded research on social media's impact on democracy … We hope that the insights these researchers develop will help advance society's understanding of the intersection of technology and democracy and help Facebook learn how we can better play our part."

"Updating Section 230 is a significant decision, but we support the ideas around transparency and industry collaboration that are being discussed in some of the current bipartisan proposals, and I look forward to a meaningful dialogue about how we might update the law to deal with the problems we face today."

Jack Dorsey

"Knowing that overly burdensome government regulatory schemes are not always nimble nor quick and can have unintended consequences, encourage Congress to work with industry and civil society to build upon Section 230's foundation, whether it be through additions to Section 230, industry-wide self-regulation best practices, or a new legislative framework."

"Approximately 300,000 Tweets have been labeled under our Civic Integrity Policy for content that was disputed and potentially misleading … Approximately 74% of the people who viewed those Tweets saw them after we applied a label or warning message. We saw an estimated 29% decrease in Quote Tweets of these labeled Tweets due in part to a prompt that warned people prior to sharing."

"We … recognize that we can do even more to improve to provide greater algorithmic transparency and fair machine learning. The machine learning teams at Twitter are studying these techniques and developing a roadmap to ensure our present and algorithmic models uphold a high standard when it comes to transparency and fairness."

"We want to be very clear that we do not see our job in this space as done."

App store laws, Microsoft AR and Square buys Tidal

Welcome to this weekend's Source Code podcast.

Cole Burston/Bloomberg

This week on the Source Code podcast: First, an update on Google's user-tracking change. Then, Ben Pimentel joins the show to discuss Square buying Tidal, and what it means for the fintech and music worlds. Later, Emily Birnbaum explains the bill moving through the Arizona legislature that has Google and Apple worried about the future of app stores. And finally, Janko Roettgers discusses Microsoft Mesh, the state of AR and VR headsets, and when we're all going to be doing meetings as holograms.

For more on the topics in this episode:

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Sponsored Content

The future of computing at the edge: an interview with Intel’s Tom Lantzsch

An interview with Tom Lantzsch, SVP and GM, Internet of Things Group at Intel

An interview with Tom Lantzsch

Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corporation

Edge computing had been on the rise in the last 18 months – and accelerated amid the need for new applications to solve challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tom Lantzsch, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corp., thinks there are more innovations to come – and wants technology leaders to think equally about data and the algorithms as critical differentiators.

In his role at Intel, Lantzsch leads the worldwide group of solutions architects across IoT market segments, including retail, banking, hospitality, education, industrial, transportation, smart cities and healthcare. And he's seen first-hand how artificial intelligence run at the edge can have a big impact on customers' success.

Protocol sat down with Lantzsch to talk about the challenges faced by companies seeking to move from the cloud to the edge; some of the surprising ways that Intel has found to help customers and the next big breakthrough in this space.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing with edge computing and IoT?

A few years ago, there was a notion that the edge was going to be a simplistic model, where we were going to have everything connected up into the cloud and all the compute was going to happen in the cloud. At Intel, we had a bit of a contrarian view. We thought much of the interesting compute was going to happen closer to where data was created. And we believed, at that time, that camera technology was going to be the driving force – that just the sheer amount of content that was created would be overwhelming to ship to the cloud – so we'd have to do compute at the edge. A few years later – that hypothesis is in action and we're seeing edge compute happen in a big way.

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Saul Hudson
Saul Hudson has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, especially in understanding and targeting messages in cutting-edge technologies. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, in helping companies to build passionate audiences and accelerate their growth. Hudson has reported from more than 30 countries, from war zones to boardrooms to presidential palaces. He has led multinational, multi-lingual teams and managed operations for hundreds of journalists. Hudson is a Managing Partner at Angle42, a strategic communications consultancy.
Protocol | Policy

Far-right misinformation: Facebook's most engaging news

A new study shows that before and after the election, far-right misinformation pages drew more engagement than all other partisan news.

A new study finds that far right misinformation pulls in more engagement on Facebook than other types of partisan news.

Photo: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

In the months before and after the 2020 election, far-right pages that are known to spread misinformation consistently garnered more engagement on Facebook than any other partisan news, according to a New York University study published Wednesday.

The study looked at Facebook engagement for news sources across the political spectrum between Aug. 10, 2020 and Jan. 11, 2021, and found that on average, far-right pages that regularly trade in misinformation raked in 65% more engagement per follower than other far-right pages that aren't known for spreading misinformation.

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Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.
Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

People

WhatsApp thinks business chat is the future — but it won't be easy

From privacy policy screw-ups to UI questions, can WhatsApp crack the super-app riddle?

WhatsApp Business is trying to wrap shopping around messaging. It's not always easy.

Image: WhatsApp

At some point, WhatsApp was always going to have to make some money. Facebook paid $21.8 billion for the company in 2014, and since then, WhatsApp has grown to more than 2 billion users in more than 180 countries. And while, yes, Facebook's acquisition was in part simply a way to neutralize a competitor, it also knows how to monetize an audience.

The trick, though, would be figuring out how to do that without putting ads into the app. Nobody at WhatsApp ever wanted to do that, including co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton, who reportedly left Facebook after disagreements over ads. More recently, even Mark Zuckerberg has slowed the WhatsApp ad train, with The Information reporting that ads in WhatsApp likely won't come while the company's under so much regulatory scrutiny. So: $21.8 billion, no ads. What to do?

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

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