November 4, 2022
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol
Hello and welcome to Protocol Policy! Today, I’m dreading the thing you’re dreading too. We’ll get to it, but there will also be Vonage’s settlement with the FTC, China’s tech plans, and Nick Clegg’s very British enjoyment of Musk’s travails.
U.S. election infrastructure is exceedingly secure, and voter fraud here is sorare it’s comparable to your annual chances of getting struck by lightning. Despite this, former President Donald Trump and a long list of allies in the Republican Party have spent the last two years questioning the overall integrity of the U.S. election system. Many of those allies are now candidates themselves, and their coordinated attack on the country’s status as a democracy is not a relic of 2020. Some have already startedrepeating these “Big Lie” charges ahead of next week’s midterms. And the social platforms that help them spread their message haveprepared few measures to stop it.
In short, many of the efforts from companies — including Twitter, Meta, and YouTube — to protect 2022’s elections looka lot like the measures the platforms took in 2020.
But many lies about the security of the whole system and the reliability of the general results still don’t fall under these policies, and such content often slips through moderation nets because it’s not clear what rules apply.
Twitter could be making the problem worse, especially given Elon Musk gutting half the company’s staff in the last 24 hours.
Meta seems to have mostly recycled its 2020 playbook, despite reporting that suggested the company’s three platforms were particularly helpful in supercharging the original Big Lie — focused on Biden’s election — in the leadup to Jan. 6.
Other platforms’ approaches don’t necessarily inspire confidence either.
Many Republicans will win election contests fairly next week. It’s quite possible there’ll be enough of them that they’ll take control in one or both chambers in Congress. There’s real risk, though, that some will seek to overturn legitimate losses — or even that a few Democrats will sense an opening for bad behavior — by fostering doubts about whether the U.S. can still pull off real elections. The social networks seem mostly to be hoping they have the tools to tackle that. It’s not clear they do.— Ben Brody (email | twitter)
The Department of Justice is set to investigate Adobe’s blockbuster $20 billion acquisition of Figma, a direct competitor,according to Politico. The probe is expected to include a merger review as well as an investigation into Adobe’s overall acquisition history.
Ericsson subsidiary Vonage settled with the Federal Trade Commission for $100 million. The agency sued Vonage over allegations the company made it difficult for customers to cancel phone service while also charging termination fees.
The news is out! Join the Financial Technology Association’s inaugural Fintech Summit: Shaping the Future of Finance, produced in partnership with Protocol. Taking place in Washington, D.C., on November 16th, the Summit will examine the most pressing issues in fintech.
Protocol analyzed data from the Chinese Communist Party’s National Congress speeches going back as far as 1992. We found key tech trends in this year’s speech from Xi, including a renewed focus on the environment, a shift in emphasis from poverty alleviation to national security, and a push for economic self-sufficiency.
Protocol’s Climate Team has a preview of the upcoming United Nations Conference of the Parties meeting in Egypt. Christian Kroll, a venture partner at World Fund, told Protocol: “I’m afraid that these big corporations are hijacking the agenda and making it less ambitious. I’ve seen that happen over the last year, and it’s painful to see big companies that could be doing so much more getting away with unambitious sustainability targets, like going carbon neutral by 2050, when it’s way too late.”
TikTok clarified that EU users’ data can be accessed by employees around the world. Ireland’s data watchdog is conducting a study into the export of EU user data to China, The Guardian reports. TikTok says it’s in compliance with EU laws, including one that requires protections for EU citizen data being processed outside the bloc.
The EU might soon require Airbnb to provide basic data on usage,according to Reuters.
Updates from a very chaotic week at Twitter:
12% and 14%: The percentage of their workforce Chime and Stripe plan to lay off, respectively. Chime co-founder and CEO Chris Britt said the layoffs were intended to position the firm for success "regardless of market conditions." Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison wrote that the cost reductions were needed to “adapt ourselves appropriately for the world we’re headed into.”
At the #FTAFintechSummit, we’re gathering the most important players in fintech, from founders to policy experts, regulators, and industry leaders. You’ll get access to discussions on the fintech transformations driving competition, breaking down barriers to financial services, and shaping the future of finance.
Nick Clegg had a message for Elon Musk: “Welcome to the club.” The president of global affairs at Meta was responding to Musk’s assertion that “being attacked by both right & left simultaneously is a good sign.” “You can't keep everybody happy, and certainly [not] in the United States,” Clegg said at Fortune’s CEO Initiative 2022 yesterday. “Half the country thinks that you're taking too much content down; the other half thinks you should take down more.”
Thanks for reading — see you Monday!