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Don’t trust the internet

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People on phones

Good morning! This Friday, social networks are struggling to fight misinformation, Epic is gleefully fighting against the App Store and Uber can't wait to fight for the gig economy some more.

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The Big Story

The misinfo starts at the top

Election night was only the beginning. The worst (so far) of the misinformation, vitriol and outright lies came last night, as Biden edged closer to a potential victory.

Figuring out what to do is like a half-hearted Philosophy 201 thought experiment: What do you do when someone is telling obvious lies, but that person is the president of the United States? If someone's lying, is it more productive to repeat the lie so you can explain the truth or simply hope nobody heard it?

The content that tech companies said they were ready and able to stop is proving basically unstoppable. And there's one specific problem: It's not just coming from bots or state actors (though there's plenty of that). In many cases it's starting with the president himself.

  • A number of groups called for Twitter to suspend Trump's account, which is never, ever going to happen. Still, Trump's timeline is filled with hidden and labeled tweets. A lot of people say those labels are censorship and unacceptable.
  • A Facebook group called "Stop The Steal 2020" got more than 300,000 members before Facebook shut it down. Of course, now there's "Stop The Steel" and "Stop The Stealv2" and countless others for the same purpose.
  • TikTok has been chasing down false videos all week, but many of them are reaching hundreds of thousands of people before they're removed.
  • YouTube has demonetized a lot of videos and attached a "results may not be final" message to others, but conspiracies and lies are absolutely everywhere on the platform right now. Trump's spreading some of them himself, through clips of his speech from last night.
  • Even Mailchimp has been brought into the fray, being forced to shut down Steve Bannon's account on its service. His YouTube channel stayed up, though, despite the company removing one of his videos because it violated its policy
    against "inciting violence."

This whole year has been a test of how information moves online, and whether it's even possible to make it work properly. Now, as things get wilder post-election, Facebook is reportedly taking new steps to slow down misinformation, adding the same kind of extra-click friction that Twitter's been experimenting with. Facebook and TikTok are both blocking certain hashtags, like #stopthesteal, where people are finding this content.

All the platforms have framed the actions as temporary, but it's hard to imagine a world in which these "emergency measures" aren't necessary. The whole internet feels like an emergency right now.

Streaming

Fortnite bets on browsers

You have to hand it to Epic: Its legal battle with Apple may not work, but it's dominating the troll wars. Most recently, the company seems to have found a way to get Fortnite back on the iPhone: by adding it to Nvidia's GeForce lineup.

  • GeForce is one of the several gaming services that are working on ways to stream games on iOS through Safari, the BBC reported, or eventually any browser that supports WebRTC.
  • The Safari-capable service isn't live yet, but the BBC said it's likely to launch before the holidays.

Cloud gaming still looks like a make-or-break moment for Apple, and one in which it has few easy answers. If it kicks a bunch of very popular cloud gaming companies out of the App Store, but allows them to stream through Safari, what's Apple really accomplishing? On the other hand, Apple blocking specific websites through Safari would be a disastrous decision.

Epic's probably going to want to put Fortnite in every cloud-gaming service over time, given that its business model puts a heavy incentive on just getting the game in front of as many people as possible. And the company's going to try and prove to itself and other developers that you don't need the App Store to work well on the iPhone. If it can do that, Apple's in trouble.

People Are Talking

A Biden presidency would be a win for electric vehicles, Volkswagen's Herbert Diess said:

  • "A Democrat program would be more aligned with our worldwide strategy to fight climate change to go electric."

Emboldened by Prop 22, gig-work companies are planning to take the fight elsewhere, Uber's Dara Khosrowshahi said:

  • "We were the first to come forward with this [independent contractor]-plus model, the idea that drivers deserve flexibility plus benefits. We want to have a dialogue with governments [in] other states."

NASA has concerns about a startup putting satellites into orbit, but AST & Science's Abel Avellan said that's unfair:

  • "We're not a bunch of cowboys launching satellites. This is a serious, well-funded project."

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Making Moves

Andrew Low Ah Kee is the new president of Opendoor. He was previously COO at GoDaddy.

Reddit made two big promotions this week: Roxy Young is the company's new (and first) chief marketing officer and Nellie Peshkov is its new (and first) chief people officer.

Skydio hired several new executives: Roy Goldman to run product management, Ryan Reading to run software engineering, and Mike Ross to be senior director of product management.

Miles Taylor, "Anonymous" himself, is no longer a Google employee. He'd been on leave since August.

In Other News

  • Facebook has a metric for "violence and incitement trends," and it's rising. That's according to a BuzzFeed report, which says the internal metric has risen 45% since Oct. 31.
  • The DOJ wants to block Visa's Plaid acquisition. The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging that the $5.3 billion deal would limit competition.
  • Your company's taxes might be about to rise. San Francisco voters approved a new measure that requires companies whose executives earn 100 times more than the average worker to pay more business tax.
  • ByteDance is considering raising $2 billion at a $180 billion valuation, Bloomberg reports, with Sequoia reportedly in talks to invest. Meanwhile, competitor Kuaishou filed for an IPO in Hong Kong.
  • India said no single app can process more than 30% of UPI payments in a month. That could stifle Google and Walmart, which currently process around 40% of those transactions each. Meanwhile, WhatsApp Pay started to roll out across the country after finally receiving approval.
  • That giant Bitcoin movement the other day? It was a DOJ seizure. Authorities say the money was linked to Silk Road.

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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