February 24, 2022
Photo: Sergei Guneyev\TASS via Getty Images
Good morning! As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, tech platforms come face-to-face with their misinformation problem. Again.
Also, we want to know how you handle meetings! Are you a Calendly fan? A Calendly hater? More info below, but tell us your go-to scheduling tricks and we'll feature the best in our Sunday newsletter.
Tech platforms have had to make a lot of tough calls about content over the years, but what to do about Russian disinformation isn’t usually one of them. Russian propaganda has more or less been fair game for removal ever since the Internet Research Agency ran roughshod over social media giants in the run-up to the 2016 election.
But that calculus is starting to look more complicated. Early this morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced "a special military operation" in Ukraine, which Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called "a full-scale invasion of Ukraine." Now, all those sock-puppet accounts, coordinated networks and misleading videos that tech giants have been routinely removing for years aren’t just violations of some corporate content-moderation policy. They may very well become evidence in what experts warn could be Europe’s largest armed conflict since World War II.
Should all that evidence just disappear? There’s a solid argument to be made that — at least publicly — it should. Russia is actively pushing “false-flag events” as a pretext for the invasion, President Biden said earlier this week.
But there is also a huge cost to taking this content down. That’s a lesson that human rights activists, archivists and judicial organizations have had to learn the hard way before in countries including Syria and Myanmar.
Archivists are now racing to grab whatever they can before it disappears. Earlier this month, blockchain startup Arweave began asking people to collect whatever they could find related to the emerging conflict and commit it to the blockchain, creating a distributed ledger no platform can touch and no government can censor.
Meanwhile, social platforms are once again central to understanding the situation in Ukraine as it unfolds.
As U.S. tech platforms become an increasingly prominent battleground in global conflicts, they face an important question, Brookie said: “How do you mitigate online harms that make war worse for civilians while preserving evidence of human rights abuses and war crimes potentially?”
There’s no set international framework for how to reconcile that tension. But maybe there should be.
— Issie Lapowsky (email | twitter)
This story originally appeared in the Protocol Policy newsletter. Subscribe here to get every issue.
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Microsoft’s Charlie Bell called cyberattacks the “mother of all problems”:
Elon Musk said he’s happy the Justice Department is looking into short sellers:
Two gaming execs at Activision Blizzard are leaving: Chief Creative Officer Sebastian Knutsson and Gaming Division President Humam Sakhnini.
Jeff D'Onofrio is the new CFO at CafeMedia. He was most recently Tumblr’s CEO.
Tom van Gorder is GrammaTech’s new CRO. He was previously a sales exec at Clarabridge.
Jeremy Gray is joining Circle Internet Financial’s legal team. Circle is getting ready to go public via a SPAC.
Twitch is trying to help users get paid more reliably with the Ads Incentive Program, which offers a monthly rate based on the minimum number of hours they must stream.
Google dropped its vaccine mandate for U.S. employees. It's also trying to entice more employees back to the office, bringing back massages, gyms, and some of its classic in-office perks.
Mark Zuckerberg needs better AI for the metaverse to work. He outlined a few AI projects Meta is taking on, including generative AI models that would let people describe the world they want and create elements of it, and another project that aims to translate all the spoken languages.
Meta’s Responsible AI team is also taking a new approach to explain its algorithm. The company created “system cards” that aim to demonstrate how the underlying tech, such as that used to determine Instagram feeds, actually works.
LinkedIn is all in on podcasts. The platform launched a podcast network for professionals to talk about topics ranging from mental health to startup trends.
Zoom finally launched a contact center service, which is meant for current Zoom clients who want to add contact center capabilities but don’t want to look for another vendor.
Grubhub wants to do rapid delivery. The company is working with a quick commerce startup called Buyk to deliver convenience and grocery items in 15 minutes or less.
Crypto firms are pushing for industry-friendly legislation in New York City and the U.S. more broadly. More crypto-related bills have been introduced so far this year than in all of 2021, both in the state and the nation, and crypto firms are throwing lots of money behind them.
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