Nov 29, 2017

FCC chair keeps up assault on social media

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai earlier this year. Photo: Robin Groulx/Axios

Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is doubling down on his critique of tech companies, asking whether social media is "a net benefit to American society" in remarks at the Media Institute on Wednesday. "Now, I will tell you upfront that I don't have an answer."

The bigger picture: Pai is taking on Silicon Valley giants as he tries to repeal net neutrality rules. Yesterday, Pai said web platforms are more of a threat to free speech than the internet service providers. Today he's arguing they are responsible for polarizing Americans politically and alienating them personally.

What he said: Pai made the case that social media has been key to the politicization of many aspects of American life. "Everything nowadays is political. Everything. … This view that politics-is-all is often made worse by social media," he said, per his prepared remarks.

And he argued it's caused people to lose their roots in the real world. "In a way, one could say that 'social media' is perhaps the most inapt phrase ever coined," he said. "It allows us to stay in touch while keeping a distance. It has sped the breakdown in human interaction."

Go deeper: Our reporting on Pai's comments on Tuesday, and Silicon Valley's response.

Go deeper

What the U.S. can learn from other countries in the coronavirus fight

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Note: Cases are shown on a logarithmic scale; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The countries that have most successfully fended off the novel coronavirus have mainly done it with a combination of new technology and old-school principles.

Why it matters: There's a lot the U.S. can learn from the way other countries have handled this global pandemic — although we may not be able to apply those lessons as quickly as we'd like.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 640,589 — Total deaths: 29,848 — Total recoveries: 137,270.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 112,468 — Total deaths: 1,841 — Total recoveries: 918.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. He signed a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to give businesses and U.S. workers economic relief.
  4. State updates: A group of Midwestern swing voters that supported President Trump's handling of the coronavirus less than two weeks ago is balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter. Alaska is latest state to issue stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month. New York moved its presidential primary to June 23, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
  5. World updates: Italy reported 969 coronavirus deaths on Friday, the country's deadliest day. In Spain, over 1,300 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancing.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Trump considers quarantine for states near epicenter of U.S. coronavirus outbreak

President Trump speaks to the press on March 28 in Washington, DC. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump said on Saturday he is considering a "short term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut — areas congruent with the New York metro area, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus in the U.S.

Reality check: These states have already taken steps to quarantine residents and promote social distancing to combat COVID-19. The governors of New York and New Jersey issued statewide stay-at-home orders last week, and non-essential businesses in Connecticut were ordered to close as of this Monday.