This is going to shock you, but I am headed to an airport. The good news is it won't keep me out of your inbox. That said, I'm flying cross-country with a 6-year-old, so wish me luck.
1 big thing: Facebook's constitutional moment
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook critics, and outside experts have agreed on one thing over the past year: The social network of 2-billion-plus users is too big for one corporation to govern.
Now Facebook is beginning to zero in on a detailed set of rules for a global mechanism to oversee who gets to say what on its platform, Axios' Scott Rosenberg writes.
The big picture: Last April, Zuckerberg first publicly floated the concept of a content moderation review board that would be "almost like a Supreme Court." In November, he committed to the project, and Facebook recently posted a "draft charter" for the body.
Why it matters: This could be a constitutional moment for the social network, in which Facebook voluntarily hands over a portion of its considerable power to an independent body.
- Facebook is planning months of global workshops and inviting comment from third parties and interest groups to refine the draft.
- It says the board should be operating by year's end.
Between the lines: As a new paper this week by legal scholars Thomas Kadri and Kate Klonick puts it, "Facebook is in the midst of its own kind of Constitutional Convention that could fundamentally alter its nature and the way it governs online speech."
How it works: The draft charter sketches a body with up to 40 "global experts," originally selected by Facebook, paid part-time by the company or by an independent body that it funds.
Where it stands: Facebook says it currently has at least 15,000 people working on moderating content around the world, who apply a set of community standards using rulebooks of hundreds of pages. They often...
- Remove depictions of nudity and violence (except when they're "newsworthy").
- Enforce bans on hate speech, terrorist recruitment, bullying, and other harmful behavior.
- Look for signs of "coordinated inauthentic behavior," like Russian-backed misinformation campaigns during the 2016 U.S. election.
It can be a grueling job, even with automated flagging tools and rudimentary AI-driven systems.
- While the new appeals body won't cut the moderation workload, it could increase public satisfaction with the results, as users see a more transparent and accountable process.
- Facebook will also be able to hand tough choices off to the new board.
Yes, but: Government-by-constitution is hard. Building a framework for a new kind of online legal system is likely to be slow and conflict-ridden.
- The appeals board will offer more recourse than unhappy users have today when their content is removed, but they may not be happy with the final calls.
- Facebook's legal governance structure remains its corporate charter and its shareholders (among whom Zuckerberg controls a voting majority), and any power it gives the new board it could also take back.
Flashback: Facebook tried a short-lived experiment in letting users vote on platform policy beginning in 2009, but gave it up when too few users participated in what many saw as a burden rather than a privilege.
Go deeper: Scott has more here.
2. Love's multimillion dollar scam industry
Last year, people in search of true love were scammed out of $143 million — making love the new, most lucrative target for consumer fraud, according to data from the Federal Trade Commission.
The big picture: Just 3 years before, there were fewer than 9,000 romance scam reports with a total loss of $33 million, Axios' Stef Kight reports. But as online dating has become common place and socially acceptable, the number of reports of romance scams more than doubled to 21,000 reports in 2018.
Older people who are now beginning to date online are the most susceptible to scammers who often create fake profiles on dating apps, sites or social media platforms.
- 40–69 year olds were twice as likely to fall prey to these scams than people in their 20s, according to the FTC.
- The median loss for people over 70 years old was $10,000 in 2018.
My thought bubble: Happy Valentine's Day.
Be smart: Don't send money to anyone you haven't met in person — no matter how in love with them you might be.
Go deeper: Read Axios' special report on the Future of Dating.
3. Stolen Equifax data has yet to resurface
When the Equifax breach was first disclosed back in September 2017, a lot of people were waiting for all kinds of identity theft. So far, though, that hasn't happened.
The data has yet to show up anywhere on the so-called dark web where stolen data usually appears. That has added to suspicions that a nation-state, rather than individuals seeking profit, may have been behind the attack, per CNBC.
Our thought bubble, per Axios cybersecurity reporter Joe Uchill: This isn't the first time this theory has surfaced — in fact, many people assumed this was the case right away, with new converts over the past 2 years.
- In some ways, the best outcome for the victims is a nation-state espionage attack — because it could mean there's no intention of identity theft or plans for tangible harm to the consumer.
4. Chart of the day: Esports to top $1 billion
The global esports market is expected to surpass $1 billion this year — a 27% increase from last year — thanks to the explosive growth of brand sponsorships and media rights, according to the latest forecast from esports data company Newzoo.
Read more: The full story by Axios' Sara Fischer is here.
5. Take Note
- It's "Oh, shoot, I need to get flowers, or chocolates or something" day.
- Tim Maly is stepping down as CFO of SurveyMonkey's parent company as of March 30, citing personal reasons. The company also swung to a loss last quarter after turning a profit in the same quarter a year earlier.
- Accenture promoted Athina Kanioura to chief analytics officer and global lead of Accenture Applied Intelligence.
- Google plans a lower-priced option in its Pixel smartphone line this year. (Nikkei)
- Hackers and some software makers have been using an Apple program intended for internal business apps to illicitly distribute apps to consumers. (Reuters/TechCrunch)
- A popular scooter from Xiaomi can reportedly be hacked, allowing someone to remotely cause the vehicle to accelerate or brake. (Wired)
- Sprint and T-Mobile defended their deal before Congress. (Axios)
- Apple's former corporate secretary, responsible for ensuring Apple employees comply with securities law, was himself charged with insider trading. (CNBC)
6. After you Login
Ford has developed a mattress with a system for keeping bed hoggers in their proper "lane." I know someone who would want this. I'm not naming names but they sleep at the other end of my bed (the very edge of it).