The rumors are true. I did complete another trip around the sun without crashing. Thanks for all those who sleuthed that out and sent along corresponding greetings.
Today's Login is 1,374 words, a 5-minute read.
Thiel attends a meeting at Trump Tower in December 2016. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Silicon Valley was abuzz Tuesday after a Wall Street Journal report that Peter Thiel, the tech industry's most prominent Trump supporter, is also a key architect and promoter of Facebook's anything-goes political ad policy.
Why it matters: The report was seized on by Facebook critics who have argued that the ad policy, which exempts candidates' ads and speeches from the site's fact-checking policies, skews pro-Trump, Axios' Scott Rosenberg writes.
The story also highlighted Thiel's role as the key intermediary between Facebook headquarters and the White House.
Driving the news: As Facebook's leadership has debated internally whether to bow to public pressure over the political ad rules, Thiel —who was Facebook's first outside investor in 2004 and has sat on the company's board since 2005 — has advised CEO Mark Zuckerberg to stand fast.
The big picture: Since 2016, Thiel — a billionaire who made his first fortune at Paypal and co-founded the national security data-mining firm Palantir — has been building bridges between Trump and Facebook.
In 2018, reports surfaced that Thiel had cooled on the president, and that he now viewed the Trump administration as "incompetent," too.
Between the lines: Thiel courts controversy and relishes contrarianism.
The bottom line: Facebook argues that Thiel's outsized role brings needed ideological diversity to the company's councils. But for critics who believe that Facebook's political neutrality claims don't pass the sniff test, the Journal story provides fresh ammo.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Google has fired another worker — this time, an employee who created a browser pop-up that informed workers of their rights when they visited the website of a labor consultant Google had hired.
Why it matters: Remember yesterday, when we said that one of the big challenges facing Sundar Pichai is an increasingly activist-minded workforce? Well, we weren't kidding.
Driving the news: Kathryn Spiers was fired by Google on Friday and filed an unfair labor practice complaint on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board.
The twist: Both sides basically agree on what Spiers did. She created a browser pop-up that pointed to information that Google was legally required to share with workers. They just disagree whether it represents protected worker activism or an unauthorized misuse of company resources.
What they're saying:
As Axios' Sara Fischer reported on Tuesday, Facebook is creating a new pilot program in the U.S. that will pay part-time contracted “community reviewers” to speed up its fact-checking process.
The big picture: The community reviewers will help to corroborate or debunk stories that Facebook's machine-learning tools flag as potential misinformation. This will make it easier for Facebook's fact-checking partners to quickly debunk false claims.
Why it matters: The company has come under fire for being too slow to identify content as misinformation.
Details: Facebook will hire the "community reviewers" through a third-party contractor called Appen, which selects and vets community reviewers.
Be smart: The reviewers are meant to be representative of everyday Facebook users, which means they will not have any particular expertise in fact-checking.
Between the lines: Facebook says this effort is a result of conversations over several months with experts, like academics and researchers, as well as consulting with its fact-checking partners.
What's next: Facebook says this is just a small pilot program for now that it will continue to evaluate.
Sara has more here.
From Nreal's motion to dismiss Magic Leap's lawsuit. Screenshot: Axios
Augmented reality startup Nreal is asking a court to throw out a lawsuit from Magic Leap, saying the heavily touted startup's suit amounts to sour grapes rather than a breach of contract.
Why it matters: The virtual reality and augmented reality markets are taking longer to develop, prompting companies to compete for their slice of a smaller-than-anticipated pie.
The big picture: Despite tons of buzz and billions of dollars in funding, Magic Leap has struggled to get its product to market, and recently announced layoffs.