Jul 19, 2018

Axios Login

Greetings from the one and only California, which will remain so for at least a little while longer.

Situational awareness: Comcast has yielded to Disney in the Fox bidding war.

1 big thing: Zuckerberg's awkward free speech two-step

Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Christophe Morin/IP3 via Getty Images

After Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a 90-minute interview to Recode's Kara Swisher, one exchange had the whole internet talking.

Driving the news: In defending Facebook's decision not to ban InfoWars for peddling debunked conspiracy theories, Zuckerberg stressed his desire not to ban even provably false information. The example he picked — those who deny the Holocaust.

Zuckerberg's comments even appeared to suggest that some Holocaust deniers might not be intentionally misleading — although he sent Swisher an email later in the day, clarifying that he was in no way trying to defend Holocaust deniers.

Even setting aside the inflammatory Holocaust denial references, Zuckerberg was reiterating the controversial position Facebook laid out last week: It will demote less reliable information, but won't delete it or ban the people who post it.

What we're hearing: Much like last week, that's not going over well in a lot of quarters.

  • The Verge's subhead was especially blunt, but not inaccurate: "Facebook recommits to providing a platform for misinformation."
  • Software pioneer Mitch Kapor: "What Mark Zuckerberg needs to understand the intent of Holocaust deniers is not the sole proper standard of judgment. We can debate limits to free expression, but it's the impact that matters greatly, not just intent."

Yes, but: Others said that, repugnant as some of the speech that Facebook allows is, they would rather not have the company in charge of deciding who gets to speak.

  • NYMag's Max Read: "I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to live in a world where Mark Zuckerberg gets to determine what counts as true and what doesn’t, even if he and I agree about Infowars and the Holocaust."

Rebuttal: Facebook's critics point out that the network already limits other kinds of speech, including ads for cryptocurrency. The company also removes Holocaust denials in Germany and several other countries that outlaw such speech.

Where Facebook is coming from: Sources familiar with Zuckerberg's thinking tell Axios' Sara Fischer that the CEO approaches regulation on his platforms through a lens of extreme rationality, meaning most policies are designed to address a huge range of user intentions, including ones that may seem outrageous to the majority of people that use the product.

Thought bubble, per Axios' Scott Rosenberg: In mainstream public life, defending Holocaust denial is rarely a winning position. But libertarian thinking is more common in Silicon Valley and the tech business than in the rest of the U.S. — and Zuckerberg's argument-by-extreme-example is typical of libertarian debate.

Meanwhile: Motherboard yesterday published leaked details on just what does lead a Facebook page to get banned.

2. Spying Android's future in its past

The future of Android could look considerably different if the EU's ruling is ultimately upheld. In addition to imposing a record fine, European regulators want Google to stop forcing device makers to have to use Google's search and browser as the defaults in order to have access to the Google Play app store.

The bottom line: Such a change could pave the way for Android phones that mix and match services from Google and key rivals to a far greater degree than is possible today.

History lesson: To understand what this could look like, and how it might impact competition, it's worth hearkening back to Amazon's ill-fated Fire Phone.

  • Amazon's first — and so far only — smartphone was a flop. In part, that was because in order to substitute some Amazon services for Google's, Amazon had to forego the Google app store, YouTube, Google Maps, and other Google-made pillars of the Android world.
  • Nokia (both independently and then as part of Microsoft) also had a short-lived line of Android phones that tried to go it alone.
  • Yes, but: What if Amazon and Microsoft had been able to include Google's app store and use their own search engine, browser or other services? That's what might be possible if the EU ruling is ultimately implemented.

What's next: The question now is, assuming Google can't sway European regulators, whether the ruling will embolden device makers to try to make devices without some or all of Google's services.

Meanwhile: For its part, Google is suggesting it might not be able to continue to give Android freely to phone makers if it can't bundle its highly profitable services with the operating system.

3. Match Group moves against sex assault

Match Group is the parent of major dating app Tinder. Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Match Group is forming a new board focused on preventing sexual assault across its portfolio of popular dating services, Axios' David McCabe reports. Match will work with and make donations to organizations like the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Why it matters: Match's effort joins a broader public conversation about sexual assault and harassment taking place inside and outside of workplaces. Match Group comes to that discussion as a leader in the online dating space, with services like Tinder, OkCupid and Match.com under its oversight.

Go deeper: David has more here.

4. Singles would rather date iPhone users

A survey finds that 70% of singles would prefer dating someone with an iPhone over an Android user.

The survey, from tech gear re-selling service Decluttr, also says that roughly two-thirds of iPhone owners would be inclined to date an Android user, while just 53% of Android owners said the same about dating an iPhone user.

What they're saying:

  • YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee: "This is kinda hilarious and sad at the same time."
  • Snazzy Labs' Quinn Nelson: "It’s pathetic that as a society we’ve come to judge people based on their smartphone preference. We’re better than that. That said, I refuse to date an Android user."
5. Take Note

On Tap

Trading Places

  • Tom Gruber, the last of the Siri co-founders still at Apple, has left the company, Apple said, confirming a report from The Information. Also out is head of search Vipul Ved Prakash. Apple recently moved its Siri and AI/machine learning efforts to be under John Giannandrea.
  • Uber named former Intel security executive Ruby Zefo as its first chief privacy officer, according to TechCrunch.


6. After you Login

Star Trek actor and activist George Takei has a new augmented reality-enabled, Trump-bashing app called House of Cats.