Today's Login weighs in at 1,385 words (~ 5 minute read).
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
A wave of recent scandals has focused on things that tech companies did that were legal, but nonetheless icky, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports.
Why it matters: Companies are under constant business pressures to grow at all costs and squeeze revenue and profits wherever they can, but what seem like clever legal loopholes can backfire when customers find out.
There are tons of examples of tech companies big and small doing things that were legal but looked bad. Here are a few...
DoorDash: The company’s pay model since 2017 includes customer tips as part of the minimum amount guaranteed to its delivery workers (similarly to tipped employees such as waiters, although DoorDash’s workers are not classified as employees).
Grubhub: Last week, a report showed that the company had been purchasing website domains with names similar to its marketplace restaurants and only including phone numbers and links that would route food orders through its service. (Meaning it would take a cut from all orders generated from the sites.)
Facebook: Earlier this year, it emerged that Facebook had been paying users aged 13 to 35 to install a separate app that gave the social network deep access to their smartphones so the company could collect data about their activities. The news came as Facebook was already under fire for its treatment of user data.
The bottom line: Following the law is important, of course. But it's not the only standard to which companies are and should be held.
With T-Mobile's launch of 5G in parts of 6 cities on Friday, all 4 major carriers now offer some form of the higher-speed service.
Yes, but: The 5G service that exists today is nascent to say the least, and each carrier offers at most a couple of devices that work on the high-speed network. True utility and mainstream adoption are still far away for most of the country.
Why it matters: 5G holds a lot of promise, from offering faster speeds to enabling smart cities and robotic surgery. All of that may come to pass, but it is very, very early.
Details: Here's what each of the major carriers is offering...
Be smart: Think very long and hard before plunking down money on a 5G device, even if you live in one of the cities where it's partially available.
What to watch: Wall Street is closely watching for a decision from the Justice Department on the T-Mobile-Sprint merger which, if approved, would roll up significant high-speed spectrum assets under the new combined company.
Go deeper: Read CNET's comparison of peak speeds for the 4 carriers.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images
Facebook issued a civil rights report on Sunday, touting its recent progress and pledging to remain vigilant on efforts to manipulate either the 2020 election or the census.
What's new: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a blog post announcing the report that the social media giant is introducing a new policy in the fall that protects against misinformation related to the census. "We'll also partner with non-partisan groups to help promote proactive participation in the census," she said.
"To protect elections, we have a team ... already working to ban ads that discourage people from voting, and we expect to finalize a new policy and its enforcement before the 2019 gubernatorial elections. This is a direct response to the types of ads we saw on Facebook in 2016. It builds on the work we’ve done over the past year to prevent voter suppression and stay ahead of people trying to misuse our products."— Sheryl Sandberg, in blog
Why it matters: Facebook embarked on the audit to address allegations that it censors conservative voices and discriminates against minority groups. Facebook hopes the independent audit and formal advising partnership will show it takes these issues seriously.
What they're saying: The Change the Terms coalition, made up of 40 nonprofit, civil rights, human rights and other organizations that have previously criticized Facebook on civil rights issues, published a blog post in response to Facebook's audit findings with comments from member groups.
President Trump, as part of a broader pause in tensions with China, said Sunday that U.S. companies can continue to sell parts to embattled telecom firm Huawei, provided there are no national security concerns specific to those products.
Why it matters: While many of the concerns were around Huawei's networking business, U.S. sanctions were also threatening the viability of the company's smartphone business too, given its reliance on chips and software from the U.S.
Between the lines: It's not clear just how much a reprieve Trump is granting, nor how long it will last. A White House official said Sunday that the exemption will cover only widely available goods.
What they're saying:
Our thought bubble: Conflating a trade dispute and national security concerns is a dangerous game.
It appears you can't halve your cake and eat it too, at least if the cake really belongs to Walmart.