August 18, 2022

Join Axios' Russell Contreras and me today at 12:30pm ET for a virtual event examining the impact technology can have on reducing recidivism. Guests include The Last Mile co-founder Chris Redlitz and Justice Through Code founder and director Aedan Macdonald.

Today's newsletter is 1,123 words, a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: Big Tech braces for "big lie" in 2022 midterms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The FBI's raid of former President Trump's home in Mar-A-Lago has set off another wave of online rage among his supporters, putting tech giants on high alert for new efforts to undermine the legitimacy of U.S. elections, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

Why it matters: Tech companies were caught flat-footed by the deluge of disinformation aimed at delegitimizing the election process and outcome in 2020. Now, amid intense regulatory scrutiny, they are trying to get ahead of a repeat.

Details: Several Big Tech firms debuted new midterm-election policies in the past week, designed to give political campaigns time to adapt to the changes as campaigns ramp up.

TikTok on Wednesday doubled down on its ban on paid political ads, including paid influencer content.

  • The company said it's taking new measures to block influencers and advertisers from forming undisclosed paid political partnerships.
  • It also launched its Election Center, an in-app hub with authoritative information about voting and the election, six weeks earlier than it did in 2020.

Meta on Tuesday vowed to remove any misinformation about voting and said it will reject ads encouraging people not to vote or calling into question the legitimacy of the election.

  • As it did in 2020, Meta will block new political and issue ads during the final week of the election campaign.
  • It also said that during that week, it would no longer permit any edits to ads that have been previously approved to run.

Twitter last week said it would beginning enforcing its civic integrity policy, which bans the most common types of misinformation about elections and civic events.

  • It also labels questionable tweets and adds links to credible information or helpful context.
  • The company said it will also begin rolling out "prebunks," or blurbs about accurate information about voting and the elections.

Yes, but: The media landscape has become so fragmented in recent years that even the most careful defensive tactics by the most popular social media firms won't be able to halt the spread of election misinformation — including the "big lie" that Trump won in 2020, a claim supported by no credible evidence.

  • Cable news networks, podcasts, encrypted messaging apps, email, direct mail, and alternative social networks provide a huge breeding ground for misleading election information. And the spreaders of election denialism are very adept at navigating a sprawling and ever-changing media landscape.

The big picture: The shift in election misinformation online from mostly Russian, state-backed campaigns in 2016 to more domestic, fringe networks now presents social media firms with a difficult free speech challenge.

  • Coordinated inauthentic behavior campaigns by state-backed actors are often easier to identify and stop than misinformation spread by everyday users.
  • Twitter's decision to block a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop from being shared in the month leading up to the 2020 election triggered a sweeping backlash from conservative users who felt that the company had censored the story for political purposes. (Twitter's former CEO later said that decision was a mistake.)

What to watch: More companies are putting resources towards combatting election and voting misinformation in languages other than English, following revelations over the past year of election misinformation campaigns targeting Spanish-language voters.

  • Meta said it's putting more infrastructure in place to show accurate information about voting to users in a second language other than English.
  • Twitter's prebunks will be presented in English, Spanish and all other languages supported on Twitter.
  • TikTok's Elections Center will include resources in more than 45 languages, including English and Spanish.

Go deeper: How the "big lie" spread

2. Details on new iPhones scant

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

This year's crop of new iPhones will launch via an online event on Sept. 7, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. Unlike in recent years, though, it's less clear just how much this year's models will differ from their predecessors.

Why it matters: The success of the iPhone is not only key to Apple's business, but vital for a variety of firms that supply components and for U.S. wireless providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

Details: The new phones — at least the high-end models— are expected to include the usual advances in camera and processing technology, along with an "always-on" display.

  • Updated Apple Watch models are also expected at the iPhone event, with other hardware announcements possible. Apple typically launches any fall iPad and Mac updates at a separate event.

Between the lines: The lack of specific leaks could mean that Apple isn't planning big advances.

3. Charted: Streaming surpasses cable

Share of total TV consumption, by type
Data: Nielsen; Chart: Axios Visuals

Streaming has officially topped cable as the most popular method by which Americans consume television content, according to new data from Nielsen.

Why it matters: Just as cable's victory over broadcast ushered in waves of change to U.S. media, streaming's rise will continue to bring new businesses and cultural forces to the fore, Sara reports.

Details: Streaming now makes up more than a third of all television consumption in the U.S., according to data from Nielsen's monthly Gauge study of TV consumption.

  • Netflix continues to be the top streaming platform, taking 7.7% of total share of TV consumption in July. YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ increased their share of viewing time last month to 7.3%, 3% and 1.8%, respectively, while HBO Max held steady at 1%.

Yes, but: Traditional TV, which includes both cable and broadcast consumption, still collectively makes up the majority of TV viewing in the U.S., for now.

  • But if the rate of these categories' decline continues, streaming could very well surpass traditional television as the primary way Americans consume TV content in the next few years.
  • While the total amount of TV consumption has remained consistent in the past year, the amount that Americans have streamed has increased 22.6%, compared to declines in cable and broadcast of 8.9% and 9.8%, respectively.

What to watch: With more live sports rights moving to streaming, the continuation of this trend seems likely. Nielsen noted that sports viewing drove the biggest decline for cable.

4. Take note

Trading Places

  • Chris Fortier is joining Yuga Labs, the company behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, as VP of product.
  • Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant has been officially fired, several months after she was suspended by the organization's board. Earlier this month Bryant filed a federal lawsuit challenging the suspension.


5. After you Login

I don't know how I am just finding out about this, but apparently there is an Excel World Championship to determine the fastest spreadsheet-er, and it was aired on ESPN2.