Jul 24, 2018

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

Good morning ... Let's go straight to the news today.

1 big thing: How Facebook could realistically rein in speech

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook shouldn't be in the business of removing pages that spread fake news and conspiracy theories on its platform. But there's still plenty of debate inside and outside the company over whether that's the right approach.

The bottom line: There are lots of ideas out there, but no consensus.

What we're hearing: Here's what a few experts told us they would do if they ran Facebook...

"Pivot. Say that the business he thought he founded is not the business it grew into. Companies become organic entities as they find their social ecosystems. He didn’t set out to be a publisher, but that is what he has become — the world’s largest publisher, on an until-now unimaginable scale. ... This gives him and his company new responsibilities. ... In the end, democracy and free speech and community need publishers with ethics and values that have grown up in the tradition he grew up in. Everything will follow from that."
— Sherry Turkle, professor, MIT
"I'd immediately acknowledge the problem is one that is too complex, driven by too many stakeholders, for me or my company to adequately resolve. I'd stop trying to figure out how to govern Facebook from within, and ask for help from outside experts (they've done a bit of this) on how best to move forward. I hate to say it, but sometimes a blue ribbon panel/committee is a good idea." 
— John Battelle, CEO, NewCo
"Facebook has been startlingly innovative in helping users say more, see more, find more, like more, friend more. Little innovation, by comparison, has gone to supporting users’ participation in governance and shared decision-making. What if Facebook shared responsibility for content moderation with the public — not just the labor, but the judgment? ... Facebook could use AI techniques to identify clusters of civic commitments — not to impose one value system on everyone, as they do now, but to make more visible the lines we contest and offer spaces in which we can do so."
— Tarleton Gillespie, author of "Custodians of the Internet"
"I think Zuckerberg needs to empower himself with the knowledge that he can decide what is and is not appropriate on the platform he created not because of law but because of enlightened self-interest for the legacy of him and his company." 
— Jeff Jarvis, CUNY graduate school journalism professor and blogger

Yes, but: Though not as loud, there are other schools of thought which hold that policing speech is either impractical, not Facebook's job, or too important to trust to Facebook.

Go deeper: Read the full story here.

2. A kit to create your own Harry Potter wand

Photo: Kano

Kano is announcing that its next toy to get kids into coding will be a Harry Potter Wand kit.

The details: The $99 build-it-yourself device contains an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer, can cast spells on a nearby Android tablet or iPad and will be available Oct. 1 at Target and Best Buy. It's available for preorder on Kano's website.

Why it matters: The big trend in STEM toys is licensing branded content. LittleBits has its R2-D2 Droid Inventor Kit. Be warned though, it's not a sure-fire recipe for success, as Sphero can attest to.

What they're saying: Kano co-founder and CEO Alex Klein told Axios that tech is changing the world but less than 0.01% of people know how to code. The point of Kano is to get people genuinely excited about tech rather than convince them it is something akin to eating their vegetables. Partnering with a popular franchise like Harry Potter can help, he said.

What's next: The 75-person company already has an investment from Sesame Workshop. "In the future, yes, we will definitely be doing something with Sesame," Klein said. "I wouldn’t say yet what it could be."

3. eBay to start accepting Apple Pay

Photo: Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

PayPal and eBay officially split in 2015, but eBay is just now starting to show its independence.

What's happening: The company is announcing today it will start accepting Apple Pay as one of its first new payment options. Also, eBay is working with Square Capital to lend anywhere from $500 to $100,000 to eligible U.S. sellers.

The backstory: eBay announced earlier this year it plans to switch payment processing from PayPal to Dutch rival Adyen beginning in 2020.

4. Microsoft using TV white spaces for rural internet

An antenna setup for delivering internet service to rural areas using TV white spaces. Photo: Microsoft

After years about talking up the notion of bringing broadband to rural America via gaps in the TV airwaves, Microsoft is starting to strike commercial deals.

The latest: Microsoft is working with RTO Wireless to bring the internet to 290,000 people living in unserved rural regions of New York and Maine. The effort uses what are known as TV "white spaces," slivers of unused spectrum in the range used by television broadcasters.

The big picture: Microsoft has said it wants to bring broadband access to 2 million people in rural America by July 2022. It previously reached commercial deals with Packerland Broadband in Wisconsin and Michigan and with  Declaration Networks in Virginia and Maryland.

On the other side: The overall white spaces effort has drawn opposition from TV broadcasters and hospitals, concerned about potential wireless interference. In response, Microsoft says it supports rules designed to prevent any problems.

5. Take Note

On Tap

  • AT&T and Verizon report earnings.
  • Google is holding its Cloud Next conference in San Francisco.
  • CompTIA is holding an event on Capitol Hill with Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), who is co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus. (In other news, there's a Congressional Blockchain Caucus.)

Trading Places


  • Not surprisingly, Uber and Lyft have both suspended the driver who was live-streaming his passengers without their consent.
  • Google parent Alphabet managed to post a multi-billion-dollar profit even after taking into account a $5 billion EU fine, sending shares higher.
  • Google's Nest unit is exploring what role its products could play for the elderly, according to CNBC.
  • The maker of board game Settlers of Catan is being sold for $1.4 billion. (That's a lot of wheat. And ore.)
6. After you Login

Here's what happens when you are a WNBA All-Star, you get ejected for arguing with the ref, and your priest reaches out on Twitter.

Ina Fried