Welcome back to another edition of Axios Login. Today's Smart Brevity word count: 1,380 words, a 5-minute read.
Situational awareness: Leaked recordings of Mark Zuckerberg addressing employees in July show a jokier Facebook CEO. If the government sues to break up his company, he says, "if someone's going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and fight." (The Verge)
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
As the House's impeachment inquiry kicks off, stoking partisan tempers online, Facebook and Twitter are scrambling to deal with the fallout.
Why it matters: Social media platforms that set out to "bring the world closer together" and help people "share ideas and information" are finding that there is no bottom to the hole they're in now that their services have become political battlegrounds.
Driving the news: President Trump's tweets have often been intemperate, but since the announcement of the impeachment inquiry they have grown even more combative and menacing.
In all these cases, the president used his position and his Twitter soapbox to threaten political opponents, his critics argued. They cranked up their longstanding call for Twitter to suspend his @realDonaldTrump account.
Twitter's rules bar targeted harassment and threats of violence against individuals or groups.
Be smart: Platforms like Twitter are even less likely to take action against potentially offending public figures on the right — Trump included — since the companies have been the target of unsubstantiated complaints that they censor conservatives.
Our thought bubble: For Twitter, Trump represents a kind of catastrophic "edge case" — the term engineers use for scenarios that expose the contradictions or weaknesses in their systems.
Meanwhile, Facebook is also struggling to assemble a coherent political-speech strategy.
Between the lines: Facebook just started off a game of whack-a-mole, in which trolls and pranksters will run for office, or claim to be doing so, and creators of fraudulent content will slap on an "opinion" or "satire" label to protect it.
The bottom line: The platforms' dilemma is rooted in users' conflicting desires. Much of the public doesn't want these companies to decide what political actors can and can't say — but also doesn't want the public sphere to become a free-fire zone for hate mobs, threats, and lies.
Go deeper: Social media's new job: Content cops
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Tech companies looking to make additional dollars from their voice assistant products are luring celebrity talent to help them out, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.
Driving the news: Amazon announced last week that it will be introducing Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson as its first celebrity voice for its Alexa voice assistant later this year. The announcement follows similar moves by Google and other tech giants.
Details: Users can access Jackson's voice for $0.99 during the introductory period, but in the future will need to shell out $4.99 to hear Jackson recite news headlines or tell jokes.
The big picture: Amazon isn't the only tech company to lean into the Hollywood voice appeal.
Meditation apps have also leaned into the celebrity voice craze.
Be smart: Voice assistant technologies have long looked to diversify in order to appeal to a wider range of people.
A report that will be released Wednesday from the bipartisan Aspen Cybersecurity Group suggests that the U.S. is losing its grip as a global innovation leader, and needs government action to resecure its edge, writes Axios' Joe Uchill.
Why it matters: Innovation isn't just an economic issue (though it is certainly that) — it has huge national security and geopolitical implications, too.
The Aspen Cybersecurity Group is co-chaired by Monaco, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and has members including two former heads of the NSA, high ranking executives from Apple andFacebook to Johnson & Johnson and Duke Energy, and several prominent academics.
The big picture: The U.S. faces substantial competition in innovation from China. Even countries like South Korea and Israel outspend the U.S. in government funding for research.
The report proposes:
California's pending European-style digital privacy law will likely be the most impactful in the country, but it won't be the first. Nevada's law takes effect Tuesday, Joe reports.
Why it matters: With no superseding federal law, we're at the start of, potentially, 50 different privacy laws covering each of the 50 states — all interacting, potentially conflicting, and affecting business and consumer peace of mind for years to come.
Details: Nevada's new law requires companies to allow users to opt out or change information sold to brokers, and differs from California's law in key ways: