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September 28, 2018

Words. I'm out of them.

1 big thing: Kavanaugh hearing is a defining moment for social media

Christine Blasey Ford seated before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Christine Blasey Ford seated before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Photo: Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

The confirmation hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh were a poignant, painful and raw moment for the country. They were also a defining moment for social media.

A generation earlier, the nation stood transfixed at their televisions as Anita Hill testified at Judge Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearings. On Wednesday, people were glued to Twitter and other social media.

People posted their tears, their stories, their outrage wherever they were — in schools and on buses, at work and at home.

  • While Twitter served up a range of viewpoints to those who searched, those relying upon the people they follow on Twitter or Facebook were highly likely to end up in a filter bubble.

Speaking of Facebook, the company managed to find itself in another political controversy. Joel Kaplan, who heads Facebook's global policy efforts, was front and center, sitting near his good friend Kavanaugh.

  • Facebook, which was apparently unaware Kaplan would be there, said he was there in his personal capacity and not representing the company.
  • Still, it was not a good look for a company trying to avoid be seen as taking sides in partisan politics.

By the numbers: From 9am to 7pm ET there were 8.8 million hearing-related tweets. That's well more than the 4.5 million tweets about this year's State of the Union address, but still far less than the 75 million vote-related tweets on Election Day 2016.

The bottom line: Wednesday showed Twitter at its best and its worst — ranging from people sharing their own stories and comforting one another to rather vicious attacks and some conspiracy theories delivered in 280-character bursts.

My thought bubble: Imagine if Kavanaugh's high school years had taken place in the present time. For better or worse, there would likely be lots of social media evidence...

2. SEC charges Elon Musk

An illustration of a giant eagle hovering over Elon Musk

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In the middle of the hearings, the SEC announced it was bringing charges against Elon Musk for making false statements.

Why it matters: Musk could be barred from serving as CEO of Tesla, or even as a director on its board. The prospect sent Tesla's stock down more than 10% in after-hours trading, representing over $5 billion in lost market cap (and a $1.1 billion drop in net worth for Musk).

The details: The SEC specifically alleges that Musk lied when he tweeted on Aug. 7 that he had "funding secured" for a takeover of the company at $420 per share. From the complaint:

This statement was false and misleading. Over the next three hours, Musk made a series of additional false and misleading statements via Twitter.

What they're saying:

  • Steven Peikin, SEC co-director of enforcement, said at the press conference:
"While leading Tesla’s investors to believe he had a firm offer in hand, We allege Musk arrived at the price of $420 by assuming a 20 percent premium and rounding up to $420 because of its significance in marijuana culture and his belief his girlfriend would be amused by it."
  • Elon Musk wrote in a statement to CNBC:
"This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed. I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors. Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way."
  • Tesla's board issued a statement:
“Tesla and the board of directors are fully confident in Elon, his integrity, and his leadership of the company, which has resulted in the most successful US auto company in over a century."
"Given shares are down ~12% in after-market trading, consensus appears to be that Elon will be removed as CEO and chairman and may be removed from the company entirely. We think this is an overreaction and believe there is a 50-50 chance Musk remains CEO after this SEC matter is resolved and an even greater chance he remains involved somehow with Tesla in any case."

The wrinkle: The SEC was apparently close to a settlement deal when Musk backed out, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Go deeper: You can read the full charges in my colleague Dan Primack's story.

3. White House talks 5G

illustration of a cell phone signal

Illustration: Sarah Grillo, Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The White House will hold a summit on 5G on Friday morning.

Who will be there: Expected attendees include several administration officials as well as Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden. Also planning to attend is Tom Power, general counsel for CTIA, the U.S. cellphone industry's trade group.

"We are looking forward to participating in the White House 5G summit, and specifically discussing how commercial deployments and mobile innovation will spur private investment and boost the economy. The meeting comes at a pivotal time in the global race to 5G, with the wireless industry poised to invest hundreds of billions in mobile networks.”
— CTIA general counsel Tom Power

Sound smart: If you need to get up to speed on 5G, you're in luck. The Axios tech team just did a deep dive on all the key issues.

Go deeper:

4. Secret Service warns ATM hacks increasing

An ATM keypad

Photo: Fabian Sommer/picture alliance via Getty Images

The U.S. Secret Service has been warning financial institutions about an increase in an ATM hack that is physically installed to pilfer off customer account data from ATM card readers, according to KrebsOnSecurity, which obtained a non-public alert the service sent to banks this week.

Why it matters: There is anti-skimming technology that can prevent criminals from successfully stealing the data or that can set off an alarm when a skimming configuration is installed — but robbers are getting more tech-savvy and skirting around some of these safeguards.

The tech: Last year an innovation began circulating that lets crooks know when an ATM likely already has anti-skimming technology so they can move on without getting caught, per Krebs. It sells for $200.

  • Some anti-skimming devices are “frequency-jammers,” which scramble the card data and confuse skimming devices.

How the hack works: Criminals drill a hole in the front of an ATM, which is later covered up with a faceplate to conceal the hole. They then attach card-reading devices with a magnet, and later attach a camera to obtain PINs as well.

Axios' Shannon Vavra has more here.

5. Take Note

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6. After you Login

This would be my dad if he were in China and even knew what WeChat was. (Sorry Dad.)