Feb 13, 2019

Axios PM

D.C. readers: Join me for a look into Congress' plans for 2019 at News Shapers, tomorrow at 8 am.

  • The lineup: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, and Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee chairperson Debbie Stabenow. RSVP.  
1 big thing: 80% want change

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

No scoop here: Harassment and bullying is all over the internet, with the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, racial minorities and women targeted the most.

The big picture: New polling from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) finds the vast majority of people want something to change.

  • "Over 80% of Americans want government to act by strengthening laws and improving training and resources for police on cyberhate," the ADL noted in its survey release.
  • "67% of Americans want companies to make it easier to report hateful content and behavior."
  • "81% want companies to provide more options for people to filter hateful or harassing content."

Between the lines: Most of the ADL's recommendations are about making laws for the physical world also cover the virtual one:

  • "Legislators should ensure hate crime laws cover online hate."
  • "States should close the gaps that often prevent stalking and harassment laws from punishing online misconduct."
  • "Legislators should increase liability and remedies for information-sharing cybercrimes such as doxing, swatting, non-consensual pornography, and deepfakes."

What's next: Platforms are trying to combat bullying through better technology, Axios' Sara Fischer tells me.

  • Instagram has developed a machine learning tool that can detect bullying in photos and captions.
  • Twitter has created new tools, like a “mute” button, to help users avoid harassment on its platform.

And Axios’ Ina Fried emails: In addition to ramping up direct enforcement of content that violates their rules, Facebook and Twitter have been experimenting with lower placement for content that is seen as close to, but not over the line with regards to harassment.

  • While some have criticized this as “shadow banning,” there is no reason that the platforms shouldn’t use what they know about content’s quality to determine placement.

The bottom line: Using the internet shouldn't have to be an awful experience for so many people.

  • But right now, at least, it is.
Bonus: Perspective du jour
2. What you missed
  1. NASA’s longest-running Mars rover has finally been declared dead after it went dark eight months ago following a dust storm. RIP, Opportunity.
  2. FEMA administrator Brock Long is resigning his post. Go deeper.
  3. U.S. wealth concentration has returned to levels not seen since the 1920s, and it could actually be significantly worse, a new study claims.
  4. A federal grand jury has indicted a former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence officer for spying for the government of Iran. Go deeper.
  5. The Democratic-controlled House has voted "to end U.S. military aid for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, a defiant move to curtail presidential war powers." [NYT]
3. 1 food thing

The table for one is on the rise, the WSJ reports.

  • "OpenTable, the online reservation platform, said that bookings by solo diners at restaurants in the city jumped by 80% from 2014 to 2018."
  • "[S]ome restaurants said that business from solo diners can now account for up to 10% of their sales."
  • "OpenTable said that Valentine’s Day solo reservations in 2018 increased by 33% over the previous year."
  • "Restaurants said solo customers represent the ideal, as they are truly there for the food and experience rather than the social occasion."