Friday's technology stories

Aug 7, 2020 - Technology

Enterprise tech gets popularity boost from pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic has been a boon to enterprise technology companies that don't typically get as much attention and recognition as their social media counterparts.

Driving the news: Computer, electronics and video companies like Zoom, IBM, Dell, Samsung, Apple and Microsoft lead the way when it comes to consumers' opinion of their ethics, trust and vision, while social networks like Facebook and Twitter lag because of concerns about misinformation, according to a new Axios/Harris 100 poll.

Facebook allows employees to work from home until July 2021

Photo: Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook will allow its employees to work from home through at least July 2021, a spokesperson confirmed to CNN on Thursday.

The big picture: It joins fellow Big Tech giant Google with the extended move toward remote work amid the coronavirus pandemic. Other tech companies with significant confirmed remote work extensions include Amazon and Snapchat, which are allowing their workers to stay at home through at least the end of the year.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Aug 7, 2020 - Economy & Business

There's little consensus on TikTok's specific national security threat

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok has become a Rorschach test for how U.S. politicians view China, with little consensus on the specifics of its threat to homeland security.

The big picture: Much of what D.C. fears about TikTok is fear itself, and that's reflected in President Trump's executive order to ban the app by Sept. 20 if it's not sold by parent company ByteDance — alongside another focused on Chinese messaging app WeChat and its parent company Tencent.

Trump's TikTok and WeChat actions ratchet up the pressure on China

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump escalated his campaign to claw apart the Chinese and American tech worlds Thursday evening, issuing executive orders that threaten to ban both TikTok and massive global messaging app WeChat.

The big picture: Trump's orders come against a backdrop of heightening tension with China, the steady unfolding of a hard "decoupling" between the world's two largest economies, and the Trump campaign's effort to wave a "tough on China" banner.

Aug 7, 2020 - Technology

TikTok responds to Trump executive order: "We are shocked"

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

TikTok said Friday that it was "shocked" by President Trump's executive order that will ban Americans from dealing with ByteDance, its China-based owner, in 45 days.

Why it matters: TikTok argued that Trump's move "risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth."

Video gaming growth soars thanks to pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Video game usage in the U.S. has skyrocketed during the pandemic, leading to record revenues and profits for gaming companies like Nintendo, Epic Games and Electronic Arts.

Why it matters: The pandemic has sped the rise of video gaming as a core consumer pastime, and the trend is unlikely to reverse even after life returns to normal. "What we're seeing is an acceleration of pre-existing trends," NPD Group gaming analyst Mat Piscatella told Axios. "It's like we jumped ahead two years."

Trump issues order banning TikTok if not sold within 45 days

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans and U.S. companies will be banned from making transactions with ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok, in 45 days, according to a new executive order President Trump issued Thursday evening.

The big picture: Last week Trump announced his intention to ban TikTok but said he'd leave a 45-day period for Microsoft or other U.S.-based suitors to try to close a deal to acquire the popular video-sharing app.

Aug 6, 2020 - Technology

T-Mobile says it's now No. 2 wireless carrier, ahead of AT&T

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

T-Mobile Thursday said it has overtaken AT&T to become the number two wireless carrier in the U.S., ending the second quarter with 98.3 million total subscribers. Shares in T-Mobile surged 7% in after-hours trading.

The big picture: T-Mobile's merger with Sprint, which a federal judge allowed to go forward in February, gave the company a boost, and left the U.S. with only three major national wireless carriers. Verizon is in the lead.

Uber stock drops after Q2 earnings results

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Despite beating analyst revenue expectations for Q2, Uber missed earnings predictions and posted an overall drop in its business.

Why it matters: Uber has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic as people continue to limit their activities outside the home.

Aug 6, 2020 - Health

HRW chief praises Apple, Google's contact tracing as privacy "gold standard"

Axios' Kim Hart and Kenneth Roth. Photo: Axios

The Bluetooth-based contact tracing system designed by Apple and Google is a current "gold standard" for prioritizing privacy when tracking the spread of the virus, Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth told Axios' Kim Hart at a virtual event Thursday.

Why it matters: Without a vaccine, promptly notifying those who have possibly been exposed to the coronavirus and encouraging self-quarantine is one of the best mitigation tools available.

Aug 6, 2020 - Technology

Ex-U.S. chief data scientist: Social media misinformation is "life or death"

Former U.S. Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil warned at an Axios virtual event Thursday that the "tremendous amount" of misinformation on social media platforms "creates public distrust at a time when we need it the most," stressing: "It's no small statement to say this is life or death."

What he's saying: "One of the areas that will likely, even if we get a vaccine, cause an issue is will people trust a vaccine? And if we don't address those misinformation issues right now, we are going to have a far extended impact of COVID," Patil, who is now head of technology at Devoted Health, told Axios' Kim Hart.

Aug 6, 2020 - Technology

Female members of Congress to Facebook: Do better

Photo: Graeme Jennings via Getty Images

Facebook must do better to protect women in politics, who face a barrage of sexism, hate and harassment on the platform, members of the Democratic Women Caucus including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to the social network Thursday.

Context: Facebook, under heavy scrutiny for misinformation, privacy and antitrust concerns, recently kept a doctored video of Pelosi up, though fact checkers labeled it as "partly false." The platform came under fire for not removing a doctored video of Pelosi in 2019 as well.

Aug 6, 2020 - Technology

Snapchat adds in-app voter registration targeted at young people

Credit: Snapchat

Snapchat is rolling out a slew of new tools and features to help prepare young people to vote in the November election.

Why it matters: Snapchat has unparalleled reach into Gen Z and Millennial demographics. The tools it's building are meant to guide those specific populations to more resources to help them register to vote and form a voting plan. Other platforms focusing on voter registration are doing so with a much wider user population in mind.

TikTok faces bans around the world

Data: AppTopia; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

TikTok, already threatened with a U.S. ban by President Trump, is also facing the prospect that its stunning 2020 growth could be ended by multiple bans around the world.

The state of play: TikTok is already banned in India, where it was downloaded more than 118 million times in 2020. A U.S. ban would cut into a significant amount of the user growth it has seen this year.

Aug 6, 2020 - Technology

U.S. should boost AI spending to compete with China, paper argues

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. must invest in research and development in artificial intelligence to stay ahead of China and other adversaries, argues a new paper penned by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and two research groups, shared early with Axios.

Why it matters: Reps. Hurd and Kelly, along with the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for a New American Security, are pushing forward a bipartisan plan at a time of high tension with China. The U.S. and China compete on 5G development, artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Aug 6, 2020 - Economy & Business

Apple's market value has risen by nearly $1 trillion since September

Data: FactSet; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Apple's market cap is screeching toward $2 trillion, less than a year after rising above the $1 trillion mark again in September 2019.

What happened: The company first gained 13-figure status in early August 2018 but saw its valuation sink to a mere $709 billion following the market downturn of late 2018.

Aug 6, 2020 - Technology

Congress' next moves to rein in Big Tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

After grilling the CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple last week, members of Congress are grappling with whether to accuse any of the firms of illegal anticompetitive behavior, to propose updating federal antitrust laws — or both.

The big picture: Congress is just one arm of government making the case against these companies. Google is expected to be the first of the firms to face possible antitrust litigation from the Justice Department before summer's end, but all four face a full-court press of investigations by DOJ, the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.

Uber to acquire U.K. taxi technology company Autocab

Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Uber has agreed to acquire U.K.-based taxi and private for-hire car technology company Autocab, the two said Thursday.

Why it matters: The acquisition should help Uber expand to U.K. markets where it doesn't currently operate by enabling its customers to book cars available through Autocab, though the latter will remain largely independent.

Updated Aug 6, 2020 - Technology

Facebook, Twitter take down Trump post saying kids are immune to coronavirus

Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Facebook removed a video post from President Trump Wednesday in which he claimed in an interview with Fox News that children are "almost immune" to COVID-19.

Why it matters: It’s the first time that Facebook has removed content from Trump's account for violating policies on coronavirus-related misinformation.