Friday's technology stories

Elliott Broidy says Twitter should take action on other hack and leak stories

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser expected to plead guilty in a foreign lobbying case, is challenging Twitter over its handling of content related to "hacked materials."

What's happening: Broidy wants Twitter to explain why information from hacked and leaked materials about his case was allowed to remain on the site, while Twitter took swift action to suppress a New York Post story about Hunter Biden allegedly based on hacked and released materials, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Oct 16, 2020 - Technology

Google taps AI for new search tricks

Courtesy: Google

Google on Thursday outlined a number of new features for its core search product, including the ability to search for that song stuck in your head by humming or whistling.

Why it matters: While humming may be a cute use case, it shows Google’s recognition that there are plenty of ways to search beyond typing terms into a box. The company has been investing heavily in voice search as well as AI capabilities to help people use their smartphone camera to look up plants or get help with translation.

Republican rage targets Facebook and Twitter

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans and conservatives are unloading on Facebook and Twitter a day after the companies limited the sharing of a New York Post story based on emails and files apparently stolen from Hunter Biden.

Where it stands: The attacks are passionate, but the likelihood of government action against the platforms remains low. Even the most realistic and increasingly popular proposal — to punish online platforms by removing their prized liability shield — would be a steep uphill battle.

Facebook and Twitter, the reluctant gatekeepers

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Deciding who gets to say what online is a complex business in the best of times, and the 2020 election is showing social media platforms just how messy it can get.

The big picture: Balancing concerns over misinformation, hacking and foreign meddling against free-speech principles is already hard enough. Tackling it in real time in the middle of a political knife fight is almost certainly going to go awry.

A financial lifeline for 5G spectrum

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A company that might be at the center of 5G's future is being thrown a lifeline.

Driving the news: Ligado Networks is raising $3.85 billion in expensive new financing to stay out of bankruptcy. The spectrum company's survival could be crucial to the long sought-after, and sometimes controversial, dream of deploying a nationwide 5G network.

Oct 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Twitter changes hacked materials rules after banning N.Y. Post story

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Twitter will be changing its hacked materials policy in response to the feedback it received for limiting the circulation of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden.

Why it matters: The tech giant faced swift backlash from conservatives that its actions were biased and that its enforcement of its hacked materials policy was not consistent.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Oct 15, 2020 - Technology

Twitter experiences a widespread outage

Screenshot: Axios

Twitter was down for more than an hour on Thursday, preventing new messages from being sent and the service from loading. The company told Axios during the outage that it had "no evidence of a security breach or hack" and was investigating internal causes.

What they're saying: "We know people are having trouble Tweeting and using Twitter. We’re working to fix this issue as quickly as possible," Twitter said in an e-mail to Axios.

Oct 15, 2020 - Podcasts

Ted Cruz on Big Tech and the New York Post's Hunter Biden story

Twitter today is alight with conversations about a New York Post story on Hunter Biden. But you can't find a link to the story on Twitter, and you'll be temporarily blocked if you try to share it — due to concerns that the story is based on hacked, or possibly manipulated documents. Facebook has also put sharing limits on the story.

Axios Re:Cap talks with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) about Big Tech censorship, election disinformation, and why he plans to subpoena Jack Dorsey, but not Mark Zuckerberg.

It's time to prep for 10G

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The tantalizing prospect of 10G internet service — which would be 10 times faster than today's 1G networks — is starting to take shape, and soon city officials will need to set policy guidelines for this next generation of cable broadband.

Why it matters: For now, ubiquitous 1 gigabit internet is "really going to be needed to ensure that the U.S. is at the forefront of global economic growth and opportunity," says Angie Kronenberg of INCOMPAS, the internet and competitive networks trade association.

Oct 15, 2020 - Technology

YouTube cracks down on QAnon, citing real-world violence

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

YouTube announced Thursday that it is expanding its hate and harassment policies to prohibit content that targets an individual or group with conspiracy theories, like QAnon, that have been used to justify real-world violence.

Why it matters: It is the latest tech giant to crack down on QAnon content, which has seen record online interest in 2020.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 15, 2020 - Technology

Google nabs Energy Department cloud contract

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Google Cloud announced Thursday a five-year agreement with the Energy Department to provide the agency with access to a "broad range" of cloud technologies.

Why it matters: The Energy Department has a vast research arm and needs highly sophisticated and powerful computing. Google said the tech will enable a wide range of "use cases."

Governments around the globe find ways to abuse Facebook

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

While regulators in the U.S. and Europe circle Facebook and scrutinize its every move, in much of the rest of the world its platform remains ill-defended against election tampering, human rights violations, autocratic misuse and other information disorders.

The big picture: The consequences of this void are huge yet hardly acknowledged by Western regulators, who are most concerned with the misinformation spreading in their own backyards.

Hunter Biden story trips social media misinformation alarms

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2016, hacked emails and foreign meddling shaped the political fight, and social media took much of the blame. Afterwards, the platforms designed circuit breakers to avoid a repeat in 2020.

What's happening: Those breakers tripped Wednesday at both Facebook and Twitter to stop the spread of a New York Post story that reported allegations about Joe Biden's son Hunter, based on what the paper said were emails provided to it Sunday by Rudy Giuliani.