Monday's technology stories

Twitter faces FTC fine of up to $250 million over alleged privacy violations

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket

The Federal Trade Commission has accused Twitter of using phone numbers and emails from its users to make targeted ads between 2013 and 2019, Twitter said in an SEC filing published Monday.

Why it matters: Twitter estimates that the FTC's draft complaint, which was sent a few days after its Q2 earnings report, could cost the company between $150 million and $250 million. The complaint is unrelated to the recent Twitter hack involving a bitcoin scam.

Kim Hart, author of Cities
Aug 3, 2020 - Technology

San Jose makes 11,000 WiFi hotspots available for students

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Monday announced a deal with AT&T to make 11,000 4G hotspots available to keep students and families connected when schools begin virtually this fall.

Why it matters: Like other school districts, Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley will stick with remote learning for the foreseeable future as COVID-19 cases surge in California. Students without broadband access will not be able to keep up with all-online classes.

Aug 3, 2020 - Podcasts

White House adviser Peter Navarro talks TikTok

President Trump has relaxed his threat to immediately ban the popular social media app TikTok, giving Microsoft room to negotiate an acquisition from Chinese tech giant ByteDance.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the situation with Peter Navarro, the White House's top trade adviser and a noted China hawk, who suggests Microsoft should be forced to make unrelated concessions related to its China operations.

Trump says TikTok will be banned if not sold by Sept. 15, demands cut of sale fee

President Trump said Monday that TikTok will be shut down in the U.S. if it hasn't been bought by Microsoft or another company by Sept. 15, and argued — without elaborating — that the U.S. Treasury should get "a very substantial portion" of the sale fee.

Why it matters: Trump appears to have backed off his threat to immediately ban TikTok after speaking with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who said Sunday that the company will pursue discussions with TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance to purchase the app in the U.S.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Aug 3, 2020 - Technology

Google launches $349 Pixel 4a

Google

Google on Monday launched its long-expected Pixel 4a, a $349 device that brings key features of the company's flagship smartphone to a more affordable price point.

Why it matters: Google saw surprisingly strong demand for last year's "a" model, and having a broader range of products allows the company to reach more parts of the market.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Aug 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

A wild weekend for Microsoft's play for TikTok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While its Big Tech rivals were testifying in front of a congressional antitrust committee last week, Microsoft was negotiating what could be the largest — and most politically perilous — tech acquisition of 2020.

The state of play: The hullabaloo surrounding Microsoft picking up TikTok has undergone a flurry of twists and turns over the weekend, as both the White House and the tech giant reacted in real time.

Aug 3, 2020 - Technology

System for thwarting deepfakes unveiled

Photoshop: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A group whose members include Adobe, Twitter and the New York Times Monday offered a plan for restoring trust in photos and video in the face of a rising tide of digital fakery.

Why it matters: Deepfakes — images manipulated or generated by AI in a deceptive way — undermine trust both by tricking people into thinking phony images or videos are real and by making them doubt the veracity of real imagery.

Aug 3, 2020 - Technology

What a President Biden would mean for tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A Biden presidency would put the tech industry on stabler ground than it's had with President Trump. Although Biden is unlikely to rein in those Democrats who are itching to regulate the big platforms, he'll almost certainly have other, bigger priorities.

The big picture: Liberal Silicon Valley remains one of Democrats' most reliable sources for big-money donations. But a Biden win offers no guarantee that tech will be able to renew the cozy relationship it had with the Obama White House.

What a Microsoft deal to buy TikTok would look like

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump, who said Friday night that he'll ban TikTok, may allow Microsoft to buy the app's U.S. operations if there's "complete separation" from the original Beijing-based company, Republican sources tell Axios.

What's new: Conversations with Republicans over the weekend suggest a possible blueprint for making the proposed Microsoft deal palatable to the White House.

Aug 2, 2020 - Technology

Facebook hate-speech boycott had little effect on revenue

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The high-profile Facebook ad boycotts that began in June and ramped up in July, pressuring the social network to act more forcefully against hate speech, have so far not put much of a dent in Facebook's top or bottom lines.

Driving the news: Facebook beat Wall Street revenue expectations for the second quarter, and it said that the growth of its ad business during the first three weeks in July was roughly the same as it was last year during the same timespan.

Aug 2, 2020 - Health

Americans see increased use of libraries amid pandemic

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has communities returning to the library, KQED reports.

The big picture: Beyond offering books, "School libraries have become tech hubs for educators teaching from home, while public libraries have worked to expand access to the internet," KQED writes.