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Big Tech

The big picture

Tech's biggest upcoming battles in 2020

Tech firms' battles this year will touch every part of our lives.

Jan 6, 2020 - Technology
Sundar Pichai's Alphabet to-do list

The new CEO of Google's parent company inherited a long list of issues in need of tackling.

Dec 17, 2019 - Technology
The sovereign state of Facebook

It's making the kinds of world-shaping decisions that used to be in the hands of governments.

Nov 1, 2019 - Technology
For tech, it's all hard problems now

The giants must navigate treacherous political, social, and ethical rapids at every turn.

Oct 9, 2019 - Technology

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Zuckerberg: Election meddlers are getting better at hiding their tracks

Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa via Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at a fireside chat at the Munich Security Conference, said that since 2016, Facebook has "played a role in helping to defend the integrity of" more than 200 elections around the world.

Why it matters: On top of growing revenue and the number of users on Facebook, Zuckerberg also has to ensure that the platform is not blamed for negatively influencing elections and does not buckle on freedom of speech.

Facebook finally gives researchers access to promised data

Illustration:Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Nearly two years after it promised to do so, Facebook has made a huge chunk of data available for research use in partnership with a new not-for-profit organization, Social Science One.

Why it matters: One way to better understand the impact that Facebook is having on society is to have academic experts analyze the data. The company, though, has been slow to release promised data.

Facebook says political candidates can use paid memes

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Facebook said Friday that political candidates, campaigns and groups can use paid branded content across its platforms, a clarification prompted by a move from Michael Bloomberg's campaign to pay top Instagram influencers to post memes on its behalf.

The big picture: Its policy didn't explicitly state that it was OK for candidates to use branded content posts, but after hearing from various campaigns about the issue, Facebook moved to clarify its stance.

VCs push back on DOJ antitrust concerns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Silicon Valley investors downplayed concerns that big tech companies inhibit startups, during a recent workshop hosted by the U.S. Justice Department and Stanford University's law school.

Why it matters: Antitrust regulators are paying increased attention to Silicon Valley's M&A culture.

Climate activists target Big Tech over fossil fuel work

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Big Tech is making splash with its aggressive carbon reduction goals, but some of its employees and climate activists are criticizing Google, Microsoft and Amazon for nonetheless partnering with fossil fuel companies to use artificial intelligence to find hidden hydrocarbons and bring them to market.

Why it matters: Big oil companies are some of the richest, most resourceful enterprises in the world. They collect multiple terabytes of data daily but don't have the capacity to analyze and efficiently utilize that volume of facts without AI.

Amazon lawsuit causes judge to temporarily block Microsoft Pentagon contract

Jeff Bezos. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the $10 billion cloud computing contract the Defense Department awarded to Microsoft as it reviews a lawsuit by Amazon, CNBC reports.

The big picture: Amazon claims the decision to hand Microsoft the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project in late October was influenced by President Trump, who has repeatedly and publicly taken shots at Amazon and its owner Jeff Bezos.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 13, 2020 - Technology

Big Tech braces for sprawling FTC acquisitions review

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday it will review the past decade of takeovers by tech giants Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. Not only the large ones, but also the hundreds of smaller ones that didn't trigger automatic antitrust reviews.

Why it matters: Apparently the FTC thinks it has a technique for getting toothpaste back into the tube. And that's before one considers the knotty logistics of unwinding something like Facebook/Instagram or some random Google acqui-hire from 2015.

Huawei equipment has secret "back doors," U.S. officials claim

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The United States has evidence that Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei can covertly obtain data from networks that use its equipment, White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien and other officials told the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The U.S. is stepping up its campaign to pressure allies to reject Huawei equipment in their 5G networks, after the U.K. recently decided to grant Huawei limited access.

FTC reviewing a decade of Big Tech acquisitions

Statue outside FTC headquarters in Washington. Photo: Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call/Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday it is investigating acquisitions made by Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet/Google from 2010 on.

Why it matters: As pressure mounts to regulate Big Tech companies as monopolies, the FTC is one of two arms of the federal government empowered to enforce antitrust law, along with the Justice Department.

What they're saying: Judge blesses T-Mobile-Sprint deal

T-Mobile CEO John Legere (left) and Sprint Chairman Marcelo Claure testifying before Congress. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sprint and T-Mobile on Tuesday hailed a federal judge's ruling that should pave the way for their deal to be completed, while opponents worried that consumers will ultimately end up paying more.

Why it matters: The decision turns back a legal challenge from a coalition of state attorneys general that had been the largest remaining hurdle for the deal, though it still requires a few more approvals.

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