Hillicon Valley — Midterms To Test Tech Giants’ Misinformation Plans

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    Hillicon Valley

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    Social media platforms are releasing plans to weed out election misinformation ahead of the midterms. But critics warn tech companies need to do more to follow through on their commitments to keep false claims and hate speech off their platforms.

    Meanwhile, Elon Musk is calling for the dismissal of a Twitter shareholder lawsuit over him trying to terminate his multibillion-dollar buyout deal, and he’s subpoenaing former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.  

    This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

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    Critics urge tech giants to do more for 2022 

    Social media platforms’ plans to tackle election-related misinformation will be put to the test as congressional candidates ramp up online activity in the final months of midterm campaigns.  

    • Since the 2020 election, mainstream platforms like Twitter and Facebook have been more liberal in applying measures to block, label and remove politicians — including their watershed decisions to suspend former President Trump’s accounts last year.  
    • But as more politicians test the boundaries of the platforms’ rules with incendiary posts, especially after an uptick in violent rhetoric following last week’s FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, critics warn that tech companies need to do more than dust off their 2020 playbooks to follow through on their commitments to block misinformation and hate speech.  

    New York University researcher Laura Edelson said to get at the core of the issue, platforms need to reassess the algorithms recommending content to users. 

    She compared taking content down after amplifying it to a wide online audience — the approach most platforms use, and plan to use ahead of November based on their public posts — to creating a car with no brakes and only airbags.  

    “By the time those are useful, the car’s crashed,” she said. 

    Read more here.  

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    Musk presses to dismiss Twitter case  

    Elon Musk is calling for the dismissal of a Twitter shareholder lawsuit over him trying to terminate his multibillion-dollar buyout deal — and subpoenaing the social media company’s former CEO. 

    The moves follow Musk’s unexpected announcement in July that he’d walk away just a few months after making the $44 billion agreement in April, as well as reports that the company lost revenue after Musk pulled back.  

    The Tesla and SpaceX CEO terminated the buyout deal due to what he alleged were “false and misleading representations” from Twitter during the agreement processes and the company’s failure to provide information on “the prevalence of fake or spam accounts on Twitter’s platform,” according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. 

    Read more here.  

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    JUDGE WARNS ABOUT AFFIDAVIT REDACTIONS  

    A federal magistrate judge reviewing whether to release the affidavit that pushed him to approve a warrant to search former President Trump’s home said Monday that while he believes public interest favors releasing the document, redactions could make it “meaningless.” 

    The order from Judge Bruce Reinhart expands on an order from the bench given last Thursday that gave the Justice Department until this Thursday to propose redactions it says are necessary to protect its ongoing investigation. 

    “Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former president’s residence, the government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing,” Reinhart wrote, adding that he rejected keeping the entire affidavit under seal. 

    Read more here.  

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    CNN PRESSES FORMER DHS CHIEF OVER ELECTION CLAIMS 

    CNN anchor Jim Acosta clashed with former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Sunday over his claims of election fraud. 

    The exchange quickly became heated as Acosta pushed Wolf, who served under former President Trump, to say whether President Biden justly won the last election. 

    “Who won the 2020 election?” Acosta asked after Wolf expressed concern over voter fraud and irregularities. 

    “Obviously Joe Biden is president,” Wolf responded. 

    “No, no, no,” Acosta retorted. “Do you believe that he won that election fair and square?” 

    Wolf again answered the question indirectly. 

    “Joe Biden is president,” Wolf said, adding that he didn’t have all of the evidence needed to conclude that Biden’s victory was legitimate. 

    Read more here. 

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    BITS & PIECES

    An op-ed to chew on: Scientists are considering how the SpaceX Starship can accelerate space exploration 

    Notable links from around the web

    A Dad Took Photos of His Naked Toddler for the Doctor. Google Flagged Him as a Criminal. (The New York Times / Kashmir Hill)  

    Blake Masters’ Bitcoin investments tanked in 2022 (The Verge / Makena Kelly) 

    Are video games recession-proof? Sort of, experts say (The Washington Post / Shannon Liao) 

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    Defense & National Security — US, South Korea kick off major joint drills

    On The Money — How the IRS may change how we file taxes 

    One more thing: Police dept. disbanded over texts

    Vincent, Ala., adopted an ordinance on Thursday temporarily disbanding the city’s police department after the discovery of racist texts between officers. 

    An unidentified officer texted a joke about a “pregnant slave” to a co-worker in June, according to Birmingham-based news site AL.com. 

    Vincent Mayor James Latimer (R) said at a Thursday public hearing that the police officers involved in the situation could not legally be fired because of a policy requiring two formal complaints and a verbal warning before removal. 

    “Based on our personnel policies, we cannot terminate them,” the mayor said. 

    Read more here. 

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    That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.