White House Drafts Order to Investigate Alleged Social Media Left-Wing Bias

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The White House is drafting an executive order that would address alleged left-wing bias by social media companies, with an official saying:

If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system. But look, we also think that social media plays a vital role. They have a vital role and an increasing responsibility to the culture that has helped make them so profitable and so prominent.

A WH official actually used the phrase “liberal cesspools of venom.” What a trashy administration.

DOJ Approves T-Mobile, Sprint Merger

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The U.S. Department of Justice has approved the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, but a lawsuit from 13 state attorneys is currently pending.

The merger can’t be finalized however until a lawsuit from 13 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia is concluded. A trial date is set for Oct. 7, though that date could be pushed as late as Dec. 9.

It’s also possible that the case could be settled out of court, since it revolves around a lack of competition in the national wireless space. With Dish being propped up as a replacement for Sprint, there may not be reason to continue.

Air Force Might Defend Area 51 With Force

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Over the weekend a Facebook event page to raid Area 51 has had over 400,000 people signing up. This is because of the belief that aliens or alien technology are held there. But the Air Force is prepared.

“[Area 51] is an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces,” McAndrews said. “The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”

Lawmakers Want Apple to Turn Privacy Talk into Action

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Although Tim Cook vocally supports privacy laws in the United States, Apple doesn’t actually support many of them.

A number of privacy advocates and U.S. lawmakers — who did not attend the meeting — say Apple has not put enough muscle behind any federal effort to tighten privacy laws. And state lawmakers, who are closest to passing rules to limit data sharing, say Apple is an ally in name only — and in fact has contributed to lobbying efforts that might undermine some new data-protection legislation.

This is something I’ve noticed as well. I think Tim and co should do more to support privacy legislation.

News+: Backpage.com Versus the Feds

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Backpage.com was a website modeled after the classifieds section of print. People could use it to post ads, and it also had a thriving section for adult ads. But the Feds seized it and arrested the owners. Christine Biederman wrote all about it.

The government indictment that triggered Lacey and Larkin’s arrests, United States v. Lacey, et al, includes 17 “victim summaries”—stories of women who say they were sexually exploited through Backpage. Victim 5 first appeared in an ad on the platform when she was 14; her “customers” made her “perform sexual acts at gunpoint, choked her to the point of having seizures, and gang-raped her.” Victim 6 was stabbed to death. Victim 8’s uncle and his friends advertised her as “fetish friendly.” The indictment accuses Backpage of catering to sexual predators, of essentially helping pimps better reach their target audiences.

This is part of Andrew’s News+ series, where he shares a magazine every Friday to help people discover good content in Apple News+.

Twitter Starts Flagging Tweets From World Leaders That Break its Rules

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In a blog post today, Twitter said it would start labeling tweets from Donald Trump government officials that break its rules against bullying and abusive behavior.

A critical function of our service is providing a place where people can openly and publicly respond to their leaders and hold them accountable.With this in mind, there are certain cases where it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules.

On the rare occasions when this happens, we’ll place a notice – a screen you have to click or tap through before you see the Tweet – to provide additional context and clarity. We’ll also take steps to make sure the Tweet is not algorithmically elevated on our service.

Governments Are Terrible at Securing Data

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It absolutely infuriates me when agencies like the FBI, and governments like Australia, the U.S., Germany, and more want us to break encryption or circumvent it with a back door. As Mathew Gault writes, they are completely inept at securing data. Even the NSA, which likes to think it’s the “world leader in cryptology” got hacked.

Regular phone and internet users remain vulnerable, forced to take individual protective measures, like a poor wage-worker without health insurance who’s told to secure her nest egg by cutting out morning lattes.

It’s Not Just Apple: Antitrust Probe Aimed at Facebook, Google, More

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It’s not just Apple anymore. A new antitrust probe launched by the House of Representatives examines Facebook, Google, and other tech giants.

“Big Tech plays a huge role in our economy and our world,” said Ranking Member Collins (R-GA). “As tech has expanded its market share, more and more questions have arisen about whether the market remains competitive. Our bipartisan look at competition in the digital markets gives us the chance to answer these questions and, if necessary, to take action. I appreciate the partnership of Chairman Nadler, Subcommittee Chairman Cicilline and Subcommittee Ranking Member Sensenbrenner on these important issues.”

Good to see that it’s a bipartisan probe.

The Splinternet is Growing Bigger

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The splinternet, also known as cyberbalkanization, refers to how governments split the World Wide Web into national internets.

It’s not just authoritarian countries trying to bend the global web to national values. The same social media companies that gave rise to unrest in the Middle East have come under fire in the West for allowing their services to be used to promote hatred and terrorism. In response, England and Australia have recently passed laws demanding tech firms provide easier access to web users’ communications.

Sometimes I think that in the future there will be no internet. There won’t be a web browser, there will just be apps that are easier to censor and control.