FCC wants to change Section 230 regulating tech companies & censorship

Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, shares his perspective on technology news in Tech In (a little over) 60 Seconds:

What is the deal with Twitter and Facebook censoring a New York Post story on Hunter Biden?

The New York Post ran a story on Hunter Biden. It may have been entirely false. It may have been hacked. Both of those things are problems. But the complicated thing is when the story ran, nobody at Facebook and nobody at Twitter knew whether it was false or whether it had been hacked. The two companies responded in different ways. Facebook said, we're just going to down-rank it. Twitter initially said, "we just won't let it be shared." Twitter then backtracked. Basically, there is a really hard problem of what you do with false information and what you do with hacked information. Neither company has totally clear policies and both got caught in the slipstream.


Was the censoring of the New York Post story the catalyst for the FCC's public statements to rewrite Section 230?

Yes, absolutely. So Section 230 is the very important Internet law that allows the tech companies to filter content on their platforms. It essentially says, hey, if you run a platform, whether it's Facebook, Twitter or a Web site comments, you are not responsible for comments and for content that other people post there. And not only that, you have the ability to within certain limits, censor, change, edit the content out there without becoming a publisher and becoming liable. So that is partly what has allowed the tech companies to do what they do. It's allowed them to thrive and it's also allowed them to have policies policing misinformation or false statements on their platforms. So, Donald Trump got very mad at it, and so Ajit Pai, the head of the FCC, said, "hey, we're going to look at Section 230 and interpret it." In my opinion, that's garbage. Section 230 may be a bad law. It may be bad that the tech companies filter content on their platforms, whatever. I don't see how the FCC has the authority to deal with that. It is a law that gets interpreted by the courts. So, Congress can change the law, or the courts can change the interpretation of the law. I don't see why the FCC has authority, but who knows? It's just my guess, Ajit Pai is trying to please Donald Trump.

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Should you believe the hype(rsonic)?

Over the past few months, US officials have become increasingly alarmed about a new type of killing machines called "hypersonic weapons."

The top US General, Mark Milley, said that China's successful test of an advanced hypersonic weapon earlier this year was "very close" to a "Sputnik moment" – referring to the Soviet Union's surprise launch of the world's first artificial satellite in 1957, which raised fears that the US was lagging behind a formidable technological rival.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

What is Facebook planning with the metaverse?

Well, my sense is that Facebook mostly prefers a virtual reality over the actual situation the company is in, with overwhelming criticism about the many harms to people it is causing all over the world. The metaverse at launch would be added to a number of services and experiences online in a more virtual and augmented reality setting. Think about what the gaming sector has done, but now, also, other big tech firms are jumping on the bandwagon. The thing to remember is that the user experience would be more immersive.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

Why did President Biden renominate Jay Powell to be the chairman of the Fed, and who's his No.2, Lael Brainard?

Well, Powell by all accounts has done a pretty good job of managing the Fed through the coronavirus pandemic. He dusted off the playbook, first pioneered by Chairman Bernanke during the financial crisis, and he's largely continued the relatively easy monetary policy of his predecessor at the Fed, now Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen. With inflation growing the way it has over the last several months, Biden now owns the policies of the Fed and is essentially endorsing what Powell has been doing and giving Powell the political cover to continue to keep rates low for longer, or as many people expect, raise them slightly over the next 12 months in order to fight inflation.

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When Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all counts, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who created the "1619 Project" tweeted: "In this country, you can even kill white people and get away with it if those white people are fighting for Black lives. This is the legacy of 1619." In an upcoming interview with Ian Bremmer, she explains why she saw the verdict as a consequence of this country's long history of double standards when it comes to racial justice. "The fact that we own more guns in this country than any other country is certainly a legacy of 1619" Hannah-Jones says. "This idea that white Americans can patrol, that they have the right to open carry, this is not something that Black Americans can engage in, in the same way." Watch her full conversation with Ian Bremmer in an upcoming episode of GZERO World.

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at Peng Shuai's public appearance, El Salvador's "Bitcoin City," and Americans' Thanksgiving celebrations.

Why has China silenced its famous tennis player, Peng Shuai?

Well, they haven't completely silenced her in the sense that the head of the IOC, the International Olympic Committee with Beijing Olympics coming up, basically told the Chinese government, "hey, what is the absolute minimum that you can do so that we can get Beijing Olympics back on track?" And they did the absolute minimum, which was a half an hour phone call with her that felt like kind of a hostage phone call. But nonetheless, she says that she is fine and is private and doesn't want to talk about the fact that she had accused the former Vice Premier of sexually assaulting her. That is a fairly heady charge. It was clear, going to get a lot of headlines in the run-up to the Olympics. And she wasn't heard from after that. So big problem for the Chinese in the run-up to the Olympics.

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What We're Watching: Biden's oil dilemma, Abiy Ahmed takes up arms, Iran nuclear talks on life-support

Biden's oil dilemma. The Biden administration says it will release some 50 million barrels of crude from US stockpiles in a bid to reign in soaring gasoline prices. Similar moves were made by Japan, South Korea, and China in recent days as global energy prices rise and supplies remain scarce in many places amid the ongoing economic recovery. Pain at the gas pump and broader inflation concerns in the US have contributed to Biden's tanking poll numbers. With Republicans poised to do well in next year's midterm elections, the president is under pressure to turn things around fast. But Biden has already come under fire from environmental groups, who say the president's move flies in the face of his Glasgow commitments to reduce rather than boost fossil fuel consumption. But in domestic politics, bread-and-butter issues are paramount, and if Biden doesn't "fix" the gas problem hurting American families, the Democrats could suffer a beating at the polls. What's more, Biden has also angered the 23-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which worries that extra US oil on the market will bring down prices for their own crude. Now the organization is warning that it might renege on an earlier promise to produce more oil.

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A view shows the site where a bus with North Macedonian plates caught fire on a highway, near the village of Bosnek, Bulgaria, November 23, 2021.

45: At least 45 people – including several children – were killed in Bulgaria Tuesday when a bus caught fire while traveling on a highway back from Istanbul. Poor infrastructure and road safety have resulted in Bulgaria recording the second-highest number of traffic fatalities in the European Union after Romania.

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