Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistle-blower, to testify in Parliament.

1 BUSINESS

Business News - Opportunities - Reviews

 

 
ImageFrances Haugen’s testimony in Britain’s Parliament on Monday marks the start of a European tour, which will include discussions with government officials in Brussels, Paris and Berlin.
Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

British policymakers will hear testimony on Monday from the former Facebook manager who became a whistle-blower and has shared scores of internal documents with policymakers and journalists to help build a case for stiffer oversight of the social media giant.

Frances Haugen, the former employee, is scheduled to testify before Parliament as part of her tightly choreographed campaign to reveal internal Facebook research and discussions that paint a portrait of a company vividly aware of its harmful effects on society, contrary to public statements by company leaders.

Even for Facebook, a company that has lurched between controversies since Mark Zuckerberg started it as a Harvard undergrad in 2004, Ms. Haugen’s disclosures have created a backlash and public relations crisis that stands apart. It has put the company, with more than 2.7 billion users, on the defensive, helping attract political support for new regulation in the United States and Europe and leading to some calls for Mr. Zuckerberg to step aside as Facebook’s chief executive.

The testimony in Britain on Monday is part of the next phase of Ms. Haugen’s campaign against Facebook, a company that she says has put “profit over people.” After anonymously leaking internal Facebook research to The Wall Street Journal that resulted in a series of articles that began in September, she revealed her identify early this month for an episode on “60 Minutes” and testimony before a Senate committee.

Since then, she has shared the Facebook documents with other news organizations, including The New York Times, resulting in additional stories about Facebook’s harmful effects, including its role in spreading election misinformation in the U.S. and stoking divisions in countries such as India.

Ms. Haugen is now making a tour across Europe, home to some of the world’s most aggressive tech regulation and where governments are expected to act faster than the United States to pass new laws targeting Facebook and other tech giants. After testifying before British lawmakers, Ms. Haugen is scheduled to meet in the coming weeks with officials in Brussels, Paris and Berlin. She is also scheduled to speak at an industry conference in Lisbon.

“For all the problems Frances Haugen is trying to solve, Europe is the place to be,” said Mathias Vermeulen, the public policy director at AWO, a law firm and policy firm that is among the groups working with Ms. Haugen in the United States and Europe.

British policymakers are hearing Ms. Haugen’s testimony as they draft a law to create a new internet regulator that could impose billions of dollars worth of fines if more isn’t done to stop the spread of hate speech, misinformation, racist abuse and harmful content targeting children.

The policy ideas gained additional momentum after the murder this month of David Amess, a member of Parliament, leading to calls for the law to force social media companies to crack down on extremism.

Later this week, representatives from Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok are scheduled to testify before the same British committee as will Ms. Haugen.

In Brussels, Ms. Haugen is scheduled to meet on Nov. 8 with European Union officials drafting laws that would force Facebook and other large internet platforms to disclose more about how their recommendation algorithms choose to promote certain material over others, and impose tougher antitrust rules to prevent the companies from using their dominant positions to box out smaller rivals. European policymakers are also debating a ban on targeted advertising based on a person’s data profile, which would pose a grave threat to Facebook’s multibillion-dollar advertising business.

Despite growing political support for new regulation, many questions remain about how such policies would work in practice.

Regulating Facebook is particularly complex because many of its biggest problems center on content posted by users all over the world, raising difficult questions about the regulation of speech and free expression. In Britain, the new online safety law has been criticized by some civil society groups as being overly restrictive and a threat to free speech online.

Another challenge is how to enforce the new rules, particularly at a time when many government agencies are under pressure to tighten spending.

Credit…Dado Ruvic/Reuters

PayPal, the digital payments giant, said late on Sunday that it was not interested in buying the social media network Pinterest, ending efforts to craft a potential $45 billion deal that would have been one of the biggest consumer internet takeovers in a decade.

In a brief statement, PayPal said it was “not pursuing an acquisition of Pinterest at this time.”

A transaction would have been among the biggest ever by PayPal since being spun off from eBay in 2015 and would have bolstered its presence in e-commerce. Pinterest is best known for allowing its 454 million users to pin images and links to their online pinboards and letting them buy goods directly through so-called “buyable pins.” Pinterest largely makes money through advertising instead of online shopping.

PayPal had offered $70 for each share of Pinterest, according to people with knowledge of the discussions, a 25 percent premium to where the digital pinboard’s stock had been trading before news of the talks emerged last week.

Investor reaction to a potential deal was mixed. Shares in Pinterest jumped on the news, while those in PayPal tumbled sharply.

Pinterest has performed well over the last year, with its revenue rising nearly 50 percent in 2020 because of a pandemic-fueled jump in online shopping. But some analysts questioned the logic of a deal and suggested the talks underscored PayPal’s difficulties with tougher competition in its core digital payments business.

When will the shortages end? Why are new cars so hard to find? What happened to all the giant container ships?

In an era in which we’ve become accustomed to clicking and waiting for whatever we desire to arrive at our doors, we have experienced the shock of not being able to buy toilet paper, having to wait months for curtains and needing to compromise on the color of our new cars. The pandemic ushered in many of the problems the world now faces, but the end of the pandemic will not instantly fix things.

We answer the questions above and more with a look at the global supply chain. READ THE ARTICLE →

 

 

The image on the left loads in about 4 seconds, approximately how long it takes in normal conditions. The same image on the right takes eight times longer to load, about 34 seconds, simulating what a Twitter user in Russia would experience with the government’s technology in use.

Russia is putting in place perhaps the world’s most ambitious digital censorship effort outside China. It is using the censorship technology to gain more leverage over Western internet companies in addition to other strong-arm tactics and legal intimidation.

The world got its first glimpse of Russia’s new tools in action when Twitter was slowed to a crawl in the country this spring. It was the first time the filtering system had been put to work, researchers and activists said. Other sites have since been blocked, including several linked to the jailed opposition leader Alexei A. Navalny. READ THE ARTICLE →

Credit…Ina Fassbender/Agence France-Presse, via Pool/Afp Via Getty Images

With winter looming, German health officials and experts have raised concerns about a new surge of coronavirus cases.

Cases in Germany — about 12,775 daily on average — have increased by 57 percent in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. Deaths on average in the same period have increased by 11 percent.

The surge comes as many European countries have slowly lifted lockdowns after months of restrictions driven by Delta and other virus variants.

A national state of emergency is in place in Germany — which allows the government to unilaterally impose restrictions on states — but it is set to expire on Nov. 25. The order can be extended by a parliamentary vote, and some state officials are advocating that lawmakers do so.

Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, though, noted the country’s high vaccination rate and said that the emergency order could be lifted while other rules are put in place, like mask mandates and proof of vaccination. About 70 percent of the population has received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.

Pandemic restrictions in Germany are set individually by the country’s 16 states, and in general, masks are required on public transportation and in stores. Since August, visitors to Germany have had to show proof of vaccination, recovery from infection or a recent negative test for entry to indoor public spaces, like restaurants, salons and gyms. Clubs in Berlin, famed for its hedonistic nightlife, reopened last month for the first time in over a year.

Cases are also resurging in Britain, where the government lifted virtually all restrictions in July, arguing that a rapid vaccination rollout had helped mitigate rates of hospitalizations and deaths. In June, the country reported as few as 2,000 cases a day, but last week, it reported an average of 47,209 new cases a day, a 30 percent increase over the average two weeks ago.

The government has rejected calls for an immediate reintroduction of some coronavirus restrictions, but it has also said that rules could be put back in place if a vaccine booster program did little to stop the spread. Health experts are cautioning that while vaccines do help prevent serious illness, they alone will not be enough to stop the upward trajectory of infection rates.

“Relying on the vaccine program to kind of take care of the problem is not going be a solution, I’m afraid,” Adam Finn, a member of a government vaccination committee, said to the BBC on Sunday. “It is really time that everyone got the message that they can’t just go back to normal if they want to avoid further restrictions later in the year.”

1 BUSINESS

Business News - Opportunities - Reviews

 

 

Leave a Reply