The Technology 202: Facebook is still freezing all political donations. Ultimately, he may have to make a choice.

On the other hand, in the wake of January 6, Microsoft, google and Amazon ultimately all decided to suspend contributions only to members who voted against certifying the election results in favor of President Biden. Microsoft on Friday afternoon was the last to announce such a policyand he also said he would establish a new Forthcoming Democracy Initiative to support organizations that promote public transparency, campaign finance reform and the right to vote.

Facebook previously said it would continue with the controversial pause until at least the end of the quarter as it reviews its processes. An indefinite suspension will likely prove untenable, as company critics have noted for other companies.

“At the end of the day, you have to decide whether you will continue to support the members of Congress who tried to overturn the election or not,” tweeted Judd Legum, an old ThinkProgress editor who writes now Popular information newsletterafter Microsoft’s decision.

Facebook’s deliberations come at a particularly tense time for the company.

He is facing a broad backlash from Republicans after his decision to suspend former President Donald Trump’s accounts indefinitely, preventing him from posting on his service. But at the same time, he faces backlash from Democrats for not doing enough to root out allegations of voter fraud and other misinformation in the 2020 election and its aftermath.

These measures underscore the increased control of political spending by tech companies. Tech companies’ longstanding PACs are increasingly controversial in these politically polarized times. And companies must decide whether winning over politicians through contributions is worth alienating their broadly left-wing employee bases – who increasingly speak out when they disagree with government decisions. public policy of their companies.

Facebook’s PAC spent less in the 2020 election cycle than in previous years, according to data from the Center for Responsive Policy. The company spent $566,895, down from $675,630 in the 2016 election cycle.

“These companies are doing something very new, and something that could potentially alienate an important base for them,” Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a political money group, told my colleagues. “I’ve never heard of this before.”

The deliberations highlight a broader debate on the need for PACs to influence the debate in Washington.

Some large companies in the industry have no PACs at all, avoiding controversy altogether. Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed in a 2019 interview that no company should do this.

“I refuse to have one because it shouldn’t exist!” I think people who should be able to donate are people who can vote,” he said.

Other tech companies that have stayed out of PACs say they are now getting calls from other companies wanting to know more about how this model works. Chris Padilla, vice president of government and regulatory affairs at IBM, recently received calls from other companies explaining how IBM conducts government relations without a PAC, he told the Wall Street Journal.

“We’ve never needed PAC checks to begin productive relationships with decision makers,” Padilla said. told the Journal.

There are precedents for companies to opt out of PACs altogether.

Twitter last year close his corporate political action committee, and he donated remaining funds to the NALEO Educational Fund, a nonpartisan nonprofit that works to boost Latino participation in politics, and the Ross Initiative in sport for equality, which focuses on ending racial discrimination in sport.

In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said the PAC shut down because it “is consistent with our belief that political influence should be earned, not bought.”

Russian media are promoting Moscow’s coronavirus vaccine on social media.

The Russian operation targets people in Spanish-speaking countries with a campaign that suggests Russia’s coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V is safer than vaccines developed in the United States, the New York Timesby Sheera Frenkel, Maria Abi-Habib and Julian Barnes report.

“Almost everything they promote for the vaccine is manipulated and released without context,” Bret Schafer, a member of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an advocacy group that tracks Russian disinformation, told The Times. “Every negative story or issue that’s come out about a US-made vaccine is amplified, as they flood the area with any positive Russian vaccine reports.”

Intelligence officials spotted slight increase in Russia campaign after Sputnik V vaccine approved in August. The campaign has since intensified, with the State Department saying Russia is also “seeking to sow mistrust” in the United States over other vaccines.

Two of Latin America’s most influential social media accounts – for Russian news outlets Russia Today and Sputnik – were involved in the campaign. RT told The Times that the posts highlighted by the newspaper were “a select fraction of our coverage”, while Sputnik did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

Senators unveiled a new bill to help users hold tech companies liable for actual damages.

It would open the door for internet users to file a complaint for threatening messages, Tony Romm reports. The bill is the latest salvo from lawmakers regarding Section 230, a key internet law that protects tech companies and other website operators from lawsuits for content moderation decisions.

The measure, known as the Safe Tech Act, would create a legal avenue for internet users to seek court orders and sue if posts, photos and videos “threaten them personally of abuse, discrimination, harassment, death or other irreparable harm”. “, reports Tony.

Calls to change the law intensified following the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol and drew attention to content moderation decisions by Facebook, Google, Twitter and other sites.

The new bill, which was announced by Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), however, have critics. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), co-author of the original legislation, said in a statement that the bill’s “admirable goals” did not change the fact that it threatened to “devastate all parts of the open”. the Internetand cause massive collateral damage to online discourse.

“This bill would have the same effect as a complete repeal of 230, but would cause much more uncertainty and confusion, thanks to the tangle of new exceptions,” he said.

People in China say they can no longer access Clubhouse – after the app briefly escaped censorship.

Clubhouse users in China reported blocking in WeChat groups and discussed ways to get back to the increasingly popular live audio app TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington and Rita Liao report.

In the days leading up to the ban, users flocked to the app as it was one of the few social networks where China’s strict internet regulations were not enforced. Chinese apps such as WeChat censor and block critical users in the country. Other social media networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, are completely banned in China.

Before the ban, people in China paid up to $77 for invites to the social media audio app to listen to discussions on hot topics like Uyghur detention camps in Xinjiang and Taiwan independence. Sun Yu of the Financial Times. reports.

“Clubhouse is a very good communication platform,” Ruder Finn general manager Gao Ming said. “Too bad he’s unlikely to have a bright future in China.”

Reddit’s five-second Super Bowl ad caused a stir. Peter Kafka from Recode:

Times — and the tech industry — have changed since Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl:

  • Pamela Karlanwho was a member of Facebook’s supervisory board, is join the Department of Justice as Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division. She resigned from her post at the independent organization.
  • Mail-in ballot in Amazon’s first U.S. unionization vote in seven years start today.
  • Twitter holds a call with investors to discuss its fourth quarter results.
  • Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) delivered a keynote address on day one of the virtual three-day INCOMPAS Communications and Technology Policy Summit today at noon.
  • Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, Acting Chair of the Federal Trade Commission delivered the keynote speech at the Privacy Papers for Policymakers Award virtual event Wednesday at 1 p.m.

These “YouTube stars” joined “Saturday Night Live” to listen to music for the first time: