Hillicon Valley — Shake up atop Twitter
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal let two of the company’s top executives go Thursday, the first major dominos to fall after Elon Musk’s deal to acquire the social media platform.
In cyber news, the U.S. formally signed a treaty joining over 60 nations in a pledge to combat cybercrime.
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Twitter lets top execs go
Two of Twitter’s top leaders announced Thursday they are leaving the company as it prepares for Elon Musk’s impending takeover.
Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s general manager of consumer product, will be replaced by Jay Sullivan, who has held that role on an interim basis.
“Interrupting my paternity leave to share some final @twitter-related news: I’m leaving the company after over 7 years,” Beykpour, the co-founder of video streaming app Periscope, tweeted.
“The truth is that this isn’t how and when I imagined leaving Twitter, and this wasn’t my decision. Parag asked me to leave after letting me know that he wants to take the team in a different direction,” he continued, referring to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal.
Bruce Falck, the company’s general manager for revenue, also announced his departure Thursday.
US signs multilateral cyber treaty
The U.S. on Thursday signed the Second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention, a multilateral treaty aimed to protect citizens from cybercrime and hold cybercriminals accountable.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Downing signed the treaty at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.
According to the Justice Department, the U.S. will join more than 60 countries that have pledged to combat cybercrime, with more expected to join in the coming years.
“It is our collective vision that every country that is serious about fighting cybercrime and that provides for the protection of human rights should become party to the Budapest Convention,” Downing said in a speech to members of the Council of Europe.
NEW TECH AGENCY?
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) on Thursday introduced legislation that would create a new federal watchdog to regulate the country’s biggest technology companies.
The Federal Digital Platform Commission would have five members responsible for protecting consumers by developing and enforcing guardrails on Big Tech.
“As a country, we should take pride that most of the world’s leading tech companies were founded in America. But they aren’t start-ups anymore,” Bennet said in a statement.
“It’s past time for a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to regulating digital platforms that have amassed extraordinary power over our economy, society, and democracy,” he added.
FACEBOOK CONTRACTOR SCRUTINY
A company that outsources content moderation for Facebook is facing a review of its certification as an ethical employer amid outcry over alleged poor working conditions at its office in Kenya.
The potential loss of B Corp certification could significantly damage Sama’s branding as an ethical employer and harm its ability to raise funds. In addition to its work with Facebook, the company also has data labeling contracts with Google, Microsoft and Walmart.
The review comes on the heels of reporting detailing the California-based outsourcing company’s treatment of content moderators in Kenya.
Workers told Time that they were earning as little as $1.50 an hour while enduring mental trauma from reviewing content and intimidation from management.
Foxglove Legal, a United Kingdom-based nonprofit that works with Facebook’s subcontracted content moderators worldwide, alerted the ethical corporation certifier, B Labs, about those allegations shortly after Time’s report, according to emails shared with The Hill.
GOOGLE EYES AI BIAS TWEAK
Google on Wednesday announced that it will use 10 shades in skin tone palettes for its gadgets and apps in an effort to reduce bias in its AI system.
In a statement, Alphabet Inc. said the new Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale will be incorporated into various Google products over the coming months, saying the new scale will support inclusive products and research across the industry.
The MST scale, created by Havard professor and sociologist Ellis Monk, was designed to be easy to use for the development and evaluation of technology while representing a broader range of skin tones, adding that it’s more representative than other skin tone scales in the industry currently.
“In our research, we found that a lot of the time people feel they’re lumped into racial categories, but there’s all this heterogeneity with ethnic and racial categories,” Monk said in a statement.
BITS & PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: America’s sorely needed internet declaration is far from redundant
Lighter click: Look at this fella
Notable links from around the web:
A Union Blitzed Starbucks. At Amazon, It’s a Slog. (The New York Times / Noam Scheiber)
What Do Female Incels Really Want? (The Atlantic / Kaitlyn Tiffany)
Appeals Court Revives Texas Law Targeting Social Media Companies (The New York Times / David McCabe)
One last thing: Bill targets senior scams
The House voted 371-48 Wednesday to pass a bill aimed at protecting senior citizens from increasingly frequent financial scams.
The Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors Act would create a program within the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to dole out $10 million in funding annually to investigate and stop fraud in collaboration with state securities regulators.
“Older Americans have given so much to our great country. We should always have their backs and help protect them from predators that want to take advantage of them,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), the bill’s lead sponsor, said on the House floor Wednesday. “It is incumbent on us to protect them from scammers and abuse.”
Older Americans lose an estimated $3 billion a year to financial scams, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
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