Overnight Cybersecurity

Hillicon Valley — Tech firms slammed on Brazilian misinformation

A new report found that Meta and YouTube are failing to take action against content spreading false claims about Brazil’s election despite their commitments to remove election misinformation.  

Meanwhile, hackers breached the content management system of Fast Company, a monthly business and tech magazine, on Tuesday evening. 

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Meta, YouTube fall short on Brazil misinformation

Meta and YouTube are failing to crack down on posts and ads spreading misinformation about the Brazilian elections despite commitments from the companies to take action against the false narratives, according to a report released Wednesday by SumOfUs.  

Researchers reviewed thousands of social media posts, ads and videos related to Brazil’s elections and found an “ecosystem of content seeking to undermine the electoral process” by spreading false information amplifying doubts about the integrity of that process, according to the report. 

It mirrors criticism raised about how the companies failed to crack down on the false “Stop the Steal” election narrative in the U.S. in 2020 and amplifies concerns that tech giants have not improved on their misinformation strategies ahead of Brazil’s October elections or the U.S. midterms in November.  

  • For Meta, the parent company of Facebook, researchers searched the platform’s ad library using seven keywords related to the elections for content during 2022. For two of the terms, “STF,” referring to the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court, and “Alexandre De Moraes,” a justice of the court, the number of results was too great to be manually processed, according to the report, so researchers reduced the time span to seven days.
  • The researchers behind the report discovered 56 ads peddling election disinformation that collectively reached 3 million impressions. 

Meta’s response: A spokesperson defended the company’s policies related to moderating misinformation about the Brazilian election in a statement.  

“We don’t believe a private company should limit people’s ability to discuss topics debated in the Brazilian Congress. We’ve prepared extensively for the 2022 election in Brazil and are committed to protecting the integrity of the vote,” the spokesperson said. 

As for YouTube, the report slams the company for serving as a “megaphone for disinformation.” 

  • The report analyzed 10 videos published since June from verified YouTube channels that researchers found mimicked the Stop the Steal narrative by casting doubt on the election process. 
  • The Hill reached out to YouTube for comment. 

Read more here.  

Tech magazine hacked 

Hackers breached the content management system of Fast Company, a monthly business and tech magazine, on Tuesday evening. 

The hackers sent two obscene and racist push notifications to followers of the magazine in Apple News, Fast Company confirmed. 

  • “The messages are vile and not in line with the content and ethos of Fast Company,” the magazine said in a statement posted on Twitter.  
  • The push notifications contained a racial slur and graphic language, which prompted users to post screenshots on Twitter, The Washington Post reported

Fast Company said it is investigating the matter and has shut down its website until the situation is resolved. 

Read more here

SENATORS PUSH BUTTIGIEG ON TOURISM INFRASTRUCTURE 

A group of bipartisan senators wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday asking why his department has missed Congress’s deadline to update its strategy on tourism infrastructure. 

The group, which is led by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and joined by Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), asked Buttigieg for a briefing that includes a proposed timeline for the update and an explanation for the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) delay. 

“The travel and tourism industry is the cornerstone of many of our states’ economies, responsible for millions of good-paying jobs across a number of industries,” the senators wrote.  

“It is imperative that DOT promptly update and release the National Travel and Tourism Infrastructure Strategic Plan in order to meet the needs of the travel and tourism industry and the requirements that Congress directed in enacted law,” they continued. 

The strategy comprises an assessment of the nation’s transportation network and strategies for how to improve it in relation to tourism and long-haul passenger travel. It also includes projections on tourism volumes for the next 20-year period. 

Read more here.  

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: The Department of Defense needs more commercial data to weather future storms 

Notable links from around the web: 

Floridians are livestreaming Hurricane Ian on TikTok (NBC News / Kat Tenbarge) 

Stuck on the Streets of San Francisco in a Driverless Car (The New York Times / Cade Metz) 

AI can now create any image in seconds, bringing wonder and danger (The Washington Post / Nitasha Tiku) 

🎵 Lighter click: History was made  

One more thing: Metrics allegedly misleading

WarnerBros. Discovery allegedly misled shareholders and inflated subscriber figures for HBO Max, a new lawsuit filed this month claims. 

The lawsuit was brought by the Collinsville Police Pension Board, an Illinois-based shareholder of Warner Bros. Discovery stock, which it traded for Class C common shares in Discovery before a massive merger with WarnerBros. earlier this year, The Wrap reported. 

“WarnerMedia was improvidently concentrating its investments in streaming and ignoring its other business lines … [and] overstated the number of subscribers to HBO Max by as many as 10 million subscribers, by including as subscribers AT&T customers who had received bundled access to HBO Max, but had not signed onto the service,” the lawsuit states. 

The suit is seeking a trial by jury, alleging multiple Securities and Exchange Commission violations, the outlet reported. 

Read more here.  

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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