Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Twitter bans ads from Russian media | Dem says she was targeted by Russian bot | House Judiciary to hold hearing on net neutrality

TWITTER BANS ADS FROM RT, SPUTNIK: Twitter will no longer run ads from Russian-funded news outlets RT and Sputnik, the company announced Thursday.

The move came hours after RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, said that Twitter had pitched her outlet on buying election ads, a claim later followed up by an article on RT.com.

“This decision was based on the retrospective work we’ve been doing around the 2016 U.S. election and the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government,” Twitter said in a blog post Thursday morning.

“We did not come to this decision lightly, and are taking this step now as part of our ongoing commitment to help protect the integrity of the user experience on Twitter.”


RT and Sputnik will still be allowed to use their Twitter accounts but will no longer be able to promote tweets or run ads on the platform.

Twitter revealed that it had earned $1.9 million in ad revenue from RT since 2011, including $274,000 in 2016. The company said it would be donating that money to “support external research into the use of Twitter in civic engagement and elections, including use of malicious automation and misinformation, with an initial focus on elections and automation.”

Twitter’s general counsel will be testifying before the House and Senate Intelligence committees next week as part of Congress’s investigation into the Kremlin’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Officials from Google and Facebook, which have both reported 2016 ads sponsored by Russian actors, have also agreed to testify.

Simonyan, from her own account, said RT had been “an exemplary Twitter partner” and that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey should tell lawmakers about a company pitch for 2016 ads, including what appears to be a screenshot of the pitch.

Read more here.

And for more on RT’s allegations, click here.


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TWITTER DIDN’T BRIEF INTEL INVESTIGATORS: Lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee say Twitter never informed them that it pitched Russian state-owned media to buy ads during the 2016 presidential campaign.

A spokesperson for top Senate Intelligence Committee Democrat Mark Warner (Va.), told reporters Thursday that Twitter did not tell the committee during a private briefing last month, or at any other point, that it had made a pitch to persuade Russia Today (RT) to advertise on its platform.

Read more here.


WAYMO WILL TEST SELF-DRIVING CARS IN MICHIGAN: Google’s self-driving car company will test autonomous vehicles in Michigan this winter in order to see how they fare in snowy and icy conditions.

Waymo, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, announced Thursday that its autonomous cars will start hitting the public roads in the Greater Detroit area in the next few weeks. The goal is to test the technology in a variety of cold-weather conditions, including snow, sleet and ice.

Not only is Michigan one of the epicenters for autonomous vehicle technology, but the state is also known for its brutal winters. Waymo also opened a development center in Novi, Mich., last year.

Read more here.


WATERS WANTS ANSWERS ON RUSSIAN BOTS: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is demanding Twitter provide information on Russia-linked accounts she says targeted her and her congressional district.

In a statement released Thursday, Waters said she has never publicly discussed this before now but has suspected for a while that she was a target.

“I have been aware for some time that I was targeted by Russian operatives whose interests were aligned with Donald Trump,” Waters said in the statement.

“I have often noticed that every time I tweeted about Trump and Russia, dozens of strange accounts would immediately tweet various lies and falsehoods that fringe alt-right websites would subsequently use as a basis to write fake news stories.”

Read more here.


HOUSE JUDICIARY TO HOLD NET NEUTRALITY HEARING: The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on net neutrality and the role of antitrust for Nov. 1.

The Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, which will hold the hearing, has not released details, but the event is likely to address concerns that internet service providers stifle competition.

Democratic senators like Edward Markey (Mass.) say consumers often have limited or no options when picking their broadband providers, a claim corroborated by research.

Read more here.


APPLE WANTS SEC TO EXCLUDE SHAREHOLDER DIVERSITY PROPOSAL: Apple has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to exclude a shareholder proposal that would tie diversity of senior executives to CEO performance.

Apple’s letter to the regulator on Oct. 9 is the latest move in a protracted fight between the company and several shareholders on the matter.

Apple Vice President of Corporate Law Gene Levoff asked the agency in his letter for approval of Apple to exclude the proposal, saying that it has already been brought up twice before and received only about 6 percent approval from Apple shareholders.

Read more here.



WSJ: Twitter overstated number of users for three years

The Hill: FCC to vote on rolling back media ownership rules

Motherboard: Researcher recounts warning Equifax about vulnerability

Politico: How Facebook, Google and Twitter ’embeds’ helped Trump in 2016

The Hill: Reddit bans Nazi pages

CNN: Uber now lets you add multiple stops to your ride

Op-ed: For police, first responder communications network is much needed good news

Op-ed: Self-driving legislation will help pave a path to saving lives

Tags Donald Trump Edward Markey Mark Warner

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