Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley — Meta ramps up criticism of rival Apple

FILE – The Facebook app is shown in the app store on a smart phone in Surfside, Fla., on April 23, 2021. According to a new report from the nonprofit groups Global Witness and Foxglove, Facebook is letting violent hate speech slip through its controls in Kenya as it has in other countries. It is the third such test of Facebook’s ability to detect hateful language — either via artificial intelligence or human moderators — that the groups have run, and that the company has failed. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg renewed attacks against fellow tech giant Apple over the company’s dominance in the app store field, while Twitter CEO Elon Musk reined in some of his critiques from earlier this week after meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook.  

In other news, Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, is no longer purchasing the alternative platform Parler.  

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley.  

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Zuckerberg slams Apple’s app store power 

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg slammed Apple over its dominance over the app store market Wednesday, ramping up his criticism of the tech giant on the heels of similar comments made by new Twitter CEO Elon Musk.  

Zuckerberg called Apple’s control in the app store market “problematic” at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit

“It is the only one where one company can control what apps get on the device. I don’t think it’s sustainable or good,” Zuckerberg said.  

Apple only allows apps to be downloaded through the Apple App Store on devices that run on its iOS, such as iPhones and iPads. The level of control has led to scrutiny from regulators, as well as app developers and fellow tech companies.  

Zuckerberg said “Apple obviously has their own interests,” unlike a government, and argued that there is a conflict of interest if “companies have to deliver their apps exclusively from platforms controlled by competitors.” 

Ramping up the feud: Musk, who took over Twitter at the end of October upon closing his $44 billion acquisition, criticized Apple’s app store control earlier this week. But Meta’s feud with Apple dates back further than Musk’s recent foray into the social media sector. The Facebook parent company, which rebranded as Meta last year, has long been pushing back on Apple’s dominance in the app store.  

Apple has defended its App Store policies as helping to increase safety for users.  

Read more here.  

Musk resolves ‘misunderstanding’ with Apple 

As Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg piled critisim onto Apple, Twitter’s new head Elon Musk reined in some of his own after meeting with the company’s CEO Tim Cook.  

Musk on Wednesday said he met with Cook, just two days after Musk claimed the tech company had threatened to pull Twitter from its app store, adding that the “misunderstanding” had been resolved. 

In a late afternoon tweet, Musk thanked Cook for “taking me around Apple’s beautiful HQ” in Cupertino, Calif., and said they had a “good conversation.” 

“Among other things, we resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store,” Musk wrote. “Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so.” 

Read more here.  

YE, PARLER TERMINATE DEAL 

Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, will no longer purchase the alternative social media platform Parler, the company announced Thursday.  

Parler Technologies said in a statement the company “mutually agreed” with Ye to terminate the intent of sale of Parler in a decision made in “mid-November.” 

“Parler will continue to pursue future opportunities for growth and the evolution of the platform for our vibrant community,” Parler Technologies said in a statement.  

In October, Ye announced his plans to acquire Parler, a platform that offers minimal content moderation and caters to a right-wing audience. The announcement came after Ye was banned from Twitter over antisemitic posts. He has since regained access to his Twitter account, along with the owners of other previously banned accounts that were given access to the platform under changes by new CEO Elon Musk.  

The announcement of the decision to terminate the deal came the same day that Ye appeared on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s Infowars program and went on an antisemitic rant that included praise for Nazis and Adolf Hitler. 

Read more here.  

Facebook failed to block ads with death threats

Facebook failed to block 15 out of 20 ads containing death threats to election workers submitted by researchers to test the tech giant’s enforcement, according to a report released Thursday.  

An investigation by Global Witness and the NYU Cybersecurity for Democracy team found the Meta-owned platform approved almost all of the ads with hate speech the researchers submitted on the day of or day before the midterm elections.  

The ads tested included real examples of previous threats made against election workers, including statements “that people would be killed, hanged or executed, and that children would be molested,” according to the report. The content was submitted as ads in order to let the team schedule when they would be posted and remove them before they went live.  

Facebook approved nine of the 10 English-language ads and six of the 10 Spanish-language ads, according to the report.  

Meta’s response: A spokesperson for Meta said in a statement that the “small sample of ads” is “not representative of what people see on our platforms.”  

“Content that incites violence against election workers or anyone else has no place on our apps and recent reporting has made clear that Meta’s ability to deal with these issues effectively exceeds that of other platforms. We remain committed to continuing to improve our systems,” the spokesperson said. 

Read more here.  

NO PLANS FOR AMAZON TO REMOVE ANTISEMITIC FILM 

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy on Wednesday signaled that the company would not take down an antisemitic film and book from its store that gained attention after Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving promoted it. 

Irving was suspended from the Nets after tweeting a link to the 2018 film titled “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which was based on a 2015 book of the same name and contains a number of antisemitic tropes. The film and book remain available on Amazon as pressure grows for their removal. 

“We have hundreds of millions of customers with lots of different viewpoints,” Jassy told Andrew Ross Sorkin during an interview at The New York Times’s DealBook Summit.  

“And inside the company, we won’t tolerate hate or discrimination or harassment, but we also recognize as a retailer of content to hundreds of millions of customers with lots of different viewpoints, we have to be willing to allow access to those viewpoints even if they are objectionable and even if they differ from our own personal viewpoints,” Jassy added. 

Read more here.  

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Let privacy bring us together in the new Congress 

Notable links from around the web: 

One last thing: Electric mowers could curb pollution 

Trading in gasoline-powered lawn equipment for electric and battery-operated models could help curb the ozone pollution plaguing Colorado’s Front Range, a new report has found. 

Making such a switch could achieve nearly one-fifth of the reduction needed to address the region’s unhealthy levels of this atmospheric contaminant, according to the report, released on Thursday by the Colorado Public Interest Group (CoPIRG) Foundation. 

Operating a commercial gas-powered lawnmower for just one hour generates as much ozone-forming emissions as driving a 2017 Toyota Camry about 300 miles from Trinidad, Colo., to Cheyenne, Wyo., the authors said.  

Meanwhile, an hour of commercial leaf-blowing produces what the researchers described as “a staggering amount of ozone-forming emissions” — the equivalent of driving 1,100 miles from Denver to Calgary, Alberta. 

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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