Hillicon Valley: Facebook bans ads from pro-Trump PAC | Uber reports big drop in revenue | US offers $10M reward for election interference info

Hillicon Valley: Facebook bans ads from pro-Trump PAC | Uber reports big drop in revenue | US offers $10M reward for election interference info
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Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill's newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

NEW FACEBOOK VS. TRUMP FIGHT: Facebook is banning ads from the Committee to Defend the President, a pro-Trump super PAC, a spokesperson for the platform told The Hill on Thursday.


The move comes a day after the platform also removed a post from the president, citing "false claims" about the novel coronavirus.

“As a result of the Committee to Defend the President’s repeated sharing of content determined by third-party fact-checkers to be false, they will not be permitted to advertise for a period of time on our platform," Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement Thursday.

The Committee to Defend the President has come under criticism from Democrats who have accused it of misrepresenting and twisting words.

Facebook declined to comment on how long the advertising ban will last.

Read more about the move here.


TWITTER BATTLE HEATS UP: Twitter temporarily locked the Trump campaign’s account over a clip containing misinformation about the novel coronavirus, saying the account would be able to resume tweeting only if it deleted the tweet in question.


The clip came from a “Fox & Friends” interview and featured the president claiming that children are “almost immune” from the virus. The same excerpt was removed from Facebook earlier Wednesday.

A Twitter spokesperson told The Washington Post that the tweet was "is in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation."

The Trump campaign has since deleted the tweet and its account is back to fully operational.

The move by Twitter follows several incidents in recent months in which the tech giant penalized the president’s personal account.

The platform previously flagged a tweet about mail-in voting as containing misleading claims about an election. Another saying looters would be shot during unrest after the death of George Floyd was flagged as promoting violence. A third, featuring an edit of a clip of a Black toddler and a white toddler embracing, was removed for containing “manipulated media” due to the addition of a fictitious CNN chyron.

Read more here.


BAD DAY FOR UBER: Uber announced Thursday that its second quarter revenue dropped 29 percent compared to last year, putting it at $2.2 billion.

The ride-hailing giant's net loss for 2020's second quarter was $1.8 billion. That compares to the $5.2 billion it lost last year during the same time frame.

The company's latest drop in revenue, however, marked its steepest decline since it went public in May 2019.

The biggest hit was to Uber's core ride-hailing feature with the coronavirus pandemic keeping many home. Gross profit made off of rides declined 73 percent compared to last year.

Read more about Uber’s earnings here.


WANTED: ELECTION INTERFERENCE INFO: The State Department announced it would offer a $10 million reward to anyone who could provide information on individuals working with foreign governments to interfere in U.S. elections through cyber operations.


The agency specifically is seeking information on individuals working with a foreign government to interfere in U.S. federal, state or local elections through hacking operations and in a way that violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. 

“The ability of persons, as well as foreign powers, to interfere in or undermine public confidence in United States elections, including through the unauthorized accessing of election and campaign infrastructure, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” the State Department wrote in a “wanted” notice.

The reward was announced as concerns around election security have spiked on Capitol Hill over the past month, and four years after Russian agents launched a sweeping interference effort aimed at the 2016 presidential election. 

Read more about the reward program here.


TIKTOK BAN MOVES FORWARD: The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation to ban the use of social media app TikTok on federal devices, weeks after the House approved a similar measure.

The legislation, sponsored primarily by Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHawley warns Schumer to steer clear of Catholic-based criticisms of Barrett Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Trump faces tricky choice on Supreme Court pick MORE (R-Mo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), would ban the app’s use on all federal government devices, following bans on the app already put in place by the Army and the Transportation Security Administration due to potential security threats. 


“In light of all we know, it is unthinkable to me that we should continue to permit federal employees, those workers entrusted with sensitive government data, to access this app on their work phones and computers,” Hawley said in a statement on Thursday.

Other Senate sponsors of the bill included GOP Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP senators confident Trump pick to be confirmed by November Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump stokes fears over November election outcome MORE (Ark.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOn The Trail: Making sense of this week's polling tsunami Tillis appears to reinforce question about COVID-19 death toll The power of incumbency: How Trump is using the Oval Office to win reelection MORE (Iowa), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallySenate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Netflix distances from author's comments about Muslim Uyghurs but defends project On The Trail: Making sense of this week's polling tsunami MORE (Ariz.).

The bill was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate weeks after the House included a companion measure, sponsored by Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckGOP lawmaker says China could use TikTok consumer data against US in a conflict Republicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats Hillicon Valley: Facebook bans ads from pro-Trump PAC | Uber reports big drop in revenue | US offers M reward for election interference info MORE (R-Colo.), banning TikTok on federal devices in the House-passed version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

Read more about the legislation here.


TREASURY FINES CAPITAL ONE: Capital One has been fined $80 million by a Treasury Department bureau in connection to a 2019 breach that led to the data of around 100 million current and potential U.S. customers being illegally accessed. 

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) levied the fine, to be paid to the Treasury Department, against the banking group due to the OCC’s assessment that Capital One did not have enough risk management controls in place ahead of the 2019 hacking incident, and due to the group's "failure to correct the deficiencies in a timely manner."


In addition, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System issued a cease and desist order against the company on Thursday in connection to the massive data breach, ordering Capital One to adopt an “enterprise-wide risk management program” to identify potential future security threats. 

The orders come almost one year after Paige Thompson, a former Amazon employee, was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly accessing and stealing sensitive data stored in the cloud from multiple companies, including Capital One. 

Read more about the case here.


TWITTER ROLLS OUT NEW LABELS: Twitter announced Thursday it is rolling out two new categories of labels to improve transparency on the platform: government accounts and state-affiliated media entities.

The first category will include high-ranking government officials like official spokespeople, foreign ministers and ambassadors.

The platform will be focused on officials who represent countries abroad and will start applying the labels to accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council: China, the U.S., Russia, France and the United Kingdom.

When users visit the selected accounts, they will see a label under the account username indicating the person's position.

Twitter is also rolling out similar labels for state-affiliated media, which the company defines as "where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution."

The platform will also limit the reach of those outlets, removing their posts from the recommendations system, notifications and search.

The decision to label state-affiliated media accounts follows a similar one by Facebook. 

Facebook's policy, announced last October, was immediately criticized by Al Jazeera, which is privately owned but has a member of the Qatari royal family as the chair of its board.

Read more about the decision here.


NEW SNAPCHAT FEATURE: Snapchat announced Thursday that a new set of voter registration tools and information is coming to the app to help young people prepare for the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The picture-based messaging app is notorious for its sweeping demographic of younger millennial and Gen Z users and is seeking to provide multiple avenues for users to educate themselves on how to register to vote, find polling locations and learn about different voting options.

According to a Snapchat spokesperson, the company will partner with BallotReady to launch a new "Mini" feature to help users learn about in-person and mail-in voting and grant users the option to register to vote from within the app.

"For a generation who grew up on smartphones, and are used to being able to do everything from their fingertips -- to date technologies haven’t done much to make it easier for them to vote," a Snapchat representative told The Hill.

A July study by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement found that 15 million people have turned 18 since the last presidential election, meaning many more young people will be eligible to vote this November.

Among the tools will be a checklist to help users complete their registration and cast a ballot on Nov. 3.

Read more about the new feature here.


UBER, LYFT SUED: A California agency is suing Uber and Lyft over alleged wage theft, saying the ride-hailing companies have misclassified drivers as independent contractors.

The state's Department of Industrial Relations announced Wednesday that the Labor Commissioner's Office filed separate lawsuits against the two California-based companies.

"The Uber and Lyft business model rests on the misclassification of drivers as independent contractors," California Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower saiid in a statement. "This leaves workers without protections such as paid sick leave and reimbursement of drivers' expenses, as well as overtime and minimum wages."

García-Brower's office said nearly 5,000 drivers have filed complaints against Uber and Lyft for owed wages. She said misclassification also affects other expenses for drivers.

When reached for comment, an Uber spokesperson said the company has not had the opportunity to review the claims because they "have not been served" the lawsuit.

“The vast majority of California drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under state law," the spokesperson added. 

Lyft also said that the "state labor agency has botched thousands of claims. They know they don't have the ability to process these claims, so they sent them into a legal abyss, where they know it will take years to resolve them."

Read more about the case here.

Lighter click: Just double checked and this is true

An op-ed to chew on: Technology and the market for hypocrisy



Facebook Employees Ask Zuckerberg What Would Happen If Trump Used Their Platform To Dispute Election Results (BuzzFeed News / Craig Silverman and Ryan Mac)

Facebook removes troll farm posing as African-American support for Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts MORE (NBC News / Ben Collins and Kevin Collier)

One Tweet Tried To Identify A Cop — Then Five People Were Charged With Felony Harassment (The Verge / Adi Robertson)

Lawmakers Ask California DMV How It Makes $50 Million a Year Selling Drivers' Data (Motherboard / Joseph Cox)