Hillicon Valley: TikTok employee to file lawsuit | Pinterest adds first Black member to board of directors | Amazon expanding offices

Hillicon Valley: TikTok employee to file lawsuit | Pinterest adds first Black member to board of directors | Amazon expanding offices
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TIKTOK EMPLOYEE TO SUE: A TikTok employee is mounting a legal challenge on behalf of the company’s U.S.-based workers in response to President TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE’s order banning American transactions with ByteDance, the Chinese firm that owns the wildly popular short-form video app.

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The march toward a lawsuit comes amid growing uncertainty regarding the company’s fate in the U.S. following recent executive actions that targeted social media apps with links to China over national security concerns.

Patrick Ryan, a technical program manager at TikTok, told The Hill that his lawsuit will focus on the constitutional right to due process, arguing it’s not the president’s purview “to permit or to not permit entire businesses on a whim.”

He said about 1,500 TikTok and ByteDance employees are at risk of not receiving paychecks when Trump's orders take effect next month.

Ryan said the complaint will seek an injunction preventing the government from enforcing the order against U.S. workers.

A GoFundMe to support the cost of litigation has raised about half of its $30,000 goal since launching on Wednesday.

The Blackstone Law Group and Mike Godwin, a prominent internet rights lawyer, were retained to represent TikTok's U.S. employees. They are expecting to file a lawsuit in federal court later this week that argues Trump's action represents executive overreach and places workers' constitutional rights, including the right to be paid, in jeopardy.

The attorneys said they are considering filing in the Southern District of New York, Northern California or Washington, D.C.

The complaint will also be filed as part of an effort to gain a better understanding of how the Commerce Department plans to apply the ban on transactions.

"We don’t necessarily know whether it is the intention of the government to prevent them from being paid," said Alexander Urbelis, a partner with Blackstone Law Group, adding the Trump administration has yet to provide clarity on the issue.

But he noted that without an injunction, more than a thousand workers could see their income disappear during a pandemic.

“Livelihoods are being put at stake by the executive order,” Urbelis said.

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PINTEREST ADDS BLACK DIRECTOR: Pinterest, which has been hit with allegations of racism in the workplace, has added its first Black member to its board of directors, the company announced Monday.

Former Harpo Studios executive and Skywalker Holdings President Andrea Wishom joined the board as its ninth member, USA Today reported.

"She’s an expert in creating positive and inspirational content for global audiences, and a passionate advocate for building a company culture of respect, integrity, inclusion and support — areas in which we must innovate and improve," Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann said in a statement. 

Wishom’s addition to Pinterest’s board comes after two Black women who left public policy roles at the social media company said they experienced racial discrimination. The former employees alleged they dealt with unfair pay, racism and retaliation. 

One of the two, Ifeoma Ozoma, told USA Today that Pinterest’s appointment of a Black woman to the board was “meaningless.”

"I hope that she is paid fairly, and not the way that I and other Black women at the company have not been paid fairly and have been dismissed," Ozoma said. "One person is not diversity."

Last week, Pinterest's former chief operating officer Francoise Brougher filed a lawsuit accusing the company of gender bias and wrongful termination.

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AMAZON BECOMING BIGGER THAN BEFORE: Amazon plans to add thousands of corporate jobs across six cities, including 2,000 in a building on New York’s Fifth Avenue that was once the flagship Lord & Taylor store.

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The company will add 3,500 jobs in New York, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Detroit and Dallas, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. 

The new hires indicate the online retail giant is planning a return to in-person office work even as other tech firms, such as Facebook and Twitter, announce long-term remote work strategies due to the coronavirus pandemic. Amazon directed employees to begin working from home in March, before numerous other major employers.

“The ability to connect with people, the ability for teams to work together in an ad hoc fashion — you can do it virtually, but it isn’t as spontaneous,” Amazon Vice President of Workforce Development Ardine Williams told the Journal. “We are looking forward to returning to the office.”

The company plans to add over 900,000 square feet of office space in the six locations, including 630,000 square feet in New York alone, according to the newspaper. The expansion is set to take place over the next two years, but numerous positions will be filled now, the company said.

Williams said all the positions being added, including engineering and product-management jobs, are new. They will also incorporate positions across various departments within Amazon including advertising, Amazon Fresh and Amazon Web Services.

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ANTI-VAX GROUP SUES FACEBOOK: A prominent anti-vaccination group filed a lawsuit against Facebook and its fact-checkers for rejecting their ads and “censoring” their posts that carried debunked misinformation on vaccines and 5G networks. 

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Children’s Health Defense (CHD), a group founded by anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., claimed in a San Francisco federal court that Facebook, its CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — Amazon draws COVID scrutiny Meta exec who co-founded Diem digital currency leaving the company Two lawyers who filed suit challenging election results ordered to pay nearly 7K MORE, PolitiFact, Science Feedback and the Poynter Institute have “privatized” the First Amendment by putting warning labels on its page and disabling the organization’s ability to fundraise on the platform.

The claims made about vaccines by CHD contradict the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), which agree vaccines are generally not risky or harmful. 

Last year, Facebook began to crack down on anti-vaccination information, adding a label to CHD’s page noting “this page posts about vaccines” and linking to information from the CDC. 

The complaint claims that these “falsely disparaging” labels caused traffic to their page to drop by 95 percent.

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CHINA RESPONDS TO HUAWEI SANCTIONS: China said Tuesday the Trump administration is undermining global trade with sanctions against telecommunications company Huawei. 

The Chinese foreign ministry reportedly demanded that U.S. officials “stop suppressing Chinese companies” in comments one day after the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security announced further steps to push against Huawei and blacklisted 38 Huawei affiliate groups. 

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Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the U.S. is “violating international trade rules, and undermining the global industrial chain, supply chain, and value chain,” according to The Associated Press. 

Zhao also warned that Beijing will “take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”

The U.S. on Monday expanded a previous decision by the Commerce Department in May to restrict Huawei’s ability to use American software and technology to manufacture semiconductors or chips. The new step is intended to limit Huawei’s access to chips by restricting its ability to purchase chips created by a foreign company with the use of American software or technology. 

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Lighter click: Enjoy this little bit of serotonin

An op-ed to chew on: Fuel the economic recovery by closing the great digital divide

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Seven years of toil: Inside Color of Change’s fight to fix Big Tech (Protocol / Issie Lapowsky)

Uber and Lyft consider franchise-like model in California (New York Times / Kate Conger)

California DMV is selling drivers' data to private investigators (Motherboard / Joseph Cox)

Apple cuts off Epic from its tools, endangering future Unreal Engine projects on iOS and Mac (Washington Post / Gene Park)

The Lincoln Project is stealing memes — and the online left isn’t happy (The Verge / Makena Kelly)

Un-Adopted: YouTubers Myka and James Stauffer shared every step of their parenting journey. Except the last. (The Cut / Caitlin Moscatello)