Hillicon Valley: WhatsApp delays controversial privacy update | Amazon hit with antitrust lawsuit alleging e-book price fixing | Biden launches new Twitter account ahead of inauguration

Hillicon Valley: WhatsApp delays controversial privacy update | Amazon hit with antitrust lawsuit alleging e-book price fixing | Biden launches new Twitter account ahead of inauguration
© Getty

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 team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

WHATSAPP DELAYS AMID CONFUSION: The Facebook-owned messaging service decided to push back an update to its privacy policy by three months amid widespread confusion over what the change actually means.

ADVERTISEMENT

WhatsApp sent users a notification last month that drove rumors that it was going to give Facebook access to view messages and contact lists. 

Despite being inaccurate, the rumors drove many users away from WhatsApp to other messaging services such as Signal.

“Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us and to so many who have helped spread facts and stop rumors,” the company wrote in a blog post. “We will continue to put everything we have into making WhatsApp the best way to communicate privately.”

Read more.

AMAZON ACCUSED OF PRICE FIXING E-BOOKS: Amazon is accused of fixing the price of e-books sold on its site through anticompetitive agreements with the nation’s top five publishers, known as the “Big Five,” according to a complaint filed Thursday. 

The lawsuit alleges Amazon and the publishers entered into price fixing agreements in 2015, allowing the publishers to increase their e-book prices by up to 30 percent while protecting Amazon from competition from other e-book retailers. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The lawsuit follows a similar case against Apple in 2011 that led to the tech giant settling for $400 million. 

Read more here

TWITTER TRANSITION: Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change Biden on hecklers: 'This is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler' MORE’s transition team launched a new Twitter account late Thursday that will eventually become the institutional @POTUS. 

The new account, @PresElectBiden, will transfer its followers and posts over after the inauguration on Wednesday.

Biden’s aides have complained that Twitter is making the new administration start from zero on institutional accounts — @POTUS and @WhiteHouse — while Trump inherited former President Obama’s millions of followers.

"These institutional accounts will not automatically retain the followers from the prior administration," Twitter said Thursday. "People on Twitter who previously followed institutional White House Twitter accounts, or who currently follow relevant Biden or Harris Twitter accounts, will receive in-app alerts and other prompts that will notify them about the archival process, as well as give them the option to follow the new administration’s Twitter accounts."

Read more.

BUMBLE SWIPES LEFT ON POLITICAL FILTER: The online dating app Bumble said that it had temporarily removed its political filter for users following the Capitol riots after the company saw an increase in people using the app “to spread insurrectionist content.”

The filter was removed on Wednesday due to “a noticeable uptick in people using the politics filter in a manner contrary to our terms and conditions” that occurred after the Capitol riots, a Bumble representative told The Hill.

The company said that people were using the platform “to spread insurrectionist content” and organize and incite violence. 

Read more here

DEM CALLS FOR NEW TECH COMMITTEE: Congress needs a new committee that focuses exclusively on information technology, Rep. Bill FosterGeorge (Bill) William FosterWe must address the declining rate of startup business launches Republicans seek vindication amid reemergence of Wuhan lab theory Overnight Health Care: White House pushes for independent investigation on COVID-19 origins | Former Trump FDA chief cites growing circumstantial evidence on lab theory | US advises against traveling to Japan ahead of Olympics MORE (D-Ill.) said Thursday at an event hosted by The Hill.

ADVERTISEMENT

Foster, a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, told The Hill's Steve Clemons that the growing IT sector means Congress needs more resources so that it can be nimble in its responses to issues facing the industry.

“Information technology has now just passed financial services as a fraction of the economy. And yet, there is no congressional standing committee on information technology,” Foster said at The Hill’s “Advancing Innovation: Technology Leading the Way” event.

Read more here

Lighter click: dancing doggo 

An op-ed to chew on: For platform regulation Congress should use a European cheat sheet

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

ADVERTISEMENT

An unfounded martial law conspiracy theory is going viral on TikTok -- despite explicitly violating community guidelines (Media Matters for America / Olivia Little)

Snapchat Wants You to Post. They’re Willing to Pay Millions (New York Times / Taylor Lorenz)

This Was WhatsApp's Plan All Along (Gizmodo / Shoshana Wodinsky)