Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. | YouTube study | Amazon lawsuit | Trump comments

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 by clicking HERE. 

Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

Social media giants are facing questions over their handling of content moderation, with criticism springing up over Facebook’s and Twitter’s enforcement of coronavirus misinformation over Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s posts, while a report released Friday found YouTube is still pushing extremist videos to users already susceptible to racial hatred. Meanwhile, Amazon is looking to block the New York attorney general from taking legal action against the e-commerce giant’s workplace safety. Happy Friday! May you have a sense of humor like Bing.


TESTING THE LIMITS: Do big names mean less crackdown? 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s posts spreading anti-vaccination misinformation on Facebook and Twitter are testing the limits of the tech giants’ pledges to crack down on false COVID-19 claims. 

Kennedy was banned from Instagram for “repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus pandemic,” but his account is still active on Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, and Twitter where he’s spreading more misinformation about vaccines. 

The inaction against Kennedy, experts say, risks even further danger in spreading false information due to his family name and elevated status as a public figure.

“The name makes a big difference, and it doesn’t get much bigger than the Kennedy name in the United States,” said Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation.

Read more from Rebecca Klar here



A report released Friday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that YouTube continues to push extremist videos, and content that could be a gateway to extremist videos, to users already susceptible to racial hatred. 

Nine percent of YouTube users who participated in the ADL survey said they had viewed at least one video from an extremist channel during the course of the study, and 22 percent said they had viewed at least one video from a channel identified as possibly serving as a “gateway to extremist content,” according to the report. 

YouTube defended its handling of extremist content in a statement responding to the report, but critics including ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) urged the company to take greater action against the content based on the report’s findings. 

Read more from Rebecca Klar here

AMAZON PIPS NEW YORK: Stop being so mean to us

The e-commerce giant filed a lawsuit Friday pre-empting the state’s attorney general from taking legal action against the company over workplace safety or the firing of two workers involved in organizing.

The case argues that Letitia James would be overreaching her authority in taking up either of those causes, while also defending against allegations that it mishandled the coronavirus pandemic.

James lashed back at the suit, saying her office will continue to weigh potential options.

“Let me be clear: We will not be intimidated by anyone, especially corporate bullies that put profits over the health and safety of working people,” she said in a statement. “We remain undeterred in our efforts to protect workers from exploitation and will continue to review all of our legal options.”

Read more from Chris Mills Rodrigo here.


THE PUBLIC WEIGHS IN: A lot left to say about Trump

Facebook’s Oversight Board has received around 9,000 comments as it weighs its decision whether to ban former President Trump permanently from the social media platform. 

The influx of comments is nearly 100 times the amount of comments the board received for its first five cases combined. 

The Oversight Board extended the deadline for submission of public comments on Trump’s case a week, allowing comments until Friday. The Board is expected to make a decision on the former president’s case in coming months. 

Read more from Joseph Choi here


Lighter click: Happy birthday 🙂

An op-ed to chew on: We need a hot start on cybersecurity



Apple, Spotify, and the impossible problem of moderating shows (The Verge / Ashley Carman) 

Amazon uses an app called Mentor to track and discipline delivery drivers (CNBC / Annie Palmer)

Facebook Says “Technical Issues” Were the Cause of Broken Promise to Congress (The Markup / Alfred Ng and Leon Yin)

Some delivery workers have no choice but to bring their kids along during the pandemic (CNN / Sara Ashley O’Brien)

Tags Anna Eshoo anti-extremism anti-vaccination movement Donald Trump Facebook Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Twitter YouTube
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