Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley: John Matze takes on Parler | Prince Harry heads to Silicon Valley | YouTube leaves up Boulder shooting video

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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 by clicking HERE. 

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

Departed co-founder John Matze is suing the right-wing social media site Parler over his dismissal earlier this year, arguing that GOP megadonor Rebekah Mercer conspired against him. Prince Harry is joining a Sillicon Valley start-up. And YouTube made a controversial call about footage from the Boulder shooting.

 

MATZE v. PARLER: Parler co-founder John Matze has sued the social media platform over his firing earlier this year.

Matze filed suit on Monday in a Nevada state court, according to a copy of the complaint published by The Las Vegas Sun. 

The former Parler CEO accuses co-owner and GOP megadonor Rebekah Mercer of conspiring to dismiss him for “endeavoring to preserve Parler’s commitment to free expression while combatting any misuse by violent extremists and domestic terrorists in the wake of the January 6, 2021 attack at the U.S. Capitol.”

Fox News reported in early February that Matze was dismissed by Mercer, a benefactor to Breitbart News, and Steve Bannon, a campaign and White House adviser for former President Trump.

Internal dispute: The suit alleges that Mercer ignored Matze’s proposals for moderation policies that would have booted extremist content while preserving free speech. Instead, she and now-interim CEO Mark Meckler allegedly sought to turn Parler into a media outlet that would be the “tip of the spear” for conservatism.

After the Jan. 6 riots, Parler was booted from several platforms including Apple and Google’s app stores, as well as Amazon’s web hosting service, over its failing to moderate extremist content on the platform.

Read more.

 

PRINCE OF START-UPS: Prince Harry will be joining the Silicon Valley startup BetterUp as its chief impact officer, the company announced on Tuesday.

BetterUp is a career and life coaching platform.

The Duke of Sussex wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that his goal is to “lift up critical dialogues around mental health, build supportive and compassionate communities, and foster an environment for honest and vulnerable conversations.”

Read more.

 

YOUTUBE MAKES BOULDER CALL: YouTube says it’s leaving up a live-streamed video of Monday’s shooting in Boulder, Colo., which left ten people dead, including a police officer.

The company said it is adding a warning to the footage, which was captured by a self-described citizen journalist who live-streamed the shooting for three hours.

YouTube’s stance: “Following yesterday’s tragic shooting, bystander videos of the incident were detected by our teams,” YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez told The Hill in a statement. “Violent content intended to shock or disgust viewers and hate speech are not allowed on YouTube, and as a result we have removed a number of videos for violating our policies.”

“We do allow certain violent or graphic content with sufficient news or documentary context, and so we’ve applied an age restriction to this particular content. We will continue to monitor this rapidly changing situation,” Hernandez said.

Dean Schiller began livestreaming at around 2:45 p.m. local time on Monday after he heard the first shots at the King Soopers grocery store, Vice News reported. The video was uploaded to the channel ZFG Videography.

Read more.

 

FACEBOOK CHECK: A nonprofit found that 267 Facebook pages and groups spread material glorifying violence ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Avaaz, a group focused on misinformation, said in a report on March 18 that it found “267 pages and groups – in addition to ‘Stop the Steal’ groups – with a combined following of 32 million, spreading violence-glorifying content in the heat of the 2020 election.”

They believe that 118 of those groups had “clear violations” of Facebook’s policies.

Facebook responded to the report saying that of the 118 pages that Avaaz believes clearly violated the social media giant’s policies, only 18 groups actually had clear policy violations.

Read more.

 

CRYPTO(-IC) WARNING: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Monday warned of the risks associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, in part because of their high volatility.

“They’re highly volatile, see Bitcoin, and therefore not really useful as a store of value and they’re not backed by anything,” Powell said during a digital panel discussion hosted by the Bank of International Settlements.

Casting doubt: He added that crypto assets are more used for “speculation,” rather than a “means of payment.”

“They’re more of an asset for speculation, so they’re also not particularly in use as a means of payment. It’s more a speculative asset that’s essentially a substitute for gold, rather than for the dollar,” he said.

Powell also addressed the potential for the Federal Reserve to institute its own central bank digital coin. He said the Fed is “exploring” the issue, but that it is “not in a mode of trying to make a decision at this point.” 

Read more.

 

OATH KEEPERS AT RISK: The Department of Justice is eyeing charging members of the Oath Keepers militia group with sedition for their alleged role in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Law enforcement officials briefed on the matter told the Times that authorities have been mulling whether to file sedition charges for weeks, accusing the militia group’s members of conspiring to overthrow the government.

Rare charges: Newly sworn-in Attorney General Merrick Garland is expected to have the final decision over whether prosecutors would move forward with such charges, which the department has not successfully argued for in more than two decades, the Times noted.

Oath Keepers members Thomas Caldwell, Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl have all been indicted on conspiring to obstruct the congressional certification of the Electoral College vote that confirmed President Biden’s election win.

What’s next: Justice Department senior officials have been given evidence on the three charged individuals and have examined whether a sedition charge could be pursued. But prosecutors have not yet provided a formal prosecution memo or a draft of an indictment, one official told the newspaper. 

Read more.

Lighter click: Twitter’s finest

An op-ed to chew on: The cybersecurity problem we should really worry about

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Amazon Delivery Drivers Forced to Sign ‘Biometric Consent’ Form or Lose Job (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley)

Tesla’s Autopilot Technology Faces Fresh Scrutiny (New York Times / Neal E. Boudette)

Lina Khan is just the first step toward tougher US tech regulation (The Verge / Makena Kelly)

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Merrick Garland Prince Harry Steve Bannon The Duke of Sussex
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