SPONSORED:

Hillicon Valley: Parler claims it alerted FBI to threats before Capitol riot | Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinfo on Facebook, Instagram | U.S. schools increasingly resuming in-person learning

Hillicon Valley: Parler claims it alerted FBI to threats before Capitol riot | Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinfo on Facebook, Instagram | U.S. schools increasingly resuming in-person learning
© Getty Images

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.

Social media platform Parler revealed that it flagged concerning material for the FBI ahead of the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot. Meanwhile, a leading senator expressed serious concerns around Facebook’s handling of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on both Facebook and Instagram, and new data shows schools are increasingly moving back into in-person learning. 

ADVERTISEMENT

PARLER WRINKLE: Parler flagged material posted on its platform to the FBI in the run-up to the violent insurrection at the Capitol in January, the conservative social media network claimed in a letter to a lawmaker.

In the letter dated Thursday to House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyHuffPost reporter: DCCC will help Dems fend off progressive challengers to 'keep them happy' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Chauvin conviction puts renewed focus on police reform Liberal advocacy group stirs debate, discomfort with primary challenges MORE (D-N.Y.), lawyers for the platform said that the company referred violent content to the agency more than 50 times.

The lawyers noted that some of those flagged posts included threats specific to the Capitol, where five people died during an attempt to stop Congress from verifying President BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Manchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE’s Electoral College win.

“Far from being the far-right instigator and rogue company that Big Tech has portrayed Parler to be, the facts conclusively demonstrate that Parler has been a responsible and law-abiding company focused on ensuring that only free and lawful speech exists on its platform,” the lawyers wrote.

The letter includes a screenshot of what appears to be an email correspondence between Parler and the FBI.

A spokesperson for the FBI declined to comment.

Parler, which has pitched itself as a free speech alternative platform to Facebook and Twitter, has been criticized for being rife with content about storming Congress before Jan. 6.

ADVERTISEMENT

Shortly after the attack, it was blocked from the Apple and Google app stores and subsequently dropped by Amazon Web Services, functionally taking the service offline.

The platform announced last month that it would be relaunching.

Read more.

MISINFORMATION CONCERNS ABOUND: Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Friday pressed Facebook to do more to combat the spread of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on both its platform and Instagram. 

In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergBipartisan attorneys general urge Facebook to scrap planned Instagram for kids Hillicon Valley: Broadband companies funded fake net neutrality comments, investigation finds | Twitter rolls out tip feature | Google to adopt 'hybrid work week' Oversight Board achieving what government cannot MORE, Warner detailed his concerns that the social media giant is not doing enough to get a handle on the increasing tide of misleading information around the safety of the vaccines. 

“Anti-vaccination groups and other health conspiracy groups have long utilized – and been enabled by – Facebook’s platforms to disseminate misinformation,” Warner wrote. “Studies show a rapid increase in the spread of health misinformation online since the start of the pandemic.”

The letter was sent the day after Zuckerberg testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the topic of misinformation on Facebook, particularly around COVID-19 and the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot. 

Zuckerberg detailed Facebook’s efforts to combat coronavirus vaccine misinformation on both Facebook and Instagram in his prepared testimony, noting that “we have made fighting misinformation and providing people with authoritative information a priority for the company.”

Read more about Warner's concerns here. 



SCHOOL’S BACK (SORT OF): About a third of school districts across the nation have resumed in-person learning, while just 1 in 10 school districts continue teaching students entirely remotely, according to a new tracker launched to measure the way local schools adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.

The data shows that school districts across the South are the most likely to have sent children back to school already, while California has the highest concentration of districts that remain remote.

But the lack of a clear national strategy for reopening schools, a problem that is only beginning to be addressed as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention roll out new recommendations for distancing, air circulation and sanitation requirements, has kept most school districts in some kind of hybrid learning environment.

The data, maintained by Return to Learn, a joint project of the American Enterprise Institute and the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College, shows 54 percent of school districts still operating school in some kind of hybrid model, in which kids attend class in person some days and virtually on others.

ADVERTISEMENT

Read more about the move back to in-person learning.

 

 

ANTITRUST OFFICIAL INCOMING: President Biden’s team is reportedly vetting a lawyer who served as the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) general counsel under former President Obama for a top antitrust post. 

According to Politico, which cited two sources familiar with the matter, Jonathan Sallet, who played a key role in formulating the FCC’s net neutrality rules, has been in talks for several weeks now for a top role to work on Biden’s competition policy. 

One potential position Sallet could take on is leading the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, where Sallet served as deputy assistant attorney general for litigation from 2016 to 2017.

Read more here. 


ADVERTISEMENT

Lighter click: Please stop backseat steering!

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

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Hackers target German lawmakers in an election year (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas)

The Hidden Hand Of Facial Recognition In The Capitol Insurrection Manhunt (HuffPost / Ryan J. Reilly and Jesselyn Cook)

How Intel got blindsided by China’s culture wars (Protocol / Shen Lu) 

Why Microsoft wants Discord (The Verge / Tom Warren)