Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley: Facebook says it will keep ban on Taliban content | Rubio reiterates calls for Tik Tok ban after China’s reported ownership stake | Pharmacist sold COVID-19 vaccination cards online, prosecutors allege

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.

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

Social media platforms are grappling with how to moderate content that supports the Taliban after the group’s rise back to power in Afghanistan over the weekend. The decisions have not been consistent across the industry. Twitter will not impose an overarching ban on such content, diverging from Facebook and YouTube. 

TikTok is also back in the hot seat, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) re-upping calls for the popular video-sharing app to be banned in the U.S. after former President Trump’s failed efforts. 


TECH’S LATEST CONTENT MODERATION CHOICE: Facebook said it will keep its existing ban on content that promotes the Taliban in place after the Islamist militant group regained control of Afghanistan over the weekend. 

Facebook said it will keep in place a ban on accounts that praise, support or represent the Taliban from its platforms based on its designation as a sanctioned terrorist organization under U.S. law. 

“Facebook does not make decisions about the recognized government in any particular country but instead respects the authority of the international community in making these determinations. Regardless of who holds power, we will take the appropriate action against accounts and content that breaks our rules,” a Facebook company spokesperson said in a statement. 

Where other platforms stand: A YouTube spokesperson confirmed the company is also keeping a “longstanding approach” of banning content promoting the Afghan Taliban, based on its designation as a global terrorist entity by the U.S. Treasury Department. 

“As such, if we find an account believed to be owned and operated by the Afghan Taliban, we terminate it. Further, our policies prohibit content that incites violence,” the YouTube spokesperson said in a statement. 

Twitter is not imposing a broad ban on the content in the way YouTube and Facebook have stated, but a spokesperson said the platform will “continue to proactively enforce” its policies that ban glorification of violence. 

“The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving. We’re also witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance. Twitter’s top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant,” the spokesperson said. 

Read more here


TIKTOK BAN TAKE TWO: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) renewed calls to ban TikTok in the U.S. following reports that the Chinese government has acquired an ownership stake in its parent company, ByteDance.

“The Biden Administration can no longer pretend that TikTok is not beholden to the Chinese Communist Party,” the Florida lawmaker said in a press release.

“Even before today, it was clear that TikTok represented a serious threat to personal privacy and U.S. national security,” he continued. “Beijing’s aggressiveness makes clear that the regime sees TikTok as an extension of the party-state, and the U.S. needs to treat it that way.”

The Information first reported Monday that the Chinese Communist Party in April took stake and a board seat at ByteDance, which also owns some popular apps in China including Douyin and Toutiao. The Washington Post later confirmed the news.

Read more about Rubio’s call


BAD PHARMA: A pharmacist in Chicago was arrested after he allegedly sold dozens of authentic COVID-19 vaccine cards on eBay, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Tangtang Zhao, 34, allegedly sold 125 authentic Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine cards for about $10 per card. Zhao reportedly sold the cards to 11 different buyers.

“Knowingly selling COVID vaccination cards to unvaccinated individuals puts millions of Americans at risk of serious injury or death,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. said in the statement. “To put such a small price on the safety of our nation is not only an insult to those who are doing their part in the fight to stop COVID-19, but a federal crime with serious consequences.”

Zhao, who was a licensed pharmacist, obtained the cards at his workplace, which distributed and administered COVID-19 vaccines at its locations nationwide. As a result, he has been charged with 12 counts of government theft of property.

Read more here.


An op-ed to chew on: How to fix the semiconductor chip shortage (it’s more than manufacturing)

Lighter click: we would stay



Bad News (Harper’s / Joseph Bernstein)

Millions of Web Camera and Baby Monitor Feeds Are Exposed (Wired / Lily Hay Newman)

People Now Spend More at Amazon Than at Walmart (New York Times / Karen Weise and Michael Corkery)

A Company That Designs Jails is Spying On Activists Who Oppose Them (Motherboard / Ella Fassler)

Tags Donald Trump Marco Rubio

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video