Hillicon Valley: Feds lay down marker in Facebook fight

Hillicon Valley: Feds lay down marker in Facebook fight
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Happy Thursday! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage. 

Facebook dominated much of the tech discussion Thursday, beginning with CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — US cracks down on tools for foreign hacking DC AG adds Facebook's Zuckerberg to Cambridge Analytica suit Senator asks Facebook's Zuckerberg to testify at hearing on kids' safety MORE appearing on "CBS This Morning" to preview a new virtual reality workspace.


The platform also took heat after the man suspected of making a bomb threat near the U.S. Capitol livestreamed himself on the platform.

And the Federal Trade Commission filed its second shot against the Silicon Valley giant, which we cover in detail.


TAKE TWO: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday filed an amended complaint in its antitrust case against Facebook after an initial courtroom setback earlier this summer.

The new complaint makes the same central argument that Facebook has maintained a monopoly on “personal social networking” by gobbling up potential competitors and enforcing unfair agreements, while offering new evidence and analysis.

It uses Facebook’s data on daily active users to counter those concerns from Judge James E. Boasberg, an Obama-era nominee. The FTC noted that Facebook has “tens of millions” more monthly users than the next largest personal social networking provider, Snapchat.

“Measurements of a personal social networking service’s active user base and how much users use the service are appropriate measurements of market shares and market power for personal social networking services,” the complaint states.

Facebook doubled down in its defense against the allegations of anticompetitive behavior, noting as it did in response to the first complaint that the acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram were “reviewed and cleared many years ago, and our platform policies were lawful.”

“The FTC's claims are an effort to rewrite antitrust laws and upend settled expectations of merger review, declaring to the business community that no sale is ever final. We fight to win people’s time and attention every day, and we will continue vigorously defending our company,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

The amended complaint was filed the day of the FTC’s extended deadline. One of the new areas of focus in the case is the importance of the mobile app space since the beginning of the 2010s and how Facebook allegedly worked to stymie emerging threats in it.

Read more about the amended complaint


BANNED: Facebook blocked the account of a man suspected of making a bomb threat near the Capitol on Thursday, after he apparently livestreamed on the platform from his vehicle at the scene.

A Facebook spokesperson said that the company removed the video from the platform after it was found to violate Facebook’s dangerous organization policies.

“We are in contact with law enforcement and have removed the suspect's videos and profile from Facebook and Instagram," the spokesperson said in a statement. 

"Our teams are working to identify, remove, and block any other instances of the suspect’s videos which do not condemn, neutrally discuss the incident or provide neutral news coverage of the issue." 

Video shared on social media showed the suspect talking about a "revolution" while holding a metal canister and demanding to speak with President BidenJoe BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE.

Read more here


NOFANS?: Users will no longer be able to post content including “sexually-explicit conduct” on the subscription site OnlyFans starting Oct. 1, the company announced Thursday.

“In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the platform, and to continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans, we must evolve our content guidelines,” a spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.


Creators will still be able to post nudity as long as it complies with platform policy, the company noted. OnlyFans did not provide a definition of “sexually-explicit conduct” when asked.

OnlyFans, which allows users to post original content for subscribers, has been a lifeline for sex workers as the coronavirus pandemic has limited options for in-person work, giving them a consistent way to pull in revenue.

The company said it made the decision because of pressure from banking partners and payment processors.

The announcement follows closely on the heels of an Axios report alleging that leaked documents show the site has struggled to get new investors, despite mammoth profits on track to hit $12.5 billion next year.

Read more here.


ADVOCACY BACKLASH: Apple is facing new calls to drop its plans to scan phones and other devices for images of child sex abuse.


A coalition of 90 groups around the world are calling on Apple to drop its plans to scan its products to detect images of child sexual abuse stored in iCloud. 

In a letter published on the Center for Democracy and Technology website, the groups said the feature, known as a CSAM hash, may jeopardize the privacy and security of Apple users worldwide.

"Though these capabilities are intended to protect children and to reduce the spread of child sexual abuse material, we are concerned that they will be used to censor protected speech, threaten the privacy and security of people around the world, and have disastrous consequences for many children," the letter said. 

Apple's plan, announced earlier this month, will feature an update that scans Apple products to detect child sexual abuse material. Such material found would then be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Read more here.


INTO THE METAVERSE: Facebook launched a virtual reality office workspace Thursday as part of CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s “metaverse” plans for the social media giant. 


Facebook’s new “Horizon Workrooms” is a virtual reality application that runs using its Oculus VR headset. Zuckerberg announced, and demonstrated, the new feature in an interview with “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle KingGayle KingR. Kelly accuser tells Gayle King their interview was a wake-up call Nate Burleson makes leap from football to news with 'CBS Mornings' Witness says R. Kelly kept watch over girlfriends during Gayle King interview MORE

“It’s this pretty amazing experience where you feel like you're really right there with your colleagues,” he said. 

Read more about the launch


An op-ed to chew on: Biden’s bold plan will close more than the digital divide 

Lighter click: This is a Lola stan account



How AI-powered tech landed man in jail with scant evidence (The Associated Press / Garance Burke, Martha Mendoza, Juliet Linderman And Michael Tarm)

T-Mobile hack is a return to the roots of cybercrime (The Washington Post / Rachel Lerman) 

Amazon is telling sellers that antitrust bills will ‘significantly’ harm them (Vice Motherboard / Edward Ongweso Jr.)