Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds

Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds
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Today is Friday. Welcome to Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Follow The Hill’s cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.




Beyond Broadband: Building A More Connected World—Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 2:00PM ET/11:00AM PT

Digital infrastructure is now seen to be just as vital as more traditional infrastructure investments like roads and bridges. But are we thinking about the whole picture when we talk about digital infrastructure? As part of The Hill's A More Perfect Union festival, join us for a discussion on how we define and approach our nation’s digital infrastructure needs with Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersDemocrats to target Section 230 in Haugen hearing Washington redistricting panel reaches late agreement on new lines McMorris Rodgers worried broadband funding will miss mark without new maps MORE (R-Wa.), Brookings' Dr. Nicol Turner Lee, National Digital Inclusion Alliance's Angela Siefer, and the Joint Center's Dr. Dominique Harrison.


A new study released by Twitter this week put another nail in the coffin of the popular argument that social media is censoring conservatives, finding that right wing politicians and news outlets tend to be amplified by the platform’s algorithms more often.

Lyft also released its long delayed safety report, which confirmed there have been well over 4,000 of cases of sexual abuse reported to the company. It wasn't a great day for Facebook either, which is facing another whistleblower complaint. 

Let’s jump in.

Right tops left on Twitter, study finds 

twitter anti-semitism holocaust denying deniers post banning removing remove content hateful speech facebook anti-semitism six million jews died

Twitter’s timeline algorithm tends to amplify right-leaning politicians and news outlets more than their counterparts on the left, a study conducted by the platform found.

The study: The company analyzed millions of tweets from elected officials in seven countries — the United Kingdom, U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Spain and Japan — and hundreds of millions of tweets from news outlets between April 1 and Aug. 15, 2020.

Twitter used third-party sources to categorize both politicians and news sources along the political spectrum.

A global trend: In every country but Germany, tweets posted by accounts on the political right received more amplification than those on the political left.

Right-leaning outlets similarly outperformed left-leaning ones, although that analysis was limited to the U.S.

The research did not seek to address the reasons why the disparities exist, but the platform plans to tackle that matter down the line.

Read more here.



Lyft released its first safety report on Thursday, revealing that some 4,158 cases of sexual assault were reported to the ride-hailing company between 2017 and 2019. 

The report, released more than three years after the company first pledged to do so, broke down sexual assault incidents into separate categories, revealing a total of 360 reports of rape. 


Lyft also reported a total of 10 fatal physical assaults over the three-year period. 

The report follows one that competitor Uber released in 2019. At the time, Uber disclosed nearly 6,000 reports of sexual assault between 2017 and 2018. 

Lyft’s safety report also revealed 320 cases of attempted rape, 672 cases of “non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part,” 2,300 cases of “non-consensual touching of a sexual body part” and 506 cases of “non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part.” 

Read more here


A new whistleblower has submitted an affidavit alleging that Facebook prioritized profits over cleaning up dangerous or hateful content on its platform, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The allegations were shared with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which oversees publicly traded companies such as Facebook.


The new whistleblower is reportedly a former member of the platform’s Integrity team.

The affidavit claims that the company did not prioritize and even undermined efforts to tackle misinformation, hate speech and other problematic content.

The Post’s story includes Facebook communications official Tucker Bounds in the fallout of the controversy surrounding interference in the 2016 presidential election allegedly saying that “it will be a flash in the pan.” 

“Some legislators will get pissy,” he continued, per whistleblower. “And then in a few weeks they will move onto something else. Meanwhile we are printing money in the basement, and we are fine.”

Facebook spokesperson Erin McPike called the story “beneath the Washington Post, which during the last five years would only report stories after deep reporting with corroborating sources.”

Read more here.







A nonpartisan audit of the results of the 2020 presidential race in Wisconsin found that the state’s voting machines correctly tabulated the votes cast in the crucial swing state, marking another dismissal of claims by former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE and his allies of widespread irregularities.

The report released by the Legislative Audit Bureau did not find any important errors made by the machines. And while a slate of recommendations were made by the elections panel, lawmakers involved in the process said the review underscored the security of the November race. 

“Despite concerns with statewide elections procedures, this audit showed us that the election was largely safe and secure,” tweeted Republican state Sen. Robert Cowles, the co-chair of the legislature’s Audit Committee, which ordered the bureau to run the evaluation. “It’s my hope that we can now look at election law changes & agency accountability measures in a bipartisan manner based on these nonpartisan recommendations.” 

Read more here.



An op-ed to chew on: Why 6G hardware matters: The case for ‘Made in America’

Lighter click: Saddest six words :/

Notable links from around the web:

I Used Facebook Without the Algorithm, and You Can Too (Wired / Brian Barrett)

License plate scanners were supposed to bring peace of mind. Instead they tore the neighborhood apart. (Washington Post / Drew Harwell)

Eating Disorders and Social Media Prove Difficult to Untangle (The New York Times / Kate Conger, Kellen Browning and Erin Woo) 

One last thing: #ShareTheMicInCyber

ournalist hands with microphones. Reporters with mics take interview for news broadcast, press conference or newscast. Media vector concept stock illustration

Top federal officials and cybersecurity experts participated Friday in an online campaign to “share the mic” in cyber, giving control of their Twitter accounts to Black cybersecurity officials and experts in an effort to combat systemic racism. 

The event, billed online as #ShareTheMicInCyber, featured the accounts of dozens of individuals used to promote diversity in cybersecurity throughout Friday. Twitter Security hosted live audio conversations through Twitter Spaces as part of the all-day event. 

Officials participating included Jen Easterly, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), who handed her Twitter account to Ayan Islam, the Critical Infrastructure portfolio lead at CISA’s Cybersecurity Division, Vulnerability Management, Insights Branch.

Rob Joyce, the director of Cybersecurity at the National Security Agency (NSA), also participated in the effort, giving control of his Twitter account to Talya Parker, the founder and director of Black Girls in Cyber and a privacy engineer at Google. 

“With over 3.5 million unfilled #cybersecurity #jobs, my goal is to bring awareness to opportunities in cyber and #informationsecurity to create a pipeline for organizations to find women of color,” Parker tweeted on Joyce’s account.

Read more here.


That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s technology and cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Monday.