Hillicon Valley — Twitter's Greene ban boosts GOP attacks

Today is Tuesday. 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 tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage. 

Twitter’s decision to ban Rep. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP efforts to downplay danger of Capitol riot increase The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida MORE’s (R-Ga.) personal account triggered more backlash from the GOP — including from former President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dead at 77 Biden, Democrats losing ground with independent and suburban voters: poll Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE. The attacks on social media companies are likely to continue among Republicans who see it as a galvanizing issue heading into the midterm election.  

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Meanwhile, President BidenJoe BidenFox News reporter says Biden called him after 'son of a b----' remark Peloton responds after another TV character has a heart attack on one of its bikes Defense & National Security — Pentagon puts 8,500 troops on high alert MORE lauded an agreement with Verizon and AT&T to delay deploying 5G by two weeks, which he said will limit disruptions in air operations during the delay time.  

Let’s jump into the news. 

Greene ban triggers GOP 'Big Tech' backlash 

Twitter’s ban on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) personal account is fueling Republican attacks against “Big Tech” and the nation’s dominant social media platforms. 

Piling it on: Former President Trump, who was banned himself from Twitter a year ago, and several of Greene’s GOP House colleagues have blasted the company for removing the congresswoman's personal account over violating COVID-19 misinformation policies.  

In some ways it is unsurprising that Twitter’s ban on Greene provoked a loud response from the GOP. 

A number of Republicans, including her, have seen the fight against social media companies as a galvanizing issue for their constituents since Trump was kicked off Twitter in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

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In addition, the ban on Greene was seen as a significant step. 

Setting a precedent: Greene’s ban sets a “more far-reaching precedent” than the one imposed on Trump last year since he was already on his way out of office at the time, said Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation. 

“The fact that Twitter cut her off, despite being an elected official, is a substantial change in the broad latitude that elected officials have had in the past,” West added.  

Emerson Brooking, a senior fellow at the Digital Forensic Research Lab, said he agreed that Greene’s ban sets a more significant precedent. 

“This is obviously not a decision that was made lightly,” he said.  

Greene’s account had been suspended four times before, and in line with Twitter’s COVID-19 misinformation policy her fifth strike triggered a permanent ban. 

Trump ripped Twitter for the decision in a statement Monday night, saying the company was "a disgrace to democracy." 

Read more here

A welcomed delay

President Biden on Tuesday commended the decision by two telecommunications giants to delay 5G technology deployment, saying doing so will ensure there won’t be disruptions in air operations over the next two weeks. 

The agreement: Verizon and AT&T announced on Monday an agreement to delay deploying 5G by two weeks, following pressure from the White House and airline industry over concerns the deployment would cause flight delays and interruptions.  

The 5G deployment is now set to take place on Jan. 19, pushed back from the originally scheduled deployment on Wednesday. Holiday travelers have faced thousands of canceled and delayed flights due to the COVID-19 surge impacting airline crews and major snowstorms. 

“Last night’s agreement is a significant step in the right direction, and we’re grateful to all parties for their cooperation and good faith. This agreement ensures that there will be no disruptions to air operations over the next two weeks and puts us on track to substantially reduce disruptions to air operations when AT&T and Verizon launch 5G on January 19th,” Biden said in a statement on Tuesday. 

‘Rapid’ deployment: Biden said his administration is “committed to rapid 5G deployment,” as well as minimizing disruptions and maintaining safe airspace. 

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He added that the administration convened technical experts from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communication Commission, the wireless industry and the aviation industry to discuss solutions ahead of the agreement. 

Read more here.

FACEBOOK UNDER FIRE (AGAIN)

Users wrote at least 650,000 Facebook group posts attacking the legitimacy of President Biden's electoral victory between Election Day and the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to an investigation conducted by ProPublica and The Washington Post.  

False claims: An average of at least 10,000 daily posts on the social media platform at times fueled false claims that the election result was fraudulent and required action to protect the nation, the Post reported. 

Former President Trump repeatedly claimed that the 2020 election was tainted by widespread voter fraud. Trump and his allies also mounted many unsuccessful legal challenges to overturn the election in swing states.  

Federal and state elections officials have stated that there was no substantial evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.  

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Calls for violence: Other posts called for executions or violence against political officials of both parties. According to the report, one post included an image of a gallows with more than a dozen nooses and hooded figures ready to be hanged.  

Footage from the Jan. 6 insurrection showed rioters who entered the Capitol chanting to hang then-Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceBipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law Poll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second Are the legal walls closing in on Donald Trump? MORE. Others could be heard looking for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Schumer requests Senate briefing on Ukraine amid Russia tensions Biden rushes to pressure Russia as Ukraine fears intensify MORE (D-Calif.) on the day.  

The Post noted that there were probably more than 650,000 posts found during that time period. The analysis examined posts in only a portion of public Facebook groups and did not take into account comments and posts in private groups or individual profiles. 

Read more here.

 

AMAZON PACKAGES DUMPED IN OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma authorities said hundreds of Amazon packages were dumped in a rural area northeast of Oklahoma City.  

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The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) said in a Facebook statement that it is investigating how almost 600 Amazon packages were found in the area on Dec. 31.  

Authorities also said someone removed items from some of the packages. 

“Apparently the thief isn't much of a reader,” the statement said. “The books that were being delivered were left behind.”  

The OCSO said that packages were supposed to arrive at their destination by Christmas time and had left the Amazon facility en route to a U.S. Postal Service facility for delivery.  

Read more here.

 

BITS AND PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: As we escape to the metaverse, we must not abandon real world crises 

Lighter click: Belly sliding into 2022 

Notable links from around the web: 

The ‘touchy-feely’ groups where CEOs learn empathy (Protocol / Allison Levitsky) 

Restaurants Are Price Gouging Rapid Tests on Food Delivery Apps (Motherboard / Edward Ongweso Jr.) 

Google Glass Creator Is Experimenting With A Smart Retainer For Texting With Your Tongue (BuzzFeed News / Richard Nieva)  

 

One last thing: Holmes found guilty

A federal jury on Monday found Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes guilty on four counts of wire fraud, more than two years after she was charged with misleading investors with fraudulent claims about the efficacy of her blood-testing technology. 

The jury made up of eight men and four women found Holmes, 37, guilty after a four-month trial on three counts of wire fraud against Theranos investors and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, as The Wall Street Journal reported. 

The jury found Holmes not guilty on three counts of committing wire fraud against patients who had paid Theranos for blood test results. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on two other counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. 

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 Wednesday.