Nov 15, 2016
In this episode, we discussed:
Reality TV: Entertaining But No Laughing Matter (AAF, 2015)
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The tech sector and tech-related progressive thinks tanks are reeling following the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. At Benton.org, Robbie McBeath discusses the totally changed political landscape in which Republicans will now control all three branches of government. South Dakota Senator John Thune is expected to continue to Chair the Senate Commerce Committee. Three Congressmen--Greg Walden, John Shimkus and Joe Barton are expected to pursue the House Energy and Commerce Chairmanship, with Walden being the favorite since House speaker Paul Ryan credits Walden, who served as Republican Congressional Committee Chair, with helping Republicans maintain control of Congress.
Anticipated legislative initiatives include rewriting the Communications Act and an effort to override the FCC’s net neutrality rules, as well as expanding mobile and internet access to rural areas and capping Lifeline expenditures to $1.5 billion.
President-elect Trump will of course nominate a new FCC Chair to replace Tom Wheeler who is expected to leave before the inauguration on January 20th.
Tech sector stocks declined following last week’s election, as investors anticipated a new administration that would be less friendly to tech than Obama. The tech sector opposed Trump vigorously during the campaign, contributing barely anything to his campaign, outside of PayPal founder Peter Thiel who contributed $1.25 million late in the election season.
Companies like Apple are concerned about what a new Trump administration will mean for encryption and the company’s resistance to law enforcement requests for access to iPhone data during criminal investigations. Almost all of the Valley is concerned about what the new administration will mean not just for things like net neutrality and science-based policymaking, but also the sector’s influence in Washington, which had grown exponentially during the Obama era.
Facebook announced that it will no longer allow advertisers to exclude audiences based on their race and ethnicity for ads related to housing, credit or employment. The company will also require advertisers to pledge not to place any discriminatory ads on Facebook. The company had come under fire from civil rights activists, the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses, as well as several attorneys general after Pro Publica released a report showing how Facebook allowed advertisers selling real estate to exclude racial and ethnic groups. Two plaintiffs also sued Facebook under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Following the 2016 presidential election, Facebook executives are now evaluating the role the platform plays in the dissemination of fake news, and the extent to which misinformation on the social network led to the election of Donald Trump. One piece of fake news shared over 1 million times falsely claimed that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump.
Facebook has been under fire for bias in its newsfeed over the past year, and earlier this year was accused of suressing conservative news from its trending news results. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denies fake news on Facebook impacted the election in any way. Mike Isaac has the story in the New York Times.
John Wagner reported in the Washington Post on Hillary Clinton’s data driven campaign, one that was far more sophisticated than both Romney and Obama’s, but which ultimate failed. It appears that both the Democratic establishment and the complex algorithm they used known as Ada, completely missed opportunities to campaign in Rust Belt states like Michigan and Minnesota, which Clinton lost. Campaign managers will look at this as a case study for many years to come into both how biases are reflected in algorithms and the extent to which campaigns should continue to rely on alogrithms to determine which states they should campaign in.
A group of hackers known as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear, widely believed to be affiliated with Russia, launched an attack on the servers of several NGOs, think tanks, universities, government agencies and other institutions on Wednesday, shortly after Trump claimed victory in Tuesday’s election. The hackers sent phishing emails to the targets containing malicious links and zip files. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai at Motherboard has the story.
Finally, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit blocked the FCC’s prison phone rate cap last week, granting a petition for stay by a company called Securus technologies. The rate caps were set at 13 cents to 31 cents per minute. The Court stated that these caps were significantly below what prison phone providers need to fulfill their contractual obligations to prisons. John Brodkin has the story in Ars Technica.