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Daily Crunch: Twitter unveils Birdwatch

Twitter pilots a new tool to fight disinformation, Apple brings celebrity-guided walks to the Apple Watch and Clubhouses raises funding. This is your Daily Crunch for January 25, 2021.
The big story: Twitter unveils Birdwatch
Twitter launched a new product today that it says will offer “a community-based approach to misinformation.”
With Birdwatch, users will be able to flag tweets that they find misleading, write notes to add context to those tweets and rate the notes written by others. This is supposed to be a complement to the existing system where Twitter removes or labels particularly problematic tweets, rather than a replacement.

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Research: The Cost of a Single U.S. Immigration Restriction

On June 22, 2020, President Trump passed an Executive Order drastically cutting the number of highly skilled international workers eligible for non-immigrant visas to the U.S. To quantify the impact of this policy, the authors examined the immediate change in stock price for over 400 top U.S. firms following Trump’s announcement, and found that the immigration restriction cost the U.S. economy a total of $100 billion. This finding — along with substantial prior research demonstrating the detrimental effect of restricting immigration on both domestic employment rates and long-term economic health — suggests that easing these restrictions will be key to supporting the …

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EU chief warns over ‘unfiltered’ hate speech and calls for Biden to back rules for big tech

In a speech to the European Parliament today marking the inauguration of US president Joe Biden, the president of the European Commission has called for Europe and the US to join forces on regulating tech giants, warning of the risks of “unfiltered” hate speech and disinformation being weaponized to attack and undermine democracies.
Ursula von der Leyen pointed to the shock storming of the US capital earlier this month by supporters of outgoing president Donald Trump as an example of how wild claims being spread and amplified online can have tangible real-world consequences, including for democratic institutions.
“Just a few …

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Joe Biden’s new gig

Jim Messina
Contributor

Jim Messina is a political and corporate advisor and CEO of The Messina Group. He previously served as the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011 and as the campaign manager for Obama’s successful 2012 re-election campaign.

After serving as Obama-Biden campaign manager and White House Deputy Chief of Staff and now living in San Francisco and working with the tech sector, I am hopeful about the Biden-Harris administration’s ability to put in place smart policies and regulatory stability to further unleash the industry’s vast potential — not to mention …

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Daily Crunch: WhatsApp responds to privacy backlash

WhatsApp delays enforcement of a controversial privacy change, Apple may get rid of the Touch Bar in future MacBooks and Bumble files to go public. This is your Daily Crunch for January 15, 2021.
The big story: WhatsApp responds to privacy backlash
Earlier this month, WhatsApp sent users a notification asking them to consent to sharing some of their personal data — such as phone number and location — with Facebook (which owns WhatsApp). The alert also said users would have to agree to the terms by February 8 if they wanted to continue using the app.
This change prompted legal threats and an investigation …

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Flo gets FTC slap for sharing user data when it promised privacy

The FTC has reached a settlement with Flo, a period- and fertility tracking app with 100M+ users, over allegations it shared users’ health data with third party app analytics and marketing services like Facebook despite promising to keep users’ sensitive health data private.
Flo must obtain an independent review of its privacy practices and obtain app users’ consent before sharing their health information, under the terms of the proposed settlement.
The action follows a 2019 reports in the Wall Street Journal which conducted an analysis of a number of apps’ data sharing activity.
It found the fertility tracking app had informed …

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I’m a free speech champion. I don’t even know what that means anymore

The president of the United States is supposedly the most powerful man in the world. He also can’t post to Twitter. Or Facebook. Or a bunch of other social networks as we discovered over the course of the past week (He still has access to the nuclear launch codes though, so that’s an interesting dynamic to chew on).
The bans last week were exceptional — but so is Trump. There may not be another president this century who pushes the line of public discourse quite like the current occupant of the White House (at least, one can only hope). …

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Amazon Web Services gives Parler 24-hour notice that it will suspend services to the company

Parler is at risk of disappearing, just as the social media network popular among conservatives was reaching new heights of popularity in the wake of President Donald Trump’s ban from all major tech social platforms.Parler, whose fortunes have soared as users upset at the President’s silencing on mainstream social media outlets flocked to the service, is now another site of contention in the struggle over the limits of free speech and accountability online.
In the wake of the riots at the Capitol on Wednesday and a purge of accounts accused of inciting violence on Twitter and Facebook, …

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Apple suspends Parler from App Store

Apple confirmed that it has suspended the conservative social media app Parler from the App Store, shortly after Google banned it from Google Play. The app, which became a home to Trump supporters and several high-profile conservatives in the days leading up to the Capitol riots, had been operating in violation of Apple’s rules.
The company tells TechCrunch:
We have always supported diverse points of view being represented on the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity. Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these …

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The deplatforming of a president

After years of placid admonishments, the tech world came out in force against President Trump this past week following the violent assault of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. From Twitter to PayPal, more than a dozen companies have placed unprecedented restrictions or outright banned the current occupant of the White House from using their services, and in some cases, some of his associates and supporters as well.
The news was voluminous and continuous for the past few days, so here’s a recap of who took action when, and what might happen next.
Twitter: …

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