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Posted: November 15, 2018
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George Soros' foundations blast Facebook as threat to democracy - Axios

George Soros' foundations blast Facebook as threat to democracy

George Soros

George Soros. Photo: Popow/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Responding to a bombshell New York Times piece, the president of George Soros' Open Society Foundations, Paul Gaspard, said Facebook's "methods threaten the very values underpinning our democracy" in a letter addressed to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

The backdrop: The Times article alleged — among other things — that Facebook utilized a Republican-oriented public relations group to help navigate Washington politics during its user privacy controversies. That group also reportedly singled out Soros, who is often targeted by the right, and Open Society as "the unacknowledged force behind what appeared to be a broad anti-Facebook movement."

New portrait of Facebook leadership under attack

Sheryl Sandberg in Capitol hallway

Sheryl Sandberg on Capitol Hill last year. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

As Facebook navigated security, privacy, and hate-speech controversies after the 2016 election, a new investigation from the New York Times found that the company pursued a "delay, deny and deflect" approach while top executives orchestrated a counterpunching campaign against critics, rivals and proponents of regulation.

The big picture: The Times report exposes the company to new criticisms from its employee base, more primed than ever to protest over the company’s political actions. Most striking for outsiders is the story’s depiction of CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg as evasive or sometimes asleep at the switch.

Big Tech's next steps on opioids

A bottle of oxycodone

Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

Tech companies are launching a new partnership today aimed at better coordinating their respective efforts to help fight the opioid crisis.

The big picture: Federal regulators had criticized tech platforms over a proliferation of ads for illegal pharmacies. But the companies have done a lot to rein in those ads and to redirect users toward information about treatment when, for example, they search Google or Facebook for opioid-related terms.

Penalize liars in media and online, congressman says

Ro Khanna, Renee DiResta, Darrell Issa. Photo: WSJ / Nikki Ritcher Photography

Rep. Darrell Issa, speaking at the Wall Street Journal's tech conference in Laguna Beach Monday, said the U.S. information system needs new ways to hold liars accountable — including journalists' anonymous sources and social-media disinformation providers.

What they're saying: "We have to have a result for the person who creates a lie, which we don't yet have,” said Issa.

Facebook increases its news firepower with new position

Facebook logo

Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook has named Anne Kornblut — an alumnus of the Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post who has been at the company for three years — to the new position of Director of News, New Initiatives.

Per Facebook: "Anne will lead the expanded news partnerships out of our Menlo Park office. She will focus on new initiatives across the entire family of Facebook apps and services, and work across the many teams that touch news on Facebook: products, partnerships, policy, communications."

Industry moves to shape Trump administration privacy plans

A sign on the outside of the Department of Commerce building

The administration has tasked the Department of Commerce with looking at privacy. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Tech’s Washington representatives are working to shape the Department of Commerce’s approach to privacy, with comments flowing into the agency last week ahead of a key deadline.

The big picture: From the halls of Congress to federal agencies to state houses, lobbying battles are raging as companies, trade groups, and their critics seek to influence how America regulates consumer data collection and its use.

Meet Lasso, Facebook's competitor to TikTok

iphone screenshots of the app lasso

Lasso app screenshot. Photo: Marisa Fernandez

Facebook has quietly launched an app, Lasso, that allows users to create short music videos, similar to the highly popular Chinese app TikTok, The Verge reports.

Why it matters: The social network has struggled to keep teens on their Facebook feeds in 2018, per Pew Research Center, and is trying to stay relevant with younger users. Facebook is famous for building its own version of products that are achieving success with other companies — dating forums, stories, Facebook Portal and now a trendy video app.

Facebook ends arbitration mandate for sexual harassment claims

Facebook office in London. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images

Following Google's move in the face of employee pressure, Facebook is ending its mandatory arbitration for employee claims of sexual harassment, as the Wall Street Journal first reported and the company confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Unlike public lawsuits, forced arbitration for complaints of sexual harassment (as for those of discrimination) has been widely criticized as a tactic to silence victims and hide misconduct within companies. Earlier this year, Uber—followed by Lyft—made similar changes in response to ongoing criticism of the arbitration requirement from employees, drivers, and passengers.

How designing for Instagram became a booming business

An illustration of an instagram feed full of money.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Millions of dollars are being spent across apps, sets and props to help people project perfectly curated images for Instagram photos, Boomerangs and stories.

Why it matters: Instagram has exploded as the primary visual medium for social networkers around the world, with more than 1 billion users worldwide. Companies, influencers and everyday users are willing to pay big bucks to look their best.

Ex-Facebook CIO looks to weave a better calendar in Woven

Image of Woven app

The map view in Woven lets you see your calendar geographically. Photo: Woven

When he was Facebook's chief information officer, Tim Campos said he spent a lot of time hearing from executives how frustrating it was to deal with their calendar. So when he left the company in late 2016, he set out to build a better calendar.

Details: Woven, as the company and product are called, helps individuals better manage their time — including work, team and personal calendars — as well as ease the process of finding times to meet up with people.

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