“It’s deja vu all over again.” Yogi Berra
“It’s deja vu all over again.” Yogi Berra
U.S. Congressional Election Results, 2018
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WASHINGTON — Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, toured the nation’s capital this week trying to assuage concerns from both parties about the company’s size and influence, and whether its search results have political bias.
Mr. Pichai, who had largely avoided meeting with lawmakers, will be coming back.
Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, who organized a meeting with Mr. Pichai on Friday, said he expected him to attend a congressional hearing later this year. The hearing will address questions of political bias, as well as Google’s potential plans to re-enter the Chinese market, said Mr. McCarthy, the House majority leader.
Mr. Pichai confirmed in a statement that he would testify in “due course.”
In addition, he has agreed to participate in a discussion with other tech industry leaders and President Trump, said Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council.
Google had declined to send Mr. Pichai to testify this month at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about foreign manipulation of social media. The absence upset many lawmakers, leading to his visit this week.
Mr. McCarthy has been one of the most vocal critics of Google, raising accusations that the search engine purposely suppresses conservative views in its results. He has accused Twitter and Facebook of similar bias, joined by other Republican lawmakers who point to the liberal leanings of Silicon Valley as motivation to skew the discovery of information.
The meeting on Friday with Mr. Pichai, which Mr. McCarthy and eight other Republican lawmakers attended, seemed to smooth over relations. But suspicions of political bias remained.
“I see a hearing right now looking at bias, looking at all the issues we talked about, from privacy to China,” Mr. McCarthy said after the meeting. He does not expect the hearing to focus on antitrust concerns and whether Google should be broken up, he added.
After avoiding much of the scrutiny heaped upon its internet rivals over the last year, Google has been thrust into the harsh spotlight in recent weeks. Conservatives have accused the company of using its dominance of online search to provide results slanted against Republicans — a charge the company denies.
Mr. Pichai’s no-show at the hearing this month — captured by images of an empty seat alongside executives from Facebook and Twitter — added to the rancor. Leaks of employee emails discussing ways to counter President Trump’s immigration policy, and video of a companywide meeting that showed executives lamenting his election victory, have also fueled the allegations of bias.
Mr. McCarthy said Mr. Pichai had explained how search worked and how Google’s algorithm, which the company keeps secret, changes over time. In the past, Google has said political ideology is not a factor in any aspect of its search results. It does not, according to the company, collect information about whether a user is conservative or liberal, or categorize web pages by political leanings.
On Thursday and Friday, Mr. Pichai also had meetings with Democratic lawmakers, including one with Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader.
Mr. Pichai, in the statement, said the discussions over the two days “with a wide range of congressional leaders were constructive and informative.”
Cecilia Kang reported from Washington, and Daisuke Wakabayashi from San Francisco. (NYTImes,9/19/18)
When Joe Barton, a Republican congressman from Texas, greeted Jack Dorsey at a congressional hearing last week, he sounded flummoxed.
“I don’t know what a Twitter C.E.O. should look like,” Mr. Barton said. “But you don’t look like what a C.E.O. of Twitter should look like.”
The congressman had a point. Mr. Dorsey — who sported a nose ring, a popped-collar shirt and a craggy Moses beard — looked more like a hipster version of a Civil War officer than a tech icon. Yet more striking than his look was his manner before skeptical lawmakers.
Faced with tough questions, Mr. Dorsey did not mount an aggressive defense of his company and his technology, as an earlier generation of tech leader might have. Instead, he demurred, conceded mistakes and generally engaged in a nuanced and seemingly heartfelt colloquy on the difficulties of managing tech in a complex world. Even in response to Mr. Barton’s comment about his look, Mr. Dorsey was solicitous. “My mom agrees with you,” he said.
(Excerpted from NY Times, 9/13/18)
The online Global Education Conference begins on Monday, September 17, please join in throughout the week.
Forget about your “hanging chads,” fake news and dirty tricks. Get some savvy technology tools to load onto your campaign bandwagon. And, of course, the right people to make it all work. Democrats obviously have the greater need.
“Democrats are often thought to be tech savvy, because the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012 were celebrated for their online touch and because much of Silicon Valley backs the party’s candidates. In fact, . . . Democrats in congressional and state-level races have been out-matched by their Republican rivals, who benefitted from the heavy tech investments during the Obama years and their enthusiastic embrace of targeted ads on platforms like Facebook and Google.
People don’t understand how not far along we are as a party (Democratic). Obama was really good at tech, but it never trickled down to a Senate race, let alone the state-level stuff. (NY Times, 7/14/18).”
The UK may issue a formal summons to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that would require him to appear in front of British lawmakers the next time he enters the country, according to a letter sent to the company Tuesday.
Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer “failed to answer fully” 39 questions when he appeared before Parliament last week, according to the letter from the Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. As a result, lawmakers are requesting the presence of the company’s boss. Schroepfer went to London in place of Zuckerberg to give evidence as part of the committee’s inquiry into the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal and the impact of fake news on the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Committee chair Damian Collins has repeatedly asked Zuckerberg to appear and answer questions, as the CEO did last month before Congress. Instead, Zuckerberg has twice sent other executives in his place.
Collins reiterated his request for Zuckerberg to appear in front of the committee in the Tuesday letter, asking that he do so before May 24 when the Facebook chief will reportedly visit Europe to give evidence to the European Parliament.
“It is worth noting that, while Mr Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the UK Parliament, he will do so next time he enters the country,” according to the letter. “We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the Committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK.”
Collins listed the 39 questions that the committee believes Schroepfer failed to sufficiently answer, including ones about dark ads that can only be seen by the target audience, foreign spending on election-related ads, third-party app developers, and the storage and privacy of Facebook user data.
The committee’s inquiry began last July, but doubled down on investigating Facebook’s activities following revelations in March that data consultancy Cambridge Analytica had accessed Facebook data of 87 million users.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to request for comment. I think Mark Zuckerberg may have had enough of “parliamentary” inquiries for now.
“Pressure has been mounting for social media companies and other internet giants to be better stewards of their powerful platforms (NY Times, 2/28/18).” A bill to force these companies to better monitor their online content passed the House earlier this week.” A similar bill in the Senate is expected to pass soon.
Facebook, in particular, has come under pressure over the spread of misinformation and the exertion of foreign interference during the 2016 presidential election. Democratic and Republican lawmakers have called for regulations, including disclosures on political advertising, but those efforts have been slow to gain wide support. Some experts have concluded that there is clearly not a willingness for the government to pursue fundamental business model changes.
Sex, politics, and profits, in any order you choose.
Just say “no.” Remember that one. It was a slogan used by the federal government in the Reagan days to combat drug trafficking. Thank you Nancy Reagan. Now we have the Internet and social media at our disposal if we chose to “traffic” in illegal activities. Sex trafficking is one of the more flagrant abuses that, up to now, has gone unchecked. Congress has now gotten involved, enacting legislation that will hold online sex traffickers accountable and help give trafficking survivors the justice they deserve.
Tech titans such as Facebook, Twitter and Google have finally relented and agreed to grant victims the ability to secure the justice they deserve, allow Internet platforms to continue their work combatting human trafficking, and protect good actors in the ecosystem. It will hold online sex traffickers accountable and give trafficking survivors the justice they deserve. Consumer advocates said that the law also put bigger media companies on notice as well.
In reality, and perhaps unfortunately, the Internet of Things can be whatever we humans make of it.
Or loosely translated, means that the U.S. Congress may soon be enacting legislation that will ensure freedom of speech in an increasingly online economy. As Americans we have come to cherish this freedom as a birthright that entitles us to express our thoughts and opinions in a very open environment (some legal limitations still do exist with respect to slander or crowd incitement). In an attempt to limit any negative commentary about their products or business practices, some companies have made customers sign non-disparagement clauses and then sued if a bad review showed up.
Sponsors of this legislation say that fair reviews are important to building the strength of the “sharing economy” that allows consumers to exchange information about products, services and ideas. Whatever happened to the old “complaint department?” My suggestion here is that we try a little more face-to-face interaction, or even a phone call, to help businesses and customers resolve any complaints or issues around products or service. Going online to express dissatisfaction, or writing lengthy negative emails, may be very satisfying or empowering to the aggrieved consumer, but let’s try a little person-to-person engagement first
I hope I am not being too naive here, and maybe people just don’t want to spend the time it may take to resolve legitimate complaints. You will always have these online tools, and available legal resources, at your disposal if needed. Let’s not simply believe that our expanded outreach on the Internet will help us resolve all our grievances.
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