fbpx
Connect with us

Technology

Facebook suspends Trump for 2 years, then will reassess

Associated Press

Published

 on

Donald Trump

Facebook announced Friday that former President Donald Trump’s accounts will be suspended for two years, freezing his presence on the social network until early 2023, following a finding that Trump stoked violence ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

At the end of the suspension, the company will assess whether Trump’s “risk to public safety” has subsided, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post. He said Facebook will take into account “external factors” such as instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest.

Facebook also announced that it would end a contentious policy that automatically exempted politicians from rules banning hate speech and abuse, and that it would stiffen penalties for public figures during times of civil unrest and violence.

The former president called Facebook’s decision on the suspension “an insult.” The two-year ban replaced a previous ruling that ordered Trump to be suspended indefinitely.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win. Our Country can’t take this abuse anymore!” Trump said in a news release.

Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become indispensable tools for politicians to get their messages out and to raise small-dollar donations. Without the megaphone of Twitter and the targeted fundraising appeals his campaign mastered on Facebook, Trump could be at a serious disadvantage relative to other politicians.

Trump has teased running for president again in 2024. His aides say that he has been working on launching his own social media platform to compete with those that have booted him, but one has yet to materialize. A blog he launched on his existing website earlier this year was shut down after less than a month. It attracted dismal traffic.

On Facebook, Trump’s suspension means that his account is essentially frozen. Others can read and comment on past posts, but Trump and other account handlers are unable to post new material. Twitter, by contrast, has permanently banned Trump from its service, and no trace of his account remains.

“What they’ve done here is shield themselves from potential presidential rage” with a reassessment of Trump’s account in two years, said Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University communications professor.

In a color-coded chart on its blog post, the company said public figures who violate its policies during times of crisis can be restricted from posting for a month (yellow) or as long as two years (red). Future violations, it said, will be met with “heightened penalties, up to and including permanent removal.”

The policy that exempted politicians from rules on hate speech and abuse was once championed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The company said it never applied the policy to Trump, but on Friday backtracked to say it did use it once, in 2019 for a video of a rally on his Facebook page.

The social media giant said it will still apply the “newsworthiness” exemption to certain posts it deems to be in the public interest, even if they violate Facebook rules. But it will no longer treat material posted by politicians any differently than other posts. In addition, Facebook said it will make public whenever it does apply the exemption to a post.

The announcements are in response to recommendations from the company’s quasi-independent oversight board. Last month, that panel upheld a decision by Facebook to keep Trump suspended, but the board said the company could not merely suspend him indefinitely. It gave the company six months to decide what to do with his accounts.

In its decision last month, the board agreed with Facebook that two of Trump’s Jan. 6 posts “severely violated” the content standards of both Facebook and Instagram.

“We love you. You’re very special,” Trump said to the rioters in the first post. In the second, he called them “great patriots” and told them to “remember this day forever.”

Those comments violated Facebook’s rules against praising or supporting people engaged in violence, the board said. Specifically, the board cited rules against “dangerous individuals and organizations” that prohibit anyone who proclaims a violent mission and ban posts that express support for those people or groups.

The two-year suspension is effective from Jan. 7, so Trump has 19 months to go.

A group calling itself the Real Facebook Oversight Board, which is critical of Facebook and its oversight panel, said in a statement Friday that the ban brings Trump back just in time for the 2024 presidential election and shows “no real strategy to address authoritarian leaders and extremist content, and no intention of taking serious action against disinformation and hate speech.”

Due to its sheer size and power, Facebook’s decision has broad implications for politicians and their constituencies around the globe. Chinmayi Arun, a fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project, said it’s good that the company laid out a standard for when it will suspend political leaders and for how long.

“What’s tremendous is that Facebook took the oversight board’s recommendation to reevaluate the real-world context and the offline tensions, while deciding what to do with a politician’s online speech,” she said. But she remains concerned that suspensions cannot be reviewed unless Facebook asks.

For years, Facebook gave the former president special treatment and free reign to spread misinformation and threats on the platform. Outside critics and even Facebook’s own employees called for the company to remove Trump long before the Jan. 6 comments.

Last summer, for instance, Zuckerberg decided to leave up posts by Trump that suggested protesters in Minneapolis could be shot, using the words “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Trump’s comment evoked the civil-rights era by borrowing a phrase used in 1967 by Miami’s police chief to warn of an aggressive police response to unrest in Black neighborhoods.

While Facebook put labels on many of Trump’s election posts, he did not face penalties such as suspension for repeatedly and falsely claiming victory in 2020.

In Friday’s post, Clegg anticipated criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

“We know that any penalty we apply — or choose not to apply — will be controversial. There are many people who believe it was not appropriate for a private company like Facebook to suspend an outgoing President from its platform, and many others who believe Mr. Trump should have immediately been banned for life,” he wrote.

Facebook’s job, he said, is “to make a decision in as proportionate, fair and transparent a way as possible, in keeping with the instruction given to us by the Oversight Board.”

But by staying in the middle, some experts said Facebook had once again punted the decision instead of taking a firm stance.

“It’s the wait-and-see approach,” said Sarah Kreps, a Cornell professor and director of the Cornell Tech Policy Lab. “I think they’re hoping this can just resolve itself with him not being kind of an influential voice in politics anymore.”


By BARBARA ORTUTAY AP Technology Writer

Associated Press writers Tali Arbel, Matt O’Brien and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

Advertisement

Technology

Gains for some tech giants nudge S&P to another record high

Associated Press

Published

 on

Tech S&P

Technology companies helped lift stocks higher on Wall Street, nudging the S&P 500 to its third straight all-time high, even as other parts of the market faltered.

A burst of buying in the final 10 minutes of trading sent the benchmark index 0.2% higher. The S&P 500 had been down 0.3% earlier amid another bout of choppy trading as Wall Street awaits the latest take from the Federal Reserve on inflation.

Investors are trying to gauge the strength of the economic recovery and whether emerging signs of inflation will be transitory, as the central bank believes. The Fed delivers its interest rate policy update Wednesday afternoon.

“Most of this is just positioning in front of the Fed later this week,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at All Star Charts. Investors are “trying to get a sense of not just what the Fed is going to say in terms of announcements, but what they expect in terms of the path of monetary policy and the economy going forward.”

The S&P 500 added 7.71 points to 4,255.15. The index has notched a weekly gain three weeks in a row. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 85.85 points, or 0.2%, to 34,393.75. The Nasdaq rose 104.72 points, or 0.7%, to 14,174.14.

Small-company stocks fell. The Russell 2000 index lost 9.66 points, or 0.4%, to 2,326.15.

Among the tech sector winners Monday were Apple, which rose 2.5%, and Adobe, which gained 2.9%. Several large communications companies also made gains. Facebook rose 1.7% and Netflix gained 2.3%. Those gains offset a broad decline in financial, industrial and materials stocks, among others. JPMorgan dropped 1.7%.

Wall Street is trying to gauge the strength of the economic recovery, the impact rising inflation is having on its trajectory, and the Fed’s next move.

Investors have been worried that the Fed could ease up on bond purchases and other stimulus measures as the economy recovers. No policy changes are expected immediately, but comments on a shift in policy could jostle an already skittish market.

Fed officials have maintained that any rise in inflation will be temporary as the economy recovers.

“There’s still this debate on inflation and, notwithstanding what the Fed does and whether yields move down, there’s still some upward pricing pressure,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager with Globalt Investments.

A boost in demand for goods has helped fuel a rise in the cost of everything from food to cars and household goods. Shipping costs are also rising and adding to the increase in prices. The uncertainty over inflation has been fueling much of the back-and-forth in the market between stocks that are considered safer value holdings versus those with more potential for sharp growth.

“As you go into the summer and you have uncertainty about inflation, the fed and the stimulus, you’ll kind of see people neutralizing bets,” Martin said.

Lordstown Motors sank 18.8% after the CEO and CFO resigned as problems mount for the startup electric truck maker.

Novavax gave up an early gain, dropping 0.9%. The vaccine maker said its COVID-19 shot was highly effective against the disease and also protected against variants in a large study in the U.S. and Mexico. The company is facing raw-material shortages, though, and plans to seek authorization for the shots by the end of September.

Bond prices fell, sending yields mostly higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.50% from 1.46% late Friday.

“You don’t get a message from the bond market that it’s worried either about persistent inflation or about the Fed doing something dramatic in terms of not being the buyer of bonds that it has been in recent quarters,” Delwiche said.

European markets were mostly higher. Several markets in Asia were closed for a holiday.


By DAMIAN J. TROISE and ALEX VEIGA AP Business Writers

Continue Reading

Technology

Google Announces Google Workspace for Everyone

Inside Telecom Staff

Published

 on

Google Workspace

Google announced on Monday a series of updates that build upon its vision to deliver a single, integrated communication and collaboration solution to everyone via Google Workspace.

Now, all of the company’s three billion-plus existing users across consumer, enterprise, and education have access to the full Google Workspace experience, including Gmail, Chat, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Meet and more.        

In addition to offering Google Workspace to everyone, the company announced new innovations that address the specific challenges and opportunities of the hybrid work world:

  • The evolution of Rooms in Google Chat to Spaces
  • A new individual subscription offer: Google Workspace Individual
  • New enhancements to Google Meet that enable collaboration equity
  • New security and privacy capabilities across Google Workspace

“Collaboration doesn’t stop at the workplace – our products have been optimized for broad participation, sharing and helpfulness since the beginning,” said Javier Soltero, VP and GM, Google Workspace. “Our focus is on delivering consumers, workers, teachers and students alike an equitable approach to collaboration, while still providing flexibility that allows these different subsets of users to take their own approach to communication and collaboration.”

“With this update, Google Workspace is creating a new competitive advantage by optimizing for a single, connected experience across its products that it is extending to consumers and individual business owners, to align with the experience that its enterprise and education subscribers benefit from today,” Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy, said in a statement.

Google Workspace for everyone

Every day, the world’s most innovative companies, schools and nonprofits use Google Workspace to transform how people work and achieve more together.

It’s a daily part of how leading healthcare providers revolutionize patient care, schools turn remote learning into an immersive, personalized experience, and aerospace companies rethink flight. Starting today, Google Workspace is available to anyone with a Google account, meaning friends, family, or groups of any kind can stay connected, work together, and share helpful information in a single space.

For example, you can organize a junior sports league with ease, take that fundraiser to the next level, or even turn a hobby into a business. Starting today, users can enable the integrated experience in Google Workspace by turning on Google Chat in Gmail.

Connecting content and people in powerful ways

With the introduction of Spaces, the Rooms experience in Google Chat will evolve into a dedicated place for organizing people, topics, and projects in Google Workspace. “Over the summer, we’ll evolve Rooms to become Spaces and launch a streamlined and flexible user interface that helps teams and individuals stay on top of everything that’s important,” a statement by the search engine said.

Powered by new features like in-line topic threading, presence indicators, custom statuses, expressive reactions, and a collapsible view, Spaces will seamlessly integrate with files and tasks, becoming a new home in Google Workspace for getting more done—together.

Spaces will also provide a place to fuel knowledge sharing and community building for teams of all sizes, where all the relevant information, conversations, and files for a project can be organized, and where topics—even at the organization level—can be intelligently moderated.

With the ability to pin messages where everyone can see them, Spaces will play a crucial role in helping people stay connected and informed.

Google Workspace Individual

Google Workspace is also launching Workspace Individual, a powerful, easy-to-use solution that was built to help individual business owners grow, run, and protect their business. This new subscription offering provides premium capabilities, including smart booking services, professional video meetings and personalized email marketing, with much more on the way.

Within their existing Google account, subscribers can easily manage all their personal and professional commitments from one place with access to Google support to get the most out of their solution.

Workspace Individual is rolling out soon to six markets, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, and Japan.

A single, connected experience

As businesses move to a hybrid work environment, the importance of creating secure collaboration spaces and fostering human connection has never been more important. Because Google Workspace was designed to fuel anywhere, anytime collaboration, it’s now helping millions of organizations navigate the challenges and opportunities of the newly emerging work model.

Customers are using Google Workspace to rethink virtual meetings, provide people with modern tools to stay connected and manage their time and attention, and double down on security and privacy.

Continue Reading

Technology

Apple reaffirms privacy stance amid Trump probe revelations

Associated Press

Published

 on

Seeking to protect its image as a guardian of personal privacy, Apple maintains it was blindsided and handcuffed by a Trump administration probe that resulted in the company handing over phone data from two Democratic congressmen.

Apple delivered its version of events Friday in response to news reports detailing the U.S. Justice Department’s aggressive attempts to use its legal power to identify leaks tied to an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

The Justice Department was able to persuade a federal grand jury to issue a subpoena that culminated in Apple turning over the metadata — information that can include general records of calls and texts — about House Intelligence Committee members Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both California Democrats, during 2018. Both lawmakers were key figures on the committee looking into Trump’s connections with Russia; Schiff is now the panel’s chair.

Neither Schiff and Swalwell knew some of the information had been seized until May 5, after a series of gag orders had finally expired, according to the company.

The revelation of Apple’s compliance with the subpoena emerged at a time when the company has been ramping up efforts to frame privacy as “fundamental human right” in its marketing campaigns. Apple also upped the privacy ante in April when it rolled out privacy controls on the iPhone as part of an effort to make it more difficult for companies such as Facebook to track people’s online activities to help sell ads.

In a statement, Apple emphasized it will continue to fight unjustified legal demands for personal information and keep customers informed about them.

But in this instance, Apple said it was constrained by a nondisclosure order signed by a federal magistrate judge and said it had no information about the nature of the investigation.

“It would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through users’ accounts,” the Cupertino, California, company said. “Consistent with the request, Apple limited the information it provided to account subscriber information and did not provide any content such as emails or pictures.”

Apple also believes other technology companies may have been confronted with similar legal demands, based on the broad nature of the request it received for “customer or subscriber account information” spanning 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses.

It remains unclear how many other companies may have been swept up in the Trump administration’s attempt to track down leakers.

In a statement, Microsoft acknowledged receiving at least one subpoena in 2017 related to a personal email account. It said it notified the customer after the gag order expired and learned that the person was a congressional staff member. “We will continue to aggressively seek reform that imposes reasonable limits on government secrecy in cases like this,” the company said.

Privacy experts were more troubled by the U.S. laws that allowed the Justice Department to secretly obtain the subpoenas and then keep them under wraps for years than by Apple’s limited compliance with the demands.

The subpoenas represent a “a quintessential example of government abuse” that ensnared Apple, said Alan Butler, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

“It’s very difficult to challenge these types of subpoenas, but it’s not impossible,” Butler said. “And if there ever was one worth challenging, it might have been these.”

Apple’s response to the subpoena doesn’t necessarily contradict its stance on the sanctity of personal privacy, said Cindy Cohn, executive director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group. That’s because Apple privacy commitments mostly revolve around shielding its customers from online surveillance.

She thinks the bigger issue is why U.S. law allows a grand jury to issue a subpoena and then block Apple from alerting the affected people.

“The overall secrecy of this is troubling, especially since it appears to have all been a politically motivated investigation,” Cohn said.

Apple has a history of fighting legal requests, most notably in 2016 when the Justice Department sought to force Apple to unlock the iPhone owned by one of the killers in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

Apple refused to cooperate, contending it would open a digital backdoor that would pose threats to the security and privacy of all iPhone users. The legal showdown ended when the FBI hired another firm to unlock the iPhone connected to the shooting.

“Apple really put its money where its mouth is that time,” Butler said.


SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — By MICHAEL LIEDTKE AP Technology Writer.

Continue Reading

Trending