The Great Deplatforming of Trump reminds us that the US & EU won't see eye to eye so soon
I mean, would be great, but probably won't happen. At least not in the near future.
👋 Welcome to FWIW by David Tvrdon, your weekly tech, media & audio digest.
In this edition
✋ The Great Deplatforming: US vs. EU
🤳 Why are users exiting WhatsApp?
💬 Other tech, media, audio & podcasting news
📈 My latest for The Fix: 16 trends and predictions for media and journalism in 2021 from Reuters Institute.
Here we go again: How the US & EU differ in the question of online platform regulation
OK, so we all know what happened a week ago, and then the Great Deplatforming (social media and other services started banning Trump and disconnecting him, here is a full list).
When it happened, or even before I have seen many writers who were for years opposed to the notion that a social media CEO should have the power to turn off an elected leader’s accounts for good. And they said enough and agreed to the ban.
Then came the news from Europe, where elected leaders like Angela Merkel were not happy with that decision.
Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for the internal market, even wrote about it an op-ed for Politico:
The fact that a CEO can pull the plug on POTUS’s loudspeaker without any checks and balances is perplexing. It is not only confirmation of the power of these platforms, but it also displays deep weaknesses in the way our society is organized in the digital space.
These last few days have made it more obvious than ever that we cannot just stand by idly and rely on these platforms’ good will or artful interpretation of the law. We need to set the rules of the game and organize the digital space with clear rights, obligations and safeguards. We need to restore trust in the digital space. It is a matter of survival for our democracies in the 21st century.
I agree with the decision the social platforms made, on the other hand, I see what Breton and the other EU politicians are trying to convey here.
By definition, social media platforms are not public spaces (at least not in a way that the law recognizes it), so there is nothing illegal with Zuckerberg and Dorsey benching Trump.
My colleague recently reminded me (in a yet unaired podcast) just of that. I did not have a response then but I have one now.
As Breton wrote in his piece, they are trying to bring rules from the offline world into the online, and if you look at elected politicians, then by the law they have a unique position and privileges. That’s because they were elected, serve the people, and govern.
So, now you might see that a gesture of deplatforming an elected leader (even if deserved) makes other elected politicians vary of the platform’s power and I can relate to that.
If Facebook or Twitter wrong anyone, even a state nation (and it doesn’t have to be in a legal sense, can be just an algorithm tweak or a promotion gone bad), there are little checks and balances for that, no one is going to vote Zuckerberg out of office in the next election.
And that should scare anyone.
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In other news
🤳 Why are users exiting WhatsApp? It’s all connected to the new privacy rules the service is making the users agree to, to use it as a helpdesk messaging service, and also to connect WhatsApp to Facebook Pay. After Elon Musk tweeted “Use Signal” the secure messaging app crashed and keeps getting new users, Telegram has also seen accelerated growth. Facebook might be finally breaking itself. Not quickly, but slowly, step by step by annoying groups of users. [Bloomberg]
RELATED: Telegram began shutting down public white supremacist groups for the first time. [FT.com]
📲 Samsung unveiled new Galaxy S21 phones - Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra, launching on January 29th. [The Verge]
💰 How Elon’s Tweet boosted the wrong company in the stock market. [Bloomberg]
💻 All the gaming laptops news from CES. [The Verge]
📡 Intel CEO Bob Swan is set to step down effective Feb. 15, the company announced. Replacing him will be Pat Gelsinger, who is a long time ex-executive who worked for Intel 30 years before he left in 2009. The markets liked the announcement, Intel’s stock surged 7% on the news Wednesday. [CNBC]
✋ All the platforms that have banned or restricted Trump so far. This list keeps growing every day. [Axios]
🥚 Google completes the Fitbit acquisition. Google had to promise not to use user data for ad targeting. Also, Google now can go head-on and integrate Fitbit into the whole WearOS / Android stack. We probably won’t see a new “Google Fitbit” until 2022, still, looking forward to what this turns out to be. [Google Blog]
🆕 Best of CES 2021. I’ll be honest, I did not follow closely CES this year, and looking at this shortlist from Wired magazine, there isn’t a whole lot of news. [Wired]
✍️ Tiny News Collective aims to launch 500 new local news organizations in three years. I am looking at this project with great expectations. The project aims to offer journalists (and non-journalists who decide to set up a local newsroom) a tech stack, business training, legal assistance, and back-office services. The goal: Nurture and grow 500 sustainable local news organizations over the next three years, at least half of them based in communities that are unserved or underserved, run by founders who have historically been shut out. That’s a mighty big goal. [NiemanLab]
🎥 Netflix showed off its muscles. This week it announced that in 2021 it will release each week a new movie. The whole slate of movies published on a public Google Doc is really impressive with many Hollywood A-listers. 2021 thanks to WarnerMedia’s decision and Netflix’s star power seems to signal that watching movies at home is not only the new normal but probably the only way to get to see many blockbusters. Remember, this used to be cinemas. [Netflix blog]
📊 How did digital subscription media end in 2020? The Global Digital Subscriptions Snapshot published quarterly by FIPP will give you a good idea. In the top 10, you will find the usual suspects from the USA, together there are 6 US-based publications, 2 UK-based, one Japanese, and one Chinese. [FIPP]
📩 How The Diff, one of Silicon Valley’s most popular newsletters, was built. If you are into newsletters, this is a well-spent hour, though the real newsletter talk starts about 15 mins into the show. [Nathan Barry Show]
👓 Der Spiegel’s experience suggests free subscription trials are less effective than paid ones. [The Fix]
📖 Medium is acquiring Glose, a digital platform for buying, reading, and discussing books. [CNN]
🤦♂️ Politico let Ben Shapiro, a pundit with “a long history of bigoted and incendiary commentary” to guest edit the Playbook newsletter. As expected, the newsroom was furious, though the editor in chief declined to apologize. [HoffPost]
🎓 15 free courses helping professionals land top jobs. LinkedIn Learning selected 15 courses they say helped professionals get hired for top jobs and are making them free until January 31. [LinkedIn Blog]
AUDIO & PODCASTING
😞 New York Times faces new pushback on 'Caliphate' podcast. This story just keeps ungiving for the Gray Lady. A couple of dozen radio that distributes The Daily sent an open letter to The Times asking for more clarification. [CNN]