Fortnite News – How to read the Facebook oversight board’s ruling on Trump
With help from Cristiano Lima, Leah Nylen and Benjamin Din
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— Beyond the ban: Here’s what to watch for in the Facebook Oversight Board’s ruling on whether to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s account.
— Tai in the crosshairs: All eyes are turning to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai as she weighs whether to include tech’s liability shield in future trade agreements.
— Tech support: The Biden administration’s latest guidance on the Technology Modernization Fund will make it easier for agencies to tackle tech projects quickly.
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TRUMP RULING INCOMING — Today’s heavily scrutinized decision for Facebook’s “Supreme Court” could have huge ramifications for how politicians and world leaders use social media to speak to their constituents.
Here’s what to watch for, aside from the possible return of the 45th president to social media, according to POLITICO’s Cristiano Lima:
— What did Facebook get wrong? The board is set to scrutinize why Facebook decided to suspend Trump, delving into the specifics behind how the platform went about taking down the former president’s account. The board’s decision could turn on whether Facebook’s policies were clear enough, whether the social media giant gave Trump due process and whether its review and appeal process was carried out fairly and consistently with past precedent (if there is such a thing).
— What are the implications for other users, including other world leaders? Courts set precedent, and this one is no exception, even if it’s just a group of Facebook-appointed experts. If the board rules that Facebook should reinstate Trump’s account, that could provide cover to other world leaders accused of stoking hate and violence, even when their messages would otherwise violate the platform’s policies.
— What policy changes will the board recommend, and will Facebook adopt them? The board is expected to suggest tweaks to Facebook’s policies to ensure the company is more prepared the next time a world leader causes trouble on the platform. That could add some new constraints to Facebook’s self-described commitment to free expression — if the company makes the suggested changes, that is. (The oversight board’s ruling is binding, but Facebook doesn’t have to follow its other recommendations.)
— What’s the timing? If Trump’s account is ordered reinstated, how long will it take for Facebook to actually lift the suspension and for the former president to return to his prolific posting habits? As of Tuesday, Trump has another way to connect with his former followers. But unless he’s planning to launch a real platform, he’s likely eager to get back to at least one of his social media megaphones ASAP — especially considering his new blog could lead to more of his remarks being taken down on Facebook and Twitter, as POLITICO reported.
— What if Trump comes back and violates Facebook’s policies again? The board may order Trump reinstated only to find he’s soon broken Facebook’s rules again. We could all just be back here doing this again in a few months.
— A lose-lose in Washington: Lawmakers are already staking out partisan positions on the ruling, even before it’s been announced. “No matter the Facebook Oversight Board’s ruling, it represents another distraction by Facebook to deflect responsibility,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) in a statement. “The focus should not be on a decision about a single user … but instead on Facebook’s own actions.”
Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, meanwhile, said Trump’s ban should “never have happened in the first place.”
EYES ON TAI — Tai has been in office for over a month now, and she’s just starting to figure out which trade agreements to hammer out first — so of course, lawmakers have been grilling her about what she plans to do about Section 230.
House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and his Republican counterpart, McMorris Rodgers, in a letter this week emphasized that Congress is still debating whether the legal shield protecting online companies from liability for what users post needs to be overhauled. “We find it inappropriate for the United States to export language mirroring Section 230 while such serious policy discussions are ongoing,” the lawmakers wrote.
— The world according to Tai: Tai has so far dodged questions about her views on including Section 230-like language in future trade deals, including during testimony before Congress. “There are a wide variety of views on this issue,” Tai wrote in response to questions from the Senate Finance Committee earlier this year.
She was an instrumental player in passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement during her time as the chief trade lawyer for the House Ways and Means Committee. Two tech industry sources pointed this out to MT as evidence that she might support keeping Section 230 in trade agreements — after all, USMCA ultimately extended the liability shield for online content to Mexico and Canada, despite last-minute objections from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But Tai herself has remained mum on the issue. She’s seen as a pragmatist who makes decisions on trade according to what can actually get done, so the tech industry will be closely watching her next move.
TMF, DC’S NEWEST VC PLAYER — The Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration announced Tuesday flexible reimbursement requirements for the Technology Modernization Fund, which received a $1 billion infusion in President Joe Biden‘s Covid relief package to help bring the government’s aging technology systems up to date.
The fund is designed to recoup the money it awards agencies by having them pay it back with the savings that ultimately result from their modernization efforts. But the new guidance also allows for partial or minimal repayment on proposals where the benefits of upgrades outweigh the agency’s financial return on them.
— Positive reactions: Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who sent a letter last month calling for relaxed reimbursement requirements, both told MT that they were pleased at how quickly the Biden administration took action. And Matthew Cornelius, executive director of trade group Alliance for Digital Innovation and a former OMB staffer, called Tuesday’s guidance “a very positive step in the right direction,” saying it will likely encourage more agencies to apply for the increased funding.
“They’ve gotten to a place where the Biden administration has sort of loosened up these repayment strings and are looking at the TMF as an opportunity to be embraced and to actually run more like a VC model and less as a risk to be managed and constantly worrying about nickel-and-diming agencies about repayment,” Cornelius told MT. Now, he said, the Hill will watch how the distribution of the TMF plays out in the coming months. If it’s successful, it’ll be easier to make the case to send more money TMF’s way.
— Quick reminder: Biden had originally requested $9 billion for the TMF, although the $1 billion figure lawmakers landed on is nothing to sneeze about. Another sign this is a priority for the president: He already made another ask for an additional $500 million in last month’s discretionary request for next year’s budget.
WHAT IS A GAME, ANYWAY? — Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has often praised the “metaverse,” a collective virtual space he hopes to create in his company’s popular online game, Fortnite. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers also got a little meta. “How would you define a game?” she asked Sweeney, admitting she is “not a gamer,” though her daughter has a Nintendo Switch. Not all games require competitive play, she said, using Candy Crush as an example.
— “A game involves some sort of win or loss or a score progression whether it’s an individual or a social group of competitors, as opposed to some open-ended creative experience,” Sweeney said. Fortnite Creative Mode, where players build things, is social/entertainment-oriented with no designated outcome, he said. “There’s no score. You’re never done, and you never win.”
— What users don’t know can hurt them: Google doesn’t bar developers from telling consumers about cheaper app subscriptions online. (For now, anyway. Google plans to crack down on that this fall.) So yoga app Down Dog urges Android users to save by subscribing online, and roughly 90 percent of them do, company CEO Benjamin Simon said. Apple, though, prohibits apps from telling iPhone users about cheaper online options, so half of Down Dog’s iOS customers pay more, he said.
— Careful what you retweet: Apple’s Jay P. Srinivasan dinged Nvidia witness Aashish Patel for retweeting Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who was herself retweeting an awesome story on state app store bills. Srinivasan said Patel — a top exec for Nvidia’s game streaming platform, GeForce Now — isn’t neutral and wants “Epic to win” its suit.
Fortnite is among the most popular games on GeForce Now, which works on computers, Android devices, some Chromebooks and smart TVs. iPhone users can play through the Safari browser; Apple rejected GeForce Now’s iOS app, Patel said. As of today, Fortnite isn’t available for Safari customers, but Nvidia hopes to have it ready by the fall.
Former Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) is joining the board of artificial intelligence research lab OpenAI. … The Digital Trust and Safety Partnership added Patreon as its 10th partner. … The Heritage Foundation joined 40 other conservative organizations in a pledge to reject donations from “Big Tech.”
Just checking in: Facebook has been preparing advertisers in anticipation of the Oversight Board ruling, trying to gauge how Madison Avenue will respond, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Money talks: Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel has made tens of thousands of dollars off of “Big Tech,” even as he rails against the companies, according to The Daily Beast.
Oh snap: A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that Snap could be held liable for harm caused by its signature app. It’s a ruling with big implications for Section 230. Pros can read more here.
ICYMI: New York is experimenting with making broadband a public utility. POLITICO’s Garrett Downs has the latest on what’s happening in Albany.
Opinion: Former Facebook executive Katie Harbath explores the questions that will arise from the Oversight Board’s decision on Trump in The Hill.
Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Bob King ([email protected], @bkingdc), Heidi Vogt ([email protected], @HeidiVogt), John Hendel ([email protected], @JohnHendel), Cristiano Lima ([email protected], @viaCristiano), Alexandra S. Levine ([email protected], @Ali_Lev), Leah Nylen ([email protected], @leah_nylen), and Emily Birnbaum ([email protected], @birnbaum_e). Got an event for our calendar? Send details to [email protected]. And don’t forget: Add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.
SEE YOU TOMORROW!
Fortnite News – How to read the Facebook oversight board’s ruling on Trump
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