Facebook says government demands for user data are at a record high

Facebook’s latest transparency report is out. The social media giant said the number of government demands for user data increased by 16% to 128,617 demands during the first half of this year compared to the second half of last year. That’s the highest number of government demands it has received in any reporting period since it published its first transparency report in 2013. The U.S. government led the way with the most number of requests — 50,741 demands for user data resulting in some account or user data given to authorities in 88% of cases. Facebook said two-thirds of all the U.S. government’s requests came with a gag order, preventing the company from telling the user about the request for …

PR pitch to Ola reveals the inner workings of UK ride-hailing politics

A UK PR firm pitching to run an account for Ola has proposed running a campaign to politicize ride-hailing as a tactic to shift regulations in its favor. The approach suggests that, despite the appearance of ride-hailing platforms taking a more conciliatory position with regulators that are now wise to earlier startup tactics in this space, there remains a calculus involving realpolitik, propaganda and high-level lobbying between companies that want to enter or expand in markets, and those who hold the golden tickets to do so. In 2017 Estonia-based ride-hailing startup Taxify tried to launch in London ahead of regulatory approval, for example, but city authorities clamped down straight away. It was only able to return to the UK capital …

Hillary Clinton warns of path to ‘fascism’ after MPs stand down

Former US secretary of state concerned that female MPs cited online threats Online threats which intimidate people into standing down as MPs are the path to authoritarianism [and] fascism, Hillary Clinton has said. Speaking to an audience in London, Clinton said she took very seriously the fact that Julia Gillard, Clinton expressed deep concerns about the misuse of technology and its impact on politics. The former US secretary of state and defeated presidential candidate told an audience at Facebooks position that it will not regulate political speech, she said, which means that it will take money for and run advertisements that are blatantly false. Citing a Joe Biden but which Facebook has refused to take down, she said: Its a …

Twitters political ads ban is a distraction from the real problem with platforms

Sometimes it feels as if Internet platforms are turning everything upside down, from politics to publishing, culture to commerce, and of course swapping truth for lies. This week’s bizarro reversal was the vista of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, a tech CEO famed for being entirely behind the moral curve of understanding what his product is platforming (i.e. nazis), providing an impromptu ‘tweet storm’ in political speech ethics. Actually he was schooling Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — another techbro renowned for his special disconnect with the real world, despite running a massive free propaganda empire with vast power to influence other people’s lives — in taking a stand for the good of democracy and society. So not exactly a full reverse then. In …