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February 1, 2022 T&S Newsletter

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T&S Early Warning News

Get ahead of new stories that are impacting the T&S industry.

Facebook’s cryptocurrency failure came after internal conflict and regulatory pushback

The Seattle Times | Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: Facebook meta

A popular mantra in Silicon Valley is “fail fast.” It took Facebook less than three years to fail in its high-profile cryptocurrency project.

Facebook’s shuttering of the project, which would have created a way for users to pay for things and send each other money that wouldn’t need to go through the regular financial system, came in response to internal clashes over its direction and sustained opposition in Washington, according to four people familiar with the effort who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive matters.

The company has had previous failures and product shutdowns, most notably an effort to build a smartphone a decade ago. But the decision to fold the project called Diem is the first that appears to relate directly to regulatory pushback, suggesting that bringing future products to market in heavily regulated spaces will be an uphill battle, the people said. That could complicate Facebook’s plans for its virtual reality metaverse.

“All of this scrutiny has an effect,” said Luther Lowe, senior vice president of public policy at Yelp and a longtime proponent of tougher antitrust policing of the biggest tech companies. “That’s a really important thing to keep an eye on right now because we’re on the verge of a new paradigm.”

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The metaverse could be ripe for crime, child abuse, and misinformation without regulation

Fortune | Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: Facebook Meta

Meta Platforms, formerly Facebook, may be restructuring its company and hiring thousands for newfound augmented and virtual reality roles, but there’s not even a universal definition for what a metaverse is yet—let alone a synchronous set of ground rules.

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This is creating more loneliness’: The metaverse could be a serious problem for kids, experts say

CNBC | Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: Meta

If there’s one thing that tech companies, retailers, content creators and investors can agree on, it’s this: There’s plenty of money to be made from the metaverse.

But as CEOs try to elbow past their rivals to gain a foothold in the still nascent digital space, some psychologists and mental health experts say the race to turn a profit is taking attention away from a crucial question: Will the metaverse be a safe place, especially for kids and teens?

The answer isn’t encouraging. Recent research has shown myriad negative effects of social media on the psyches of children and adolescents, from the prevalence of bullying and harassment to self-esteem and body image issues. Those same pitfalls could be just as prevalent — if not worse — in the wide-open metaverse, with its series of vast virtual worlds intended for both work and play.

But if tech companies take those concerns seriously from the beginning, and build solutions into their metaverse products, they could actually benefit children’s mental health, some experts say.

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Texas governor claims Mexican drug cartels use TikTok to recruit smugglers

Metro.UK | Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: TikTok

An American Governor condemned TikTok, claiming Mexcan drug cartels use the platform to recruit smugglers from the United States.

Last week, The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, alleged TikTok was promoting human trafficking in Texas and criticised the Biden administration’s response.

‘Cartels in Mexico are using TikTok to advertise, to recruit smugglers in Texas, in San Antonio, Houston, and other cities in Texas and maybe some other states, to advertise for smugglers, for pay, for them to smuggle people here in Texas, which would include victims of human trafficking,’ said Abbott.

‘TikTok should be ashamed, condemned, and have a legal action brought against it for promoting human trafficking in Texas and the United States of America,’ said Abbott in the briefing.

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How Kazakhstan’s control of information can turn into a regime weakness

OpenGlobalRights | Feb 01, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

When protesters took to the streets of Kazakhstan, the Central-Asian country’s government did not shy away from turning off the internet, throwing the nation into an information vacuum. This extensive and arbitrary control of information could come at a high cost, triggering a negative spiral effect where restrictions fuel discontent and result in even more repression.

In early January 2022, mass protests erupted in Kazakhstan after the government lifted a price cap on fuel, setting off a sudden and steep increase in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas. Crowds first filled the streets in the oil-producing city of Zhanaozen but demonstrations quickly spilled across the country.

The protests reflected popular discontent at the government and former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who led Kazakhstan autocratically for three decades. Despite formally stepping down in 2019, Nazarbayev preserved a significant influence as the country’s ‘Leader of the Nation’ and chairman of the National Security Council.

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Social media firms ‘should be fined if they don't prevent repeated abuse online'

IrishNews | Feb 01, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

Social media companies should face fines if they cannot demonstrate that they are stopping people banned from their platforms for abusive behaviour from setting up new accounts, a report from MPs has said.

The House of Commons Petitions Committee has called for the Government to strengthen its draft Online Safety Bill to better tackle abusive behaviour.

As well as fines for those companies which fail to stop repeat offenders returning to sites, the Committee’s report recommends that platforms should be required to give users the option to link their account to a verified form of ID on a voluntary basis.

It also calls for the Government to re-examine whether the police and prosecutors have the resources they need to effectively investigate and enforce the law on online abuse, including the powers needed to trace those who post anonymously.

The Government’s planned Online Safety Bill proposes introducing substantial regulation around social media and other internet platforms, including blocks on sites, fines and even criminal liability for senior managers at firms who fail to protect users from harm and abuse online.

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T&S Policies & Regulations

Regulatory news and policy decisions impacting the T&S ecosystem.

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New Twitter safety rules banning non-consensual imagery branded 'a declaration of war against photojournalists'

The Arts Newspaper | Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: Twitter

Members of the street photography community have reacted with concern at new rules published by Twitter that aim to stop malicious users from doxxing victims by declaring images will now only be publishable with the subject's consent.

Twitter does not make direct reference to doxxing—an internet term for publishing private information in an attempt to intimidate another person. Yet the changes in Twitter’s private information policy came soon after several ‘sedition hunters’—left-wing activists who investigated and published publicly available images of suspected Capitol insurrectionists —found they had been locked out of or suspended from their Twitter accounts. The announcement also came just one day after the surprise resignation of co-founder Jack Dorsey.

In a post published by the Twitter Safety team, the social media company states: "Sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person’s privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm."

The new privacy rules are not blanket enforced. Instead, they allow a path of recourse for users whose image are published on the platform without their consent. Now, such users can contact Twitter and alert them to an image. After an assessment by moderators, Twitter have pledged to then delete the image from the platform.

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The Online Safety Bill’s noble objectives won’t save it from disastrous outcomes

CityAM | Feb 01, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media