Big Tech Roundup
Updated: Apr 7, 2021
Recent Big Tech News
Multiple news outlets recently reported that in early April, Facebook account information for over 500 million users showed up on a hacker website, with about 32 million of those users in the United States. The data appears to be from a 2019 Facebook hack. The information includes Facebook usernames, full names, phone numbers, email addresses, location information, birthdays, and biographical information. An article at Forbes.com provides a link that allows you to check if your email address or phone number are on the hacker website. AFP could not find any Facebook press release regarding this Facebook user data showing up on the hacker website. As of April 6th, when logging into Facebook, no general information is provided to users about this incident. AFP cannot confirm whether they have informed only users of affected accounts.
There was a news event that took place on March 25th that has not been covered by other Alabama online media. The CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter faced a U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee to discuss misinformation on technology platforms. Democrats even gave it a catchy name: "Disinformation Nation: Social Media's Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation." It was another Capitol Hill circus. While Democrats focused on disinformation, Republicans took the opportunity to discuss changing the 1990's “Section 230” law, federal legislation that provides “Good Samaritan” immunity to Big Tech platforms when they remove what they consider incorrect or offensive information. Many committee members asked that the CEOs give them a “simple yes or no” response to questions that in many cases needed elaboration. Most appeared to be trying to get `gotcha` responses on record. Once again, we heard commitments that action would be taken against Big Tech. There were some intelligent and engaging discussions during the session. Maybe the most compelling moment came when U.S. House member Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, compared this Big Tech moment in time with the then new stricter standards tobacco companies faced in the 1990s. You can listen to his discussion segment at the 2:24:50 mark here. The most notable comment during the meeting came from South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan who started off by stating “let me first say that Democrats repeating disinformation about the motives of the murderer in Atlanta during a hearing on disinformation is irony at its worst” (2:34:05 mark). Based on information from Opensecrets.com, 13 of the 18 Democrats on the committee have receive political contributions from one or more of the three Big Tech companies present at the hearing, including Chairman Michael Doyle, D-PA. 8 of the 14 Republican committee members have been recipients including Ranking Member Robert Latta, R-OH. Steve Scalise, Republican House Whip from Louisiana, is on the committee and has received notable contributions from Facebook and Alphabet (Google). Only time will tell if Democrats and Republicans will agree on a way forward dealing with Big Tech issues discussed during this hearing. Big Tech Roundup may include opinion of the Alabama Free Press .com