Silicon Valley Tech News Roundup – December 3rd

Federal judge blocks TikTok ban in Montana – 11/30

Judge Donald Molloy (a federal judge in Montana) blocked law SB 419 that would result in a statewide TikTok ban in Montana from January 1st, 2024. Governor Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law in May.

The court released the legal filing this Thursday. Judge Molloy stated in his ruling that the state of Montana failed to show how SB 419 would be “constitutionally permissible.” Further, he added: “Despite the State’s attempt to defend SB 419 as a consumer protection bill, the current record leaves little doubt that Montana’s legislature and Attorney General were more interested in targeting China’s ostensible role in TikTok than with protecting Montana consumers.”

TikTok’s spokesperson welcomed the news and said the company is: “pleased the judge rejected this unconstitutional law and hundreds of thousands of Montanans can continue to express themselves, earn a living, and find community on TikTok.”

Meanwhile, the office of Attorney General stated the ruling is a “preliminary matter at this point.” They are considering the next steps “to defend the law that protects Montanans from the Chinese Communist Party obtaining and using their data.”

Meta’s quarterly report on adversarial threats reveals the risk of Chinese influence on the election – 11/30

On Thursday, Meta published its quarterly report on adversarial threats. It reveals China is a growing source of disinformation campaigns and covert influence. Geographically, China is the third-biggest source of networks of fake accounts after Russia and Iran.

According to the report, the company disrupted three coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB) campaigns this quarter. Two originated in China, and one in Russia. One of the Chinese CIB campaigns resulted in Meta removing 4,780 fake Facebook accounts.

The report states: “The individuals behind this activity used basic fake accounts with profile pictures and names copied from elsewhere on the internet to post and befriend people from around the world… Only a small portion of such friends were based in the United States. They posed as Americans to post the same content across different platforms.”
Furthermore, the report states if China becomes one of the talking points during the upcoming election, “it is likely that we’ll see China-based influence operations pivot to attempt to influence those debates.” Further, the company added: “In addition, the more domestic debates in Europe and North America focus on support for Ukraine, the more likely that we should expect to see Russian attempts to interfere in those debates.”

The company also expects that because of the upcoming election: “the defender community across our society needs to prepare for a larger volume of synthetic content… This means that just as potentially violating content may scale, defenses must scale as well, in addition to continuing to enforce against adversarial behaviors that may or may not involve posting AI-generated content.”

Meta is failing to stop the promotion of child abuse content – 12/1

A report published by the Wall Street Journal reveals Meta is failing to stop networks of people using its social media apps for the promotion of child abuse content.

The Wall Street Journal conducted tests with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. The tests revealed Meta’s recommendations suggest Facebook groups, Instagram hashtags, and other accounts that share and promote child abuse content. Likewise, the company’s algorithm makes it easier for users to find and connect with this content and other people interested in it.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection revealed to the Wall Street Journal that a “network of Instagram accounts with as many as 10 million followers each has continued to livestream videos of child sex abuse months after it was reported to the company.” Furthermore, Meta failed to take down a public Facebook Group “Incest” immediately.

Following the Wall Street Journal report, Meta posted an update on its website. It states: “Online predators are determined criminals who use multiple apps and websites to target young people. They also test each platform’s defenses, and they learn to quickly adapt… We’ve developed technology that identifies potentially suspicious adults, and we review more than 60 different signals to find these adults… We already use this technology to limit potentially suspicious adults from finding, following, or interacting with teens, and we’ve expanded it to prevent these adults from finding, following, or interacting with one another.”

The company is facing backlash for failing to keep children under 13 off its apps and how it handles children’s safety and mental health.

Elon Musk goes on a profanity tirade against advertisers pulling ads from X – 11/30

At the 2023 DealBook Summit in New York on Wednesday, Elon Musk launched a profanity-laden tirade against advertisers who decided to pause ads on X following his promotion of anti-Semitic and racist tweets. Musk apologized for the posts by saying: “I’m sorry for that tweet… it might be literally the worst and dumbest post that I’ve ever done.”

In an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, when asked about the advertising boycott, Musk stated: “If somebody’s going to try to blackmail me with advertising? Blackmail me with money? Go f—yourself. Go. F—. Yourself. Is that clear?”

In a memo to employees sent on Wednesday, Linda Yaccarino (the CEO of Twitter) stated: “Elon’s interview was candid and profound. He shared an unmatched and completely unvarnished perspective and vision for the future… Our mission at X is bold: to be an open platform without censorship of thought – one that provides people information and the freedom to make up their own minds. Our principles do not have a price tag, nor will they be compromised – ever. And no matter how hard they try, we will not be distracted by sideline critics who don’t understand our mission.”


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