CLIP-ings: April 9, 2021

Internet Governance

Justice Thomas Criticizes Digital Platforms’ Moderation Powers: In a concurring opinion to a decision that vacated a previous ruling finding former President Trump’s blocking of Twitter users unconstitutional, Justice Thomas argued that the “concentrated control” of Big Tech gives digital platforms too much control over speech moderation decisions and that protections afforded by Section 230 should be “pared back.”

Privacy

Apple’s New Privacy Feature Rejects Apps That Collect User Data Without Consent: As part of Apple’s effort to implement its new App Tracking Transparency program, which allows users to opt out of being tracked, the company has begun to reject apps that use software development kits (SDKs) that employ methods such as device fingerprinting to track users across the web without their consent for deep analysis or advertising purposes.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Private Data From 533 Million Facebook Accounts Exposed Online: The personal data of Facebook users in 106 countries, including their email addresses and telephone numbers, was leaked for free after being harvested through an underreported vulnerability that was discovered and purportedly fixed in 2019.

Trump Campaign Used Dark Patterns To Scam Users To Donate More Money Than Intended: By using deceptive user interface designs such as pre-checked checkboxes and buried fine print, the Trump campaign tricked donors into making recurring weekly or monthly donations instead of intended one-time donations; last month, California banned certain dark patterns, and other lawmakers and regulators have taken steps to curb their use.

Intellectual Property

Google’s Use Of Oracle’s APIs Constituted Fair Use: The Supreme Court decided that Google’s use of Oracle’s application programming interfaces to develop the Android platform  amounted to a non-infringing, “fundamentally transformative use,” thus ending the decade-long dispute between the two companies.

Free Expression & Censorship

Twitch’s New Policy Will Take Disciplinary Actions Based On Off-Platform Misconduct: The company’s updated Off-Service Conduct Policy announces that the platform will investigate users’ off-service or offline offenses, including violent or terroristic acts, as part of its enforcement of its Hateful Conduct and Harassment policy, which is designed in part to ensure the Twitch Community’s safety.

Practice Note

Supreme Court Sides With Facebook And Narrows The Scope Of Federal Robocalls Ban: In an unanimous decision, the Court adopted a narrow reading of the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act and ruled that the notification system Facebook employs to text users about suspicious logins does not run afoul of the Act, which is designed to curb robocalls and automated texts.

On the Lighter Side

As Yahoo Answers Shuts Down, Users Save The Best “Bad” Questions For Posterity: The question-and-answer platform, a place to which people often turned to ask embarrassing questions they didn’t want to ask friends and family, is shutting down forever after being active for more than 15 years.

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan

Junyi Cui

Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: April 2, 2021

Internet Governance

Congress Questioned Big Tech About Spread Of Misinformation: During the five-hour congressional hearing in which the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter testified regarding their platforms’ handling of misinformation and extremism, only Jack Dorsey acknowledged that Twitter might have played a part in spreading misinformation that contribution to the January 6th Capital riot, while Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai avoided answering the question directly; other questions focused on the spread of COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation on the platforms. 

Privacy

Google Begins Origin Trial To Replace Third-Party Tracking Cookies With FLoC Alternative: The tech company has started testing its Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) technology as a replacement for third-party tracking cookies so that ad companies can continue targeting specific demographics while protecting targeted users’ identities; FLoC, which runs locally, analyzes browsing data to group users into cohorts with shared interests so that advertisers may deliver relevant ads without necessitating the use of tracking cookies or the sharing of browsing data with Google. 

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Mobile Carriers Fixed SMS Routing Loophole To Prevent Hacking: After an investigation revealed that hackers could pay as little as $16 to reroute SMS text messages then leverage that access to break into online accounts, major carriers such as T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T have begun to take measures to patch the security vulnerability. 

Twitter Bans Fake Amazon Accounts Impersonating Warehouse Employees: As the union vote count by Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama is underway, a series of anti-union tweets from several Twitter accounts praised Amazon’s working conditions; the company has since confirmed that many of the accounts are fake accounts that violate Twitter’s terms. 

Intellectual Property

Facebook Video Creators Claim The Platform Shorted Them Thousands of Dollars In Its Revenue-Sharing Model: Several Facebook video creators have been receiving monthly payments for their content that are inconsistent with projections provided by the company’s revenue estimation tool for content creators; Facebook has since apologized, citing “a technical issue” that has prevented certain video creators from receiving their full payouts. 

Free Expression & Censorship

Apple’s Latest iOS Update Fixes Bug That Blocks Web Searches Including The Term “Asian”: The iOS 14.5 Beta version that was released to developers last week remedies a year-old bug that blocks web searches including the term “asian” when the device’s adult-content filter is engaged; the bug became apparent as searches for “Stop Asian Hate” increased in the wake of anti-Asian violence across the country. 

Facebook Removed Lara Trump’s Interview With Donald Trump: After blocking Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following the Capitol riot in January, Facebook recently removed a post by Lara Trump in which she interviews the former President.

On the Lighter Side

An Alleged Italian Mafia Fugitive Arrested After Posting Cooking Tutorials Online: The fugitive, who was hiding from Italian police in the Dominican Republic, was identified by his tattoos in the cooking tutorials he posted on YouTube.  

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan

Junyi Cui

Editorial Fellows