Tech Leaders Had Tough Day at Congress

  • The heads of some of the world’s biggest tech companies have appeared before Washington lawmakers to defend their firms against claims they abuse their power to quash competitors.
  • Amazon boss Jeff Bezos said the world “needs large” firms, while the heads of Facebook, Apple and Google argued their companies had spurred innovation.
  • The appearance comes as lawmakers consider tougher regulation and competition rules . Some critics want the firms broken up
  • Congressman David Cicilline, the Democrat leading the congressional committee holding the hearing, said a year-long investigation by lawmakers had shown the online platforms had “wielded their power in destructive, harmful ways in order to expand”.

Wiley Apologises for Anti Semetic Tweets

  • Grime artist Wiley has apologised for “generalising” about Jewish people after being banned from social media.
  • In an interview, the artist insisted: “I’m not racist, my comments should not have been directed to all Jews or Jewish people”.
  • However, the artist appeared in the interview to refuse to distance himself from most of the anti-Semitic comments he posted on social media.
  • Twitter had earlier banned his account permanently after a public backlash over a perceived lack of action. “We are sorry we did not move faster,” Twitter said in a statement.

TikTok Blasts Facebook for Copy Cat Move 

Google is Adding ‘For Context’ Section on New Stories

  • Google has confirmed that it’s launching a new “for context” feature in Google News, one which links to a second, broader story on the same topic.
  • Google’s ‘for context’ feature aims to give users a larger understanding of the topic and will be rolled out in the next few months globally. A Google spokesperson has said  “where we detect that a publisher has this kind of background content for a timely news story, we will add it”. 
  • Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, big tech platforms have accelerated their efforts to warn readers about misinformation, with explicit warning labels, “authoritative context” around conspiracy theories, and even a warning to readers that they might not want to share older, out-of-date articles.

Turkey Passes New Tough Social Media Laws

  • Turkish lawmakers passed legislation that would give the government sweeping new powers to regulate social media content.
  • The Bill orders social media platforms with over one million daily users — such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — to open offices in Turkey which would be responsible for responding to the demands of the government and individuals to block or remove content hosted on their platforms. They would have 48 hours to comply and could be fined more than $700,000 if they fail to respond.
  • The new law, which is expected to go into effect  Oct. 1, also requires the social media companies to store user data inside Turkey, raising privacy concerns.
  • Tom Porteous, Deputy Program director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement “social media [in Turkey] is a lifeline for many people who use it to access news, so this law signals a new dark era of online censorship.”

Black Pupils Exclusion Rates Treble in Some Places Across England

  • Black pupils are disproportionately hit with fixed-term exclusions in England – by three times as many in some places, data shows.
  • Pupils with black ethnicity have higher temporary exclusion rates in two-thirds of local authority areas, new analysis from the House of Commons library says.
  • Discipline policies banning African and Caribbean hairstyles, kissing teeth and fist-bumping are being blamed in part, even though schools have a statutory duty not to discriminate against pupils over race.
  • Rates for fixed-term exclusions – disciplinary measures that may last a day or several weeks – were around three times higher for black pupils in four areas.
  • And in another seven local authorities, black pupils had double the local rate for all pupils, according to 2017-18 data.

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