STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

PACIFIC • Tim Cook sends Mark Zuckerberg scrambling

What's Next: Silicon Valley's Speech Problem: The big tech firms' decision ...

Posted: Aug 7, 2018 2:59 PM
Updated: Aug 7, 2018 2:59 PM

What's Next: Silicon Valley's Speech Problem: The big tech firms' decision to ban some of Alex Jones' and InfoWars' content on the grounds of "hate speech" sets a vague precedent that leaves them vulnerable to accusations of hypocrisy down the line. The way the firms went about making their decisions also shows how far the new media companies have to go in outlining clear and consistent policies about speech on their platforms.

How It Happened:

• Amid mounting public pressure to address Jones' hate speech, Apple's Tim Cook and Eddy Cue met over the weekend and decided to pull five of Jones' podcasts from their platform, sources familiar with the matter told me.

• Cook and Cue decided to let Jones' InfoWars app remain available in the app store because they felt it did not run afoul of their policy.

• Hours after Apple announced its move, Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Facebook made the decision to pull four of Jones' pages from their platform.

• Zuckerberg only moved to remove these pages after learning about Apple's decision, Facebook sources said. That is why the pages were removed at 3 a.m. Pacific Time.

• YouTube's Susan Wojcicki and Spotify's Daniel Ek similarly moved to ban some of Jones' content only after learning about Apple's decision.

There was no coordination between Apple, Facebook and any of the other tech firms, sources familiar with the matter said. The decisions were made independently.

The Big Picture: Big tech is still making decisions about speech on a vague, case-by-case basis, often due to public pressure or the actions taken by its competitors. There needs to be a consistent approach.

A Better Way?

David French, a First Amendment litigator and senior writer for National Review, says the problem isn't exactly what the tech companies did, it's why they did it:

• "Rather than applying objective standards that resonate with American law and American traditions of respect for free speech and the marketplace of ideas, the companies applied subjective standards that are subject to considerable abuse."

• "These policies sound good on first reading, but they are extraordinarily vague. We live in times when the slightest deviation from the latest and ever-changing social justice style guide is deemed bigoted and, yes, 'dehumanizing.'"

• "The far better option would be to prohibit libel or slander on their platforms. ... Unlike "hate speech," libel and slander have legal meanings. ... It's a high bar. But it's a bar that respects the marketplace of ideas, avoids the politically charged battle over ever-shifting norms in language and culture and provides protection for aggrieved parties."

The Problem: That still doesn't solve the problem of hate speech, conspiracy theories and misinformation.

-----------

Good Morning. The Talk of Tinseltown is Howard Stern's 45-minute rant against Les Moonves, inspired by the $500 million lawsuit CBS brought against the radio host several years ago over his decision to go to Sirius XM. Stern calls the embattled CBS chief "a shark" and likens him to Tony Soprano.

What's notable about Stern's rant is that it's a rare example of public criticism toward Moonves. Eleven days after the accusations of sexual misconduct in the New Yorker, Hollywood remains extraordinarily tight-lipped about Moonves. Instead, the conversation has been dominated by CBS executives who either defend Moonves or stress their love of CBS.

-----------

Katzenberg & Whitman: New details on 'New TV'

Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman have confirmed our scoop from two weeks ago: WndrCo has secured $1 billion in seed-funding for New TV, their new premium content platform "built for easy, on-the-go mobile viewing."

What's New: The full list of investors, which includes every Hollywood studio, as well as Alibaba, Madrone Capital, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Liberty Global.

The Big Questions:

• Do people actually want short-form premium content?

• Who are you hiring to run content?

• Have you green-lit any shows?

What They're Saying:

• Whitman: "More so than ever, people want easy access to the highest quality entertainment that fits perfectly into their busy, on-the-go lifestyles. With NewTV, we'll give consumers a user-friendly platform, built for mobile, that delivers the best stories, created by the world's top talent, allowing users to make the most of every moment of their day."

• Katzenberg: "It is exciting to see Hollywood embracing this new technology distribution platform built for the way we watch today. NewTV will access the best talent and intellectual property for this next era in entertainment. We are already seeing tremendous interest from Hollywood's top talent."

Bonus: Statements from Bob Iger, Peter Rice, Kevin Tsujihara, etc. ...

-----------

What's Next: Disney Earnings

Disney reports Q3 earnings after the bell today and will almost certainly be asked about whether it plans to challenge Comcast's $34-billion bid for Sky Broadcasting. My colleague Charles Riley says execs could also face questions about their plans for the "Star Wars" franchise.

-----------

Going Vertical: DOJ lays out AT&T appeal

The Justice Department's appeal of the AT&T-Time Warner decision will rest on its belief that the trial judge who approved the deal ignored "fundamental principles of economics and common sense."

The focus going forward, per my colleague Hadas Gold, will be AT&T's ability to "black out" content for other distributors:

• The DOJ believes AT&T "would have greater bargaining leverage because the company could threaten to 'black out' Time Warner content [by] pulling it from rival distributors during negotiations ... [and] get higher prices out of its competitors as a result."

• "AT&T and Time Warner argued during the trial that they have no incentive to trigger a 'black out' because they rely on subscriber fees and advertisements to make money, and dropping a distributor would cause their networks too much financial harm."

What's Next: "The appeal is on a 'fast track' timeline in order to reach a conclusion before [a] February deadline. Final briefs from both sides are due in October, when oral arguments in front of a three judge panel are expected to begin."

Bonus ... AT&T CFO John Stephens: "This isn't a chance for a do-over. It just doesn't work that way."

-----------

LeBron Watch: James gets Showtime

Showtime has announced that LeBron James will executive-produce a three-part docu-series called "Shut Up and Dribble" about the evolving role that athletes play in the current political environment.

My colleague Sandra Gonzalez reports:

• "The title comes from comments Fox News host Laura Ingraham directed to James on air in February, relating to news that some players from the Golden State Warriors declined an invitation to the White House after their championship win in 2018."

• "Director Gotham Chopra, who was also behind Showtime's 'Kobe Bryant's Muse,' will direct the series. ... James and Maverick Carter will serve as executive producers."

The Big Picture: James is on a mission to move athletes' political and cultural commentary into the mainstream. Like his informal talk show "The Shop," which was recently picked up by HBO, this series is about giving athletes a chance to control the narrative and influence the conversation on their terms.

-----------

The Links: Talk of Tinseltown

• "Discovery Quarterly Earnings Drop Amid Scripps Networks Integration Charges," by THR's George Szalai.

• "Amazon Unscripted Head Heather Schuster Out Amid Investigation" by Variety's Debra Birnbaum.

• "Has Snapchat already stopped growing? Analysts think so," by Recode's Kurt Wagner.

• "Warner Music Group sells final Spotify equity stake as digital revenue soars," by MusicWeek's Mark Sutherland.

• "Lady Gaga Details Las Vegas Residency" by Pitchfork's Jazz Monroe.

-----------

What Next: This study from Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser, who says that more than a third of our time spent on digital media is spent on Google, or Google-owned products. (h/t Sara Fischer)

See you tomorrow.

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 81°
Florence
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 81°
Fayetteville
Overcast
77° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 79°
Decatur
Overcast
76° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 76°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 73°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 91776

Reported Deaths: 1639
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12186230
Mobile9269204
Montgomery6350148
Madison512227
Tuscaloosa400269
Baldwin332223
Shelby311932
Marshall300134
Unassigned287856
Lee255442
Morgan227015
Etowah196728
DeKalb172113
Elmore163337
Calhoun162713
Walker147964
Houston133412
Dallas129823
Russell12672
St. Clair125214
Limestone122713
Franklin121520
Cullman117112
Colbert112213
Lauderdale111113
Autauga103021
Escambia98115
Talladega94613
Jackson8904
Chambers83238
Tallapoosa82778
Dale79823
Butler75435
Blount7453
Chilton7386
Coffee7255
Covington71620
Pike6727
Barbour5645
Lowndes56124
Marion54724
Marengo52914
Clarke4919
Hale45926
Bullock44411
Winston43511
Perry4324
Wilcox41110
Monroe3964
Randolph39210
Bibb3844
Pickens3769
Conecuh37310
Sumter36018
Lawrence3251
Macon31613
Washington31512
Crenshaw3073
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2497
Greene24711
Henry2473
Geneva2430
Clay2255
Lamar2052
Fayette1785
Cleburne1211
Coosa952
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 114098

Reported Deaths: 1144
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby21924298
Davidson19812208
Rutherford625453
Hamilton580347
Knox418638
Williamson336322
Sumner326471
Unassigned29285
Out of TN279314
Wilson215223
Montgomery178113
Bradley177112
Sevier17636
Putnam164613
Trousdale15766
Robertson147519
Hamblen131113
Blount11868
Tipton11379
Washington11142
Maury11077
Madison95714
Bedford89011
Sullivan85911
Macon84713
Hardeman84312
Lake7580
Loudon6863
Bledsoe6741
Fayette6468
Anderson6376
Dickson6301
Gibson6152
Dyer5797
Cheatham5546
Rhea5141
Jefferson5133
McMinn49820
Lawrence4976
Henderson4830
Obion4644
Warren4544
Carter4525
Coffee4482
Lauderdale4457
Hardin4267
Cocke4212
Haywood4145
Greene3986
Roane3982
Cumberland3976
Smith3933
Hawkins3915
Monroe3809
Giles36012
McNairy3355
Weakley3293
DeKalb3261
Franklin2964
Marshall2713
Lincoln2591
Carroll2513
Crockett2464
Hickman2400
Claiborne2350
White2323
Henry2310
Campbell2241
Wayne2222
Johnson2140
Marion2104
Chester2012
Grainger1810
Polk1813
Decatur1742
Overton1411
Unicoi1410
Union1330
Cannon1310
Humphreys1133
Benton1111
Jackson1091
Scott1050
Grundy1042
Meigs990
Sequatchie960
Morgan941
Perry770
Fentress760
Hancock761
Stewart720
Clay660
Lewis621
Houston540
Moore530
Van Buren330
Pickett271

Community Events