Purges

Amazon's commitment to dodging sales tax collection; why outrage over Facebook's Mail.ru scandal should match the Cambridge Analytica furor; and more.


  • So far in the great Twitter fake account purge, Barack Obama has lost more than 2.3 million followers (about 2% of his total), while President Donald Trump has lost 325,000 (.7% of his), Will Sommer and Kevin Poulsen report for the Daily Beast.

  • Some lesser figures appear have lost huge chunks of their follower numbers—suggesting that maybe they had artificially been inflating them by buying fakes, as Jeremy Ashkenas reports for ObservableHQ. Among those: Kathy Ireland, who lost 1 million (78%) of hers, and Hillary Rosen, who lost 250,000 (70%) of hers.

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Facebook adequately warned investors about its users’ information being shared without their permission with companies like Cambridge Analytica, Dave Michaels and Georgia Wells report for the Wall Street Journal.

  • Here’s the 12-minute video Facebook’s News Feed team made (with the help of Morgan Neville) on how the company is trying to fight misinformation, which is filled with examples from right wing sites—but, as The New York Times’ Kevin Roose notes, Facebook won’t ever come out and say that “there’s political asymmetry to misinformation.”

  • Oops, members of private, closed Facebook groups had their data exposed to marketers using a Chrome extension that was made to harvest their information en masse, Kate Fazzini and Christina Farr report for CNBC. The loophole has now been closed.

  • Writing for the New York Times op-ed page, Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of a terrific new book about Facebook, says that Americans should be as outraged about the company’s sharing of user data with Russia’s Mail.ru as they have been about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

  • Speaking of loopholes, David Dayen explains for Capital & Main how Amazon—having built its business by not charging sales taxes for many years—is still making billions from the third-party marketplace it operates that is also full of non-tax-collecting vendors.

  • San Francisco is considering spending close to $2 billion to bring affordable high-speech internet access to city residents, but as Brian Fung reports for The Washington Post, the initiative is facing opposition not only from incumbent providers like AT&T and Comcast, but also a mix of advocates who argue that affordable housing is a higher priority. (Sf.Citi, a tech group backed by AT&T and Comcast and launched by VC and sometime do-gooder Ron Conway, is also shilling for that argument, as Fung notes.)