More Twitter Files, FTC Sues to Stop Microsoft Deal, Broadband Bills on Space

Many, particularly conservatives, have expressed outrage over Taibbi and Weiss’s revelations.

More Twitter Files, FTC Sues to Stop Microsoft Deal, Broadband Bills on Space
Photo of journalist Matt Taibbi from February 2012 by Sebastian Wallroth used with permission

December 8, 2022 – Journalist Bari Weiss published the second installment of the “Twitter Files,” detailing content-moderation measures the platform allegedly used to limit the visibility right-wing accounts.

Weiss’s tweet thread, posted Thursday night, says Twitter, without notifying users, prevented certain accounts from appearing in user searches, hashtag searches, or the platform’s “trending” section. Affected accounts included talk-show host Dan Bongino; activist Charlie Kirk; and the once anonymous video-repost account, “Libs of TikTok.”

The “Twitter Files” are based on “thousands of internal documents obtained by sources at Twitter,” according to Matt Taibbi, publisher of the series’ first tweet thread. In it, Taibbi outlined internal discussions at Twitter surrounding the platform’s temporary ban on the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story. Both Taibbi and Weiss have teased further reporting on the files.

Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, has promised to increase the transparency of content-moderation policies. “Twitter is working on a software update that will show your true account status, so you know clearly if you’ve been shadowbanned, the reason why and how to appeal” he tweeted Thursday night.

Although many, particularly conservatives, have expressed outrage over Taibbi and Weiss’s revelations, others say the files contain no new substantive information.

“So we’ve now had two long threads, presented as if they were revealing some big conspiracy, that basically, just… confirmed a bunch of things the company had already said publicly, and showed pretty standard (boring) trust & safety work,” tweeted Mike Masnick, founder and editor of Techdirt.

The FTC pumps the breaks on the Microsoft–Activision deal

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday filed an antitrust suit to prevent Microsoft from acquiring videogame developer Activision Blizzard, the creator of such hits as “Call of Duty.”

The federal watchdog says the deal would allow Microsoft to manipulate access to Activision’s products for users of consoles that compete with Microsoft’s Xbox line. Microsoft has a record of using purchased gaming content to suppress competition, the FTC alleges, although the company has insisted it will not deny its rivals access to Activision’s products and recently committed to decade-long licenses for “Call of Duty” with Nintendo and Sony.

“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” said Holly Vedova, director of the FTC Bureau of Competition. “Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”

According to Microsoft, the deal will strengthen competition and innovation in the videogame market. “Microsoft wants to change [the gaming status quo] by offering consumers the option to subscribe to a cloud gaming service that lets them stream a variety of games on multiple devices for one reasonable fee,” wrote Vice Chair and President Brad Smith in an op-ed published Monday in the The Wall Street Journal.

Announced in January, the deal would make it the world’s third largest gaming company – after Tencent and Sony, the company has said. It would be the only American firm on the podium.

Representatives introduce bills to promote innovation in space

Top members of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce on Thursday introduced a pair of bills to promote innovation, security, and American leadership in the commercial satellite communications industry.

Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., respectively introduced the Secure Space Act and the Satellite and Telecommunications Streamlining Act.

“America is leading the way in next-generation satellite technologies, which are contributing to a revolution in the communications marketplace,” the representatives said in a statement. “To make sure the U.S. – not China – continues to lead this global industry, we must streamline our regulatory processes to unleash innovation while also ensuring our laws fully protect the American public.”

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