Tech Newsletter Image 11 16 2021

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Tech newsletter: Biden’s pick vs. Lindsey Graham

Here's this week's tech newsletter.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Published Nov 16, 2021   Updated Nov 16, 2021, 12:18 pm CST

Welcome to the Tuesday edition of Internet Insider, where we dissect tech and politics unfolding online.

TODAY:

  • Republicans are opposing one of Biden’s FCC picks
  • People are mocking Terry Crews for his Amazon TikTok ad
  • Bipartisan bill calls for social media sites to add algorithm-free version

Sign up to receive the Daily Dot’s Internet Insider newsletter for urgent news from the frontline of online.


Lindsay Graham and Gig Sohn

BREAK THE INTERNET

Republicans are opposing one of Biden’s FCC picks

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced his vehement opposition to Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), calling President Joe Biden’s pick an “unqualified hack.” 

While the Senate Commerce Committee announced that Jessica Rosenworcel, Biden’s pick to be the chair of the FCC, will have a hearing this week, Sohn’s confirmation hearing has not been announced

While Rosenworcel is likely to be confirmed as permanent chair, Sohn’s elevation to the commission would break a partisan, 2-2 deadlock and is expected to be more contentious. With Sohn installed, the FCC could embark on Biden’s broadband agenda, the centerpiece of which would be reinstating net neutrality.

Graham and other Republicans are using that time between confirmations to try and criticize Sohn, but she did get a surprising show of support from an entity even farther to the right than Graham: Newsmax.

The far-right website, which is ardently pro-Donald Trump and dabbles in conspiratorial thinking, nonetheless published an op-ed calling for Sohn to be confirmed.

Brad Blakeman, a Newsmax contributor and former aide to former President George W. Bush, called on the Senate to confirm Sohn swiftly.

Blakeman writes that “I know Gigi. I have worked with Gigi. And I have seen her fight for people’s right to express themselves, even when she disagrees with them.”

While Graham’s comments indicated a number of Republicans will try to fight Sohn’s confirmation, Blakeman’s op-ed shows it’s possible she can still get support from unexpected places.

—David Covucci, senior politics and tech editor


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A man working various Amazon jobs.

LABOR

‘Bro, I dare you to work there for a month’: People are mocking Terry Crews for his Amazon TikTok ad

Celebrity endorsements or ads can result in varying levels of silly or cringe, depending on the person or what’s being sold. 

But in the case of Terry Crews and a recent TikTok ad for Amazon, it largely just led to a lot of dunking and reminders of a different side of Amazon.

Crews shared a 30-second video with his more than 20.3 million followers on TikTok. Clearly marked as an ad for Amazon, Crews is framed as giving people an inside look at what it’s like to work at an Amazon warehouse with Crews performing many of the tasks himself. 

He becomes excited at the opportunity to drive a forklift as well as the benefits Amazon employees are said to have, such as paid tuition and flexible hours.

Crews’ video, which is still on TikTok, has been flooded with comments highlighting Amazon’s history of mistreating its employees

They pointed to Amazon workers being forced to work long hours without breaks (it got so bad for some drivers that they were forced to pee in bottles), how they’re monitored and punished when they stop working long enough to talk to their managers, the high turnover rate, and low pay—all of which has been long documented.

“He would have been fired for taking the time to talk,” @generaldiscontent commented.

“They let you use the bathroom?” @br1owo asked.

“Bro, I dare you to work there for a month,” @Fathercoffee wrote. “You would think twice about how they treat employees.”

—Michelle Jaworski


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face made of zeroes and ones

BIG TECH

Bipartisan bill calls for social media sites to add algorithm-free version

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House would force social media companies to offer users algorithm-free versions of their platforms.

The bill aims to give users the option to view content that has not been curated by the tech giants.

Known as the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, the bill, which is a companion to similar legislation introduced in the Senate, has been sponsored by Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), and Burgess Owens (R-Utah).

Social media services such as Facebook have long been criticized for using algorithms to entice users into spending more time online. Such algorithms have also helped amplify misinformation and other negative content.

The topic remains a popular one across the aisle, with Democrats arguing that algorithms are designed to make tech platforms addictive while Republicans claim that such technology is used to stifle certain speech.

Although the legislation has been introduced, it remains unclear if something like this could pass, let alone be implemented and enforced.

—Mikael Thalen


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*First Published: Nov 16, 2021, 11:22 am CST