Vox Sentences: Twitter, Facebook, and Alex Jones convene on Capitol Hill

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Twitter and Facebook testify while Alex Jones “confronts”; Iraq’s oil hub grapples with protests.


Twitter, Facebook, and Alex Jones convene on Capitol Hill

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  • The Senate Intelligence Committee met with officials from Facebook and Twitter in a hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. They discussed foreign interference in American politics through the use of social media and other online platforms. [TIME / Kathy Steinmetz]
  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were present. But Google was not, because the committee declined Google’s offer to send a lower-level official to the hearing. [CNN / Donie O’Sullivan]
  • Both Sandberg and Dorsey pledged to better prepare their platforms for the upcoming midterm elections and promised they have formulated stronger protocol for “cleaning up their sites.” Shares for Facebook and Twitter have still fallen in value in the wake of the hearing. [Washington Post / Tony Romm and Craig Timberg]
  • Though the Senate hearing was fairly tame, Infowars founder and far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was there to spice things up. He came to confront censorship on social media and “face his accusers,” despite the fact that the Senate hearing had nothing to do with partisan censorship. He later got into a heated quarrel with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). [Vox / Jane Coaston]
  • Dorsey faced another hearing “with a more political tone” in the House on Wednesday afternoon where lawmakers discussed accusations of anti-right bias on Twitter. Dorsey did his best to appear neutral throughout the hearing. [NYT / Cecilia Kang, Sheera Frenkel, Kate Conger, Matthew Rosenberg, and Nicholas Fandos]
  • Meanwhile, the Justice Department announced that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will meet with other state attorneys general to discuss whether certain social media platforms are “intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms” and should be regulated. [LA Times / David Pierson]

Scores of Iraqis dead or wounded in demonstrations

  • Demonstrations in Basra, Iraq, turned deadly after protesters, who stormed and set fire to a government building, clashed with security forces. At least six people were dead and 39 were wounded by Tuesday night. [Arab News / Suadad Al-Salhy]
  • The government imposed a curfew in order to reign in crowds and prevent further violence. But protesters have not been deterred. [UPI / Danielle Hayes]
  • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi spoke out against the violence and explicitly condemned “the firing of live ammunition during demonstrations,” which he said is banned in Iraq. He has ordered an investigation into the incidents. [Al Jazeera / Arwa Ibrahim]
  • Summer in Basra, Iraq’s oil hub, was marked by a series of protests against electricity shortages. The focus of demonstrations quickly turned to corruption, poverty and job shortages. [Al-Bawaba]

Miscellaneous

  • The CDC gave the world a “Contagion”-esque scare when they reported that a plane that landed in New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport had been quarantined because 100 people said they were feeling ill with similar symptoms. In the end, 10 people were brought to the hospital. [CBS New York]
  • After her success with freeing Alice Marie Johnson, reality star Kim Kardashian West is visiting the White House once again on Wednesday to urge President Donald Trump to commute the sentence of Chris Young, a young man who was sentenced to life for a drug offense due to the three-strike policy. [Politico / Caitlin Oprysko]
  • A judge deemed medical claims by Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle company Goop (that were “not supported by competent and reliable science”) unlawful. Goop owes $145,000 in damages. [Mashable / Johnny Lieu]
  • #MeToo activist Asia Argento now claims that Jimmy Bennet, who recently came forward with accusations that Argento sexually assaulted him, instead “sexually attacked” her. [USA Today / Erin Jensen and Maria Puente]

Verbatim

“[M]any of the senior officials in [Trump’s] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. I would know. I am one of them.” [The New York Times / Anonymous senior administration official]


Watch this: Why protected bike lanes are more valuable than parking spaces

America’s first parking-protected bike lane came to New York City in 2007. Here’s what happened next. [YouTube / Carlos Waters]


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