Discover more from Anchor Change with Katie Harbath
Frustrated, excited, and exhausted
I took the Elon Hunter Biden bait, but there’s also some other exciting stuff happening
I woke up this morning frustrated. I didn’t listen to the full two hours of Elon on the Twitter spaces yesterday, but I heard and then read enough. I’ve been trying hard not to take the bait every time he says or does something that triggers me. The weekend he did the poll about letting Trump back on the platform, my friends witnessed me yelling at myself multiple times throughout the night not to take the bait.
But Friday night, I took the bait. I was at a lovely book party for Maria Ressa, and a bunch of us kept asking one another if Elon has spilled the tea yet that he had promised at 5 pm Eastern. I wasn’t proud that I kept refreshing the feed, but there I was. Giving Elon exactly what he wanted - eyeballs on the site. On the flip side, this is such a historic time for what is happening for a platform like Twitter, and I want to be on top of it.
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And I took the bait - a little bit. I did this tweet thread once everything was dropped. But there’s more to all of this that is getting to me.
Part of the supposed scandal is that the Biden campaign asked Twitter to take down naked pics of Hunter Biden and whether campaigns or governments should directly access people at the platforms. Lots has been written and debated about how the platforms should be structured to make these decisions. It will continue to be. I won’t go into it all again, but if you want to read more about it, I wrote two newsletters in the past. One of the factors a company takes into account when thinking about politicians' use of their service, and another looking at what the rules should be for candidates and political figures online.
This will continue to be more of a story this week because, on Tuesday, the Oversight Board will finally release its long-awaited analysis of Meta’s cross-check system. They’ve been looking into this since October 2021. The core of this system is also the question of if prominent individuals or organizations should get any special treatment from a platform. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say. I’m sure it’ll be the topic of next week’s newsletter - I may even do a special edition, depending on what it says.
I get the desire by people not to have any exceptions for anyone. But that’s just not how the real world works. Platforms put systems into place so that even if a government or politician complains about something, it goes through the same review as anything else. Things get flagged ALL the time. For the really hard stuff, there’s usually a very robust debate happening in a very short time period - as you can see in the emails, Twitter dropped.
We also need to put ourselves back in what we knew then to understand why they made the decision they did. We can then debate if they should do something different in the future, but we should remember they didn’t know everything then we do today. Yoel - who has been targeted as the one who made the call to suppress it, said in his conversation with Kara (topic starts at 25:50, and he says this at the 29 min mark) that while the story was setting off all of his alarm bells, he wouldn’t have taken the action the platform ultimately did.
What frustrates me but also excites me right now is how energized I was coming out of the Knight Informed Conference in Miami at the beginning of last week. I highly encourage you to watch the session videos here. I was on an opening panel about election integrity, Yoel Roth - formerly of Twitter - spoke with Kara Swisher, Frances Haugen talked to Jeff Horwitz, and the academics that have been working with Facebook on the 2020 election research talked about how that partnership was set up and confirmed the project is not dead!
2022 does feel like the year that the trust and safety field has broken out of the companies and into the open. There’s so much good work happening - work that Elon seems to be dismantling by the hour.
Or perhaps another way to look at it is the pendulum is swinging back the other way after years of the platforms responding to all the criticisms coming out of the 2016 election. These have never been easy problems to solve.
Before I go and start the rest of my day where I’m going to finish the rest of my organizing (it’s almost done!), wrap gifts while watching the Bears/Packers game, and make this creamy french onion and mushroom soup from Half Baked Harvest I want to say a thank you to Georgetown.
When I left Facebook, one of the things I had on my list to explore was being a fellow at an Institute of Politics somewhere. I applied to Georgetown, Harvard, and the University of Chicago. All three initially said no, but Mo Elleithee stayed in touch and asked if I would be a fellow this past semester. I had an absolute blast.
If we’ve talked in the last few months, you probably have heard me talk excitedly about how I was making the students write a political ads policy, moderate content against that policy, do a threat ideation exercise, and many other things. I see teaching in my future at some point.
A huge thank you to Steve, Ana, Ben, Sarah, and Tafari, who were on my student strategy team. As we said at the farewell reception Friday - you are now a part of Katie Land forever. Thank you to Mo for giving me the opportunity and to Julia, Robert, Lacy, Zack, Eric, Lillian, Grace, and Ife for all your support. Very proud to now be a part of the Georgetown community.
What I’m Reading
- : Work Edition: 10 Ways to Save 10 Hours a Month
The Atlantic: The World Cup of Microsoft Excel
New York Times Dealbook: Mark Zuckerberg on the Future of Social Media
New York Times: Hate Speech’s Rise on Twitter Is Unprecedented, Researchers Find
Washington Post: How YouTube’s policy execs decide what stays and what goes
Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Maria Ressa: How Social Media Uses Free Speech To Stifle Free Speech
On with Kara Swisher: Why Twitter's Former Safety Chief Left Elon Musk
- : How one campaign prioritized TikTok in 2022
- : Who were the RINO Hunters?
The Cooperative Impact Lab: Filling the Progressive TikTok Gap
Center for Politics: 2022’s Split Ticket States – Sabato's Crystal Ball
Belfer Center: Technology Primer: Social Media Recommendation Algorithms
Lincoln Policy: Bipartisan Recommendations to Reform the House Rules
Trust in Tech Podcast: Founding Episode with Sahar Massachi & Jeff Allen
Freedom House: Jobs
Grammarly: Openings | Grammarly Careers
Graphika: Staff Engineer
Graphika: Editor & Insights Manager
Medtronic: Jobs in November, 2022 (Hiring Now!)
Ballotpedia: Director of External Relations (Remote)
Reddit: Sr Manager, Platform Trust
Global Cyber Alliance: Careers at GCA. Join Our Team.
Institute for Rebooting Social Media: Call for 2023-2024 RSM Visiting Scholars
Koch Industries: Communications Manager
No Labels: Sr. Fundraiser
Arnold Ventures: Director of Advocacy, Criminal Justice
McCain Institute: Social Media Manager, Digital Communications
National Alliance of Forest Owners: Director for Communications
Woodberry Associates: Senior Associate, Advocacy Management
Bipartisan Policy Center: Project Assistant, Campus Free Expression Project
Duco offers paid project-based gigs to policy, security, and trust & safety professionals. Duco’s mission is to empower leading companies to operate safely, securely, and responsibly by mobilizing the world’s leading experts to help solve complex challenges. Duco HQ works with companies to scope projects, then matches leading policy, security, and trust & safety experts with paid-project work. Projects include reports, executive briefings, risk assessments, strategic advising, on-platform or cross-platform content review/labeling, etc. You can sign up with Duco here, and reach out to Sofi Arimany at email@example.com if you have questions.
Center for Humane Technology: Chief of Staff
Center for Humane Technology: Executive Producer, Your Undivided Attention
Center for Humane Technology: Development Director
Topics to keep an eye on that have a general timeframe of the first half of the year:
Facebook 2020 election research (Still happening! Watch the panel with the academics involved at the Knight Informed Conference)
Oversight Board opinion on cross-check (Coming the week of December 5!)
Senate & House hearings, markups, and potential votes
Second Summit of Democracy (Announced! March 29-30, 2023)
December 6, 2022 - BPC 2022 Election Summit
December 7, 2022 - Atlantic Council/DFR Lab StratCom
December 17, 2022 - Tunisia Election
2022 TBD - Libya Election
January 2023 - Czech Republic Election
January 7: Meta/Trump Decision
January 16-20: Davos - World Economic Forum
February 5, 2023 - Cyprus Election
February 16, 2023 - Platforms have to announce EU numbers to comply with DSA
February 23, 2023 - Nigeria Election
February 2023 - Djibouti Election
February 2023 - Monaco Election
March 5, 2023 - Estonia Election
March 10 - 19: SXSW
March 20 - 24, 2023: Mozilla Fest
March 29 - 30, 2023: Summit for Democracy
March 2023 - Antigua and Barbuda Election
March 2023 - Federated States of Micronesia Election
March 2023 - Guinea Bissau Election
March 2023 - Sierra Leone Election
April 30, 2023 - Benin Election
April 30, 2023 - Paraguay Election
April 2023 - Andorra Election
April 2023 - Finland Election
April 2023 - Montenegro Election
May 7, 2023 - Thailand Election
May 15-16: Copenhagen Democracy Summit
June 5-9: RightsCon
June 25, 2023 - Guatemala Election
June 25, 2023 -Turkey Election
July 2023 - Cambodia Election
July 2023 - Timor-Leste Election
July 2023 - Zimbabwe Election
August 6, 2023 - Greece Election
August 2023 - Eswatini Election
September 2023 - Mauritania Election
October 10, 2023 - Liberia Election
October 12, 2023 - Pakistan Election
October 22, 2023 - Switzerland Election
October 2023 - Argentina Election
October 2023 - Luxembourg Election
October 2023 - Oman Election
November 12, 2023 - Poland Election
November 20, 2023 - Marshall Islands Election
November 29, 2023 - Ukraine Election
November 2023 - Bhutan Election
November 2023 - Gabon Election
November 2023 - Rwanda Election
December 10, 2023 - Spain Election
December 2023 - Bangladesh Election
December 2023 - Democratic Republic of the Congo Election
December 2023 - Togo Election
TBD - Belarus Election
TBD - Cuba Election
TBD - Equatorial Guinea Election
TBD - Gabon Election
TBD - Guinea Election
TBD - Madagascar Election
TBD - Maldives Election
TBD - Myanmar Election
TBD - Singapore Election
TBD - South Sudan Election - (Unlikely to happen)
TBD - Turkmenistan Election
TBD - Tuvalu
TBD - Haiti
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