Discover more from Anchor Change with Katie Harbath
Let the hearings begin!
Also, announcing an expansion of this newsletter
Greetings from Sea Island, Georgia. I’ve always wanted to come here as I’ve heard so much about the resort and place over the years. Thus, I jumped at the chance when I was invited to go to geek out on tech policy issues with some folks I don’t hang out with.
This is the view from where I’m sitting right now as I put this week’s newsletter together. So pretty.
I want to talk this week about the start of what I’m sure will be many hearings by the House and Senate on tech in this Congress, but first, here is some news that I’ve been working on …
🚨🚨Anchor Change is expanding!🚨🚨
When I started writing this newsletter in September of 2021, I was excited to have an outlet to write about tech policy issues but also nervous that I might be unable to keep it up or that anyone would read it.
In the 17 months since then, I’ve had an absolute blast putting the newsletter together each week. So many of you have shared kind words of encouragement about how you enjoy what I’m writing.
I’ve also found that with so much going on in this space, it’s hard to fit it into just one weekly newsletter. I also purposely pulled back on some of my paying gigs to have more time to write and create. So, starting next week, I’m launching a paid version of this newsletter. Your support will help me to take the time to research and write these additional pieces as well as do more projects like the election cycle tracker.
Here’s what you will get with a subscription:
At least one newsletter a week just for paid subscribers. This content might include the following:
Interviews with folks in the technology and democracy space
Posts only focused on countries other than the US
Analysis and access to tools such as election cycle tracker
And much more!
A week ahead email with things I’m watching/expecting
A quarterly trends report about what I’m seeing in the tech/democracy space
My weekend newsletter will remain free and will get a facelift as well. My goal is to be more concise, add more images, break stuff up into more sections, and add some fun stuff at the end. The what I’m reading, the jobs board and calendar aren’t going anywhere though I may link to a version of them on my website versus publishing the whole thing in each newsletter.
I’m asking for $5 a month (less than the cost of buying me a drink) or $50 a year. I know there are a lot of things you probably already subscribe to. But I promise to make this worth it as we navigate these difficult and nuanced times. I will work hard to make sure each newsletter brings value to you.
Let the Hearings Begin!
On Wednesday at 10 am Eastern former Twitter executives Yoel Roth, Vijaya Gadde, and James Baker will appear before the House Oversight Committee. The title of the hearing is “Protecting Speech from Government Interference and Social Media Bias, Part 1: Twitter’s Role in Suppressing the Biden Laptop Story.”
This hearing is going to be interesting for a few reasons.
First, I can’t recall a tech hearing before featuring this many high-level former executives at once. This weekend, someone I was talking to called this hearing the Congressional version of an exit interview. I suspect that Roth, Gadde, and Baker will focus their testimony on how they pushed back on some of the pressure they got from the government, how hard it is to make these calls in real time, and potentially their concerns about how Musk is running the platform now.
Second, I’m going to be curious about how much this hearing is about Twitter’s role versus the government’s engagement with Twitter on the Hunter Biden story. I suspect that this is what House Republicans want to narrow in on. This isn’t to say that Roth, Gadde, and Baker won’t face some tough questions. I’m guessing that they will be pressed on who specifically made the final call to take down the laptop story as well as banning Trump (even though that’s not supposedly the topic of this hearing.) I also expect them to get some tough questions on the reduction in reach for some accounts - what the Twitter files call shadow banning, but that’s a term that has evolved in meaning over the years.
Third, I’m curious to see what direction House Democrats go in their questioning. Will they try to focus on the impact of Musk's changes to the platform? Will they try to throw the government and Twitter a bone about why coordination was necessary and how the laptop story did look like a potential hack and leak situation? Will they ask the execs about their experiences with the harm that mis and disinformation can have on people and why they developed the policies they did? I am not sure and will be watching for what their strategy will be.
If you want to catch up on a few things before this hearing, here is the link to the Twitter file stories by Matt Taibbi. I recommend you watch Yoel Roth talk to Kara Swisher last November at the Knight Informed conference and Gadde’s interview with Joe Rogan in 2019. I also wrote an op-ed for CNN in December about the tough decisions that social media companies face.
As the hearing title suggests, this is just part one of who knows how many hearings House Republicans will have on this topic. This one is important as it’s going to set the tone. I’m curious if Congress will try to get other former execs from Twitter and other social media companies to testify. Will they get current execs? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s all of the above as I suspect this will be must-see tv.
Don’t forget to consider upgrading to being a paid subscriber to this newsletter! Starting next week, I’ll provide exclusive weekly content, including quarterly trends, interviews, and much more. Many of you gave me some ideas about the types of content you want to see, and your support allows me to take the time to write and create.
What I’m Reading
Latin America Daily Briefing: Peruvian lawmakers reject early elections
Campaigns & Elections: Report: Fundraising Ad Targeting an Issue as Facebook Remains Top Platform to Reach Donors
Regulate.Tech: Regulate Tech 2023:1 The Online Safety Bill – Nearly There!
Cronkite News Lab: How to produce trustworthy news without "objectivity"
Trust and Safety Journal: Transparency Reporting: The UK Regulatory Perspective
Swedish EU Presidency Conference Videos: Media pluralism lies at the heart of democracy: conference on media, democracy and platforms
Integrity Institute: Trust in Tech Podcast, Episode 7 - XCheck - Policiing the Elite of Facebook Users
Atlantic Council: DFR Lab Digital Sherlocks Applications Open
Mozilla Foundation: Director of Campaigns
Ford Foundation: Program Associate
Epic Games: Policy Lead, Trust and Safety
Institute for Rebooting Social Media: Governance in Online Speech Leadership Series: Apply today!
🚨 NEW! 🚨
March 23, 2023: TikTok CEO Congressional Hearing
July 11-13, 2023 - TrustCon
September 28-29, 2023 - Trust & Safety Research Conference
Topics to keep an eye on:
YouTube Decision on Trump Reinstatement
Facebook 2020 election research
February 8, 2023 – Potential House hearing on Twitter Files
February 7, 2023 - State of the Union
February 16, 2023 - Platforms have to announce EU numbers to comply with DSA
February 21, 2023 - SCOTUS hears Gonzalez v Google
February 22, 2023 - SCOTUS hears Twitter v. Taamneh
February 23, 2023 - Nigeria Election
Feb 23, 2023 - Meta response to cross check due
February 23 - 24: Designing Technology for Social Cohesion
February 2023 - Djibouti Election
February 2023 - Monaco Election
March 1, 2023 - All Tech is Human: Tech & Democracy: A Better Tech Future Summit
March 5, 2023 - Estonia Election
March 23, 2023: TikTok CEO Congressional Hearing
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 24 - June 30: Aspen Ideas Festival
June 25, 2023 - Guatemala Election
June 25, 2023 -Turkey Election
TBD June: DFR Lab 360/OS
July 2023 - Cambodia Election
July 2023 - Timor-Leste Election
July 2023 - Zimbabwe Election
August 6, 2023 - Greece Election
August 2023 - Eswatini Election
September 27-29, 2023: Athens Democracy Forum
TBD September: Atlantic Festival
TBD September: Unfinished Live
TBD September: Trust Con and Trust/Safety Conference (If they do them again)
September 2023 - Mauritania Election
October 8 - 12: Internet Governance Forum - Japan
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 - 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
July 15-18, 2024 - Republican National Convention
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