Casey Newton
Casey Newton
Casey Newton is The Verge's primary source for Silicon Valley news, reporting on the people and products shaping the future of technology and culture. His daily newsletter, The Interface, explores the intersection of social media and democracy.Source
San Francisco, CA
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How Amazon is growing its power during the pandemic

How Amazon is growing its power during the pandemic

Filed under:Rolling back worker raises, pushing Congress to protect it from lawsuits — and selling way more stuffThe Interface is a daily column and newsletter about the intersection of social media and democracy. Subscribe .There’s a lot of discussion going on right now about what will be forever changed by the pandemic. Over at Amazon, though, the company is promising that things are going back to normal.For one, the company said on Tuesday that delivery times — which have understandably stretched from days to weeks amid the huge logistical challenges posed by COVID-19 — were about to get...

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Casey Newton
May 14
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Facebook will pay $52 million in settlement with moderators who developed PTSD on the job

Facebook will pay $52 million in settlement with moderators who developed PTSD on the job

Filed under:Current and former moderators will all be paid a minimum of $1,000In a landmark acknowledgment of the toll that content moderation takes on its workforce, Facebook has agreed to pay $52 million to current and former moderators to compensate them for mental health issues developed on the job. In a preliminary settlement filed on Friday in San Mateo Superior Court, the social network agreed to pay damages to American moderators and provide more counseling to them while they work.Each moderator will receive a minimum of $1,000 and will be eligible for additional compensation if...

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Casey Newton
May 12
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Apple and Google have begun testing their COVID-19 exposure notification API

Apple and Google have begun testing their COVID-19 exposure notification API

Filed under:A full release is expected in mid-MayApple and Google’s joint effort to help public health authorities track the spread of COVID-19 will begin testing today, the companies said. The companies will deliver an initial version of their exposure notification API to a small number of developers working on apps for public health organizations and test it over the next several weeks. The API is expected to be released more broadly in mid-May.The companies announced . The project, which users will be asked to opt into, will use Bluetooth to track potential exposures to confirmed cases...

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Casey Newton
Apr 29
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How Big Tech is dictating the terms of the coronavirus response to national governments

How Big Tech is dictating the terms of the coronavirus response to national governments

Filed under:Apple’s operating-system policy reportedly forced a change to a German contact-tracing schemeThe Interface is a daily column and newsletter about the intersection of social media and democracy. Subscribe .On Monday the six Bay Area counties announced that , citing ongoing difficulties in preparing for future spikes in new cases. A prominent question as elected officials attempt to govern through the next several months is to what extent they will rely on technology solutions to help them identify possible infections. Over the weekend, we saw a variety of ideas on this subject...

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Casey Newton
Apr 28
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Messenger Rooms are Facebook’s answer to Zoom and Houseparty for the pandemic

Messenger Rooms are Facebook’s answer to Zoom and Houseparty for the pandemic

Filed under:Facebook is greatly expanding its video chat offerings to keep up with rising demandFacebook is rolling out a suite of new products to expand its capabilities in video chat. The company today announced Messenger Rooms, a tool for starting virtual hangouts with up to 50 people and allowing friends to drop in on you whenever they like. It’s also doubling the capacity of video calls on WhatsApp from four people to eight, adding video calls to Facebook Dating, and adding new live-streaming features to both Facebook and Instagram.CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the features in a live...

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Casey Newton
Apr 24
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How location data could play a role in managing the coronavirus crisis

How location data could play a role in managing the coronavirus crisis

From electronic fences in Taiwan to mobile alerts in Israel, countries are finding creative ways to monitor the outbreak. Last week, as coronavirus marched around the world, a growing number of governments began to explore the use of our cellphone data to monitor the outbreak. Using location data, Israel sent alerts to citizens believed to have been exposed to the virus ordering them to self-quarantine. In England, authorities analyzed anonymized data from telecom provider O2 to determine the extent to which the populace had implemented social distancing. And in the United States, Google...

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Casey Newton
Mar 25
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The coronavirus is forcing tech giants to make a risky bet on AI

The coronavirus is forcing tech giants to make a risky bet on AI

Filed under:Machine learning tools have always been the ideal content moderators for Facebook, Google and Twitter — but COVID-19 is forcing their use before they’re readyThe Interface is a daily column and newsletter about the intersection of social media and democracy. Subscribe .Today, let’s talk about some of the front-line workers at Facebook and Google working on the pandemic: the content moderators who keep the site running day in and day out. Like most stories about content moderators, it’s a tale about difficult tradeoffs. And actions taken over the past few days by Facebook and...

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Casey Newton
Mar 18
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How Facebook is preparing for a surge in depressed and anxious users

How Facebook is preparing for a surge in depressed and anxious users

Filed under:And why it’s Mark Zuckerberg’s biggest worry about the user baseThe Interface is a daily column and newsletter about the intersection of social media and democracy. Subscribe .The COVID-19 pandemic is now surging around the world, and each hour brings more developments than a full day seemed to bring just a few weeks ago. On Wednesday morning, Facebook held a call with CEO Mark Zuckerberg to update the press on the steps the company has taken in response to the crisis to date. (.) Afterward, I spoke briefly with Zuckerberg about how the company is shifting its content moderation...

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Casey Newton
Mar 19
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A sneaky attempt to end encryption is worming its way through Congress

A sneaky attempt to end encryption is worming its way through Congress

Filed under:The EARN IT Act could give law enforcement officials the backdoor they have long wanted — unless tech companies come together to stop itThe Interface is a daily column and newsletter about the intersection of social media and democracy. Subscribe .A thing about writing a newsletter about technology and democracy during a global pandemic is that technology and democracy are no longer really at the forefront of everyone’s attention. The relationship between big platforms and the nations they operate in remains vitally important for all sorts of reasons, and I’ve argued that the...

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Casey Newton
Mar 12
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What Facebook could learn from Microsoft

What Facebook could learn from Microsoft

Filed under:Improving your public reputation often means taking a step out of the spotlightThe Interface is a daily column and newsletter about the intersection of social media and democracy. Subscribe .It was a big weekend on the tech and governance beat, led by news of the spread of the COVID-19 disease in the United States and its spiraling consequences for companies in Silicon Valley and beyond. Today we’re introducing a new, hopefully short-lived section of The Interface that covers the spread of the novel coronavirus around the world and the way that the companies we cover here are...

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Casey Newton
Mar 10
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India’s proposed internet regulations could threaten privacy everywhere

India’s proposed internet regulations could threaten privacy everywhere

Filed under:India wants to end encrypted messaging as we know it — and it’s not clear tech companies can win the fightThe Interface is a daily column and newsletter about the intersection of social media and democracy. Subscribe .In December, after a somewhat bruising Senate hearing with Facebook, I argued that . This week, with India poised to unveil new rules that threaten encrypted communications around the world, it seems safe to say that the encryption fight is now fully underway.First, some background.Messaging products that are end-to-end encrypted can be read only by the sender and...

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Casey Newton
Feb 14
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Amazon’s PR campaigns keep blowing up in the company’s face

Amazon’s PR campaigns keep blowing up in the company’s face

Filed under:A new op-ed finds the company once again at its most tone-deafThe Interface is a daily column and newsletter about the intersection of social media and democracy. Subscribe .A little over a year ago, when Amazon’s phony “search” for a site for a second “headquarters” was revealed to be a sham, I noted that for a rich tech giant the company . A billion-dollar giveaway to one of the world’s biggest corporations caused an outcry with the electorate and their representatives. As a result, the deal that Amazon negotiated for itself in New York City , forcing the company to pay for...

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Casey Newton
Feb 13
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Why platforms aren’t taking down deceptive political videos

Why platforms aren’t taking down deceptive political videos

Filed under:Not every meme is an epistemological crisisThe Interface is a daily column and newsletter about the intersection of social media and democracy. Subscribe .Say you run a large social network in which your most zealous users frequently discuss their politics. In 2020, one way they are going to do this is through the sharing of memes — pithy, punchy photos and videos designed for maximum partisan impact. Some of these memes will draw on actual facts; others will simply be insults. The most troublesome memes to deal with will be the ones that draw on real life but manipulate it in...

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Casey Newton
Feb 11
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The Iowa caucus debacle shows why tech and voting don’t mix

The Iowa caucus debacle shows why tech and voting don’t mix

Heading into 2020 election, our minds — my mind — have often been focused on the election of 2016. How will Russia attempt to interfere? What role will misinformation play in the outcome? Will tech platforms play a deciding role? The problem with fighting the last war, of course, is that the next war always plays out differently. You plan for threats that may no longer exist, or have transformed into something you won’t recognize. Meanwhile, new disasters lurk outside your field of view. The threat that overwhelmed you last time might distract you from the thing that’s gonna get you today....

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Casey Newton
Feb 11
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16 predictions for social networks in 2020

16 predictions for social networks in 2020

And just like that, we’ve reached the final issue of the year — and also, somehow, the decade. As is tradition around here, let’s close out the year with some predictions from you about where platforms and democracy are headed in 2020 and beyond. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Here are your thoughts, along with some of mine. This year, I’m ordering these in roughly how likely I think they are. So, the most likely things to happen at the top, and we move further into crazy town as you scroll down. Generally speaking, I feel more comfortable predicting product moves than policy shifts....

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Casey Newton
Dec 28
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Snap CEO Evan Spiegel on why Spectacles are a new kind of camera

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel on why Spectacles are a new kind of camera

As long as mobile phones remain our primary computing devices, the balance of power between social networks seems unlikely to shift too much in any direction. New devices have now been in development for several years, but so far nobody has been able to deliver something akin to an iPod: a relatively cheap, beautifully designed, and dramatically useful new gadget that points the way forward. The company that invents a product like that could dominate the next generation of computing the way Apple, Google, and Facebook have dominated the current one. Snap may have gotten the closest....

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Casey Newton
Nov 17
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In leaked audio, Mark Zuckerberg rallies Facebook against critics and the US government

In leaked audio, Mark Zuckerberg rallies Facebook against critics and the US government

July should have been a relief for Facebook. The company accepted a $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission over privacy issues, after having essentially set the terms of the agreement itself. It settled a case with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleged that it had misled investors about the risks of user data being mishandled, for a relatively paltry $100 million. And Facebook reported stellar quarterly earnings on July 24th, beating investor expectations and sending its stock price up. But inside the company, the mood remained anxious. Several 2020 presidential...

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Casey Newton
Oct 2
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Facebook reportedly reaches $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission

Facebook reportedly reaches $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission

Facebook has reportedly reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over repeated privacy violations, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, the FTC voted this week to approve a $5 billion settlement, which has now moved to the Justice Department’s civil division for review. It is unclear how long the review will take. A Facebook spokesman declined to comment or confirm the report. The Washington Post and New York Times later confirmed the details in the Journal’s report. The Journal reported that the FTC voted along party lines, with three Republican...

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Casey Newton
Jul 19
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Three Facebook moderators break their NDAs to expose a company in crisis

Three Facebook moderators break their NDAs to expose a company in crisis

Keith Utley loved to help. First, he served in the Coast Guard, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. He married, had a family, and devoted himself utterly to his two little girls. After he got out of the military, he worked as a moderator for Facebook, where he purged the social network of the worst stuff that its users post on a daily basis: the hate speech, the murders, the child pornography. Utley worked the overnight shift at a Facebook content moderation site in Tampa, FL, operated by a professional services vendor named Cognizant. The 800 or so workers there face...

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Casey Newton
Jun 19
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