Amazon Fights Against Mail-In Voting in Union Decision to Preserve ‘Vote Fidelity’

E-commerce giant Amazon is reportedly seeking to postpone a unionization vote at a warehouse in Alabama and is fighting back against federal labor authorities’  decision to allow mail-in voting. Amazon claims it has created a “safe, confidential and convenient proposal for associates to vote on-site, which is in the best interest of all parties—associate convenience, vote fidelity and timeliness of vote count.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that the e-commerce giant Amazon is aiming to postpone a unionization vote at one of its warehouses in Alabama. The company is also reportedly requesting that federal labor authorities reconsider a decision to allow mail-in voting due to the pandemic.

On Thursday, Amazon filed an appeal to a decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is allowing employees to vote by mail due to coronavirus risks instead of holding in-person elections. The ballots are set to be mail to around 6,000 workers associated with Amazon’s facility in Bessemer, Alabama, on February 8.

In the petition, Amazon said the NLRB’s decision was flawed as it had not adequately defined an outbreak, along with a number of other objections. Workers at Amazon’s facility are seeking representation from the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.

If a majority of ballots vote in favor of unionization, it would be the first time that hourly Amazon workers have formed or joined a union in the United States.

Amazon declined to comment on the appeal but stated that it believes the best approach to an election would be having it conducted in person, stating that it “provided the NLRB with a safe, confidential and convenient proposal for associates to vote on-site, which is in the best interest of all parties—associate convenience, vote fidelity and timeliness of vote count.”

Read more at the Wall Street Journal here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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Report: Google and Facebook Made a ‘Secret Deal’ to Dominate Online Advertising

The New York Times recently outlined the inner workings of a secret deal between Facebook and Google that allowed the companies to jointly dominate the online advertising market.

In an article titled “Behind a Secret Deal Between Google and Facebook,” the New York Times outlines a secret deal between Facebook and Google related to the online advertising market that the two companies largely dominate.

Facebook revealed in 2017 that it was testing a new way of selling ads online that could threaten Google’s control of the online advertising market, but just two years later Facebook announced that it would be joining an alliance of companies backing a similar effort by Google, seemingly abandoning its own plans that would have allowed the company to better compete with Google.

Facebook never clarified why it seemed to abandon its own project, but an antitrust lawsuit filed by ten state attorneys general last month implies that Google had extended to Facebook a sweetheart deal to be a partner.

Executives at six of the partners in the alliance told the NYT that their agreements with Google did not contain many of the generous benefits that Facebook received and that Google had given Facebook a significant advantage over the other partners in the alliance.

The deal between Google and Facebook was reportedly code-named “Jedi Blue” and pertains to a segment of the online advertising market called programmatic advertising. A new advertising method called header bidding emerged as part of a workaround to reduce reliance on Google’s ad platforms.

The NYT explains:

In the milliseconds between a user clicking on a link to a web page and the page’s ads loading, bids for available ad space are placed behind the scenes in marketplaces known as exchanges, with the winning bid passed to an ad server. Because Google’s ad exchange and ad server were both dominant, it often directed the business to its own exchange.

Header bidding provided a workaround that allowed news outlets and other sites to solicit bids from multiple exchanges at once, increasing competition and leading to better prices for publishers. In an attempt to prevent significant losses from the new method, Google developed an alternative called Open Bidding that allowed other exchanges to simultaneously compete alongside Google. Google would then receive a fee for every winning bid.

The NYT writes:

The threat of Facebook, one of the biggest ad buyers on the internet, supporting header bidding was a grave concern at Google. The draft of the complaint reviewed by The Times cited an email from a Google executive calling it an “existential threat” that required “an all hands on deck approach.”

Facebook announced in March 2017 that it was testing header bidding with publishers like The Washington Post, Forbes and The Daily Mail. Facebook also took a jab at Google, saying the digital ad industry had been handing over profits to “third-party middlemen who make the rules and obfuscate the truth.”

Before Google and Facebook signed the deal in Sept. 2018, Facebook executives outlined the company’s options to Mark Zuckerberg, its chief executive, according to the draft of the complaint: hire hundreds more engineers and spend billions of dollars to compete against Google; exit the business; or do the deal.

Read more at the New York Times here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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Big Tech Coalition Is Developing a Digital COVID Vaccination Passport

A coalition of tech and health organizations including Oracle, Microsoft, and the Mayo Clinic, is reportedly working to develop a digital COVID-19 vaccination passport that would allow businesses, airlines, and governments to check if individuals have received the vaccine.

The Hill reports that a coalition of health and technology organizations are working to develop a new digital COVID-19 vaccination passport that could be checked by businesses, airlines, and countries to confirm if an individual has received the vaccine. The coalition includes tech giants such as Microsoft and Oracle, along with the Mayo Clinic.

On Thursday, the Vaccination Credential Initiative announced that it is developing technology to confirm vaccinations in case governments mandate that people provide proof that they have received a vaccination in order to travel.

The coalition hopes that the tech will allow people to “demonstrate their health status to safely return to travel, work, school and life while protecting their data privacy.” The group is using work from the Commons Project’s international digital document that verifies a person has tested negative for COVID-19.

Currently, the Commons Project’s system, which was created in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, is being utilized by three major airline alliances. The coalition is reportedly currently in discussions with several governments to create a program requiring either negative tests or proof of vaccination to enter the country, according to Commons Project chief executive Paul Meyer.

Meyer stated in a release: “The goal of the Vaccination Credential Initiative is to empower individuals with digital access to their vaccination records so they can use tools like CommonPass to safely return to travel, work, school, and life, while protecting their data privacy.”

Mike Sicilia, the executive vice president of Oracle’s Global Business Units, commented that the passport “needs to be as easy as online banking,” and added: “We are committed to working collectively with the technology and medical communities, as well as global governments, to ensure people will have secure access to this information where and when they need it.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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Apple Launches ‘Racial Equity and Justice’ Projects to Challenge ‘Systemic Racism’

Apple says that it will invest $60 million to support minority entrepreneurs, a move that comes as part of a “racial equity and justice” project to challenge “systemic racism.”

“There’s a lack of diversity among venture capital and banking funders,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, to Reuters. “We looked for where we thought there was opportunity for our resources to do good things.”

The report added that Apple will invest $10 million in a fund with Harlem Capital, a New York-based early-stage venture firm, and another $25 million in Siebert Williams Shank’s Clear Vision Impact Fund, which provides financing to businesses with an emphasis on minority-owned firms.

Apple is also investing another $25 million into the Propel Center, a facility in Atlanta where historically Black colleges and universities will collaborate on programs in entrepreneurship, and app development.

Apple’s new investments are a part of the company’s $100 million “Racial Equity Justice Initiative,” a project that was announced last June, after the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

The initiative seeks “to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color,” according to Apple.

The company also plans to establish an app development academy in Detroit, Michigan, with Michigan State University. The academy will provide a free 10-to-12-month course and will seek to teach 1,000 students skills in coding, design, and marketing every year.

“We wanted to see more Black and brown developers,” said Jackson. “They tend to be focusing on the southeastern part of the United States. But Detroit has over 50,000 small businesses that are owned by Black and brown people.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook added that “we are all accountable to the urgent work of building a more just, more equitable world — and these new projects send a clear signal of Apple’s enduring commitment.”

Cook added that Apple is launching the Racial Equity Justice Initiative to “empower communities that have borne the brunt of racism and discrimination for far too long.”

“We are honored to help bring this vision to bear, and to match our words and actions to the values of equity and inclusion we have always prized at Apple,” said Cook.

While Apple works to prop up other businesses, the company has provided obstacles for others. Last week, Apple banned Parler, an alternative to Twitter, from its app store, effectively excluding the Parler app from all iPhones, after President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter.

Apple justifies its decision by claiming that words on the platform may “incite violence,” a narrative that big tech companies are now using to take action against the president, political dissenters, and their competition — while seemingly ignoring Twitter, where “Hang Mike Pence” was trending just last week.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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Google ‘Experiment’ Hid Some News Sources from Consumers

Tech giant Google is under fire after it revealed that it blocked some Australian news sites from search results as part of an “experiment.” Critics call it a “chilling illustration” of the company’s stranglehold on internet search.

Business Insider reports that the Silicon Valley tech giant Google is facing major criticism after it was revealed that the company removed some local news content from its search results in Australia as part of an “experiment.” Critics have called the situation a “chilling illustration” of the power that Google holds over the internet.

The incident is the latest in an ongoing battle between Google and the Australian government, which is currently considering a proposal that would force tech firms such as Google and Facebook to pay local news providers for their content.

Google added a notice to its site last year after the law was proposed, warning that “the way Aussies search every day on Google is at risk.” The Silicon Valley giant said on Wednesday that it had been “running a few experiments that will each reach about 1% of Google Search users in Australia.”

The Australian Financial Review first reported that Google had tweaked its algorithm to bury links from major Australian news providers. Google confirmed the tweak and downplayed it, adding that it conducts “tens of thousands of experiments” every year.

Nine, the publisher behind the Sydney Morning Heraldtold the Guardian in a statement: “Google is an effective monopoly and by withholding access to such timely, accurate and important information they show clearly how they impact what access Australians have to that. At the same time, Google are now demonstrating how easily they can make Australian news providers who fall out of their favour effectively disappear from the internet – a chilling illustration of their extraordinary market power.”

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters: “The digital giants should focus on paying for original content, not blocking it. That’s my message to those digital giants. We have again introduced legislation that’s now before a Senate committee to put in place a world-leading mandatory code to see those digital giants pay traditional news media businesses a fair sum of money for generating original content.”

A company spokesperson commented: “Every year we conduct tens of thousands of experiments in Google Search. We’re currently running a few experiments that will each reach about 1% of Google Search users in Australia to measure the impacts of news businesses and Google Search on each other. In 2018, the value we provided to publishers through referral traffic alone was estimated at $218 million dollars.”

Google reportedly plans to end the experiment in February.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Says Big Tech’s Blacklisting of Donald Trump Was Not ‘Coordinated’

In a recent thread on his own platform, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey discussed the recent suspension of President Donald Trump, stating that he believes it was the right decision and that the mass blacklisting of Trump by the Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe was not coordinated, writing “More likely: companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others.”

In a recent tweet thread, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey discussed the company’s recent decision to permanently suspend President Trump from its platform. The company stated last week that President Trump was suspended from the platform due to the “risk of further incitement of violence.”

Now, Dorsey has discussed the decision at length in a tweet thread which can be found here. Dorsey wrote in the thread:

I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here. After a clear warning we’d take this action, we made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter. Was this correct?

I believe this was the right decision for Twitter. We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.

Dorsey went on to say that the ban had “significant ramifications,” adding that “while there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation.”

He further added that he didn’t believe that the mass de-platforming of President Trump was coordinated, stating: “I do not believe this was coordinated. More likely: companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others.”

Dorsey finished the tweet thread stating: “I believe the internet and global public conversation is our best and most relevant method of achieving this. I also recognize it does not feel that way today. Everything we learn in this moment will better our effort, and push us to be what we are: one humanity working together.”

Breitbart News recently reported that Twitter stock dropped by as much as 12.3 percent on Monday morning this week, reaching a low as $45.17 per share.

It was noted by multiple analysts that the decision to suspend President Trump could reignite legislation to revoke Section 230, which protects internet companies from liability for content users posts according to analyst notes. Bank of America Securities analysts said in a note to clients: “While a Democratic administration may be less focused on significant reform of Section 230, recent events may make content legislation more likely.”

Read more at Breitbart News here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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Airbnb to Ban People Linked with ‘Violent Activities’ Ahead of Inauguration

Airbnb announced on Monday that it would be reviewing reservations in the Washington DC area ahead of the presidential inauguration and will ban any guests it believes are associated with “hate groups” or violent activity. The company is also cross-referencing arrest records from the Capitol Hill incident with its customer base to ban attendees from using the platform in the future.

CBS News reports that the online rental marketplace Airbnb has announced plans to review reservations in the Washington DC area ahead of next week’s presidential inauguration and will ban any guests it believes are associated with hate groups or violent activity. The decision comes shortly after city officials asked Airbnb, VRBO, and other rental hosts to remove listings until the January 20 inauguration is over.

Washington city council member Janeese Lewis George said in a Twitter post: “There’s no way to guarantee that your guests are not coming to incite violence. Please protect your neighbors and the District from more attacks.”

Airbnb has had a policy of removing guests that are confirmed to be members of hate groups since 2017 after the company blocked guests who were traveling to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Airbnb stated that it will warn all guests in the Washington area that it may bring legal action against them if they are found to be members of a hate group or planning violent activities. Hosts are also encouraged to call a hotline if they suspect guests are violating Airbnb policies.

Airbnb also announced that anyone who engaged in criminal activity in last week’s protest at the U.S. Capitol will be banned from the platform. Airbnb is reportedly cross-referencing arrest records to determine who should be removed from the platform but has not yet stated how many have been banned.

The company also stated it will not give political donations to Republicans who voted against certifying the results of the election last week, joining Marriot, AT&T, and others in taking that stance. Airbnb’s political action committee donated $866,519 to candidates and political parties in the 2020 election cycle, according to Open Secrets. Joe Biden was the biggest recipient of Airbnb donations.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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Google Suspends President Trump’s YouTube Channel over ‘Potential for Violence’

Google-owned YouTube announced on Tuesday that it is suspending President Donald Trump’s channel “in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence,” adding that the ability to comment on the President’s YouTube channel will be disabled “indefinitely.”

“After review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” said YouTube in a statement on Tuesday night.

“It now has its 1st strike & is temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a *minimum* of 7 days,” the video-sharing platform added.

Three “strikes” within a 90-day period will result in a user’s YouTube channel being permanently banned from the platform.

“Given the ongoing concerns about violence, we will also be indefinitely disabling comments on President Trump’s channel, as we’ve done to other channels where there are safety concerns found in the comments section,” added YouTube in a follow-up tweet.

YouTube’s move arrives amid big tech companies pushing the narrative that the president’s words “incite violence,” and are a threat to “democracy.”

Last week, Twitter permanently banned President Trump from its platform, and Mark Zuckerberg locked the president out of his Facebook and Instagram accounts, “indefinitely,” under the guise of having concerns for the public’s safety.

Following Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram banning the president, Google and Apple banned the social media platform Parler from their app stores, which effectively excludes the app from all Android and Apple smartphones.

After that, Amazon swiftly moved in to ban the site from its web hosting services, which knocked Parler offline until it can find another host.

YouTube has joined Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, Apple, and Amazon in claiming that words will “incite violence” in order to justify their reasons for taking actions against the president, political dissenters, and their competition.

On Monday, video-sharing platform Rumble filed a lawsuit against Google alleging that the tech giant is “unfairly rigging its search algorithm” in favor of YouTube videos in its search results.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.

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Salesforce Shuts Down Trump Campaign Emails Claiming They Incite ‘Violence’

Salesforce, the company behind the RNC’s email provider, has reportedly taken action to prevent President Donald Trump and Republicans from using “our services in any way that could lead to violence.” The Trump campaign has not been able to send an email since January 6.

On January 6, shortly before the protests on Capitol Hill, the Donald Trump campaign sent an email to its tens of millions of subscribers which stated “We have the TRUTH,” adding: “Every single Patriot from across the Country must step up RIGHT NOW if we’re going to successfully DEFEND the integrity of this Election. President Trump is calling on YOU to bolster our Official Defend America Fund.” Since then, the email list has been silent.

Vice News reports that the Trump campaign uses infrastructure from a company called ExactTarget to email millions of Republicans and Trump supporters. ExactTarget is an email marketing firm owned by Salesforce. Vice reached out to Salesforce and asked whether the company had taken action to prevent President Trump from using their email infrastructure. Salesforce stated that it had “taken action” against the RNC to “prevent its use of our services in any way that could lead to violence.”

Salesforce said in a statement:

We are all deeply troubled by the terrible events of January 6. And while we all hope that they are never repeated, sadly there remains a risk of politically incited violence across the country.

The Republican National Committee has been a long-standing customer, predating the current Administration, and we have taken action to prevent its use of our services in any way that could lead to violence.

The RNC told Vice that “on Wednesday, we decided independently to stop fundraising on all of our digital platforms, including on Salesforce.”

A number of tech sites and services have banned President Trump in the wake of the Capitol Hill protests. Breitbart News recently reported that the e-commerce platform Shopify banned TrumpStore.com, a website run by the Trump campaign and Trump Organization. The removal appears to be in response to the events in Washington D.C. this week.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated in a recent post that following the events on Capitol Hill yesterday and President Trump’s comments on social media about the situation, Facebook would be banning the President’s access to the platform “indefinitely.”

Breitbart News recently reported that police are bracing themselves for a possible protest at Twitter HQ following the suspension of President Trump’s Twitter account last week.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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Facebook Blacklists All Content Mentioning ‘Stop the Steal’

Facebook has announced that it will remove all content that mentions “Stop the Steal,”  a phrase in reference to the 2020 U.S. presidential election that is popular among supporters of President Donald Trump.

On Monday, the social media company said it is removing “Stop the Steal” content from Facebook and Instagram, claiming that such language might incite violence on Inauguration Day, considering the riots that transpired last week on Capitol Hill.

“We are now removing content containing the phrase ‘stop the steal’ under our Coordinating Harm policy from Facebook and Instagram,” said Facebook in a blog post.

“We began preparing for Inauguration Day last year. But our planning took on new urgency after last week’s violence in Washington, D.C., and we are treating the next two weeks as a major civic event,” the company added.

In November, Facebook shut down a group called “Stop the Steal,” which had garnered over 364,000 members.

“We removed the original Stop the Steal group in November and have continued to remove Pages, groups and events that violate any of our policies, including calls for violence,” said Facebook.

The company went on to claim that it is “allowing robust conversations related to the election outcome and that will continue.”

“But with continued attempts to organize events against the outcome of the US presidential election that can lead to violence, and use of the term by those involved in Wednesday’s violence in DC, we’re taking this additional step in the lead up to the inauguration,” continued Facebook.

“It may take some time to scale up our enforcement of this new step but we have already removed a significant number of posts,” the company added.

On January 7, Facebook and Instagram locked President Trump out of his accounts “indefinitely.” Twitter, on the other hand, permanently banned the president from its platform.

On Monday, an Idaho internet provider announced it is blocking Facebook and Twitter for its customers, stating that it does not condone big tech companies censoring users or “trying to exterminate the competition,” such as Parler.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.

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