Facebook, Twitter limit sharing of NY Post's Biden story, Ant Group may join trade blacklist
Catch up on the top industries and stocks that were impacted, or were predicted to be impacted, by the comments, actions and policies of President Donald Trump and his administration with this weekly recap compiled by The Fly:
1. NY POST STORY ON BIDEN:Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) were in the spotlight later in the week after the former limited the distribution of a New York Post story on Hunter Biden's alleged business relationships in Ukraine and the latter blocked sharing of the article.
On Wednesday, the New York Post had published a series of stories it claimed were sourced from a hard drive given to them by a computer repair technician in Delaware that contained details of Hunter Biden's alleged business relationships in Ukraine. One article included a copy of an email said to be sent to Hunter Biden apparently describing a meeting between his father and an executive at the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings, on whose board Hunter Biden served. The Biden campaign said that no such meeting took place and said the Post didn’t ask the campaign about critical elements of the story ahead of publication.
After Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey acknowledged that "blocking URL sharing via Tweet or DM with zero context as to why" was "unacceptable," the social media platform explained that the story violated its rules about disclosing personal and private information.
Subsequently, Dorsey said that it was wrong for the company to block links without context. "Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix," Dorsey said in a tweet. "Our goal is to attempt to add context, and now we have capabilities to do that."
Commenting on the matter, President Trump said via Twitter that, "So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of 'Smoking Gun' emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @NYPost. It is only the beginning for them. There is nothing worse than a corrupt politician. REPEAL SECTION 230!!!"
In a research note to investors, Cowen Washington Research Group analyst Paul Gallant said he believes Section 230 of the Communications Act "solidly protects" Facebook and Twitter's content decisions. However, President Trump's unhappiness and claims of "election meddling" may reinforce the likelihood of the FTC filing an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook in "the relatively near future," Gallant contended. For Twitter, he doesn't expect an antitrust lawsuit as he cannot see an arguable monopoly basis. While it is possible Trump will try to bring a lawsuit seeking an injunction against Facebook and Twitter for their actions, Gallant is "skeptical it would succeed."
On Friday, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation announced that Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi will convene a hearing titled "Does Section 230's Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?" on October 28. Witnesses set to testify include Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet (GOOGL) and Google, and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.
2. TIKTOK RIVALS TO EXPLOIT WHITE HOUSE ACTIONS: Lawyers for TikTok claim that the White House's attempted ban of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app could potentially devastate the company's user base and competitive position, the Wall Street Journal's Katy Stech Ferek reported. "Competitors have already taken advantage of the government's highly-publicized intention to shut down the app to entice TikTok creators and users to switch platforms," lawyers for TikTok said in a filing to U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols.
The company made its statements in a request for the judge to block the Trump administration from imposing measures that would essentially force a shutdown of the video-sharing app's U.S. operations on November 12 by barring companies from providing it internet hosting, content delivery, and other services, the author notes. The Fly notes that Oracle (ORCL) and Walmart (WMT) have agreed to take stakes in TikTok Global, a U.S. company contemplated to own most of the app's operations worldwide.
3. TRADE BLACKLIST: The U.S. State Department has submitted an application for the Trump administration to add China's Ant Group to a trade blacklist before the fintech unit of Alibaba (BABA) is scheduled to go public, Reuters' Humeyra Pamuk reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. While it is not immediately clear when the government agencies that determine whether to add a company to the Entity List would review the proposal, the move comes as China hardliners in Washington are seeking to send a message to deter U.S. investors from participating in the IPO, worth up to a record $35B, the author noted.
4. COVID-19 AID DEAL: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot down the prospect of a COVID-19 aid package totaling $1.8T-$2.2T, the goalposts of the current negotiations between Democrats and the Trump administration, The Hill's Jordain Carney reported on Thursday. The senator's comments underscore the gaps between President Trump and the GOP senators on a fifth coronavirus bill, with McConnell preparing to force a vote on a $500B measure next week, Carney noted. "I don't think so. That's where the administration is willing to go," McConnell told reporters in his home state of Kentucky. "My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go," McConnell reportedly said.
"Week in Review" is The Fly's weekly recap of its recurring series of "Trump Effect" exclusive stories.
Keywords: Week in Review, Trump, politics, social media, COVID, COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic