Hi, it’s Fortune’s tech fellow Andrea Guzman.
Montana resident Hank Green, known for his Vlogbrothers YouTube channel and TikToks answering peculiar science questions like whether it’s safe for humans to eat dog food or what would a spoonful of protons taste like, reported hundreds of press inquiries following the news that Montana’s TikTok ban had passed.
The bill, SB 419, which bans TikTok in the state beginning Jan. 1, 2024, by fining app stores or TikTok $10,000 per day for each time someone accesses the app or downloads it, has already been hit with a lawsuit to overturn it.
Green passed up opportunities to speak about the ban, instead guiding people to constitutional law experts. But in a follow-up tweet, he offered an idea that users and content creators are trying to emphasize in light of the law’s passing and threats from Congress to ban the app.
“I don’t use content platforms because I think they are good, I use content platforms because I think my content is good. Why the f— else would I still be here??” he tweeted, seemingly referring to a distaste for the version of Twitter with Elon Musk at the helm.
That the problem isn’t just TikTok but other platforms as well echoes the thoughts of experts I talked to about how a ban would actually work. One expert at the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity at the University of California at Berkeley said it’s ironic that the U.S. is “so suspicious of the influence of these out-of-jurisdiction, algorithmic tools,” when its allies should feel the same about platforms like Facebook.
Users are aware of some of the risks lawmakers are pointing at, including the risk of their private data and exposure to misinformation, but they feel it’s misguided and rooted in xenophobia. Instead, opponents of the ban say there should be action on user safety that’s more encompassing of all platforms.
The online rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation reshared recommendations this week for consumer data privacy laws, which include methods for skirting “pay-for-privacy” initiatives from companies and empowering consumers to bring lawsuits against companies violating their privacy rights.
Meanwhile, Montana residents are arguing that a ban on TikTok violates their constitutionally protected property and liberty interests since many of them earn revenue on the app. One creator, Carly Ann Goddard, who shares content about life on a Montana ranch with her 95,000 followers, says making videos on TikTok has roughly tripled her family’s household income.
And aside from the financial burden the ban could bring, the five TikTok creators who filed the lawsuit indicated in a complaint that their main concern is the violation of their free speech that the law poses: “Even if Montana could regulate any of the speech that users share through TikTok, SB 419 wields a sledgehammer when the First Amendment requires a scalpel.”
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SCOTUS won't reexamine Section 230. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected one lawsuit Thursday alleging social media platforms should be held liable for enabling a lethal attack on a Turkish nightclub and tossing another case back to a lower court. The move preserves a law known as Section 230, which protects platforms from being liable for what users post. Some say that Twitter, Facebook, and others have abused that protection and should have to meet higher standards. So while the issue has been sidestepped for now, there could be other cases in the future that cause courts or Congress to revisit it.
Twitter’s new CEO is already getting results. In November, a top media agency known as GroupM designated Twitter as “high risk” to its clients as content moderation eased under Elon Musk. But just days after the announcement that NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino is taking over, the agency removed the classification, a move that could cause its clients to up their ad spending, the Financial Times reports. Other agencies are also thinking of telling their clients to give Twitter consideration again, but are still heavily weighing brand safety. “Our guidance to clients is not dictated by headlines or speculation but verifiable action,” Omnicom Media Group said.
The risk of Apple’s mixed reality headset. Apple’s new headset combining augmented and virtual reality capabilities is expected to be announced next month at the company’s annual developer conference. But leading up to the grand unveiling, those overseeing software engineering and hardware technologies and other executives, are skeptical about the company’s new headset, Bloomberg reports. Apple has spent more than $1 billion a year on the product as more than 1,000 staff members have gotten involved in developing it. But there have been multiple instances of design changes like an external battery pack for powering it, and the price may ultimately come out to about $3,000.
—The total revenue YouTube has generated over the last 12 months, a large part of which was from advertising, CEO Neal Mohan said during a tech conference Thursday. YouTube's ad revenue had dropped three quarters in a row but Mohan says the video platform is now seeing growth “in things like travel and retail, which has been balanced by a slowdown in finance, media, and entertainment."
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Apple clamps down on employees using ChatGPT as more companies fear sensitive data sharing with A.I. models, by Nicholas Gordon
Brooklyn-based Coin Cafe ordered to return $4.3 million to ‘defrauded’ crypto investors by New York attorney general, by Leo Schwartz
A.I. pioneer Yoshua Bengio says Big Tech’s arms race threatens ‘the very nature of truth’, by Tristan Bove
‘You can’t tell me this doesn’t work’: Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary has ripped apart Elon Musk’s claim that working from home is ‘immoral’, by Eleanor Pringle
Is crypto trading the same as gambling? This U.K. parliament committee thinks so, and most crypto advocates—unsurprisingly—disagree, by Ben Weiss
Google and Samsung are wasting a golden opportunity with their foldable phones, by Dave Smith
BEFORE YOU GO
ChatGPT now available on the iOS app store. OpenAI launched a free ChatGPT app yesterday that syncs your history across devices. It also integrates the company’s speech-recognition system known as Whisper, allowing for voice input. Rollout has started in the U.S. with OpenAI planning to expand to more countries in the coming weeks and Android users can expect it to be available for download soon.
While subscribers will get access to GPT-4’s capabilities, early access to features, and faster response times, users should also expect to deal with ChatGPT’s tendency to “hallucinate,” or fabricate information.
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