https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/overnights/3718818-hillicon-valley-twitter-verification-fee-sparks-concerns/

Social media experts expressed concerns that Elon Musk’s plan to start charging verified users could undermine the credibility of the platform. 

Meanwhile, Musk met with civil rights groups to discuss concerns surrounding hate speech and misinformation on the social media platform.  

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter?

Experts weigh on Twitter verification cost

Elon Musk’s plan to charge users to be verified on Twitter has triggered concerns that the change could undermine credibility on the platform as legitimate users potentially decide to opt out from the subscription service and lose their blue checkmarks. 

Experts said verified users potentially losing those markers simply because they do not wish to pay for the service could make it harder to confirm whose accounts are legitimate and whose aren’t. 

  • “The checkmark was really established to provide verification for the sake of the credibility of the platform,” said Karen North, a clinical professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
  • North said she can foresee situations where legitimate users who are unwilling to pay are competing with fake accounts impersonating them to try to prove their authenticity to the public.
  • “It undermines the primary purpose of the platform if users, especially people like journalists, have trouble figuring out who’s a legitimate source,” she said. “The verification that you see allows you to judge the credibility of the sources,” she added. 

Read more here

Civil rights group dial up the pressure

New Twitter CEO Elon Musk met with civil rights groups this week amid concerns over hate speech and misinformation spreading on the platform after his takeover, especially in the days leading up to the midterm elections.  

During the meeting with representatives from groups including the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, the NAACP and Free Press, Musk committed to taking actions that the groups pushed for aimed at keeping Twitter safe. But the leaders said they will move forward with their efforts to hold him accountable. 

Jessica González, co-CEO of Free Press, said the meeting with Musk “seemed productive” but she is not “encouraged enough” to pull back on the campaign that civil rights groups launched asking advertisers to suspend their ads on Twitter if Musk doesn’t commit to enforcing safety standards.  

“I think we need to keep the pressure on and make sure that his actions meet his words,” González told The Hill. 

Read more here.  

LYFT CUTTING EMPLOYEES 

Lyft is laying off 13 percent of its employees, the ride-hailing service announced Thursday, citing inflation strains and recession fears.  

“There are several challenges playing out across the economy. We’re facing a probable recession sometime in the next year and rideshare insurance costs are going up,” co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer said in a memo to Lyft employees.  

“We worked hard to bring down costs this summer: we slowed, then froze hiring; cut spending; and paused less-critical initiatives. Still, Lyft has to become leaner, which requires us to part with incredible team members,” the memo read.  

In addition to the layoffs, the company is also selling its first-party vehicle service business.

Read more here.

Health sector ‘vulnerable’ to cyberattacks

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a report on Thursday outlining cybersecurity threats in the health care sector and ways the federal government can improve security standards in the industry.

The report, which is divided into three sections, recommends that the federal government improve the country’s cybersecurity risk posture in the health care sector, help the private sector mitigate cyber threats and assist health care providers in responding and recovering from cyberattacks.   

“Unfortunately, the health care sector is uniquely vulnerable to cyberattacks and the transition to better cybersecurity has been painfully slow and inadequate,” Warner said in the report. 

“The federal government and the health sector must find a balanced approach to meet the dire threats, as partners with shared responsibilities,” he added. 

Read more here

MORE TECH LAYOFFS AT STRIPE  

The online payment giant Stripe is laying off around 14 percent of its staff, according to a memo sent to staff Thursday from CEO Patrick Collison.  

Rising inflation, high interest rates, recession fears and other economic concerns mean the company needs to focus on “building differently for leaner times,” the CEO wrote.

“At the outset of the pandemic in 2020, the world rotated overnight towards e-commerce… The world is now shifting again. We are facing stubborn inflation, energy shocks, higher interest rates, reduced investment budgets, and sparser startup funding,” Collison said.  

“We think that 2022 represents the beginning of a different economic climate.” 

Read more here.  

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Governing social media: You help to make the rules 

Notable links from around the web: 

Elon Musk, Under Financial Pressure, Pushes to Make Money From Twitter (The New York Times / Mike Isaac and Ryan Mac) 

Signal to roll out Snapchat-like “stories” feature (Axios / Ashley Gold) 

Members of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council Not Sure Elon Musk Knows They Exist (Motherboard / Samantha Cole)

🐶 Lighter click: Everest vs. Puddles  

One more thing: Musk to cut half of Twitter workforce

Elon Musk plans to cut 3,700 jobs at Twitter, equal to half of the workforce at the social media company, according to Bloomberg.

Musk plans to inform the affected staff members on Friday, according to Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the matter. 

Senior personnel on the product teams have been asked to target a 50 percent reduction in headcount, the publication reported, and layoffs have been drawn up based on an employee’s contributions to coding. 

The new owner of Twitter has not finalized how many jobs exactly will be cut, and he may allow laid-off workers to earn up to 60 days’ worth of severance pay, according to Bloomberg. Musk is also reportedly considering reversing a work-from-anywhere policy. 

Read more here

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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