A show of hands, please. Who out there recognizes the following names?

Kyle Andeer, Matt Perualt, Nate Sutton, and Adam Cohen. (Double points if you know why I'm asking.)

For that matter, how about James O'Keefe and Joy Villa? 

Answers:

  • Andeer is the vice-president for corporate law at Apple. 
  • Perault is head of global policy development at Facebook.
  • Sutton is associate general counsel for regulation at Amazon.
  • Cohen is director of economic policy at Google.
  • O'Keefe is a right-wing activist and the founder of Project Veritas.
  • Villa is singer-songwriter probably best known for wearing conservative-themed dresses to the Grammys.

The execs from Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google are all scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill next week, after a Congressional committee announced it's looking into antitrust actions against the big tech companies.

Meanwhile, O'Keefe, Villa, and a host of other right-wing Internet personalities are all set to meet with President Trump Thursday to talk about social media.

Or, as the White House puts it: have "a robust conversation on the opportunities and challenges of today's online environment.

Nobody from Facebook or other big, well-known social media companies like Twitter was invited. That's interesting, especially since the Trump reelection campaign is reportedly spending tons and tons of money on Facebook ads.

But then again, this is 2019 so nothing surprises us anymore, and the background is pretty easy to catch up on. 

First, Google, Facebook and Amazon are being targeted by the federal government for antitrust investigations.  The whole thing broke on a late Friday evening in May. (The government really has a way of ruining GOOGL, FB and AMZN lawyers' weekends.)

Apple is probably safe -- not that it hasn't had its own issues. But the rest of Big Tech is under fire from both sides of the political aisle. 

Separately -- well, you never know but it looks separate -- some loyal supporters of President Trump say they've been "shadow banned" or in some cases flat-out shut down by big tech platforms.

Also separately -- also, you never can know for sure -- Trump just lost a court case saying he can't block critics on Twitter. In fairness, he also won an unrelated but probably more important case blocking states from suing him over the emoluments clause.

Never the twain shall meet, as they say -- but only the FacebookAmazonAppleGoogle contingent has to testify in public and under oath.

Reportedly, there's no plan to let the rest of the world know what Trump and his guests wind up talking about.

Although given the massive social media followings of many of the attendees -- on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google-owned YouTube, no less -- I'd assume we'll hear the attendees' versions of this all pretty soon afterward.

Published on: Jul 11, 2019
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