with Aaron Schaffer

A top Trump adviser confirmed the former president is building his own social network after major tech companies suspended his accounts in the fallout of the Jan. 6 Capitol attacks. 

I do think that we’re going to see President Trump returning to social media in probably about two or three months here, with his own platform, Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told Fox News on Sunday. And this is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media, it’s going to completely redefine the game, and everybody is going to be waiting and watching to see what exactly President Trump does.

Miller predicted the new platform will be “big” once it launches, suggesting he would bring tens of millions of people to the new service. He also said Trump has been having “high-powered meetings at Mar-a-Lago regarding the venture, and that numerous companies have approached the former president. 

Trump’s decision to build his own service signals he no longer wants to be dependent on dominant social networks. 

Trump has largely been muzzled online since Twitter permanently banned him in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riots. YouTube and Facebook have also suspended Trump’s accounts, but they’ve left open the possibility he could return to their services. Facebook’s independent oversight board has accepted Trump’s case, and it will make a binding decision in the coming weeks on whether he can return to the platform. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has said Trump will remain suspended until the company can determine the risk of violence has decreased. 

Ever since, Trump has pushed out his messages largely through news releases, giving news organizations far more discretion over when to amplify his message. He also has given interviews on news programs that have a record of being friendly to his policies, including with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, One America News Network and Newsmax. 

Trump’s plans were announced as social media companies face a critical week in Washington. 

Miller made his announcement just days before the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter are scheduled to testify in front the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It will be the social media executives' first appearance on the Hill since the Capitol attacks, and the Democratic-led committee has said the hearing will focus on the proliferation of disinformation on their platforms. However, it also will be Republicans' first opportunity to publicly grill the CEOs about their decisions to suspend Trump's accounts, which reignited claims tech companies were too powerful and biased against conservatives. 

From Alex Stamos, the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory, and former Facebook chief security officer:

Building a new social network won’t be easy. 

Trump previously teased plans for his own social network in January, and experts told The Technology 202 it would be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. 

Even if he were to successfully launch the service, it would be practically impossible for him to regain the reach he once enjoyed on mainstream social networks, which are used by hundreds of millions of people around the world. He had nearly 90 million followers on Twitter at the time of his suspension, and his inactive Facebook page has 32 million “likes” and 35 million followers. 

“Twitter gave him access to every reporter in the country and the ability to troll the libs and get on cable news within minutes,” said Nu Wexler, a communications consultant who previously worked for Facebook, Twitter and Google, told me.  “I don't think he would get that on his own social network. It would be an echo chamber of just his supporters.”

Rant and rave

Twitter had a lot of thoughts about Trump's return to social media. Renee DiResta, a technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory:

Historian Kevin M. Kruse:

Techdirt founder Mike Masnick:

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The White House is touting its work to help small businesses after Microsoft's email server breach. 

A National Security Council spokeswoman said there were 25,000 downloads of a free tool the Biden administration asked Microsoft to develop to help companies respond to the hack, which affected more than 30,000 private and public entities in the United States. The White House estimates the number of systems still vulnerable after the breach fell 45 percent this week, and the administration is continuing to watch those numbers closely, she said. 

The collaboration with Microsoft came as the U.S. government and the company worked to manage the fallout of the vulnerabilities, which Microsoft initially said were exploited by Chinese hackers. Lawmakers including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have increased scrutiny of the company, condemning it for telling the government that it needs to spend more money to get access to security features.

Several Biden administration officials previously worked for the large tech companies under political scrutiny in Washington. 

National security adviser Jake Sullivan advised Microsoft and Uber, while other aides worked for companies including Facebook and Netflix, the Wall Street Journal’s Chad Day reports. The disclosures reveal the depth of the Biden administration’s ties to big technology companies, as the Biden administration formulates its policies on hot-button issues ranging from cybersecurity to antitrust. 

Sullivan issued an unusual tweet urging Microsoft users to patch their systems after the company announced the vulnerabilities. He also fielded questions about the cyberattack and called it “significant,” although he declined to attribute it to China. Sullivan has not been in touch with Microsoft and isn't participating in decisions directly affecting Microsoft, a White House official said.

The White House said in a statement that officials such as Sullivan are “experienced government leaders whose past private sector experience is part of a broad and diverse skill set they bring to government service,” Reuters reported.

Apple was ordered to pay a Texas company more than $300 million for patent infringement.

A federal jury in Texas found that Apple infringed Personalized Media Communications’s patent relating to digital rights management, Bloomberg’s Christopher Yasiejko and Laurel Brubaker Calkins report. The phone maker is already gearing up to appeal the decision. 

“Cases like this, brought by companies that don’t make or sell any products, stifle innovation and ultimately harm consumers,” Apple said in a statement. 

Yet Personalized Media Communications's win could give momentum to its other lawsuits. The company has patent infringement cases pending against Netflix, Google and Amazon, Reuters reported.

Apple's patent battles come as it's also fighting antitrust lawsuits.  Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives may testify in an upcoming trial regarding Epic Games, which sued the company over its App Store rules. 

Hill happenings

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Daybook

  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on infrastructure legislation on March 22 at 11 a.m.
  • District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals judge Douglas Ginsburg speaks at a NetChoice event on antitrust and the Consumer Welfare Standard on March 22 at noon.
  • The Real Facebook Oversight Board, an activist group critical of the social media network, hosts an event on Section 230 featuring Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s consumer protection and commerce subcommittee, today at 1:30 p.m.
  • The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosts an event on women who research influence operations on March 23 at 9:30 a.m. 
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testify on misinformation before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday at noon.

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