The fire Zuck started won't stop at Facebook

Samantha Lee/Business Insider

The sign outside of Facebook headquarters on April 5, 2018 in Menlo Park, California.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Hello and welcome back to Trending, Business Insider's weekly look at the world of tech. I'm Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider's West Coast Bureau Chief and Global Tech Editor. If you want to get Trending in your email inbox every Wednesday, just click here.

This week: The fire Zuck started is spreading, and Twitter, Apple, and Sand Hill road are all in its path

100 cardboard cutouts of the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and CEO stand outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.Kevin Wolf/AP images for AVAAZ
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It's been a difficult and emotional week as Americans react to the killing of George Floyd and the longstanding institutional racism that it represents.

The protests in the streets have been the most visible manifestation of anger, but the unrest is also playing out inside tech companies, many of which control the platforms where toxic content has proliferated. A couple of important developments are worth paying attention to:

1. Dozens of Facebook employees stopped working on Monday to protest the company's refusal to censor posts by Donald Trump inciting violence, and Timothy Aveni, a Facebook engineer, publicly resigned.
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2. The firestorm facing Zuckerberg is unlikely to spare other corners of the tech industry, from Twitter and YouTube to the clubby world of venture capital.

You have to appreciate the irony in seeing tech's masters of the universe succumb to the same divisiveness and backbiting that their products have induced in their customers. But the real takeaway here is the palpable sense that, for the first time in a generation, the parameters we've accepted with social media and smartphones are being decisively challenged. All the prior privacy scandals, screentime concerns, and security screw-ups may have chipped away at the industry's reputation, but they lacked the force to bring the industry to a tipping point. This feels different.
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Trump's executive order last week, which threatened to strip away all safeguards from social media, has forced the industry to confront an uncomfortable reality.

And the dramatic real-world events unfolding over the past few months have added to the sense of alarm. As former Facebook communications director Barry Schnitt wrote in a powerful open letter to Facebook employees: "We are in the midst of a global pandemic. Nearly 400,000 people are dead. Many more are likely to die and that risk is being made worse by content you host. Every. Single. Day."

He asks Facebook employees to consider what might happen in the event of a war. "Ask yourself where a concerted and systematic undermining of science and truth and rampant divisiveness ends if it is left unchecked?"
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It's a question the tech industry is finally realizing it can't ignore.

Sound bite of the week:

"My clients are often middle-class Russian and Ukrainian boys with good knowledge of computer science. They have difficulty finding a job, so they prefer to break the law — knowingly or unknowingly."

— Arkady Bukh, a Soviet-born attorney based in New York who has built a practice defending criminal hackers from Russia and Eastern Europe. In an interview with Jeff Elder, Bukh discussed his work representing roughly 100 clients accused of crimes ranging from online murder schemes to stealing personal information.
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Snapshot: The hundred-year war of the mask

Face masks are the center of the heated "health versus economy" debate. And as BI's Katie Canales writes, it's not the first time we've done this. Back in 1918 and 1919, when the Spanish flu pandemic was raging, masks were a hot-button issue. There was even an Anti-Mask League of 1919 devoted to repealing mask laws — although its members' fashion game was much stronger than today's mask opponents.

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Recommended Readings:

How 23 rising star enterprise VCs got their start in venture — and what other rookie professionals can do to break into the notoriously exclusive industry

Microsoft asks staff each year if they think their compensation is competitive. Leaked poll results show a declining share say yes. Silver Lake has been plowing money into bets like Airbnb, Twitter, and Waymo. Here's a look inside why it's being called the Warren Buffett of tech.
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Trump's clampdown on social media could hurt startups and cripple competition with Facebook and Twitter

Jeff Bezos revealed the one question he always asks himself before setting Amazon's vision for the next 10 years

Not necessarily in tech:

We are anti-fascism
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That's going to do it for this week. Thanks for reading, and remember, if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

— Alexei

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