What’s new in tech
Kremlin cracks the electric grid
Hackers linked to the Russian government ran “a giant and long-running campaign that put them inside the control rooms of U.S. electric utilities where they could have caused blackouts,” said Rebecca Smith in The Wall Street Journal. Federal officials believe the team of hackers was affiliated with “a shadowy state-sponsored group previously identified as Dragonfly or Energetic Bear.” The group infiltrated utilities’ “supposedly secure, ‘air-gapped,’ or isolated networks” with startling ease, beginning with “key vendors who had trusted relationships with power companies.” Investigators say the Russian threat has been pronounced since 2014 and add that it’s possible “the hackers used their access to prepare the battlefield for some future, devastating blow.”
Alex Jones censured
Facebook has suspended broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for 30 days “for bullying and hate speech,” said Alex Hern in The Guardian. The suspension relates to Jones’ personal account, but not to his controversial Infowars media outlet. A Facebook spokesperson said Jones had violated the social media platform’s community standards by encouraging physical harm and attacking religious affiliation and gender identity. YouTube also took action last week, deleting four Infowars videos and issuing a strike against Infowars, its second overall; three strikes in 90 days get an account banned. The channel drew YouTube’s ire with a video in which Jones fantasizes about shooting Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the president, and accuses Mueller of pedophilia without evidence. Jones has gotten around YouTube restrictions by live-streaming from supporters’ channels.
Doing good, the Silicon Valley way
Having changed “the way we shop, search for information, connect with friends, and consume entertainment,” Silicon Valley companies are now transforming another sector: philanthropy, said Alana Semuels in The Atlantic. Nonprofits in Northern California seeking support from “the millionaires in their backyards” have learned to tailor their pitches to the Valley’s entrepreneurs. To bring in donors, nonprofits have begun “using the language and mindsets of business, and focusing on metrics, data, and effectiveness, rather than the language of altruism and ethics.” One philanthropic group had competing projects face off for donors in a Shark Tank–style event, raising $2.7 million in 45 minutes.