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Recode Daily: The NAACP’s weeklong boycott of Facebook and Instagram begins today

Plus: Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos both launch commercial rockets today; Tumblr’s ban on adult content is now in effect; America can’t move its cheese; the Yoda of Silicon Valley.


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for a weeklong boycott of Facebook and Instagram starting today, after a Senate report detailed how the social network was used by Russians to manipulate black voters before the 2016 election. Black American communities were among those most heavily targeted by the posts and ads, often with memes about police brutality and voter suppression messages. The NAACP, one of the oldest U.S. civil rights organizations, also returned a monetary donation from Facebook. African Americans have a strong presence on social media: 70 percent of black U.S. adults use Facebook and 43 percent use Instagram; 63 percent use Facebook to communicate with family, and 60 percent use it to communicate with friends at least once a day, compared with 53 percent and 54 percent of the total population, respectively. [Rebecca Greenfield and Sarah Frier / Bloomberg]

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Instagram was the most effective platform for Russian election meddlers — even more than Facebook was. Fewer people may have seen Russian content on Instagram than on Facebook, but interacted with it a lot more. Content that was shared to Facebook led to 76.5 million “engagements,” action from users like comments, shares and “Likes.” On Instagram — where there is no sharing feature — posts from Russia’s Internet Research Agency generated more than 187 million engagements from “Likes” and comments alone, almost 2.5 times as many interactions. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos will both look skyward as SpaceX and Blue Origin launch rockets within minutes of each other today. The billionaires’ battle for commercial space supremacy continues as Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is set to launch at 9:11 am ET in Cape Canaveral, lofting GPS III SV01, a new, super-powerful global positioning system satellite for the U.S. Air Force. Blastoff for Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket carrying nine NASA-sponsored experiments is set for 8:30 am CT from the West Texas launch facility of Bezos’s company. [Erin Mack / CNET]

Google “effectively ended” development of a censored search engine it was developing for China after members of the company’s privacy team raised internal complaints that it had been kept secret from them. Several groups of engineers have been moved off the project, code-named Dragonfly, and told to turn their attention away from China. The internal dispute and public backlash represent a major blow to top Google executives, including CEO Sundar Pichai, who have over the last two years made the China project one of their main priorities. [Ryan Gallagher / The Intercept]

Former CBS CEO Les Moonves will not receive any of his expected $120 million severance package. Moonves misled the company about multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and tried to hide evidence as he made a frenzied attempt to save his legacy and reap a lucrative severance; the CBS board of directors determined that he breached his employment contract and as a result will not receive his giant exit payout; $20 million of that money has been pledged in support of 18 organizations dedicated to workplace sexual harassment. [Edmund Lee and Rachel Abrams / The New York Times]

Tumblr’s ban on adult content is now in effect, and huge numbers of explicit posts have been wiped off the site entirely. Tumblr announced the ban on Dec. 3 to immediate backlash from users who began to mourn the site’s diverse sex-positive communities and massive archives of explicit content. The crackdown at Tumblr is partly because of FOSTA-SESTA, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Stop Online Sex Trafficking Act, passed by Congress in March. The two bills were meant to mitigate human trafficking by holding websites more accountable for the content on their sites, but their sweeping language has been much more effective at curbing free expression. What will be lost when the internet is censored? [Shannon Liao / The Verge]

America can’t move its cheese: About 1.4 billion pounds of American, cheddar and other kinds of cheese is socked away at cold-storage warehouses across the country, the biggest stockpile since federal record-keeping began a century ago. Driving the glut are cheesemakers who ramped up production before trade tensions abroad tamped down demand for many of their products. And shifting tastes at home have further changed the outlook for traditional cheesemakers. Americans ate a record 37 pounds of natural cheese per capita last year, but they are ditching processed, American and plain cheddar cheese for foreign varieties. Strong pizza sales have helped rocket mozzarella into the top cheese spot. [Heather Haddon / The Wall Street Journal]

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