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Recode Daily: Facebook is under scrutiny, again

Plus, everything you need to know about this week’s AT&T-Time Warner trial, Russia’s secret weapons labs, and Saudi Arabia is building its own Vegas.

Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica, speaks at the 2016 Concordia Summit on Sep. 19, 2016,
Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica, speaks at the 2016 Concordia Summit on Sep. 19, 2016,
Bryan Bedder / Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Lawmakers in the U.S. and Britain want answers from Facebook specifically from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — about how data analytics company Cambridge Analytica hijacked and exploited the personal data of 50 million Facebook users that was later used in the Trump presidential campaign and the Brexit referendum. Experts have been sounding the alarm about such data-harvesting operations for nearly a decade; catch up on the two major news reports that pushed an initially reluctant Facebook to suspend the company, which was founded by Steve Bannon and wealthy Republican donor Robert Mercer. Former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wiley, who blew the whistle on his ex-employer’s “psychographic” voter-profiling practices, has described the company as an “arsenal of weapons” in a culture war.

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And here’s everything you need to know about the blockbuster U.S. lawsuit against the AT&T-Time Warner merger. The Trump administration has sued to block AT&T’s $85 billion takeover of CNN-owned Time Warner. Opening statements begin on Wednesday; at a pretrial hearing, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon advised both sides to “Get your rest” — the trial may last six to eight weeks. [Edmund Lee / Recode]

Here’s a deep dive into the shady world of online mattress ads. The sleazy guy in the mattess store is gone. His replacement: Mattress review websites, driven by search-engine marketing, funneling you with the help of Google toward the mattress that lines their pockets the most. [Jason Del Rey / Recode]

The recent poisoning of a Russian ex-spy has put a spotlight on Moscow’s secret military labs and the novel weapons they produce. Since the start of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s second term — he promised “high-tech weapons systems … comparable in effect to nuclear weapons” — a construction boom has been under way at more than two dozen institutes that were once part of the Soviet Union’s biological and chemical weapons establishment. What’s going on in there? [Joby Warrick / The Washington Post]

Twitter is banning cryptocurrency ads following similar moves by Facebook and Google, which have restricted advertising for ICOs, token sales and alternative currency wallets. The bans come as various forms of cryptocurrency face regulatory crackdowns globally. [Alexander J. Martin / Sky News]

A hacker who was best known for reporting Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to the authorities in 2010 was found dead last week in Wichita, Kan. Adrián Lamo, who first became interested in computers after receiving a hand-me-down Commodore 64, was 37. [Jeffery C. Mayes / The New York Times]

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This is cool

Saudi Arabia wants its 29 million people to stay in the kingdom to have fun instead of spending billions of dollars each year on entertainment abroad. So the country is sinking $64 billion over the next 10 years into building an entertainment industry from scratch — essentially its own Vegas. Cirque du Soleil will make its Saudi debut this year, international companies are signing deals to operate movie theaters across the country, and the conservative kingdom is lightening up with comic book festivals, dance performances, concerts and monster truck rallies. [Ben Hubbard / The New York Times]


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.