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Recode Daily: Why Facebook banned Alex Jones — and why Twitter didn’t

Plus, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is in talks to help Elon Musk take Tesla private; back-to-school season means the newest ways for marketers to sell direct to kids; comedy on the road — and from robots.

Alex Jones of Infowars, Roger Stone and Jonathan Alter wearing headphones and recording a radio interview
left to right, Alex Jones of Infowars, Roger Stone and Jonathan Alter
Ben Jackson/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Here’s why Facebook banned Alex Jones — and why Twitter didn’t. The ethical controversy has created a week’s worth of discussion and opinions: Here’s a glimpse inside Twitter’s Friday meeting where CEO Jack Dorsey and other execs discussed Infowars, what “dehumanizing speech” means and a possible drafting of new policies. Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis argues that platforms are not publishers, and that social media and journalism share space in a larger ecosystem, each with distinct jobs to do. “Twitter is not the New York Times,” he says. “It is Times Square.” It’s not a binary choice keeping the likes of Infowars or banning them, opines Mike Masnick, who suggests moving to a world of protocols instead of platforms, in which Facebook and others would open up so that third-party tools can provide their own experiences — and then each person could choose the service or filtering setup that they want. [Casey Newton / The Verge]

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Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is in high-level talks to become a significant investor in Tesla as part of CEO Elon Musk’s proposal to take the electric car maker private. The Public Investment Fund has recently built up a $2 billion stake in Tesla — just shy of 5 percent — and discussions began before Musk’s controversial tweet saying he was weighing a plan to take the company private. The Saudi fund sees its investment in Tesla as a strategic way for the world’s biggest crude producer to hedge against oil. [Matthew Martin and Ruth David / Bloomberg]

Back-to-school season is peak time for direct-to-kids marketing, and retailers are using YouTube influencers, apps and Snapchat filters to sell directly to children as young as 6. Nearly half of 10-to-12-year-olds have their own smartphones; nearly 1.5 million children age 11 and under have active Snapchat accounts. And instead of TV, kids are watching hours of videos on platforms like YouTube, where companies such as Nike and Nintendo routinely partner with “influencers” to get their toys, clothing and accessories featured in personalized videos. [Abha Bhattarai / The Washington Post]

You might never know it by driving through the place, but Appalachian backwater Spruce Pine, N.C, is the center of a billion dollar industry: It’s the source of the purest natural quartz ever found on Earth, the ultra-pure, super-secret sand that makes your phone and tablet work. Here’s a macro-to-micro examination of our future in a grain of sand. [Vince Beiser / Wired]

While the Trump administration talks about investing $8 billion in a federal “Space Force,” three billionaires are racing to make commercial space travel a reality. Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson has spent about a billion dollars in his quest to build and test manned rockets; his rivals are Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and SpaceX owner Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla. Branson’s ace in the space race is pilot Mark Stucky, who manned the 60-foot-long SpaceShipTwo in a successful rocket-powered flight in April. [Nicholas Schmidle / The New Yorker]

This is cool

The best one-liners in America are on the highway. And: A robot walks into a bar. But can it do comedy?

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