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Recode Daily: Facebook floats the idea of paying publishers to put content in a dedicated news section

Plus: Ex-NSA employees hack media figures, researchers find flaws in Tesla’s autopilot system, and Apple attempts to woo publishers.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Shirin Ghaffary is a senior Vox correspondent covering the social media industry. Previously, Ghaffary worked at BuzzFeed News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and TechCrunch.

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook may pay publishers to put their content in a dedicated news section. A little over a year ago, Facebook said it would make changes to its News Feed to feature less news. Now, it seems to be changing that strategy. In an interview with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner on Monday, Zuckerberg floated the idea of paying publishers what would essentially be a licensing fee for “high-quality news,” saying, “there’s a lot of people who have a demand” for it. According to a source at the company, Facebook plans to have the news section up by the end of 2019, but, as Peter Kafka writes, the company “hasn’t committed to the idea of paying publishers directly.” [Peter Kafka / Recode]

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Ex-NSA American hackers helped the United Arab Emirates spy on members of the media. A group of at least nine former NSA and military officials helped the United Arab Emirates government surveil media figures, including a BBC host and the chairman of Al Jazeera, beginning in 2017. The cyberhacking efforts, called “Project Raven,” were first unveiled by Reuters in January as a “secret Emirati intelligence program that spied on dissidents, militants and political opponents of the UAE monarchy.” The report raises questions about whether individuals trained in cybersecurity by the US government should be able to “knowingly or unknowingly undermine US interests or contradict US values,” as Dana Shell Smith, the former US ambassador to Qatar, told Reuters. [Joel Schetman, Christopher Bing / Reuters]

Apparently, it doesn’t take much to fool Tesla’s autopilot system. Researchers from the Keen Security Lab of Chinese tech giant Tencent released a number of ways they successfully tricked Tesla’s Autopilot driving system. Some of their efforts included hacking Tesla firmware to take remote control of a steering wheel. But a more simple — and alarming — trick involved fooling the autopilot into going into the wrong lane by placing triggering stickers on the road. As Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow writes, researchers “were able to use ‘small stickers’ on the ground to effect a ‘fake lane attack’ that fooled the autopilot into steering into the opposite lanes where oncoming traffic would be moving.” Tesla is aware of the flaw and says they’ve resolved the issue with a patch. [Cory Doctorow / Boing Boing]

Apple unsuccessfully tried to convince the New York Times and the Washington Post to join its new premium news service. According to a source cited in a report from Vanity Fair, the company’s elevator pitch was that Apple would make these outlets “the most-read newspaper in the world.” But the two papers, which have steadily built their own digital subscription businesses in the past several years, didn’t agree to the terms that Apple wanted, including complete access to their papers’ articles, according to the report. As Joe Pompeo writes, “the Times and the Post, put simply, want their own subscribers, not Apple’s subscribers — and they certainly don’t want Apple subscribers if Apple is going to keep a 50 percent cut of the revenues.” [Joe Pompeo / Vanity Fair]

Recode presents ...

Tonight, Kara Swisher sits down with Ford CTO Ken Washington to talk investments into autonomous driving. The automobile giant must address the array of technical, political, and philosophical challenges of self-driving cars as the technology heads into the mainstream. Kara will also interview AI researchers Kate Crawford and Meredith Whittaker about their pioneering research into AI technology and why business leaders, politicians, and policymakers need to pay attention.

Tune in tonight at 6 pm ET / 3 pm PT on Recode’s Twitter and Facebook to stream both conversations live from Washington, DC. And subscribe to Recode Decode to catch both episodes.

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Google employees are calling for the removal of a conservative think tank president from the company’s AI advisory council. Critics are alleging that Heritage Foundation President Kay Cole James has made anti-trans statements. [Shirin Ghaffary]

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