Tech’s flight from San Francisco is a relief to some advocates

SAN FRANCISCO — When Chirag Bhakta saw a headline recently that said tech workers were fleeing San Francisco, he had a quick reaction: “Good riddance.”

Bhakta, a San Francisco native and tenant organizer for affordable housing nonprofit Mission Housing, is well-versed in the seismic impact that the growth of the tech industry has had on the city. As software companies expanded over the past decade, they drew thousands of well-off newcomers who bid up rents and remade the city’s economy and culture.

He said the sudden departure of many tech workers and executives — often to less expensive, rural areas where they can telecommute during the coronavirus pandemic — reveals that their relationship with San Francisco was “transactional” all along.

“They used their capital to radically shift the makeup of poor, working-class communities,” Bhakta said. “We’re left with ‘for sale’ signs and price points that are still out of reach

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The watchdog digging up big tech’s dirt

There’s still much that we don’t know about the decisions that shape our daily experiences on Facebook, Google, and other online platforms, but a single watchdog nonprofit group, the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), has revealed a wealth of information that these companies have tried to keep hidden.



"We want to expose some of the things that platforms said they’re going to be doing and show that they’re not following up on those promises," says Katie Paul, head of the Tech Transparency Project.


© Jason Alden
“We want to expose some of the things that platforms said they’re going to be doing and show that they’re not following up on those promises,” says Katie Paul, head of the Tech Transparency Project.

When news stories describe the internal machinations at big tech companies, findings from TTP often inform much of that reporting. In the past few months alone, TTP has unearthed information on dangerous Facebook groups, including militias and presidential election conspiracy theorists; Facebook and Google’s problematic conduct toward the press; and, perhaps most revealingly, communications between tech executives and government officials.

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TTP originally got

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The Technology 202: Democrats warn Big Tech’s extended ad bans could hurt their chances in Georgia

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s executive director Scott Fairchild criticized the decisions, saying the bans “amount to unacceptable voter suppression.” 

Tech companies seeking to quash election disinformation are in a bind. 

On the one hand, ads can help candidates on both sides get information to potential voters. Fairchild warned in a statement that the move could actively harm efforts to inform voters about the runoffs. He called for an exemption for ads in Georgia over the next two months. 

But companies are also scrambling to extend what were meant to be temporary changes amid a chaotic and uncertain political environment in which President Trump is refusing to concede and makes baseless claims of election fraud. It’s unclear if the companies can sustain the pace of enforcement they have had in the last week, my colleague Elizabeth Dwoskin reports. 

Facebook and Google initially indicated the ad bans would last about a

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