Business Highlights: Student loans, SEC questions Twitter
Big student loan forgiveness plan announced by Biden
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has announced his long-awaited plan to deliver on his campaign promise to provide $10,000 in student debt cancellation for millions of Americans — and up to $10,000 more for those with the greatest financial need. Biden announced in a Wednesday tweet that borrowers who earn less than $125,000 a year, or families earning less than $250,000, would be eligible for the $10,000 loan forgiveness. For recipients of Pell Grants, which are reserved for undergraduates with the most significant financial need, the federal government would cancel up to an additional $10,000 in federal loan debt. Biden is also extending a pause on federal student loan payments through the end of 2022.
‘Pre-bunking’ shows promise in fight against misinformation
Google and a team of university researchers have hit on what they say could be an effective way to make people more impervious to the harmful impact of online misinformation. In experiments, the researchers showed people videos that explain how things like emotionally charged language or false comparisons can help persuade people to believe false claims. The people who saw the videos were later tested and found to be better able to distinguish false claims from accurate information. It’s an approach called pre-bunking, and university researchers and Google say it holds promise as a relatively easy and effective way to bolster critical thinking and make people more able to resist misinformation.
Cosmetics giant Sephora settles customer data privacy suit
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sephora Inc. has settled a lawsuit claiming the company sold customer information without proper notice in violation of the California’s landmark consumer privacy law. Attorney General Rob Bonta said Wednesday that the large cosmetics retailer agreed to pay $1.2 million and fix the problem. State officials say Sephora failed to tell customers that it was selling their personal information, failed to allow customers to opt out and didn’t fix the problem within 30 days as required. Sephora says in a statement that it respects consumers’ privacy and used the information to improve their shopping experience. The settlement is the state’s first such enforcement action under the California Consumer Privacy Act.
SEC questions Twitter on how it counts fake accounts
DETROIT (AP) — U.S. securities regulators are questioning Twitter about how it calculates the number of fake accounts on its platform. The Securities and Exchange Commission in June asked the company about its methodology and “the underlying judgments and assumptions used by management.” The agency’s Division of Corporation Finance made the request in a June 15 letter, shortly before Tesla CEO Elon Musk raised the issue as grounds to back out of a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion. Such questions can be routine, and it wasn’t clear whether the SEC has opened a formal investigation into Twitter’s fake accounts.
Rupert Murdoch’s son sues Australian website for defamation
SYDNEY (AP) — Fox Corp. chief executive Lachlan Murdoch is suing Australian news website Crikey in a Sydney court for defamation over an opinion piece about last year’s storming of the U.S. Capitol. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s son filed a statement of claim Tuesday after Crikey publisher Private Media’s chairman Eric Beecher and managing editor Peter Fray put their names to media ads inviting Lachlan Murdoch to sue. Murdoch claims he was defamed by a column about the U.S. congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection. Crickey said it welcomed the suit and would not be silenced. No court hearing date has yet been set. Murdoch has not proposed a monetary sum should he win damages in court.
Germany exports power to France, urges savings at home
BERLIN (AP) — Germany says it will keep exporting electricity to neighboring France despite calling on citizens to help fend off winter shortages by saving energy at home. Problems at French nuclear plants have driven up electricity prices there in recent months. That has prompted power companies in neighboring countries to sell their excess energy to France. Even precious natural gas which Germany is trying to conserve for winter in case Russia cuts of supplies entirely is being burned in large volumes to produce electricity for export to France. A German government spokesman said Wednesday that there were no plans to stop the practice.
Biden names new Secret Service director amid Jan. 6 scrutiny
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has named Kim Cheatle, a veteran Secret Service official, as the agency’s next director. Her appointment comes as the agency faces controversy over missing text messages around the time thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol. Cheatle left the Secret Service in 2021 for a job as a security executive at PepsiCo. She takes over as congressional committees and the Homeland Security’s internal watchdog are investigating the missing messages, which the Secret Service has said were purged during a technology transition. Cheatle worked at the Secret Service for 27 years and was the first woman to be named assistant director of protective operations. That division provides protection to the president and other dignitaries.
The S&P 500 rose 12.04 points, or 0.3%, to 4,140.77. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 59.64 points, or 0.2%, to 32,969.23. The Nasdaq gained 50.23 points, or 0.4%, to 12,431.53. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 16.14 points, or 0.8%, to 1,935.29.