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Are the big technology companies publishers, or are they not? The answer, according to John Gapper, is that they want to be — but only when it suits them. Both Facebook and Google have emphasised their roles as publishers in legal disputes this year, hoping to benefit from certain protections or exemptions that go with the classification. But the claim sits uneasily with another frequently made by tech platforms: the insistence that, as Facebook puts it, they are not “the arbiter of the truth”.

This ambivalence amounts to tech platforms wanting to have their cake and eat it too, notes John. They are simply claiming the data-handling privileges of publishers without attempting to meet journalistic obligations. If these companies want to be publishers, they are welcome to go ahead, but they should not kid themselves that it is an easy job.

No left turn 
Janan Ganesh warns that US politics watchers should not expect president Donald Trump’s populist rise to cause an equal and opposite reaction on the left. The Democratic party is not in the same predicament as the European centre-left, which is squeezed between socialists and the far right. In fact, the party should beware an immoderate lurch to the left, which could hand Mr Trump a second victory.

Pressure points 
As Donald Trump’s trade war escalates,Keyu Jin, of the London School of Economics, describes the compromises China is likely to make — and those it will resist. It is likely to target a narrow set of goods it can procure in other markets, while trying to woo American businesses with big licences and contracts.

Playing with fire 
Glencore chief Ivan Glasenberg’s appetite for risk-taking is legendary, writes David Pilling. His mining and commodities trading company does business in countries with seamy reputations. But a US probe into the company’s activities may show that the chief executive has taken one gamble too far.

The ‘Clean India’ dream
Despite a visit to India’s cleanest village, a spotless hill-top town in the north eastern state of Meghalaya, Kiran Stacey concludes that prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has a long way to go to fulfil its 2014 promise of a country with toilets, clean water, and litter collection for all.

What you’ve been saying

Outlandish claims from the gender ‘experts’
— Letter from Deborah Lewis:

You report (“When Mars and Venus are in alignment”, July 9) tech investor and "expert” Jonathan Sposato as noting that men are likely to make outlandish claims about their new business, while women are more measured and realistic. Then two pages later your book review of Bad Blood discusses the blood-testing start-up Theranos, and its founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes’s claims for her product, which she called “the most important thing humanity has ever built”. So much for gender experts’ own outlandish claims.

Comment by Uff da! on Tight labour markets are healing the scars of the financial crisis:

This is the way wages should be increased, through a healthy and growing economy. When governments dictate higher wages, companies of all sizes do everything they can to avoid hiring full time workers and bearing that cost. Now, when wages are being dictated by the strength of the economy, companies are willing to pay more to recruit and retain the people they need.

Dangers of a government-driven platform
— Letter from Matthew Cannon:

The development of decentralised internet platforms based on principles of individual data ownership and lack of central authority are well under way. Benign governments should focus their attention on educating people on the perils of centralised control of data and steer their citizens to decentralised services that return data control to individuals. This would be a far more powerful force for individual freedom than attempting to preach local ideals to a global audience via yet more centralised platforms.

Today’s opinion

China presses on America’s pain points in the trade war
Beijing is focusing its response and wants to avoid escalation

Donald Trump creates chaos with his tariffs trade war
The question remains whether other countries should box back in retaliation 

India’s cleanest village is a distant model in a polluted nation
Little progress has been made on Narendra Modi’s 2014 promise to clean up the country

Glencore’s Ivan Glasenberg may have taken one gamble too far
A US probe into the miner’s activities puts its risk-taking chief in the spotlight

A left turn could be a dead end for the Democrats
It is misleading to draw comparisons with the state of European centre-left parties

Free Lunch: Truckers take the temperature on US economy
An up-close view of macroeconomic pressure — or the lack of it

Facebook and Google are arbitraging the data laws
Technology platforms claim to be publishers but only when it brings them privileges

FT View

The FT View: EU’s waning influence opens a dangerous vacuum in the Balkans
A historic opportunity to stabilise the region is at risk of being lost

The FT View: Democracy has to be protected from data
Fining Facebook should only be the start of safeguarding voters

The Big Read

The Big Read: Banking M&A: the quest to create a European champion
The continent’s lenders are looking at takeover deals to build scale and defend themselves against US rivals, but is the timing right?

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