Regulate social media now. The future of democracy is at stake. [wapo op-ed] Why does it matter? Because this is the information network that now brings most people their news and opinions about politics, about medicine, about the economy. This is also the information network that is fueling polarization, that favors sensational news over constructive news and that has destroyed the business model of local and investigative journalism. The past few days have also brought news of staff layoffs at newspapers around the country, from Arizona to Tennessee to New Jersey……
Media cuts in last 2 weeks [twitter] *BuzzFeed: 15% of staff laid off (215 people) *McClatchy (Miami Herald, KC Star, etc): 10% of staff offered buyouts *Gannett newspaper chain: 400 layoffs *Verizon (HuffPost, TechCrunch, etc): 7% laid off (800 people) *Vice laying off 10% (250 people)
Vice, BuzzFeed and the Reckoning for New-Media Companies [WSJ] On the bright side the story notes… “Compared with traditional media companies, many digital-media outfits are still growing quickly, often well into the double-digit percentage range, and don’t have to worry about protecting legacy businesses like print newspapers or TV channels. “
How Plato Foresaw Facebook’s Folly [nyt op-ed] Tweeting and trolling are easy. Mastering the arts of conversation and measured debate is hard. Texting is easy. Writing a proper letter is hard. Looking stuff up on Google is easy. Knowing what to search for in the first place is hard. Having a thousand friends on Facebook is easy. Maintaining six or seven close adult friendships over the space of many years is hard. Swiping right on Tinder is easy. Finding love — and staying in it — is hard.
Net Neutrality’s Day in Court [EFF] The judges asked some very pointed questions to the FCC about why the agency won’t regulate broadband companies for public safety purposes. Johnson pushed back and said that the Commission has seen no evidence of concrete harms. The court responded by asking him why local governments must prove that public safety threats exist when protecting public safety is part of the agency’s job. Or as Goldstein put it, “The burden is not on us to show that someone has already died.”
Apple’s Cold War Over Privacy Turns Hot [WSJ] This could reflect an overall climate of mistrust of Big Tech, but since Facebook has long polled in that range, it shows that while users largely accept that Facebook is an ad-powered data harvester, Apple must continue to earn users’ trust. The story isn’t over. Apple will continue to grit its teeth over Facebook, and Facebook will continue to extract valuable data from iPhone users. Yet the complete vacuum of public input or regulatory oversight on both companies’ influence should be a reminder that in wars between great powers, it’s everyday citizens who stand to lose the most. <—
Calling in “Team Human” to combat the maladies of digital media [The Economist] A book excerpt and interview with Douglas Rushkoff …. I don’t think there’s a golden period from which we went astray. I simply think each of our terrific, connecting media and technologies—from language and text to education and currency—can end up working against their original purposes if we forget about where human beings fit in the equation
Police stop people for covering their faces from facial recognition camera then fine man £90 after he protested [independent] video – Metropolitan Police had said people declining to be scanned would ‘not necessarily be viewed as suspicious’
Location Data Mishandling — Reading List [foam.space] Thankfully, media outlets seem to be picking up on the systemic nature of the issue, especially in a post-Cambridge Analytica era. Matter of fact, there are so many reports of data mishandling that it is actually starting to become difficult to wade through and make sense of. Just in the past two months, not just Google, but nearly every tech giant has been implicated in some version of a data collection abuse. And so we thought it would be a good idea to write this post as a way of providing a high level overview and jumping off point for the most significant of these findings.
One Of The Biggest At-Home DNA Testing Companies Is Working With The FBI [buzzfeednews] Family Tree DNA, one of the largest private genetic testing companies whose home-testing kits enable people to trace their ancestry and locate relatives, is working with the FBI and allowing agents to search its vast genealogy database in an effort to solve violent crime cases
You can add YouTube’s dislike button to the list of things weaponized [theverge] “Dislike mobs” are the YouTube equivalent to review bombings on Steam — a group of people who are upset with a certain creator or game decide to execute an organized attack and downvote or negatively review a game or video into oblivion. It’s an issue on YouTube as well, and one that creators have spoken out against many times in the past. Reports have suggested that a video with a high number of dislikes — that outweighs the number of positive likes — is less likely to be recommended, and could therefore hurt the creator’s channel.
“Every step you take” [PDF] How deceptive design lets Google track users 24/7 Report from 27.11.2018 that does a good job of laying out dark UI/UX across their product lines.
Forget privacy: you’re terrible at targeting anyway [apenwarr.ca] I don’t mind letting your programs see my private data as long as I get something useful in exchange. But that’s not what happens.
Transmediale.de/ Sunday- live stream [u.de]
Privacy is Power