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Rock, Paper, Scissors: Defining the Tech Cartel

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Defining the Tech Cartel

Facebook defines itself as a tech company. Google does as well. Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon as well as the Washington Post, defines the latter as a tech company, too, which, technically, means that the once venerated news organization, by definition, should no longer be considered a news publication of record, and thanks for playing.

Can’t have it both ways,

but definitions seem to be somewhat fluid in the tech world. All depends on which way the winds are blowing. Read More...

And the Most Underreported Story of the Week Award Goes To…

And the Most Underreported Story of the Week Award Goes To…

…Changes to Terms of Service. You might have noticed those notifications popping up all over when you open certain sites, et al: Oath/AOL/Yahoo, Twitter, Periscope (“On May 25 we’re updating our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. You can see our updated Terms here”). The list goes on. And Yes, The GDPR Will Affect Your U.S.-Based Business.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation go into effect next month

No such thing as a coincidence. We wondered why the tech press didn’t take notice.

Reads the Updates to Periscope’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy: “We believe you should always know what data we collect from you and how we use it, and that you should have meaningful control over both. As part of our ongoing commitment to transparency, and in preparation for the new EU data protection laws that take effect next month, we’re updating Periscope’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and consolidating them into Twitter’s. We want to empower you to make the best decisions about the information that you share with us… Read More...

Technology and the Bloodless Coup

Technology and the Bloodless Coup

Just two weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg said that he would not oppose regulation while testifying before a Congressional committee. Last week, knowing that GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was about to be implemented in the EU, Facebook to put 1.5 billion users out of reach of new EU privacy law, Reuters reports. “If a new European law restricting what companies can do with people’s online data went into effect tomorrow, almost 1.9 billion Facebook Inc users around the world would be protected by it. The online social network is making changes that ensure the number will be much smaller…That removes a huge potential liability for Facebook, as the new EU law allows for fines of up to 4 percent of global annual revenue for infractions, which in Facebook’s case could mean billions of dollars.”

Facebook has no intention of respecting anyone’s privacy.

Never did. Read More...

The All Mark, All the Time Edition

The All Mark, All the Time Edition

Mark Zuckerberg got his hair cut, put on his big boy suit and best cherub-in-the-headlights expression and faced Congress, insisting, ad nauseam, lest the American public didn’t hear it the first several times, that “For most of our existence, we focused on all the good that connecting people can do… It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm, as well.”

Meanwhile, this just in: Facebook is using AI to predict users’ future behavior and selling that data to advertisers, according to the MIT Technology Review.

Then again, he wasn’t under oath. Read More...

The Facebook Takedown and the Underlying Agenda

The Facebook Takedown and the Underlying Agenda

Wonder why Facebook is suddenly under attack from all quarters, given that the user information collected by Cambridge Analytica occurred well over a year ago, and that this was far from the first time Facebook had breached user confidentiality (although if you read the TOS, all your data belongs to Facebook, anyway)? Apple CEO Tim Cook, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, et al are all happily throwing Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg under the bus, so you might start wondering about the timing of all of this. And what you’re being distracted from otherwise noticing.

As Forbes says, Why Are We Just Finding Out Now That All Two Billion Facebook Users May Have Been Harvested? “The company acknowledged what (this article’s author) said many times before – likely the entirety of Facebook’s two billion public profiles (and quite a few private profiles) are archived in repositories all over the world by academics, companies and criminal actors, not to mention countless governments. The big story was not Facebook’s confirmation of this, but rather why the company took until (April 4, 2018) to confirm it.”

The Net Neutrality Factor

The tech cartel have been quietly attempting to reverse Net Neutrality, which, as we’ve said before and have written about and clarified in a past column, basically exempt the cartel/social media companies from being neutral and treating all content equally, via a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution. Read More...

Mark Zuckerberg and the Apology Algorithm

Mark Zuckerberg and the Apology Algorithm

It took Mark Zuckerberg a few days before issuing an apology over the Cambridge Analytica hack. Odd, considering how much practice he has had over the years:

2007: Zuckerberg Saves Face, Apologizes For Beacon. To refresh your memory, Beacon was an intrusive, controversial ad system that compromised consumer privacy. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.” Oops, sorry. And nothing more to see here. As TechCrunch noted, (Zuckerberg) “also announced a new privacy control that lets Facebook members opt out of Beacon completely. Before, you had to opt out on a case-by-case and site-by-site basis… Maybe Zuckerberg is finally beginning to realize that he does not have permission to track his customers indiscriminately across the Web. Nobody does anymore.” Read More...

Beware the Tech Cartel and People Who Speak in Code

Beware the Tech Cartel and People Who Speak in Code

We follow Max Levchin on Twitter. Last week, he posted an interesting series of tweets, based on an Edelman Trust Barometer Report that was released at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.

For the record, Levchin was co-founder and CTO of Paypal; former Chairman of Yelp; founder/CEO of Slide (acquired by Google and shut down); currently, founder of Affirm, and a long-time WEF attendee. Read More...

Tech and the God View

Tech and the God View

It seems that both users at large and governments are now turning against the tech megaliths, which includes Facebook, Google and Amazon. Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend We are beginning to understand that tech companies don’t have our best interests at heart. Did they ever?, wrote Noam Cohen in the New York Times. We don’t need to catalog what globalization, the exploitation of labor and the seemingly unbridled power of platforms such as Facebook and Google has done and is doing to world economies and people, individually. Wages have diminished or stagnated, verticals are being consumed and choked. They control the conversation, with hitherto unheard of collection of personal data on vast segments of the population globally – Facebook claims two billion users and how many people, besides Yours Truly, strenuously avoid Google search and all things Google, where and when possible? Voice activation may indeed make our lives easier, but again, at what price? Are we so accustomed to surrendering our privacy for the sake of convenience that we shrug it off? Head’s up, in case you missed it: Warning over iPhone apps that can silently turn on cameras at any time. And, as the article points out, “Google has recently deleted several apps that surreptitiously recorded users and masqueraded as legitimate apps.”

Wonder how many they missed…

Remembering the God View

A while back, when Travis Kalanack was CEO, Uber got into trouble with its customer-tracking God View app, which allowed the company to track riders’ locations and other data. In one case, Uber executive Emil Michael proposed digging up dirt on journalists who were critical of his company and spreading details of their personal lives. The issue was settled. Fines were levied and Uber promised to limit God View data. That was 2014. Read More...

Tech and the Rise of the Beta Male

Tech and the Rise of the Beta Male

Facebook has been having to issue a fair number of apologies lately. Nothing new here: Facebook’s Ad Scandal Isn’t a ‘Fail,’ It’s a Feature, says Zeynep Tufekci in the New York Times. “What does it take to advertise on Facebook to people who openly call themselves “Jew haters” and want to know “how to burn Jews”? About $10 and 15 minutes, according to what the investigative nonprofit ProPublica recently uncovered.”

Apologies were issued, but let’s do the math. “The Zuckerberg principle of management is push to the extreme, see what you can get away with, and then apologize and try to shift attention elsewhere. It has apologized for Beacon, psychological testing, faulty ad sale metrics, India strategy that smacked of colonialism. I think you get the point,” writes Om Malik. “Being open and transparent is not part of its DNA. This combination of secrecy, microtargeting and addiction to growth at any cost is the real challenge. The company’s entire strategy is based on targeting, monetizing and advertising.”

Nor was the latest bout of anti-Semitic advertising the first or only one. Lest we forget, Videos (posted to Facebook) teach would-be Palestinian attackers ‘how to stab’ a Jew, showing detailed instructional guidance on how to stab Israelis, methods for maximum bodily damage, and ways to create deadly weapons to carry out attacks. Read More...

Universal Basic Income and the Question No One Asks

Universal Basic Income and the Question No One Asks

At no other time in the history of the world has so much wealth been concentrated in the hands of so few – and amassed in so short amount of time. More worrisome still is the amount of power and global reach of those few, especially considering that their basic stock in trade is surveillance (Former Facebook executive says Google, Facebook are ‘surveillance states’ and risk more regulation).

Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya, the aforementioned Facebook executive, is more bullish on Amazon, as, in his opinion, the online retailer has more competition than Google and Facebook. Um, did he not take into consideration Alexa, or the fact that Amazon Web Services is now authorized to host the US Department of Defense’s most sensitive data, including top secret Pentagon and NSA information.

Ok, this story hit the press the day after his prognostications were published, but we’re sure that this was known in circles prior to the announcement, what to speak of the fact that Alexa has been used as a witness in a murder trial, so how is Amazon not part of the surveillance state? Read More...

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