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Big Tech is riding the same rails as robber barons of the past

Big Tech is riding the same rails as robber barons of the past

The Last Spike, 1869.

The tech industry – in particular, the FAANG stocks – have hit a strange inflection point. They’re taking a beating on Wall Street. And Facebook is under attack from all sides.

There was The New York Times piece (Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis), which was written with the assistance of no less than 50 sources.

An international committee of foreign governments has requested that Zuckerberg appear before lawmakers to face inquiries, particularly into disinformation, election meddling and privacy issues. Zuckerberg refused. Read More...

Don’t ask, don’t tell: Have Google and Facebook provided the tools for world censorship?

Don’t ask, don’t tell: Have Google and Facebook provided the tools for world censorship?

The expression may have been around forever, but the tech cartel certainly gives it a new spin.

We know that Google tracks your movements (without your permission), like it or not. Last week, ZDNet reported that an API bug in Google+ exposed 500,000 users. Google admitted that it had suffered a security breach and hadn’t bothered to tell anyone because it wasn’t legally required to. Now the company is shutting down one time potential ‘Facebook killer’ Google Plus, and the wags certainly had a field day with the virtually ignored platform, reporting that G+ users were inconsolable – both of them. Read More...

If the News is Too Good to be True, Chances Are…

If the News is Too Good to be True, Chances Are…

Credit: onsizzle.com

 

Jeff Bezos seems to have made certain people in Washington (DC) quite happy last week. Of course, our red flags always go up with any announcement.

The big news was that Amazon has agreed to give all warehouse workers a $15 an hour minimum wage, thus satisfying Bernie Sanders, who had been after the company – and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos – for quite some time. As the AP reported, Amazon jumps out ahead of its rivals and raises wages to $15, and Sander (D, VT), hailed it as “a shot heard round the world.” Read More...

Life After Google Has a Solid Foundation

Life After Google Has a Solid Foundation

Google, et al, testified in Washington last week before the Senate Commerce Committee over issues ranging from election meddling to transparence. Apple, Amazon, Google and Twitter, alongside AT&T and Charter, were all there. In case you were distracted by yet another Senate hearing that was taking place, Ex-Google Employee Urges Lawmakers to Take On Company. Said The New York Times, “In a harshly worded letter sent this week, the former employee, Jack Poulson, criticized Google’s handling of a project to build a version of its search engine that would be acceptable to the government of China. He said the project was a “catastrophic failure of the internal privacy review process,” adding that ‘that there is a “broad pattern of unaccountable decision making.”

“We acknowledge that we have made mistakes in the past, from which we have learned, and improved our robust privacy program,” Keith Enright, Google’s chief privacy officer, said in his opening statement. Read More...

Is This the Social Media Tipping Point?

Is This the Social Media Tipping Point?

Mark Zuckerberg Quietly (Sold) His Facebook Stock back in March and as Recode reported in February, Mark Zuckerberg will likely sell billions of dollars of Facebook stock this year. He’s not alone. On Friday, Satya Nadella unload(ed) 30% of his Microsoft common stock in his biggest sale as CEO.

The Age of Social has reached a tipping point, and it’s taking all of tech with it.

Some can see the writing on the wall and are cutting their losses. Read More...

…In Which Yours Truly Resolves the Universal Basic Income Issue

…In Which Yours Truly Resolves the Universal Basic Income Issue

Every now and then we like to flip the model – and the talking points. Seems that the model of tech is freemium. Everyone loves to get stuff for free – no one more than the tech cartel, particularly Facebook and Google. As the Wall Street Journal (Tech’s Titans Tiptoe Towards Monopoly) noted, Google and Facebook “benefit from something historically unprecedented: the ability to get users to subsidize them with enormous quantities of free labor. Their systems are fueled by personal information.”

Here’s a thought: since the cartel are such outspoken advocates of Universal Basic Income, let’s make it easy for them to literally put their money where their mouths are by having them pay users for providing information/content every time they post/share/search. These systems are built on algorithms: they can no doubt figure it out. There’s even a metric for payment to writers. On the lowest end (and far from our rate, fyi): two cents per word. Read More...

The Birth of the User-Owned Economy

The Birth of the User-Owned Economy

This past week was Blockchain Week in New York, in tandem with back peddling on the part of the tech cartel. As Quartz noted, “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, long under fire for “programming people’s brains,” will testify before the European parliament about his company’s use of data. Not long after, transformative new European privacy rules go into effect that will give EU consumers far more visibility into what companies know about them.

“Now, tech CEOs insist they want to be part of the solution. On Tuesday, Facebook-owned Instagram confirmed a feature that will let users track their time spent on the platform. A week earlier, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced a Digital Wellbeing initiative geared at helping people moderate their use of Google’s products and services by suggesting breaks from YouTube or batching notifications.” Read More...

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...

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...

That Other Memo and the Glass House that Google Built

That Other Memo and the Glass House that Google Built

Since memos seem to be top of mind these days, why fight it? Of course, we refer to the one that former Google employee James Damore wrote a while back, that led to his being terminated from the company, and the impending lawsuit that threatens to out a lot of practices and perhaps unwritten policies that Google would prefer not be aired in public.

It seems that memos will do that, once they’re out in the wild, and certain memos are harbingers of a deeper and more far reaching issues. Read More...

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