What’s a little shared personal user data between monopoly pals?
"The business choices of internet platforms have enabled an explosion not only of white supremacy but also of Covid denial and antivax extremism, which have variously undermined the nation’s pandemic response, nearly sabotaged the presidential election, and played a foundational role in the violence at the Capitol. A huge industry has evolved on the platform giants to raise money from and sell products to people in the thrall of extreme ideologies."Also, their monopoly power means no meaningful alternatives can exist for businesses who want to advertise or people who want to socialize on platforms that act ethically.
“We will prioritize pages with great page experience, whether implemented using AMP or any other web technology, as we rank the results,” Google said in a blog post.This is amazing. The AMP experience in Safari on an iPhone is terrible. AMP doesn’t even do well the thing it set out to do. Add in the way Google HOSTS those pages causing domain confusion and you get a total mess that has only been adopted because Google has monopoly power. Making efficient pages is a good goal but AMP in its current form can’t die soon enough.
"The new rules, an expansion of YouTube’s existing hate and harassment policies, will prohibit content that “threatens or harrasses someone by suggesting they are complicit in one of these harmful conspiracies, such as QAnon or Pizzagate,” the post read."Never too late to do the right thing. I do wish services had consequences for spreading so much misinformation and harassment for years.
"The staff found, after a 16-month investigation into competitive practices at Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, that the four businesses enjoy monopoly power that needs to be reined in by Congress and enforcers."Findings! This all sounds promising but I’m skeptical that we’ll see meaningful change. That monopoly power has been very useful to the government.
"“As a search engine, Google’s mission is to quickly direct searchers to great information, wherever that information is, as Page went on to explain. At that time, that generally meant to direct people from search results to websites. As search technologies have developed, that’s not always the best way to assist people.”It's a meritocracy! Google just happens to make all the best things. AND they decide which things are best. Win-win.
She did not answer questions about whether those changes present the search engine with a conflict of interest."
"Since most of the time WebP is used alongside JPEG fallback, by using WebP you will essentially double your storage costs with little benefit."ah-HA! Unless all of your images < 500px you don't get a big benefit moving to WebP when you can use MozJPEG for encoding.
A number of leading public health authorities, universities, and NGOs around the world have been doing important work to develop opt-in contact tracing technology. To further this cause, Apple and Google will be launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing.I'm extremely concerned about privacy related to these companies and I also think this is a great development. We're going to need to trade some privacy for safety to get society going again. Kottke had a neat comic explainer about how contact tracing works: How Privacy-Friendly Contact Tracing Can Help Stop the Spread of Covid-19.
"Just last year, the Court held that 'merely hosting speech by others is not a traditional, exclusive public function and does not alone transform private entities into state actors subject to First Amendment constraints,'" writes McKeown.This ruling confirms again that the big platforms are private companies, not part of the government. The idea of First Amendment rights do not apply at YouTube, Facebook, etc. This is confusing for many people and the platforms themselves benefit from this confusion and deepen it with their marketing language. This case touched on that:
"YouTube’s braggadocio about its commitment to free speech constitutes opinions that are not subject to the Lanham Act," writes McKeown. "Lofty but vague statements like 'everyone deserves to have a voice, and that the world is a better place when we listen, share and build community through our stories' ... are classic, non-actionable opinions or puffery."When platforms host garbage they often use the idea of free speech as a shield from criticism. This ruling weakens that shield.
"The new thing here is that Yandex is working not just as a reverse image search tool; it seems to be doing facial matching."Nelson has an interesting follow-up to the bellingcat guide to reverse image searching I posted recently.
"...if you only use Google for reverse image searching, you will be disappointed more often than not."As disinformation season ramps up in 2020, finding an image origin is a useful tool to have.
"Either we must submit to this pervasive surveillance machinery – where our data is easily weaponized to manipulate and influence us – or forego the benefits of the digital world. This can never be a legitimate choice."Amnesty International the organization is wrestling with their use of Facebook in the wake of this report: We called out Facebook and Google but still need them. That's exactly the problem. They go on to say:
“We are trying to pull off the difficult balancing act of carrying out our duty to spread our human rights message while spending money with companies profiting from problematic surveillance. The reputational risk grows with every scandal. ”I hope we see some progressive organizations start to distance themselves from Facebook. If they won’t, who will?