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Mark Zuckerberg Discovers Privacy.



With the swelling confidence of a colonial power happening upon a long-settled distant land, today Mark Zuckerberg discovered the concept of privacy.

In a ballooning 3,225 words — a roughly average word count for the terminally verbose Facebook founder — Zuckerberg informed his miserably loyal 2.3 billion plus subjects that his company has happened upon a concept known as privacy, and, in doing so, it sees an opportunity. But can Facebook reform its 15-year legacy as devourer of all things private with a single sweeping, underedited screed from its copycat visionary and dark-pattern technocrat?

Fuck no, of course it can’t.

In articulating his vision, all 3,225 words’ worth, Zuckerberg predictably failed to own the fact that his company singlehandedly created the modern concept of social media as a cash-printing machine that mines our innermost thoughts, desires and connections. The whole thing is a self-parody so on the nose it’s almost boring. And it’s a bummer, because “A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking” could be a compelling declaration (please deliver us!) from nearly any company that isn’t Facebook.

“I believe there’s an opportunity to set a new standard for private communication platforms — where content automatically expires or is archived over time,” Zuckerberg wrote, thinking about privacy for the third time. “…This philosophy could be extended to all private content.”

Unfortunately, no company can build anything interesting in the social media space because Facebook’s well-established wildly aggressive stance toward competitors means that the game is over before the game even begins. If the big blue acquirer doesn’t capture, it kills.

Regulation looms
Surely it’s pure coincidence that Facebook’s sudden interest in privacy comes as the company faces an ever-cresting tidal wave of public backlash and heavy breathing from thirsty regulators in Congress. Sated after sopping up all of the ad dollars drifting around the wreckage of a soul-crushingly monetized social web, Facebook realizes it’s probably time to chart a different path forward. Luckily, it picked up some brands people hate less along the way.

Milking Facebook’s stewardship of WhatsApp for all it’s worth, Zuckerberg was intentional about pitching his new centralized yet private future for Facebook around the model of the encrypted messaging app, a platform so antithetical to Facebook’s broad mission that its founders left in disgust after cashing their checks.

In recent years, the company realized that it’s easier to just to let someone else innovate, build a product and attract users than doing anything very interesting itself. Facebook’s contemporary role in the tech landscape is to either build a functional facsimile of it or swoop in and buy that innovation and keep it at arm’s length from the core Facebook brand for long enough for users to get sort of complacent (users are very good at this).

It’s different with privacy. Privacy is about philosophy. It’s about how you handle things from the start. Facebook effectively stole a whole bunch of shit over a long period of time, relying on intentional obfuscation, legal muscle and user ignorance to pull off the heist. Now, the company is trying to make it out of the store with all that contraband stuffed under its shirt before the security guard ambles back. Unfortunately for Facebook, its hands are stained with a decade and a half of data wrung out of a now cumulative 2.3 billion users.

That’s a lot of exploded fucking ink tags.

This is a company that can barely give us a straight answer about what happens when someone wants their data deleted. One that waited 15 years to introduce something that lets users clear traces of their history, except by most accounts that tool won’t even wipe those records from its servers.

WhatsApp and encryption are still good
But what about WhatsApp, you (Facebook PR) might gasp, mawkishly. What about that? WhatsApp is the world’s largest encrypted messaging platform — and that’s great. More encryption is good, no matter who owns the wiring. Even Facebook!

Facebook hasn’t killed WhatsApp or hamstrung its encryption and that’s been good too. Still, we don’t owe Facebook anything, least of all our faith that the patron saint of personal data strip-mining does anything good for reasons beyond simply buying up goodwill or getting caught red handed.

In declaring that “people increasingly also want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room,” Zuckerberg senses no irony in the idea that people might not want more privacy within Facebook — they want more privacy because Facebook. Namely, because the company laid waste to the concept of user privacy so thoroughly before apparently flitting off just now to refashion itself into “a privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform” and stuffing users into the WhatsApp-branded life rafts.

Thus, Zuckerberg stumbles out of his great boat, awful blue flag limp on a breezeless shore. All of this is ours, he mutters, gesturing to all of it.



Facebook’s Data-sharing Deals With 150 Companies Reportedly Under Criminal Probe After Users’ Data Was Shared Without Their Consent



Facebook is being investigated for allegedly sharing its users' data with dozens of tech companies without their knowledge.

Prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals struck by the social media giant with some of the world’s largest technology companies amid intense scrutiny of the firm in recent years.

A New York grand jury has subpoenaed records from two smartphone makers involved in the partnerships, anonymous sources told The New York Times.

It is understood that data shared without users' knowledge included friends' names, genders and birth dates.

Facebook claimed in June that it provided dozens of tech companies with special access to user data after publicly saying it restricted such access in 2015.

The New York Times reported that Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, cut data sharing deals with the world’s dominant social media platform.

However, Facebook continued sharing information with 61 hardware and software makers after it said it discontinued the practice in May 2015.

The agreements let the companies see users’ friends, contact information and other data, sometimes without consent.

Facebook has phased out most of the partnerships over the past two years.

A spokesman for the social network said: 'We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously.

'We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.'

It is not known when the grand jury inquiry, overseen by prosecutors with the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, began or exactly what it is focusing on.

Facebook is facing a slew of lawsuits and regulatory inquiries over its privacy practices, including ongoing investigations by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and two state agencies in New York.

In addition to looking at the data deals, the probes focus on disclosures that the company shared the user data of 87 million people with Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting firm that worked with U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign.

Since then, Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg has testified in front of Congress and the European Parliament to answer questions about Facebook's handling of user data.

In April Zuckerberg took questions for nearly five hours in a Senate hearing without making any further promises to support new legislation or change how the social network does business, foiling attempts by senators to pin him down.

Zuckerberg faced broad concerns from members of Congress about how Facebook shares user data.

'How can consumers have control over their data when Facebook does not have control over the data?' asked Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce committee.

The latest estimate of affected users is up to 87 million.

Patience with the social network had already worn thin among users, advertisers and investors after the company said last year that Russia used Facebook for years to try to sway U.S. politics, an allegation Moscow denies.

Lawmakers have sought assurances that Facebook can effectively police itself, and few came away from the hearing expressing confidence in the social network.

'I don't want to vote to have to regulate Facebook, but by God, I will,' Republican Senator John Kennedy told Zuckerberg on Tuesday. 'A lot of that depends on you.'

Zuckerberg deflected requests to support specific legislation. Pressed repeatedly last year by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey to endorse a proposed law that would require companies to get people's permission before sharing personal information, Zuckerberg agreed to further talks.

'In principle, I think that makes sense, and the details matter, and I look forward to having our team work with you on fleshing that out,' Zuckerberg said.

Facebook has defended the data-sharing deals, first reported in December, saying none of the partnerships gave companies access to information without people's permission.

A spokesman for the United States attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York, which The New York Times reported is overseeing the inquiry, said he could not confirm or deny the probe.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has taken hits to her reputation as she continues to be the frontwoman for Facebook's excuses over its privacy shortfalls.

It emerged last month that the company took advantage of Apple's enterprise developer certificate, which enables companies to distribute apps internally, to create an app that paid users as young as 13 to share their phone activity with Facebook.

Among the data collected from teens by the app was all of their phone and web activity, information on apps they installed, when they used them and what they did on them.

'I want to be clear what this is. This is a Facebook research app,' Sandberg told CNBC.

'It's completely opt-in. There is a rigorous consent flow and people are compensated.

'The important thing is that people involved in that research project knew they were involved and consented.'

Source: Daily Mail.

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Twitter’s Updated Camera Looks A Lot Like Instagram.



Twitter today introduced a revamped version of its camera that’s designed to promote more sharing of photos and videos on the text-centric network. Swipe left on the timeline in the updated app to see the camera, which allows you to snap a photo or take a looping video of up to two minutes by tapping or holding a circular capture button. You can also tap a “live” button to begin broadcasting a stream to your followers directly from Twitter.

The new camera does not include an option to upload photos or videos that you’ve already taken, although you can still do that from the regular tweet composer. Keith Coleman, Twitter’s vice president of product, told reporters this week that the company wants to encourage people to capture more visual moments from the world around them directly from the app.

It also promotes live-streaming using a foundation built by Periscope, the live-streaming app that Twitter acquired in 2015 and is increasingly integrating into its flagship app. No Periscope branding appears on the camera’s new live-streaming feature, which lets you broadcast either via video or audio-only feeds.

Photos and videos captured using the new camera will get special visual treatment inside Twitter. Once you’ve snapped your image, a colorful chyron appears on top, ready to add an optional location and caption. You can change the chyron from the default blue to one of five other colors.

Twitter will also search the area around you for events where you might be tweeting, such as this week’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, where Coleman demonstrated the new features. Walking around Austin this week, Twitter suggested I add #SXSW to my tweets — and if I did, the tweets would be added automatically to the event carousel for SXSW that appears in search.

By giving the images captured inside the app a more colorful visual treatment, Twitter might encourage more people to use its long-neglected camera. While the company has dabbled in adding more creation features to the camera, most notably stickers, it has long been an afterthought for the company’s notoriously lethargic product division.

In part, that reflects a belief at the company that the timeline would always be primarily text-based, as it had already lost the image-sharing game to Instagram and others. At the same time, viral images have been essential to Twitter almost since the beginning. One of the company’s breakout moments came a decade ago when a user snapped a photo of a US Airways plane crash-landing in the Hudson River. (At the time, Twitter didn’t even host photos natively, forcing the user to post a link to a now-dead service called TwitPic.)

When I’ve asked current and former employees about the Twitter camera in the past, they’ve told me that the company has not prioritized its development because very few people use it. Of course, the reverse is also true: very few people use it because Twitter so obviously does not prioritize it. Coleman told reporters that the company plans to increase the pace of development on camera features in coming months. If so, it will be both welcome and long overdue.

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Spotify Files Antitrust Complaint Over ‘Apple Tax’



Spotify announced this morning that it’s filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Union, alleging that the iPhone maker is harming consumer choice and stifling innovation via the rules it enforces on the App Store.

As Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek outlined in a blog post, the company is particularly annoyed about the 30 percent cut Apple takes from subscriptions made via the App Store. This “tax,” suggests Ek, seems designed to harm streaming services that compete with Apple’s own.

Ek says that if Spotify pays this cut it has to “artificially inflate” its prices “well above the price of Apple Music.” But if it doesn’t pay, Apple applies “a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions” that make Spotify an inferior experience. Ek also notes that Apple “routinely blocks our experience-enhancing upgrades,” including locking Spotify and other competitors out of Apple services like Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch.

As well as filing a complaint with the European Commission, the EU body that handles antitrust issues, Spotify has launched a press campaign, including a website dedicated to Apple’s unfair behavior and a YouTube video explaining the company’s grievances.

Interestingly, Spotify’s complaint echoes recent comments made by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Warren said last week that if elected president in 2020 she would break up big tech companies. She criticized these firms for the same reason that Spotify is now criticizing Apple: they operate marketplaces in which they also compete against rivals, allowing them to set the rules in a way that benefits them at the expense of others.

Warren singled out Amazon, Google, and Facebook — but not Apple — as targets to be broken up. “Companies would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform,” she said.

Spotify’s filing is the first time an antitrust complaint against the App Store has been publicly registered with the EU. However, companies have long criticized the so-called Apple tax since it was introduce not long after the App Store’s launch in 2011.

Although it’s not clear how far Spotify’s complaint against Apple will go, the EU has been on something of an antitrust tear in recent years. In 2017, Google was fined €2.4 billion complaints related to its shopping business, and in 2018, it was fine €4.3 billion for complaints about stifling competition in Android.

A spokesperson for the European Commission told The Wall Street Journal that it had received Spotify’s complaint and was “assessing [it] under our standard procedures.” At the time of publication Apple had not responded to a request for comment.

Source: The Verge

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Donald Trump Called Apple’s CEO ‘Tim Apple’ By Mistake.



The president has to remember a lot of names! Some he remembers, some he forgets. But we will never forget today in the Year of Our Lord 2019 when President Trump called Apple CEO Tim Cook “Tim Apple.”

Maybe we’re just losing our minds waiting for a good meme, but there’s something relentlessly good and pure about calling the executive formerly known as Tim Cook “Tim Apple.” Tim Cook: Great guy, great phones. Tim Apple though? Man, where do we start!

In the video from Cook’s appearance with the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, Trump invents Tim Apple at 1:03 before launching into a tirade on unspecified murders in Mexico.

“You’ve really put a great investment in our country. We really appreciate it very much, Tim Apple,” Trump said.

As the Verge pointed out, Trump once called Lockheed Martin’s CEO “Marillyn Lockheed,” which is fine, but not good and pure like Tim Apple.

For evidence that Trump in fact knows the “true” identity of Tim Apple, you can rewind to 40:43 when he calls the Apple chief executive “Tim Cook” (his old name). Usually it’s cheap to give someone a hard time for forgetting a name or making a minor mistake in extemporaneous speech. But Tim Apple is so much more than a mistake.

If you’d prefer, watch the clip over and over again. We can’t recommend it enough.


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