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What You Need To Know About Surveillance Capitalism

A Harvard professor coined the term and her 2019 book sounds a warning about how Google and Facebook gain power and wealth selling YOU

The term “surveillance capitalism” was coined by Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff in her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. It’s a fascinating read, offering insight into the power that companies like Google and Facebook have amassed and the danger that power poses to our way of life. Here’s how she explained it to the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 News in 2019: Here’s how surveillance capitalism works, just in brief. It begins with these companies claiming, unilaterally claiming, our private human experience as their free source of raw material. So what do they do with that raw material? They lift out of it the rich predictive signals in our…

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Meta Suspends Hate Speech Policy in Countries Near Russia

Hate speech and death threats against Russian and Belarusian political leaders and their militaries are temporarily allowed in twelve Eastern European countries

In a dramatic change of policy, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) will temporarily allow users of Facebook and Instagram in twelve countries to post hate speech and death threats directed toward Russian and Belarusian military personnel and political leaders within the context of the conflict in Ukraine. The change was first reported by Reuters on Thursday morning. A Meta spokesperson told Reuters, “As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.” Calls for violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko are…

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In State of the Union, Biden Vows to Curb Social Media Harms

Biden addressed the mental health harms of social media use on children and teens

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden referred to the harms of social media in his State of the Union address, announcing policy proposals to curb those harms. In response, however, some have been critical of the president’s remarks, accusing him of ignoring social media’s deeper dangers. Over an hour into his speech, President Biden turned to mental health and the emotional toll the pandemic has had, especially on children. Then he turned to the emotional health toll exacted by social media, long before the first COVID-19 lockdowns. “Children were also struggling before the pandemic – bullying, violence, trauma, and the harms of social media,” he said. “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, demand tech companies stop…

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Fact Checkers Stifle Story on Government-Funded Crack Pipes

When official sources contradict each other, who has the authority to decide what is misinformation and what is not?

A Facebook fact-checking group censored a report released this week that the Biden Administration is providing grants that would fund the distribution of crack pipes to the addicted, labeling it as containing “partly false information” and burying any posts containing the report in users’ news feeds. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is operating a $30 million grant program for harm reduction, a strategy to combat drug addiction that seeks “to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of behavior associated with alcohol and other substance use.” Perhaps the best known harm reduction tactic has been the exchange or distribution of clean needles to the addicted. Now, it would…

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Bearish stock financial, bear market chart falling prices down turn from global economic and financial crisis.

Zuckerberg’s New Meta Pummeled by Stock Market

Meta (Facebook reimagined) faces a gauntlet of challenges only months after Zuckerberg announced his new "metaverse" initiative

Last October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be undergoing a major facelift to become Meta. The Facebook platform we all know and love would remain as is, but Meta would become Facebook’s parent company with a primary focus of developing the “metaverse,” an immersive online experience that Zuckerberg called “the next frontier” of the internet. But Meta is off to a rough start. Facebook’s parent company shed more than $230 billion in market value Thursday, a one-day loss that is the biggest ever for a U.S. company and increases pressure on a stock market long powered by technology shares…. The Facebook parent company surprised investors with a deeper-than-expected decline in profit and a downbeat outlook. The company…

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closeup keyboard laptop and Google Ads AdWords app icon on smartphone screen. Google is the biggest Internet search engine in the world. Moscow, Russia - April 27, 2019

Facebook and Google Face Big Legal Challenges

The FTC, dozens of states, and private citizens are coming after the big tech companies for antitrust violations

How has 2022 begun for our favorite Big Tech companies? With a good chunk of lawsuits. As technology companies grow bigger, they face bigger legal challenges. Here’s a brief rundown of a few such challenges Facebook and Google face in the courts in this new year: FTC Antitrust Lawsuit Against Facebook Moves Forward Let’s begin at the federal level. Last June, Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia tossed out a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) challenging Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. According to Boasberg, the FTC failed to adequately show that Facebook holds a monopoly. Not to be dissuaded, the FTC re-filed with an amended complaint in August. Last…

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Robot concept or robot hand chatbot pressing computer keyboard enter

Will AI Take Over Content Moderation?

While content moderators report psychological trauma, experts weigh in on whether artificial intelligence could remove humans from the equation

How do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, YouTube, and other platforms keep up with the millions upon millions of posts, comments, videos, and photos posted to their sites on a daily basis? It takes a partnership between artificial intelligence and human content moderators.  In recent years, however, content moderators have begun to reveal that their work is often traumatizing. Moderators for Facebook and TikTok have gone so far as to sue for the psychological harm they have experienced at their workplaces, regularly reviewing images and videos that you and I never have to see depicting rape, murder, child trafficking, and other violent and graphic content. Subjecting workers to violent and graphic imagery is an unsustainable way of keeping the internet free of such…

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Social Media Content Moderator Sues TikTok for PTSD

Social media moderators protect users from graphic content, but who protects the moderators?

A social media content moderator is suing TikTok, a popular video app, for psychological trauma developed from 12-hour shifts moderating endless graphic videos. Candie Frazier works for Telus International, a Canadian contracting firm providing moderation services to social media apps like TikTok. Frazier filed a complaint with the California Central District Court in December, alleging that TikTok and parent company ByteDance do not provide enough support for the psychological wellbeing of their contracted moderators, whose job it is to remove violent, graphic, and otherwise inappropriate content from the platform. TikTok’s popularity exploded in the aftermath of pandemic lockdowns, especially among millennials and Generation Z. As of September, TikTok reported 1 billion users every month. In her complaint, Frazier explains that…

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Pre-adolescent teen girl texting on a smartphone lying in bed at home. Candid indoor photo withFocus on the foreground and copy space

Facebook’s…Er, Meta’s Instagram Problem

Despite employee-recommended solutions, Facebook has largely turned a blind eye to the harms their own algorithms have caused in teenage girls using Instagram

The Wall Street Journal’s series of articles based on leaked internal documents from Facebook, Inc. (now Meta Platforms, Inc.) gave us a peek inside the company’s business model, including what the company knew about Instagram’s harmful mental health effects on teen girls.*  Facebook employee, Frances Haugen, provided thousands of pages of internal documents and Slack conversations to the Wall Street Journal’s Jeff Horwitz, and has since made the documents available to other media outlets. Gizmodo is working with a group of experts to make the documents public, which can be viewed here. On October 5th, Haugen testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Facebook’s lack of transparency regarding the harms of its platforms. The full testimony can be seen in the video below. Haugen…

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young cute girl hipster, sitting at a cafe holding a smart phone, answering texts, phone calls, letters, posts photos in instagram, outdoor portrait, close up, elaborated and bracelets on the hands

I’ve Been on Facebook for 13 Years. Here’s Why I’m Leaving Now.

Has Facebook actually improved the ways we connect with each other? And does Meta have a chance to improve upon that?

When I first joined Facebook in 2008, it was primarily a way to remain in contact with my dad while he was deployed overseas for a year. As I went through school, and then graduated and moved across the country for college, it became a way for me to connect with new and old friends. Now, thirteen years later, I am looking at deleting my Facebook. Here’s why: Last month, Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made waves when he announced the creation of a parent company over Facebook called “Meta.” The basic idea is what Zuckerberg calls “the next frontier” of the internet – a virtual reality in which people can engage in connection and creativity with one another.…

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Gold bitcoin on dark background

COSM Speaker Peter Thiel: The Failures and “Self-Hatred” of Big Tech

Listen to maverick entrepreneur Peter Thiel’s talk from last year’s COSM conference. Thiel discusses his views of artificial intelligence, Big Tech’s monopoly, China, and the future of technology with legendary tech guru George Gilder. You can register now to hear Peter Thiel and George Gilder at this year’s COSM conference in November. Show Notes 00:50 | Introducing Peter Thiel 01:12…

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Social media concept.

Federal Trade Commission Takes Facebook to Court… Again

The FTC hopes to prove in an 80-page complaint that Facebook holds damaging monopoly power over competitors

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an amended complaint against Facebook, trying again for an antitrust lawsuit after a federal judge dismissed their original complaint earlier this summer. The updated complaint alleges that Facebook has violated antitrust laws and garnered monopoly power, namely by buying up rival companies and imposing unfair policies that “neutralize perceived competitive threats.” Facebook is the world’s dominant online social network, with a purported three billion-plus regular users. Facebook has maintained its monopoly position in significant part by pursuing Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) Mark Zuckerberg’s strategy, expressed in 2008: “it is better to buy than compete.” True to that maxim, Facebook has systematically tracked potential rivals and acquired companies that it viewed as serious competitive…

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An internet email symbol and a group of people are separated by a red prohibitory symbol No. restrictions on access to the global Internet. Censorship. Information control, society isolation policy

Is “Misinformation” Another Way to Say “Unwelcome Information”?

Cameron English notes that, on social media, major media outlets can botch the science with impunity but the slightest offenses, real or imagined, get others silenced

At American Council on Science and Health (“promoting science and debunking junk since 1978”), Cameron English reflects on the handwringing among social media companies about how to crack down on “misinformation” on COVID-19. Given the number of authoritative statements made and suddenly reversed, tt seems that any such crackdown would largely be driven by politics. For example: Facebook recently announced that it would “no longer take down posts claiming that Covid-19 was man-made or manufactured,” and the company’s new policy nicely underscores this point about credibility. What was the social media platform’s justification for allowing users to discuss the lab-spillover hypothesis? It didn’t hire a team of virologists and foreign policy experts to assess the viability of competing explanations for…

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida Big Tech Law

The judge ruled that the law violates the First Amendment rights of social media companies

A federal judge struck down the recent Florida legislation aimed at reigning in the censorship powers of Big Tech, hours before it was set to go into effect. Within days of Governor DeSantis signing the bill into law in May, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed a lawsuit, representing the biggest names in social media (such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Amazon). They argued that the new law is a violation of their First Amendment rights as private companies. On June 30, Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled in favor of NetChoice and CCIA, issuing a preliminary injunction on the law after determining that it violates the First Amendment…

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Behind a clock

Is Technology Running Backward?

Technology isn't adding value anymore. It's adding expense.

I’ve been a computer nerd since I was a young child. My dad bought the family a TI 99/4A before I even went to Kindergarten, and I basically started programming when I learned to read. As I grew up, the thing that fascinated me most about technology was the ability to automate.  Automation, in theory, is supposed to make people’s lives better. It’s supposed to take the drudgery out of work, to leave people to focus on the more creative aspects of their work. With a word processor, I can type, correct, spellcheck, rewrite, and reorganize in an instant. I can even maintain old drafts easily. With a spreadsheet, I can keep track of all my income, expenses, grades, goals,…

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Laptop computer displaying 'we control' sign

Is Facebook Anti-Science or Was That Just a Bad Mood It Was In?

The curious case of the scientist who spoke up about possible misrepresentations of research points up the problem with Big Tech social media today

University of Florida geneticist Kevin Folta recently learned the hard way about the imbalancesof Facebook censorship. On June 19, the company flagged a 2015 post written by University of Florida geneticist Kevin Folta. What was his offense? Folta took two anti-pesticide activists to task for making misleading statements about the weed killer glyphosate. They falsely claimed the herbicide causes cancer and alleged that the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) acknowledged the causal link between the two. Cameron English, “Social Media Censorship: Scientist Corrects Anti-GMO Silliness, Facebook Threatens To Ban Him” at American Council on Science and Health (June 22, 2021) Folta, Cameron tells us, was informed that “his post violated Facebook’s ‘community standards’ and warned that his account may…

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A Book Review: The Tyranny of Big Tech

A beautiful defense of the common man and woman against a technological elite

“Our republic has never been more hierarchical, more riven by class, more managed by an elite than it is today,” writes Josh Hawley in The Tyranny of Big Tech. Who might that elite be? According to Hawley, it’s not our politicians, our lawyers, our Ivy League graduates, or our Hollywood celebrities. It’s Big Tech – those big names like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple, and Google that have embedded themselves in our lives to an almost irreversible degree. Hawley has spent his career as a U.S. Senator, and formerly as Missouri’s Attorney General, holding Big Tech accountable where others don’t dare tread. In investigations, in legislation, and now in this book, Hawley has confronted the antitrust and privacy violations committed by…

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Woman hand using smart phone with lock icon graphic at coffee shop. Technology business concept.

Censoring the Censors? Florida’s Anti-Censorship Law

What exactly does the law do, and why is Big Tech sponsoring a lawsuit to halt it?

Originally published by Dr. Karl Stephan at Engineering Ethics On May 24, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill designed to stop social media firms from censoring free speech. At least that’s what the governor’s website claims it does. Two big-tech industry groups, Netchoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), sued the state of Florida in early June over the legislation, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1. What exactly does the law do, and why are organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google sponsoring a lawsuit to halt it? People of certain political persuasions need not look far for motivations to pass such a law. Following the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 of this year,…

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Judge Holding Documents

Big Tech Sues Florida Over New Censorship Law

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are fighting back against a Florida law that seeks to reign them in

Technology trade companies representing Facebook, Twitter, and Google are suing Florida over its new law regulating the editorial and censorship powers of large social media platforms. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 into law on May 24, the first of its kind in the nation to curb the powers of online companies to remove and censor content and users. NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) – technology trade groups that have been vocal about their opposition to the law – filed the lawsuit against Florida the following Thursday in Tallahassee federal court. DeSantis and other supporters of the new law argue that its purpose is to safeguard the First Amendment rights of ordinary Florida citizens…

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This is the State Capitol building. It has a large concrete stairway leading up to it with large columns holding up the facade.

Florida Governor Signs Bill Reining in Big Tech

The bill Governor DeSantis signed is the first in the nation to ban social media companies from deplatforming political candidates

In the current national battle between Big Tech and Big Government, a new Florida law will punish social media companies for discriminating against political viewpoints and deplatforming political candidates. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 into law on Monday. The legislation protects Florida citizens and political candidates from inequitable viewpoint censorship. “Now more than ever, social media has really become the twenty-first century public square,” John Snyder, a Representative in the Florida House, told Mind Matters News. “It’s evolved from what used to be just a platform where people could post thoughts and pictures to now this is a tool that people rely on to communicate with their family, to talk with their friends, to air their grievances, and really to…