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More Bad News for the Metaverse

Virtual reality projects are losing steam across the tech industry in the wake of layoffs and investor skepticism

Big tech companies across the spectrum, including Meta, Microsoft, and Apple, are scaling back on virtual reality research and development. The technological demands of the metaverse are more advanced than CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg have anticipated, and employees are feeling the impact. Microsoft recently laid off 10,000 workers, cutting funding from the lab responsible for the production of its mixed-reality “HoloLens.” The army was originally in the works to use the Microsoft lens for aids in combat and training, but the technology has since been labeled as “dangerous and poorly designed.” Meta laid off 11,000 employees last November and continues to struggle to gain interest and traction for its ambitious metaverse project. A report from Insider notes that a combination Read More ›

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Monk figure praying in the forest

Do You Struggle to Focus? Medieval Monks Did Too

New book shows how ancient monks fought distraction and what they can teach us today

While the battle against constant distraction might seem like a new problem posed by our diffuse technologies, a new book from Jamie Kreiner argues that the struggle is perennial. The book is The Wandering Mind: What Medieval Monks Tell Us About Distraction. Kreiner takes the problem of distraction and puts it into the hands of the religious recluses of late antiquity. It turns out they had a lot to say. Like us, they struggled to maintain vigorous work routines. They courted the opinions of other monks and writers on what a modern-day LinkedIn guru would call “workflow” or “hustle.” In short, they were not so different from us. In his review of the book for Wired, Matt Reynolds writes, Early Read More ›

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New Article Compares Big Tech to “Big Tobacco” of the ’70s

Like smoking in the 1970s — known to be dangerous yet poorly regulated — Big Tech is harming kids today yet is met with little intervention or pushback

In a new article from Deseret News, Brad Wilcox and Riley Peterson equate Big Tech to “Big Tobacco.” They argue that the online world has the same dangers and negative effects as other drugs, and go on to cite alarming mental health data to back up their claims. Similar to how smoking was found to be dangerous in the 1970s and yet poorly regulated by the government, Big Tech is harming kids today yet is met with little intervention or pushback.  They start with a powerful analogical anecdote, writing, Imagine if a man in a white panel van pulled up in your neighborhood and began enticing teens to look at pictures and videos featuring drug use, pornography and a range Read More ›

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Sample social media app interface on mobile phone showing shared video content

Girl Tragically Dies After Doing Horrific TikTok Challenge

The 12-year-old from Argentina isn't the only victim of the fatal TikTok "blackout challenge"

A 12-year-old girl from Argentina died after trying the dangerous “choke challenge” on TikTok, per the New York Post. The girl, Milagros Soto, was found in a closet hanging from a makeshift noose on January 13th. Soto’s family members think she was bullied and challenged to perform the horrible online fad while at school. Soto isn’t the only casualty of the TikTok challenge, which involves asphyxiating oneself until passing out. It’s also only one of many “fatal fads” circulating the TikTok sphere. Also known as the “blackout challenge,” Tiktok users chase virality and clout by forcing themselves to pass out. In light of the tragic death, people are begging parents to prohibit TikTok from their children. Several Twitter users spoke Read More ›

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Big Layoffs Ahead for Zuckerberg’s Meta

Employee downsizing at the social media giant casts doubt on its relevancy and future

With recent headlines highlighting Elon Musk’s Twitter, Meta’s ongoing troubles have escaped some of the limelight, but are significant, nonetheless. This past week, Mark Zuckerberg announced over 11,000 layoffs across his company, focusing on recruiting and business, according to a memo. The layoffs will affect some 13 percent of the tech giant’s 87,000 employees. Meta, due in large part to its optimistic investment in the metaverse, plummeted in value this past year, and workers are feeling the consequences.   While the tech industry is seeing high personnel cuts this year, Zuckerberg did not have to hire as many people as he did, and clearly depended too much on the metaverse project for profit, which looks like it won’t be nearly Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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It’s Time for a Public Conversation About Social Media Companies

A company whose platform is built on the backs of content creators owes some responsibilities to those creators

Amid the ongoing cancel culture that is rampant among social media companies, there is a large undercurrent of people who say things like, “These are private companies, and they can do what they want.” The idea behind this is that social media companies do not owe you their product, and that is not of harm to you, the consumer. Especially since you are not paying for their product, why should they have to listen to you? To see why this thinking is flawed, we need to think back to the history of these platforms and what is needed to make them work. Why is anyone on Facebook or Twitter at all? Because that is where everyone else is. To be Read More ›

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Social media concept.

New York Senate Tries To Shut Down Misinformation on Social Media

The introduction of the bill raises concerns about government's intrusion into the freedom of speech online

In December, a bill was presented in the New York State Senate that would attempt to hold social media companies responsible for their role in circulating incitements to violence, incitements to self-harm, and misinformation.  Introduced by Democratic/Working Families Party Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, the legislation would empower the state’s Attorney General to bring an action against any social media company that allows for the circulation of content that incites violence or that “includes a false statement of fact or fraudulent medical theory…”. No person, by conduct either unlawful in itself or unreasonable under all the circumstances, shall knowingly or recklessly create, maintain or contribute to a condition in New York state that endangers the safety or health of the public through Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey Resigns from Twitter: “now is the right time”

Some are concerned that his replacement is bad news for free speech

On Monday, Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter CEO, explaining that he has “worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders” and that “now is the right time.” “I want you all to know that this was my decision and I own it,” wrote Dorsey in an email to his colleagues that he then posted to Twitter. “It was a tough one for me, of course. I love this service and company… and all of you so much. I’m really sad… yet really happy. There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there aren’t many founders that choose their company over their own ego. I know we’ll prove this was the right move.” Read More ›

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YouTube on a phone

Big Tech Scrubs Religious Radio Show From YouTube

This isn't the first time YouTube has infringed on free speech

YouTube removed an entire radio show from its platform this week, hosted by popular Christian author and social commentator Eric Metaxas, citing violations of their community standards. Metaxas – author of biographies on the lives of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther, and William Wilberforce, among many other books – announced the news to his social media pages on Tuesday. “It’s happened,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Despite our going FAR out of our way to comply with their arbitrary ‘community standards’, YouTube decided to remove every single video we’ve ever done on the Eric Metaxas Show off their platform.” The Eric Metaxas Radio Show, humorously called “The Show About Everything”, has featured a host of big name guests, including former Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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Beginning of the game, Two chess teams in front of different color white and black on the chessboard

AI Flags “Black” and “White” Language of Chess as Racist

New research shows the weakness of depending on AI to accurately flag racist online content

Last summer, artificial intelligence algorithms took down a video on YouTube’s most popular chess channel mid-livestream and flagged it as containing “harmful and dangerous” content. New research into the incident indicates that artificial intelligence algorithms programmed to scan for racist and other hateful speech online may be to blame. On June 27, 2020, the host of the most popular chess chanel on YouTube, Antonio Radić, Croatian chess player, was conducting a livestream with chess Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura. Around the one-hour-and-twenty-minute mark of the discussion of chess, the video was cut off and removed from Radić’s channel. When Radić (or anyone else) tried to access the video, they were met with a message from YouTube: “We’ve removed this video because it Read More ›

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Denise Simon on Cyber Warfare and Misinformation

When one thinks of warfare, thoughts of killing people and breaking things come to mind. But there are also psychological aspects of war. Robert J. Marks and Denise Simon discuss the Gerasimov doctrine, cyber warfare, and misinformation. Show Notes 00:34 | Introducing Denise Simon, Senior Research / Intelligence Analyst for Foreign and Domestic Policy 01:24 | AI as part of Read More ›

COSM-3527

Wall Street Journal columnist to Big Tech: You are doomed

Companies like Google and Facebook aren’t monsters, says Andy Kessler, but each nourishes the seeds of its own destruction

Kessler told his audience at the COSM National Technology Summit that Big Tech companies are so vulnerable that, for legal reasons, the United States is the only safe place for their headquarters.

Read More ›
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Social Media Censorship? Governments Weigh the Options

The United States may be going in the opposite direction from other Western countries
Social media monopolies may welcome an opportunity to avoid difficult issues by tacitly encouraging strict censorship of national platforms, along whatever lines a government prefers (the China model, if you like). Read More ›
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Adobe Stock Censorship peace cage Adobe Stock 22001967

Jordan Peterson to Found New Free Speech Platform

Thinkspot is being developed as a free speech alternative to Facebook, YouTube, and Patreon

His proposal coincides with several recent Big Social Media decisions that have raised eyebrows.

Read More ›
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Will Facebook’s New Focus on “Community” Groups Prevent Abuses?

When you look a little closer at the proposal, you will see that the answer is no

Facebook's move to a more group-focused interface gives the appearance of stronger privacy and community orientation but the structure and logic of social media ensure that these are appearances rather than realities.

Read More ›