To say the past week has been rough for the Tech Giants would be a massive understatement. Following the livestreamed terrorist attack on two New Zealand mosques the world was outraged at how easily the violence had been put live onto Facebook, and how difficult it was proving to erase it from the dark corners of the internet. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all tried to assure the public they were doing everything in their power to take it down, but many felt it was not enough. Facebook has said that users attempted to re-upload the video 1.5 million times, and the site’s algorithms stopped 1.2 million of those from being posted. However, that still means 300,000 made it through the blocks and were successfully uploaded. Facebook can’t control what is posted outside its domain (like on 8chan) but people are asking what more the platform can do to ensure this video, and any others that break community guidelines, are not successfully posted.
Then, on EU non-Brexit related news, the European Commission fined Google 1.49 million euros in connection to the AdSense competition case that accused the internet giant of blocking rival online search advertisers. The fine is the third largest against Google in the past two years, and there’s no sign the EU’s antitrust train is slowing down anytime soon.
With Spotify and Apple still throwing jabs at each other and Facebook announcing another privacy issue with user passwords not being properly stored, let’s see if next week is any calmer.
Reining in bigtech, 1 billion at a time… [Bloomberg]
Few were surprised by this week’s EU fine against Google. Totalling currently at 6.7 billion euros of fines and other actions against Alphabet, the European Commission’s competition arm rebuffed the search giant for abusing its dominant position. What did surprise, however, was Google’s move to pre-empt other cases by going above and beyond to exercise self-restraint to address EU concerns. True, looking at Google’s 100 billion euro plus revenue for 2018, the fines seem like a drop in the ocean. But they are symbolic to steer changes and give other players – maybe the next Googles? – a chance. Amidst calls to break up a Facebook which just wouldn’t learn to go beyond empty apologies, and concerns about (mis)use of data in election campaigns, such positive effects of policy should be welcomed.
Best way to save money? Spend it. [TechCrunch]
UK challenger bank Tandem Bank is launching “Autosavings” to help customers save small amounts each time they spend, by drawing on behavioural economics principles. Two rules automatically put money aside based on one’s spending habits and what its algorithm deems one can afford. While “Round Ups” moves the change from small purchases to the customer’s Autosavings account, “Safe To Save” calculates how much can be saved based on income and expenses. Pretty handy for those out there for whom saving money each month feels like this.
Google entering the gaming industry [TechCrunch]
You might not have known this but the gaming industry is the most lucrative entertainment sector, by far. Compared to Hollywood blockbusters, video games make three times more revenue (40 billion compared to 130 billion) with only TV and streaming services inching behind with 110 billion. So it’s no surprise that multifaceted Google announced the launch of Stadia, an online gaming platform where you can play your favorite game on any device, as long as you have Chrome or access to the Google app store. For all of you gaming nerds out there – like yours truly – there are still a lot of questions on how this will actually work but we can also see a big potential.
How to police humanity [The Verge]
Only 200 people viewed the Christchurch terrorist attack during its live broadcast, and in total it was watched by 4,000 people before it was removed. However, none of those 200 original live viewers reported the livestream. It was finally reported 12 minutes after the video ended. Facebook has admitted that it wasn’t addressed as quickly as a suicide video would have been and has announced changes to its reporting policy. But will that be enough to calm the masses who think that there is more that social media sites could and should do to prevent it from spreading or being shared in the first place? Even more concerning – why did none of those 200 people report the video, and what role does Facebook play in making sure future livestreams are reported as quickly as possible?
The right to remember the early 2000s [Financial Times]
From the right to be forgotten, to the right to be remembered: Media debates on data storing took a turn this week as MySpace, the most popular social media in 2006, had a huge data loss, resulting in millions of artists’ music being wiped out. The FT provided a more contextual analysis concluding that today, “we’ve switched permanence for convenience” highlighting the risks to our personal content, being “locked in the cloud”. Content with (personal) value, that was not apparent at the time it was created and uploaded. More importantly, content that could help us understand the past and that we should be able to preserve.
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In case you haven’t had enough…
Facebook changes its ad tech to stop discrimination [Wired]
Instagram Wants to Be Your Mall [The New York Times]
Why a top antitrust lawmaker thinks it’s time to break up Facebook [Tech Crunch]
Europe’s silver bullet in global AI battle: Ethics [Politico]
How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Science [Quant Magazine]
U.K. Police Are Using Three Words to Speed Up Response Times [Bloomberg]
Tech platforms treat white nationalism different from Islamic terrorism [Wired]
Photo source: The New York Times