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Paul Merrell

Time to 'Break Facebook Up,' Sanders Says After Leaked Docs Show Social Media Giant 'Tr... - 0 views

  • After NBC News on Wednesday published a trove of leaked documents that show how Facebook "treated user data as a bargaining chip with external app developers," White House hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders declared that it is time "to break Facebook up."
  • When British investigative journalist Duncan Campbell first shared the trove of documents with a handful of media outlets including NBC News in April, journalists Olivia Solon and Cyrus Farivar reported that "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network's power and control competitors by treating its users' data as a bargaining chip, while publicly proclaiming to be protecting that data." With the publication Wednesday of nearly 7,000 pages of records—which include internal Facebook emails, web chats, notes, presentations, and spreadsheets—journalists and the public can now have a closer look at exactly how the company was using the vast amount of data it collects when it came to bargaining with third parties.
  • The document dump comes as Facebook and Zuckerberg are facing widespread criticism over the company's political advertising policy, which allows candidates for elected office to lie in the ads they pay to circulate on the platform. It also comes as 47 state attorneys general, led by Letitia James of New York, are investigating the social media giant for antitrust violations.
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  • According to Solon and Farivar of NBC: Taken together, they show how Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook users' data—including information about friends, relationships, and photos—as leverage over the companies it partnered with. In some cases, Facebook would reward partners by giving them preferential access to certain types of user data while denying the same access to rival companies. For example, Facebook gave Amazon special access to user data because it was spending money on Facebook advertising. In another case the messaging app MessageMe was cut off from access to data because it had grown too popular and could compete with Facebook.
  • The call from Sanders (I-Vt.) Wednesday to break up Facebook follows similar but less definitive statements from the senator. One of Sanders' rivals in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), released her plan to "Break Up Big Tech" in March. Zuckerberg is among the opponents of Warren's proposal, which also targets other major technology companies like Amazon and Google.
Paul Merrell

Facebook probe by U.S. states expands to 47 attorneys general - Reuters - 0 views

  • A New York-led probe into allegations that Facebook Inc put consumer data at risk and pushed up advertising rates has expanded to include attorneys general from 47 U.S. states and territories, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Tuesday.
  • The investigation of Facebook announced in September had included Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. It now includes most U.S. states as well as the U.S. territory of Guam.
  • Some states, particularly New York and Nebraska, have raised concerns that Facebook and other big tech companies engage in anti-competitive practices, expose consumer data to potential data theft and push up advertising prices.
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  • The Facebook investigations are part of a larger landscape of probes of big tech firms. Reuters and others reported in June that the Justice Department and FTC had divided responsibility for the companies being investigated, with the Justice Department taking on Alphabet Inc’s Google and Apple Inc while the FTC looked into Facebook and Amazon.com Inc. The Justice Department later said it was opening a probe of online platforms, which would include Facebook.
Paul Merrell

States to launch antitrust investigation into big tech companies, reports say | TechCrunch - 2 views

  • The state attorneys in more than a dozen states are preparing to begin an antitrust investigation of the tech giants, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported Monday, putting the spotlight on an industry that is already facing federal scrutiny.The bipartisan group of attorneys from as many as 20 states is expected to formally launch a probe as soon as next month to assess whether tech companies are using their dominant market position to hurt competition, the WSJ reported.If true, the move follows the Department of Justice, which last month announced its own antitrust review of how online platforms scaled to their gigantic sizes and whether they are using their power to curb competition and stifle innovation. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission formed a task force to monitor competition among tech platforms.
Paul Merrell

Explainer: What Google, Facebook could face in U.S. antitrust probe - Reuters - 0 views

  • The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether big technology companies are engaged in anticompetitive behavior, addressing a rising tide of criticism they have become too powerful to the detriment of consumers.
  • The Justice Department has said it will investigate “whether and how” online platforms in “search, social media, and some retail services online” are engaging in behavior that stifles competition and harms consumers. While the Justice Department did not name any targets in announcing the probe on Tuesday, sources have indicated Alphabet Inc’s Google, social media giant Facebook Inc, online retailer Amazon.com Inc and possibly Apple Inc will likely be reviewed. Here’s what regulators could focus on at the big technology companies:
Paul Merrell

Amazon's Face Recognition Falsely Matched 28 Members of Congress With Mugshots | Americ... - 0 views

  • Amazon’s face surveillance technology is the target of growing opposition nationwide, and today, there are 28 more causes for concern. In a test the ACLU recently conducted of the facial recognition tool, called “Rekognition,” the software incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress, identifying them as other people who have been arrested for a crime.  The members of Congress who were falsely matched with the mugshot database we used in the test include Republicans and Democrats, men and women, and legislators of all ages, from all across the country.
  • The false matches were disproportionately of people of color, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus, among them civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). These results demonstrate why Congress should join the ACLU in calling for a moratorium on law enforcement use of face surveillance.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Firefox for Linux will soon support Netflix and Amazon videos | PCWorld - 0 views

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    " Chris Hoffman | @chrisbhoffman Contributor, PCWorld Aug 17, 2016 5:00 AM Firefox 49 for Linux, scheduled for a September 2016 release, will add support for DRM-protected HTML5 videos. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services will "just work" in Firefox on Linux, just as they do in Google Chrome. Encrypted media extensions come to Linux"
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

De Microsoft a Google pasando por Amazon: la guerra digital de Europa contra los gigant... - 0 views

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    " La Comisión Europea acusa a Google de abuso de posición dominante con Android, pero no es la única empresa que ha estado en su punto de mira "
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    " La Comisión Europea acusa a Google de abuso de posición dominante con Android, pero no es la única empresa que ha estado en su punto de mira "
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Apple Music Didn't Kill Spotify. Amazon's New Streaming Service Won't, Either. | Katie ... - 0 views

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    "Amazon is working on a 'Spotify killer'. Sound familiar? Apple Music was hailed as such by basically everyone. Google's All Access was called the same, back in 2013. Even Tidal got the label. And now it's Amazon's turn. As first "
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

GNU.org Website Says Microsoft's Software Is Malware - 0 views

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    "GNU.org has a category on its website named "Philosophy of the GNU Project," where the Microsoft software is described as malware, along with Apple and Amazon."
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    "GNU.org has a category on its website named "Philosophy of the GNU Project," where the Microsoft software is described as malware, along with Apple and Amazon."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Microsoft, Google, Amazon, others, aim for royalty-free video codecs | Ars Technica UK - 0 views

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    "Alliance for Open Media hopes to make the next generation of video codecs free. by Peter Bright (US) - Sep 1, 2015 5:44 pm UTC"
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    "Alliance for Open Media hopes to make the next generation of video codecs free. by Peter Bright (US) - Sep 1, 2015 5:44 pm UTC"
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Amazon set to pay self-published authors as little as $0.006 per page read - Compliance... - 0 views

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    "elf-published authors could be paid as little as $0.006 per page read under new rules planned by Amazon."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

American cultural imperialism has a new name: GAFA - Quartz - 0 views

  • In France, there’s a new word on everyone’s lips: GAFA. It’s an acronym, and it has become a shorthand term for some of the most powerful companies in the world—all American, all tech giants. GAFA stands for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.
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    [In France, there's a new word on everyone's lips: GAFA. It's an acronym, and it has become a shorthand term for some of the most powerful companies in the world-all American, all tech giants. GAFA stands for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. ...]
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    [In France, there's a new word on everyone's lips: GAFA. It's an acronym, and it has become a shorthand term for some of the most powerful companies in the world-all American, all tech giants. GAFA stands for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. ...]
Paul Merrell

An Important Kindle request - 0 views

  • A Message from the Amazon Books Team Dear Readers, Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents — it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year. With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution — places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if "publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them." Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion. Well… history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
  • Fast forward to today, and it's the e-book's turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette — a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate — are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there's no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive. Perhaps channeling Orwell's decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn't only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette's readers. The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will "devalue books" and hurt "Arts and Letters." They're wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Hate Amazon? 6 alternatives for buying books, electronics and more | ITworld - 0 views

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    "Here's where to buy if you want to avoid the Web's biggest bully By Preston Gralla May 28, 2014, 11:35 AM - The Amazon bully just got nastier, with Amazon refusing to take orders for upcoming books from publisher Hachette for authors including J.K. Rowling, Tina Fey, and others, because Hachette won't agree to Amazon's lowball pricing demands. Tired of buying from the world's nastiest Web site? There are plenty of other alternatives --- here are six of my favorites."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

What Happens When You Marry The NSA's Surveillance Database With Amazon's Personalized ... - 0 views

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    "from the spying-in-the-service-of-seduction dept By now, most people who shop online are aware of the way in which companies try to tailor their offers based on your previous purchasing and browsing history. Being followed by strangely relevant ads everywhere is bad enough, but what if the government started using the same approach in its communications with you? That's one of the key ideas explored in an interesting new article by Zeynep Tufekci, strikingly presented on Medium, with the title "Is the Internet good or bad? Yes.""
Paul Merrell

Universities reject Kindle over inaccessibility for the blind | Crave - CNET - 0 views

  • The National Federation of the Blind is applauding the decisions of Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison not to Amazon.com's Kindle DX as a textbook replacement.
  • ity of Wisconsin-Madison not to Amazon.com's Kindle DX as a textbook replacement. Kindle DX (Credit: Amazon) The universities cited the Kindle's inaccessibility to the blind as the problem.
  • "The big disappointment was learning that the Kindle DX is not accessible to the blind," Ken Frazier, the University of Wisconsin-Madison director of libraries, said in a statement. "Advancements in text-to-speech technology have created a market opportunity for an e-book reading device that is fully accessible for everyone. This version of the Kindle e-book reader missed the mark."
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    The hazards of developers treating accessibility as an optional feature rather than the foundation of software. Bad publicity; lost business.
Matteo Spreafico

Biggest cloud of all: Amazon EC2 makes about $220 million a year - 0 views

  • Randy Bias just published estimates that AWS is pulling in about $220 million annually for its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) offerings.
  • He also estimates that AWS runs about 40,000 servers to support the service.  EC2 probably grew at a rate of 10% from year to year, Randy believes.
  • Amazon has really effectively leveraged the capacity from its retail business to offer services to the rest of the market. Is this something other companies with large IT infrastructures can contemplate?
Paul Merrell

Microsoft offers free repository for agency data -- Government Computer News - 0 views

  • Microsoft has set up a repository in which government agencies may upload and store their public-facing datasets so that they can be reused by other parties. Agency developers can upload their data to this repository, called the Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI), through Microsoft's Azure, the company's cloud-computing offering.
  • Since taking the role of federal chief information officer, Vivek Kundra has urged agencies to make more of their data open to the public in easy-to-use formats. To this end, the General Services Administration, on behalf of Kundra, is setting up a repository of government feeds, to be called Data.gov. Data.gov will both serve as a repository for data and as an index for government data located elsewhere, Kundra told GCN. OGDI came about as a way to introduce Azure to the federal information technology community, said Susie Adams, Microsoft Federal chief technology officer. "The government wants to store all this data, what with Kundra talking about Data.gov. We asked if you were to use Azure as data source, [what would you need to do]?"
  • In addition to Microsoft's effort, at least one other company has volunteered to rehost government data for wider use. Amazon is offering to store public-domain datasets for users of its Elastic Compute Cloud service.
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