OK, I’ll go ahead and say it: Mark Zuckerberg’s reputation is in the toilet right now. As the company suffers scandal after scandal and the price of its shares continue to drop like they’re hot, Zuck has fumbled to make amends. And now, presented with a great opportunity to win back customers and investors alike, he’s like “Mm, no thanks.”
That opportunity: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union’s new law on data privacy. It ensures that every individual on the internet has a right to know which company has what data about them, plus the right to have it destroyed. To be active in the EU, websites, including social media, must comply with the new regulations that take effect on May 25.
So Facebook is making the necessary changes, as you may expect, because there were some 252 million Facebook users in the EU alone in June 2017. But according to a report from Reuters, those privacy protections won’t extend to people in other countries.
Let’s be clear: the site already has the technological capabilities to do this for users in whatever country it damn well pleases. But it’s simply choosing not to.
It’s almost as if Mark forgot what got his company into this big stinking Cambridge Analytica mess in the first place. What makes Americans (and the rest of the world) inherently unworthy of having the same privacy rights as their European counterparts?
Predictably, Zuckerberg deflected any suggestions that the choice was malicious, telling Reuters about his plans for the rest of the world, “we’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing.” In spirit? Really?
Zuck didn’t do any more explain his choice, but he didn’t really have to. Keeping things the way they are for users outside the EU means Facebook can keep making money (and a lot of it) from the data the company harvests. And it has no legal requirement to change. So why should it?
“If user privacy is going to be properly protected, the law has to require it,” Nicole Ozer, the director of technology and civil liberties at the American Civil Liberties Union in California, told Reuters.
Regardless of what Zuckerberg’s vision of the future of data privacy in the U.S. looks like, the decision not to extending the same privacy rights to all users worldwide looks shady as hell.
In a clear bid to bolster the usage and effectiveness of its voice-driven personal assistant platform, Apple is looking to expand its in-house Siri development team by leaps and bounds over the course of the coming year. Specifically, the company is hoping to hire as many as 142 new engineers to join its Siri development […] Read More… iDrop News
March 30, 2006: A court case begins that once again pits Apple Computer against Apple Corps, aka The Beatles’ record label and holding company. The lawsuit caps a long-running legal battle between the two wealthy companies. It’s the final fight in an epic legal battle over music, technology and money. Epic legal battle between Apple […]
From the 2016 memo: “Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools … And still we connect people.”
Facebook’s bad month is getting even worse — now because of an internal memo by one of the company’s top executives that suggests, among other things, that Facebook’s mission to connect people is more important than user safety.
The memo, which was published by BuzzFeed, is from Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, one of Facebook’s longest-tenured execs and one of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s closest colleagues. The memo, from 2016, is titled “The Ugly,” and highlights that Facebook’s work doesn’t always have positive outcomes.
Here’s a key part of the memo:
We connect people.
That can be good if they make it positive. Maybe someone finds love. Maybe it even saves the life of someone on the brink of suicide.
So we connect more people
That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.
And still we connect people.
The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned.
Shortly after BuzzFeed’s story went live Bosworth tweeted to say he doesn’t agree with the post, and that it was intended to create “debate about hard topics.”
“The purpose of this post, like many others I have written internally, was to bring to the surface issues I felt deserved more discussion with the broader company,” he wrote.
“why did you write a post you don’t agree with?” It was intended to be provocative. This was one of the most unpopular things I’ve ever written internally and the ensuing debate helped shape our tools for the better.
Zuckerberg quickly issued a statement via a company spokesperson also condemning the memo, and saying Facebook specifically made changes in 2017 to better reflect its mission.
“Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things,” Zuckerberg’s statement reads. “This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We’ve never believed the ends justify the means. We recognize that connecting people isn’t enough by itself. We also need to work to bring people closer together. We changed our whole mission and company focus to reflect this last year.”
Whether or not Boz believed what he wrote, the memo matters because it highlights what people outside of Silicon Valley often fear about Silicon Valley: That big tech companies don’t actually care about the people who use their services, only that those people serve as data points that help tech companies grow.
Bosworth, after Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, has become Facebook’s most visible executive, often active on Twitter, responding to critics and news stories about the company’s latest controversies.
Facebook, in particular, has earned a reputation over the years as a place that prioritizes business over all else — the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal is a primary example. A lot of people don’t actually believe that Facebook feels bad that user data fell into the wrong hands. They just believe that Facebook feels bad it got caught.
A memo like this will only fuel that disconnect. Was Boz simply trying to point out that there are negative side effects to building the internet, which is essentially what Facebook has become to large portions of the world? Perhaps. It’s important that executives understand the impact that tech companies can have on the world, and the memo shows that Boz and Facebook are, at the very least, aware of the potential consequences of their work.
But it also puts Facebook — and the rest of Silicon Valley — back into a box it has been trying to get out of for years. It’s hard to win user trust if people don’t feel like they matter.
When you’re building the largest and most ambitious space telescope ever made, you have to expect that some things will go wrong.
At least, that seems to be the takeaway from a teleconference held by NASA today about the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a 6.5 meter (21 foot)-wide telescope that will observe distant space a million miles from the sun, all kept cool by an origami-folded sunshield the size of a tennis court.
Here are four new things you should know about this latest James Webb update, and why we’re going to have to wait a little longer to get its unprecedented new view of the universe. But stay tuned, because it’ll be worth it.
1. The launch delay is about “getting it right”…
The primary cause of the delay: to ensure that NASA is as confident as possible before launch.
Since there will be no way of repairing the JWST if something goes wrong out in space, they want to ensure everything is in the best shape it can be before sending it adrift.
“Simply put, we have one shot to get this right before going into space,” Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), said during today’s press conference. “You’ve heard this before … failure is not an option.”
The recent SRB review evaluated whether JWST would be ready for a May 2020 launch. Its confidence level: 70 percent. That’s a normal level of confidence for a large NASA project, Zurbuchen and his colleagues said, but another upcoming Independent Review Board (IRB) will seek out additional ways to raise that number.
And yeah, potential budgetary issues are a concern, too.
Some of the most recent delays were associated with errors. Like when they discovered that the sunshield’s tension-creating cables were too slack. This could have created a risk that the cables would snag on something as the sunshield unfolded, keeping it from deploying.
Contractor Northrop Grumman also accidentally put several small tears in the sunshield.
And during tests, scientists discovered that the propulsion system could allow leaks from the telescope’s thruster valves.
The telescope has already gone through considerable testing to make sure it can make it to its million-mile destination and start doing science once it’s there. This year, NASA is planning to do more tests, on individual pieces and the telescope as a whole (once it’s welded together), to ensure it can survive the traumatic journey from Earth to space.
3. The project’s cost may continue to rise.
Back in 2011, when JWST was slated to launch in 2018, Congress gave the project a cost cap of $ 8 billion. But now, officials think the project might exceed it.
That’s one of the main tasks of the upcoming independent review board — to figure out if the JWST can meet its launch date without going over the target price. At the very least, the project will need at least $ 837 million to operate the telescope after launch.
The good news, at least, is that it doesn’t appear that NASA would consider canceling this massive undertaking at the 11th hour. No one wants to throw away the $ 7.3 billion they’ve already spent.
“This is the definition of ‘sunk cost,’” Grant Tremblay, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told The Verge. “We’re launching this thing.”
4. The delay could slow down other space projects.
After James Webb gets in motion, NASA’s next priority is supposed to be the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), another massive telescope that promises to make Hubble’s astonishing images of the universe look like blurry flip phone photos.
In 2010, the National Academy of Sciences said the telescope was its number one priority. And now the latest White House budget proposal has already threatened to kill it.
The scientific community has firmly resisted letting WFIRST go. But if the James Webb ends up over-budget and far past its launch date, the extra money needed to get the JWST into space will come out of WFIRST funds.
At the teleconference, Zurbuchen suggested that the James Webb’s impact on WFIRST will be “more of perception than cost,” that is, that people might simply think WFIRST is less possible because of the Webb delays.
Scientific American reports otherwise, nothhat extra costs will likely delay WFIRST further, and potentially prevent it from operating at the same time as Webb — one of the main reasons for launching it in the first place.
Some experts worry that the reverberations of JWST’s delays could extend even further.
“My fear now is that the community will be so frightened of cost that they won’t recommend any large telescope in the next decadal [survey],” one senior astronomer told Scientific American, speaking under conditions of anonymity. “If NASA doesn’t pursue another big strategic mission after Webb and WFIRST … More likely [that money] will go into rockets to put people on the moon, or to some program outside of NASA entirely. If we’re not careful, this could lead to the end of the golden age of U.S. space astronomy.”
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Streaming music is taking over the recording industry, and there’s no clearer sign of it than this: digital download sales have fallen so much in the past few years that they’re now smaller than sales of CDs, vinyl, and other physical media, which hasn’t been the case since 2011.
The stats, which come from the RIAA’s newly released 2017 year end report, show that digital downloads fell to $ 1.3 billion last year, whereas physical media, while also falling, only declined to $ 1.5 billion.
Of course, both pale in comparison to revenue brought in from streaming, which has taken over the music industry in recent years. In 2016, the music industry made more than half of its revenue from streaming for the first time, and that growth continued…