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Dueling's employee petitions revealed a deep divide within Google on China



I had a great day in Washington, DC, meeting with congressional staff, technology platforms and colleagues. I also had Wi-Fi and a working newsletter provider. So, thank you for your understanding over the last two days and I ask you to subscribe to a first newsletter this time.

In August, in the face of concerns over Google's efforts to set up a censored search engine in China, I wondered whether this would not cause a morale crisis in society. At the time, 1,400 employees had signed an internal petition demanding more information about the project. And just this week, a (smaller) group has posted on Medium inviting Google to abandon the project.

"Dragonfly would also allow censorship and misinformation led by the government, and destabilize the truth on which popular deliberation and dissent rest," write the employees. "Given the suppression of dissenting voices reported by the Chinese government, such controls would likely be used to silence marginalized people and foster information that promotes the interests of the government."

To date, more than 400 employees have signed the letter, compared to eleven hours ago. The dominant story to date around Dragonfly is the resistance of employees to the search engine. While some employees were in favor of returning to China, we seldom heard of it – except for senior leaders who defended hostile issues during weekly show-offs.

But now we have. Today & # 39; hui TechCrunch posted a letter from Google employees taking the opposite position. And more than 500 people have signed so far, report Jon Russell and Taylor Hatmaker. The letter reads in part:

Dragonfly still faces many difficulties and uncertainties, which can only be solved by continuous efforts. The regulatory requirements set by the Chinese government (such as censorship) make Dragonfly an ambitious project. If we do not pay enough attention, the project can do more harm than good. Whatever the case may be, only sustained efforts on Dragonfly will allow us to understand how different approaches can work in China and determine if there is a beneficial solution for both Chinese users and for Google. Even if we fail, the results can still be useful for bringing other services to China.

I will say that this letter was written primarily by someone with engineering background. This is especially for his impartiality, especially in relation to the letter written by employees who oppose Dragonfly. They appeal to the sense of humanity of the leaders – while their pro-dragonfly counterparts simply cite the morally neutral mission of the society of organizing world information and making it useful.

The Chinese government has naturally striven to organize information in the world and it often deploys it against its citizens in a deeply dystopian way. This is one of the reasons why I have included so many links on China's experiences with social credit, facial recognition and other data-based surveillance tools. I look at China and see an approach to "organizing information of the world" which, uncontrolled, makes us all less free. And Googlers writing in favor of Dragonfly, with what might be called naivety, completely avoid the problem.

In August, I wondered what Sundar Pichai was thinking about this issue – and the internal conflict that reigned over his business. Since then, he has expressed his support for Dragonfly. And now that he has done, this conflict has become more visible.

Pichai will have the opportunity to deal with these issues, among others, in December, during his testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the House. It will be a big conversation, reports Tony Romm:

For Pichai, the audience threatens to constitute a long and extensive review of Google's business practices at a dangerous political moment for the technology giant. His closest counterparts, Facebook and Twitter, had already sent their senior executives to answer questions from legislators – a session in the Senate in September that Pichai and Larry Page, Google's parent leader, Alphabet, had chosen at the time. not to participate. This decision left Capitol Democrats and Republicans frustrated and spoiled by a fight.

Since then, Google has had to face huge criticism for its handling of a bug that could have exposed the personal data of hundreds of thousands of users on Google+, its social network. The company discovered the incident in March but did not reveal it until October.

I think very few people will be talking about Google+ in December. And I guess a lot of them will have questions about Dragonfly. In the meantime, Google splits in two, which goes to the heart of the company he wants to be – and whatever the process of Pichai, he will define his legacy, and perhaps also that of Google.

Democracy

The regulator remains silent on Facebook's investigation

On Tuesday afternoon, senators asked the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission how his Facebook inquiry was going. The president, Joe Simons, would not say, reports David McCabe. Coarse!

Blumenthal was not satisfied with Simons' answers, although it is quite common for the FTC to disclose little information about ongoing investigations. The legislator said that people "need to know when you will have results" because "persistent violations clearly show" that problems with Facebook are not isolated cases.

A former FTC official said that a Facebook representative made false statements to international executives about how the company handled personal data

Ashkan Soltani, a former chief technologist with the Federal Trade Commission, testified before an international committee of parliamentarians about misinformation on Facebook. He claims that previous statements by a Facebook representative on how Facebook allowed third-party developers to access user data were misleading.

Hyperparty Facebook Groups Are the Next Big Challenge for Fact Checkers

Daniel Funke interviews Jonathan Albright, director of the Digital Forensics Initiative at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, about his recent intensive analysis of misinformation. The key finding: misinformation is still flourishing across the social network.

Hundreds of different political groups with thousands of members produce theories of conspiracy and misinformation, which then spread to more public parts of the platform. Moderators encourage other users to capture fake memes and photos to avoid Facebook's automated detection systems. And the company has been inconsistent in enforcing account rules that violate its community standards, Albright said.

Another note: One of the pages that Facebook wrote last month has generated more engagement in the past five years than the New York Times, Washington Post, and Breitbart combined.

House Committee Examines Testimony of Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, About False Statements

According to Sean Davis, at least one member of the House staff could pick it up in Dorsey for testifying that Twitter's policies are politically neutral. (Republicans believe policies that banning transgender people from being "bad guys" are "political".)

Another day of action on the neutrality of the internet attracts fewer big names

Klint Finley reports that Etsy and Tumblr will encourage their users to call lawmakers before December 10, the deadline for Congress to reinstate the protections of internet neutrality – but that tech giants remain for the future. essential to the distance of the fight.

Thursday's action day seems to attract much less support than previous similar actions. In 2014, in an effort to encourage the FCC to adopt strict rules of net neutrality, Netflix and many other sites joined a digital protest day by posting graphics on their sites, warning users that speed of the Internet could slow down without protection of net neutrality. As part of another day of action last year aimed at preventing the FCC from rejecting the rules of the Obama era, Mark Zuckerberg issued a statement on Facebook, stating the Effort website, Google has released a statement on its public policy blog and Amazon has joined hundreds of sites by posting charts in favor of net neutrality. But earlier this year, when activists lobbied the Senate to restore FCC protections, many of the most important sites were absent from public debate.

Silicon Valley representative, Ro Khanna, talks about technical regulation on the Vergecast

Sure The vergecastNilay Patel and Makena Kelly spoke to Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) of congressional plans to regulate technology platforms earlier this year. Khanna is to watch in 2019:

Khanna, representing the California district hosting the Apple and Google campuses, has been tasked with defining a set of principles that these companies should respect in terms of privacy, internet neutrality and anti-competitive behavior. He has toured, consulting think tanks, the creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, and the technology companies themselves. From these discussions, Khanna was able to set up a framework of 10 rights that US citizens should have when they are on the Internet.

Somewhere else

Facebook and Twitter suppress Amnesty International's baby-sitters assessment service

Drew Harwell has published an article on Predictim, a startup that "analyzes the online stories of babysitters, including on Facebook and Twitter, and offers evaluations indicating whether they are likely to use drugs, to be victims intimidation or having a "bad attitude". " all a little dystopian for their tastes and revokes API access.

Steemit fires nearly 70% of its team to reduce operating costs as cryptocurrency prices drop

Steemit once sent me numerous press releases about how they would reinvent the social network by putting it on the blockchain and paying people for their successful publications. It was a noble effort and, it seems, doomed to failure. The problem seems to be that Steemit's execution costs real money, rather than encryption tokens:

Steemit said the move is a result of the weak cryptocurrency market. Recently, the profitability of the automated sale of native native STEEM cryptocurrency has decreased, while the costs of running full Steem nodes have increased. Steemit will now focus its efforts on reducing the product's operating costs.

Young artists and producers adopt micro-monetization

Taylor Lorenz explores the "era of micro-monetization," in which every social interaction is for sale. Who feels sad now next to me?

Noah would not tell me exactly what he reports every month on social media promotion, but contracts like this can quickly be added. "For a story, it can range from $ 70 to $ 200, depending on how long they want," he said. He charges $ 80 for an Instagram Stories swipe-up or a standard Twitter retweet, $ 100 for $ 150 for a quote tweet, and $ 150 for a tweet or post on his Instagram feed. But everything is negotiable depending on the time: a job that only lives for three hours will be much cheaper than the one that will stay in place for 48 hours. It currently has 33,000 followers on Instagram and more than 80,000 on Twitter.

Scoop: Imran Khan, former Snap executive, raises $ 17.5 million for a new start

Snap lost $ 159 in the last quarter. It is therefore natural that the person in charge of the operation of this company has received $ 17.5 million to launch a "multi-brand retailer for millennia".

launches

YouTube to make originals available for free viewing supported by advertising

YouTube Red, now called Premium, hosted a variety of original (1) generally unassailable content, at least for those who did not grow up in the PewDiePie tradition and (2) that did not generate a lot of subscription revenue, which was his initial goal. Todd Spangler reports that Google is changing course and making original series like this one. Karate Kid benefits accessible to all, supported by announcements. (Whenever I talk about YouTube Premium, I feel the need to say that paying to remove ads from YouTube is one of the subscriptions that I like the most – I use the service so more common now, the benefit to the user is huge.)

Twitter has banned transgender people who are hurting themselves

Twitter's hateful content policy now explicitly prohibits transgender people with misconceptions or misconceptions, as well as other tactics of harassment and abuse, reports Adi Robertson. The company said it was previously implicit in its hate speech policy, but like many Twitter policies, it was erratically applied.

Connect people to local news and their communities

The local news section of the Facebook app now extends to 400 cities and the company is testing alerts from government pages on relevant issues and crises.

Take

It's time for Silicon Valley to become too small for Sheryl Sandbergs

Jessi Hempel says it's time to retire from the idea that only one powerful executive can repair a company made up mostly of men:

Of course, Sandberg must now be held responsible for the role she played in Facebook's current mess. And then we need to recover the corrective-shiro status from Sandberg and all the other Badass COOs working in the technology sector. Instead, we need to demand that the most promising companies in the technology sector – no longer the dormitory startups but, in fact, more valuable than many of the industry pillars that run the Fortune 500 – be managed old. They would do well to hire CEOs, regardless of their founding status, who are accountable to boards of directors who can lead them and even fire them, instead of having to fend for themselves.

How to survive the next era of technology (Slow down and be aware)

Farhad Manjoo retires from a column at Time so that he can start writing another column at the Time. In a (great!) Farewell speech, he tells us, among other tips, to stop trying new things so easily:

That's why the most important lesson I learned from this article is: slow down a bit. Do not jump on the novelty. If there are not bugs or nightmares for security, it probably contains another unforeseen and emerging risk – and whatever its short-term benefits, you can live to regret it.

Fox News is not a normal media company. We must stop treating it as such.

David Klion says Fox News should be removed from polite society. Thought experiment: what would happen if the Definers had launched a campaign blaming the world's ills on Fox News instead of George Soros? Would we have been more or less friendly?

The damage done by Fox News goes well beyond the triggering of libraries. In the run-up to the November election, Fox spoke of an imminent "invasion" of Central American migrants more than 60 times, making it a central part of national news coverage. This gave substance to the conspiracy theory that Democratic donors like George Soros are striving to undermine America by flooding it with migrants and refugees. This vicious lie – as false and malicious as anything that Russian propagandists pushed on Facebook in 2016 – seems to have directly inspired the massacre of Jewish worshipers at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue last month.

It was a particularly violent demonstration of the hatred and resentment that Fox News had spread among millions of Americans, but do not doubt: this society is more responsible for the national climate of xenophobia that allowed the presidency of Trump that any other actor.

And finally …

The big cow has sparked a lot of hope and joy

Once upon a time, when the world was sad and broken, an astonishing image went through all the discussions to unite people in fear. The picture was a cow – a very big cow. Finally, skeptics would emerge to say no, it was not a cow, but actually an ox. But even these debates could not contain the joy of people, so desperate were they for a total gathering. They would not stop looking. They refused to be intimidated.

Talk to me

Send me tips, comments, questions and big ass cows: casey@theverge.com.


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