Tag Archives: Google

Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother? Kind of Looks Like It? by David Samuels

Between them, Big Tech and the government could dish up surveillance Orwell couldn’t dream of. From David Samuels at wired.com:

A FRIEND OF mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People’s Republic of China, was walking to work.

WHEN HE OFFERED to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she “needed the steps” on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating, which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.

China’s social rating system, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in 2014, will soon be a fact of lifefor many more Chinese.

By 2020, if the Party’s plan holds, every footstep, keystroke, like, dislike, social media contact, and posting tracked by the state will affect one’s social rating.

Personal “creditworthiness” or “trustworthiness” points will be used to reward and punish individuals and companies by granting or denying them access to public services like health care, travel, and employment, according to a plan released last year by the municipal government of Beijing. High-scoring individuals will find themselves in a “green channel,” where they can more easily access social opportunities, while those who take actions that are disapproved of by the state will be “unable to move a step.”

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Why Did Google Choose NOW to Remove “Don’t Be Evil” Clause from Its Code of Conduct? by Meadow Clark

Google no longer admonishes its employees not to be evil as part of its code of conduct. From Meadow Clark at theorganicprepper.com:

Google used to have an iconic clause in its code of conduct that said, “Don’t be evil.” Yet the clause was recently and quietly sent down the memory hole.

Given the recent House Judiciary Committee hearing involving Google CEO Sundar Pichai to testify on issues like the secretive Dragonfly project that would install a special censorship search engine for Chinese citizens…it’s a little creepy.

Did Google symbolically peel off its last visage of propriety when it dropped its don’t-be-evil clause?

Gizmodo reported in May that the “don’t be evil” concept went through a metamorphosis:

Google’s unofficial motto has long been the simple phrase “don’t be evil.” But that’s over, according to the code of conduct that Google distributes to its employees. The phrase was removed sometime in late April or early May, archives hosted by the Wayback Machine show.

“Don’t be evil” has been part of the company’s corporate code of conduct since 2000. When Google was reorganized under a new parent company, Alphabet, in 2015, Alphabet assumed a slightly adjusted version of the motto, “do the right thing.” However, Google retained its original “don’t be evil” language until the past several weeks. The phrase has been deeply incorporated into Google’s company culture—so much so that a version of the phrase has served as the wifi password on the shuttles that Google uses to ferry its employees to its Mountain View headquarters, sources told Gizmodo.

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The Inscrutable God, by Eric Peters

Google punishes Eric Peters, but doesn’t say why. From Peters at theburningplatform.com:

Been there, done that. Eric will be losing all his Google Adsense revenue shortly.

I get periodic emails from Goo-guhl, the deity who lords over the online universe. He is – apparently – angered by something I’ve posted on my web site. He threatens repercussions, as vengeful deities tend to do.

But I have no idea why Goo-guhl is angered.

He merely tells me that he is

“New violations were detected,” I am advised. “As a result, ad serving has been restricted or disabled on pages where these violations of the Adsense Program Policies were found.”

I am am further advised that I may “resolve” these issues if I ” . . . remove the violating content and request a review or remove the ad code from the violating pages.” 

But the deity dose not deign to tell me what the “issues” are.

Which leaves me in a conundrum as regards how to “resolve” them.

I find myself in the position of a savage supplicating before an online totem pole or digital Htzlopochtli. How many hearts must I cut out of the chests of sacrificial victims with my obsidian dagger? Htzlopochli is mute.

But, polite.

The deity has the effrontery to send his (its?) “kind regards.”

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Liberal Scorned: The Media Turns on Facebook and Google, by Charles Hugh Smith

Just because the top people at Google and Facebook are liberals doesn’t mean the companies aren’t—dare we say it?—greedy. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Here’s the ugly truth: Facebook and Google are profit-maximizing quasi-monopolies who will do anything to protect their monopolies.

Of the many remarkable trend changes of the past year, few are more striking than the fawning embrace of Facebook et al. by Big Media turning to an enraged sense of betrayal.Facebook and Google–by their own self-definitions, shining beacons of liberalism and goodness (we’re not evil, we’re fantabulous!)– were viewed by the famously liberal Big Media as allies in the fight against Trump, illiberalism, populism, deglobalization, etc.

Now, to their horror, Big Media has discovered that not only did their Big Tech sweethearts betray their affection and trust, they’re just another bunch of predatory profit-maximizing monopolies who will stab anyone and everyone in the back who gets in their way to higher profits and more power.

It would be sad if it wasn’t so pathetic. Poor Big Media, so anxious to be hip and with it, so anxious to impress social media while trying to exploit its reach to prop up their own dying business model. Big Media, so easily seduced by Big Tech: we’re liberal, too, and together we’ll lead the world out of darkness into light, blah blah blah.

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Shocking NYT Expose Reveals Facebook’s Scramble To Label Liberal Critics Soros-Operatives While Trashing Google And Apple, by Tyler Durden

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have no discernible principles. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

The New York Times has painted a 5,300 word picture of an out-of-control Facebook’s desperate and incompetent damage control measures in the wake of multiple scandals.

Based on interviews with over 50 current and former company executives, lawmakers, government officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members – most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity – the Times illustrates how Facebook resorted to mercenary tactics when it came to combatting criticism over everything from Russian ad-spending during the 2016 US election, to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to the platform’s blind eye towards corrupt governments using the social network to commit atrocities around the world.

as evidence accumulated that Facebook’s power could also be exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg stumbled. Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view. –NYT

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It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Google, by Mark Nestmann

If the history of business is any guide, Google too shall pass. From Mark Nestmann at lewrockwell.com:

A few months ago, the Verge leaked a training video from Google. The video, obviously not intended for public distribution, described the data produced by a girl on her cell phone – all snatched up by Google without her awareness.

That data, according to the video, “describes our actions, decisions, preferences, movement, and relationships.” Google uses the analogy of a ledger, with the data siphoned off the web by the internet giant being “a constantly evolving representation of who we are.”

The ledger, of course, is you. And the video made it clear that Google believes you do not own the data about you, but that you are merely a “transient carrier” of it.  What’s more, Google suggests that over time, it could provide “more inputs” to the ledger with the goal of modifying your behavior.

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Tech talent balks at government work, by Ali Breland

Almost everything governments do is immoral, so the reluctance to work on government projects is understandable. There are still some honest people left in the world. From Ali Breland at thehill.com:

Workers at Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies are increasingly questioning their employers on the ethics of their work, in some cases leaving jobs and publicly rejecting recruiting offers to make a stand.

The pushback comes as tech companies have expanded into controversial projects, taking big-dollar contracts to provide services to the government and military. That work touches on a range of contentious issues from surveillance, intelligence and data collection to military weaponry.

The highly public protests are raising worries that the industry’s business dealings with government could make it harder to recruit and keep top talent.

In one high-profile example, Matt Meshulam, a software engineer based in Chicago, received an email from an Amazon recruiter in August. But instead of setting up a time to speak, he sent back a quick note explaining why he had no interest in working at the tech behemoth.

“I am not willing to consider opportunities with Amazon as long as it sells facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies, and enables ICE’s separation of immigrant families by providing technology to Palantir,” he wrote, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Meshulam even shared parts of his letter on Twitter.

Meshulam is one of a number of engineers who have publicly turned down recruiters from high-profile tech companies under the hashtag #TechWontBuildIt.

Their reasons range from corporate efforts to thwart unionization, such as Tesla, to concerns over Facebook’s data privacy practices.