Thomas Friedman | Cyberspace Plus Trump Almost Killed Our Democracy. Can Europe Save Us? – The New York Times

To clean up the fake news on the internet, we should quickly get rid of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
“It stipulated that internet/cyberspace companies, which at the time were mostly crude search engines and aggregator sites . . . could not be held liable for defamatory or false posts by people using their platforms, the way The New York Times or CBS could be. ” Tom Friedman writes that Europe is leading the way.

. . . .  ” Shoshana Zuboff named this business model “surveillance capitalism,” and in a Times Op-Ed a year ago she detailed how these sites morphed from “bulletin boards” to “hyper-velocity global bloodstreams into which anyone may introduce a dangerous virus without a vaccine.”

Alas, our lawmakers were either too gridlocked, too bought off or too tempted to use these platforms themselves to produce serious legislation. And the platforms said, “Don’t blame us — regulate us.” But they all also used their vast lobbying powers to resist that.

The result? “While the Chinese have designed and deployed digital technologies to advance their system of authoritarian rule, the West has remained compromised and ambivalent,” Zuboff wrote last month in this paper. “This failure has left a void where democracy should be, and the dangerous result has been a two-decade drift toward private systems of surveillance and behavioral control outside the constraints of democratic governance.”

opean Union, which is already wary of the huge power of these big U.S. companies, has already forced search engines like Google to grant E.U. citizens the right to delete unfavorable or inaccurate online material about them from searches and is more sensitive to the dangers of fringe parties, will use its clout as the world’s largest trading bloc to show us how to democratically project our values into cyberspace.

A few weeks ago, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, released an open letter that pulled no punches. She noted that she had watched on television “as the angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. I found those images deeply unsettling. … This is what happens when messages spread by online platforms and social media become a threat to democracy.”

She noted that in December the E.U. leadership had proposed to the European Parliament a Digital Services Act and a Digital Market Act to make sure that “what is unlawful in the analogue world is in the future also unlawful online … We also want the platforms to provide transparency regarding how their algorithms work. … We also want clear requirements for internet firms to accept responsibility for the way in which they distribute, promote and remove content” and to mitigate the systemic risk they can pose.” . . .

Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, Worldwide – Gartner Reprint

Published 12 November 2020 – ID G00448214 – 46 min read


UCaaS providers develop, operate and maintain their own multitenant cloud-based UC services, which often prove less costly for customers overall than premises-based solutions. This Magic Quadrant will help digital workplace application leaders make the most suitable choice for their organization.

Strategic Planning Assumptions

By 2022, 74% of organizations will move at least 5% of their normally full-time, on-site workers, who had switched to working from home temporarily, into permanent remote-working positions.
By 2023, more than 50% of large organizations will connect to cloud providers using direct cloud connectivity from their WANs, up from 10% in 2019.
By 2024, 74% of the new unified communications licenses purchased by organizations will be cloud-based, up from 48% in 2019.

Source: Gartner Reprint

Opinion | Parler and the Far Right’s Ever-Evolving Digital Ecosystem – The New York Times

Candace Rondeaux and 

Ms. Rondeaux is a senior fellow with the Center on the Future of War. Ms. Hurlburt directs New Models of Policy Change at New America.

Credit…Kevin Van Aelst

“Since the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol in Washington, right-wing extremists on social media continue to glorify violence, draw new adherents and forge fresh plans for mayhem. This ominous activity presents an urgent threat to the security and social cohesion of the United States.

But there is another, less obvious takeaway: Experts know — or can know — an enormous amount about the nature and evolution of the threat.

Data sleuths have combed through a 70 terabyte cache of data from Parler, the now-defunct social media platform popular among the far right. Researchers have archived and mapped millions of these ethically hacked posts, wrangled by an anonymous, purportedly Austria-based hacker. The haul — potentially bigger than the WikiLeaks data dump of the Afghan War logs and the Democratic National Committee leak, combined — includes valuable evidence and planning of further attacks, mixed in with the private data of individuals who committed no crimes (along with quite a bit of pornography). The early takeaways are terrifying: According to at least one preliminary analysis, the frequency of hashtags on Parler referencing hanging or killing duly elected members of Congress more than doubled after the November elections.

Until the nation reckons with the self-inflicted wounds stemming from an under-regulated, unreformed social media information architecture, President Biden’s calls for healing and national unity won’t produce substantial, lasting results. The new administration needs a long-term plan to confront the escalating threat, as far-right insurgents migrate from one platform to the next.”

GoDaddy vs Namecheap – Which is the Best Domain Name Registrar?

WordPress Deals

Welcome to our in-depth comparison of GoDaddy vs Namecheap!

‘Why these two?’ you ask. Well, GoDaddy are the biggest domain registrar of them all (those Super Bowl ads have clearly paid off in terms of building up GoDaddy’s brand), while Namecheap are more of a niche registrar that have earned their spot on the radar through very attractive pricing and good quality of service.

So let’s have a look at which of the companies comes out on top, and which is going to be better for you when it comes to registering a new domain name. Here’s GoDaddy vs Namecheap:

Source: GoDaddy vs Namecheap – Which is the Best Domain Name Registrar?

How to Feature a Video on a Facebook Page (Tutorial) | Blogging Bistro

Facebook is aggressively challenging YouTube’s dominance by encouraging page admins to upload videos directly to Facebook rather than sharing links to YouTube videos.

In its beef-up of video functions, Facebook added three key features:

  1. Facebook auto-plays uploaded videos in the news feed (here’s how to turn off the auto-play feature).
  2. Facebook’s native video preview image is larger than YouTube previews.
  3. For advertisers, Facebook offers video ads, and for select advertisers, Premium Video Ads,  15-second commercials that auto-play without sound.

 

Source: How to Feature a Video on a Facebook Page (Tutorial) | Blogging Bistro

FAQ: How to get coronavirus exposure notifications on your phone – The Washington Post

November 18, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. EST
PLEASE NOTE

“The Washington Post is providing this important information about the coronavirus for free. For more free coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter where all stories are free to read.

This demonstration shows a close-contact alert from the Bluetooth coronavirus exposure notification app made by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.

Here’s a phone alert you wouldn’t want to miss: “You have likely been exposed.”

The coronavirus surge is upon us, and your phone might be able to help. About 100 million Americans now have the ability to get pop-up notifications from local health authorities when they’ve personally spent time near someone who later tested positive for the coronavirus.

But exposure notifications only work if you and the people around you turn them on. Yes, you!

There’s early evidence this anonymous smartphone technology works — but so far isn’t helping very many Americans. In August, I wrote about the first of these state-sponsored alerts, Virginia’s Covidwise app. In the three months since, only 488 people have used the state’s app to send alerts about a positive diagnosis to others.”

Source: FAQ: How to get coronavirus exposure notifications on your phone – The Washington Post

Is Charging Your Phone All Day Really That Bad? – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Guy is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company.

“If you’re unsure whether there’s a “right” way to charge your phone — or whether charging it too long, too often or too fast can damage the battery — you’re not alone. I’m a senior staff writer at Wirecutter, and I’ve been writing about phones and tech since 2011. Before that, I was an iPhone sales specialist at an Apple Store. Even with that experience under my belt, it has never been totally clear to me whether being careful about how often I recharge my phone actually extends the life of the battery enough to make a difference, or if it’s just another hassle in a world with far too many of them.

Some people just plug their phones into a charger (or toss them onto a wireless charging pad) whenever power is available. Others fastidiously keep their batteries between 40 percent and 80 percent, never allowing a full charge, guided by the belief that a battery will last longer as a result. Personally, I keep my iPhone on a Qi wireless charger on my desk all day while I’m at work, and I juice it up overnight, as well.

After speaking with battery researchers and the reuse experts at iFixit, reviewing studies on phone replacement trends and analyzing some user data from Wirecutter staffers, we’ve found that although micromanaging your phone’s battery is likely to extend its life to a small degree, the results might not be worth the inconvenience in the long run.

Charging your battery causes its performance to degrade over time, no matter how you do it. Smartphones are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which work by moving charge carriers (in this case, lithium ions) from one electrode to another. The ions move in one direction when charging and in the other when discharging.”

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Wi-Fi – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Santo Domingo is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company.

“For anyone used to working in a traditional office, working from home has revealed just how telecommuting-unfriendly a living space can be. While it may be uncomfortable to sit in a bad office chair or type under dim overhead lighting, a bad internet connection can really impede your productivity — or even grind it to a halt. Between Zoom meetings and remote learning, coupled with more members of the household hogging up bandwidth, you might have noticed a slower-than-usual connection.

As a senior writer at Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews and recommends products, who specializes in network devices, even I have had to contend with adequate, but not great, Wi-Fi connections.

Common causes for a crawling Wi-Fi connection include using the subpar router rented (for a fee!) from an internet service provider; a home with rooms far from a router; or a router that requires an extra boost to reach a corner of the home office, backyard patio or the surveillance camera over the garage door.

While every scenario is different, the symptoms are the same. Smart speakers disconnect from the internet, kids will gripe about buffering when swiping to the 15th TikTok in a row, or you may experience choppy audio and video on a work call (the worst sin of all).”

Editorial | How to Hold Big Tech’s Feet to the Fire – The New York Times

Here are some questions subcommittee members ought to consider:

The subcommittee will probably focus on the company’s relationship with third-party merchants that use the site to sell directly to consumers. Such merchants represent about 60 percent of Amazon’s sales. The company also operates an enormous shipping network, an advertising sales business and a cloud computing service that may raise alarms among regulators. Amazon’s trove of sales data gives it incredibly detailed insights into both customers and merchants.

  • After an investigation by German regulators, Amazon vowed last year to overhaul its contracts with third-party merchants. Did the company adequately do so? Does Amazon have contracts that require lower prices than other retailers’? Does it require exclusivity, meaning merchants cannot offer their goods on other sellers’ websites?

  • An Amazon lawyer told the panel, “We don’t use individual seller data directly to compete” with other businesses on Amazon’s site. But a Wall Street Journal report showed evidence that Amazon does just that, helping it create tailored private-label products that undercut competitors. What is the extent of Amazon’s use of seller data?

  • Amazon offers its sellers warehousing and shipping services worldwide. What does it seek in return, beyond a commission? Does Amazon use sales data from small merchants to source new products or to help larger sellers succeed, forcing out smaller ones?

  • In 2010, Amazon dropped diaper prices well below profitability, in a successful effort to force a competitor, Diapers.com, into acquisition talks. Amazon has since shuttered that site. Does Amazon view such actions as exclusionary? And is the company engaged in other such pricing wars in order to force a competitor to sell?

  • A Washington Post investigation showed that Amazon pushes consumers toward its private-label products even when they appear to want to buy name brands. Does Amazon favor its own products in consumers’ searches? Does it require fees or advertising purchases from merchants or brands to ensure their products rise to the top of searches?

While Apple is best known for its iPhones and laptops, it also has healthy competition from companies like Samsung and Lenovo in hardware sales. As a result, Mr. Cook is most likely to be asked about the structure of Apple’s App Store, where millions of software developers offer their apps for download.

  • Why does Apple permit only its own app store on iPhones?

  • Developers are generally required to offer their in-app purchases and paid subscriptions through Apple’s App Store, rather than on their own websites, where they may avoid Apple’s commissions. Apple has threatened to remove apps that don’t abide. How is this in the best interest of consumers and app developers?

  • Some app developers have alleged that Apple uses the detailed data it collects about app downloads to copy their ideas and that the company favors its own apps in searches. Is this true? If so, how does the company defend such practices?

Facebook’s aggressive acquisition strategy — including the giants Instagram and WhatsApp — makes it vulnerable to a breakup if regulators find that it was trying to rid the market of real competition.

  • Reportedly, the Federal Trade Commission had documents demonstrating Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 in an explicit bid to stifle a competitor. Were those documents mischaracterized? How did Facebook’s buying Instagram benefit consumers, and how did it determine the $1 billion price?

  • British lawmakers released emails showing Facebook used an analytics app to collect detailed data about competitors in order to snuff them out. That helped Facebook decide to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion, the emails show. Couldn’t that be called an abuse of market power? Does Facebook still cull proprietary data on rivals in order to protect its market leadership?

  • Advertisers can target customers on Facebook with incredible accuracy, in part because of the platform’s ability to track users’ internet browsing activity across the web. Shouldn’t users consider those terms onerous? Also, has Facebook made assurances about the privacy of customer data that it later reneged on? What assurances do consumers have that their data will remain private and not be repurposed for Facebook’s benefit?

  • According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook quashed efforts to make its site less politically divisive because partisan content drives more use of the site, which is beneficial to its advertising business. How can suppressing opposing views for users be viewed as anything but an abuse of power?

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