On Friday, Bloomberg Businessweek writer Ashlee Vance opened up Twitter and started writing a post about his frustrations with Facebook. Specifically, how he’d been of the mind before now that people tend to over-attribute too much power to the social network, regarding its ability to influence all of us to change our thinking or bevahior as we scroll through the ads and tripe that fill our personalized Facebook News Feeds. Now, however, Vance lamented to his Twitter followers that “my 87-year-old dad and 73-year-old mum are refusing the (coronavirus) vaccine 100 percent based on stuff they saw on Facebook, and, um, I have some concerns.” It’s “pretty wild,” he continued, describing his parents as extremely pro-science. Still, they managed to somehow get “locked into a couple weirdo doctors on Facebook and are like different people now.”
To be fair, this is not to imply that coronavirus misinformation is not staggeringly abundant on Twitter. But Facebook, of course, is an order of magnitude bigger than its social networking rival — and, moreover, it’s hard not to be dismayed by that dark side of Facebook when also regarding the ongoing spat the company is engaged in with Apple. It’s evolved into a bitter rivalry between the two companies, we should add, and also saw a new expert voice weigh in on the matter on Friday: Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson.
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By way of a quick reminder, Apple announced last summer that iOS 14 would come with better privacy protections that push back against the ability of so many apps and services to track users around the internet. The way Apple decided to attack that problem is through the use of so-called “privacy labels” for apps, which will now inform users, in detail, about all the data that apps like Facebook, YouTube, Gmail and others collect. Apple will also force developers to ask for explicit permission to track users, and this is why Facebook went on the offensive in late December — taking out splashy ads in print media claiming that Apple will hurt small businesses and the entire web with its new privacy features.
In an interview with Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Andy Serwer, Isaacson was asked about what’s essentially become a cold war between Apple and Facebook, and the author spent some time weighing the pros and cons of the social network compared to the iPhone maker. “I think we always have to worry about whether tech is a force for good,” he said. “I think Apple actually is, in general, because it’s both protecting our privacy, and it’s not basing its entire business model on the advertising model, which means harvesting … all of your information and micro-targeting things to you.”
He hits on a great point, because one of the most important aspects of the Apple vs Facebook fight is that it’s actually bigger than things like data permissions and user tracking. Facebook has spent years being wrong about so much, of prizing growth over almost all else, that it’s hard for some people to give it the benefit of the doubt. About anything, ever, even when the company has legitimately positive stories it could tell.
Facebook’s “AI algorithms gave it an insatiable habit for lies and hate speech,” the MIT Technology Review notes in a fascinating new article about Facebook that attracted considerable attention on social media. “Now the man who built them can’t fix the problem.”
All that said, it’s hard to see how Facebook wins its war against Apple — which, yes, is about a much narrower set of issues than what Vance, for example, was frustrated with in his tweet. But all of it, nevertheless, matters, to the point that Apple is much more frequently seen as, in Isaacson’s words, a “force for good” or at least something approaching that. While a person would be hard-pressed to find a comparable number of people outside of Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, or its other offices around the world, to say something similar about it.
Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.
Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey
Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.
Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.
However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.
On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.
Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal
In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.
In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.
Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws
It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.
Russian social media laws
As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.
Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses
Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.
The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.
With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.
Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.
Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to email@example.com.