News Corp technology journalist, Jennifer Dudley Nicholson, had a list of seven things that “big tech” needs to do to “regain our trust” in the Daily Telegraph yesterday.
- Don’t be evil anymore (and start by being upfront)
- Stop tracking us when we ask you to stop tracking us
- Act like a publisher (because you are one)
- For the love of all that is good, shut down terrorist content
- Let elections happen offline
- Shut down anti-vax rabbit holes
- Save our grammar
So at face value that list appears all very good and innocuous etc. but not so much when you dig deeper.
- Don’t be evil anymore.
What do we read?
… Facebook then revealed plans to put connected cameras in our lounge rooms and launch its own cryptocurrency even though most people wouldn’t trust it with spare change. Here’s my advice: stop and take stock. If it feels creepy, stop doing it, and actually tell users what information you’re exploiting/selling/collecting about them. They’ll appreciate it more than finding out you’ve accidentally hijacked democracy.
Cameras in people’s lounge rooms and Libra are completely separate issues. Issuing a cryptocurrency is not creepy. Facebook etc. are NOT accidentally hijacking democracy. They are not doing it on purpose either.
2. Stop tracking us when we ask you to stop tracking us
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched court action against Google this year, alleging Aussies turned off ‘location history’ in their Android phones but still felt Google’s breath on their necks unless they also disabled the lesser known ‘web and activity’ setting.
I would be very surprised if the ACCC were able to produce a credible witness in court who felt Google’s breath on their necks – as opposed to this being a theoretical possibility that bureaucrats are pursuing. This case will probably be brought in Victoria where the need the need for actual credible witnesses is old hat.
3. Act like a publisher
This is the News Corp line – attempting to extort advertising revenue out of the tech companies.
But what do we read?
These companies should be held responsible for harmful, hateful, damaging, and deliberately misleading information on their own web servers, particularly when they don’t provide the means for users to adequately censor or turn off comments on inflammatory issues.
Hmmmmm. It seems to me that the people who post “harmful, hateful, damaging, and deliberately misleading information” on your social media feeds are, um, actually your friends and relatives. Use the block and mute functions freely and generously.
4. For the love of all that is good shut down terrorist content
Make up your mind. If the tech companies are publishers then terrorist content is news. I saw the 9-11 terrorist attack live on national television.
In any event, the tech companies do work hard to take down stuff. So this is a cheap shot criticism.
5. Let elections happen offline
Whahahahahahaha. Oh dear. Media company complaining about someone else trying to influence elections and politics.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg once dismissed online political interference as “a pretty crazy idea”. His comment has not aged well. It’s now widely accepted that Russia changed the outcome of America’s last presidential election.
Widely accepted by whom? That is just fake news. Fake. News.
Internet giants should not profit from deliberately misleading election ads and propaganda engineers should not be allowed to decide another government.
The only people I’m aware of having “deliberately misleading election ads” are the Labor Party at the 2016 election.
6. Shut down anti-vax rabbit holes
Censorship is an ugly thing. Even when the people who you want to censor are very wrong.
7. Save our grammar.
Yes. Twitter should have an edit button. But I doubt that would improve grammar and spelling online.