And first up today we have the continuing story of Australian media vs Google and Facebook
The Australian reports that “Google said it was burying links from traditional media outlets in some search results”
The company has described the actions as an “experiment”, and just one of tens of thousands it conducts every year.
But in the current cold war between big tech and big media, the experiment has raised eyebrows
The Greens slammed Google’s hiding Australian news content in its search engine for some users as a “scaremongering tactic” while Opposition communications spokesman Tim Watts said his party would support a “workable code”.
The New York Times has an incredible story on Twitter’s ban on Trump
According to reports, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was “working remotely from a private island in French Polynesia when the decision was made.
The hands off CEO heard about Trump’s 12 hr ban after it had happened. Instead, the decision was made by twitter’s top lawyer Vijaya Gadde.
Once Trump’s 12hr ban was lifted, the company monitored Trump’s tweets, just two of them, before permanently banning the account.
Twitter had long resisted silencing Trump, but during the 12hr ban, over 300 Twitter employees signed a company wide letter asking for the ban to become permanent.
Last Wednesday, Dorsey tweeted that he did “not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump” because “a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation.”
Sticking with the US, and dating apps Bumble and Tinder are now on the front line of identifying rioters at the US Capitol.
The Washington Post reports the apps are using images captured from inside the Capitol siege and to identify and ban rioters’ accounts.
Alongside the ban, there appears to be a grassroots campaign of users identifying rioters, and then passing along their details to the FBI.
According to the report, “Many women in Washington over the past two weeks had taken notice of a surge in conservative men on dating apps, many wearing Make America Great Again hats or other markers of support for President Trump rarely seen in an overwhelmingly Democratic city.”
One user said it was “her civic duty” to swipe on these accounts, get all the information available, and pass it along to the FBI.
This idea has sparked a debate on “ethical doxxing” – when is it ethical to turn in an account online?
And finally, Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal has a great article on the algorithms that rule our lives.
It’s one of the simplest breakdowns I’ve ever read of the power of the algorithm, and it’s a shame it’s behind a paywall.
Stern argues we lost control of social media back in 2016, when Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube replaced the standard chronological feed with one curated by artificial intelligence.
“Bye-bye, feeds that showed everything and everyone we followed in an unending, chronologically ordered river. Hello, high-energy feeds that popped with must-clicks.”
“at the heart of it all, this is still a gigantic technology problem: Computers are in charge of what we see and they’re operating without transparency.”
Stern ends the story with 3 suggestions to make social media great again:
- No ads or algorithms. Which is not likely from any of the majors, but Stern points to a new social media network, MeWe, which is trying that model
- Deprioritize the destructive” – here Stern calls on big tech to adjust the algorithms to not promote harmful content.
- Give users control. Stern explains the way to turn off the algorithms as much as possible at a user level.
If you have questions or comments for the show, you can find us on Twitter @peterwells and @tessbennett – or leave us a review on Apple Podcasts with feedback.
Thanks for listening, and we’ll speak to you tomorrow