HELLO non-fungible readers, and welcome to the distributed ledger of ideas. Sorry I’m late — I was editing a 30-page document about how Big Tech perpetuates racialised harms, so naturally I had to recover by cry-wanking in the dark and praying to be sent to a slightly less bleak timeline.
This week was good! Finally 👍. Here’s why...
- The UK government want to crack down on misleading cryptocurrency ads (but you know, this government suck at everything except for deceptive partying so let’s see where this takes us)
- Some new antitrust laws threaten Apple’s App Store business model; Apple protest with faux cybersecurity concerns.
- Mark Zuckerberg cannot relate to humans; so he’s using machines to teach him what emotions are, the poor thing
🤡 Cybersecurity is a bunch of apples
Here’s something I got bored of quickly last year: Apple’s faux concern for our security.
I speak of this now because there are some new antitrust bills crystallising in the US right now, and Apple just don’t like them. Hahaha, a Big Tech company opposes some new antitrust legislation?? What WILL they think of next?
What will the bills do? Long story short: they will make it possible for iPhone users to download software from somewhere other than the App Store (gasps in market-dominance 🤯).
American politicians want these bills because: Apple (and Google and Amazon tbh), run their own little marketplace with their own little rules, and the rules are simply not fair: e.g. the rule that says Apple is entitled to a cut of all in-app purchases, which means apps cannot link out to other payment methods. Developers have to make apps that adhere to these silly rules, otherwise they won’t make money on their wretched slime scams (but obviously the app store also contains apps that are useful and don’t try to scam you blah blah blah 🙄).
Apple is against these bills because: it means they will make less money, OBVIOUSLY. But the line they’re spinning is that it will be bad for security. Technically, if you can download an app from just anywhere, it probably won’t be subject to the same stringent rules as the app store — which means you could load malicious software onto your devices without realising.
📣 OKAY, the problem with all of this is that both sides are kind of right — but also, they are very very wrong.
⚔️ Apple are wrong because: consumers and businesses have been loading malicious software onto their devices for decades now — including Apple devices. The App Store didn’t stop NSO’s Pegasus did it? Apple, Amazon, and Google just want to protect their interests by having control over their respective marketplaces; security is definitely a secondary concern.
⚔️ US law-makers are wrong because: lots of people are idiots, and lots of other people are quite mean. If we make it so that you can download things onto your phone from just anywhere, nearly all ‘cyber intelligence’ companies (like the NSO Group) and hackers will basically get a free pass into our phones — they will no longer have to devise complex and devious work-arounds. As is typical with crappy tech regulations, it probably won’t solve the problem it’s trying to solve (and if it does, it will be incidental), and it will DEFINITELY just cause more problems.
🐕 Missed Floki? Probably because the ad was taken down!
In November I wrote about the disturbing rise of very scammy cryptocurrency ads around London. Well, the chancellor of the exchequer has finally taken a breather from attending/lying about lockdown parties to finally do something about it. Wow!
So, while the treasury seems to really like cryptocurrency (calling it an ‘efficient’ way to make payments — which is absolutely is not), they will now tighten the rules on crypto-related marketing by treating crypto ads as they would any other financial promotions.
This is pretty good news — recent ads around London have been selling dumb coins like Floki, with messaging that basically amounts to ‘buy this now or you’ll miss out, and be a poor loser forever’. The Floki business model is actually quite similar to Apple’s App Store: Floki have created their own platform on which to sell Floki, and charge buyers 4% for the privilege — it’s scammy as fuck.
But how are the government going to define a ‘cryptoasset’ as they put it? Well, if you traverse this very boring document you’ll see that their definition will definitely include major coins like Bitcoin and Ether, but is purposefully leaving out NFTs. Their reasoning for this is fuzzy, one of which is that technically NFTs can encapsulate non-financial products (like art and music) and so this is out of scope. But the main reason, which they admit in a round-about way, is that they don’t properly understand how they work — what a surprise.
🙈 Running out of ways to complain about the metaverse? I got you
As was crushingly obvious when Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014, a series of recently filed patents suggest that they will soon be further leveraging this technology to make money from biometrics. How?
- The metaverse will be an unholy playground of e-commerce; a virtual tar-pit of advertisements ensconced in promise of live ‘experiences’ and opportunities to ‘connect’ with each other.
- This highly controlled virtual environment means that the companies who take up the most space (e.g. Meta) will be able to measure, via their own hardware, eye movement, facial expressions, and the way you hold your body.
- Gathering this data will of course help Meta et al sell you more ‘personalised’ content, and, just like behavioural advertising already has done outside of the metaverse, will probably pepper our online experiences with noisy bullshit, and lead to the further entrenchment of inequality, and destabilisation of democracy. But WHATEVER I guess!
☝️ Important fact: there is no evidence to suggest that facial expressions are a reliable way of reading a human’s emotions — once again, Big Tech want to use machines to draw inaccurate conclusions about humans at scale, and sell this as a benefit to society.
I hope you’re enjoying your weekend! Goodbye x