👍 Stifling Innovation
FTC sues Meta over VR acquisition | Facebook does nothing to end ethnic violence in Kenya | Some guy is using AI to dig up lost bitcoin
Hi hi hi I can’t wait to schedule this and post and then drink a beer and deny climate change with my ongoing refusal to do anything about it.
This week was good! Finally 👍. (not because of the first thing, it’s mostly the last two things)
Facebook fails to reign in hate speech and misinformation in Kenya ahead of their general election
Lina Khan starts actually doing some regulating; silicon valley nearly explodes with rage
A guy in Newport has lost his Bitcoin — would you like to help him find it?
🤡 Amount of days since last misinfo campaign: 0
Kenya have a general election coming up, so naturally Facebook are helping some communities spread hate speech and incite violence — otherwise is it really an election? Facebook have said that they’ve taken steps to stop all the hate, but this was right before they approved ads in support of ethnic violence.
So, who knows what they’re doing, I guess. A few weeks ago I wrote about how content moderation is basically an impossible task at Facebook’s scale. And, even they do outsource to a company based in Kenya itself, their moderation efforts are still alluded by hate speech specifically about Kenyans. Result: the Kenyan regulator is calling for Facebook to stop running any ads in Kenya in the run up to the election. Either that, or they simply block the platform altogether.
☝️ This seems like a good idea, but the thing is: internet shutdowns do not work.
If Facebook is suspended, this will give ammunition to the right, who already think social media platforms are biased towards them
Blocking off one of the biggest channels for information-sharing will only increase misinformation, because it creates a vacuum into which rampant speculation is sucked.
These stories always bring me back to the same thing: misinformation campaigns can happen anywhere, these are not exclusive to social media. The problem with social media, especially Facebook, is the scale. When you have this many people talking to each other in one big space, you can guarantee that there will be bad actors using the platform how ever they like, to achieve their slimy goals.
🪅 “Oh darn, it’s Khan!”
Me and FTC chair Lina Khan have a complex relationship (she has no idea about this btw). On the one hand, I’ve found some of her decisions to be completely wrong and demonstrative of the fact that the FTC can’t even regulate it’s own pants on in the morning (I will be taking 0 criticism on this analogy). On the other hand I think she’s great and should perhaps become my wife.
This week she went against all advice coming from her smelly waft of a staff, and decided to move to sue Meta over their attempted acquisition of Within, a VR startup. As we know, Meta need as much VR tech as they can get if they expect to stay relevant. As we also know, they are, umm, ‘innovationally challenged’, so they just aggressively buy technology in lieu of building it themselves. I direct you now to this quote from a stupid New York Times article on the matter. Pay special attention to the bolded text.
“This week, Ms. Khan took her first step toward stopping the tech monopolies of the future when she sued to block a small acquisition by Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, of the virtual-reality fitness start-up Within. The deal was significant for Meta’s development of the so-called metaverse, which is a nascent technology and far from mainstream.”
Whoever wrote the piece has done everything they can to make Lina Khan look reckless and unreasonable: calling the acquisition ‘small’ as if it shouldn’t matter; describing the metaverse as ‘nascent and far from mainstream’ as if this very acquisition isn’t part of a wider to plan to propel it past ‘nascent’ and smash it into the mainstream with the intensity of a thousand suns.
Speaking of mainstream: why is all the rhetoric on this complete trash? Why is the story that she’s ‘upending antitrust standards’ as if that’s a bad thing? Both regulators and their critics have been sitting around scratching their heads over the last decade, completely appalled and astounded at Facebook’s monstrous growth and unacceptable disruption of democracy and web standards — even though they’re the ones who have the power to do something about it! Anyway, here’s another quote:
“’Regulators predicting future markets is a very, very dangerous precedent and position,’ said Aaron Levie, the chief executive of the cloud storage company Box. He warned that venture capitalists and entrepreneurs would become wary of going into new markets if regulators cut off the ability of companies like Meta to buy start-ups.”
Yes that’s it — tech startups aren’t even tech startups anymore, they’re just the unofficial R&D department for Big Tech firms, waiting to be absorbed. So, when people like this talk about stifling ‘innovation’, what they really mean is ‘their likelihood to be bought out’. Founders are just greedy capitalists who understand their place in the pecking order.
I also think that calling Lina out for trying to ‘predict future markets’ is a very lame stance, once again designed to make her look unreasonable. She’s actually doing the sensible thing that everyone else refuses to do: she’s looking at past mistakes and learning from them — god, someone stop her!
⛏️ Bitcoin excavation
This week the BBC of all people have released a story about a dumbass waste of skin who threw away a hard drive with 8,000 BTC on it in 2013, and would now like to use AI to find it in a landfill. This is what I mean when I say the world is a meme format that none of us could have ever predicted.
🧊 Cold, hard, facts:
This guy lost his Bitcoin and is making it everyone else’s problem
He is a software engineer, so naturally thinks that digging up a landfill to find one small object is as easy as ‘spinning up a server’
He has “secured funding” for an AI specialist who will apparently “retrain their model” to find the hard drive quicker??
Don’t worry, if he finds the 8,000 BTC (currently approx £150m), he will use 10% of the money to fund more crypto projects, including a “community owned mining facility”
So, his complete lack of a brain in 2013 has now transformed into some kind of large scale project that he says is for the good of the community, but really is to make him rich — this is literally the oldest crypto tale in the book.
That’s all for now. I hope you spend your weekend being out, proud, and flaming hot ❤️🔥