👎 ‘Private’ Interactions
WhatsApp spam out of control in India | Starlink internet failing in Ukraine | Remember Xcheck?
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This week was something I could have done without 👎**.** Let’s see why:
Elon Musk is going to ‘solve’ the war in Ukraine
WhatsApp has been ruined by spam in India
Meta’s Xcheck has given an Indian political official powers to remove Instagram posts all by himself
🪖 Isn’t it funny when private companies try and solve massive problems?
The answer is no: it’s not funny. Right at the start of the Ukraine war, Elon Musk’s vigorous and foreboding god complex prompted him to send Starlink kits over to Ukraine to keep their defenses connected to each other.
In theory, this was a good idea — and for a while it worked. But in practice what Ukraine has now is failing infrastructure when they need it most. There have been massive outages leaving military forces unable to talk to each other. Weird that even though the technology is brand new and has hardly been used by consumers, it didn’t somehow magically work perfectly in a crisis situation.
Even weirder that Musk cannot simply ‘solve’ this war by calling Putin a pedophile and sending a single motorboat over to Ukraine. Instead, he’s brainstorming his terrible ideas out loud on twitter, such as ‘why don’t the Ukrainians who have been invaded simply vote to decide whether they want to be part of Russia or not??’
This really is technosolutionism at its best: Elon’s final unsolicited nail in the none-of-your-business coffin was to complain that providing Starlink internet to Ukraine has cost him too much money. What a class act.
🥓 Wham bam thank you spam
So in India, WhatsApp is HUGE. It’s the main way people share and exchange information. This is exactly why over the last year, Meta have increased the WhatsApp business capabilities in the country, making it easier to send payments, deal with complaints, cancel subscriptions etc etc. What this means in practice for regular users is that they are now completely over-run with irrelevant spam from brands that they don’t care about.
Right… before we continue, I would like you to cast your mind back to 2019. So this was a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and Mark Zuckerberg decided to make a huge announcement about privacy. He wrote a ‘facebook note’ (🙄 ) about his ‘privacy focussed vision for social networking’. In this post, he made some radical — as in, radical for this context — statements about the importance of maximising privacy in social interactions. His shareholders and other capitalists called this a ‘pivot to privacy’ and wondered how he was even going to make it work, considering his business model relies heavily on the constant extraction of user data.
In the post he championed ‘private interactions’ and talked about how ‘the living room’ will soon be the preferred mode of connecting with each other over ‘the town square’. And he centred WhatsApp as a great example of this — reiterating over and over again that it is end-to-end encrypted (which should be the bare minimum for any messaging platform tbh) and that the conversations you have on there are only between you and your loved ones.
This was of course total rubbish, because it was just deflection. I don’t know any bigger ‘town square’ than Zuckerberg’s proposed metaverse, and WhatsApp is technically still a space for private interactions, but those interactions are happening between brands, and people who have to spend a few minutes everyday deleting their incessant messages. This tweet sums it up pretty well:
🤡 How to take down someone else’s post on Instagram
I don’t have time to give this story the love it deserves, but I don’t know if any of you remember Xcheck? It’s the ‘special powers’ that Meta will give high profile accounts so that they are not subject to the same levels of content moderation as regular users.
👍 Personally I think that this is great for:*
Keeping it real
*sorry did I say great I meant very bad.
That’s it for this week, have fun not turning the heating on until some arbitrary pre-specified date in deep-winter ✌️