🤠 Howdy cyber pals and welcome to your weekly blast of tech gossip
This week was sort of okay I guess? 🤷♀️. It's an Apple sandwich!
- Facebook are actively facilitating misinformation by using a thing they call XCheck
- Apple VS Epic: a judge agrees that Apple's practices are naughty, but changes nothing!
- New douche swag dropped: some very lame glasses, by Facebook.
💧 There's been a leak
This week the tech blogs have been a-buzz with XCheck: a process that Facebook has been using to protect high-profile accounts from any real content moderation.
🧆 Some light, digestible nuggets:
- Facebook say that everyone gets the same content moderation rules applied to them, and that XCheck was only meant to provide extra quality control for celebrities and politicians etc.
- So basically, in the same breath they said that everyone gets the same treatment while describing how XCheck provides special treatment 💆♀️
- 5.8 million users are protected by XCheck; flagged posts made by these users are meant to go to 'better' content moderators. But this only happens 10% of the time.
So, in effect, those with the most power and social capital get to say whatever they want without consequence — I don't know why I'm writing this down, this isn't news at all, this is just a bland description of the status quo.
🍏 vs 🎮 : a trial for hypocrites
Right so over the weekend, we finally received a 'split ruling' on the whole Epic VS Apple thingo.
ICYMI: a few months ago there was a trial between Epic Games and Apple because Epic think that Apple's 30% cut of all in-app purchases is unfair (it is), so they decided to bypass it altogether. Someone live tweeted the proceedings, and I found this both useful and hilarious — maybe you will too.
👩⚖️ Okay so what was the ruling? Here are some facts, itemised for your pleasure.
- First of all, neither side really got what wanted — it was lose-lose with a sprinkle of vindication.
- The judge said that forcing developers to use Apple's payment methods for in-app purchases is unlawful, and that "the 30% is not tied to anything in particular and can be changed."
- What a twist: in spite of her above statement, she did not order them to stop charging the 30%. She only said that Apple had to start allowing developers to provide other payment methods
Why Apple are kind of okay with this: offering other payment methods will obviously split people away from using Apple's method (the one that gives them that cheeky 30%). BUT ultimately, people love convenience: no one wants to be forwarded on to a glitchy Sage Pay screen while trying to buy more turns on Candy Crush — just scan my face, take my money, and leave me alone.
Why Epic are kind of okay with this: the judge did say in the ruling that she thinks that depriving users from other payment methods is illegal — so she agrees with Epic in theory, making them look slightly 'right' and also like some kind of underdog (an underdog who's not unfamiliar with exploiting people for economic gain). Of course, the judge's ruling was a big pile of nothing — practically, not much will change.
Before we move on from this, I must remind all of you about why ALL app stores are generally terrible (not just Apple's, but they did start the trend — just like with having overly happy people in blue t-shirts stand in the entrance of phone shops):
- Scams: they impose their own rules of what a 'good' app is and then don't even enforce them properly: e.g. dumb 'slime apps' that are meant to be relaxing and fun make it through, but are poorly made, cost $12.99 a week, and sometimes don't even do anything.
- Bad UX: outside of the scams, you have real apps that do have function or entertainment value, but are forced to use an ad revenue business model, and are therefore riddled with ugly banners and pop-ups, entirely ruining the UX.
- Shoddy SDKs: app stores implicitly force developers to make bad apps, and fast. App stores have conditioned to expect to pay less than a quid for software. But apps cost a lot more to make, so developers have to rely on pumping their apps full of ad tech, and building quickly with the Facebook SDK — just so they can break even. It's basically the app equivalent of clickbait. It's content that is designed for ad impressions.
Even Epic have their own store. And you HAVE to get it to play their games, or any other games that are published by them. Which means... consumers don't have a choice. I never WANTED the Epic Games Store on my computer — I just wanted to play Untitled Goose Game. Do you see the hypocrisy?
🕶️ Facebook's cool new spy glasses
These silly AR glasses just hit the shelves. Shocking revelation: they do not have AR capabilities, and they look exactly like a pair of normal Ray-Bans, despite being armed with a 5 megapixel camera. So in other words: they do not live up to the promise, and instead gather data on you without your knowledge — classic Facebook product traits.
So what's the camera for? Well, maybe it will have AR in it one day, somehow. So if you're feeling down you can super-impose rainbows and butterflies and a naked celebrity into your field of vision. But right now? It's for taking covert photos of people for absolutely no reason.
What this means for us: Facebook are, as I often say, worming their way into as many peripheral industries as possible. We all know about Mark Zuckerberg's unbridled fetish for the metaverse, and his creepy obsession with making sure his technology touches every person on the planet.
😋 My sturdy advice → resist the urge to submit; give in to the urge to slap Ray-Bans off of a stranger's face.
Please, try and have a nice weekend – I know everything is awful sometimes, but you are a strong, powerful internet user and I love you.