Lots of people really admire people who are smart and greedy enough to make themselves mega-rich. I fit, needless to say, neither of those categories. Elon Musk — maker of a mini-sub that never got used, hypothetical saviour of the Flint, Michigan water crisis, general over-promiser and under-deliverer — has been one of the biggest donors to a political action committee with the primary goal of maintaining Republican control in the US House of Representatives. He’s been giving to Republicans for years including to accused child sex abuser Dennis Hastert and Dana Rohrabacher, a man who believes it is ok to refuse to sell your home to a gay person. (To be fair he has also given money to Democrats)
The bottom line is, he supports those he thinks will support his own aspirations. However, he has signed (along with Australian scientists) a pledge against killer robots.
Speaking of rich twits who can’t seem to align morals with business, after a rough week of criticism over Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s shoddy explanation for why he won’t ban conspiracy site Infowars — including a very awkward tangent into apparently believing Holocaust deniers are not “intentionally getting it wrong” — the social media giant has announced it will begin removing misinformation that provokes real-world violence. According to The New York Times, the new policy is largely a response to episodes in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India where rumours spread rapidly on Facebook, leading to targeted attacks on ethnic minorities.
Google — Yeah you knew it was coming … Commenting on the record $5 billion fine on Google by the European Commission, privacy focused search engine DuckDuckGo said it welcomes the decision as it has “felt [Google’s] effects first hand for many years and has led directly to us having less market share on Android vs iOS and in general mobile vs desktop.”
Up until just last year, it was impossible to add DuckDuckGo to Chrome on Android, and it is still impossible on Chrome on iOS [of for goodness sake, is there anyone on iOS still using Chrome? JUST DON’T!]. We are also not included in the default list of search options like we are in Safari, even though we are among the top search engines in many countries. The Google search widget is featured prominently on most Android builds and is impossible to change the search provider. For a long time it was also impossible to even remove this widget without installing a launcher that effectively changed the whole way the OS works. “Their anti-competitive search behavior isn’t limited to Android. Every time we update our Chrome browser extension, all of our users are faced with an official-looking dialogue asking them if they’d like to revert their search settings and disable the entire extension”. Google also owns http://duck.com and points it directly at Google search, which consistently confuses DuckDuckGo users. [DuckDuckGo is an untraceable search engine with a focus on privacy – Apple users can default it over Google as Safari’s search engine.]
Around the world — Hackers account for 90% of of e-commerce sites’ global login traffic, according to a report by cyber security firm Shape Security. They reportedly use programs to apply stolen data acquired on the dark web in an effort to login to websites and grab something of value like cash, airline points, or merchandise.
A bill just passed in Egypt that empowers the government to block users on social media for spreading “fake news” if they have over 5000 followers. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi still needed to ratify the legislation into law, which he is expected to do given his government’s unmerited crackdowns on journalists and critics.
China: A prestigious college in Beijing reportedly tried to bar a student because his father was on a government blacklist and it’s causing huge controversy in China. According to state media reports, a high school student with the surname Rao in the eastern city of Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province, was accepted on the back of his score in China’s fiendishly difficult and incredibly competitive national college entrance exam. But before his family could enjoy Rao’s accomplishments, the college notified them he may not be able to attend because of his father’s poor credit standing …
Chinese police are reportedly testing waste water for the presence of illegal substances, using the data to find illegal drug manufacturers in the country. As drugs pass through people’s bodies, they may be leaving a trail for police to follow.
Chinese government reading iCloud data: Six months ago Apple caused controversy by announcing its intentions to move Chinese users’ iCloud keys out of the US and into China, in order to comply with Chinese law. Now, that data, which includes emails, text messages and pictures, is being looked after by government-owned mobile operator China Telecom, so users and human rights activists alike have big concerns.
The New Zealand company behind a landmark trial of a four-day working week has concluded it was an unmitigated success, with 78% of employees feeling they were able to successfully manage their work-life balance, an increase of 24 percentage points. Job and life satisfaction increased on all levels across the home and work front, with employees performing better in their jobs and enjoying them more than before the experiment.
Rich Norwegian millennials — Best known for its Viking history, snow sports and jaw-dropping fjords, Norway is making a new name for itself as the only major economy in Europe where young people are getting markedly richer. [Neo Liberals, you let this country escape your clutches!] People in their early thirties in Norway have an average annual disposable household income of around 460,000 kroner (around US$56,200). Young Norwegians have enjoyed a 13% rise in disposable household income in real terms compared to Generation X (those born between 1966 and 1980) when they were the same age. These startling figures come from the largest comparative wealth data set in the world, the Luxembourg Income Database, and were analysed in a recent report on generational incomes for the UK Think Tank The Resolution Foundation.