"It's them or us, and it has to be us."
Wishful thinking, old chap.
Ten days ago, a New York judge revealed the full prosecution filings in a multi-state antitrust lawsuit against Google – one of many against the company, and of many more against the ad tech giants. There's too much to digest in a handful of days, and early headlines have concentrated on the claims that Google and Facebook …
It's getting kind of ironic to see journalists finally reporting on the bad things companies like google and facebook are doing, and the harm it does to peoples mental health, communities and even geopolitical agendas.
Because I've been pushing this mantra for the last decade... and all I've gotten in return is to be scoffed at, called paranoid and generally ignored.
So whilst it's nice to see 'some' people waking up to the damage, it doesn't change a damn thing and it needs to be regulated and they need to be broken up.
They have reported on them ad-nauseam for years.
They have not been quiet about it. Any excuse to criticise them.
For the simple reason - the internet has a) stolen their customers gaze, b) stolen the advertising revenue, and c) promoted emotional clickbait over quality content
Not saying I'm taking sides here. Both have behaved appallingly over the last 10 years.
"c) promoted emotional clickbait over quality content"
Not just Google that do that. Now everyone does as, sadly, its been proven to work.
As I saw a headline in a local rag today
"Man hits woman with his bag and she's horrified when she sees what's inside it".
How many people have clicked that just because "I need to find out what's inside it".
It took 8 years from the start of proceedings against AT&T to the break up actually being a fact. I don't know how many years of complaints and agitation preceeded the start of the legal process.
Anyway maybe as we turn the corner into 2030 we will be able to celebrate "the Alphabet" being broken up into its constituent letters.
Sometimes you have to hold onto your dreams...
> It took 8 years from the start of proceedings against AT&T to the break up actually being a fact.
It took about 10 years (and 2 prosecutions) from the start of proceedings against Microsoft to the break up actually being a fact.
Then MS rolled the DoJ in a single-day Appeal hearing on a technical matter which legally constrained the Court to NOT consider any of the facts.
Sometimes you have to hold onto your dreams. But don't hold your breath.
And that's why, today, Microsoft is the almighty monopolist to end them all, way bigger than Alphabet or Meta...
I remember the 90s. Everyone said Microsoft couldn't be touched. But now they're almost irrelevant. Don't underestimate the power of change to lay low Google as well, in time. No matter what they do to prevent it.
It’s interesting to note that MS sells things like software and services, whereas Facebook and Google generally don’t. Sure, MS does free stuff too that probably has to rely on ad-tech to raise revenue but the company overall is not dependent on that.
Makes a difference I suspect, having real products for sale.
Lebre/Open -Office is for the Homegamer, or cash-straped college student. I for one am highly skeptical that your employer would use it over MicroSoft Offce, when Office is the de facto industry standard. It seems far more likely that your Employer, like mine... Are using an outdated standard copy of it. in my case O2010. Which seems about par for the corse, seeing as were still on Win7 here.
Consider for the moment that, M$ has alwasy been BIGGER then Apple, so being bigger than Apple as a modern statement of some discription as an argument doesnt quite hold ture. What is true is that majority of Systems out there are running Windows X at the moment, for whatever reason. Other People have since moved on to Linux, or macOS. Then there are the older folks, who ditched their PCs yonks ago, for the comfort of an iPad, or some Galaxy Phablet. Afterall they just want to google the latest news, or purchace something off Amazons. of which they could eithe scurry over to that uncomfortble Desk, or.... Remain in thei comfy chairs.
To that end we already saw how M$ can fail HARD! RIP WinMo10. You won't be missed
"didn't really work" is an understatement.
AT&T has reconstituted itself in a way which is immune to FTC action and no longer constrained by the 1920s "universal service to all" antitrust settlements
Along the way it has destroyed competition in such a way that there are now FEWER competing companies than there were before the breakup occurred (with _zero_ LECs now in existence) - and stricter legislated local monopolies too
It did work for a while. The RBOCs worked for a while but then the world changed completely under their feet. Mainly the technology change (the escape of the Internet out of academia and into the wide world), combined with a massive weakening in the willingness of the US government to regulate natural monopolies (not just in telecoms - and both Reps and Dems are equally guilty).
Nowadays, of course, the US telco industry has congress and regulators sitting in their pocket and they are rubbing their hands with glee to see the attention completely turned away from them onto the Internet giants.
I wonder what will happen when Starlink becomes ubiquitous? Maybe five years from now the vast majority of Internet connectivity (certainly residential) could be using their global satellite system. You can be anywhere and get fabulous connectivity. It will even shut up the brexiters living out in the styx. And how will foreign governments react? What will China do when you can stick a small unobtrusive aerial on your roof and bypass their firewall?
I think that's going to be transformative -- your everyday telecom provider is going to go bust, or at least probably only be able to offer business connectivity, because why would residential users use anything else? Rather like Google now.
I think that WILL be interesting. SpaceX the new bad boy?
 From that link Pre-orders are underway for this new satellite internet service, which promises to deliver broadband speeds up to 300 Mbps to anyone in the world regardless of where they might be. (my bold)
It will be interesting to see. Personally I think satellite internet will be a tiny sideshow.
The limiting problems include: very limited capacity, particularly on the downlinks; poor speeds, with no way to improve it, unlike fibre; very high costs and high prices to recover them; increasing "space environmental" pressure to limit LEO deployments; infrastructure very vulnerable to physical threats ("if you don't follow our rules/pay our taxes when your satellites are crossing our territory we will shoot them down").
And don't forget that commercial satellite internet operators will not let people use their service for free. You may be able to hide your rooftop aerial but you won't be able to hide your monthly payments. If they want to accept Chinese customers they will need to play by China's rules - including firewalls and logging.
Basically, once 80% of houses have terabit fibre connections (10 years? outside the dysfunctional US market, of course) satellite will return to being useless except for the rural minority.
"didn't really work" is an understatement
The issues over which AT&T was broken up are all moot now. No one in the US thinks about whether a call is local or long distance, it is all the same. Having a local landline monopoly is now nearly useless, the reason there are no longer any LECs is because a company that does only landline phone service cannot survive in today's world.
The breakup was successful in that it 1) forced AT&T off its long distance monopoly, and 2) split the local markets up. It was successful in that the remnants of those LECs spawned the two largest cellular carriers in the US, Verizon and "AT&T" (which acquired the name when one of those LECs bought what was left of the original AT&T) and the third carrier, T-Mobile now owns Sprint who was made possible by the opening up the long distance market.
The fact that regulators have allowed the cellular carriers to merge until there are only three viable nationwide carriers, and one of the former LECs (Centurylink nee Qwest nee Northwestern Bell) was unable to compete with those merged entities at a level that made it a player in the modern world is not an indictment of the AT&T breakup. It is rather an indictment of hands off regulation over the past 20+ years.
The "new economy" companies have been very successful in telling the FCC and FTC they should keep their hands off this market because they need scale to compete on a global basis.
If the AT&T breakup had been as unsuccessful as the Microsoft breakup, the entire US would have the choice of one carrier for cellular and they'd probably have been successful in legally blocking cable companies from competing in "their" market of information services so we'd have only one ISP as well.
The first time I visited the US, in the early 1990s, I tried to make a call from a pay phone. Instead of the phone ringing at the other end...
"This is your operator, which provider would you like to complete your call?" WTF is this crap? I know nothing about the US phone system.
Who's best/cheapest/fastest/reliable? "I'm sorry Sir, I'm not at liberty to give you that information".
So, what are the options? "AT&T, ...". Sure, pick them.
Maybe first on the list creates the monopoly.
Quite frankly, Google is too big, and too important, to break up.
If Gmail goes away; or worse, becomes a paid-for service, countless people are going to be left scrambling trying to unfuck their lives from the sudden catastrophe of losing their online identities.
It's too big to break up, too important to be left in the hands of adversarial (IE, profit-motivated) interests.
The only real solution, then, is nationalization. Seize Google, Alphabet, whatever you wanna call it, turn it into a nation-owned corporation like the USPS.
That, or just leave it be. Breaking up Google would be nothing short of a catastrophe for basically everyone.
Remember when your ISP, used to give you access to both an ISB backed eMail @ddress, and asscees the dark (EVIL WORLD), of Usenet?
Peperidge Farms remembers....
Then everyone moved to Gmail.... :(
Also where are you getting the idea that the USPS, is a state owned operation. Sure this was true pre Reagan, but since the mid-eighties the USPS, has been a private publicly owned operation.
In the UK we still haven't been able to dislodge BT from it's uncompetative pole position in the ISP market, all carriers except Virgin must use the BT hardware equipment. Peeps have been screaming out for years that it's not competative, but our privileged society wouldn't be what it is without that same old blue chip insider trading bollox.......which supposedly distinguishes democratic society from a tryannical one.
In addition to Virgin's 50% UK coverage, 4G is available cheaply to around 99% of the UK. There are several altnets providing FTTP to some parts of the country and Starlink satellite broadband is available as a beta test.
In fact, Openreach is starting to compete with Virgin for high speed internet by overbuilding their network with FTTP over the next five years.
In the UK we still haven't been able to dislodge BT from it's uncompetative pole position in the ISP market, all carriers except Virgin must use the BT hardware equipment.
Not true. Anyone with deep enough pockets can install their own equipment. And the costs can be significantly reduced by things like PIA which mean you (probably) don't have to dig your own trenches or install your own poles. If you need rack space in an exchange BT are obliged to accommodate you if at all possible. In addition Ofcom does a pretty good job of keeping prices down on the various wholesale services that BT make available to third parties.
The only reason you don't see a huge amount of that going on(*) is because it costs money to wire over 25 million properties up and frankly it's not worth the bother. The best place to differentiate yourself is in the actual service and the UK has a thriving ISP market with more choice than you can shake a router at.
(*)Although LLU is still quite popular once the DSLAMs moved out of exchanges into neighbourhoods most CPs lost interest so instead paid BT for an ethernet point in the exchange where they could install their own backhaul.
And you might be surprised at how many backhaul providers have equipment in BT exchanges and their own national network. BT is still the biggest because it's everywhere but BT is not the only game in town.
Effectively Google owns the Internet and Facebook owns the content. Your corporate website must meet Googles' requirements if you want it to be found by users searching for your products and you have to pay Facebook for adverts, otherwise they will sell your referances to your competitors.
So corporations are just food for Google and Facebook - compare this to the world and corporations are cows and sheep, users are just grass.
I don't think it is easy to ignore any of the bad corporate actors in the world; we have our own here in Canada, too, with Bell Canada and Rogers collectively engendering all the societal hatred that Ma Bell used to induce south of the border.
Worse, I think getting in the habit of saying which is "worse" and must be "dealt with first" lets the majority get away with things for far too long while people dither and dawdle arguing over who they hate more.
Mind you, the Roger's family meltdown currently in the news is highly entertaining, and it is Real World News, not some scripted "reality" TV. :)
Until you realise that the results you’re shown are biased toward Google making money, not you getting complete information. They just rely on you taking what they’re putting on a webpage as being the last word on any particular search query, when it’s often not.
So, a little bit useful, but actually they’re ripping you off too.
DuckDuckGo - my default search. If I can't find "it" there, I open a sandboxed browser (that has no saved history or cache) and hold my nose and use google.
Usually works the first time with DuckDuckGo, though.
(and I typically scroll down immediately)
Especially if you are using Firefox. They now have a farcebook container extension which "* prevents Facebook from tracking you around the web. The Facebook Container extension for Firefox helps you take control and isolate your web activity from Facebook." It creates a tab which hides everything you do in that tab from all the others you have open and vice versa. Just open about:addons search for facebook and make sure you use the genuine Mozilla extension.
* description by Mozilla
> Effectively Google owns the Internet and Facebook owns the content
I'll give you that Google and Facebook control and influence a lot, but at the end of the day that is just stuff on port 443 (and historically port 80), which is not the Internet. All it takes is for the next great thing to come along and they will be as dead as Gopher. All it would take is for a lightweight distributed protocol with built in search, privacy and no tracking cookies. I'm not saying it would be easy, but it is not impossible. If you tried to convince people 30 years ago that their "need" to use every day application would be a web browser, they would be wheeling you into an insane asylum.
If it is very well designed you are paying for the storage, RAM, CPU and network bandwidth used to create update and access the distributed data and index. I could list the real problems, but the people who use the system being the actual product is near the bottom of that very long list.
Oh, April days can be cold in the northern hemisphere too. Especially since the date isn't specified, so April 1 is entirely possible. A lot of places haven't really gotten into spring by then.
If you're asking though, it's the opening sentence of 1984. Not a very illustrative sentence for the rest of the book, but famous enough that people recognize it.
"What a great line. Maybe I should be rereading that. (1984)"
You could wait for the TV mini-series and not bother with the tedium of reading it again :-)
(Although from the announcement and PR, it's based on the stage play adaption, not the book and has some pretty gory torture scenes, so maybe not, eh?)
As the saying goes... Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.
Though I think it was sort of a death by a thousand cuts sort of thing. Sometimes it was easy to look the other way on one individual action, or it might take a little while before the full extent of things becomes clear (like the AMP example from the article). As we, the people, have become increasingly tribal. Everyone likes to think that their tribe can do no evil, while the hated other tribe from up/down the hill or in the next valley is responsible for everything wrong with the world. As people we develop these weird cult-like fascinations with companies or individuals at companies. Look at the rabid followers for Apple, or may all the gods that were, are, and will be help you if you ever say something bad about Elon Musk or Tesla. On this side of the Atlantic, politicians get death threats for asking people to wear masks or get vaccinated against covid.
Of course, as I believe it was The Register that pointed out, Google already sort of split itself up when it created the umbrella corp Alphabet, because they probably figured if they didn't, that regulators would come knocking on their door a lot sooner. Splitting up, on paper anyway, voluntarily was a way to stave off the inevitable and make a little more money for the top shareholders before that day comes. Now Facebook is trying to shamelessly copy Google with Meta, but they're like the absentee father who shows up for their kid's birthday party a week late, without a present, and so drunk they can barely stand up.
"Google already sort of split itself up when it created the umbrella corp Alphabet,"
I suppose you're right that it looks better on paper (instead of "Google does X, Y and Z" it's "Google does X, FitBit does Y, and Waymo does Z"), but forming a huge conglomerate that owns many levels of the customer interaction chain at a scale that effectively crowds out all competition is kind of the opposite of splitting up.
I've been pushing this mantra for the last decade... and all I've gotten in return is to be scoffed at, called paranoid and generally ignored.
the choir says "Amen"
I've been avoiding social media and even google for a long time, now. Sometimes when it makes sense I use their services, but I do it from SANDBOXED browsers that erase all history when I'm done.
and as for 'droid devices, I'm just careful.
This is the face of end stage democratic capitalism. Infrastructure is crumbling, social turmoil and division is spreading, growing shortage of goods, high unemployment together with labor shortages, it's 1980s Russia all over again, except it is greedy corporations instead of party fat cats causing the rot. Get ready for a bumpy transition to Russian/Chinese style gangster capitalism. Democratic Capitalism is terminal.
no. you place blame inaccurately.
It's the final stage of un[der]regulated monopolies and trusts cornering the markets and controlling everything, similar to late 1800's and early 1900's Robber Barons.
It's a big part of why Teddy Roosevelt became president, back then (although that history is more subtle, he was McKinley's VP and became President following McKinley's death).
I am retired. I ditched MS a long time ago - I do not own a single Windows licence or machine any more.
I also live my life without Google. No Gmail. No Android Google services. I run my own website and my own mail server (and some other services). Phone/tablet is a bit hard - I have some Apple devices and I have some de-Googled Android devices (Replicant, LineageOS and /e/ (or whatever they renamed themselves the other day)).
The hardest part is search. I run my own Searx instance but Searx is really a proxy for other search services, many of which are themselves proxies for Google (like DDG, Startpage, etc). This gives me anonymity from Google but means my search results are still dominated by Google's algorithm, which is still notably better than Bing.
A little charity I helped ran was about page 5 or 6 for some search phrases related to the local area.
I created a Google+ social thing and added the location to street view.
No3 in general local searches (knocking the schools down) and no1 for a slightly more specific, yet common search.
It even got to about page 3 for a regional (countywide) search. There was no way it could normally be ranked that high.
Talk about rigged.
There's still journalism out there, but few people actually want to read it and still fewer to use it as the basis for active political engagement - and almost no-one will pay for it in hard currency.
I'm afraid if "content providers" got a greater proportion of ad revenue it would simply be used to create more fungible clickbait - because that's what people now expect to read.
Finance may be one weapon for attacking the Tech hegemons but unwinding the damage caused by an addiction to controversy and lack of personal agency is going to be an almost insurmountable task.
It's not like we've been given a lot of choice though. The corporates simply decided that making content free for the consumer to access whilst generating revenue from advertising was the way to go, and that was that - no options.
"Walled gardens" have had their ups and downs, pros and cons, criticisms and praises, and are fine for some things (like, say, a streaming service that specialises in science content) but have obvious potential problems iff they cover the gamut of education, entertainment and news.
I once thought that something like the TV licencing system here in the UK might be a way forward, but whenI stopped and thought about it, the problem is that the BBC was a trusted content provider tasked by the government to produce quality programming - and until a few years ago, I;d say they did a pretty fair job of that. But trying to apply that model to the internet - pay your "licence fee" to your ISP, and a portion of that goes to content creators... the problems are obvious. .
Al I can do is wish the youngsters good luck in the. years ahead with trying to reclaim society from sociopathic corporate interests. Whilst tackling climate change and the current trend towards right-wing extremism that doing the rounds again....
It is sad what has happened to journalism. Margins and revenue were cut, novice young journalists with tough targets came in.
Social media linking drove clickbait emotionally driven content. The New York Times realised that generic anti-Trump articles had 300% more engagement than any others and thoroughly went to town with this theme. Formerly honourable journalists became undeniably partisan, on the left and right. PR campaigns became "news". Viral marketing campaigns still pretend to be news. Teenagers started cutting out the middle man and become their own influencers - with all the predatory advertsing techniques you could imagine.
I am not sure I could stomach regularly reading any single one of the mainstream newspapers in the UK. I even find the BBC news website a regrettable and depressing array, of what I would call "6th form art student Guardian articles". Some newspapers are too far left, others too far right. Others are clearly staffed by 22yr old morons. It is astonishingly clear that several newspapers are clearly linked to political owners - with all the biased reporting and propagada you would expect in such a situation.
Example, Bezos owns the Washington *BLEEP* (aka Washington [com]Post). It is well known as having a left-wing bias (long before Bezos bought it). I do not believe anything has really changed in their politics, from what I understand. They were the newspaper of Woodward and Bernstein (of Watergate fame), after all.
Now I do not believe Bezos interferes with their operations or hands down orders to them. Rather, he bought a newspaper that most likely agrees with what he believed already at the time, and probably still believes (politically).
And that's probably the case with many other "political owners".
A US media organisation with a left-wing bias? FFS nothing in the US of A is left, centre right is the furthest left you will find. Now owned by arch-capitalist and you thing it has a left-wing bias? I know you are right wing but really?
I can deal with political bias in news sources so long as they actually verify what they report. I just have to read multiple source to get the whole truth or at least a reasonable facsimile.
The problem is when outright lies or rumours are presented as news or "commentary".
"It is sad what has happened to journalism. Margins and revenue were cut, novice young journalists with tough targets came in."
That happened LONG before social media
Back in the 1980s and early 1990s most "professional journalists" I dealt with made it clear they had no interest in doing anything except processing PR releases and absoutely zero interest in dealing with local issues unless they were given the stories prewritten and preedited for them. Only about 1 in 100 actually gave enough of a flying fig about anything they were writing to fact check various claims made by government talking heads and the average reader works on the mindset of "if it's in the newspapers it must be true, because they always make sure it's right before they print it".
Retractions and corrections in small print on page 5 a few days later don't have the same impact as inch high headlines on page 1
I suppose it depends which journalists you were meeting. Mark Tavener in his 1989 novel In The Red poked gentle fun at the stereotypical "Fleet Street Hack" (though the journalist in the book actually worked for the BBC) but obviously realised that something wasn't entirely right in the business.
In the mid 1990s I was working in local radio and our newsroom was filled with journalists (mostly) absolutely determined to do the best they could with the limited resources at their disposal. We also took in students from the Cardiff School of Journalism and on the whole they were of the same mindset. National and international news came from Independent Radio News in London, which was probably at the peak of its abilities in the early 1990s.
The Western Mail and Echo just up the road was fighting for its (their) life and trying to do so with some top-notch local journalism, but making up the bulk with pre-written stories from the Trinity Mirror group and press releases masquerading as news.
There were even some still-thriving local newspapers such as the Swansea Evening Post.
But it didn't last. The late 1990s was when the internet finally began to impinge on the consciousness of Joe Bloggs (I signed up for Demon in 1996, and I wasn't exactly early to the party), and by 2000 it was obvious that something was very wrong with independent, rigorous, trusted journalism.
There is still some out there, but...
I suggest that says more about what your job was at the time - and hence, what subset of journalists you came into contact with, and in what contexts - than about the class as a whole.
Back in the 90s I was a magazine editor, and I know what you're talking about, but you have grossly exaggerated.
"Data trading for ad revenue must be regulated like finance, aviation, medicine, and power. The giants who've cheated us must be broken up to their smallest viable constituent parts, and their future interactions be through a framework of radical accountability."
Exactly that. Fines, however large, are not enough. I woul add to the above that in the equivalent offences in, say, financial services, it's not just the company that takes the rap, it's the individual. If there's leaked internal data, there's emails, there's specific names that can and should be charged with specific offences.
Meanwhile the UK DCMS is proposing to 'liberalise' tracker use.
"60. The government therefore proposes to create a limited, exhaustive list of legitimate interests for which organisations can use personal data without applying the balancing test in order to give them more confidence to process personal data without unnecessary recourse to consent.
d. Using audience measurement cookies or similar technologies to improve web pages that are frequently visited by service users
h. Using personal data for internal research and development purposes, or business innovation purposes aimed at improving services for customers"
OK, this is under consultation and we're being asked to respond, but what's the betting that supportive submissions will be cherry picked?
I am glad they publicised this survey so well. I expect no-one will respond because no one will know about it. They will take the lack of response as the general public not being worried about losing any remaining control they have over their privacy. The great health Data grab all over again.
@Mike 137 Thanks for the heads up.
Tried to respond to the quesstionaire, but got too angry at the loaded questions and gobbledegook to continue. Even if normal people were aware of it, how many would persevere to provide a complete response to what seems to me to be a deliberately skewed quesstionaire designed to generate responses the "researchers" want?
That's a common fault of "opinion polls" and so on, not only government-sponsored ones.
I remember hearing from an acquaintance in the early 90's that the Greater Manchester Police finally had enough of the gang leaders responsible for drug sales in their area and decided to put a fair few of them behind bars. Trouble was, their organisations continued to flourish except with new leaders in place. Leaders that the police had no working relationships with, leaders who had grown up without the old school habits of their predecessors, leaders who were more unpredictable.
I have often observed that there are many more parallels between the bootleg era Mafia in the US and the large US based multinational corporations than with either of them and the ethics embodied in the ideas of WIlliam Morris and the enlightened Industrial Revolution company owners. Or in the business practices that follow the aims and principles of the co-operative movements that have made such a difference to people around the world.
Nothing is bad for Google. It might well get broken up a la AT&T, split into separate corporations that co-incidently continue to co-operate on projects of mutual benefit. The new Google might well have to get used to more oversight but it has money and lawyers so combating oversight will just be seen as a new cost of doing business, like office rental, company cars and staff.
On the other hand, not breaking up Google will have dire consequences for the rest of us folk and will stifle competition maybe forever more. Like the bootleg era Mafias it is never enough just to do business on a level playing field and compete fairly with the competition. Oh no, in order to maximise profits the competition have to be completely destroyed.
About 10 years ago I met with Manchester Police who wanted to see a mapping system I'd written. They told me a similar tale to that of your aquaintance. They indicated areas over a map where the policy was containment, and not to create any kind of crime-vacuum by removing a gang/family/Women's Institute* group.
* I made that up.
The monopolistic tech conglomerates do plenty of evil.
The biggest one is mostly invisible though: Tech itself can be immensely wonderful. Could have been. Open protocols. Clear data ethics. The world with an Internet that didn't get skullf*d by a couple of tech oligarchs could have been an awesome one. A washing machine that naturally knows when there is an abundance of electricity on the grid is technically possible since many decades. Didn't happen. Connecting something to the Internet could have been a great thing. Today it is not. Thanks Sergey, Larry, Mark and Jeff. And, yes, Steve, you too. But at least computers are no longer beige because of the late first tech oligarch.
The wife and I were talking about this a few days ago, after seeing one of the many commercials showing an Amazon Alexa connecting to a Roomba robot vacuum. I mentioned that I'd always wanted voice-activated robots since I was a kid in the 1970's, but Amazon (and Google) have perverted that by using it for data-mining. I'd be fine with a robot that did all of its own voice-processing onboard, but I'll be damned if I'm going to have one that sends all of our sounds to The Cloud for processing. It's a shame they've ruined that dream for some of us.
Who will no doubt report back to the mothership about the contents of your home.
Then Alexa/Bixby/etc will say,
"That sofa is looking a bit shabby. We recommend..."
None of this shit is coming into my home. If I want to use Amazon, then I have to use my mobile data or someone else's WiFi because I've blocked it. Most of google was blocked about a decade ago. android devices complain about being unable to connect to the mothership when in my home. Good!
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To digress a little, I had to learn some Latin at secondary school (or at least attend the classes...). Early on, the teacher asked us whether we knew any Latin phrases. We started with the usual "et cetera", "id est" and maybe a couple more. Until it was my turn, and I trotted out "Timeo danaos et dona ferentes" (which is what Asterix said in Asterix the Legionary :-D). After a slightly stunned silence, the teacher took me apart on my somewhat loose translation. A bit like the centurion in The Life of Brian except that my Latin was never that good.
All you have to do is put down your computers and walk outside... look at what's happening around you in the real world. Look at how people act, talk, deal with each other. We've entered a world that buys and sells your children like property, and look at the children. They are no longer a part of the real world. Ideas get spread like wild fire before they are even determined to be true or false.
The business of Big Tech is data mining. Slurping your data to be bundled and sold to whoever has the cash. Data is only valuable so long as the buyer has some confidence that the data is at least 90% good. What is the value of data when it's only 50% good or 25% good? Is it worth a hacker's effort to hack into a site when 90% of the usernames & passwords are fictitious and can be used to track down the original hacker's? What use is location data when the phone is reporting that it's in Hell, Michigan USA? Will the targeted ad industry start sending ads for burn treatments, fire extinguishers & fire resistant clothing? Create accounts for dead relatives. Maybe they'll get ads for lawn care services. The idea is to create so much bogus data that it becomes difficult if not impossible for an outsider to discern what is real and what is garbage.
It's a nice idea but to be quite frank they don't care. As long as company A is paying company B for ads and the sales are coming that's all they need. Some of the biggest companies in the world don't even care if their individual campaigns are successful they just want them to be at the forefront of your mind when you think about whatever it is they sell or think about what they sell without reason just because it's engrained. Thirsty then get a Coca cola. Hungry then get a McDonalds.
The way this is supposed to work is competition and regulation. When you have neither this is what we get and I fear we have let them go too far this time. Their fingers are in too many pies. Even the former deputy prime minister works for Facebook as a lobbyist so you can imagine the access and influence he has to the upper echelons of parliament.
I'd like to believe that, but there are three major objections to it working.
First, companies are often quick to ignore whether what they think works actually works. A lot of this data goes into advertising. Well, if we give them junk data, their advertising should be less successful, right? They will run a study and find this out. Except companies mostly don't like to do that and when they do, the advertising they already get loses a lot. If you like podcasts or are willing to read transcripts, these might be of interest. It demonstrates what happens when researchers try to analyze the success of advertising. Part 1: television advertising, Part 2: Online advertising
Second, creating fake data isn't easy. In order to have a fake location report, you have to set up several things on a device which ordinarily tracks location, then set up tracking, then hide other information which can show that you lied. If you report a fake location in Michigan but you're actually in the UK, your local time zone, IP address, and path you took to the reporting server will all indicate the data's wrong. Fixing that is expensive and complicated. And that's if they don't think about the fact that a device generally moves and your fake location probably doesn't. Getting your fake location tracker to make the reporting device appear to move without phasing through Michiganian walls is quite a bit harder.
Third, while the results of the data collection may be unreliable, the companies have an interest in collecting it for some reason. I don't know if they have found an evil plan that really benefits from having it, but if they haven't, they're working on it. They can hire some people to clean the junk out of the system. Unless everyone is doing it, there will be signatures they can follow and a lot of software can ignore the small amount of noise we can create for them. They probably won't be courteous enough to tell us that our fake data has been rejected, so we continue to use methods they can filter. Doing it in the hopes of slowly bringing their data collection down is probably a waste of our time and resources.
I think - having read the transcripts of the programmes at your links - that the message of those two podcasts is that advertisers (that is, the people who buy advertising space) not only do not know how well their advertising is doing, in any kind of objective sense, but that they are not interested in finding out. The advert-slingers (be that a newspaper, a TV channel or an online slinger) are, of course, invested hugely in keeping them in the dark.
In other words, it probably doesn't matter whether or not we (as consumers) try to "spoof" the algorithms. Best just to block the ads :-)
It is interesting to me that this is all focused on Google and Facebook. While they are definitely two of the bad actors to be be sure, everyone seems to be ignoring the rest of the behemoths in the tech sector. Microsoft? I'm not sure I'd put them in the same category as Google/Facebook but I'm also quite sure they are not a force for good in the world. Apple? Better (but not great) from a privacy and security point of view but again, plenty of challenges with them. What about the cellular phone carriers who track our every move and sell that information to the highest (and lowest) bidders? Credit card companies that track our spending habits and have no problem selling that data?
As a society we seem to have decided that free is worth it at the expense of our privacy (and I'm just as guilty as the next person - I use Google for much of my e-mail and productivity though I also have some other accounts but just like everyone else, Google is convenient so I silently put up with it). I have abandoned Facebook entirely but still use Instagram and WhatsApp occasionally.
Unfortunately IMO, without serious government regulation this is not going to get better and based on the political climate in the USA at least that means this is not going to get better. Our politicians (on both sides) would rather score points against the "other side" than actually do anything to improve the country.
While the Rejects of Redmond and others are very noxious in their own right there is the potential for a more
'hands off' relationship. The others sell products such as software and hardware which has utility in its own right without the need for intrusive data collection. Failbook and Chocolate Factory must generate ad revenue to survive. Thus their insatiable appetite for user data to misuse. One of the key stupidities of both is the idea of narrowly targeted advertising.
The problem with targeted advertising is context. For example, my dryer died recently (it is 10+ years old). My options were repair or replace. I investigated both, choosing repair as it would be cheaper than replace. Now I did some searching for dryers to get an idea of cost and availability. The targeted advertising would take the fact I was searching for a dryer without the context of why I was searching. But since it has been repaired I do not need a new dryer but there is nothing for the targeted ads to determine if I still interested in a dryer. What's worse I searched on specific local stores sites I knew sold dryers so in fact Google did not know I was even looking for a dryer.
They (and, largely, the regulators) are also ignoring the vast numbers of smaller organisations that trample over our privacy by tracking us. The aggregate effect of these probably at least equals that of the behemoths due to the sheer number of parties doing it.
In this case the poison pill was a widely reviled company on the verge of bankruptcy named Doubleclick, whose executives needed to disappear up their own fundamental orifaces
It was generally regarded as a very stupid move for Google to acquire them
Guess which position in Alphabet they now hold?
Fans of Schlock-horror movies might know a movie called "The Stuff" (carnivourous yoghurt which eats you from the inside and turns you into a "Stuffie" zombie) - that's essentially what happened to Google
Way back when, we remember that Google's motto was "do no evil". Then they started making money... big money. The corruption and rot set in. So here we are today. As someone earlier posted... "beware of Greeks bearing gifts" and another saying "beware of Geeks bearing gifts". Seems to be sound advice.
Google were always an evil empire. But in the early days they were a tiny evil empire so nobody was a aware of their evil intent. It was always obvious that their plan was to make money out of advertising. And their USP was targeted advertising in the guise of a search engine. I wouldn't call that full on evil but certainly nasty.
However in retrospect I think the plan was probably always to achieve maximum revenue by selling the data they harvested.
I think it was less obvious at the beginning. With their successful search engine, a non-evil advertising concept was available to them: target advertising to the search query, collect lots of data about how ads appeal to different types of searchers, and make money from that. Without having to collect the personal information or histories from people, they could still have used it to their benefit. I don't know whether they were hiding that from everybody or if it was their intent at one point, but an observer could expect them to take that approach until they unveiled their more invasive version.
Actually, ISTR in the beginning, Google was literally just a search engine. For about 5 years, they had no real revenue and no other business but website scraping to get links to tweak their algorithm.
But prior to going public, they were told they had to have a revenue stream before going public (and Wikipedia-style grants/donations were not an option)*.
It was only after they were almost forced to accept ad revenue that they changed from "Do No Evil" to "Don't Get Caught".
* Can't find the reference article since it's been years ago that I read it.
Don't forget manipulating their search results in order to favour those who pay the most.
Just like Amazon who will put links to their (often inferior) products at the top of the page over those poor suckers who rely on the goodwill of Bezos Inc to do business.
The Google/Facebook hegemony is just Big Brother lite. It will evolve into full-blown BB when Bezos joins in the fun.
If you are an old Grumpy like me it is quite easy to avoid the evil empire but for younger people?
That is not so easy. These companies have been part of their life for so long, they can't do without them.
Addicted by design.
Some bits of seperating your life from Google will be tough (Mobile Phone) as the options are limited and frying pan and fire type. But we can all stop using Chrome, Google search, Maps, GMail etc and stop giving Google your data. And while you at it stop using Face book apps too.
Group of people sttting on chairs in a old church hall. "Welcome to Google Anonymous, I am a google addict, its been 30 days since i last used a Google service."
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I already cut facebook out a few years ago. (Occasionally I have to use one of their services in a limited and specific way, eg WhatsApp on a separate phone, with only the required contacts).
Mobile is pretty well isolated. My main phone is running CalyxOS (on a Google Pixel ironically), secondary phone is an AGM M7 (Light version of Android without Google added.)
I use browser isolation, everything Google on chrome, Microsoft on Edge, (Limited and specific FB on Brave) Everything else on Firefox. (Probably should spin out Amazon too at some stage, chromium perhaps?)
So where are we going? Fraud is normal these days, should we start prosecuting people who are not sending out phishing emails regularly? I remember seeing a phishing email about 20 years ago ... weird, I got another one later that year. Today my junk folder is full of phishing attempts and every day I see about half a dozen email "from" the mail server administrator telling me that I need to verify my password ... wait a moment, the phone's ringing...
Oh, my cars warranty has expired ... that's odd because it's a 12 year old car.
"journalism is gone" because most big media outlets were purchased by very big business with the agenda of controlling the narrative. Well, it isn't gone... as it is still physically there, but anyone that wants to use their own mind avoids most of these traditional media sources as that narrative is usually clearly false. When you know one or two news items are clearly wrong, the source can't be trusted which will lead to more and more viewers being gone.
When you know the extent of misreporting regarding your own industry, it is amazing the media holds the power that it does.
Articles have been written for sales since at least the 60s. Maybe longer. From earth to the moon made a great example of the tabloid tosh surrounding Apollo 13.
Some reliable sources exist, el reg for example. But they tend to be rare, highly specialised and/or paywalled. Such is the price of actual intelligence on a given subject. Actual journos don’t come for nothing you know.
The grifting industry surrounding certain misinformation channels exists purely because google and FB allow them to earn revenue on it. As noted in the article, they don’t care about content. They want traffic.
Tim Berners-Lee was, and is horrified. So how do we, the ones in the know move on? Adblock is a start,but how do we go further to reroute?