Is it just me, or are things with tech these days going a little sideways?

Just a month ago people were shocked, shocked that Facebook would allow third-party vendors to make off with their private data. “Trust us,” Facebook responded, “from now on we’ll keep all your data secure [that our surveillance gained and will continue to collect].” Facebook’s share price has since recovered and people are using Facebook more than ever.

I wonder if most people are paying attention. Or want to.

I spoke with someone last week who wasn’t aware, until I told her, that Instagram is owned by Facebook. “You might like my radio show,” I said. “No,” my acquaintance said, “I might be too scared of what I’d learn.”

Who can blame people for wanting to ignore what’s happening? The reality seems too big to grasp, and the necessary change – breaking up Facebook and Google, for starters – seems out of reach.

But! There’s good news. Consider:

• Both left-leaning organizations and some right-leaning politicians are looking at breaking up Facebook, a rare glimmer of bipartisan agreement.

• Guests on 60 Minutes last night argued that Google is a monopoly in several industries. Google needs to be broken up: our best hope to get the ball rolling is EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

• I’ve featured several guests on my Techtonic radio show with good news about change in tech. Listen to the shows on WFMU or via podcast. David Sax (“The Revenge of Analog” author), Anya Kamenetz (“The Art of Screen Time” author and NPR reporter), Corey Pein (“Live Work Work Work Die” author), and Len Sherman (Columbia Business School professor) all suggest ways we can live better in – and make change to – a world dominated by Big Tech.

• Finally, with a nod to Bruce Schneier (“The primary business model of the internet is built on mass surveillance” – source), I present you with a song I wrote about surveillance, set to “Camptown Races.”

“Building a Surveillance State”

Listen to the song here. I played it during a recent episode of Techtonic.

Lyrics, for your sing along:

Building a surveillance state
Google, Google
Privacy is what they hate
All Google day

It’s Facebook, too
They’re spying on you
We’ve got to change before it’s too late
All Google day

For more reading about Google…

How to Keep Google From Owning Your Online Life, by David Pierce in the WSJ (May 8). Interesting that the Wall Street Journal is offering alternatives to Google services.

Who Has More of Your Personal Data Than Facebook? Try Google, writes Christopher Mims in the WSJ.

Google’s New Voice Bot Sounds, Um, Maybe Too Real (NPR, May 9): “On the first day of Google’s annual conference for developers, the company showed off a robot with a voice so convincingly human that it was able to call a salon and book a haircut – never revealing that it wasn’t a real person making the call. CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated the new AI technology on Tuesday at the Google I/O conference.”

Google insiders claim that “the final version of Duplex, the stunning AI bot that sounded so real it fooled humans, may be purposefully made less scary.” (Business Insider)

What Google is doing with your data, by John Rolfe in the Queensland Times (May 14): “Experts from Oracle claim Google is draining roughly one gigabyte of mobile data monthly from Android phone users’ accounts as it snoops in the background, collecting information to help advertisers. . . . The information fed back to Google includes barometric pressure readings so it can work out, for example, which level of a shopping mall you are on. By combining this with your coordinates Google knows which shops you have visited. . . . Only turning off a phone prevents monitoring.”

Don’t forget Facebook…

Jaron Lanier speaking about Facebook and Google as “behavior modification empires” that “rely on behavior modification and spying” for their business models. It’s cheaper to pay them to ruin things than to make positive change. Perhaps, Lanier says, it’s time for subscription fees. (Hey, it worked for HBO and Netflix!) “I don’t believe our species can survive unless we fix this,” Lanier concludes. “In the meantime, if the companies won’t change, delete your accounts.”

Interview with Jaron Lanier in New York Magazine: “A lot of the rhetoric of Silicon Valley that has the utopian ring about creating meaningful communities where everybody’s creative and people collaborate and all this stuff — I don’t wanna make too much of my own contribution, but I was kind of the first author of some of that rhetoric a long time ago. So it kind of stings for me to see it misused. Like, I used to talk about how virtual reality could be a tool for empathy, and then I see Mark Zuckerberg talking about how VR could be a tool for empathy while being profoundly nonempathic, using VR to tour Puerto Rico after the storm, after Maria. One has this feeling of having contributed to something that’s gone very wrong.”

Techno-Fundamentalism Can’t Save You, Mark Zuckerberg, by UVA professor Siva Vaidhyanathan

The New Octopus, by K. Sabeel Rahman in Logic mag.

Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match, by Amanda Taub and Max Fisher in the NYT, about Facebook’s effects in Sri Lanka. “Time and again, communal hatreds overrun the newsfeed — the primary portal for news and information for many users — unchecked as local media are displaced by Facebook and governments find themselves with little leverage over the company. Some users, energized by hate speech and misinformation, plot real-world attacks. … ‘You report to Facebook, they do nothing,’ one of the researchers, Amalini De Sayrah, said. ‘There’s incitements to violence against entire communities and Facebook says it doesn’t violate community standards.'”

Searching for a Future Beyond Facebook, by Jacob Silverman: “Facebook has accomplished a neat trick in the last fourteen years, draping itself in humanitarian intent while establishing a globe-straddling monopoly. In the name of connecting people, it has built the world’s largest surveillance apparatus, rivaled only by Google.”

• …oh, and Facebook had its earnings call. Here’s the summary, below, from Jason Kint:

• Nonetheless, Facebook’s share price has recovered. “Facebook wiped out all of its losses following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Shares hit an intraday high of $185.99 on Thursday.”

More on that consent decree: NPR, March 2018: “The Federal Trade Commission is looking into whether Facebook violated a [2011] consent decree by enabling third parties to access users’ information without their permission.” ($40,000 per violation.)

…and in other tech news:

Ticketmaster to trial facial recognition technology at live venues (VentureBeat; see also the WSJ article.) Don’t worry, says the article, it’s purely for the “‘development of deeper customer relationships’ between fans, artists, venues, and teams. Moreover, Ticketmaster touts the technology as boosting safety and security.”

Satellite Project Draws Airbus, SoftBank, Bill Gates as Investors: investors “propose to build and launch some 500 small satellites intended to provide unmatched video coverage of the globe.”

Silicon Valley Can’t Be Trusted With Our History, by Evan Hill. “We create almost everything on the internet, but we control almost none of it.”

Megan McArdle’s thread explaining “just how bad the economics of the media industry are” (see also the unrolled thread). “Subtitle: why you can’t have all the awesome free journalism you want and have come to expect.”

There will be little privacy in the workplace of the future, from The Economist’s March 2018 issue. Excerpt: “‘Every aspect of business is becoming more data-driven. There’s no reason the people side of business shouldn’t be the same,’ says Ben Waber, Humanyze’s boss. The company’s staff are treated much the same way as its clients. Data from their employees’ badges are integrated with information from their e-mail and calendars to form a full picture of how they spend their time at work. Clients get to see only team-level statistics, but Humanyze’s employees can look at their own data, which include metrics such as time spent with people of the same sex, activity levels and the ratio of time spent speaking versus listening.”

Code Red: Organizing the tech sector, by Alex Press in the spring 2018 issue of n+1, surveying the state of union-organizing in the tech space.

The Internet’s ‘Original Sin’ Endangers More Than Privacy, by Brendan Eich and Brian Brown (who run the privacy-minded Brave browser). “As much as half the data consumed on mobile plans goes to downloading ads and trackers, adding significantly to fixed mobile data plans. . . As much as 50% of mobile battery life is consumed by ads while browsing. . . The internet need not be characterized by predation and parasitism. It can once again be a place of infinite possibility. Innovation got us into this situation; it can get us out.”

Well, this happened last week.

Zuck was on the stand for about 10 hours across two days of Senate and House joint committee hearings. And I'll admit, I was impressed with his composure. Here's a 33-year-old guy who, unlike Bill Gates 20 years before him, didn't give in to overt expressions of irritation or arrogance. Clearly he had been heavily coached beforehand - which helps explain the somewhat robotic mannerisms and the weird tic of beginning every response with "Senator" or "Congressman" or "Congresswoman" (see Slate's supercut video).

And yet.

He just didn't tell the truth.

With 2 billion users and counting, Facebook is unavoidable, and it's growing more influential by the day. It's vital that we understand what Zuck is actually up to, especially since he didn't reveal it in his testimony. A number of media sources have helpfully corrected his inaccurate claims. Thus I present you with...

Untruths, deceptions, and misdirections that Zuck fed to Congress:

• "You control your data." Not true, says Washington Post's Geoffrey Fowler ("No, Mark Zuckerberg, we’re not really in control of our data.") Or as this EFF piece says, "Zuckerberg’s insistence that users have 'complete control' neatly overlooks all the ways that users unwittingly 'share' information with Facebook."

• "You own your data." That's impossible, says Gizmodo, given the "shadow profiles" that Facebook keeps on people who never use Facebook. (How can non-users "own" or "control" the data that Facebook's surveillance has compiled on them?) Even Facebook's Privacy Operations team disagrees with Zuck, points out MIT's Technology Review. See also this WSJ piece by Christopher Mims ("Facebook has a lot more data about us than it lets on").

• "It's easy to opt out whenever you want." Give me a break, says Alex Hern. Easy? The basic opt-out requires 14 steps, says David Carroll:

• "Facebook doesn't sell your data." That's deceptive, says this Vice article: Zuck's claim is "an expert-level demonstration of hair-splitting ... [your data] is valuable, and by not allowing other entities access to it, Facebook can monetize that same data over and over again."

• "Facebook is a community." Not at all, says Ian Bogost...

See also Nicholas Carr's comment on Zuck's repetition of "community," and this essay in Wired UK (Facebook "is a corrupt, despotic government, deceiving its citizens at home, even as it imposes its barren colonialism abroad"). As The Intercept points out from a confidential document, Facebook promises advertisers that it can “predict future behavior,” allowing companies to target people on the basis of decisions they haven’t even made yet. What a fun community!

• "We'll solve it with AI." Willful deception, says Eric Gilbert. (Just like the market we worshipped before!)

• "We need to increase the security of data that users upload." Misdirection, says Zeynep Tufekci. The real issue is "HOW WE KEEP FACEBOOK FROM COLLECTING DATA ON US":

Justin Brookman describes the misdirection this way: "FB always tries to frame privacy as you vs the world, not you vs Facebook." And as David Carroll put it here: "Zuck attempts to redefine the very definition of 'privacy' as what we share, not what he collects."

• "Conspiracy theory" is how Zuck described users' concern about Facebook snooping on the phone. Unfair, says LibrarianShipwreck: "Bear in mind that until pretty recently you were mocked as wearing a tinfoil hat if you talked about 99% of the things that Facebook is now in the hot seat for having done." See also this video test of Facebook and Google by Mitch Hollow.

• "Facebook is here to serve you." Hardly the case, says Ian Bogost: "The computer ceased to be a servant of human life and began to be the purpose for which that life is conducted. That’s the heart of problem with the technology industry today, and it’s a problem that data-privacy regulation alone has no hope of fixing." See also his article in The Atlantic comparing the Facebook debacle to the dotcoms.

• "Facebook made mistakes because it was so idealistic, focusing on doing good things, and no one could have imagined bad things happening." Delusional, says Wired's Erin Griffith: "'I'm sorry for being too focused on the good and not enough on the bad' is about as sincere as saying your greatest weakness is you work too hard." Or as Siva Vaidhyanathan put it, "The idealism is the problem. There is a fine line between pledging to do no evil and believing you can do no wrong."

What happens next with Facebook?

Failed by Facebook, We'll Return to the Scene of the Crime. We Always Do. Andrew Ross Sorkin argues that, most likely, nothing will change as most Facebook users don't seem to care about surveillance.

• The New Republic has a simple suggestion: Ban Targeted Advertising.

Four Questions For Facebook That We Still Need Answers To (by Gabriel Weinberg, DuckDuckGo founder and past Techtonic guest)... not to be confused with The Atlantic's Three Questions Mark Zuckerberg Hasn't Answered.

• As I posted: Don't forget that what we've learned of Facebook and Google surveillance is only what journalists discovered. Be assured that (a) Facebook and Google are doing other, equally disturbing things that weren't detected, and (b) they're planning now for future launches to be harder to detect.

• But don't worry, because (if you're from US/Canada/Europe) you're not the focus anyway. Zuck wants his next billion users - and they'll come from Asia and Africa.

• At least we'll always have Zuck eating toast.

Listen to my Techtonic podcast to hear audio excerpts of Zuck's Congressional testimony (and more) in this week's April 16 episode.

I deleted my Facebook account last week. I mainly used it to post anti-Facebook articles, but I no longer want to be there at all. It’s toxic. (Here’s how to delete Facebook, thanks to the helpful site

But it’s not just me, and it’s not just the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of people who have shared the #deletefacebook hashtag recently. Billionaire Brian Acton, who made his fortune by selling WhatsApp to Facebook, feels similarly. He posted: It is time. #deletefacebook. In other words, someone who became a billionaire due to Facebook, is now saying it’s time to leave Facebook.

As if that wasn’t remarkable enough, Tesla’s Elon Musk – arguably the most admired techie in the world – then replied to Acton: “What’s Facebook?” and then announced that he was deleting Tesla’s Facebook presence.

It’s not been a good week for Facebook. A popular uprising against the company, Monday’s announcement of the FTC investigation, and the upcoming Congressional testimony, among other risks – are pointing to a radically different future for Facebook.

As VRML creator Mark Pesce wrote, “For this act alone, Zuckerberg needs to be removed from command, as does Sandberg. The board probably needs to be replaced as well. And the corporation as a whole needs to down tools until they have a complete education in ethics in the digital era.”

On my Techtonic radio show on WFMU this past Monday, I talked about #deletefacebook before heading into an interview on cryptocurrencies with Popular Mechanics’ Alex George. Listen:
Stream the audio: click “Pop-up player!” just above the comic strip.
Show notes & listener comments (scroll down)

Lesson: treat users well

I posted this conclusion: Never forget how this mess online was created. This is what happens when people build a product to serve themselves in the short term, rather than benefiting users in the long term.

The best product teams seriously consider what’s good for the user. The way to understand customers is by spending time with them, and letting customers lead the interaction. My book Customers Included describes how.

Sure, there are plenty of ways to make money by harming customers, deceiving them, even (in some industries) killing customers in slow motion. But is that really how you’d like to spend your career?

Facebook has thrived for years on duplicitous claims of “building community,” “bringing people together,” and so on. Now the world knows that it was all a vast surveillance machine, built to extract data without users’ knowledge or consent, and sell the results.

You can choose a better path: build products that benefit users in the long term. If your leadership persists in short-term thinking, asking for user-hostile products, or perpetuating deceptive or harmful practices, find a better team.

In the meantime, today is a perfect day to do something positive. Turn off the screen. Go for a walk. Read something on paper. Delete Facebook. Listen to WFMU. Let me know how it goes.

Other comments on Facebook:

• Douglas Rushkoff, the opening speaker at my first Skeptech event last year: on, I ditched Facebook in 2013, and it’s been fine. (“You can ditch Facebook. It’s OK. You will survive. And.. your life will get better.”) …and in the Los Angeles Times, How Facebook Exploited Us All:

Facebook figures out who or what each of us fears most, and then sells that information to the creators of false memes and the like, who deliver those fears directly to our news feeds. This, in turn, makes the world a more fearful, hostile and dangerous place. . . .

When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, a friend of his expressed surprise that people were surrendering so much personal data to the platform. “I don’t know why,” Zuckerberg said. “They trust me. Dumb …”

We may have been dumb to trust Facebook with our data in the first place. Now we know they’ve been using the data to make us even dumber.

• A research paper explains: in Quitting Facebook Leads to Higher Levels of Well-Being, researchers found that quitting Facebook has “positive effects on the two dimensions of well-being: our life satisfaction increases and our emotions become more positive.” (from the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking)

• And by the way, you need to delete Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp. Zuck owns them all. As Zeynep Tufekci put it, “You’d be surprised how many people don’t know that Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp.”

• TechCrunch’s Josh Constine: Facebook has allowed so many worst-case scenarios to come true there’s too many to count, but I’m going to try *deep breath*… see also his accompanying TechCrunch piece.

• Google’s Francois Chollet posted an anti-Facebook thread: “If Facebook gets to decide, over the span of many years, which news you will see (real or fake), whose political status updates you’ll see, and who will see yours, then Facebook is in effect in control of your political beliefs and your worldview.” Good point, Francois! (And don’t worry, I’ll soon be covering Google’s surveillance practices, too.)

• Matt Yglesias puts it well in Vox: The case against Facebook is “not just about privacy; its core function makes people lonely and sad.” Yglesias suggests that Zuck “simply walk away from it, shut it down, salt the earth, and move on to doing something entirely new.” Unrealistic, yes, but it’s worth stating the case: Zuck should just shut down Facebook.

• Unfortunately, Zuck is digging in: it’s all someone else’s fault! In this NYT interview, Zuck asks: “were there [other] apps that could have.. done something that violated people’s trust?” I don’t know, Zuck, maybe you should rack your brains to think who might have violated people’s trust. As Open Markets Institute’s Matt Stoller puts it, Zuck’s defense is “increasingly bizarre. He sees himself as the victim here, that he, a powerless man worth $70B+, was tricked. He still thinks Facebook is a ‘community’. And he doesn’t acknowledge he threatened to sue the newspapers reporting the scandal.”

• Then last weekend, Zuck bought a full-page ad in the NYT, WSJ, Washington Post, and six papers in the UK – claiming the breach was caused by “a quiz app built by a university researcher.” This ad was a poor attempt to point the blame away from Facebook. In other words, “pay no attention to my surveillance of you – we’re going to punish that bad, bad 3rd party for misusing the data we surveilled!”

• Fact is, Facebook is toxic. As Mike Caulfield put it, forget the tobacco-industry comparisons, as it’s more accurate to compare Facebook to Union Carbide: “Facebook is in an industry with a lot of risk and they seek out countries with low regulation and low institutional power to experiment in.”

As Kelvin Yu put it, “In retrospect, it might have been a mistake to give Facebook all of my personal information in exchange for seeing what my high school friends eat for dinner.”

– – –

You can help by sharing this post on social media. Just copy and paste this, below, into your favorite social media account:

Treating users well in the #deletefacebook era: by @markhurst

As the news continues to pour in about the risks posed by Big Tech, I’m often asked about alternatives: what should we use, if we don’t want to feed the monopolists?

Here’s my short list of alternative services that I recommend:

• Search: Instead of Google, use DuckDuckGo – a search engine that doesn’t track you. I use it as my default search engine and it works great.

• Email: Instead of Gmail, use FastMail – a fast, well-designed email service that isn’t owned by Big Tech and doesn’t depend on surveillance for its business model.

• To-do list: Instead of using your inbox, or nothing at all, use my own Good Todo – a simple to-do list that doesn’t track you. It also allows you to email your to-dos to the list, helping reduce inbox clutter.

• Calendar: Instead of Google Calendar, use BusyCal (on OSX), and sync your calendar with Apple’s iCloud – or the calendar in FastMail.

• Browser: Instead of Chrome, use Firefox (or Safari) with the DuckDuckGo privacy extension installed, explained more here. (See also my interview with DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg on my Techtonic radio show.)

• Music: Instead of Spotify, listen to WFMU. I’m serious. This independent, listener-supported radio station – where I run my Techtonic show – offers an unmatched collection of human-curated, non-algorithm-driven shows and an unbelievable treasure trove in its archive, all available for free. (Actually right now is WFMU’s annual fundraiser, and you can donate here. More info below.)

• Social media: Don’t use Facebook. Or at least minimize your usage. As Matt Klinman put it in this outstanding interview, “every time you scroll through content on Facebook, you’re depriving independent media of a way to exist.” To reach your community, just send email. I recommend Campaign Monitor, which I’ve used for many years to send out this newsletter.

I’m hardly the only one advocating for a new approach. Here are more voices on Big Tech:

• On Facebook: Columbia Journalism Review’s Mathew Ingram writes that as Facebook increases its control, “they’ll decide which brands they are going to elevate and which they will filter out..Facebook effectively decides which media outlets survive and which don’t.” Read the full article.

• On Google: The NYT’s Charles Duhigg wrote The Case Against Google. Nailed it. And Jason Kint writes that Google continues to obfuscate its numbers.

• On YouTube (owned, of course, by Google): Zeynep Tufekci writes in NYT about YouTube, the Great Radicalizer.

Pay attention.

– – –

P.S. If you’d like to support my own (volunteer) project to raise awareness about tech issues, and get a t-shirt, please support my Techtonic radio show on WFMU (all past episodes here in the podcast).

How to get the Techtonic t-shirt:

1. Go to the WFMU pledge page and type 10 (or more) in the $_____ line, with “Per Month, Swag For Life” selected. (Or you can choose “One Time” and put in $75 or more.)

2. In the Choose Your Swag section, click all the boxes on the top row (make sure to click “1 DJ Premium”) – you’ll notice you also get the “Sputnik 60” t-shirt, and a glow-in-the-dark magnet featuring the WFMU mascot, Moondog the goat, and (at $10/month) the WFMU “Moon Freaker” t-shirt. Pretty good deal! Now click NEXT STEP.

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….and here’s the T-shirt!

Here’s the pledge page.

You need to pay attention to China:

– China will soon pass the U.S. as the world's biggest economy (if you're not familiar with the trillion-dollar Belt and Road infrastructure project, you really should be)

– New tech emerging from Chinese companies will affect you sooner or later (AI and facial-recognition systems, smartphones, solar panels, etc.)

Big Tech in Silicon Valley is already partnering closely with the Chinese government (see Apple's Tim Cook speaking at the Internet conference in Wuzhen, which showed new surveillance and tracking tools)

– China's government is using tech in new, Black Mirror-ish ways (see the social credit system), and the U.S. government is no doubt watching to see how those play out.

Discussing China on my radio show

On my Techtonic radio show this week (listen to the show, read the show notes, or download the podcast) I interviewed Yong Zhao, founder of Junzi Kitchen, a new Manhattan restaurant featuring modern Chinese cuisine. We had a wide-ranging conversation about China and its emerging use of technology.

Yong Zhao was very straightforward: he said China's rise is inevitable, and that our best hope – for the good of China and the rest of the world – is to foster friendship, rather than enmity. As for the social credit system, which Yong acknowledged can seem creepy, he said it was the natural progression for China's economy, which never had widespread credit cards or credit scores – and the system also fits the Party's goals of authoritarian control.

Finally, I'll add that Big Tech has been in China for some time, forming and expanding partnerships with the government there. Did you catch Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, at the opening ceremony of the Chinese Internet conference? This is the event where the New York Times said, "The technology enabling a full techno-police state was on hand." For his part, Mr. Cook extolled the conference for "developing a digital economy for openness." Around the same time, Apple removed over 600 apps from the app store in China, at the request of Party officials in Beijing. Whatever you think of these developments, they're increasing and accelerating.

The tech industry, right now, is laying the groundwork for how users (citizens, students, consumers, patients – everyone) will be affected by tech in years to come. And China will play an increasingly central role in all of this.

Pay attention.

Here are some articles I'd recommend reading:

On the Belt and Road Initiative:

The New Silk Road (TIME, November 2017)

A New Silk Road – photographs by Davide Monteleone (New Yorker, January 2018)

How China's Economy Is Poised to Win the Future (TIME, November 2017)

On Apple in China:

Apple CEO backs China's vision of an "open" Internet as censorship reaches new heights (Washington Post, December 2017): Apple's CEO Tim Cook stood up and celebrated China's vision of an open Internet. . . "The theme of this conference – developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits – is a vision we at Apple share," Cook said, in widely reported remarks. "We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace."

Apple's Tim Cook: Internet must have security, humanity (Boston Globe, December 2017): "Cook made the comments at the opening ceremony for China's World Internet Conference in Wuzhen – an event designed to globally promote the country's vision of a more censored and controlled internet."

Inside China's Big Tech Conference, New Ways to Track Citizens (NYT, December 2017): "The technology enabling a full techno-police state was on hand, giving a glimpse into how new advances in things like artificial intelligence and facial recognition can be used to track citizens – and how they have become widely accepted here."

Apple's Tim Cook: No Point Yelling at China (WSJ, December 2017): "Tech exec defends pulling 674 apps at Beijing's request, says change can't happen from the sideline."

Apple says it is removing VPN services from China App Store (Reuters, July 2017)

Apple moves to store iCloud keys in China, raising human rights fears (Reuters, February 2018)

Why the iPhone Is Losing Out to Chinese Devices in Asia (WSJ, February 2018): "Apple's market share is stagnant or declining in Asia, paving the way for other smartphone makers."

The "social credit" system in China:

Inside China's Vast New Experiment In Social Ranking (Wired, December 2017): "The aim is for every Chinese citizen to be trailed by a file compiling data from public and private sources by 2020, and for those files to be searchable by fingerprints and other biometric characteristics. For the Chinese Communist Party, social credit is an attempt at a softer, more invisible authoritarianism. The goal is to nudge people toward behaviors ranging from energy conservation to obedience to the Party."

China's Surveillance State Should Scare Everyone (The Atlantic, Feb 2018): "The country is perfecting a vast network of digital espionage as a means of social control - with implications for democracies worldwide."

Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens (Wired UK, October 2017), an excerpt from Who Can You Trust? How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart, by Rachel Botsman. "For now, technically, participating in China's Citizen Scores is voluntary. But by 2020 it will be mandatory. The behaviour of every single citizen and legal person (which includes every company or other entity)in China will be rated and ranked, whether they like it or not."

China's Social Credit System: AI-driven panopticon or fragmented foundation for a sincerity culture? (TechNode, August 2017): "As a means of avoiding responsibility, or of hiding behind machine decision-making to avoid individual responsibility (or governmental responsibility), AI poses a danger to the integrity of any system that would so 'wash their hands' of governance."

On AI and other tech in China:

As China Marches Forward on A.I., the White House Is Silent (NYT, Feb 2018): "China unveiled a plan to become the world leader in artificial intelligence and create an industry worth $150 billion to its economy by 2030."

China's All-Seeing Surveillance State Is Reading Its Citizens' Faces (WSJ, June 2017)

China's Stopchat: Censors Can Now Erase Images Mid-Transmission (WSJ, July 2017)

In Sign of Resistance, Chinese Balk at Using Apps to Snitch on Neighbors (WSJ, December 2017)

From this week's news...

China Moves to Let Xi Stay in Power by Abolishing Term Limit (NYT, February 25, 2018): "China's Communist Party has cleared the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely, by announcing Sunday that it intends to abolish term limits on the presidency."

About to Break the Law? Chinese Police Are Already On To You (WSJ, February 27, 2018): "High-definition cameras, security checkpoints equipped with facial recognition, and police patrols armed with hand-held smartphone scanners blanket the region’s cities and villages."

...and one closing provocation:

Will China Impose a New World Order? (WSJ, February 2018): "When Pax Britannica gave way to Pax Americana, the transition was peaceful. A repeat is unlikely, says the author of ‘Safe Passage.’"

- - -

Oh, and you should check out other past episodes of my radio show (or just get the podcast).

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