Weekly Mozilla News Beat, December 18, 2020
Welcome to the Mozilla News Beat, a glance at the internet news of the week in order of best-to-worst. Enjoy!
When most dogs howl, it’s powerful (sometimes intimidating, even). When this pup howls it’s, well, mostly absurd. Check out this puppy’s pitchy vocals that sound more human than dog.
Old McSiri Had A Farm
If you’ve ever thought, “the only thing my virtual assistant lacks is the ability to play animal sounds,” you’re in luck. Siri has caught up to Google’s assistant in one more metric: ask it what a horse sounds like and it’ll neigh, ask for a dog and it’ll bark. You can even ask it for different dog breeds.
Joining Facebook and YouTube, Twitter will remove misinformation surrounding the coronavirus vaccine from its platform, starting next week. More changes are coming in early 2021: the site will add a label to tweets that promote unsubstantiated rumors or out-of-context info about vaccines.
When Apple announced App Tracking Transparency, a feature that would require users to opt-in to allow iOS apps to track them across their phone activity, companies like Facebook and others denounced the change. But strong privacy options for Apple users is a good thing, so Mozilla spoke up to applaud the new iOS 14 feature. Like what Apple’s doing here? Tell them.
Yeah, That Tracks
Facebook has decided to fire back at Apple, taking out a full-page ad in something called a “newspaper.” The social networking giant claims that Apple’s new tracking transparency features would hinder small businesses’ ability to advertise to potential customers. Conveniently not mentioned in the advert: Facebook’s reliance on personal data to market its most lucrative asset – its users.
Timint Gebru’s Final Days At Google
By now many have heard of Dr. Timint Gebru, the AI ethics scholar who was fired from Google after a contentious research paper and an email criticizing the company’s lack of diversity. An article from MIT Tech Review offers a look into her time at Google, her last days at Google and even what she did the week after. If you guessed “why, she took part in numerous workshops at the annual NeurIPS AI conference, of course,” then you’d be right.
Dangers Of AI In Law Enforcement
In an op-ed in the Boston Globe, the NBA’s Boston Celtics are speaking out against Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker’s decision to remove rules around use of facial recognition by law enforcement. The Celtics’ message is simple: their celebrity, and larger-than-life-profile, don’t shield them from being Black, and all the racial profiling that comes along with it. That includes facial recognition technology that leads to false positives and wrongful arrests because it can’t distinguish between Black faces.
10 state attorneys general put a spotlight on Google Thursday, claiming the company uses its dominance to limit competition. (If this sounds familiar, Facebook was called out for largely the same last week.) According to one attorney general, “if the free market were a baseball game, Google positioned itself as the pitcher, the batter and the umpire.”
$546,000. That’s how much Twitter now owes the Ireland Data Protection Commission for failing to comply with GDPR. After a data breach in 2019, it was Twitter’s responsibility to fess up to the Data Protection Commission about it within 72 hours.
Out Of Bounds
We all know Europe has better internet privacy laws than North America. This week, Facebook is reminding us that it knows it too. According to The Guardian, Facebook users in the United Kingdom will now be subject to the company’s California terms-of-service instead of its Irish one — meaning they can no longer benefit from the protection of the EU’s pesky privacy laws. The change will take effect in 2021.
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