Microsoft’s TikTok deal is a “poisoned chalice”, says Bill Gates
- Trump threatened to ban TikTok because of national security concerns – TikTok’s parent company Bytedance are Chinese.
- Microsoft might be considering buying all of TikTok’s global operations.
- Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has described the company’s potential TikTok deal as a “poisoned chalice”.
- Twitter, which shuttered Vine in 2017, is purportedly also thinking of acquiring TikTok.
- If the deal goes through, it’ll be Microsoft’s first foray into social media and it’ll have to contend with the complexities of content moderation on a social platform.
- Bill Gates: Facebook having some more competition is “probably a good thing” but that “having Trump kill off the only competitor, it’s pretty bizarre.”
- To avoid the backlash faced by both Twitter and Facebook, Microsoft needs to adopt a robust content moderation policy that actively protects the most vulnerable members of the TikTok community while supporting the voices of those who have historically gone unheard. So far, the bulk of conversation centers on how you respond to bad behaviour but at IF we are equally interested in designing technology to uplift marginalised groups.
Uber and Lyft must classify drivers as employees, California judge rules
- Uber and Lyft drivers are usually classified as independent contractors.
- Independent contractors don’t have the labour protections employees do: entitlement to minimum wage, overtime, paid sick leave and unemployment benefits.
- The state of California filed a lawsuit alleging that the drivers were misclassified under California’s new labour laws.
- Uber’s CEO said treating drivers as employees would mean less drivers and more expensive rides available in fewer cities and proposes the creation of a gig economy benefits fund instead.
- Uber has threatened to shut down operations in California if it’s forced to classify drivers as employees.
- Gig economy drivers in California may gain much needed economic protection during an economic depression.
- Similar laws can be passed across the US and the world.
- Uber and Lyft aren’t tech companies or information society services, they’re essentially taxi companies. They can’t be regarded as “intermediaries” between drivers and passengers and try to undercut the taxi industry by avoiding taking responsibility for the people who use their apps.
- If Uber drivers are treated as employees, it could result in better oversight and response to the racial bias that black drivers and black riders face through lower ratings and longer confirmation times and the issues of gender bias where women are more likely to be taken on longer rides. We want to explore how technology can change the behaviour that results in these outcomes.
UK government hired Faculty AI to collect and analyse UK citizens’ tweets as part of a coronavirus related contract
- Faculty AI has worked for the Vote Leave campaign and has had at least nine contracts with the UK government in the last two years.
- They were awarded a contract to do “topic analysis of social media to understand public perception and emerging issues of concern to HMG arising from the Covid-19 crisis”.
- The project analysed public posts from Twitter containing words relating to the pandemic, such as “covid” or “coronavirus”. They apparently stripped out Twitter usernames and profiles to make people anonymous.
- Mass collection and analysis of citizens’ public tweets is a grey area legally and close to political surveillance.
- The whole process lacked transparency both in how bids were assessed and in terms of the AI employed for analysis.
- The UK population that is active on Twitter isn’t representative of the UK population.
- The success of the privacy preserving techniques employed are unclear.
- Though Faculty AI claims that it was ‘impossible to use the information to profile any individual or group of people’, we know that stripping out identifiers does not mean people cannot be reidentified in the future. We want to understand exactly how they protected the data and explore opportunities for applying other privacy-preserving techniques.
- We would love to work with the relevant government teams to apply these techniques so that data can be used for public value without risking people’s privacy. We’ve already started work on this with the collection of mobility data.
Thanks to Georgina Bourke for her help editing this post.