The corruption and surveillance culture of Facebook is baked in deep and can never be removed; if you doubt it, just peruse a sampling of their patent filings, which are like Black Mirror fanfic written by lawyers.
Tim Wu (previously) points out that sites on the scale of Facebook -- like Wikipedia -- deliver value to titanic, global audiences at a fraction of the cost of Facebook's operating budget. When you take out the spying, the sleaze, the giant paydays for execs and investors, it's a tractable proposition to run Facebook without Facebook, Inc.
Another “alt-Facebook” could be a nonprofit that uses that status to signal its dedication to better practices, much as nonprofit hospitals and universities do. Wikipedia is a nonprofit, and it manages nearly as much traffic as Facebook, on a much smaller budget. An “alt-Facebook” could be started by Wikimedia, or by former Facebook employees, many of whom have congregated at the Center for Humane Technology, a nonprofit for those looking to change Silicon Valley’s culture. It could even be funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which was created in reaction to the failures of commercial television and whose mission includes ensuring access to “telecommunications services that are commercial free and free of charge.”
When a company fails, as Facebook has, it is natural for the government to demand that it fix itself or face regulation. But competition can also create pressure to do better. If today’s privacy scandals lead us merely to install Facebook as a regulated monopolist, insulated from competition, we will have failed completely. The world does not need an established church of social media.
Opinion | Don’t Fix Facebook. Replace It. [Tim Wu/New York Times]
Teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (America's largest district) are walking the picket line this week in the pouring rain, demanding an end to the billionaire dark-money backed privatization movement that funnels public education funds to the shareholders of racially segregated, underperforming charter schools.
In 2015, Mozilla announced that it would turn Thunderbird -- one of the last freestanding, cross-platform email clients -- into a freestanding, independent project, and in 2017, Thunderbird became a community-overseen project with institutional backing from Moz.
It's the Electronic Frontier Foundation's annual Power Up! week, when donations to the charity are matched by a group of challenge donors, making every tax-deductible dollar you give count twice! I'm a contractor for EFF (my fees come out of a grant from the MIT Media Lab, where I'm a Research Associate), and I've been […]
What do Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google all have in common? Somewhere in their framework, they all use MySQL, that most versatile (and free!) of database management systems. And they’re not alone. If your company or the one you’d like to work for wrangles data (and who doesn’t?), they’re going to need someone with a […]
There’s a reason you’re hearing about the gig economy in every other business story these days. More than ever, people are finding income from more than one source. And if you find the right one, a side hustle can do more than just pad your pockets – it can allow you to finally get paid […]
High-def cameras are available to anyone and for much less than they were just a decade ago. Even the phones in our pockets can be used to shoot and edit short films. It’s never been easier to be a filmmaker, providing you have the technique. Enter the Film & Cinematography Mastery Bundle, an online boot […]