Companies reveal mountains of sensitive commercial data in their APIs

Many companies use private APIs to manage their A/B tests of experimental products and approaches; by grabbing the calls that mobile apps make to these APIs, Jon Luca was able to figure out all kinds of sensitive information about companies' future plans, from the way Lyft steers customers towards credit cards that are cheaper to process and its use of "Tactical Price Adjustments" to fight customers who price-compare with Uber; to Airbnb's future China plans; to Pintrest's gendered content differentiation and so on. Read the rest

A/B testing tools have created a golden age of shitty statistical practices in business

A team of researchers examined 2,101 commercial experiments facilitated by A/B splitting tools like Google Optimize, Mixpanel, Monetate and Optimizely and used regression analysis to detect whether p-hacking (previously), a statistical cheating technique that makes it look like you've found a valid cause-and-effect relationship when you haven't, had taken place. Read the rest

How technology's built in "engagement maximization" destroys mental health in the Trump age, and what to do about it

We live in a weaponized news-cycle, a political moment in which a cadre of ruthless looters are destroying the world, magnified by technology's design ethic that uses experimental methodologies to maximize "engagement" (that is, how much attention you give to a tool or application), without any regard to whether your "engagement" is driven by pleasure or anxiety.