ALmost nobody reads terms of service agreements when they use online services. When you click the "I AGREE" box you give these companies permission to sell and share your data with third parties. A company called Sift amasses that data and has huge files on everyone. Kashmir Hill asked Sift for her consumer score and what she found was "shocking."
From The New York Times:
The [Wall Street] Journal’s Christopher Mims looked at a company called Sift, whose proprietary scoring system tracks 16,000 factors for companies like Airbnb and OkCupid. “Sift judges whether or not you can be trusted,” he wrote, “yet there’s no file with your name that it can produce upon request.”
As of this summer, though, Sift does have a file on you, which it can produce upon request. I got mine, and I found it shocking: More than 400 pages long, it contained all the messages I’d ever sent to hosts on Airbnb; years of Yelp delivery orders; a log of every time I’d opened the Coinbase app on my iPhone. Many entries included detailed information about the device I used to do these things, including my IP address at the time.
Sift knew, for example, that I’d used my iPhone to order chicken tikka masala, vegetable samosas and garlic naan on a Saturday night in April three years ago. It knew I used my Apple laptop to sign into Coinbase in January 2017 to change my password. Sift knew about a nightmare Thanksgiving I had in California’s wine country, as captured in my messages to the Airbnb host of a rental called “Cloud 9.”
The data that companies like Sift and others collect and analyze will be used as inputs by algorithms that make unappealable life changing decisions about you without your awareness, consent, or control. Read the rest
Jon Evans of TechCrunch zeroes in on Facebook's big problem. Mark Zuckerberg wants you to believe that Facebook was designed as a platform where anyone can share their ideas, but as Evans points out, it's Facebook's algorithm that decides which ideas you see.
Read the rest
When Zuckerberg talks about giving people a voice, he really means giving those people selected by Facebook’s algorithm a voice. When he says “People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world — a Fifth Estate,” what he actually means is that Facebook’s algorithm is itself that Fifth Estate.
Luke Curtis, the IT manager for Quartz, recently bought an iTunes gift card from a "popular discount website" and loaded into into his iTunes account. A few days later he received a message from Apple that read "You cannot login because your account has been locked." He called Apple's customer service and was told that the card he'd used had been stolen but that they understood that Luke was the victim, not the perpetrator, and that his account would be reactivated in 24 hours. After 24 hours had elapsed and Luke was still locked out he called back. This time, the customer service rep he was connected to was a less friendly. He told Luke, “Your account has been permanently disabled. There is nothing else you can do, there is no escalation path.” When Luke asked why, the agent said only, “See the terms and conditions.”
It turned out that getting locked out of his Apple account made all of Luke's Apple hardware almost useless. From his article on Quartz:
Read the rest
I started to realize just how far-reaching the effects of Apple disabling my account were. One of the things I love about Apple’s ecosystem is that I’ve built my media collection on iTunes, and can access it from any of my Apple devices. My partner and I have owned numerous iPods, iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, iMacs, Apple Watches, Apple TVs, and even a HomePod, over the years. Apple plays a big part in my professional life too: As the IT manager for Quartz, we use Apple hardware and publish on Apple platforms.