Uber forces its drivers to arbitrate, rather than sue, but Uber also won't arbitrate

Binding arbitration agreements were formalized in 1925, allowing two corporate entities of roughly equal size to resolve their disputes outside of a court, saving both parties a lot of money, but since then, the primary use of arbitration is to force employees, customers, patients and other comparatively weak parties to surrender their right to sue (or join class actions) as a condition of going to work, seeking care, or simply shopping. Read the rest

Ha-ha, only serious: McSweeney's on price-gouging in the emergency room

Emergency rooms at for-profit hospitals are notorious price-gougers, where an ice-pack and a bandage can cost $5,000, and where no one will tell you how much your care is costing until months after the fact. Read the rest

PWC recommended that corporations should ask science fiction writers about the future

In 2017, Pricewaterhousecooper published Using science fiction to explore business innovation, a guide for corporations that wanted to work with sf writers to think about the future of their businesses; it was part of a wave of corporate interest in the insights of sf writers, which also coincides with a parallel trend in academia (see, for example, ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination and UCSD's Clark Center for Human Imagination, both of which I have some involvement with). Read the rest

America's largest sex-furniture manufacturer pays well, sources locally, and is profitable and fast-growing

I first learned about Liberator sex-furniture from the amazing sex-positive webcomic Oh Joy Sex Toy: the company makes foam wedges, half-spheres, pillows and even loungers that help couples (or more!) comfortably sustain sexual positions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible, whether due to a lack of athleticism or some kind of disability. Read the rest

What it's like to be a woman reporter on a cryptocurrency cruise where nearly all the other women are sex-workers

Laurie Penny (previously) got sent on the 2018 CoinsBank Blockchain Cruise -- a four-day cruise filled with "starry-eyed techno-utopians and sketchy-ass crypto-grifters" who solved the fact that there almost no women signed up using the "free market": they paid teen sex workers from Ukraine to ship out with them. Read the rest

Not just breaches: Never, ever use Quora

Long before Quora admitted to being breached and losing 100,000,000 million users' account data, it had disqualified itself from being used, by dint of its impulse to hoard knowledge and the likelihood that its limping business model would cause it to imminently implode. Read the rest

Facebook made itself indispensable to media companies, "pivoted to video," changed its mind, and triggered a industrywide mass extinction event

From the beginning, Facebook's strategy was to build a walled-garden-cum-roach-motel: content and users checked in, but they never checked out, so over time, everyone and everything was captured within the site, and a prisoner of the whims of its algorithms. Read the rest

Glenn Beck's TheBlaze to merge with Mark Levin's CRTV

Your racist uncle is about to have a new favorite TV channel.

Conservative media superstars Glenn Beck and Mark Levin are merging their respective networks to form Blaze Media, a venture they claim will reach over 165 million poor, unfortunate souls. Read the rest

Quora says data breach affects 100 million users

The question-and-answer sharing website Quora says about 100 million users were affected by a hack blamed on a “malicious third party.” Read the rest

The Death of Tumblr

Tumblr will ban 'female-presenting nipples' and other content beginning December 17, 2018. Photographer and writer Nate 'Igor' Smith is a longtime Tumblr user whose work straddles the boundaries of art, editorial, and adult. Here, Nate explains why Tumblr's decision to censor is devastating for the Tumblr's longtime users, and the rest of us. — XJ

THERE WAS A TIME when Tumblr was my favorite place to post photos. It was a social network that you could customize in so many ways that you could create a blog or a mood board or hide a secret project behind a password protected gate. It was used by so many people in so many different ways. You could posts .gifs on Tumblr before they worked on Twitter and you could post uncompressed images that looked good on desktop or smartphone without having to know any code.

I used it as a great place to post images that I could then send to Twitter to get around Twitter’s terrible compression and constantly flowing feed. I used it as a place to organize my images because of Tumblr’s tagging system. I could search for a person or subject or send someone a link to just a specific tag so they could see all my favorite photos of juggalos for example. It was a fantastic tool and my most popular social network until Instagram really exploded. Read the rest

Incredibly detailed technical guide to camgirling is a mix of advanced retail psychology and advice on performing emotional labor

Aella was a top-earning, top-ranked camgirl who performed sex shows over the internet for money, using the popular Myfreecams platform; she quit a year ago, and has written an incredibly detailed, soup-to-nuts primer on getting started camgirling, though she warns that some of her advice is out of date. Read the rest

The top AI scientist who quit Google over Chinese censorship plans details the hypocrisy that sent him packing

Jack Poulson is the former Google Research Scientist who quit the company's machine learning division over Project Dragonfly, the company's secret plan to build a censoring Chinese search engine designed to help the country's spies surveil dissident search activity. Read the rest

Marriott-Starwood data breach: 500 million guests may be affected, hackers active since 2014

How bad is the Marriott/Starwood breach disclosed today? "Unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014 … For approximately 327M of these guests, the info includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number.”

Marriott says information from as many as 500 million people has been compromised, and credit card numbers and expiration dates of some guests may have been taken. Read the rest

Google engineer calls for a walkout over China censorship and raises $200K strike fund in hours

Liz Fong-Jones is a Site Reliability Engineer for Google's cloud division; she took to Twitter after reading today's story in The Intercept in which ex-Google security engineer Yonatan Zunger and three current, unnamed Google Security and Privacy staff describe how they were sidelined and deceived in the rush to ship Project Dragonfly, Google's secret, censored, surveilling Chinese search engine. Read the rest

Google's secret project to build a censored Chinese search engine bypassed the company's own security and privacy teams

Google's Project Dragonfly is a formerly secret project to build a surveilling, censored version of its search engine for deployment in China; it was kept secret from the company at large during the 18 months it was in development, until an insider leak led to its existence being revealed in The Intercept. Read the rest

Sennheiser's headphone drivers covertly changed your computer's root of trust, leaving you vulnerable to undetectable attacks

Your computer ships with a collection of trusted cryptographic certificates, called its "root of trust," which are consulted to verify things like SSL connections and software updates. Read the rest

Redaction ineptitude reveals Facebook's 2012 plan to sell Graph API access to user data for $250,000

Six4three sucks at redaction: its court filing in its lawsuit against Facebook (previously) was redacted by drawing black rectangles over the text, which can still be copied and pasted to read it. This is a stupid mistake that most people stopped making a decade ago. Read the rest

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