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:
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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.
Facebook just announced it has permanently banned a number of “dangerous" alt-right and anti-Semitic trolls, including Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Laura Loomer.
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Facebook had removed the accounts, fan pages, and groups affiliated with these individuals after it reevaluated the content that they had posted previously, or had reexamined their activities outside of Facebook, the company said. The removal also pertains to at least one of the organizations run by these people, Jones’ Infowars.
“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today,” Facebook said in a statement.
Concentration in the tech sector has left us with just a few gigantic online platforms, and they have turned into playgrounds for some of the worst people on earth: Nazis, misogynists, grifters, ultranationalists, trolls, genocidal mobs and more. The platforms are so big and their moderation policies are so screwed up, and their use of "engagement" algorithms to increase pageviews, that it's making many of us choose between having a social life with the people we care about and being tormented by awful people. Even if you opt out of social media, you can't opt out of being terrorized by psychopathic trolls who have been poisoned by Alex Jones and the like.
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Cat furniture maker Jackson Cunningham was banned for life from Airbnb, and the company wouldn't tell him why. In his essay, he compares his experience to the nightmarish Black Mirror episode, White Christmas.
Here's an email that Airbnb sent Jackson:
We regret to inform you that we’ll be unable to support your account moving forward, and have exercised our discretion under our Terms of Service to disable your account(s). This decision is irreversible and will affect any duplicated or future accounts.
Please understand that we are not obligated to provide an explanation for the action taken against your account. Furthermore, we are not liable to you in any way with respect to disabling or canceling your account. Airbnb reserves the right to make the final determination with respect to such matters, and this decision will not be reversed.
Jackson followed up with Airbnb customer support and received the following reply:
Please understand that we are not obligated to provide an explanation for the action taken against your account. Additionally, we consider this matter closed and will no longer reply to any inquiries regarding your account.
Jackson decided to try to find out why he was banned. As far as he can tell, it was because he wrote a review of one of his stays on Google, and Airbnb only allows reviews on its own platform.
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The part that’s especially poetic to me is that AirBnB touts a firm brand message of community and connectedness with their “Belong Anywhere” campaigns but the frightening reality is that any individual user is completely disposable, without a shred of appeal to due process...