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Digital Life

Weighing a new GLAAD report against the queer experience

Source: Licensed from DepositPhotos

I’m worried — but not for reasons you might think.

Last month saw the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) release its first-ever Social Media Safety Index. As CEO Sarah Kate Ellis notes in the report’s press release, the original intention of the research was to grade five of the most popular social media platforms on safety and inclusion for queer people. When researchers realized their criteria would lead to every platform receiving a failing grade, they reworked the results into more of an industry report with recommendations for improvement.

The report is a call-to-arms to big tech, a…


Congress wants to stop most Big Tech acquisitions. But that won’t necessarily increase competition.

Tony Stoddard / Unsplash

The following is an update from Big Technology, a newsletter by Alex Kantrowitz. To get it in your inbox each week, you can sign up here.

When writing antitrust legislation, you want to be precise. The key is to fire a well-guided missile to flatten the competitive landscape, not a dumb rocket that causes collateral damage.

Well, in its ambitious package of Big Tech antitrust legislation, Congress may have shot a dumb rocket. The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, one of the five bills introduced last week, would effectively put an end to the tech giants’ ability to make acquisitions…


The first and only Tribeca Technology Conference was an odd mix of Hollywood celebrities and internet startups reeling from the dot-com crash

Photo by Zachary Shakked on Unsplash

In the fall of 2000, before we lost our innocence, before the towers came crashing down, before a Harvard dropout connected and upended the world, and when “binge” still meant wildly over-eating, Tribeca Films held a digital film and technology conference.

No, this wasn’t the nascent Tribeca Film Festival, which is running in Manhattan through June 20. There were no red carpets, no premiering films, just discussions about how technology and the Internet were changing film and entertainment. …


Granting slack is a better choice than venting rage

Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash

You’d think the declining infection rates, incremental lifting of mask restrictions, and signs of a more social, physical, and prosperous stretch ahead would do a lot to raise spirits, lighten the mood, and reduce the high level of belligerence that has characterized the public discussion. Yet every time I peek at my social media feeds, it feels as if people are only getting more irate, more triggered, and more entrenched in their positions.

Over the Trump presidency and then the pandemic, I watched as a lot of my friends fell deep into their respective ideological, conspiratorial, or social justice camps…


In the beginning, the web was a free bonanza. Now every site tries to sign you up for a monthly subscription.

Photo by Tech Daily on Unsplash

There was a time when it seemed like everything was free on the internet.

Free email. Free hosting. Free software. Free cloud storage. Free photo storage. Every social media site was free as was every search engine and every news site. The software that powered the servers running the web was free. If anywhere was the land of the free, it was the internet. Some free things weren’t even free enough. There were degrees of free-ness: “free” as in beer, or “free” as in speech. And we gobbled it all up. …


The GDPR forbids competition in human rights abuses.

EFF’s interoperability banner graphic, a kind of Rube Goldberg machine integrating pulleys, belts, megaphones, emoticons, lightbulbs, HTML tags, a Creative Commons icon, a radio tower, a padlock, etc.

Tech monopoly apologists insist that there’s something exceptional about tech that makes it so concentrated: “network effects” (when a product gets better because more people use it, like a social media service).

They’re wrong.

Tech is concentrated because the Big Tech companies buy up or crush their nascent competitors — think of Facebook’s predatory acquisition of Instagram, which Zuckerberg admitted (in writing!) was driven by a desire to recapture the users who were leaving FB in droves.

Google’s scale is driven by acquisitions — Search and Gmail are Google’s only successful in-house products. …


Big Technology obtained the five draft bills currently circulating around the House of Representatives that target Big Tech. If they’re signed into law, it will be bad news for the tech giants.

The following is a selection from Big Technology, a newsletter by Alex Kantrowitz. To get it in your inbox each week, you can sign up here.

For years, Big Tech crushed the competition with relative impunity, squeezing every dollar from would-be rivals to reach unprecedented valuations. And while their anti-competitive practices may well continue, there are now five draft bills circulating in the House of Representatives that represent the biggest threat ever to their standard method of doing business.

The draft bills, which Big Technology obtained in full, contain just about everything Big Tech’s detractors have hoped for on the…


It’s Apple’s world. We all just have to try and live in it.

Privacy segment of Apple’s WWDC keynote

Apple’s glitzy developer conference this June, WWDC, gave us our annual peek at the latest and greatest software the company is bringing to our devices, from iOS 15 to major updates to macOS, iPadOS, and more.

This year, as with other years, privacy improvements across Apple’s operating systems were front-and-center. Building on its anti-tracking pop-up boxes introduced last year that targeted cross-app tracking, iOS will now allow users to block email senders from tracking whether or not people are opening their emails.

Open tracking is one of the few ways people who send email are able to understand how well…


Digital redlining is a policy, not an accident.

Detroit broadband map.

The Biden broadband plan set aside $100B to build out universal fiber; that number was way too low (it was derived from the fraudulent broadband maps the monopoly telcos produce).

https://www.cnet.com/features/millions-of-americans-cant-get-broadband-because-of-a-faulty-fcc-map-theres-a-fix/

The true figure is much higher ($240B!), and ::sad trombone:: the GOP whittled Biden down to $65B. It’s easy to see this as the GOP stabbing its rural base in the back (and yup, that’s what they’re doing), but there’s a LOT of urban broadband deserts.

https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2019/04/08/its-time-for-a-new-approach-for-mapping-broadband-data-to-better-serve-americans/

Apologists for shitty broadband — and Musk cultists who insist that we can provide high speed broadband with satellites that all share…


Callaghan joins Big Technology Podcast to discuss why he left All Gas No Breaks, why his new show is hitting a nerve, and what he’s learned in his travels across the U.S.

Andrew Callaghan is the force behind All Gas No Breaks, a hit YouTube show that featured Callaghan putting a mic in front of people and just… letting them talk.

Callaghan’s recently gone independent, taking his unique interviewing style to a new home, Channel 5 with Andrew Callaghan, and building a substantial following there.

Callaghan joins Big Technology Podcast to discuss why his alternative to traditional news is hitting a nerve, what he’s learned about the American people from his travels across the country, and the factors that led to his decision to strike out on his own.

You can subscribe to Big Technology Podcast, on…

Apple…

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