This is Open Dialogue, an interview series from OneZero about technology and ethics.
I’m thrilled to talk with Mary Berk. Mary has a PhD in philosophy, a degree that includes a specialization in ethics, but spent her career working in Silicon Valley. Most recently, Mary was a product manager at Facebook and Instagram. Previously, Mary worked at Amazon, Google, Microsoft, eBay. Given Mary’s many years of experience and her disposition for critical thinking, she’s the perfect person to discuss whether Big Tech can care about ethics.
Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Evan: What got you interested…
By Adrianne Jeffries
Four years after offering special placement in a “top stories carousel” in search results to entice publishers to use a format it created for mobile pages, called AMP, Google announced last week that it will end that preferential treatment in the spring.
“We will prioritize pages with great page experience, whether implemented using AMP or any other web technology, as we rank the results,” Google said in a blog post.
After five years of Google Photos offering unlimited, free storage of “high-quality” compressed images, Google announced on Wednesday that its policy is changing. Starting next June, any new photos you upload will count toward the 15 gigabytes of free storage offered to every Google account. (Your old photos won’t.) After that, you’ll have to pay a subscription fee for Google One, its cloud storage service.
In one sense, that’s a totally reasonable policy change for a product that has become wildly popular since the initial free-storage offer. Storage isn’t really free or unlimited, after all, and 15 gigabytes is still…
We knew all of this was coming.
On Tuesday, New York Times tech reporter Davey Alba wrote that private groups are driving the vast majority of interactions on a viral piece of pro-Trump misinformation on Facebook, operating “beyond what researchers and journalists can see.”
“Only 2.5 percent of FB activity — likes, shares, comments — is visible on public FB,” Alba tweeted, citing CrowdTangle, a social media analytics tool.
As of Thursday morning, a massive Facebook group called “Stop the Steal” was raising funds to challenge election results across the country, falsely claiming that Democrats were stealing the election in states where President Trump has fallen behind.
On Thursday afternoon, Facebook banned the group on the basis of attempting to delegitimize the election process, and for its role in potentially instigating physical violence.
“In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the Group ‘Stop the Steal,’ which was creating real-world events. …
Editor’s Note: Surveillance capitalism is everywhere. But it’s not the result of some wrong turn or a rogue abuse of corporate power — it’s the system working as intended. This is the subject of Cory Doctorow’s new book, which we’re thrilled to publish in whole here on OneZero. This is how to destroy surveillance capitalism.
The most surprising thing about the rebirth of flat Earthers in the 21st century is just how widespread the evidence against…
Welcome back to Pattern Matching, OneZero’s weekly newsletter that puts the week’s most compelling tech stories in context.
On April 14, 1994, the CEOs of the seven big American tobacco firms sat side by side, facing a Congressional subcommittee hearing on their products’ health impacts. Rep. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, asked them one by one to answer a simple question: Do you believe nicotine is not addictive? All seven, under oath, confirmed that they did not believe nicotine was addictive (video). …
Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft — five companies that arguably make up “big tech” — say they are either already powered by 100% renewable energy or are close to getting there.
Together, these companies own and operate more than a hundred data centers (each the size of multiple football fields), close to a thousand offices, and countless other buildings, making them some of the most power-hungry companies in the world. Given this, running on 100% renewable energy is a significant achievement.
But there are plenty of critics who argue that these claims are misleading. Some say carbon offsets might…
Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet have each reached a $1 trillion market capitalization. While many are in awe at this growth in wealth and technological power, others, specifically the workers at these companies themselves, are worried about the ramifications that such an asymmetric power dynamic entails.
Tech workers are seeing firsthand where Big Tech’s idealistic missions of “connecting the world” or “organizing the world’s information” stand when it comes to capitalistic values. Over the past decade, Big Tech’s misaligned corporate values have contributed to the disillusion of a millennial workforce.
This article is part of Into the Valley, a feature series from OneZero about Silicon Valley, the people who live there, and the technology they create.
In one of my final interviews for a job at Google, I was asked why I wanted to join the company. It was a softball question after a bunch of harder ones, the kind of thing you prep an answer for and sail right through.
It was a particularly easy question to answer back then. It was 2006, and the media was in rapture over Silicon Valley. …