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Category Archives: E-Commerce

How Amazon manipulates consumers to keep them subscribed to Amazon Prime

Report by Norway’s Consumer Council (NCC) / Forbrukerradet – YOU CAN LOG OUT, BUT YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE: “Executive summary In this report, we show how Amazon makes it unreasonably cumbersome to unsubscribe from the Amazon Prime service. The process of cancelling an Amazon Prime subscription is riddled with a combination of manipulative design techniques, known as ‘dark patterns’. Consumers who want to leave the service are faced with a large number of hurdles, including complicated navigation menus, skewed wording, confusing choices, and repeated nudging. As we argue in this report, the sum of these practices is a process that seems designed to be obscure and manipulative, in order to keep consumers bound to the paid service. These practices were observed on Amazon’s platforms in both the US and in Europe. In our opinion, the use of dark patterns to prevent consumers from leaving a service is in breach of consumer law. Although Amazon is one of the largest online platforms globally, the dark patterns described throughout this report are emblematic of a broader problem. Consumers are faced with dark patterns on a daily basis; whether they want to use an online retailer, unsubscribe from a service, protect their privacy, and in many other situations. These manipulative design features undermine consumers’ ability to make free and informed choices by making us act against our own interests in favour of the interest of service providers. We call on service providers to stop using dark patterns and on consumer authorities to crack down on infringements of consumer and marketing law..”

How to Hold Social Media Accountable for Undermining Democracy

Harvard Business Review: “The problem with social media isn’t just what users post — it’s what the platforms decide to do with that content. Far from being neutral, social media companies are constantly making decisions about which content to amplify, elevate, and suggest to other users. Given their business model, which promotes scale above all,… Continue Reading

Biased language models can result from internet training data

Search Engine Land – “The controversy around AI researcher Timnit Gebru’s exit from Google, and what biased language models may mean for the search industry. George Nguyen on December 29, 202 – Last year, Google announced BERT, calling it the largest change to its search system in nearly five years, and now, it powers almost… Continue Reading

Why Do Banks Share Your Financial Information and Are They Allowed To?

GAO WatchBlog  – In a word: yes. If you’ve ever applied for a loan, you know that banks and credit unions collect a lot of personal financial information from you, such as your income and credit history. And it’s not uncommon for lenders to then share your information with other vendors, such as insurance companies… Continue Reading

Amazon Publishing in Talks to Offer E-books to Public Libraries

Publishers Weekly – The potential deal would be a breakthrough moment in the library e-book market as Amazon currently does not make its digital content available to libraries. It would also be a major coup for the Digital Public Library of America’s upstart e-book platform and its SimplyE library reading app…Such an agreement would be… Continue Reading

Amazon announces new employee tracking tech, and customers are lining up

Mashable: “.Amazon-powered employee tracking is coming to a warehouse, and possibly a store, near you.  The ecommerce, logistics, and (among other things) cloud computing giant quietly previewed Tuesday new hardware and software development kits (SDK) which add machine learning and computer vision capabilities to companies’ existing surveillance camera networks. And in what should come as… Continue Reading

Google’s Shopping Gift Guide will show you what everyone’s buying

engadget – “Google has unveiled the Shopping Gift Guide, a microsite that lets you browse trending categories, compare prices and find local buying options. When you first launch it, you can go into product areas for chefs, athletes, techies, decorators, “wellness gurus,” gamers and kids. Once you click on the “techies” area, for instance, it… Continue Reading

How to watch out for scams as a coronavirus vaccine nears

ICE pivots to combat COVID-19 vaccine fraud with launch of Operation Stolen Promise 2.0 – via AP: “Homeland Security Investigations officials are preparing for a crush of new scams when the coronavirus vaccine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which could come in a few weeks. A few things to keep in… Continue Reading