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Category Archives: E-Commerce

Audit Finds Facebook’s Decisions Were ‘Setbacks for Civil Rights

The New York Times – “An independent audit faulted the social network for allowing hate speech and disinformation to thrive — potentially posing a threat to the November elections. Auditors handpicked by Facebook to examine its policies said that the company had not done enough to protect people on the platform from discriminatory posts and ads and that its decisions to leave up President Trump’s inflammatory posts were “significant setbacks for civil rights.” The 89-page audit put Facebook in an awkward position as the presidential campaign heats up. The report gave fuel to the company’s detractors, who said the site had allowed hate speech and misinformation to flourish. The audit also placed the social network in the spotlight for an issue it had worked hard to avoid since the 2016 election: That it may once again be negatively influencing American voters. Now Facebook has to decide whether its approach to hateful speech and noxious content — which was to leave it alone in the name of free expression — remains tenable. And that decision puts pressure on Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, who has repeatedly said that his company was not an arbiter of truth and that it would not police politicians’ posts…”

See also Facebook is out of control. If it were a country it would be North KoreaCarole Cadwalladr – “There is no power on this earth that is capable of holding Facebook to account. No legislature, no law enforcement agency, no regulator. Congress has failed. The EU has failed. When the Federal Trade Commission fined it a record $5bn for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, its stock price actually went up. Which is what makes this moment so interesting and, possibly, epochal. If the boycott of Facebook by some of the world’s biggest brands – Unilever, Coca-Cola, Starbucks – succeeds, it will be because it has targeted the only thing that Facebook understands: its bottom line. And if it fails, that will be another sort of landmark. Because this is a company that facilitated an attack on a US election by a foreign power, that live-streamed a massacre then broadcast it to millions around the world, and helped incite a genocide…”

See also –a statement issued by the nation’s leading civil rights organizations — including the NAACP, Color of Change, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. This audit has laid bare what we already know — Facebook is a platform plagued by civil rights shortcomings. Facebook has an enormous impact on our civil rights — by facilitating hate speech and violence, voter and census disinformation, and algorithmic bias, and by shortchanging diversity and inclusion. This audit has exposed Facebook’s vulnerabilities and provides important recommendations that they must take up swiftly..”

Study – Google, Amazon funnel at least $25 million to coronavirus conspiracy sites

Why is ad tech paying US$25 million to COVID-19 disinfo sites? – Household brands are inadvertently funding disinformation sites to spread COVID-19 conspiracies, thanks to ad tech companies that do not effectively screen the sites to which they provide ads services.  New research from the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) shows that Google, Amazon and other… Continue Reading

Bookstores Are Struggling. Is a New E-Commerce Site the Answer?

The New York Times – “The rapid rise of Bookshop.org during the shutdown has been hailed as a boon for independent stores. But some booksellers worry it could become another competitor for online business…Andy Hunter, founder of Bookshop.org, outside Word Bookstore in Brooklyn…Now Bookshop is on track to exceed $40 million in sales this year,… Continue Reading

Amazon’s New Competitive Advantage: Putting Its Own Products First

Pro Publica – “Brands have long been able to bid for the premier slot at the top left of Amazon’s listings, but during the pandemic the online retailer has begun using this position for its private-label items, raising antitrust concerns. Although customers don’t necessarily realize it, brands have for years been able to bid on… Continue Reading

What Happens to Powell’s Books When You Can’t Browse the Aisles?

The New York Times – The enormous independent bookstore in Portland, Ore., became an unlikely tourist attraction. Now that it’s shut, Emily Powell, the chief executive, is having to rethink the books business. “Powell’s Books was selling books online before Amazon.com existed. Over the years, its flagship store grew to occupy a full city block… Continue Reading

How to take back the information you’ve given to all your favorite apps and websites

Popular Science: “Social media networks know a lot about you. In fact, that’s their primary job. They want to collect information about you and use that to sell advertisements that you can’t resist. In return for your data, these companies give you a chance to interact with other users and share your life no matter… Continue Reading

Amazon rivals thrive during the pandemic as shipping delays level the playing field

NBC News – “Over the nine months Andy Hunter courted investors for his online bookselling business, Bookshop.org, he was repeatedly told it was doomed to be crushed by Amazon. Three months since its launch with less than $1 million in funding, Hunter said the business has already far exceeded levels he’d hoped to achieve by… Continue Reading

Technology helped shape Asia’s early response to COVID-19

McKinsey – Six digital and mobile technologies that helped guide governments and businesses in Asia could help other countries around the world. “The COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving, and at the time of writing the data do not allow us to draw firm conclusions about the most effective way to fight it. Although we focus… Continue Reading

Chrome will soon block resource-draining ads. Here’s how to turn it on now

ars technica – Fed up with cryptojacking ads? Google developers have you covered. “Chrome browser users take heart: Google developers are rolling out a feature that neuters abusive ads that covertly leach your CPU resources, bandwidth, and electricity. The move comes in response to a swarm of sites and ads first noticed in 2017 that… Continue Reading

A Complete List of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Scams

Self – “As anxiety around coronavirus increases, more scammers are taking advantage. While scams can happen any time, many companies are now preying on people’s fear about contracting COVID-19 and the financial uncertainty due to job and income loss caused by the virus, among others. Here’s what you need to know to help protect yourself… Continue Reading

For Bookstore Owners, Reopening Holds Promise and Peril

The New York Times – For Bookstore Owners, Reopening Holds Promise and Peril – “Across the country, booksellers are wrestling with how to safely open their stores. Some are racing ahead. Others feel it’s too risky. Among retail businesses, bookstores, especially smaller independent stores, face particular challenges as they navigate reopening. Many indies occupy cramped… Continue Reading