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Category Archives: Financial System

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..”

Has the IRS mailed your stimulus check yet? Track its progress with a free post office tool

CNET- This USPS will help you follow your stimulus check right to your mailbox, so you don’t accidentally throw it away. “The IRS is nearing the Jan. 15 deadline to send out second stimulus checks through direct deposit, despite some setbacks. And it is still mailing payments up to this Friday cutoff as paper checks or EIP… Continue Reading

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

The Tyranny of the Pandemic Office

The New Republic: “I read Anderson’s book Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk About It) at the beginning of the pandemic. Over the last few months, I kept returning to it as the physical workplace, the book’s primary topic of interest, mutated and then, for many white-collar workers, effectively… Continue Reading

The Social Security Administration’s Death Data: In Brief

CRS report via LC – The Social Security Administration’s Death Data: In Brief, Updated January 11, 2021: “The Social Security Administration (SSA) acquires and maintains death data to administer the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, including preventing the improper payment of benefits to deceased individuals and identifying individuals who are potentially eligible… Continue Reading

Resources for Tracking Federal COVID-19 Spending

CRS report via LC – Resources for Tracking Federal COVID-19 Spending, Updated January 6, 2021 – “Congress has responded to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic with supplemental appropriations measures providing relief and assistance to individuals and families, state and local governments, businesses, health care providers, and other entities. For more information, see CRS Report R46474,… Continue Reading

Road Map for Improvements: GAO’s Transition Webpage Flags Ways to Improve Government, Save Money

“The 117th Congress and the incoming Presidential administration will be taking office in a time that presents significant challenges to the government. Today the U.S. Government Accountability Office launched a new webpage dedicated to informing incoming lawmakers and administration officials about major challenges facing the federal government, as well as possible solutions. This Presidential and… Continue Reading

You can track your new stimulus payment online with two free tools

CNet: “Did you know that the IRS and US Treasury are only making second stimulus check payments through Jan. 15? Well, it’s complicated. But if you’re trying to sort out when exactly your $600 stimulus money will arrive through direct-deposit, paper checks and EIP cards, you’ve come to the right place. (By the way, here’s how to calculate your… Continue Reading

Does working from home make employees more productive?

The Economist [paywall] – “Yes, according to new research, and they should be paid accordingly. Remote working, relatively uncommon before the pandemic, has gone mainstream. Before covid-19 roughly 5% of Americans worked from home. By May the figure had risen to 62%. By October 40% were still shunning the office. Both employers and employees have… Continue Reading

Financial Sources on the Internet 2021

Via LLRX – Financial Sources on the Internet 2021 – Marcus P. Zillman, new guide comprises a list of actionable financial resources from the U.S. and abroad, organized by four subject areas: Corporate Conference Calls Resources, Financial Sources, Financial Sources Search Engines, and Venture Capital Sources. Content includes: sources for news and updates on business, corporations… Continue Reading

Proposals for Reform: National Task Force on Rule of Law & Democracy

Brennan Center – “The Task Force is a nonpartisan group of former public servants and policy experts. We have worked at the highest levels in federal and state government, as prosecutors, members of the military, senior advisers in the White House, members of Congress, heads of federal agencies, and state executives. We come from across… Continue Reading