Facebook, Twitter, Uber...all got kinda gross

If I’m not free to embarrass myself on Facebook, what is the world coming to?

You’d think that after the fallout over their emotional manipulation experiment, Facebook would become the very model of discretion and privacy, and knock it off with the machiavellian shenanigans already. Just because they have access to staggering amounts of personal information, doesn’t mean they should take advantage of it for their own experimental whims. You’d think so. But you’d be wrong. 

Facebook has now announced that they’re developing an AI which will act as a sort of overbearing grandmother (oops, sorry, “social media assistant”), which will, “recognize when you’re uploading an embarrassingly candid photo of your late-night antics.” Seriously? It’s become a modern rite-of-passage to post embarrassing photos on social media sites, and aside from that, it’s none of Facebook’s business what ridiculous photos I want to post or what I want to call myself.

We understand there is a level of decorum that has to be maintained. After all, people browse Facebook at work and Tumblr it ain’t, so limitations are understandable. But don’t preempt my embarrassing moment by reminding me how bad I’ll feel later. The strangest part is we’re not even sure what this AI does exactly, since Facebook has been incredibly vague about details. They say that it will “mediate your interaction with your friends”, but what does that mean? I for one do not welcome our robot overlords.

Uber sketchy

Uber has had an…interesting week. While they raised $1.2 billion in funding, and now have a valuation of $41 billion, they’ve also been serious allegations of rape, vehicular manslaughter, and other misconduct by their drivers.

It makes you wonder where Uber is finding these drivers, and the State of California is wondering the same thing. The cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles have teamed up to sue Uber for, among other things, lying to its users about the level of background checks they perform on their drivers. Also included in the claim are Uber’s alleged fraudulent business practices, illegal operations at airports, and calculating fees without heed to state regulations.

Investors are still throwing money at Uber because, well, popular mobile apps can make a boatload of funding even when they’re attached to controversy (Tinder had a valuation of $750 million in the midst of an internal sexual harassment firestorm). When similar ride-share company Lyft was sued by SF and LA for the same violations, they ended up settling for a measly $500,000. But Lyft’s misdeeds were more business than violent, so we’re inclined to give them a pass. Frankly we can’t see Uber recovering from this, $1.2 billion or not, and we’re not sure we want them to.

I’m in your phone, tracking your apps

In other “you have no privacy news”, Twitter wants to start tracking your apps. The new app graph feature will begin tracking what apps you have installed, in order to “give you more targeted recommendations on your timeline”.

How are they doing this? It would appear that they are using a low level Unix call (sysctl) to view running processes and then determine which apps these are. Even if it doesn’t technically violate sandboxing, it certainly violates the spirit of it.

The worst part is that Apple could prevent it if they wanted to. They currently have a process that looks through an app’s binary code to determine if its calling private APIs and auto-rejects the binary if so. Now, this isn’t technically a private API in the normal sense (i.e. its a unix call, not an Apple one), but Twitter and anyone who is using this is already skating on thin ice. We see no legitimate reason for a mobile app to call this API, so Apple would be fine in checking for it and rejecting apps on that basis.

Or Apple could take this issue public, make a high-profile example of Twitter, and tell them this has to stop. If businesses are openly telling users they’re snooping, it moves from obscure technical challenge to known fact.

Our solution? Just deleted the Twitter app off our phones and use a better app like Buffer or Tweetbot.

If I’m not free to embarrass myself on Facebook, what is the world coming to?

You’d think that after the fallout over their emotional manipulation experiment, Facebook would become the very model of discretion and privacy, and knock it off with the machiavellian shenanigans already. Just because they have access to staggering amounts of personal information, doesn’t mean they should take advantage of it for their own experimental whims. You’d think so. But you’d be wrong.

Facebook has now announced that they’re developing an AI which will act as a sort of overbearing grandmother (oops, sorry, “social media assistant”), which will, “recognize when you’re uploading an embarrassingly candid photo of your late-night antics.” Seriously? It’s become a modern rite-of-passage to post embarrassing photos on social media sites, and aside from that, it’s none of Facebook’s business what ridiculous photos I want to post or what I want to call myself.

We understand there is a level of decorum that has to be maintained. After all, people browse Facebook at work and Tumblr it ain’t, so limitations are understandable. But don’t preempt my embarrassing moment by reminding me how bad I’ll feel later. The strangest part is we’re not even sure what this AI does exactly, since Facebook has been incredibly vague about details. They say that it will “mediate your interaction with your friends”, but what does that mean? I for one do not welcome our robot overlords.

Uber sketchy

Uber has had an…interesting week. While they raised $1.2 billion in funding, and now have a valuation of $41 billion, they’ve also been plagued with serious allegations of rape, vehicular manslaughter, and other misconduct by their drivers.

It makes you wonder where Uber is finding these drivers, and the State of California is wondering the same thing. The cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles have teamed up to sue Uber for, among other things, lying to its users about the level of background checks they perform on their drivers. Also included in the claim are Uber’s alleged fraudulent business practices, illegal operations at airports, and calculating fees without heed to state regulations.

Investors are still throwing money at Uber because, well, popular mobile apps can make a boatload of funding even when they’re attached to controversy (Tinder had a valuation of $750 million in the midst of an internal sexual harassment firestorm). When similar ride-share company Lyft was sued by SF and LA for the same violations, they ended up settling for a measly $500,000. But Lyft’s misdeeds were more business than violent, so we’re inclined to give them a pass. Frankly we can’t see Uber recovering from this, $1.2 billion or not, and we’re not sure we want them to.

I’m in your phone, tracking your apps

In other “you have no privacy news”, Twitter wants to start tracking your apps. The new app graph feature will begin tracking what apps you have installed, in order to “give you more targeted recommendations on your timeline”.

How are they doing this? It would appear that they are using a low level Unix call (sysctl) to view running processes and then determine which apps these are. Even if it doesn’t technically violate sandboxing, it certainly violates the spirit of it.

The worst part is that Apple could prevent it if they wanted to. They currently have a process that looks through an app’s binary code to determine if its calling private APIs and auto-rejects the binary if so. Now, this isn’t technically a private API in the normal sense (i.e. its a unix call, not an Apple one), but Twitter and anyone who is using this is already skating on thin ice. We see no legitimate reason for a mobile app to call this API, so Apple would be fine in checking for it and rejecting apps on that basis.

Or Apple could take this issue public, make a high-profile example of Twitter, and tell them this has to stop. If businesses are openly telling users they’re snooping, it moves from obscure technical challenge to known fact.

Our solution? Just deleted the Twitter app off our phones and use a better app like Buffer or Tweetbot.

#ai #Apple #bigdata #facebook #gps #legal #lyft #privacy #twitter #uber