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Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica

After Apple updated its privacy rules in 2021 to easily allow iOS users to opt out of all tracking by third-party apps, so many people opted out that the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that Meta lost $10 billion in revenue over the next year.

Meta's business model depends on selling user data to advertisers, and it seems that the owner of Facebook and Instagram sought new paths to continue widely gathering data and to recover from the suddenly lost revenue. Last month, a privacy researcher and former Google engineer, Felix Krause, alleged that one way Meta sought to recover its losses was by directing any link a user clicks in the app to open in-browser, where Krause reported that Meta was able to inject a code, alter the external websites, and track “anything you do on any website,” including tracking passwords, without user consent.

Now, within the past week, two class action lawsuits [1] [2] from three Facebook and iOS users—who point directly to Krause's research—are suing Meta on behalf of all iOS users impacted, accusing Meta of concealing privacy risks, circumventing iOS user privacy choices, and intercepting, monitoring, and recording all activity on third-party websites viewed in Facebook or Instagram's browser. This includes form entries and screenshots granting Meta a secretive pipeline through its in-app browser to access “personally identifiable information, private health details, text entries, and other sensitive confidential facts”—seemingly without users even knowing the data collection is happening.

​[…]

In the meantime, the lawsuits say there is an easy way to stop Meta from collecting this info. Instead of clicking on links shared on Facebook or Instagram, copy and paste them directly into your preferred browser.

I have written so much about Facebook and its fucked-up ways that I get tired of repeating myself. But I think it’s important to continue shining a light on the shit that they continue to do. This time specifically targeting iOS users.

#Linked #iOS #Privacy #Facebook

New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration moved today to make hearing aids available over the counter and without a prescription to adults, a long-sought wish of consumers frustrated by expensive exams and devices.

As soon as mid-October, people with mild to moderate hearing loss should be able to buy hearing aids online and in retail stores, without being required to see a doctor for an exam to get a prescription.

The F.D.A. cited studies estimating that about 30 million Americans experience hearing loss, but only about one-fifth of them get help. The changes could upend the market, which is dominated by a relatively small number of manufacturers, and make it a broader field with less costly, and perhaps, more innovative designs. Current costs for hearing aids, which tend to include visits with an audiologist, range from about $1,400 at Costco to roughly $4,700 elsewhere.

This is exciting news for those of us who are hearing impaired. My last hearing aids even after insurance still cost over $2,000.

The Wall Street Journal has already reported that Apple is considering getting into the hearing aid business. I’m excited to see what Apple will be doing in the OTC hearing aid market. Apple might be my next set of hearing aids?

As a side note, did you know that you can already use your AirPods as hearing aids?

#News #Linked #Apple

Casey Newton points out “that Sandberg held many roles at Facebook over the years, and helped guide it through several tumultuous periods. In conversations with people who worked closely with her, though, there were really only two distinct eras in Sandberg’s time at Facebook. They fit neatly, into two seven-year periods.”

“From 2008 to 2015, Sandberg played a critical role in Facebook’s rise. Coming from a top business job at Google, she gave the young company a credibility among advertisers that it previously lacked. Mark Zuckerberg trusted her with functions that he viewed as less critical to the company’s success than the product and growth teams on which he spent more of his time.”

Shira Ovide, writing for the New York Times

Sandberg spearheaded a plan to build from scratch a more sophisticated system of advertising that was largely based on what she had helped develop at Google. Ads on Facebook were tied to people’s activities and interests on the site. As at Google, many advertisers bought Facebook ads online rather than through sales personnel, as had been typical for TV or newspaper ads. Later, Sandberg cultivated new systems for Facebook advertisers to pinpoint their potential customers with even more precision.

Google and Facebook transformed product marketing from largely an art to a sometimes creepy science, and Sandberg is among the architects of that change. She shares in the credit (or blame) for developing two of the most successful, and perhaps least defensible, business models in internet history.

All the anxiety today about apps snooping on people to glean every morsel of activity to better pitch us dishwashers — that’s partly Sandberg’s doing.

“The second era, from 2016 on, looked very different.”

Shira Ovide, writing for the New York Times

Sandberg was also partly responsible for Facebook’s failures during crucial moments, notably when the company initially denied and deflected blame for Russia-backed trolls that were abusing the site to inflame divisions among Americans ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

[…]​

Sandberg initially said publicly that Facebook played little role in the organizing of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. That wasn’t quite true. As my colleagues Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang reported, people used Facebook to spread misinformation about election fraud, which fueled anger among the protesters. Some rioters used Facebook to openly discuss the logistics of the attack ahead of time.

In their 2021 book, “An Ugly Truth,” Sheera and Cecilia wrote that to Sandberg’s detractors, her response was part of a pattern of trying to preserve the company’s reputation or her own rather than do the right thing.

Sandberg was also among those responsible for Facebook’s delayed or insufficient initial response in 2018 about news reports that a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, was able to harvest personal information on many millions of Facebook users.

Sheryl Sandberg is leaving behind a mixed legacy for her time at Facebook. I applaud her for her work advocating for women. On the other hand, I deplore her for her partnership, in crime, with Zuckerberg making Facebook the shit hole that it is today. The final chapter of her legacy is yet to come. Let’s see how it turns out?

By the way, Mark it’s time for you to join Sheryl in leaving Facebook/Meta. It’s the end of an era and time for a new chapter.

#Linked #Opinion #Facebook

Lauren Thomas, writing for CNBC

Effective June 1, the price of Peloton’s all-access subscription plan in the United States will go up to $44 per month, from $39. In Canada, the fee will rise to $55 per month, from $49. Pricing for international members will remain unchanged, Peloton said. The cost of a digital-only membership, for people who don’t own any of Peloton’s equipment, will still be $12.99 a month.

John Gruber

Hey, prices go up. Inflation is running high. OK. But raising the prices only for people who already paid for Peloton’s premium-priced hardware and not for people on the digital-only plan doesn’t pass the sniff test that this is about the cost of content creation. If it were really about content creation costs, they’d raise subscription prices for everyone, or, only for the people who haven’t also purchased Peloton devices that cost $2000 or more.

It’s not like $39/month was cheap. It seems transparently obvious that they’re just soaking their best and most loyal customers — the ones whose hardware purchases have tied them to Peloton. (Unsubscribe and your bike or treadmill still works, but the display becomes useless.)

Peloton is making big changes to satisfy shareholders. In the process, they’re pissing-off their loyal customers, me included. As a Peloton owner, I’m in full agreement with John’s observations regarding the price increase.

Here’s what I would like to see happen:

  1. Grandfather all existing bike customers into the current all-access price of $39.
  2. Raise the all-access price to $44 on all new bike customer who are buying the bike at the reduced price.
  3. Raise the price on all digital-only plans.

#Linked #Opinion

Samantha Subin, writing for CNBC

“I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” Musk wrote in a letter sent to Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor and disclosed in a securities filing.

According to Musk, the social media company needs to go private because it can “neither thrive nor serve” free speech in its current state, Musk wrote.

“As a result, I am offering to buy 100% of Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, a 54% premium over the day before I began investing in Twitter and a 38% premium over the day before my investment was publicly announced,” he wrote. “My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder.”

I said this was going to get messy. If Elon does buy Twitter and take it private, it will be interesting to see how Twitter changes. I’m guessing it’ll be for the worse.

#Linked #Opinion

Maxwell Strachan, writing for Vice

The Monday filing states that going forward, Musk may “acquire additional shares of Common Stock” and “express his views to the Board and/or members of the Issuer’s management team and/or the public through social media or other channels” (which is corporate speak for tweet whatever he wants).

Heroic as it might have been for Twitter to stand up to Musk, or hilarious as it would have been if the world’s richest man simply wanted to avoid (or even failed) a background check, it seems more likely that Twitter had offered Musk a seat as a way to placate and defang him, and that Musk decided in recent days that he didn’t want to be contained.

​[…]

Free from the shackles of the board, Musk got back to doing what he does best over the weekend: posting. He wrote tweets that asked “Is Twitter dying?”, suggested Twitter removed ads and converted its headquarters into a homeless shelter, and polled followers about whether the company should “Delete the w in twitter?

Twitter didn’t want a shitposter on its board. Going forward, this is going to get messy.

#Linked

Lee Peterson:

If you’re working on your own new blog or have an existing one it’s good to write smaller posts like this one, not share on Twitter all of the time. I find that I get more engagement, grow my traffic and more importantly own my content when I simply treat my blog as I want – to share my thoughts, big or small.

Why don’t you give it a go for 30 days? Hide your Twitter app from your main home screen and add your blogging platform one instead.

This is good advice. If I have something to say I say it here. I only tweet links to what I post here and nothing more.

#Linked #Blogging

Alex Heath, writing for The Verge

A group of Facebook engineers identified a “massive ranking failure” that exposed as much as half of all News Feed views to potential “integrity risks” over the past six months, according to an internal report on the incident obtained by The Verge.

The engineers first noticed the issue last October, when a sudden surge of misinformation began flowing through the News Feed, notes the report, which was shared inside the company last week. Instead of suppressing posts from repeat misinformation offenders that were reviewed by the company’s network of outside fact-checkers, the News Feed was instead giving the posts distribution, spiking views by as much as 30 percent globally. Unable to find the root cause, the engineers watched the surge subside a few weeks later and then flare up repeatedly until the ranking issue was fixed on March 11th.

John Gruber:

It really does sound like a bug, and some bugs really are devilishly tricky to track down and fix. But it seems a bit odd that it took Facebook six months to fix this one, given how intense the scrutiny of the company has gotten for the very problem this bug made worse.

Nick Heer:

One of the things I think about a lot is why problems such as this one have basically no repercussions for the companies that create them. In this case, this bug was only made public because someone leaked the internal report, and its possible consequence was significant — Heath writes that it “impacted up to half of News Feed views over a period of months”. But it does not matter, not really. Facebook’s reputation is in the tank and it will not lose users because of this, nor will advertisers pull funds. It does not matter that Facebook increased the spread of bullshit instead of responsibly slowing it, apart from in all the subtle ways it does matter that its massive user base was increasingly misinformed.

Facebooks problem is not a failure of technology, nor a shortcoming in their AI filters. Its problem is its shitty business model. Profits chiefly from engagement and virility. Fuck Facebook!

#Linked #Facebook #Opinion

The pros and cons of iOS sideloading

Tim Hardwick, writing for MacRumors

European lawmakers have provisionally agreed upon a new law that would force Apple to allow user access to third-party app stores and permit the sideloading of apps on iPhones and iPads, among other sweeping changes designed to make the digital sector fairer and more competitive.

​[…]

The wording of the legislation has yet to be finalized, but once the language is in place, the European Parliament and the Council will need to approve it. The regulation must be implemented within six months after its entry into force. Digital competition chief Margrethe Vestager said today that she expected the DMA to come into force “sometime in October.”

Should the Digital Markets Act go on to become law, Apple will have to make major changes to its ‌iPhone‌ and ‌iPad‌ platform to accommodate the requirement to allow for non-App Store apps. Apple said it was “concerned that some provisions of the DMA will create unnecessary privacy and security vulnerabilities for our users.”

Apple is also facing similar legislation in the United States, with U.S. House lawmakers in June introducing antitrust bills that would result in major changes to the tech industry if passed.

The pros and cons of iOS sideloading

Read more...

According to The New Times, “the salad days of Facebook’s lavish employee perks may be coming to an end. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, told employees on Friday that it was cutting back or eliminating free services like laundry and dry cleaning and was pushing back the dinner bell for a free meal from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., according to seven company employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity.” And the employees are pissed.

Well, isn’t that a fucking pity! I guess nothing last forever.

According to Protocol, “Meta company spokesperson Tracy Clayton confirmed the changes, describing them in an email as more reflective of “the needs of our hybrid workforce.”

#Linked #Facebook