In This Issue


Tech CEOs front up to US congressional hearing about abuses of their market power

Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai jumped on a WebEx video conference to front up for the USA House of Representatives' hearing on Online Platforms and Market Power. Republicans focussed on the idea that "big tech is out to get conservatives" and that "dissenting views, often conservative ones, are targeted or censored is seriously troubling". Democrats tried to stick to the topic of market power, getting Zuck to admit Facebook purchased Instagram to "neutralize a potential competitor". Jeff Bezos was grilled about using the data it collects from third-party sales to then chop the legs off those sellers with Amazon products. Tim Cook got hassled about the unfair treatment of developers on the App Store, refusing to admit that some developers (Netflix, Amazon) are treated differently than others (indies). Sundar Pichai tried to defend Google from claims it abuses user privacy to display advertising, breaking conditions set upon it when government approved the acquisition of DoubleClick. Here's the 5 and a half hour video of the hearing and here's each of the witness opening statements.

Google leans on Samsung to ditch competing voice assistant Bixby & Galaxy App Store

In what I'm sure is nothing but a random chance occurrence, news has come out that Google is trying to bribe Samsung into ditching its voice assistant Bixby and Galaxy App Store. Reuters says that "exact financial details under negotiation between the companies could not be determined. But Google is dangling more lucrative terms for Samsung than in previous deals if it retreats from its app strategy, according to a source familiar with the talks" - sounds to me like exactly the kind of thing the US Congress is pissed off with Google for doing. How is someone supposed to compete with Google if they just go around giving their biggest competitors sweet cash deals to drop competing products?

TikTok to be more transparent around moderation and its algorithms

Also, in the wow what a coincidence news category, TikTok said they "will not wait for regulation to come" and will be "launching a Transparency and Accountability Center for moderation and data practices" where "experts can observe our moderation policies in real-time, as well as examine the actual code that drives our algorithms". Sounds good on paper and transparency in algorithms is something I'm keen on - but let's not fool ourselves, this isn't an altruistic move. TikTok are damn close to getting banned in the USA and other western countries due to their connections to China, so being proactive in this way sets them apart from the bad news surrounding Facebook and Twitter and whatnot.

Not News

A little bookmark late-winter cleaning

Cleaning out my bookmarks, here's some stuff that's interesting but doesn't need an entire paragraph:


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