The coronavirus crisis, with all its ‘working from home’ and social distancing recommendations, has probably transformed your social life into a succession of video chats. Your boss, your doctor, your family, your friends, they all want to see your face and tech is here to help. Or is it?Continue reading “The perfect video chat app doesn’t exist”
It’s Saturday morning, and my phone has been burning for the past few hours. Just after I wake up, I stare at the screen and I have several messages from my parents, who live on the other side of the world, telling me that they miss me and that they are ready to talk.
As an immigrant in this country and with all my family living in Spain, this is not an unusual situation at all. Keeping in touch with your loved ones across different time zones and geography is challenging enough already. You have to add the technological breach existing between their generation and mine to make a perfect cocktail for frustration and bad quality communication.Continue reading “Facebook Portal TV in the wild”
In the first part of the series “Time travel through 2010s technology” we looked at how operating systems, phones, tablets, smartwatches and smartglasses changed through the last decade. The 2010s changed how we interact with technology, but more importantly, how we think about the impact it has in our lives.
So what happened in the last ten years? How did we get here?Continue reading “Time travel through 2010s technology: Part 2”
Last week Facebook reported an important data breach that resulted in between 50 and 90 million accounts potentially compromised. This is more serious than the Cambridge Analytica issue reported earlier this year, because unlike that infamous case, this last breach provided attackers with access tokens for these accounts.Continue reading “Facebook forced me to use a password manager”
Facebook has been receiving criticism once again for how they handled users’ personal data. Here is a quick summary: in 2013, a 3rd party developer acquired large amounts of data from about 50 million users through an old platform capability (which was removed by Facebook itself one year later to prevent abuse); this data was then used to target US voters during the 2016 Presidential Election. The issue is complex in depth and it highlights a bigger underlying problem: users’ privacy expectations are not aligned with the commitment from most tech companies.
Zuckerberg said in a recent interview with Wired, “early on […] we had this very idealistic vision around how data portability would allow all these different new experiences, and I think the feedback that we’ve gotten from our community and from the world is that privacy and having the data locked down is more important to people.”
Regardless, Facebook never committed to fully lock down users’ data, and their business model was in fact built around the value that data can have for advertisers through interest relevance and demographic targeting. Google and Facebook accounted for 73% of all US digital ad revenue in the second quarter of FY18, up from 63% two years before.
I can nonetheless relate to that idealistic vision between privacy and technology. The more information the Google Assistant knows about the music I like, the better it can personalize my listening experience. Richer actions become available too, like allowing me to control the Nest thermostat or the lights by voice. At the end of the day, I’m trusting Google with my music taste and the devices installed in my house, and I get the benefit of convenience in return.
If you use Facebook, Instagram, Messenger or WhatsApp, you have probably noticed recent updates that allow you to share a picture that expires after 24 hours.
Stories, Shared Days, or Status, all different names for the same feature across 4 different apps. This is what they look like side by side:
Facebook is trying to suffocate Snap by flooding every app they own with the one thing that made Snapchat special.
Many of my friends have stopped posting on Facebook. Some have uninstalled the app and others even deleted their accounts.
They are not posting on Twitter either, and the more ephemeral Snapchat hasn’t reached critical mass among my closest friends.
Instagram is the only place where I still get a glimpse of the most intimate side of the people I love the most, but I’d say only 20% of my online friends actively use it.
What causes someone to stop sharing on social media? Is it a natural part of being over 30? Or is there an actual problem with the platform? Talking to 12 of these friends, I learned that there are several groups.
I’m sitting on a train, on my way to Whistler, and I decide to check Facebook. I’m hoping to see what my friends did last night, or what their plans are for Thanksgiving, but this is what I see:
I don’t see almost any personal posts, or pictures that help me connect with my friends, with the people I love. Isn’t that Facebook’s mission? Instead, I get irrelevant stories.
Last Saturday I found out about AlphaGo, Google DeepMind’s computer capable of beating the European champion at the game Go; it uses “deep neural networks that have been trained by supervised learning, from human expert games, and by reinforcement learning from games of self-play“, and it’s still unknown if humans can beat it.
Watching the project’s website I noticed the copyright at the bottom and thought: is DeepMind actually aligned with Google’s business goals? A quick look to their mission statement refreshed my memory:
Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
For the last month, I’ve been doing an experiment with my News Feed on Facebook; the goal was to make it a more personal place again, and less of the news-sharing site that it seems to be nowadays.
I’m not saying Facebook is not for sharing news, or interesting websites, or memes… after all, I’ve done that same thing for a long time. The problem is that at some point I got bored of seeing my News Feed filled with these impersonal stories and I ended up visiting Facebook way less than I used to. And when I did, I would incessantly scroll through my News Feed, looking for posts that shared something more personal (an idea, a feeling, a picture), but I found very few of these.
Ideally, Facebook should provide the following option: hide all external content, including content generated by accounts that I’m not following. This wouldn’t necessarily go against the company goal, “to help you connect with the people and things you care about the most“, but admittedly, advertisers and investors wouldn’t be so happy with an option that helps users see less content.