The leader of the Time Well Spent movement has a new crusade

Tristan Harris's first great idea for the technology industry, the Time Well Spent movement, was a great success. Today, he unveiled the sequel, a kind of unified theory of how technological platforms are undermining humanity. His idea, which he calls "degradation," tries to explain everything from addiction to smartphones to political polarization. Is your diagnosis correct? And, if so, what is the solution?

First, a relevant context. Six years ago, Harris was a product manager at Google and published a presentation for his co-workers to read. Noting the frequency with which Google services forced people to check their notifications by email and smartphone, Harris called his co-workers to build systems that gave them back their time. "A change like this can only happen from the top down, from large institutions that define the standards for millions of people," Harris wrote. "And we're in an excellent position to do something about it."

The presentation quickly spread within Google. But despite the initial enthusiasm, Harris became convinced that he could be more effective at working on these issues outside the company. He gave a talk at TED about how technology companies could protect us from distractions and formed the Human Technology Center with some friends to press them to do better.

Along the way, Harris began using the phrase "time well spent" to describe his goal. He was not asking us to abandon our phones, only to use them intentionally and with care.

Harris was not the only one asking technology companies to build time management and attention functions. But I think that his coining of the phrase "time well spent" helped catalyze and accelerate the movement. In three small words, Harris conveyed a great idea and made it easy for the product managers of large companies to discuss in abbreviated form. Harris and his colleagues promoted the idea in interviews and trials, and in private conversations with the employees of the companies in which they hoped to achieve a change.

Last January, I wrote that "time well spent" was shaping up to be the next technician. great debate – and six months later, it ended effectively, since Apple, Google and Facebook had added features designed to help users measure their time using the products of those companies and manage their use.

All of which is for Let's say that Harris took the stage in San Francisco today from a position of strength. The center he co-founded brought together a couple of hundred people, including current and former employees of Google, Facebook and Twitter, and he accompanied us all through his vision of "degradation".

Technology companies, he argues, have "degraded" humanity by promoting shorter attention spans, dialogues fueled by outrage, addiction to smartphones, vanity and a polarized electorate. Harris asked technology companies to enable a new "race to the top", focused on developing tools to help people to concentrate, find common ground, promote a healthy childhood and strengthen our democracy.

Few would disagree with Harris' goals. However, much less clear is how it intends to get there. Even if you accept that all the social ills that have the names of Harris have a single common cause, and it seems to me a scope, many different tools will be needed to solve them. And what could those tools be, Harris did not say it.

Instead, he promised three things from his organization in the coming months. One, a guide for product organizations dedicated to promoting more human designs. Two, a podcast on these topics, called Your undivided attention, which will be held on June 10. And finally, a full conference will arrive in 2020. As of today, the Center for Humane Tech is a media company (non-profit) as a movement.

Still, Harris speaks passionately about what he sees. like a crisis

"This is a time of civilization in a way that I'm not sure we're all considering," Harris said on stage. "It's a historical moment in which a species that is intelligent builds technology that … can simulate a puppet version of its creator, and the puppet can control the master. That is an unprecedented situation. It could be the end of human agency, when you can perfectly simulate not only the strengths of people but also their weaknesses. "

Harris's seriousness has led to ridicule in some sectors. Nick Thompson of Wired who received a preview of Harris' speech today, quoted an anonymous technology executive on one of the big platforms saying this:

"Tristan sees humans as pawns unable to manage their own lives. He thinks that designers are infinitely powerful and can force people to do whatever they want. It's a pure sham. "The executive adds:" I like to imagine Tristan checking the last restaurant. "They have clearly intentionally added flavor to this dish to make me want to go back and visit this business again. What a scoundrel!" "

Meanwhile, an assistant called today" the most offensive event I've been to in many levels "saying that he focused the voices of designers and engineers and argued that Harris's approach to reversing" degradation "borrows all the frames that led us to this place.

Still, Harris speaks The dialect of Silicon Valley for one reason: its target audience is the people who already work on the big platforms, who remain in the best position to make a radical change.The next generation of entrepreneurs may adopt design principles centered on being and make the giants of today irrelevant, but until they do, and if they do not, Harris keeps the pressure on them. It's going to work, but it does not seem especially likely to be the first time either.

Democracy

EU votes to create a gigantic biometric database

Fresh from General's approval Data protection regulation to discourage companies from collecting too much data about their citizens, the European Union is … creating a unified database of all its citizens together with biometric data. IN AGREEMENT! From Catalin Cimpanu:

According to its design, CIR will add both identity records (names, dates of birth, passport numbers and other identification details) and biometrics (fingerprints and facial scanners), and will make its data available to all edges and police authorities.

Its main function will be to simplify the work of border agents and EU law that will be able to look for a unified system much faster, instead of searching individual databases separately.

After the Mueller report, Twitter robots pushed the narrative of & # 39; Russiagate Hoax & # 39;

Ben Collins reports on a network of pro-Trump Twitter bots that was discovered over the weekend:

A network of more than 5,000 pro-Trump Twitter bots criticized the "Russiagate deception" shortly after of the publication of the report of special adviser Robert Mueller last week, according to the data compiled by a leading disinformation researcher and analyzed by NBC News. The network illustrates the ongoing challenge Twitter faces in persistent efforts to manipulate its platform.

However, these robots did not seem to come from Russia. Instead, the robots had links to a social networking operation that previously promoted messages that supported the Saudi government and were connected to a person claiming to be a private social media consultant, according to account and domain registration records. from Internet. The bots, which were created last November and December, were shot down on Twitter on Sunday night for breaking the rules of the social network against "manipulation," the company said.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey meets Donald Trump in a closed-door meeting at White House

And you'll never believe what they talked about! Here's Tony Romm with a story that left me looking at the middle distance for a long time today:

A significant part of the meeting focused on Trump's concerns that Twitter quietly, and deliberately, had eliminated some of his followers, according to Person with direct knowledge of the conversation who requested anonymity because it was private. Trump said he had also heard of other conservatives who had also lost followers.

But Twitter explained for a long time that the numbers of followers fluctuate as the company takes steps to eliminate fraudulent spam accounts. At the meeting, Dorsey emphasized that point, noting that he had even lost followers as part of Twitter's work to enforce his policies, according to the source.

Facebook blocks could open the door to online censorship

Makena Kelly and Adi Robertson explore how Sri Lanka's temporary ban on social media could lead to disturbing speech restrictions in the future:

Concern about misinformation online has already become the law in many countries. Sri Lanka is not the only country that blocks Facebook during a crisis. Facebook's transparency report shows that other countries such as Cameroon, Indonesia and Iran have also seen Internet interruptions, according to a Facebook transparency report. France, Singapore and Russia have passed laws designed to curb "false news" on social networks. The UK recently proposed a fine on Internet platforms that do not remove harmful content. And after a mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, the government blocked a handful of sites that contained the video of the attack.

Danny O & # 39; Brien, international director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, recognizes that propaganda and misinformation are expanding for social reasons. The vast scale of the media. "In terms of the large number of people involved in that, then it's definitely a kind of quantitative difference," he says. At the same time, he points out that those who have always traveled have taken advantage of mass communication systems, and repressive governments do not draw a line between harmful misinformation and legitimate criticism.

Armed anti-immigrant militias posted videos and raised funds through Facebook for months.

April Glaser reports that right-wing extremists have been raising money on Facebook:

After the New York Times reported on the group's activities last Thursday, PayPal and GoFundMe stopped serving them. Still, there is evidence that similar extremist militia groups have used Facebook as a donation platform: Mountain Minutemen leader Robert Crooks was able to raise $ 1,600 on the site last month. Another group of armed militias, the Three Percent United Patriots, maintains a Facebook group with more than 19,700 followers and still requests donations through PayPal. Even when fundraising sites stop serving them, Facebook offers a centralized way for supporters to communicate in private messages. Those who wish to support the Constitutional Patriots of the United States can easily send a note to ask what is the best way to send funds.

Facebook's avalanche of languages ​​makes it difficult to monitor content

Maggie Fick and Paresh Dave identify "31 languages ​​spoken" that still have no official support on Facebook, which poses challenges for moderators:

Similar problems abound in African nations such as Ethiopia, where deadly ethnic clashes among a population of 107 million have been accompanied by ugly Facebook content. Much of it is in Amharic, a language supported by Facebook. However, Amharic users seeking rules get them in English.

At least 652 million people worldwide speak languages ​​compatible with Facebook, but the rules are not translated, according to data from the Ethnologue encyclopedia. Another 230 million or more speak one of the 31 languages ​​that do not have official support.

Google Walkout Organizers Say They Face Retaliation

Google employees who helped organize a November exit for thousands of employees say they have been Nitasha Tiku informs that Microsoft employees are pressuring the company to defend the besieged Chinese GitHub representative

Shannon Liao has heard of a protest by Microsoft employees:

Microsoft employees have filed a Petition in defense of a GitHub repository that they believe could be under the threat of censorship China. The repository, called 996.ICU, was established at the end of March by Chinese technology workers protesting overwork. The stories name some of the biggest companies in China, including Alibaba, Huawei, ByteDance, DJI, Tencent, Vivo and others.

The protest has angered Chinese censors, and many local browsers are already blocking access to 996.ICU, including browsers from Tencent, Alibaba, Xiaomi and Qihoo 360. However, the repository is still available to users Chinese in alternative browsers, and GitHub has not moved to remove it.

The black feminists who saw the threat of Alt-Right.

Rachelle Hampton writes about Twitter users who posted early warnings of the partial takeover of Twitter by robots destined to inflame the tensions of society in the United States:

Exposing #EndFathersDay finally took the job of a group of black women who were determined not to let the trick spiral, feeling how poisonous this kind of drag could be. And yet, in later years, even when journalists have publicly questioned how they ignored the growing threat posed by radical radical right-wing extremists online, somehow one of the first multisectoral campaigns against misinformation on the Internet has been ignored by the mainstream. media. For Nasah Crockett, who, along with Hudson, helped uncover the #EndFathersDay hoax, seeing the events of recent years has made her feel like she was "a canary in a coal mine."

Elsewhere

Twitter earnings in the first quarter of 2019 exceeded estimates, increases in shares

Twitter had a good quarter. Monthly users decreased, but daily users increased. (The "mDAU" metric here refers to "monetizable daily active users," which is a bad name for a metric that composed Twitter).

Twitter reported 134 million average mDAU for the first quarter, compared to 120 million a year earlier. In the fourth quarter, Twitter said it had 126 million mDAU.

In the USA UU., Twitter reported 28 million mDAU average for the first quarter, compared to 26 million the previous year. It reported 105 million average international mDAU for the first quarter, compared to 94 million the previous year.

Snap returns after the release of its rebuilt Android application

Snap also had a good quarter. Especially if you ignore the fact that he lost $ 123 million:

Snap is heading back in the right direction. The company revealed in its results release today that its daily user base has grown by 4 million people worldwide. Now it has 190 million active daily users, compared to the 186 million people who had been using the platform constantly during the last two quarters. This updated number is still 1 million fewer people than Snapchat's maximum user base since it was made public in 2017, but it's still good news for Snap.

Snapchat's CEO, Evan Spiegel, said in prepared statements that the platform reaches more than 13 to 34 years of age in the US. UU Instagram, but they did not explain why or how their user base suddenly grew. He says that Snapchat reaches 75 percent of people 13 to 34 years old and 90 percent of those 13 to 24 years old.

Applications for smoking and depression are selling their data to Google and Facebook, according to a study

Applications designed to help people quit smoking and combat depression are sharing large amounts of data with third parties, including the great technological platforms. Rachel Siegel reports:

That's according to a study published on Friday in the JAMA Network Open magazine. Researchers say the findings are especially important in mental health, given the social stigmas and the risks of sharing confidential information without knowing it. And because many health applications are not subject to government regulation, according to researchers, consumers and clinicians must deal with the information that is entered into these applications, and who else can access them.

"Digital data does not disappear," said John Torous, co-author of the report. "Part of the risk is that we do not completely know who will gather this information, when and where it will be shown again and in what context. … The data seems to end up in the hands of the wrong people more and more. "

How editors are using TikTok, the latest application

Kerry Flynn reports that publishers have started a slight experimentation with TikTok. Strangely, none of them has uploaded a documentary about the protests of Tiananmen Square in 1989!

As of February, NBC News & # 39; Stay Tuned & # 39; has posted 26 videos on TikTok. Seconds show one of the three presenters of the program, Savannah Sellers, Gadi Schwartz and Lawrence Jackson, commenting on news such as the premiere of the season of "Game of thrones" or participating in challenges such as pineapple extraction.

Last month , ESPN joined TikTok with a video for TikTok-sensation-turn-to-billboard-hit "Old Town Road" with ESPN sports analyst Stephen A. Smith in a suit and then a cowboy hat. of ESPN is a montage of Basketball players who are hit by imaginary Pokeballs. The fifth and most recent video on the network is a round-trip contest between Bran from "Game of Thrones" and basketball player Draymond Green.

Influencers are abandoning the appearance of Instagram

Taylor Lorenz reports that great teenagers are not For longer, try to look great in their Instagram photos:

In fact, many teenagers are doing everything possible to make Your photos look worse. Huji Cam, who makes his images look like they were taken with an old-school disposable camera, has downloaded more than 16 million times. "Adding grain to your photos is a great thing now," says Sonia Uppal, a 20-year-old college student. "People are trying to sound sincere. People publish many selfies of mirrors and pictures of them resting around them. "

Take Reese Blutstein, a 22-year-old influential person who has accumulated more than 238,000 followers in just over a year by publishing unfiltered and low-production photos of herself in extravagant costumes. (A recent photo in a mirror with her dog picked up more than 5,000 "likes.") She, like many members of her generation, does not care about publishing almost exactly the same photo twice. followed, something that people of first generation influence would not dream of. "I'm not afraid of over-publishing. I do not think that, Oh, this will spoil the look of my feed "she says." I do not think much about that. If I like an image, I simply publish it. "

Lanza

Reddit launches collections and event publications to all communities

Janko Roettgers reports on some incremental improvements on Reddit:

After testing them with Los fans of "Game of Thrones" and some other dozens of Subreddits over the past few months, Reddit is now launching two new types of publications to its entire user base: the events will help communities to discuss episodes of television programs, programs of awards, breaking news and More; Collections will help curate publications and make Reddit's quick discussions a bit easier for newcomers to digest.

Event publications help moderators of a Reddit community to schedule publications related to an upcoming event, and then facilitate timely discussions as that event was developed lla

Toma

Do you think you are discreet online?

Zeynep Tufekci argues that the prediction algorithms of technology platforms have become so good that now there is no significant exclusion option available when it comes to privacy features:

Due to technological advances and large amount of data now available on billions of other people, discretion is no longer enough to protect your privacy. Computer algorithms and network analysis can now infer, with a sufficiently high degree of accuracy, a wide range of things about you that you may have never revealed, including your moods, your political beliefs, your sexual orientation and your health .

It is no longer an option of individual "exclusion" of our world committed to privacy.

The problem with Instagram's plan to reduce "sexually suggestive" content

Lux Alptraum argues that Instagram's new guidelines for "sexually suggestive" content run a high risk of being sexist in its implementation:

] There are already some indications that Instagram's moderation algorithm will be shaped by a biased idea of ​​indecency, one that sets a much lower level for women than for men. TechCrunch obtained sample photos of the effort of moderation, including two images that could be considered sexually suggestive. One presented a man fully dressed and without a head that gripped his crotch; The other, a woman in lingerie sitting on a bed. You might interpret this to mean that men are considered sexually suggestive by virtue of their actions, while women get that status simply because they have a body that another person considers sexually attractive.

And finally …

Jack Dorsey is famous for wearing hats on stage. The beloved Twitter character, Darth, had a lot of fun with that idea at Dorsey's meeting with the president today.

Talk to me

Send me advice, comments, questions, are your ideas for a human technology: [email protected]