An EU Law Could Let US Prosecutors Scan Phones for Abortion Texts

The drive to protect children online will soon collide with an equal and opposing political force: the criminalization of abortion. In a country where many states will soon treat fetuses as children, the surveillance tools targeted at protecting kids will be exploited to target abortion. And one of the biggest threats to reproductive freedom will unintentionally come from its staunch defenders in the European Union.

Last week the EU unveiled draft [...]  read more

Adam Mosseri Says He Wants Big Tech to Give Up Control

So you’re saying that you could have done it earlier, but it was good to wait for blockchain because no one would have believed you otherwise?

I’m not saying that. But there is a truth to that framing. It has less to do with blockchain and more to do with competition in the market for creators, and us feeling a sense of urgency for being the de facto platform for them. Instagram specifically has enjoyed immense market fit with creators for a very long time. Now, a lot of other platforms have wised up to the value of creators. As more power shifted from institutions to individuals, the competition for creators and creators’ business has exploded. And it has created a strong incentive for us to do way more to help creators make a living directly, as opposed to indirectly.

Traditionally, creators build an audience, and they monetize that audience. Branded content on Instagram is probably a $15 billion industry, roughly—I don’t know, many billions [...]  read more

Meta’s Augmented Reality Glasses Are Still Years Away

Considering that all eyes have been on Elon Musk and his Twitter shenanigans this week, you’d be forgiven for not paying much attention to Mark Zuckberg. Nevertheless, the Meta CEO has kept his Sauronesque gaze laser-focused on his metaverse machinations. Problem is, they aren’t likely to come to fruition anytime soon.

Alex Heath at The Verge reported a detailed story about how Zuckerberg’s augmented reality ambitions stack up with actual reality. Meta has sunk billions into its metaverse division, but the hardware needed to move it forward—namely Meta-made AR glasses—is still potentially years away. Right now, the company’s roadmap puts Meta’s AR glasses’ release in 2024, but as Heath explains, the project has already been delayed a couple of times, so the specs may not emerge until even later.

It’s another complication in Meta’s increasingly messy vision of a VR world. Despite Zuckerberg’s assertions that the metaverse will be an open haven for [...]  read more

Why WhatsApp Survived Russia’s Social Media Purge

It has become easier to be labeled an extremist in Russia. On Monday the label—once reserved for the likes of the Taliban and the Islamic State—was given to Facebook’s parent company, Meta.

A Moscow court ruled that Meta was an extremist organization in a decision that effectively banned social media platforms Facebook and Instagram from operating in Russia. But the court ruling included an interesting carve-out: WhatsApp. Both of the other platforms had been blocked earlier in March after clashing with the Kremlin over content referencing the war in Ukraine. But the ruling purposefully allowed the company’s messenger platform WhatsApp to continue operating in the country. “The decision does not apply to the activities of Meta’s messenger WhatsApp, due to its lack of functionality for the public dissemination of information,” the court said, according to Reuters.

To some, sparing WhatsApp is a sign of increasingly erratic policymaking by Moscow. “I don’t [...]  read more

Russia Wants to Label Meta an ‘Extremist Organization’

Neutrality is a core tenet of cryptocurrency. But in the course of the war in Ukraine, exchanges have blocked accounts of sanctioned Russian individuals and those close to them. Activists have also used apps like Tinder and Google Maps to circumvent Russia’s information blockades, offering a counterweight to the country’s propaganda machine. And face recognition algorithms have made it frighteningly easy to identify Russian soldiers, which could backfire dangerously when the technology inevitably gets it wrong.

Elsewhere in the world, security researchers have caught China’s APT41 hackers spying on US state systems. That’s no big surprise in itself but the way they got in—through a livestock-tracking app and the Log4j vulnerability—was an unexpected combo. Critical bugs in an IoT remote access tool have put  [...]  read more

Trapped in Silicon Valley’s Hidden Caste System

Siddhant was 14 when he learned of the watch. His father, a low-wage worker on the Indian railway, was trying to save up for it, tucking away a few rupees when he could. Made of steel, the watch had in its dial a sketch of a portly man, his face framed by round glasses and his broad shoulders clad in a wide-lapelled jacket. It was his father’s hero, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the man most responsible for weakening the caste system’s grip on Indian society.

After school, Siddhant liked to ride his bike down the crowded streets of Nagpur, India, past groups of kids playing cricket, to a squat concrete building where his father rented a modest office with his friends, all anti-caste activists. Inside, he’d find the men sitting in plastic chairs, swapping tales of their exploits with Ambedkar, surrounded by posters of the man and newspapers spilling off bookshelves. As he sat listening, Siddhant couldn’t help but notice as one friend and then another and a third appeared [...]  read more

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