Whistleblower News: Facebook, Uber, World Cup Tickets

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Facebook’s co-founder: ‘It’s time to break up Facebook’

The last time I saw Mark Zuckerberg was in the summer of 2017, several months before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. We met at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., office and drove to his house, in a quiet, leafy neighborhood. We spent an hour or two together while his toddler daughter cruised around. We talked politics mostly, a little about Facebook, a bit about our families. When the shadows grew long, I had to head out. I hugged his wife, Priscilla, and said goodbye to Mark.

Since then, Mark’s personal reputation and the reputation of Facebook have taken a nose-dive. The company’s mistakes — the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a political consulting firm’s lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention — dominate the headlines. It’s been 15 years since I co-founded Facebook at Harvard, and I haven’t worked at the company in a decade. But I feel a sense of anger and responsibility. read more »

Whistleblower says Facebook's algorithms generate extremist videos

Facebook has an automation problem.

A confidential whistleblower complaint filed to the SEC and obtained by the Associated Press claims that the social network has been generating extremist videos, pages, and content by default. The content in question, which reportedly was manufactured entirely by Facebook independent of any specific human, ranges from white supremacist pages to pages for Al-Qaida.

Yeah, it's bad. read more »

What is Uber?

The company has been involved in a multi-car pile-up of scandals involving abuse of data, misleading drivers, gender discrimination, intellectual property theft and worse. According to CNN, at least 103 Uber drivers in the US were accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in the previous four years.

Regulators across the world are fighting back. New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission has set a minimum wage of $17.22 per hour after expenses for ride-hailing drivers. More cities will follow.

But Uber may well have burned that business model to the ground. Sure, Uber has an amazing app and data, but its incredible rise has been mainly fueled by its backers’ willingness to subsidise taxi rides in the hope that one day Uber will crush the opposition, create a monopoly, and dominate transportation in a way that allows it to make the kind of ever-rising profits that will keep Wall Street happy.

For now that means creating a caste of low-paid drivers, lured by the promise of flexible work hours then – like the serfs of old – tied to their landlord by car debts and forced to work their land ever harder to keep up with the payments. No wonder the peasants are revolting.

After years of tech worship, the shine has come off Silicon Valley, and Uber has done more than its fair share of the tarnishing. The idea that New York, San Francisco or London (three cities that account for a huge chunk of Uber’s business) will hand over more of their transport infrastructure to Uber looks increasingly unlikely. Shares in Lyft, Uber’s smaller rival, tanked after its share sale. Wall Street seems more skeptical of its promise than its original backers. read more »

SEC fines Telefonica Brasil over World Cup tickets

Telefonica Brasil SA will pay a $4.13 million civil fine to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges over incentives provided to 127 government officials in connection with soccer’s 2014 World Cup and 2013 Confederations Cup.

The SEC on Thursday said Telefonica Brasil’s books failed to accurately reflect payments for tickets and hospitality awarded to officials capable of influencing legislative, regulatory and business activity involving the Sao Paulo-based telecommunications company, Brazil’s largest. It said this violated the books and records and internal accounting controls provisions of the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, an anti-bribery law. read more »