Mozilla News Beat, April 9, 2021
Welcome to the Mozilla News Beat, a glance at the internet news of the week in order of best-to-worst. Enjoy!
Ever need to exit a place quickly and quietly? This cat sure did. This feline gives us its best Homer_Simpson_Bushes.gif impression. We can hear the internal monologue now, “Maybe if I back away slowly, he won’t see me. Yes! This plan is foolproof.”
If you only watch one thing on Netflix this weekend, make sure it’s Coded Bias. The documentary talks to some of the brightest minds in the field of AI and bias like Joy Buolamwini, Safiya Noble, Ruha Benjamin and (current Mozilla fellow) Deb Raji about the unintended effects of biased software and its consequences.
Yahoo’s Final Answer
The end of an era. Yahoo (remember them?) revealed that it would be closing down its forum site Yahoo Answers. For some reason, Yahoo Answers provided more hilarity than it did actual usable answers to questions but that didn’t stop it from being an internet staple. The Verge points out how even Y! Answers, in its later years, wasn’t immune to the polarization and partisanship of the modern internet. Goodbye Yahoo Answers. Thanks for explaining how babby is formed.
Are COVID-19 vaccine passports a good way to keep communities safe as venues and travel opens back up? Or do vaccine passports stratify society unjustly and give way to more tracking? The debate rages on as to whether folks should carry proof of their immunization as the world opens back up. We’re thinking about this issue too. Check out our upcoming Dialogues and Debates discussion where we’ll talk about vaccine passports. Tune in on April 14 at a Twitter near you.
Dr. Gebru Saga Continues
Yet another member of Google’s AI research team is leaving the company after the very public departure of ethicist Dr. Timnit Gebru. In December 2020, Samy Bengio, one of the leads on Google’s ethical AI team, posted “I stand by you, Timnit.” Now, in April, Bengio has announced his departure from Google. Bengio isn’t alone in his decision. The ousting of Dr. Gebru has led other Google workers to leave the company too and 4,500 workers to show their support for her.
This week in mass surveillance news, Oklahoma in the U.S. is retrofitting its city’s cameras with software that would help it catch uninsured drivers. The precedent set here is chilling. Reports have shown how automated license plate reader tech can lead to a surge in police write-ups but, as one local expert tells OneZero, it does nothing to address the issue of why drivers don’t have car insurance in the first place.
Failing To Stop AAPI Hate
A report out of CNET this week takes stock of popular social media networks and how they’ve been doing in curbing troubling rhetoric against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities online. From harmful posts that fail to be blocked to other forms of harassment, it’s clear that sites like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube have more work to do.
Facebook’s Gonna Facebook
When we learned of the latest Facebook data breach that compromised half-a-billion Facebook users’ personal info, it reminded us of when Facebook was also breached in 2018, or when the company admitted to storing users’ passwords in plain text in 2019, or any number of less-than-great privacy and security issues over the years. If you want to check and see if you’ve been compromised, BBC recommends Have I Been Pwned but might we also suggest Firefox Monitor? Stay safe out there folks.”
The News Beat
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