Mozilla News Beat, June 4, 2021
Welcome to the Mozilla News Beat, a glance at the internet news of the week in order of best-to-worst. Enjoy!
Putting the “Ow” in “Meow”
As if working out wasn’t hard enough, imagine having an animal scale you and attack your hair as you try to get your reps in. It may look like the little guy wanted to play, but our guess is that he wanted next on the dumbbells.
Privacy For Pay Pals
Previously on News Beat, we noted how the folks at BuzzFeed discovered President Biden’s Venmo account. Not only are transactions public by default on the PayPal-owned service (like we’ve been saying for years) but, turns out, friends lists were public and offered zero privacy controls. It’s still not private by default, but now Venmo is giving users options. In a stealth update, Venmo now allows for private buddy lists and even lets users hide their account in other people’s friends list.
Greater transparency is coming to law enforcement requests on Amazon’s Ring camera service. Before, police departments were able to request video clips in private via email. Now those requests must be made on the public feed. These public requests can’t be deleted off the feed but they can be marked as “resolved.” We’d prefer Amazon end its partnership with law enforcement altogether, but with thousands of police departments across the country partnering with Ring, at least transparency is a step in the right direction.
Removal of YouTube videos containing false information about COVID 19 neatly coincides with a recent investigation by Brazil’s government. But it isn’t the government or YouTube who have been taking down these videos — it’s the users themselves. One analytics studio notes that 95% of these far-right conspiracy theory videos are being removed by YouTubers, not YouTube. Which begs the question, why wasn’t YouTube doing this itself in the first place?
Welcome to Pride Month, have you been seeing rainbow logos everywhere? An op-ed in T3 this week challenges tech companies to meaningfully help the queer community instead of putting rainbows everywhere and other empty gestures that simply signal virtues. “Don’t tell us how proud you are of the LGBT+ community,” reads the piece, “Show us.”
The vaccine passport known as a “green certificate” made its way to seven EU countries this week: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Poland. The countries will determine a person’s vaccine status using a QR code that can be stored on a phone or printed out. The European Commission says it will not retain data about users’ vaccine status won’t be retained.
These Are “Not” Political Ads
TikTok say they don’t have political ads — but dig deeper and things become questionable. A new investigation by Mozilla reveals how influencers on TikTok are supported by political organizations to spread political messages to the masses. The questionable part: it isn’t disclosed anywhere that a video is paid for or by whom. Think we deserve to know the behind-the-scenes of these paid partnerships? Make your voice heard!
Internet Of Things You Should Be Worried About
Time’s running out! Amazon Sidewalk launches on June 8 and you’ll need to act fast to opt-out before Sidewalk reaches your sidewalk. The feature lets Amazon devices with poor internet connections get a boost from nearby Amazon gadgets with solid wireless signals. Some are saying Amazon’s mass mesh network should worry you. Gizmodo points to Amazon’s Ring camera as precedent, calling it a “quasi-surveillance network” that has exposed users’ real-world locations in the past. Other experts note Amazon’s penchant for capturing shopping habits and internet activity and worry the company would become, effectively, a global ISP at the flick of a switch.
The News Beat
Ashley Boyd, Audrey Hingle, Brandi Geurkink, Kaili Lambe, Will Easton, Xavier Harding
Natalie Worth, Nancy Tran
Alexander Zimmerman, Will Easton
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