Mozilla News Beat, May 7, 2021
Welcome to the Mozilla News Beat, a glance at the internet news of the week in order of best-to-worst. Enjoy!
You sure you want to send that? A new feature from Twitter will add a bit more friction to the tweeting process for especially mean replies. Internal testing of the feature found that 34% of people, when prompted, edited their message or scrapped it entirely.
Who’s To Blame?
Well this is genius. A new initiative by messaging app Signal uses Facebook’s ad machine to reveal the creepiness that is Facebook’s ad machine. The banner ads make predictions about users’ hobbies, line of work, location and more with information provided by Facebook. Signal’s ads never ran: Facebook says Signal never tried to publish the ads, Signal says it tried and had its ad account disabled.
You Are The Product
In a new pop-up on iOS, Instagram alerts users that allowing tracking helps keep the service free for users, in an effort to convince users to allow tracking. Fun fact: Instagram is owned by a tiny upstart named Facebook that made $9 billion in profit — not last year, but last quarter! We sure hope Instagram figures out a way to keep the lights on.
In the past, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has likened test proctoring software like Proctorio to spyware. Now it’s suing the company on behalf of Erik Johnson — a student at Miami University in the U.S. who examined Proctorio’s code and published details about how the software analyzes eye and head movements. Proctorio demanded Johnson take down the findings but the EFF argues Johnson’s actions are fair-game.
On TikTok, Savannah Sparks is better known as Rx0rcist, where she calls out harmful medical misinformation. Despite amassing a fanbase 400,000+ strong, others are less enthused by Sparks’ work. She receives hundreds of DMs a day of graphic threats toward her and her daughter and has seen her personal info posted on extremist corners of the web. Despite little help from the platforms, Sparks keeps going — noting that public health is a huge deal, especially in the throes of a global pandemic.
Censorship In India
As the pandemic surges to an extreme degree in India, many worry about censorship of content that critiques the country’s government. Posts on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have been removed from the platforms. Even groups on WhatsApp and Telegram meant to help those in India find oxygen and hospital beds have somehow received takedown requests too. The trend has many worried: India’s government also requested that Twitter posts be removed earlier this year during the agricultural protests.
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