Welcome to the Mozilla News Beat, a glance at the internet news of the week in order of best-to-worst. Enjoy!
A berry, berry good goat
Watching this goat walk over to eat a handful of berries may be the cutest thing you’ll see all week. But just wait until you see the surprise midway through where we meet the goat’s best friend. Sometimes nature knows how to provide a plot twist.
Here’s a story about a different kind of tech: typewriters. One story on the BBC digs into the staying power of typewriters in parts of India. From teaching people how to type while making as few mistakes as possible, to offering a lifeline during COVID, typewriters remain a fixture in certain parts of the world.
From Google, to TikTok, to Twitter, bias tends to be deeply woven into the algorithms that power software we use nearly every day. With that in mind, we bring you a new series where we talk to people speaking out about this problem and all the ways it manifests. To start, we spoke with a designer about image search engines, racial bias and how it can still present problems. Introducing: Breaking Bias.
No Kids Allowed
Facebook has announced that it will pause its plans for an ‘Instagram Kids’ app. The timing of Facebook’s decision is interesting; the announcement comes just a week after a Wall Street Journal report revealed that Facebook knows, and publicly downplays, the devastating effects Instagram can have on the mental health of teen girls.
A shortage of the animal medicine ivermectin can be traced back to COVID-19 misinformation. Even though government organizations like the Food and Drug Administration have not approved its use to treat COVID, inaccurate social media posts and misleading podcast episodes continue to spread online, falsely claiming the drug can have an effect on COVID.
Financial Aid Recognition
A recent article in MIT Tech Review spotlights the intersection of facial recognition and government aid. In the U.S., the labor department uses facial recognition to verify the identity of unemployment applicants. This can prove troublesome when facial recognition can be less accurate when used on people of color and women. As one expert in the article puts it, “systems have to be built with human rights and with vulnerable people’s needs in mind from the start.”
Facial Recognition On Wheels
Amazon may have proudly announced Astro, its $999 facial recognition robot on wheels, to the world this week, but that’s not the whole story. Internal documents obtained by Vice’s Motherboard reveal that some employees within the company are skeptical of the device and hesitant to release it to the public. One employee called the claims of Astro’s abilities “absurdist nonsense.” Another called the device a “privacy nightmare.”