Welcome to the Mozilla News Beat, a glance at the best and worst internet news of the week. We hope you enjoy it!
This week in animal cuteness, a pet fox (yes, you read that right) is extremely excited to see its pupper friend. At least we hope it’s excitement, there’s a lot of kicking and clawing going on there.
Cyber Monday, the online tradition that doesn’t even pretend not to be a consumerism-driven holiday, reached a new record this year. With a total of $10.8 billion spent in the U.S., according to metrics captured by Adobe, Cyber Monday eclipsed the $9 billion in spending during this year’s Black Friday. Thank goodness Cyber Monday has been a socially distant activity from the start.
What started as a social media hashtag back in 2012 has led to millions of dollars donated to organizations in need. In its first year, #GivingTuesday led to about $10 million donated to charity. In 2019, that number reached over $500 million. Well done internet and reminder: you can even give when it isn’t Tuesday!
Experiencing video chat fatigue, but feel pressured to attend your company’s Zoom holiday party? WIRED UK’s got you covered. Just in case you’re not up for watching a company-hired magician do tricks or something similar, WIRED offers an inspiring story and a couple tips to help you get out of it.
Limiting Big Tech
The UK government is moving forward with new regulation aimed at enhancing competition and choice in digital markets. Specifically, the government wants to empower the national competition regulator to draw up and enforce a new rulebook governing how powerful tech companies treat their smaller rivals and start-ups.
Vaccines Gone Viral
Here’s a metric: the hashtag #CovidVaccine on TikTok has over 36 million views. TikTok users are sharing info and even first-hand accounts of their experience with the COVID-19 vaccine. As its release grows closer, and the amount of misinformation surrounding it increases, viral TikTok videos with accurate vaccine info are helping people learn in a format they understand.
Section 230 of the Communications Act generally protects companies from being held legally accountable for the messages posted by their users. Not if Trump has anything to say about it. This week, the U.S. president issued an ultimatum: nix that section or he’ll veto the entire defense bill.
A school district in upstate New York is the latest case-in-point showing how AI can be biased. Facial recognition software by SN Technologies triggered multiple false positives, particularly in regards to identifying Black faces. According to auditors, the software misidentified Black men four times as often as white men, and misidentified Black women 16 times more than white men.
Malicious emails sent to tech companies and government agencies worldwide are the latest threat to groups assisting with the COVID vaccine rollout. An email attachment asking for a user’s password, if handed over, could give hackers everything they need to access other sensitive info now and in the future. Be careful where you enter your password, people.
Remembering Those We’ve Lost
A group of volunteers have put together an online memorial honoring those who have passed away due to COVID-19. The site provides pictures and stories from loved ones of those who’ve departed, in order to prevent those who’ve lost their lives from being simply a statistic.