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Big Revolution - Scary and amusing at the same time

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Hello and welcome to Wednesday's Big Revolution. After a couple of days of travel and event speaking,
 
April 18 · Issue #52 · View online
Big Revolution
Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s Big Revolution. After a couple of days of travel and event speaking, I’m looking forward to sitting on my sofa and working all day. Bad for my posture, great for my productivity.
Martin

Big things you need to know today
The current incarnation of Apple News
- Apple is planning to launch a subscription news service, and integrate magazine subscriptions into Apple News, Bloomberg reports.
- The new version of Chrome blocks autoplaying content in browser tabs. VentureBeat reports “autoplaying content that is muted still plays automatically. Autoplaying content with sound, whether it has visible controls or not, and whether it is set to play on loop or not, simply does not start playing.” If you use Chrome, it’ll update automatically soon, if it hasn’t already.
- Facebook has started rolling out new privacy controls, beginning with Europe. However, TechCrunch’s Josh Constine says: “with a design that encourages rapidly hitting the ‘Agree’ button, a lack of granular controls, a laughably cheatable parental consent request for teens, and an aesthetic overhaul of Download Your Information that doesn’t make it any easier to switch social networks, Facebook shows it’s still hungry for your data.”
- Controversially, the new privacy settings coincide with Facebook expanding face recognition tech to EU and Canadian users. Strange timing!
- Amazon has launched a lightweight, simple web browser for Android in India. Called ‘Internet: fast, lite and private,’ it’s the latest 'lite’ app from an American tech giant to target the huge Indian market.
The big thought
Scary and amusing at the same time
There was much laughter on social media yesterday after the New York Times reported that Cambridge Analytica had planned to make use of a  cryptocurrency and raise money via an Initial Coin Offering.
Yes, the company accused of making sinister moves to swing elections through mysterious work with data, and maybe even more traditional ‘black ops,’ was also jumping on the crypto train by raising money through an ICO – a method often associated with scams and failed promises.
Cambridge Analytica has always been a bundle of contradictions. It simultaneously pushed against, and seemed to revel in, its reputation as a shadowy kingmaker. Its approach to social media is often framed as a threat to democracy, and yet at the same time it’s viewed by many online marketers as nothing special.
Personally, I’ve swung back and forth between the two positions. Last year, I thought a lot of the accusations against the company were probably overblown. More recently, it was clear they’d used Facebook data obtained in an ethically sketchy way and had boasted of some very dodgy dealings in that secret Channel 4 News filming.
Now we learn it was planning an ICO, my opinion of them is swinging all over the shop. 'Let’s hold an ICO’ is generally a phrase that raises a smirk among technology watchers these days, and it’s funny to think of Alexander Nix – often portrayed by the media in Bond villain terms – getting excited about the cheap and scammy end of the crypto world.
The New York Times says the ICO would have helped Cambridge Analytica set up a platform to give people more control of their data and sell it to advertisers. That’s quite a positive move – maybe they were the good guys all along? But with all that personal data passing through their hands, what else could they do with it? That sounds sinister! Argh! I don’t know what to think anymore.
Maybe the best thing to do is be intrigued by, wary of, and amused by, Cambridge Analytica, all at the same time.
One big read
Arrogance Peaks in Silicon Valley Arrogance Peaks in Silicon Valley
A good read from venture capitalist MG Siegler about the way many in Silicon Valley are reacting to the current kickback against the direction has been taking by digging in their heels and making tone deaf, vacuous statements. 
A shame he doesn’t name specific examples! You’ll probably have seen some retweeted into your Twitter feed in recent weeks though. I know I have.
One big tweet
Wait, what did this tweet say? I was too busy looking at Twitter…
David Pierce
Before Twitter: watch TV, watch commercials

After Twitter: watch TV, check Twitter during commercials, get distracted, miss 20 minutes of show, rewind, check Twitter, miss 20 more minutes, give up, just check Twitter
5:07 AM - 17 Apr 2018
That’s all for today...
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