Google staff awoke on Wednesday to surprising news: Their company is working on a search app tailored, and censored, for China. The project, kept secret from all but select teams and leaders, sparked a furious internal debate.
Yet the move couldn’t have been entirely surprising for Googlers.
Sundar Pichai, 46, chief executive officer since 2015, has made no secret of his desire to take the search giant back to mainland China. The executive is more pragmatic about the world’s largest internet market than Google’s founders, who pulled search from the mainland in 2010 over censorship concerns.
Under Pichai, Google has invested in Chinese companies, met with its leaders and made it a priority to spread Google’s artificial intelligence technology across the country. But bringing search back would be Pichai’s boldest move yet and will put his personal stamp firmly on the company.
The 115 accounts Facebook took down yesterday for inauthentic behavior ahead of the mid-term elections may indeed have been linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, according to a new statement from the company. It says that a site claiming association with the IRA today posted a list of Instagram accounts it had made which included many Facebook had taken down yesterday, and it also has since removed the rest. The IRA was previously labeled as responsible for using Facebook to interfere with US politics and the 2016 Presidential election.
Facebook’s head of cyber security policy Nathaniel Gleicher issued this statement to TechCrunch:
“Last night, following a tip off from law enforcement, we blocked over 100 Facebook and Instagram accounts due to concerns that they were linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) and engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior, which is banned from our services. This evening a website claiming to be associated with the IRA published a list of Instagram accounts they claim to have created. We had already blocked most of these accounts yesterday, and have now blocked the rest. This is a timely reminder that these bad actors won’t give up — and why it’s so important we work with the US government and other technology companies to stay ahead.”
Utley worked the overnight shift at a Facebook content moderation site in Tampa, FL, operated by a professional services vendor named Cognizant. The 800 or so workers there face relentless pressure from their bosses to better enforce the social network’s community standards, which receive near-daily updates that leave its contractor workforce in a perpetual state of uncertainty. The Tampa site has routinely failed to meet the 98 percent “accuracy” target set by Facebook. In fact, with a score that has been hovering around 92, it is Facebook’s worst-performing site in North America.
“The stress they put on him — it’s unworldly,” one of Utley’s managers told me. “I did a lot of coaching. I spent some time talking with him about things he was having issues seeing. And he was always worried about getting fired.”
On the night of March 9th, 2018, Utley slumped over at his desk. Co-workers noticed that he was in distress when he began sliding out of his chair. Two of them began to perform CPR, but no defibrillator was available in the building. A manager called for an ambulance.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most important people in the world. He’s quite visible, too. But he rarely speaks on a public stage with any kind of candor.
So the leaked audio published by The Verge on Tuesday of the executive addressing his company this summer is a very useful public service: You get to hear Zuckerberg speaking on wide-ranging topics: from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call to break up his company to his plans to compete with TikTok, the Chinese social network that exploded in popularity over the last year.
Zuckerberg’s comments have also proven useful for the Warren campaign, which is delighted to have the avatar of Big Tech to punch up against:
But note that Zuckerberg, while bemoaning the fact that his private conversations are now public, linked to The Verge’s piece via his Facebook page, calling the conversations an “unfiltered version of what I’m thinking.”
Civil-rights leaders say they have been “disappointed and stunned” by Mark Zuckerberg’s apparent inability to understand race issues following an hour-long meeting late Monday with the Facebook founder. Color of Change President Rashad Robinson told Bloomberg News that Zuckerberg failed to show any real comprehension during their Monday call.
Robinson said “the problem with my ongoing conversations with Mark, is that I feel like I spent a lot of time... explaining to him why these things are a problem, and I think he just very much lacks the ability to understand it.” The leaders took particular issue with Facebook’s decision to leave up President Trump’s incendiary comments on the George Floyd protests in which he said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
In a joint statement, the heads of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Color of Change said they were “disappointed and stunned by Mark’s incomprehensible explanations for allowing the Trump posts to remain up.”