Casey Newton
Casey Newton
I write @platformer, a publication about big tech and democracy. | 1/8th of #Sidechannel | casey@platformer.news | instagram: @crumblerSource
San Francisco, CA
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Three Facebook moderators break their NDAs to expose a company in crisis

Three Facebook moderators break their NDAs to expose a company in crisis

Keith Utley loved to help. First, he served in the Coast Guard, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. He married, had a family, and devoted himself utterly to his two little girls. After he got out of the military, he worked as a moderator for Facebook, where he purged the social network of the worst stuff that its users post on a daily basis: the hate speech, the murders, the child pornography. 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...

June 19, 2019
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In leaked audio, Mark Zuckerberg rallies Facebook against critics and the US government

In leaked audio, Mark Zuckerberg rallies Facebook against critics and the US government

July should have been a relief for Facebook. The company accepted a $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission over privacy issues, after having essentially set the terms of the agreement itself. It settled a case with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleged that it had misled investors about the risks of user data being mishandled, for a relatively paltry $100 million. And Facebook reported stellar quarterly earnings on July 24th, beating investor expectations and sending its stock price up. But inside the company, the mood remained anxious. Several 2020 presidential...

October 2, 2019
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Facebook reportedly reaches $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission

Facebook reportedly reaches $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission

Facebook has reportedly reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over repeated privacy violations, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, the FTC voted this week to approve a $5 billion settlement, which has now moved to the Justice Department’s civil division for review. It is unclear how long the review will take. A Facebook spokesman declined to comment or confirm the report. The Washington Post and New York Times later confirmed the details in the Journal’s report. The Journal reported that the FTC voted along party lines, with three Republican...

July 19, 2019
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Musk flips Twitter the bird

Musk flips Twitter the bird

Normally when you buy a company, you talk it up. You talk about its strengths, about its potential, about its glorious future under your leadership. Normally you do not buy a company to re-litigate its past. But Elon Musk is no normal acquirer, and neither is his behavior in the days since he announced his intent to buy Twitter for $44 billion. Musk has not acted like a white knight riding to the rescue of a beloved but underperforming cultural institution. Instead, he has rushed to publicly affirm various half-baked and bad-faith criticisms of the company, all emanating from the right,...

Apr 28
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The lesson Facebook won't learn

The lesson Facebook won't learn

Today, let’s talk about the lunacy of Facebook running a secret campaign against TikTok focused on the dangers of social networks to children. The campaign, which is with the company’s approach to competition over the past 10-plus years, saw it paying Republican operatives to promote the message that TikTok is harmful to children and society. Here are :The campaign includes placing op-eds and letters to the editor in major regional news outlets, promoting dubious stories about alleged TikTok trends that actually originated on Facebook, and pushing to draw political reporters and local...

Mar 31
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Three things web3 should fix in 2022

Three things web3 should fix in 2022

Last weekend, it felt like everyone I knew was sending me the same link. “The Problem With NFTs,” a long video essay by the Canadian media critic Dan Olson, ricocheted around all corners of the tech world since it was uploaded on Friday. (It now has 2.6 million views and climbing.) Over 138 meticulously researched minutes, Olson traces the history of the 2008 financial crisis, the creation of Bitcoin and Ethereum, and the rise of NFTs and DAOs, and reaches the conclusion that what we have taken to calling “web3” is effectively beyond saving: the technology is too broken, and its creators...

Jan 28
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Elon Musk buys Twitter

Elon Musk buys Twitter

In the moments before Elon Musk bought Twitter, the company Slack channels were lit up with nervous anticipation. It had been days since Twitter leadership had shared anything with them, and after a weekend’s worth of reports that a sale was imminent, employees were looking for answers. For the first few hours of the morning, none came. Work all but came to a halt, employees told me. Like a classroom where the teacher is late and students are attempting to self-govern, one said. A “hellhole,” said another. One thread, in which an employee asked good-naturedly whether anyone was excited...

Apr 26
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Mozilla acquires Pocket to gain a foothold on mobile devices

Mozilla acquires Pocket to gain a foothold on mobile devices

Mozilla has acquired Pocket, a kind of DVR for the internet, for an undisclosed sum. The nine-year-old company, which makes tools for saving articles and videos to view them later, is Mozilla’s first acquisition. It represents a homecoming of sorts for Pocket, which began life as a Firefox extension before eventually expanding its team and building a suite of apps for every major platform. Pocket has been Firefox’s default read-it-later service since 2015. Mozilla said Pocket, which it will operate as an independent subsidiary, would help bring the company to mobile devices, where it has...

February 27, 2017
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How the Google union could boost labor organizing in Silicon Valley

How the Google union could boost labor organizing in Silicon Valley

Filed under:The Alphabet Workers Union’s apparent weaknesses could be a strengthJust over a year ago, . They had been hired through Accenture to moderate some of the most disturbing content on YouTube: videos that contain violent extremism, including murders and acts of terrorism. Several told me they had either been diagnosed with or were suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The people I talked with made about $37,000 a year, and several had immigrated to the United States from the Middle East. Many found their working conditions intolerable, but they feared speaking...

January 5, 2021
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How Facebook could escape the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit

How Facebook could escape the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit

Filed under:A new filing points at the shaky foundations of the government’s caseIn December, the Federal Trade Commission . The lawsuit, which was accompanied by a separate suit joined by 49 US attorneys general, alleges that Facebook used acquisitions and software restrictions on developers to prevent competitors from succeeding.The government’s case appeared shaky from the start, . Its allegation that Facebook owns a monopoly in advertising-supported social networking felt overly narrow and blinkered; the case does not even mention the existence of TikTok. And its suggestion that...

March 11, 2021
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