June 2019 Archives


The experiences of Facebook moderators show just how harmful the company is to our society.

Early on, Speagle came across a video of two women in North Carolina encouraging toddlers to smoke marijuana, and helped to notify the authorities. (Moderator tools have a mechanism for escalating issues to law enforcement, and the women were eventually convicted of misdemeanor child abuse.) To Speagle's knowledge, though, the crimes he saw every day never resulted in legal action being taken against the perpetrators. The work came to feel pointless, never more so than when he had to watch footage of a murder or child pornography case that he had already removed from Facebook.

In June 2018, a month into his job, Facebook began seeing a rash of videos that purportedly depicted organs being harvested from children. (It did not.) So many graphic videos were reported that they could not be contained in Speagle's queue.

"I was getting the brunt of it, but it was leaking into everything else," Speagle said. "It was mass panic. All the SMEs had to rush in there and try to help people. They were freaking out -- they couldn't handle it. People were crying, breaking down, throwing up. It was like one of those horror movies. Nobody's prepared to see a little girl have her organs taken out while she's still alive and screaming." Moderators were told they had to watch at least 15 to 30 seconds of each video.

It doesn't seem to me that these problems can be solved. In the process of removing this vile content, Facebook simultaneously censors protected speech: politics, religion, satire, and more.

"I really wanted to make a difference," Speagle told me of his time working for Facebook. "I thought this would be the ultimate difference-making thing. Because it's Facebook. But there's no difference being made."

I asked him what he thought needed to change.

"I think Facebook needs to shut down," he said.


How is it possible than an American city has even one "notorious trash pile"? Apparently Los Angeles has enough trash piles than one is the "most notorious".

Drone video shows a sprawling trash pile about a block long between downtown Los Angeles's Fashion and Produce districts. The heap of waste was cleaned up last year, but has returned months later, offering an attractive source of food for rats. (Published Monday, May 20, 2019 | Credit: NBC4)

But there's plenty of money for Fantasy Trains.


This has to be the most cold-hearted argument for abortion that I've ever read: abortion is good for business.

More than 180 business owners, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, signed a letter protesting restrictive abortion legislation and published a full-page ad in The New York Times.

Business owners banded together to "stand up for reproductive health care" by posting the ad in Monday's print edition titled "Don't Ban Equality," which says abortion bans are "bad for business." ...

"Equality in the workplace is one of the most important business issues of our time," the ad reads. "When everyone is empowered to succeed, our companies, our communities, and our economy are better for it."

"Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers," the ad continued. "Simply put, it goes against our values, and is bad for business. "

"We, the undersigned, employ more than 108,000 workers and stand against policies that hinder people's health, independence, and ability to fully succeed in the workplace."

Basically: "Killing babies will help us make more money." This is completely insane. The argument tries to side-step the moral and human dimensions of abortion by turning it into an economic issue, but where does that lead? Who else can we kill for money? Who gets to decide? Apparently the richest and strongest people are free to kill the weakest and most helpless people for money.

The argument is also wrong. Human beings are the only wealth-generating "objects" in the universe -- more humans means more wealth.

What a bunch of posturing, evil idiots.


Momentum is gathering for government action to break up the world's largest tech companies.

As in the gilded age a century ago, the tech industry epitomizes capitalism run amok, with huge concentrations of wealth, power, and control over key markets, like search (Google), cellphone operating systems (Apple and Google), and social media (Facebook/Instagram).

We have been accustomed to think of technology entrepreneurs as bold, risk-taking individuals who thrive on competition but now we know that it is more accurate to see them as oligarchs ruling over an industry ever more concentrated, centrally controlled and hierarchical. Rather than idealistic newcomers, they increasingly reflect the worst of American capitalism--squashing competitors, using indentured servants from abroad, colluding to fix wages, and dodging taxes while creating ever more social anomie and alienation.

Trust-busting has appeal that crosses the ideological spectrum -- monopolies enhance inequality and make us poorer, and simultaneously corrupt and undermine our government.

Others, such as centrist Michael Lind, suggest that if these are in fact natural monopolies, it would be best that they be regulated as such, much as we have seen in markets such as electricity and water. Whatever the kind of poison being prescribed, the oligarchs have generated a remarkable range of enemies.

I would prefer break-up to regulation like a utility, but there's no doubt that change is coming.

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2019 is the previous archive.

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