An Argument for Transparency at Facebook


Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton speaks following the shooting death of Philando Castile. (Getty Images)

Today’s Top Stories

Facebook Controls the News: So how can its editorial judgment become more transparent?

The NewCo Shift: (Nearly) ten trends remaking business

The Benefits of Play: There’s a middle ground between universal basic income and our current culture of overextension.

Fixing Bitcoin’s Dirty Secret: A startup and a nonprofit battle child porn on the blockchain.

See You in 2018: That’s when Theranos chief executive Elizabeth Holmes can get back into the lab business.

Facebook Controls the News. As the U.S. roils over the latest police shootings, it’s worth considering how powerful a role our technology platforms play. Indeed, some are questioning how Facebook, where the aftermath to one of the shootings was broadcast live, is managing the responsibility that comes with having a ubiquitous social news platform. In Facebook Decides Which Killings We’re Allowed to See, Motherboard lays out how Facebook at first took the video down and restored it about an hour later, blaming a “technical glitch” for its disappearance. As Jillian York, director of international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says, there’s a danger when one private entity has so much power over what more than a billion people are allowed to see. That’s a profound argument for Facebook being as transparent as possible about its policies. We can’t judge Facebook’s judgment unless we know how it’s judging.

The NewCo Shift: (Nearly) Ten Trends Remaking Business. In this vacation-week update of a popular earlier column, our founder and editor in chief provides the essential framing behind both the Shift Dialogs (a new video series coming with partner Nasdaq later this summer) and Shift Forum (a new executive conference coming early next year).

The Benefits of Play: Universal basic income is the idea of the moment, but big thinkers have been pondering the possibility of a work-free world (Atlantic), with both utopian and dystopian scenarios, for centuries. This survey of those scenarios shows that it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing. Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College who studies the concept of play, says “injecting any amount of additional play into people’s lives would be a good thing.” When there is less time devoted to work, he says, “I believe we would become more human.”

Fixing Bitcoin’s Dirty Secret. How do you know a new technology is catching on? When it attracts the worst kinds of porn. How do you know that new technology wants to go mainstream? When people start trying to solve that porn problem. In A startup is trying solve bitcoin’s child pornography problem (Quartz), London-based bitcoin startup Elliptic says it’s partnering with International Watch Foundation, a UK nonprofit that monitors online child abuse. The idea is to use one of the supposed benefits of the blockchain, the public ledger that captures all transactions, to flag suspect transactions for financial and law-enforcement organizations. It will be fascinating to see how this initiative navigates the central tension of blockchain: public ledgers and anonymous participants.

See You in 2018. The shoe finally dropped on medical device maker Theranos last night. Founder Elizabeth Holmes is banned from running a lab for two years (New York Times), the company can’t accept Medicaid or Medicare anymore, and a financial penalty will be announced soon. The company’s suspect Newark, Calif., lab will close immediately. The combination of hubris and secrecy in this case was lethal, at least for the company.

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