Why Facebook Calls It An Arms Race

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DorseySandbergSenate

It’s the business model, folks. If we’re going to “fix” anything, we have to start there.

“We weren’t expecting any of this when we created Twitter over 12 years ago, and we acknowledge the real world negative consequences of what happened and we take the full responsibility to fix it.”

That’s the most important line from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s testimony yesterday – and in many ways it’s also the most frustrating. But I agree with Ben Thompson, who this morning points out (sub required) that Dorsey’s philosophy on how to “fix it” was strikingly different from that of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (or Google, which failed to send a C-level executive to the hearings). To quote Dorsey (emphasis mine): “Today we’re committing to the people and this committee to do that work and do it openly. We’re here to contribute to a healthy public square, not compete to have the only one. We know that’s the only way our business thrives and helps us all defend against these new threats.”

Ben points out that during yesterday’s hearings, Dorsey was willing to tie the problems of public discourse on Twitter directly to the company’s core business model, that of advertising. Sandberg? She ducked the issue and failed to make the link.

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Memo To Tech Leaders: It’s Time to Stand Up To The Bully In Chief.

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Trump Fake news?Next week Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, will testify in front of Congress. They must take this opportunity to directly and vigorously defend the role that real journalism plays not only on their platforms, but also in our society at large. They must declare that truth exists, that facts matter, and that while reasonable people can and certainly should disagree about how to respond to those facts, civil society depends on rational discourse driven by an informed electorate.

Why am I on about this? I do my very best to ignore our current president’s daily doses of Twitriol, but I couldn’t whistle past today’s rant about how tech platforms are pushing an anti-Trump agenda.

The Accountable Capitalism Act Will Never Happen. But Now the Conversation Will.

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Elizabeth_Warren_CFPB
Senator Elizabeth Warren

(Cross posted from Searchblog)

The past week or so has seen a surge in commentary on the role of corporations in society, a theme familiar to readers of this site. While it might be convenient to peg the trend to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s newly minted Accountable Capitalism Act (more on that in a second), I think it’s more likely that – finally – our collective will is turning to our most logical and obvious instrument of social change, namely, the instrument of business.

We humans like to organize ourselves into social units. They range from the informal (pickup basketball games) to the elaborately structured (Senate hearings). Our ability to harness collective will is unsurpassed in the animal kingdom, it’s one of our key evolutionary adaptations, driving the success of our species across the globe.

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Shaping the Future of Platform Work

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Governments must step in to regulate platforms — or workers will lose it all

This week, I invited the co-founder and director of The Family, a pan-European investment firm, Nicolas Colin, and writer and speaker on the future of work and consumption, Laetitia Vitaud, to guest-curate my weekly newsletter Exponential View.

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Grow Your Business by Nailing the Most Important Meeting of the Week

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Did you know that on average, every single one of us wastes 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings? I’m going to show you how to prevent that.

Very early on at Stride Consulting, I searched for a process to help me scale. This was my 4th company and I had my heart set on scaling in a way that I had never scaled before.

I’ve never raised any funding. All four companies I’ve run have been bootstrapped. So leveraging a pile of cash to scale has never been an option for me. I was searching for a process to enable scale.

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Google’s Tortured Relationship with China Continues

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A new report reveals the company’s plans to enter the Chinese search market. We’ve seen this movie before. But Android has changed the game, forcing profits over corporate values.

Google’s Beijing offices in 2010, the year the company exited the Chinese market.

(Cross posted from Searchblog)

I’ve been covering Google’s rather tortured relationship with China for more than 15 years now. The company’s off again, on again approach to the Internet’s largest “untapped” market has proven vexing, but as today’s Intercept scoop informs us, it looks like Google has yielded to its own growth imperative, and will once again stand up its search services for the Chinese market. To wit:

GOOGLE IS PLANNING to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, The Intercept can reveal.

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Whither Middlemen?

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Is a world without middlemen really a good thing?

A recent piece in the Harvard Business Review entitled The Promise of Blockchain Is a World Without Middlemen lays out the case for decentralized networks in evangelical language. As the author writes, “Decentralization offers the promise of nearly friction-free cooperation between members of complex networks that can add value to each other by enabling collaboration without central authorities and middle men.”

But is it a given that such a world is what customers really want?

“Novgorod Marketplace”, a painting by Appolinary Vasnetsov (1856–1933)

The Job of the Middleman

Middlemen make for an easy target for disgruntled customers and observers of the economy. At times it can be unclear how they are adding value to a transaction. Sometimes it looks like middlemen are simply inserting themselves into a transaction to increase costs and take a cut.

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Experiments in Alternate Democracies

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Photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash

‘[I]t is not enough for democracy to be radical; it must be revolutionary’ argues Wayne Price

One of Winston Churchill’s most notable lines was:

No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

At the turn of the 20th century, there were fewer than ten democracies in the world. By the turn of the 21st, that number had reached 80, with half of humanity governed by some form of democracy. Yet, we’ve grown astutely aware of the flaws in the system in the past two years, with some calling for an end to democracy.

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Goodbye, Bay Area. Hello, New York!

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Sometimes you have to just shake it up a bit. Or a lot.

(cross posted from Searchblog)

I first moved to the Bay area in 1983. I graduated from high school, spent my summer as an exchange student/day laborer in England (long story), then began studies at Berkeley, where I had a Navy scholarship (another long story).

1983. 35 years ago.

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Note to Self: Remember to Answer the Senators’ Followup Questions.

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Following my Senate testimony last month, several Senators reached out with additional questions and clarification requests. As I understand it this is pretty standard. Given I published my testimony here earlier, I asked if I could do the same for my written followup. The committee agreed, the questions and my answers are below.

Questions for the Record from Sen. Cortez Masto (D. Nevada)

Facebook Audits

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