Today’s Toxic, Concentrated Internet

At its inception, the internet was imagined as a decentralized, horizontal and open space that would foster freedom and equality. Today, it is a collection of walled gardens, a hierarchical ecosystem ruled by a few gatekeepers who leverage access to data, attention and infrastructural capability to enclose users and competitors in relations of dependency. The transition happened over the course of one, or at best two, decades.

Why did the power of digital platform companies such as Google/Alphabet, Facebook/Meta, Amazon, and Apple emerge and grow so quickly without a regulatory response? An important reason is that the intellectual and material toolbox available to Western lawyers, policymakers, and thinkers is grossly inadequate to diagnosing and addressing harm and power formation in the information capitalist era. Harm itself often appears elusive, impervious to theorizing, and controversial. A question that arises, then, is why our modes of thinking and governing markets are so poorly equipped to address the felt erosion of basic human and collective needs in an increasingly digitalized society. Why have consumerism, addiction, polarization, and mistrust in institutions become pervasive and untamable parts of life in the 21st century? How have these problems become parts of

— source | Elettra Bietti | Jan 28, 2022

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The internet is tricking our brains

Every now and then, Adrian Ward likes to test himself against the internet’s most-used search engine.

“There are times when I have the impulse to Google something, and I don’t,” said Ward, who studies psychology as an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Because,” he said, “I want to see if I can drag that up from memory.”

It’s a challenge that’s familiar to anyone with a smartphone in their pocket who can’t quite remember the year that a favorite album came out or the name of an actor in an old movie. Take out the phone? Or rack the brain?

But that choice is more than a way to test our recollection of trivia. People who lean on a search engine such as Google may get the right

— source | David Ingram | Dec. 9, 2021

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Google AMP Can Go To Hell

Let’s talk about Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP for short. AMP is a Google pet project that purports to be “an open-source initiative aiming to make the web better for all”. While there is a lot of emphasis on the official AMP site about its open source nature, the fact is that over 90% of contributions to this project come from Google employees, and it was initiated by Google. So let’s be real: AMP is a Google project.

Google is also the reason AMP sees any kind of adoption at all. Basically, Google has forced websites – specifically news publishers – to create AMP versions of their articles. For publishers, AMP is not optional; without AMP, a publisher’s articles will be extremely unlikely to appear in the Top Stories carousel on mobile search in Google.

And due to the popularity of mobile search compared to desktop search, visibility in Google’s mobile search results is a must for publishers that want to survive in this era of

— source | 5 Sep 2018

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DuckDuckGo’s HQ is Smaller Than My Apartment

When I was perusing DuckDuckGo’s corporate website for their explanation of a tracker that they use which my Web browsers block, I found their corporate headquarters address.

The tracker is called Improving DuckDuckGo, and of course they always have explanations for everything they do that’s creepy, and they get caught lying all of the time. And of course, Techrights has pointed out things like this before.

The most concerning facts are that they’re US-based (a Five Eyes country with no decent privacy laws at the state or federal levels), and can be compelled to track you by law enforcement, and that they host on Microsoft Azure and also scrape Bing for your search results. Thus, Microsoft would see your IP address on both transactions and can log your activities on DuckDuckGo quite easily, using nothing else, unless you’re on some sort of a VPN that millions of people use (like I am).

But I googled (to get a Street View image) their address, 20 Paoli Pike Paoli, PA 19301, and it’s basically a small building that they share with a dentist’s office.

— source | Ryan | 10.15.21

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EFF Pushes for Users to Install DuckDuckGo Software After Being Paid to Kill HTTPS Everywhere

I’ve been writing lately about how DuckDuckGo is shady and their business is questionable.

It seems that some donations went the EFF’s way and now they plan on killing off HTTP Everywhere permanently.

$25,000 a year buys them the Tor Project and $150,000 keeps the EFF in their back pocket. But where does the money for this come from, and what does DuckDuckGo get from it?

No company gives out millions of dollars a year and expects to get back nothing.

Is it just DuckDuckGo’s own advertising paying for this?

DuckDuckGo pretends they’re a startup, but that’s not true. They admit that they have been profitable since 2014, have over 105 million searches a day sometimes, and are growing rapidly.

— source | Ryan | 10.16.21

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Truth about ProtonMail

1. Protonmail Behaves like a CIA/NSA “Honeypot”
2. Protonmail Does Not Provide “End to End Encryption”
3. Protonmail’s Was Created Under CIA/NSA Oversight
4. Protonmail is Part Owned by CRV and the Swiss Government
5. CRV, In-Q-Tel & the CIA
6. Protonmail Follows CIA Email format & Metadata Requirements
7. Swiss MLAT Law Could Give the NSA Full Access
8. Protonmail Uses Radware for DNS/DDOS Protection
9. Protonmail Developers Do Not Use Protonmail
10. Protonmail engages in illegal cyberwarfare
11. Protonmail has a history of Dishonesty

— source | Feb 18, 2021

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Engage in speech, dialogue, discussion and leading to re-examine ones own ideas

I find it so odd that the strong zeal for revenge and punishment if someone says anything that is perceived to be sexist or racist or discriminatory comes from liberals and progressives. There are so many violations [in cases like Stallman’s] of such fundamental principles to which progressives and liberals cling in general as to what is justice, what is fairness, what is due process.

One is proportionality: that the punishment should be proportional to the offense. Another one is restorative justice: that rather than retribution and punishment, we should seek to have the person constructively come to understand, repent, and make amends for an infraction. Liberals generally believe society to be too punitive, too harsh, not forgiving enough. They are certainly against the death penalty and other harsh punishments even for the most violent, the mass murderers. Progressives are right now advocating for the release of criminals, even murderers. To then have exactly the opposite attitude towards something that certainly is not committing physical violence against somebody, I don’t understand the double standard!

Another cardinal principle is we shouldn’t have any guilt by association. [To hold culpable] these board members who were affiliated with him and ostensibly

— source | May 11, 2020

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Nullius in verba

Cancel We The Web?

The origin of Richard Stallman and the free software ideas he developed is from a time before computers became an integral part of ordinary people’s lives, the 70s. Many decades before our cell phones tracked our every movement, before smart homes brought mass surveillance into our living rooms, the idea of computers as serious tools of oppression seemed patently absurd.

Stallman was different. He detested and feared users’ loss of control of computing. To combat what he viewed as an unacceptable loss of users’ fundamental freedoms in proprietary software, Stallman formulated and then stuck by free software principles. By the early 80s, Stallman had founded the free software movement and become one of its most prolific contributors through his programming of the GNU operating system, whose goal was to be entirely free/libre software. He campaigned and coded for free software unpaid while his computer-science peers of lesser talents made millions.

Stallman’s following grew as his dire, crazy-sounding rantings of the early 80s have largely come true. So much so that there is now an international Free

— source | Hannah Wolfman-Jones | May 11, 2020

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Google’s Dominance of Online Ads is a Big Deal

Here’s How to Fix It.

Most people know that Google dominates the online search market, but did you know that the company has become the biggest player in the digital ad market? That’s a problem not only for consumers, but potentially for society as a whole, argues former digital advertising executive Dina Srinivasan.

Last year, Srinivasan gained attention for her paper “The Antitrust Case Against Facebook,” which explained how the tech giant’s market dominance can harm the public, even though the product is ostensibly free. Now she focuses on Google and the enormous advertising empire that has grown into the company’s biggest money-maker. In her new paper, “Why Google Dominates Advertising Markets,” Srinivasan analyses the digital ad market and argues that Google’s monopolization and the giant regulatory gaps on matters like transparency and conflicts of interest have created an anti-competitive environment that can be harmful to newspapers, consumers, and, ultimately, democracy itself. She proposes that fairness can be restored by using principles applied to financial market regulation.

Lynn Parramore: After years of inaction, we’re seeing lots of headlines on antitrust actions against Big Tech. The Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of 48 states and territories have filed antitrust cases against Facebook, charging that it is able to abuse users’ data and violate their privacy. There are also several parallel suits against Google’s search dominance and chokehold on the advertising market. A good deal of the impetus to these suits comes from

— source | Lynn Parramore | Feb 22, 2021

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