October 26, 2021

In April, the tech giant Apple made a change to its privacy policy that prohibits advertisers from tracking users without their consent. Analysts predicted that this decision would lead to major changes in the $100 billion mobile ad market led by social networks like Facebook and Snapchat. These fears were confirmed for the latter last week when Snapchat announced that the policy prevented it from measuring the reach of its mobile ads, sending its stock price tumbling by 25 percent. Continue reading

Continue reading...

October 5, 2021

More than 3.5 billion people around the world communicate through Facebook and its collection of apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Oculus. But for about six hours yesterday, no one was using these platforms as Facebook disappeared from the Internet. Company representatives said that this outage occurred when “backbone routers that coordinate network traffic” failed and brought services completely to a halt. The total shutdown meant that Facebook could not remotely reset its network, requiring it to send out a Continue reading

Continue reading...

February 7, 2020

Targeted advertising has become the economic engine of the Internet for big companies like Facebook and Google that collect all sorts of data about their users. This video details how tech giants track people online in order to gather information for advertisers, a widespread practice that is nevertheless hugely controversial. 

Questions:

  1. How has the use of cookies changed from the early days of the Internet to today?
  2. Do you think legislators should regulate how companies track people online for Continue reading
Continue reading...

November 15, 2019

This week, Google announced that it’s launching a banking service next year that will offer “smart checking” accounts to mobile-focused customers. Known as Cache, the program is the result of a collaboration between the search giant and two banks: Citigroup and Stanford Credit Union. Although details of the partnership remain limited at this time, Google eventually wants Cache to become an extension of its Google Pay app. The company also claims that customers will “benefit from useful insights and budgeting Continue reading

Continue reading...

July 23, 2019

In March 2018, the New York Times revealed that Facebook had allowed Cambridge Analytica to gather personal information from more than 50 million users without their knowledge. Soon after the newspaper published its findings, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began its own investigation of the social media giant. After about a year of inquiry, last week the government agency imposed a $5 billion fine on Facebook, the largest penalty ever issued by the FTC.

It is also the same amount Continue reading

Continue reading...

January 25, 2019

Since launching in 2016, the group video chat app Houseparty has attracted a dedicated userbase of young people looking to talk with their friends wherever they please. “Houseparty is basically the third place for Generation Z and young millennials,” said co-founder Sima Sistani. “What they’re doing there is hanging out in the way we used to in the backyard, the basement, or in my case — the Waffle House.” And unlike many other Silicon Valley startups, Houseparty doesn’t plan to Continue reading

Continue reading...

September 27, 2018

With more than 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook appears to be succeeding in its mission to “bring the world closer together.” But as anyone who has spent time casually scrolling through their news feed knows, not everything posted on the social network is positive and unifying. Along with heated political arguments and unflattering pictures of friends, users can also post violent or offensive content that is far too extreme to be allowed on the site. Fortunately, users can report Continue reading

Continue reading...

August 24, 2018

By now it’s no secret that big tech companies routinely collect tons of data about their users’ online habits. And as Facebook’s recent scandal with Cambridge Analytica showed, sometimes they sell that information to outside parties without first telling users about it. As a result, people must always be careful about sharing too much information online. According to a new study conducted by a Vanderbilt University professor, however, even the most cautious users probably can’t escape the all-seeing power of Continue reading

Continue reading...

March 23, 2018

In the aftermath of Facebook’s data sharing scandal, critics of the company are calling on lawmakers to discuss ways that the social network could be regulated. To these concerned citizens, Facebook has grown too large to be trusted with so much of the public’s information. The video below looks at how America’s tech giants became so big and the ways that regulators could possibly target these companies in the future.

Questions:

  1. Do you think big tech companies like Facebook, Continue reading
Continue reading...

March 22, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the hyperscale data centers that Facebook relies on to handle its userbase of more than 2 billion accounts. With so much information swirling around these enormous structures, it’s easy to assume that any data you provide to the social network will fade away in an ever-increasing crowd. But not only can Facebook access much of the data it collects, the company also routinely shares this information with scholars and researchers. Users consent Continue reading

Continue reading...