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  • Geebo 10:29 am on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Seattle   

    Has Facebook been caught in the ballot box again? 

    Has Facebook been caught in the ballot box again?

    Facebook’s shady political ad practices have been in the news ever since the 2016 Presidential election when it was discovered the platform accepted foreign money for ads that were disguised as American political ads. They’ve been called before Congress multiple times without ever giving a satisfactory answer as to whether or not they will or can stop this practice. Now, Facebook has run afoul of an election law and has yet to give those seeking answers any pertinent information.

    The city of Seattle has asked Facebook to provide information about campaign ads on the social network that were displayed during last year’s city elections. Seattle has a law in place that states those who pay for political campaign ads in the city must be revealed or face a potential $5,000 per ad penalty. Facebook claims they’ve sent Seattle the necessary information, however, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission say that Facebook has not “come close to meeting their public obligation.”

    What makes matters worse is that Facebook could easily pay these penalties with the change found in Mark Zuckerberg’s couch cushions. Facebook is far from lacking in the funding department which in turn could have undue influence on just about any election that an ad buyer wishes to undermine while Facebook allegedly hides their identity. This is the true threat to Democracy in our country.

     
  • Geebo 10:27 am on January 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Seattle   

    Amazon to unveil new cashier-less store today 

    Amazon to unveil new cashier-less store today

    For a little more than a year, Amazon has been developing their highly touted store without cashiers known as Amazon Go. Later today, Amazon will finally unveil Amazon Go to the public in Seattle. The original concept of the store was to have a store that would be fully automated, however, it seems the reality of situation means there will in fact be human employees in the store.

    According to Tech Crunch there will be several human employees in the store such as someone checking for IDs in the beer and wine section, and a person standing by for any assistance needed with the app used for shopping at the store. There are also stockers and chefs who prepare sandwiches and meal kits.

    While the videos of the store seem to give the appearance of a slick and seamless shopping experience, one has to wonder if that will be the reality of the situation. Often times in tech, what tested perfect in the lab can often fail in the real world. For example, one of the problems Amazon Go had in its testing phase is the store would come to a halt if there were too many people in the store. Plus in real life there are always situations that arise that no one can account for until they happen. It will be interesting to see how Amazon Go will handle such a situation.

    So will Amazon Go be the future of brick and mortar retailing, or will it be just another retailing fad that refuses to take hold? Today, just may hold some of those answers.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on December 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Newsweek, Seattle   

    Do tech companies foster a culture of human trafficking? 

    Do tech companies foster a culture of human trafficking?

    Before being lambasted by Congress for their alleged roles in the Russian ad scandal, many tech giants like Google opposed an amendment to the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that would allow the prosecution of websites that hosted obvious ads for sex trafficking. After their PR disaster in Congress, many tech firms reversed their position and supported the amendment, but why did they oppose it in the first place?

    A number of arguments against the amendment from tech companies was because they felt they might get caught up unfairly in prosecution. Could another reason be that some of these companies foster a culture where sex trafficking is not only tolerated but encouraged? Now, it’s not being said that the heads of these companies have some kind of unspoken rule where they will look the other way if their employees are caught engaging in sec trafficking, however there does seem to be a belief among the male employees of many of these companies that sex trafficking is not only acceptable but they also allegedly get together to compare notes about it.

    Newsweek recently broke a story where they allege that in the Seattle area many employees of both Amazon and Microsoft were caught allegedly engaging in behavior at local illegal brothels where Asian women were being trafficked. Some of these employees were said to have spent anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 a year in these brothels. The employees were even said to have communicated with these brothels while using their company emails.

    While both Amazon and Microsoft condemn these activities, if there is this cavalier attitude towards the trafficking of women in these companies who’s to say there aren’t similar attitudes in other tech companies in other regions of the country? With the slew of accusations of sexual harassment in Silicon Valley recently, could there also be an environment where brothels are frequented where women who can barely speak English are being kept against their wills. If the Seattle allegations are any indication then the answer seems to be yes.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on November 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: chatbot, , Seattle   

    Using chatbots to fight human trafficking 

    Using chatbots to fight human trafficking

    Chatbots are computer programs that are designed to converse like humans through messaging apps. They are mostly used by companies as a customer service alternative. However, a Seattle-based advocacy group is using this technology to try to discourage people from soliciting from underage victims of human trafficking.

    Seattle Against Slavery places ads on certain classifieds sites that appear to be for prostitution. When someone responds to the ad, the chatbot engages with them in conversation. The chatbot then tells the responder that it’s a 15-year-old girl. If the response the chatbot receives about being underage is positive, it responds with “buying sex is a crime that harms women the world over.” According to SAS, the chat bot is designed to make someone think twice before engaging in such harmful behavior. While it’s currently not being used for prosecution purposes, SAS says that is a possibility in the future.

    SAS also says that when they post one of their fake ads they get over 250 responses within the first hour. They’ve also said that the chatbot was able to relay the message in at least 1500 instances in the testing phase alone. This, among many other number of data points, shows just how widespread the problem of human trafficking has become. The greatest hurdle with trying to curtail trafficking is the fact that it’s assisted by a few large classifieds sites that do nothing to dissuade this modern-day slavery from persisting.

     
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