Box of Amazing: Facebook Down and Outed  
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Box of Amazing is a weekly digest curated by Rahim covering what's happening now and in the near future from emerging technology to trends and extraordinary articles, hand-picked to broaden your mind and challenge your thinking.

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Editor's Note
Hello from London. 

Before we know it, 2021 will be over, an uncertain albeit less certain year than 2020. The biggest thing we must do is to grow, despite the circumstances. I exclude my waistline in this statement! In the run in to the final couple of months, I'm planning on finishing up some Mind Valley courses that I started but didn't finish and read at least two deep books. But before all of that, I need to watch Squidgame, right?

Stay curious!

Onward! - Rahim

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Must Reads
 
1. Facebook Down - Facebook dominated the news this week (with all its services going offline for 6 hours) and while WhatsApp still remains centric to my life comms workflow, it wasn't quite the end of the world. We have become obsessed with a company that increasingly feels dangerous (see below). Ultimately the outage was a faulty configuration issue and nothing too nefarious. But what happened to some of the developing world who have come to depend on these free tools. " In countries like India, Indonesia, and Brazil, cellphones are often people’s only way to access the internet. The same goes for the vast majority of sub-Saharan Africa, where close to 50% of citizens have access to some sort of mobile device when only a fraction have any hope of owning an at-home computer of any kind." In some of these markets, consumers are dependent on one app and invariably it is owned by Facebook. So 6 hours of downtime for a trader in Delhi who is Whatsapp dependent is a hellova lot more critical than those missing out on their feed fix. “Facebook’s services going offline has exposed the over-reliance that many countries have,” said Sillars. “The far-reaching impacts of a temporary outage will give further ammunition to those that claim the need for more competitors, or for a move towards internet sovereignty.”  How WhatsApp Swallowed Half The World (Gizmodo) Facebook outage highlights global over-reliance on its services (Guardian)  

2. Facebook Outed - I've touched on the Facebook Files in previous weeks, but this week was a crescendo as the whistleblower came forward on 60 minutes in the US. "Frances Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook’s civic integrity team, shared documents that were the basis of an explosive series of articles in the Wall Street Journal. The reports revealed that the company knew its products can cause meaningful harm — including negatively impacting the mental health of teens — but it still has not made major changes to fix such problems." This leak seems significantly different in the scale of how the story continues to hit, primarily because how damaging she believes the algorithm is. "“I’m here today because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy,” she said in her opening statement to lawmakers. “These problems are solvable. A safer, free-speech respecting, more enjoyable social media is possible. But there is one thing that I hope everyone takes away from these disclosures, it is that Facebook can change, but is clearly not going to do so on its own.” During her testimony, Haugen particularly blamed Facebook’s algorithm and platform design decisions for many of its issues. This is a notable shift from the existing focus of policymakers on Facebook’s content policy and censorship—what does and doesn’t belong on Facebook. Many experts believe that this narrow view leads to a whack-a-mole strategy that misses the bigger picture." This feels very much like an algorithm being allowed to fester on those most vulnerable - and the company allowing it to "flourish". Why this Facebook scandal is different (Vox) The Facebook whistleblower says its algorithms are dangerous. Here’s why. (MIT)
 
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