QuotW This was the week when a campaign run by a bunch of women's groups actually made Facebook admit to a fault and offer to change.
The groups called on advertisers to boycott the social network until Zuck and Co guaranteed their ads wouldn't appear next to content promoting violence against women, and they achieved what many feminist bloggers before them had failed to do.
The campaign, which went out over social media as #FBrape, succeeded in getting big-name firms like Nissan and Nationwide to pull their adverts after writing an open letter to Facebook.
In the letter they accusing Zuck's merry men of removing images of breastfeeding and artistic representations of women, while leaving images of beaten and restrained women up on the site because they were "a joke".
The letter said:
We are referring to groups, pages and images that explicitly condone or encourage rape or domestic violence or suggest that they are something to laugh or boast about.
Your common practice of allowing this content by appending a [humor] disclaimer to said content literally treats violence targeting women as a joke.
Facebook’s response to the many thousands of complaints and calls to address these issues has been inadequate. You have failed to make a public statement addressing the issue, respond to concerned users, or implement policies that would improve the situation.
You have also acted inconsistently with regards to your policy on banning images, in many cases refusing to remove offensive rape and domestic violence pictures when reported by members of the public, but deleting them as soon as journalists mention them in articles, which sends the strong message that you are more concerned with acting on a case-by-case basis to protect your reputation than effecting systemic change.
By hitting Facebook where it hurts - its ads and its revenues - the campaign managed to get the network to actually respond to questions about its takedown policies. Facebook global policy veep Marne Levine said:
In recent days, it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate.
In some cases, content is not being removed as quickly as we want. In other cases, content that should be removed has not been or has been evaluated using outdated criteria. We have been working over the past several months to improve our systems to respond to reports of violations, but the guidelines used by these systems have failed to capture all the content that violates our standards. We need to do better – and we will.
This was also the week when Cisco's attempt to break up the marriage of Microsoft and Skype through the European courts got under way. The network firm is claiming the merger was anticompetitive and that it is standing in the way of standards-setting in video calls. Marthin De Beer, Cisco veep, said on the corporate blog last year:
The industry recognises the need for ubiquitous unified communications interoperability, particularly between Microsoft/Skype and Cisco products, as well as products from other unified communications innovators.
Microsoft’s plans to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform could lock in businesses who want to reach Skype’s 700 million account holders to a Microsoft-only platform.
Both the combination of powerful network effects accruing to the largest installed base of users and the merging company's full control of the Windows Operating System and other adjacent applications will reinforce the dominant position and eliminate any incentive which the merged entity may have to offer interoperability with competing products.
Today you can't make seamless video calls from one platform to another, much to the frustration of consumers and business users alike.
But Microsoft's counsel, Georg Berrisch of Covington and Burling, disagreed during the hearing, saying:
Cisco’s case relies on buzzwords such as “network effects” and “interoperability”. It is an attempt to feed into outdated stereotypes against Microsoft, which are not grounded in the facts of this case.
Cisco pretends to seek interoperability but actually is not; Cisco seeks Microsoft to re-engineer Skype and degrade its quality.
Ex-Microsofter-in-chief Bill Gates was also in the news this week, weighing in on the tax debate. Like many of his one-time counterparts, including Eric Schmidt and Tim Cook, Gates doesn't believe that tax should ever be a moral issue.
Instead, if people are upset about corporations paying piddling amounts of taxes, they should: wait for the wheels of democracy to turn incredibly slowly and then vote and hope that the politicians who say they're going to do something about it that they voted for then actually do something and then be satisfied with the watered-down bill that eventually passes all the other politicians, which closes existing truck-sized loopholes but leaves other similarly sized yawning chasms for firms to slip through.
If someone wants those companies to pay more tax they should change the rules. It is not incumbent on those companies to take shareholder money and pay huge amounts that are not required.
In a system of laws it is very important that if you follow the laws you do not have some second standard.
This is not a morality thing, this is about the law. [If countries set new tax levels] companies will be happy to comply.
Meanwhile, Brocade Communications' chairman David House has said that the world may as well give up on ever having any privacy, because that battle is long lost. In fact, the most folks can hope for is getting some handle on how much of their information is going to end up in the hands of hackers. He said:
Give it up, it's over – everybody's going to know everything. Right now, Amazon and Google know everything about everything you do, and the ads that pop up are all related to stuff that you have been looking at or you thought about. They already know about you.
Guess what? Larry Page doesn't give a damn about you or any of that information. It's just a computer out there that knows about you. This is just a bunch of data and big data and databases that's marketing to a market of one.
Everything is going to be known about you, and the guy who can hack into it is going to know everything about you. It's the hacker you need to worry about, not Google itself.
We've got North Korea with ICBMs and we've got Iran developing an atomic bomb, but that's not our biggest problem. Our biggest problem is cybersecurity.
And finally, Tim Cook has said that he reckons wearable tech could definitely be a thing, at least, a thing in general, not that he's saying that Apple specifically has a thing that would fit in with that, because Apple doesn't talk about its products, but regardless, wearable tech is "incredibly interesting".
Not just any wearable tech though, oh no. Say you've got something kinda geeky, not the kind of thing that everyone is into - like, I dunno, (Google) glasses? That might not take off, because not everyone wants to wear glasses, see?
But to take another example completely at random, not at all connected to rumours of upcoming Apple products, like
the iWatch something you might wear on your wrist, well, that could be totally cool.
Or if you want it in Cook's own words:
I'm interested in a great product. I wear glasses because I have to. People generally want glasses to reflect their fashion, style, etc. So this is difficult from a mainstream point of view.
I think the wrist is natural. I think there are other things in this space that could be interesting.
There are lots of wearables, but of the ones doing more than one thing, I haven't seen anything great out there. Nothing that will convince a kid that's never worn glasses or a band to wear one. ®