Social platforms are finally trying new ideas for moderation
Image: Image: Emile Graphics / Juan Pablo Bravo / Protocol
Good morning! This Friday, the tech industry is trying some new things for content moderation, it looks like Amazon's union vote is going Amazon's way, the race is on to be the next WeChat, and there's been a shakeup at Box.
The tech industry is finally getting past thinking about content moderation as a "leave it up or take it down" proposition. Companies are increasingly thinking more holistically, building new tools that give users more control and generally letting go of the idea that AI will solve all problems.
The award for most out-there idea goes to Intel, which built a tool called Bleep that lets users decide how much bad stuff they want to encounter. It's designed for gamers in particular, and literally offers a slider that lets you decide how much misogyny or racism and xenophobia you're willing to hear in audio streams from other gamers: none, some, most, or all. Intel's AI will tune out any offending audio based on what you've chosen.
Some of these systems will work; most probably won't move the needle. But it's clear that the industry is thinking seriously — and sometimes for the first time — about what their policies say and how they're enforced. The answers are rarely as easy as "leave it up" or "take it down."
Anna Kramer writes: The weeks-long counting process for the Amazon warehouse workers' union vote in Bessemer, Alabama may end today, and it's not looking so good for the union.
The NLRB counted about 1,500 ballots yesterday, out of the 3,400 or so that were cast, and the unofficial tally has Amazon way ahead, with around 1,100 "no" votes to fewer than 500 in favor of the union.
Vote counting will continue today starting at 9 a.m. ET, for the remaining 2,000-plus ballots. We can expect that an Amazon victory would be quickly followed by an RWDSU legal challenge against the company for unfair practices during the election, which might get the election results thrown out if successful.
No matter how this ends, it won't be over for a long time.
Everybody wants to be the super app, the one place where users spend all their time (and money). Nobody has managed to come close in the U.S. But as China's government cracks down on the country's largest tech companies — including Tencent, which makes WeChat — a lot of startups are betting that there's room for a second super app giant in the country.
Douyin may be the most likely new Chinese super app, Protocol | China's Shen Lu writes:
Meituan and Kuaishou are two other contenders that are quickly expanding their capabilities, and practically every app in China offers some kind of mobile wallet. But while WeChat dominates in messaging, features such as video and entertainment are quickly taking up their fair share of screen time. And that makes Douyin a force to be reckoned with.
Employee activism has been in the headlines – but it turns out that most tech employees actually do trust their employers. Against the backdrop of a rapid decline in trust for the sector, can empowered employees be turned into advocates?
Tech folks are taking over Austin, and Silicon Valley Bank's Dax Williamson — an Austin resident — said the early changes aren't promising:
Singapore is spending billions to bring more tech into its shipping industry, and state minister Chee Hong Tat said it has to happen fast:
Craig Federighi explained why Apple hasn't put iMessage on Android, new court filings revealed:
Bethany Mayer is the new chairwoman of Box's board. Aaron Levie is stepping down (but staying as CEO) now that the company took a $500 million investment from KKR.
Ryan Cohen is the new chairman of GameStop's board. This is what every WallStreetBets member was hoping for: the Chewy founder taking a more active role in turning around the company. I guess he likes the stock.
Zachary Kirkhorn is now a Texas homeowner. Tesla's CFO bought a $3.29 million house in Austin, Business Insider reported, as the company continues to set up shop there. Meanwhile, it reportedly hired Manuj Khurana to lead lobbying in India, where it's reportedly looking for showrooms.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that Ja Rule really ought to make an NFT out of that iconic sandwich photo from Fyre Festival. Welp. Here we are: Trevor DeHaas is selling the iconic tweet on Flipkick, where you can bid on a piece of truly bonkers cultural history. DeHaas is hoping to sell it for at least $80,000, to help pay for his medical expenses. And he says if you buy it, you might be able to sue Netflix for copyright infringement. (I don't recommend taking his word for it.)
This is about as perfectly full-circle as we could hope to get here on NFT of the day, so we're going to retire this column. Next week: some new weird stuff.
As trust in technology has fallen, its employees have become more engaged in workplace protest – even as 83% say they trust their employers. With increased pressure from all stakeholders – employees, regulators, the media, and the public – how can the sector chart a trusted path forward?
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Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or our tips line, email@example.com. Enjoy your weekend, see you Sunday.