Femtech: Empowering Women’s Health or Selling Period Data? | The Daily Show


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Femtech can help women track everything about their bodies, from pregnancy to periods to kegel exercises. But what are they doing with your data? Desi Lydic investigates these snatch snitchers. #DailyShow #DesiLydic #Femtech

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Twitter has a secret system for dealing with attacks on high-profile accounts

As the meme goes, the goal of every Twitter user is to avoid being the main character of the day. But if you end up being that unlucky soul, it turns out Twitter is prepared to help you survive the potential trolling onslaught. As Bloomberg reports, the company has developed Project Guardian, an internal list of thousands of accounts who could potentially be attacked by other users. Being on that list fast-tracks any complaints related to those users on Twitter’s moderation systems.

While it may sound a bit suspect, the big takeaway from Bloomberg’s reporting is that Project Guardian is just a predictive aspect of Twitter’s security measures. And unlike Facebook’s treatment of VIP’s, which has been criticized for allowing celebrities and politicians to break that platform’s rules, Twitter’s system doesn’t necessarily grant more privileges to users.

Project Guardian also includes some well-known athletes, media personalities and politicians, but Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity, tells Bloomberg that the list doesn’t include famous users. As, as we mentioned, it also helps to protect normal people who end up going viral.

“The reason this concept existed is because of the ‘person of the day’ phenomenon,” Roth said. “And on that basis, there are some people who are the ‘person of the day’ most days, and so Project Guardian would be one way to protect them.”

In an ideal world, Twitter would be able to give every user the same amount of security support. But, as Bloomberg notes, the company currently receives too many moderation requests to manage that. Perhaps that’s an argument that user safety should be scaled in proportion with user growth. And while Project Guardian helps to protect some users, it’s also a smart way for Twitter to squash harassment that could also hurt its own image. You could argue that’s true for practically every security measure a social media company takes, though.

A labor coalition wants the FTC to take action against Amazon’s ‘deceptive’ search ads

You won’t find a clear distinction between organic search results and paid ads on Amazon, according to a complaint the Strategic Organizing Center filed on Wednesday with the Federal Trade Commission. The organization, which is a coalition of labor unions, analyzed more than 130,000 search results and found that about 28 percent of the results you see on Amazon represent ads. What’s more, SOC says those ads don’t comply with FTC guidelines designed to make it possible for consumers to distinguish between sponsored content and organic search results.

In 2013, the agency said companies should feature prominent shading or borders, in addition to clear text that is properly situated and sized to avoid confusion. SOC found that zero percent of Amazon’s advertisements featured prominent shading and only about 1.1 percent had an easily distinguished border. When it came to the company’s use of “sponsored” labels, SOC found that in about 22 percent of ads the disclosure was buried under more prominent labels, such as ones that said “Highly rated” and “Today’s deals.” Additionally, those disclosures used a font that was smaller and lighter than the ones the company employed to advertise if a product was liked by other customers or part of a deal.

Elsewhere, SOC claims Amazon employs a technique called “lazy loading” where sponsored labels take longer to appear, particularly on slower internet connections. Using a 12 to 25Mbps connection, the organization found those labels could take up to three seconds longer to load than the top banner ad. We’ll note here we had difficulty verifying that claim at Engadget.

SOC has asked the FTC to take “aggressive and swift action” against the company. “Amazon’s violations are so omnipresent that Amazon’s representation that its platform presents ‘search results’ to consumers is itself deceptive,” it said.

Amazon disputes SOC’s findings. “This report is incorrect and misunderstands FTC guidance – ads in Amazon’s store always include a clear and prominent ‘sponsored’ label, implemented in accordance with FTC guidelines,” an Amazon spokesperson told Engadget. “We design our store to help customers discover products we think may best meet their needs – sponsored ads is one of the ways to help them find products they may be interested in.”

It’s hard to say if the FTC will take up SOC’s complaint against Amazon. And, even if it does, what kind of action it could take against the company. Part of the problem here is that the agency’s own guidelines leave some room open for interpretation.

“We understand that there is not any one specific method for clearly and prominently distinguishing advertising from natural search results, and that search engines may develop new methods for distinguishing advertising results,” the FTC said in 2013. “Any method may be used, so long as it is noticeable and understandable to consumers.”

At the same time, this is exactly the kind of issue the agency is likely willing to take up under recently appointed chair Lina Khan. In 2017, Khan, then a student at Yale Law School, published an article titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” in which she argued current US policies and laws weren’t enough to keep companies like Amazon accountable.