WeeklyTech #74

Explainer: What is Parler, and why does it matter?

In recent months, a new social media platform gained growing popularity in light of controversies over content moderation and fact-checking on traditional social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Parler was launched in August of 2018 by John Matze, Jared Thomson, and Rebekah Mercer. While it still has a smaller user base than most social platforms at just over 2.8 million people, the app saw a surge in downloads following the November 2020 presidential election and has become extremely popular in certain circles of our society. It became the #1 downloaded application on Apple and Google devices soon after the 2020 presidential election, with over 4 million downloads in just the first two weeks of November, according to tracking by Sensor Tower.

Here is what you should know about this social media application and why it matters in our public discourse.

The Rundown

Facial recognition’s fate could be decided in 2021CNET

At stake is the role facial recognition will play as society weighs the importance of security over civil liberties. Though millions of consumers use the technology every day through the Face ID feature on their iPhones, opponents worry that the public use of facial recognition is an invasion of your personal privacy. 

Pornhub’s tighter rules may not be enough, experts sayAxios

Pornhub tightened its rules around violent and underage content this week. Those changes are a good start, experts say, but they won’t be sufficient to combat a growing problem of non-consensual videos.

Contact tracing apps promised big and didn’t deliverThe Verge

Nine months after Apple and Google first announced their partnership, contact tracing apps’ role in reducing viral transmission is still difficult to measure. Relatively few people have downloaded the apps, and because of the apps’ focus on privacy, it may be nearly impossible to quantify how well they’re actually able to help prevent disease. 

YouTube to remove misleading videos about outcome of the presidential electionUSA Today

YouTube will remove content alleging fraud or errors changed the outcome of the U.S. presidential election starting today, according to a statement by the company. The video-sharing platform said the move comes because of Tuesday’s safe harbor deadline for the election, when enough states certified their election results for the president-elect. 

Mastercard, Visa, Discover cut payment services to PornhubAxios

Mastercard, Visa and Discover are cutting off payment processing services to Pornhub, which has been under the spotlight for the volume of nonconsensual videos available through its site. The moves follow a New York Times report that detailed the harm that being on Pornhub can cause for people whose videos were posted without their consent.