WeeklyTech #88

Explainer: Justice Thomas and the Possibility of Reining in Big Tech

Last week was a particularly busy week for the technology industry at the nation’s highest court. First, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Google’s favor in a decadeslong court battle with Oracle over the use of certain software code to build the Android operating system. Oracle claimed that Google’s use of the code violated federal copyright law. Then, the high court released its decision in the case Biden vs. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This particular case was ruled moot, and the lower decision was dismissed. The case was originally titled Trump vs. Knight. It was changed with the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden since the case revolved around the question of the president’s ability to block access to the public on a social media platform.

The Rundown

A Surprising Opinion From Justice Thomas May Signal an Ominous Shift on Free SpeechDavid French | TIME

A curious thing happened at the Supreme Court a few days ago. One of the justices, Clarence Thomas, broke from his traditional judicial role and weighed in on a matter of public policy.

You and the Algorithm: It Takes Two to Tango Nick Clegg

At the heart of many of the concerns is an assumption that in the relationship between human beings and complex automated systems, we are not the ones in control. Human agency has been eroded.

Kids hooked on tech becomes bipartisan focusAshley Gold and Margaret Harding McGill | Axios

The pandemic, which has resulted in skyrocketing screen time for kids, has prompted bipartisan questions about children’s online health, addiction and technology business models that encourage increased time on tech platforms.

America is losing its religionBryan Walsh | Axios

The accelerating trend towards a more secular America represents a fundamental change in the national character, one that will have major ramifications for politics and even social cohesion.

What Really Caused Facebook’s 500M-User Data Leak?Lily Hay Newman | Wired

A massive trove of Facebook data has  circulated publicly, splashing information from roughly 533 million Facebook users across the internet. The data includes things like profile names, Facebook ID numbers, email addresses, and phone numbers.

5 Things You Should Know About ClubhouseConrad Close | NRB

By now, you’ve probably seen headlines or posts from friends about a new social media app called Clubhouse. Although Clubhouse was officially launched in April 2020, it only gained widespread popularity in the first few months of 2021. Here are five things you should know about Clubhouse.

Watch: Pastor reveals the reasons behind COVID vaccine hesitancy in the evangelical communityJohn Yang | PBS

As of Thursday, more than 64 million Americans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and many others are eagerly waiting for their shots. But among white evangelical Americans, interest in the vaccine isn’t as widespread. John Yang speaks with Dr. Russell Moore about why that is and what can be done to change it.