WeeklyTech #158

The ethics of online gambling and sports betting

In recent years, there has been an explosion of online gambling especially related to sports. Whether professional sports like football, soccer, and basketball or collegiate sports including the upcoming college football bowl season, many of us are inundated with countless advertisements about making a quick buck or even betting on our team to win it all. Most of these ads are tailored to our favorite teams, often using images from high-profile games with the allure of “instant bonuses,” free credits, or an easy win. This time of year, online gambling surges leave many in their wake. 

According to The New York Times, about 30 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico currently allow sports gambling either online or in person, which means that over 30% of the population is able to legally bet on March Madness or other sporting events, across sports. These deceptive schemes or forms of “entertainment” can ruin someone’s life quickly, particularly those who may be prone to addictions or destructive behavior. They can be devastating and predatory. But how did this explosion in online sports betting become so widespread, and what is the human toll? And how does the Church begin to navigate these complex ethical issues that are plaguing our communities?

The Rundown

How Colleges and Sports-Betting Companies ‘Caesarized’ Campus Life by Anna Betts, Andrew Little, Elizabeth Sander, Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly and Walt Bogdanich | New York Times

In September 2021, an official in Michigan State University’s athletic department sent an email to his boss with exciting news: An online betting company was willing to pay handsomely for the right to promote gambling at the university.

Clearview Stole My Face and the EU Can’t Do Anything About It by Morgan Meaker | WIRED

Matthias Marx says his face has been stolen. The German activist’s visage is pale and wide, topped with messy, blond hair. So far, these features have been mapped and monetized by three companies without his permission. As has happened to billions of others, his face has been turned into a search term without his consent.

The Age of Social Media Is Ending by Ian Bogos | The Atlantic

It’s over. Facebook is in decline, Twitter in chaos. Mark Zuckerberg’s empire has lost hundreds of billions of dollars in value and laid off 11,000 people, with its ad business in peril and its metaverse fantasy in irons. Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has caused advertisers to pull spending and power users to shun the platform (or at least to tweet a lot about doing so). It’s never felt more plausible that the age of social media might end—and soon.

Inside Meta’s Oversight Board: 2 Years of Pushing Limits by Steven Levy | WIRED

On the morning of Thursday, June 30, 2022, two large luxury buses pulled up to a grand hotel in Menlo Park, California. Milling on the driveway were the members, staffers, and trustees of the Oversight Board. Set up two years ago by Facebook, now Meta, this august gaggle exists to second-guess the company’s most controversial actions. 

How Political Is the Gospel? by Nathan A. Finn | The Gospel Coalition

In his new book Political Gospel: Public Witness in a Politically Crazy World (B&H, 2022), Schreiner argues that Christianity is, by definition, political. The gospel is a political announcement. Religion and politics not only shouldn’t be seen as separate spheres—they actually overlap completely. Believers don’t need to be less political. Rather, they need to be discipled so they’re appropriately political.

China just announced a new social credit law. Here’s what it means. by Zeyi Yang | MIT

It’s easier to talk about what China’s social credit system isn’t than what it is. Ever since 2014, when China announced a six-year plan to build a system to reward actions that build trust in society and penalize the opposite, it has been one of the most misunderstood things about China in Western discourse. Now, with new documents released in mid-November, there’s an opportunity to correct the record.

Retail braces for wave of holiday phishing, ransomware scams by Sam Sabin | Axios

Hackers are ramping up their phishing and ransomware campaigns targeting the retail sector as the holiday shopping season kicks off.

Augustine Could’ve Written ‘City of God’ in 2022 by Chris Watkin | The Gospel Coalition

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar. Society is divided into die-hard factions that seem to do little but shout at each other. A self-congratulatory rhetoric of freedom and openness thinly veils a dogmatic, authoritarian demand of reverence to the idols of our age. Political and economic forces conspire to sustain a lifestyle for the elite. And a society that assures itself of having moved beyond superstition and lives on “the right side of history” is riddled with a host of bizarre superstitions and archaic assumptions.