Activisim, Social Media, Technology

The challenge with Twitter is us, not the youth.

It’s been ten days since the Federal Government suspended Twitter. As I suspected, my life has not come to a cataclysmic end. Yup, I’m still here. And so is my mind. A luxury these days.

Now, it is not that I do not care for Twitter or support the government’s brutish machismo. I like Jack Dorsey and don’t mind his little blue bird nesting on my phone. The problem is, I’m not a bird lover. I don’t bird-watch. And I don’t like ceaseless chirping. Which is why I don’t have notification enabled for Twitter. When I get notifications, I want it to be of something really important. Like a 200km-wide-asteroid-is-hurtling-towards-Earth important. Or Man-United-just-signedJandon-Sancho-Rafael-Varane-Marco-Veratti-and-Erling-Haaland important. Besides, I’m wary of social media addiction. I’ve seen The Social Dilemma on Netflix. Scared the bejesus out of me.

Where do I stand on the ban? Well, last time I checked, our demonym is still ‘Nigerian’. Not Chinese, North Korean or Iranian. That being the case, I have come to expect a great measure of free speech and liberty to tweet as a Nigerian. So, while I only check Twitter once or twice a day, I am yet filled with a righteous, if hypocritical, rage at this denial of my right to use Twitter.

Mr. Dorsey’s algorithm hasn’t done him much favours though. It should have picked up the IPOB tweets that so clearly violated the much-vaunted Twitter’s Rules. It didn’t. I can therefore understand how the government can accuse Twitter of double standards. I’d be miffed too.

And spare me the drivel that the government should have reported the IPOB tweets to Twitter. OK, yea, maybe messers Lai Mohammed and Tolu Ogunlesi should have reported the IPOB tweets. But so what they didn’t? Social media companies owe society a duty of care to protect us from seeing evil and hearing evil. The burden of spotting violative posts is on them and not on us. The algos have to do better.

But enough of my faux adjudication. What has got under my skin is the role my demography is playing in the ban. I have come across many forty-something-year-olds glorying in the Twitter ban. They cite the ‘disrespectful’ and ‘uncouth youths’ that inhabit the platform as desert. The so-called ‘children of anger.’

‘Children of anger’? For speaking up? For developing allergies to bunkum, tosh and codswallop?

Shame on you lot!

When the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) terrorized the country, it was the youth that bore the brunt of the oppression and malfeasance. Not we the forty-something-year-olds. When that yoke of police brutality was heavy on our necks, it was the youth that mobilised. Not we, the forty-something-year-olds. And thanks to them, we were rid of SARS. We are not the ones struggling to find jobs. They are. We are not the ones who have hardly tasted the good of the land. It is they. It is, therefore, to be expected that they would be the most uninhibited and vehement segment of society.

But how quickly we forget the past. We, the forty-something-year-olds, were once these ‘children of anger.’

We were the ‘disrespectful’ youth that marched when our mandate was annulled in the June 12 1993 elections. The ‘children of rage’ that stormed the streets when the acclaimed winner of that election died in prison in 1998. A few decades earlier, it was the youths that marched against the military power in 1978 in the Ali Must Go nationwide protest. How quickly we forget we once wore this badge with pride.

The only difference between us and today’s youths is that back in the day, we didn’t have social media to amplify our grievances and mobilise. Today’s young bloods do and are using it in very effective ways. We may not always agree with their tactics or language but when has the old and the young seen eye to eye? It’s the circle of life. Hakuna whatever.

I get it though. We the forty-something-year-olds are risk-averse. Age does that. We’ve become the old and lazy cats we railed against when we were younger. The scared lot afraid and tired of speaking the truth to power. I suppose it’s understandable. We have a lot more to lose than these young Turks. Family, security, position, power. Best let sleeping dogs lie. Since it’s a kennel of feral Dobermans, Rottweilers and Pitt Bulls.

So, here is the obvious: the youths are going nowhere. With or without Twitter, you can’t gag them. And they are coming. Over 70 million of them. Oh, they are coming!

It was once our time. It is now their time. Best get with the program.


Advertising, Technology

Facebook vs Apple. Nobody likes a voyeur.

Picture this. You are on your bed in your boxers. The mood is right. Barry White’s deep sensuous voice comes up on the HomePod. Telling you this. Telling you that. Or maybe Joe is your thing. Or Ed Sheeran. The room is chilled by the air conditioner. The lights are dimmed. Your bonnie lass is in the bathroom. You can smell her fragrance. She comes into the bedroom in a towel. She drops the towel as she walks towards you. 

Then your eye catches something in the corner of the room. A silhouette. A male figure seated in the armchair with a glass in his hands. You jump up from the bed in panic and switch on the lights. It’s the landlord.

You are shocked and furious. You shout at him to get the hell out of your room. Out of your apartment. He smiles and says no can do. He has the right to be there. You agreed to his presence when you rented the house. It was in the fine prints. But you didn’t bother to read it. Like the last tenant. And the one before him. And the one before that. All tenants really. But if you are adamant he should leave the room, he will. You’ll only have to move out of the apartment and forfeit your rent. It’s in the contract. In the fine prints. 

He pours himself another drink and waits on your decision. He smiles at you the way I imagine a lecher would. 

The story above is, of course, a sordid metaphor. An over-dramatization of Facebook’s tracking activities. But you did grant Facebook a front-row seat to your private life when you installed the app on your phone. You didn’t know you did. But you did. 

So, here is how Facebook tracking works. 

When you use the Facebook app on your iOS or Android device, Facebook tracks what you do on the app. It collects a host of information ranging from device, OS, city, gender, age and many more. But this tracking is not limited to what you do on the Facebook app. Facebook also tracks you across other apps on your phone and websites you visit. It is not content to know what you do on its app; it also needs to know what you do on other apps and on the internet. Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, eBay, Candy Crush, TikTok, Tinder, Bumble, PornHub. Name it.  

Now, why does Facebook track you across apps and websites? 

Why, to know you better, of course! 

You see, Facebook’s business is selling targeted advertising. That’s how it makes money. It makes some $86 billion annually selling these targeted ads. Targeted ads are personalized advertising delivered to you based on the data companies like Facebook and Google collect about you. They collect these troves of data about you so they can have a good picture of who you are. That picture is important to advertisers and data brokers who need to reach a specified audience. That, after all, is the vaunted advantage of digital media over traditional media.

These gems of personal bits are not all necessarily available on the Facebook app. There are a lot more things you do on your phone than just scroll through Facebook. You read the news. You play games. You window-shop. You buy stuff. You watch YouTube. You take pictures. You live for the ‘gram. By following you across apps and the internet, Facebook is able to piece together all these activities and paint your demographic and psychographic portrait. Ergo, nail you down to your needs and wants. If you’ve been checking out websites on how to emigrate to Canada, don’t be surprised if Facebook serves you ads on emigration services to Saskatchewan.

So, if you are playing with your side chick’s phone and you start seeing Facebook ads for baby food and diapers, congratulations homie! Facebook probably knows something you don’t. 

The depth of information Facebook collects about you may be disconcerting. But all ad-based tech companies track you across apps and websites. Google does it. So do Amazon, Instagram (Facebook Inc), Twitter or Yahoo. If they sell ads, they probably track you. That is the cost you pay for using the apps for free. Like many people, you didn’t read the Facebook privacy policy or terms. Nobody reads those. But that’s where the bodies are buried. Where you consented to be tracked.

So, what is the feud between Facebook and Apple all about? 

Starting with iOS 14.5, Apple will introduce a feature called App Tracking Transparency or ATT. ATT requires users (you) to give permissions to apps before they can track you across apps and websites. 

With ATT, when you launch any app for the first time, you will see a pop-up that informs you that an app wants to track you across platforms. The pop-up will explain what the tracker is and asks whether you want to approve or reject the tracking and sharing of your data. 

Which is awesome for privacy.

One of Apple’s brand promises is privacy. The iPhone is supposed to be iron-clad. So iron-clad that Apple itself claims it cannot unlock an iPhone encrypted by the user. The FBI found that out the hard way. Thus, from a consumer and marketing perspective, offering iPhone users ATT is keeping with a brand promise. It helps deepen loyalty. It is good for business.

But not for Markie’s business. Mark Zuckerberg is outraged about App Tracking Transparency. ATT threatens Facebook’s nest egg. When users opt out of being tracked, it means Facebook’s ability to paint a portrait of the user is affected. There’ll be gaps in the picture. A nose missing. One ear missing. Maybe three teeth lost. That is bad for targeted advertising. Bad for Facebook.

Facebook probably suspects that if users have the choice of turning off tracking, many would. I know I would. I don’t want some bot stalking me all over the internet. What happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas. 

So Markie is pissed. So pissed he is calling Apple its biggest competitor. So pissed he is smearing Apple as an enemy of small businesses and the free internet in newspaper ads. He said Apple is using privacy as a justification to disadvantage Facebook. 

Said Markie, “Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own.” 

Tim Cook has never hidden his disdain for Facebook’s business model and flagrant abuse of users’ data. 

“If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform,” said Tim.

Whoa, those are some pretty strong words there, Tim!

However, Apple claims it is not asking Facebook and others not to track across apps and websites. It only requires them to asks permission from users before they do. 

Yea, right. 

That’s like telling a thief to ask for your permission before he steals your car.

You may well ask why Facebook is worried about Apple’s ATT. After all, iOS is only 27% of mobile operating systems. Android rules the gamut. 

Thing is, the bulk of Facebook’s $86 billion annual revenue comes from the US and Canada. iOS accounts for over 61% and 52% respectively of mobile operating systems in those two markets. Crucially, North America also happens to be the region with the highest Average Revenue per User (ARPU) for Facebook per the Statista data below. 

©Statista 2021

So, Facebook’s fight with Apple is a fight over ad revenue in the US and Canada. Europe is not an insignificant second. The rest of ya’ll go eat a donut. 

Is Apple sincere about privacy claims or only manoeuvring for advantage? Time will tell. We’ll be watching its future actions closely. But Facebook’s history of data abuse and measurement untruths may deprive it of sympathetic ears. At least not from iOS users. They’ll be on Apple’s side. We the iSheep.

And many will also remember the fiasco of Cambridge Analytica, US electioneering, and the upcoming data merger between Facebook and WhatsApp. Facebook always seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons

Social trust is proving to be a thing. 


Artificial Intelligence, Technology, The Future

The doggone geekstitute called Boston Dynamics.

There’s only one reason man eats fish. We eat fish because we can. Fishes are dumb and we are smart. We are at the top of the food chain and we take whatever we want.

I therefore don’t take kindly to anyone who tries to rearrange this balance. Boston Dynamics may think it’s a cool company. But I’ll tell you what a cool company does; it doesn’t make robots that can open doors!

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