Home / Mobile / Zuckerberg ditches annual challenges, but needs cynics to fix 2030 – TechCrunch

Zuckerberg ditches annual challenges, but needs cynics to fix 2030 – TechCrunch

Mark Zuckerberg won’t be spending 2020 focused on wearing ties, learning Mandarin, or just fixing Facebook. “Rather than having year-to-year challenges, I’ve tried to think about what I hope the world and my life will look in 2030” he wrote today on Facebook. As you might have guessed, though, Zuckerberg’s vision for an improved planet involves a lot more of Facebook’s family of apps.

His biggest proclamations in today’s notes include that:

  • AR – Phones will remain the primary computing platform for most of the decade by augmented reality could get devices out from between us so we can be present together — Facebook is building AR glasses
  • VR – Better virtual reality technology could address the housing crisis by letting people work from anywhere — Facebook is building Oculus
  • Privacy – The internet has created a global community where people find it hard to establish themselves as unique, so smaller online groups could make people feel special again – Facebook is building more private groups and messaging options
  • Regulation – That the big questions facing technology are too thorny for private companies to address by themselves, and governments must step in around elections, content moderation, data portability, and privacy — Facebook is trying to self-regulate on these and everywhere else to deter overly onerous lawmaking

Zuckerberg Elections

These are all reasonable predictions and suggestions. However, Zuckerberg’s post does little to address how the broadening of Facebook’s services in the 2010s also contributed to a lot of the problems he presents.

  • Isolation – Constant passive feed scrolling on Facebook and Instagram has created a way to seem like you’re being social without having true back-and-forther interaction with friends
  • Gentrification – Facebook’s shuttled employees have driven up rents in cities around the world, especially the Bay Area
  • Envy – Facebook’s algorithms can make anyone without a glamorous, Instagram-worthy life look less important, while hackers can steal accounts and its moderation systems can accidentally suspend profiles with little recourse for most users
  • Negligence – The growth-first mentality led Facebook’s policies and safety to lag behind its impact, creating the kind of democracy, content, anti-competition, and privacy questions its now asking the government to answer for it

Noticibly absent from Zuckerberg’s post are explicit mentions some of Facebook’s more controversial products and initiatives. He writes about “decentralizing opportunity” by giving small businesses commerce tools, but never mentions cryptocurrency, blockchain, or Libra directly. Instead he seems to suggest that Instagram store fronts, Messenger customer support, and WhatsApp remittance might be sufficient. He also largely leaves out Portal, Facebook’s smart screen that could help distant families stay closer, but that some see as a surveillance and data collection tool.

I’m glad Zuckerberg is taking his role as a public figure and the steward of one of humanity’s fundamental utilities more seriously. His willingness to even think about some of these long-term issues instead of just quarterly-profits is important. Optimism is necessary to create what doesn’t exist.

Still, if Zuckerberg wants 2030 to look better for the world, and for the world to look more kindly on Facebook, he may need to hire more skeptics and cynics that see a dystopic future instead. Their foresight on where societal problems could arise from Facebook’s products could help temper Zuckerberg’s team of idealists to create a company that balances the potential of the future with the risks to the present.

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Alternative online ad models (contextual targeting) are proven and profitable u2014 just ask search engine DuckDuckGo . While the ad industry gospel that only behavioral targeting will do now has academic critics who suggest it offer far less uplift than claimed, even as u2014 in Europe u2014 scores of data protection complaints underline the high individual cost of maintaining the status quo.

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Startups are also innovating in the pro-privacy adtech space (see, for example, the Brave browser).

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Changing the system u2014 turning the adtech tanker u2014 will take huge effort, but there is a growing opportunity for just such systemic change.

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This year, it might be too much to hope for regulators get their act together enough to outlaw consent-less profiling of Internet users entirely. But it may be that those who have sought to proclaim ‘privacy is dead’ will find their unchecked data gathering facing death by a thousand regulatory cuts.

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Or, tech giants like Facebook and Google may simple outrun the regulators by reengineering their platforms to cloak vast personal data empires with end-to-end encryption, making it harder for outsiders to regulate them, even as they retain enough of a fix on the metadata to stay in the surveillance business. Fixing that would likely require much more radical regulatory intervention.

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European regulators are, whether they like it or not, in this race and under major pressure to enforce the bloc’s existing data protection framework. It seems likely to ding some current-gen digital tracking and targeting practices. And depending on how key decisions on a number of strategic GDPR complaints go, 2020 could see an unpicking u2014 great or otherwise u2014 of components of adtech’s dysfunctional ‘norm’.

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Among the technologies under investigation in the region is real-time bidding; a system that powers a large chunk of programmatic digital advertising.

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The complaint here is it breaches the bloc’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) because it’s inherently insecure to broadcast granular personal data to scores of entities involved in the bidding chain.

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A recent event held by the UK’s data watchdog confirmed plenty of troubling findings. Google responded by removing some information from bid requests u2014 though critics say it does not go far enough. Nothing short of removing personal data entirely will do in their view, which sums to ads that are contextually (not micro)targeted.

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Powers that EU data protection watchdogs have at their disposal to deal with violations include not just big fines but data processing orders — which means corrective relief could be coming to take chunks out of data-dependent business models.

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As noted above, the adtech industry has already been put on watch this year over current practices, even as it was given a generous half-year grace period to adapt.

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In the event it seems likely that turning the ship will take longer. But the message is clear: change is coming. The UK watchdog is due to publish another report in 2020, based on its review of the sector. Expect that to further dial up the pressure on adtech.

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Web browsers have also been doing their bit by baking in more tracker blocking by default. And this summer Marketing Land proclaimed the third party cookie dead u2014 asking what’s next?

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Alternatives and workarounds will and are springing up (such as stuffing more in via first party cookies). But the notion of tracking by background default is under attack if not quite yet coming unstuck.

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Ireland’s DPC is also progressing on a formal investigation of Google’s online Ad Exchange. Further real-time bidding complaints have been lodged across the EU too. This is an issue that won’t be going away soon, however much the adtech industry might wish it.

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Year of the GDPR banhammer?

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2020 is the year that privacy advocates are really hoping that Europe will bring down the hammer of regulatory enforcement. Thousands of complaints have been filed since the GDPR came into force but precious few decisions have been handed down. Next year looks set to be decisive — even potentially make or break for the data protection regime.

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Last year was a landmark for online privacy in many ways, with something of a consensus emerging that consumers deserve protection from the companies that sell their attention and behavior for profit. The debate now is largely around how to regulate platforms, not whether it needs to happen. The consensus among key legislators acknowledges that […]

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layoffs rise as cost-cutting comes into vogue”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

n

Today, we’re taking digging into two trends: recent layoffs at various domestic unicorns and secondly, how those layoffs match a recent uptick in austerity across the technology industry itself. It seems that some belt tightening is afoot, something that we’ll need to keep an eye on as the 2020 IPO cycle begins. There are no domestic technology IPOs scheduled yet, but there are rumblings of impending offerings. (Restaurant SaaS company Olo, for example, is expected to be among the first out of the gate.)

n

With news of layoffs at Zume and Getaround coming this week, 2020 is already off to a trot when it comes to publicly-known staff reductions at tech and otherwise venture-backed companies. Let’s dig in.

n

Downsizing

n

A caveat before we get any further: for most people, losing a job creates serious emotional and financial consequences. While seeing some CEOs forced to publicly admit mistakes may be pleasant, layoffs are never good; you just don’t like to see them. Nothing we discuss this morning u2014 or yesterday, to be clear u2014 is brought to you for reasons other than to better understand the market.

n

That said, there have been issues at a number of companies in the Vision Fund startup arsenal over the last 12 months. In 2019, layoffs reached a number of companies that the SoftBank -backed capital machine had invested in, including Uber, Wag, WeWork, Fairu00a0and Katerra. There’s nuance to each situation (including that Katerra laid off some staff but hired elsewhere), but seeing that many reductions was noteworthy.

n

That two more companies u2014 Zume and Getaround u2014 are undergoing cost-cutting through staff reductions in rapid succession so far this yearu00a0implies that something larger is going on. There is, as it turns out.

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Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between. Today, we’re taking digging into two trends: recent layoffs at various domestic unicorns and secondly, how those layoffs match a recent uptick in austerity across the technology industry itself. It seems that some belt tightening […]

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ransomware gets craftier, companies must start thinking creatively”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Some say ransomware is in decline. Others say it’s getting craftier.

n

File-encrypting malware, known as ransomware, infects vulnerable computers and scrambles its files, inviting victims to return access to their data once they pay a ransom. Ransomware remains one of the most popular types of malwareu00a0and is said to be a multi-billion dollar u2014 albeit illegal u2014 industry.

n

But as companies gain awareness and shore up their cybersecurity defenses, the cat and mouse game continues between ransomware-launching threat actors and their victims, which can range from small businesses to local governments.

n

“Ransomware is a lucrative business model for the adversary because they get paid directly by the victim,” Steve Grobman, chief technology officer at McAfee, told TechCrunch.

n

In the past few months, security experts have seen a reduction in the “spray and pay” attacks against a large number of businesses and an increase of more focused efforts against larger corporate targets. Now ransomware-focused threat actors are using creative means to break into systems and deploy ransomware for the threat actor’s payday.

n

Just this week, foreign currency exchange Travelex was forced to suspend services at its stores after it confirmed a malware infection on December 31. A week later, the company is still largely offline. Travelex said little beyond a prepared statement, but it was reported that the company was hit by the notorious Sodinokibi (or rEvil) ransomware.

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Some say ransomware is in decline. Others say it’s getting craftier. File-encrypting malware, known as ransomware, infects vulnerable computers and scrambles its files, inviting victims to return access to their data once they pay a ransom. Ransomware remains one of the most popular types of malwareu00a0and is said to be a multi-billion dollar u2014 albeit […]

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Zack Whittaker is the security editor at TechCrunch. You can send tips securely via Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755-8849, and his PGP fingerprint for email is: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5.

nn

He can also be reached by email: zack.whittaker@techcrunch.com.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/arqrabrudwyofg3sb2pl”,”twitter”:”zackwhittaker”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/133574210″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”author”:[{“id”:133574210,”name”:”Zack Whittaker”,”url”:””,”description”:”Zack Whittaker writes about cybersecurity for TechCrunch. You can send tips securely via Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755-8849, and his PGP fingerprint for email is: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5.rnrnHe can also be reached by email: zack.whittaker@techcrunch.com.”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/zack-whittaker/”,”slug”:”zack-whittaker”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9c6f2f007a1fadfcf4f9da867130c493?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9c6f2f007a1fadfcf4f9da867130c493?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9c6f2f007a1fadfcf4f9da867130c493?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/zack-whittaker/”,”facebook”:”https://www.facebook.com/zackwhittaker”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/zackwhittaker”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/zackwhittaker/”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/zack-whittaker”},”position”:”Security Editor”,”cbDescription”:”

Zack Whittaker is the security editor at TechCrunch. You can send tips securely via Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755-8849, and his PGP fingerprint for email is: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5.

nn

He can also be reached by email: zack.whittaker@techcrunch.com.

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YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA – JUNE 28, 2017: A message demanding money on a computer hacked by a virus known as Petya. The Petya ransomware cyber attack hit computers of Russian and Ukrainian companies on June 27, 2017. Donat Sorokin/TASS (Photo by Donat SorokinTASS via Getty Images)

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Mark Zuckerberg won’t be spending 2020 focused on wearing ties, learning Mandarin, or just fixing Facebook. “Rather than having year-to-year challenges, I’ve tried to think about what I hope the world and my life will look in 2030” he wrote today on Facebook. As you might have guessed, though, Zuckerberg’s vision for an improved planet involves a lot more of Facebook’s family of apps.

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His biggest proclamations in today’s notes include that:

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  • AR – Phones will remain the primary computing platform for most of the decade by augmented reality could get devices out from between us so we can be present together — Facebook is building AR glasses
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  • VR – Better virtual reality technology could address the housing crisis by letting people work from anywhere — Facebook is building Oculus
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  • Privacy – The internet has created a global community where people find it hard to establish themselves as unique, so smaller online groups could make people feel special again – Facebook is building more private groups and messaging options
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  • Regulation – That the big questions facing technology are too thorny for private companies to address by themselves, and governments must step in around elections, content moderation, data portability, and privacy — Facebook is trying to self-regulate on these and everywhere else to deter overly onerous lawmaking
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Zuckerberg Elections

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These are all reasonable predictions and suggestions. However, Zuckerberg’s post does little to address how the broadening of Facebook’s services in the 2010s also contributed to a lot of the problems he presents.

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  • Isolation – Constant passive feed scrolling on Facebook and Instagram has created a way to seem like you’re being social without having true back-and-forther interaction with friends
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  • Gentrification – Facebook’s shuttled employees have driven up rents in cities around the world, especially the Bay Area
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  • Envy – Facebook’s algorithms can make anyone without a glamorous, Instagram-worthy life look less important, while hackers can steal accounts and its moderation systems can accidentally suspend profiles with little recourse for most users
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  • Negligence – The growth-first mentality led Facebook’s policies and safety to lag behind its impact, creating the kind of democracy, content, anti-competition, and privacy questions its now asking the government to answer for it
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Noticibly absent from Zuckerberg’s post are explicit mentions some of Facebook’s more controversial products and initiatives. He writes about “decentralizing opportunity” by giving small businesses commerce tools, but never mentions cryptocurrency, blockchain, or Libra directly. Instead he seems to suggest that Instagram store fronts, Messenger customer support, and WhatsApp remittance might be sufficient. He also largely leaves out Portal, Facebook’s smart screen that could help distant families stay closer, but that some see as a surveillance and data collection tool.

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I’m glad Zuckerberg is taking his role as a public figure and the steward of one of humanity’s fundamental utilities more seriously. His willingness to even think about some of these long-term issues instead of just quarterly-profits is important. Optimism is necessary to create what doesn’t exist.

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Still, if Zuckerberg wants 2030 to look better for the world, and for the world to look more kindly on Facebook, he may need to hire more skeptics and cynics that see a dystopic future instead. Their foresight on where societal problems could arise from Facebook’s products could help temper Zuckerberg’s team of idealists to create a company that balances the potential of the future with the risks to the present.

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Every new year of the last decade I set a personal challenge. My goal was to grow in new ways outside my day-to-day work…

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Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, January 9, 2020

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n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Mark Zuckerberg won’t be spending 2020 focused on wearing ties, learning Mandarin, or just fixing Facebook. “Rather than having year-to-year challenges, I’ve tried to think about what I hope the world and my life will look in 2030” he wrote today on Facebook. As you might have guessed, though, Zuckerberg’s vision for an improved planet […]

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Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

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Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

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Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

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Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

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Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

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Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

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[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1415412437/xje35licfau9iewxnf44.png”,”twitter”:”joshconstine”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/1603003″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”author”:[{“id”:1603003,”name”:”Josh Constine”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/josh-constine/”,”slug”:”josh-constine”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://www.JoshConstine.com”,”facebook”:”http://www.facebook.com/JoshConstine”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/joshconstine”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshconstine/”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/josh-constine”},”position”:”Editor-At-Large”,”cbDescription”:”

Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

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Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

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Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

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Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

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Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

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Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

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[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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BERLIN, GERMANY – FEBRUARY 25: (Editor’s note: This photo was processed using digital filters) Mark Zuckerberg arrives for the presentation of the first Axel Springer Award on February 25, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

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