Facebook sets off a privacy discussion

Following the endless news out of the U.S. last week that Facebook had allowed mass harvesting of user data via its API, the debate is now widening to other advertising companies.

Facebook, Google and Twitter have been invited to a hearing by Congress that looks to discuss the "future of privacy and social media" and hopes to explore new "rules of the road" for the industry.

It appears Facebook has set a precedent for the industry, and now the government is widening the net to explore how far it should go with regulating (or not) the mass collection of data.

The hearing comes as the FTC announced on the same day that it is privately investigating Facebook, and the UK government raided Cambridge Analytica's offices. 

It seems the discussion about privacy, and the implications of mass data collection for the purpose of monetization is finally up for discussion, after years of consumer ambivalence to the actual details of what's going on.

A great example of this is found in the long-running conspiracy theory that Facebook uses your computer's microphone to crunch data for advertising. The reality always was that Facebook's data was so rich that it quite literally doesn't need to; it already knows what you want.

I've seen so much consumer outrage circulating on Twitter in the last few days that I'm surprised myself. 

While I assumed people knew data collection was happening, and even opted into it by choice on many occasions, I hadn't realized how vast the lack of understanding of what's happening behind the scenes is.

Take this thread, for example, where a man shows Google's location timeline feature, their ad data as well as Facebook's. Almost all of the examples given are par for the course in the ad industry world, but a surprise to those who use these services.

I suspect that because Facebook brought this discussion to the surface, companies are going to need to surface their inner workings much better in order to retain increasingly skeptical users.

The debate is far from over, and we're yet to see if people really care enough to make a change this time, or if the true privacy cost of using social media is not enough to make people pay to use such a service (which would be more than you think!).

Foxconn buys up networking companies

Foxconn, the company probably best known for manufacturing the iPhone, has acquired a slew of brands in the networking industry overnight including Belkin, Linksys and home-automation brand Wemo.

Foxconn has been loudly talking about diversifying revenue, which isn't surprising given one of its biggest clients is overwhelmingly Apple and it's looking beyond the smartphone in the near-term to hedge its bets as the industry slows down.

The deal is worth $866 million, and will need to clear the US Committee on Foreign Investment, which has been particularly harsh on Chinese-based deals in the past few weeks. 

This is where I think it'll die; a Chinese-backed company acquiring a bunch of U.S. networking technology is a particularly sensitive topic, and given the open condemnation of Huawei in recent weeks for alleged spying, it's hard to imagine the deal closing.

Tab Dump

Google releases its first Chrome OS tablet
I don't really understand why this exists, but it seems that Android on tablets is dead. These cheap devices seem like iPad competitors, because they can run both the web-focused operating system and Android apps -- and are targeted squarely at the education sector.

Apple plans education focused event today
Today in Chicago, Apple is running an education-focused event (coincidence, Google?) where it's expected it may unveil new iPads and maaaaaybe MacBooks. 

Uber suspended from autonomous vehicle testing by Arizona

Facebook takes out newspaper ads to apologize for data leak

Is this the A-bomb moment for computer science?