Bleats

Does Facebook Really Have To Be A Necessary Evil In Our Lives?

It might be necessary, but does it have to be evil?

I spent a lot of my time last night watching the video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez absolutely skewering Facebook founder Mark “Definitely A Human And Not A Lizard Man” Zuckerberg. It was a fantastic night, in case you were wondering.

While it’s great fun to watch one of the richest and most powerful men in the world blurt out such profound gems as “I think lying is bad”, and laugh about how bad his weird Caesar inspired haircut is, we should probably look at the bigger picture.

Zuckerberg was facing congress to defend Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency, Libra. He called the current method we have of paying for stuff “outdated,” and used that as a reason to tell everyone how much we need Libra. Now, I know sweet f-all about how cryptocurrency works, and maybe my debit card isn’t as cool as currency that zooms around the internet, but my debit card is the one getting me groceries so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But I digress. 

Once Zuckerberg had finished implying that physical money is stupid, questioning turned to some of the other business that Facebook has been involved with. He was asked about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, why Facebook won’t fact check political ads themselves, and why some of the fact checkers they do have are tied to white supremacists

I don’t need to tell you that Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool. The bottom line is that for such a powerful company, they seem to get away with a lot of shady stuff with a slap on the wrist. We all know what they’re up to, but we’re still using their website.

I’ve heard this explained away over and over again by people saying that Facebook is just a “necessary evil”. 

Let’s address the “necessary” part of that phrase first. Sure, we could all delete Facebook and it would probably solve these problems, but it would also get rid of the benefits we get from social media. Like it or not, we do get a sense of connection from Facebook. We keep in touch with friends and family who live far away, and join all sorts of groups full of people with similar interests. I’m in a Facebook support group for people with dermatillomania, and it makes me realise I’m not alone or nuts. 

Also, I’ve watched bosses in previous jobs search the names of people who handed us a resume, and get suspicious if they can’t find an account. So I’m going to go with Facebook being a necessity in 2019. Sue me.

It doesn’t have to be evil, though. 

Saying that Facebook is stuck in its ways and can’t be changed is just not true. Mark Zuckerberg created it originally as a way to rank the attractiveness of women on his college campus, so it’s not like the site hasn’t changed at all since the beginning. It’s gone from being all sorts of creepy and gross on a small scale, to being all sorts of terrifying on a massive scale.

It’s absolutely possible for Facebook to give white supremacist-tied organisations the boot, and to fact check political ads that run on their platform. They’re probably going to harvest our data until the end of time, but they don’t have to work with companies like Cambridge Analytica who are going to do dodgy things with it. 

Just because Facebook is ridiculously massive doesn’t mean we have to accept their behaviour and move on. Mark Zuckerberg should make better choices. 

Oh, and do more research next time you come up against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Can You Even Tell That These Cashed-Up CGI Influencers Aren't Human?

They're the real fakers.

In further proof that the robot apocalypse is almost here and that every single person is going to be replaced by a machine when it happens, CGI influencers are now a thing. They’re exactly what they sounds like: computer generated people that do all the things regular influencers do, living their digital lives out in front of millions of Insta followers.

They speak out about social causes, make music videos, and hang out with real celebrities – and just like their human counterparts, CGI influencers rake in a ton of money through promoting stuff. 

A CGI supermodel named Shudu shot to fame when Fenty Beauty reposted a picture of her ‘wearing’ their Mattemoiselle lipstick. Another digital influencer, Noonoouri, has a contract with Kim Kardashian as a part of KKW Beauty and has worked with Marc Jacobs, Dior and Versace. 

Far and away the most popular CGI influencer is Miquela Sousa, who goes by lilmiquela. She’s partnered with companies like Giphy and Prada, and posted pictures of herself wearing brands like Diesel and Moncler. She was even named one of Time’s most influential people on the internet, next to people like Rihanna and Donald Trump.

None of these influencers are real, but the people creating their pictures, writing their captions, and accepting their advertising deals most certainly are. While we might know every made up detail of the lives of these influencers, we only know as much about the lives of their creators as they want us to know.

The man behind Shudu is very open about his creation. She was invented by London-based photographer Cameron-James Wilson, who is more than happy to be interviewed about her. He remained anonymous until he realised that some people were believing that Shudu was a real person, and came out publicly to break that illusion. Overall, he sounds like a decent dude.

Then there’s Miquela Sousa’s account. Until earlier this year, we had absolutely no idea who was behind Miquela, but we’ve since found out she’s run by a company called Brud. Brud is based out of Los Angeles, and specialises in robotics and artificial intelligence, and that’s basically all we know. They’re a really hard company to find anything out about on Google, which is quite an achievement for a tech company. Seriously, they have an Instagram and a one-page Google document on the entire internet, and that’s it.

The fact that someone can remain almost completely anonymous whilst having such a powerful influence over people is legitimately terrifying. We don’t know if one person is in charge of the lilmiquela account or several, or what the purpose of the account is at all. We do know that they’ve received about $6 million in funding because of Miquela though, so someone is making a ton of money by pretending to be a teenager on Insta.

It’s easy to dismiss these accounts as weird internet novelties, but the realistically designed ones like Shudu have already had people fooled into thinking they were real. The next generation of CGI influencers might not be so easy to spot as fakes, and who knows what they’ll be used for. 

I’m guessing 50% world domination, and 50% shilling skinny tea. 

The Government Is So Sick Of Your NBN Complaints They've Created Their Own Speed Test

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Is there anything more infuriating than slow internet? I’ve honestly never wanted to fight a computer more than when I was dealing with my tax return, only for the whole page to crash right before I hit submit. Maybe my problem was trying to do my own tax in the first place (the final frontier of being a functional adult), but the garbage internet connection certainly didn’t help.

When the NBN was first pitched to us over a decade ago, it was going to be this amazing project that wold catapult Australia to the front of the digital game. The things we were promised were amazing, but sadly for us and our blood pressure, those promises wound up getting the Spinning Wheel Of Death and crashing. Hard.

Same.

Nobody is stoked with this outcome, and the Government seems particularly unhappy. Not unhappy that the internet sucks by the way, but unhappy that we keep getting called out on it. They could always try the solution of fixing the damn internet, but it seems that they’d rather give gaslighting the entire country a go.

This week at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, NBN Co will launch its very own internet speed ranking system based on research that they paid for. It’s called the Global Broadband Speed Report, and at the same time as proving how great we are, it’s suspiciously going to ‘debunk’ every other ranking system that has said Australia has terrible internet.

One of those systems is the Ookla Speed Test. Ookla is an American company that has been comparing internet performances since 2006, and nobody seems to have a problem with them except for our Government. 

Back in April this year, an Ookla report ranked Australia’s internet only 62nd in the world, behind developing nations like Kosovo, Kazakhstan, and Barbados. If we want to look at numbers, Singapore topped the charts with 199.62 mbps average speed, and the global average speed is 57.91 mbps. Australia crawls in with just 35.11 mbps.

No word on what the Government’s shiny new ranking system will say that Australia should really be coming in at, but my guess is that it will be much (much) higher than 62nd. Problem solved, right?

What a win.

This isn’t the first time they’ve been sprung paying for research to fix a problem. Back in March this year, the NBN Co paid for a report that said the NBN is super accessible and that Australia’s broadband affordability is among the best in the world. That would great except for the fact that this goes directly against the Government’s own findings from 2017 that say the NBN is really hard to afford if you’re in a low income household. I’m guessing that somebody in the Government assumed they’d get away with the different reports as long as nobody was actually able to Google it.

It’s a unique Australian experience to give up on the WiFi and jut use your data in your own house, and the NBN doesn’t look like it’s going to be solving that particular problem any time soon. Strap yourselves in my friends, we’re going to be yelling at our computers for a long time yet. 

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