Designed for Discrimination

Google Has Been Allowing Advertisers to Exclude Nonbinary People from Seeing Job Ads

Dozens of advertisers instructed the company to not show their ads to people of “unknown” gender, meaning people who had not identified themselves as male or female

The Markup has been doing great work investigating the advertising systems of Google, Facebook and others, and exposing where these systems are facilitating discrimination, abuse and worse.

Google does offer a way for users to see how they’re categorized for ads, on an ads preferences page.

Google’s options for users amount to putting “a rainbow-colored Band-Aid” on “systems that were not really designed to include nonbinary people,” said Albert.

“Really the question they should be asking is which gender are you, and which of these gender categories would you like us to serve you ads for,” and explaining how the ads system uses gender, Albert said.

Once again, Google’s desire to keep the advertising dollars flowing in leads to their looking the other way as advertisers use the system to discriminate against people.

Abandon Hope, All Ye Hoping to Opt-Out of Tracking

What Do You Actually Agree To When You Accept All Cookies

I’ve started opening some of these popups, which I encounter regularly because I have tracker-blocking turned on. Very few have the decency to let you opt-out with one click, most are as labyrinthine as the ones Conrad Akunga investigated.

It is literally Designed To Make You Give Up And Agree.

From the Archive: Oh iTunes, why do you have to suck so hard?

I posted this to my old Facebook profile on 2nd November 2016. A lot of the gripe still applies to Apple Music app on the Mac.

Oh iTunes. Why do you have to suck so hard?

You used to be great at organising my music, syncing with my iPod (back when I still had one), even handling audiobooks for me.

But over the years, you’ve gotten flabby, forgotten how to play music for me, started losing music tracks, and now you’re liable to crash or throw an error message at me at the slightest provocation.

Is it because I hang out more with Spotify? Or is it just that you’re hooked on cosmetic enhancements?

Thank goodness I no longer need to rely on you to manage my ebooks, audiobooks, podcasts, apps or photos. And no, you can’t palm me off by blaming iCloud—unlike you, he has actually shaped up and raised his game.

So it’s time for us to part ways, alas. No, you’re not keeping my playlists. Perhaps Apple will see sense and put you into rehab (iBooks was a start, but they need to get serious and remove all the other cruft.)

For the record, I switched to Swinsian for a couple of years, but eventually it became clear that I’d need to return to iTunes in order to easily get music to my iPad. And now I’m subscribed to Apple Music, so that’s the end of my dalliances for now.

Inoculating against Post-Truth

Lockdown scepticism shows the limits of post-truth politics 

Ian Dunt:

There’s not much good to be said about lockdown scepticism. It is an ethical abyss, a testament to how certain commentators and politicians will allow their need for attention to overrule even the most rudimentary of moral standards. But it has at least achieved one useful thing: It demonstrates the limitations of post-truth politics.

This approach to politics has defined the last few years of British debate. It burst into the open during the Brexit referendum and dominated the way it played out afterwards. It didn’t matter how many experts pointed out that customs borders required checks on goods or how many studies were released demonstrating that friction in trade would reduce its flow. Hardline proponents of Brexit in parliament and the press simply dismissed it.

Lockdown scepticism functions in the same way. It has various levels of severity, from mild to outright lunacy. Mild versions treat lockdowns as ineffective, without questioning the basic epidemiology of virus transmission. Hard versions end up asserting that covid infection rates rise and fall seemingly of their own accord and are unaffected by people coming into contact with each other. Usually you see these two variants mix within the same argument – the former being used as the respectable window display of the argument and the latter readily on sale once you enter the shop.

Not a huge surprise that supporters of Brexit are also among those pushing lockdown skepticism. But unlike Brexit, the effects of Covid-19 aren’t as easy to wave away or shout down, and are with us here and now, not years from now.

Adios Firefox, for now…

I’m no longer using Firefox on any of my devices. On the Mac, I’ve now switched fully over to Vivaldi, while the iPad and iPhone are both back to Safari.

I still like Firefox, and there are features I’ll miss like the Containers system for segregation certain domains to limit tracking. But both Safari and Vivaldi are good enough for my needs.

I’m uncertain as to the future of Firefox, and Mozilla in general. I wish I could have more confidence in them, but it looks increasingly like they’ve lost their way. 🙁

My Blogging Workflow

  • Open browser
  • Open my website’s WordPress backend in a tab
  • Open any webpages I want to quote from or link to in new tabs
  • Click the + button to create a new post using the Gutenberg editor
  • Type in text
  • Copy and paste in quotes as necessary
  • Add links as necessary
  • Upload and insert images if required
  • Read and check I’m happy with the post
  • Hit that Publish button!

Yes, it is that simple.

I don’t bother with tags, all posts get the default category of Journal.

I’ve tried apps in the past, and they worked for a while then repeatedly failed to connect to my blog due to XML-RPC errors. In the end, I gave up and got rid of them.

My software is my browser. Simple as that. Nothing else needed. As long as I can open a browser on any device I have to hand, visit this site and enter my login and password I’m good to go.

Oh, and I highly recommend this Mini Blogging Masterclass post by Amber Wilson. I blog about what I feel like, when I feel like doing so. 🙂

Charlie Stross on Corporations

We are now living in a global state that has been structured for the benefit of non-human entities with non-human goals. They have enormous media reach, which they use to distract attention from threats to their own survival. They also have an enormous ability to support litigation against public participation, except in the very limited circumstances where such action is forbidden. Individual atomized humans are thus either co-opted by these entities (you can live very nicely as a CEO or a politician, as long as you don’t bite the feeding hand) or steamrollered if they try to resist.

In short, we are living in the aftermath of an alien invasion.

Invaders from Mars