Europe’s Software Problem – Bert Hubert’s writings

Europe nearly exclusively communicates through US platforms, using Chinese hardware. Interdependence is good, but this is over-dependence.

The world is dominated by “free” software and platforms, for which we pay by other means (like rent-seeking and surveillance). European software companies can’t (and won’t) fund themselves this way. Our attempt to forbid foreign software from funding itself with data is worthy, but has failed to foster attractive European software.

I’m not sure it’s because it doesn’t register or we don’t talk of it enough us Europeans but it’s amazingly obvious backwards Europe and the EU especially is when it comes to tech.

It’s a tough nut to crack this late in the game, for sure. It will take institutional support by institutions that, had they proper understanding of the situation when it mattered the most, they’d already know what needs to be done.

I feel (just a feeling!) that the way the US market “thinks” just largely takes care of such matters, while China seems to be letting conglomerates form with embedded control which it can exert if and when its politics call for it. India seems to be taking a similar approach, while Japan, even though not at its best anymore, has been in this game long enough to at least understand where it itself stands.

This is a very interesting conundrum but it saddens me that the realisation it formed itself upon came from political tensions with China instead of common sense.

Is Facebook cornering the VR market?

Facebook told me its reasons for acquiring so many game studios are straightforward: it wants to accelerate the growth of a still-nascent industry by ensuring top-flight gaming experiences are widely available. It’s a very small player in the gaming industry, the company said, but hopes its acquisitions will be good for both developers and users.

Hold that thought.

Facebook Announces a New Oculus VR Feature: In-Game Ads – ExtremeTech

Facebook is not going to leap out from behind a pillar twiddling a false mustache. We’re not going to find out in two months that the company is secretly stealing the children of VR developers to force them to build games faster. What’s far more likely is that the company will integrate some ads in a very reasonable fashion. Then a few more. Then a few more. At some point, the privacy guarantees around what data Facebook doesn’t gather will get a little vaguer. The transparent language will become a little more obtuse. The ad categories will broaden. People might even joke a little about how Oculus VR used to show ads for VR games, the same way MTV used to show music videos.

One day, years from now, a scandal will break. We’ll discover that Facebook was doing something awful with regards to VR privacy this entire time. Facebook will once again attempt to frame its catastrophic cock-up as “a broad industry issue.” Someone write an internal email about the need to “normalize the fact that this activity happens regularly,” rather than take responsibility for Facebook’s contributions to “this activity.” When it happens, folks will turn around and ask, “When did it start going bad?”

And here it is. Gaming is big business. Might not be big business for Facebook but it takes one breakout hit for the gamble to work when you don’t expect the game itself to sell as much as serve ads for your clients.

It always amazes me how nonchalant Facebook is when making these moves. It’d be different for a different company, but Facebook is routinely caught for its questionable policies, hypocrisy whenever posturing as the defender for small businesses for the small businesses’ sake and more. Now, a company can come out of all that. It just takes will and methodical work to really convince everyone you’ve learnt the error of your ways. But Facebook can’t wait and put in that work before moving fast and breaking things once more.

Facebook begins tying social media use to ads served inside its VR ecosystem

Facebook itself suggests that advertising is a key element in its VR business going forward: “This is a key part of ensuring we’re creating a self-sustaining platform that can support a variety of business models.” It also admits that product pricing can vary with advertising in the mix: “It helps us continue to make innovative AR [augmented reality]/VR hardware more accessible to more people.”

How more explicit does a company need to get till we realise we always get what we pay for and privacy costs extra?

As a reminder, all new Oculus-branded hardware going forward requires a Facebook account to work. Meanwhile, hardware sold before that rules change went into effect will require a terms of service agreement beginning January 1, 2023. And the company’s combined ToS can penalize users for creating phantom or dummy Facebook accounts for the sole purpose of enabling connected Oculus VR features; by agreeing to that ToS, Facebook can void your account and its related purchases should they be found in violation of its rules.

Sometimes it even costs you the hardware you ‘ve already paid for.

Amazon blames social media companies for sales of fake Amazon reviews

Amazon went on to say that it reports fraud to social media companies and that “some” of the companies have improved their responses to those reports. However, Amazon said it wants social media firms to find and eliminate fraud before Amazon reports it to them.

Amazon isn’t wrong. Fraud happens where fraud happens and there’s little Amazon can do about fraudulent activity that happens beyond its reach and platforms.

An October 2020 article by The Verge explained how review traders use social media “to evade detection on Amazon. Once a reviewer buys the item, they send the seller a receipt, along with a photo of their review. The seller then sends a refund through PayPal. This ensures that the rating has a ‘verified purchase’ tag on Amazon, cementing its supposed authenticity. Some sellers pay an additional fee, between $2 and $15, on top of the refund.”

It might be of the digital age but this kind of fraud is remarkably analog in nature, which I’m sure only adds to the difficulty of dealing with such a phenomenon.

Then again, you know what would help? Not having user reviews. Just a thought.