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Author: Julia Carrie Wong

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‘Americans have a fascination with fraudsters’: Alex Gibney on the fall of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes



The Oscar-winning director presents a sympathetic portrait of the Silicon Valley CEO who fooled the world into believing she had built a better blood test

We can’t get enough of Elizabeth Holmes. The founder and CEO of Theranos once captivated the imaginations of venture capitalists and magazine profile writers with her too-good-to-be-true tale of a revolutionary blood testing technology. Three years, numerous federal investigations, and eleven felony counts later, our appetite has shifted to devouring the tale of how Holmes fooled the world. The Silicon Valley morality tale – a true crime saga with a dash of Fyre Fest-schadenfreude and the added bonus of an icy blonde with a mysteriously deep voice – has thus far inspired a best-selling book, a popular podcast, and two documentaries, with a feature film and real-life criminal trial still to come.

One of the documentaries, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, debuts Monday on HBO. The film, by Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, presents a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of Holmes as a modern-day Thomas Edison-gone-wrong. The Wizard of Menlo Park, Gibney reminds us, was a master of “faking it until you make it” who raised money off a promise long before he figured out how to make the incandescent light bulb work. Of course, Edison eventually came through, while Holmes is facing up to 20 years in prison, and her company was forced to void tens of thousands of blood tests for patients in Arizona.

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Revealed: Facebook enables ads to target users interested in ‘vaccine controversies’



Social media platforms under pressure by US congressman to crack down on anti-vaccine propaganda, citing Guardian investigations

Facebook enables advertisers to promote content to nearly 900,000 people interested in “vaccine controversies”, the Guardian has found.

Other groups of people that advertisers can pay to reach on Facebook include those interested in “Dr Tenpenny on Vaccines”, which refers to anti-vaccine activist Sherri Tenpenny, and “informed consent”, which is language that anti-vaccine propagandists have adopted to fight vaccination laws.

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‘Overreacting to failure’: Facebook’s new Myanmar strategy baffles local activists



As Facebook tries to address its role in spreading hate speech, human rights experts criticize fresh ban of ethnic armed groups

Facebook banned four ethnic armed Myanmar-based groups from its site this week, in its latest effort to reckon with its role in the violence in that nation. But the tech giant’s decision is drawing criticism from local civil society and human rights groups who warn that the move appears ill-considered and inconsistent with international law.

On Tuesday, Facebook announced in a blogpost that it had designated four separatist groups – the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Kachin Independence Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army – as “dangerous organizations”.

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‘ZuckTalks’: Facebook founder’s 2019 personal challenge is to host public discussions



Last year he focused on ‘fixing’ Facebook. Now Mark Zuckerberg plans to host talks about technology’s future in society

He built one of the world’s most valuable companies, transformed the media and information landscape across the globe, upended elections, fueled ethnic violence, and helped your mom keep in touch with her high school classmates.

Now Mark Zuckerberg is taking on a new challenge: podcasting (basically).

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Facebook contractors faced Christmas ultimatum: accept wage offer or lose jobs



Dispute between subcontracting firm and workers demanding better conditions has prompted protest inside Facebook

After 20 Facebook subcontractors demanded better working conditions, they were told to accept a counter-offer from their company by Friday afternoon – or lose their jobs.

The labor dispute has prompted internal protest by some full-time Facebook employees (FTEs), who have been sharing updates on the situation on the company’s internal version of Facebook, known as Workplace, according to posts seen by the Guardian.

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Instagram: from Facebook’s ‘best hope’ to Russian propaganda campaign tool



The app was ‘perhaps the most effective platform’ for the Russian online propaganda campaign by the Internet Research Agency

This January, as Mark Zuckerberg was embarking on his quest to “fix” Facebook, one writer proposed a bold idea: make Facebook more like Instagram, “the Facebook-owned app that isn’t destabilizing society”. Instagram was no panacea, according to the New York Times tech columnist, but the downsides of the largely visual network – making “some of its users feel ugly and unpopular” – were insignificant compared to those of a highly politicized Facebook that could “undermine democracies and promote misinformation around the world”.

The idea that Instagram was a safe harbor for social media users in a sea of propaganda and political divisiveness caught on, both among users who didn’t realize the app was owned by scandal-ridden Facebook and with the tech press. An April Bloomberg Businessweek cover story framed Instagram as “Facebook’s best hope” and “Mark Zuckerberg’s way out of the latest data scandal”.

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‘Good for the world’? Facebook emails reveal what really drives the site



Analysis: documents show internal discussions focused on exploiting developers’ hunger for user data to increase revenue

The central mythos of Facebook is that what’s good for Facebook is good for the world. More sharing, more friends and more connection will “make the world more open and connected” and “bring the world closer together”, Mark Zuckerberg has argued, even as his company has been engulfed by scandal.

But confidential emails, released Wednesday by the British Parliament, reveal the hardheaded business calculations that lurked beneath the feel-good image projected by Zuckerberg and Facebook.

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What cities offered Amazon: helipads, zoo tickets, and a street named Alexa



Now that the home for its next headquarters has been chosen, losing cities are revealing how they tried to sweeten the deal

“Philadelphia is in the Goldilocks zone for Amazon – it possesses all of the key ingredients we looked for to support our long-term growth,” said Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon and richest man in the history of the world.

At least, that’s what the city of Philadelphia was hoping Bezos would say when officials included a draft press release announcing the city’s hypothetical victory in their bid to become the site of Amazon’s second headquarters.

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Lawsuit targets secrecy agreements surrounding Google’s new campus



Google’s plan to expand their campus into a new city has echoes of Amazon’s secretive year-long second headquarters process

Officials in San Jose, California, negotiating with Google over the tech company’s plan to build a massive new campus are improperly withholding documents, a lawsuit alleged on Tuesday.

The suit argues that non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) signed by San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo and as many as 18 city staffers at the request of Google were “illegal and invalid”. It seeks to force the city to turn over documents requested under California’s public records law.

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