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Recode Daily: Two organizers of the Google walkout say they are facing retaliation

Plus: When Sri Lanka shut down social media sites, Kara Swisher’s first thought was, “Good”; and Apple and Amazon have a particularly intimate business relationship.

Meredith Whittaker onstage with Kara Swisher in Washington, DC.
Meredith Whittaker onstage with Kara Swisher in Washington, DC.
Kenny Bundy for Vox Media

Two organizers of the Google walkout say they are being retaliated against for their involvement in organizing thousands. The two Google employees are planning to hold a “town hall” to discuss alleged instances of retaliation by the company. Wired reports that Meredith Whittaker, the head of Google’s Open Research, said that “after Google disbanded its external AI ethics council on April 4, she was told that her role would be ‘changed dramatically’” and that to stay employed at Google she would have to stop her AI ethics work and leave her role at AI Now Institute, a research center she cofounded at New York University. Another Google employee, Claire Stapleton, says that months after the protest she was demoted from her role at YouTube. The two are part of a group of seven employees who helped organize the mass walkout from Google over the company’s mishandling of sexual harassment claims. Kara Swisher recently interviewed Whittaker at a Recode Decode live event on her work in AI ethics in March.
[Nitasha Tiku / Wired]

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Apple and Amazon have a particularly intimate business relationship, even as they vie for the biggest share of consumer dollars. As CNBC reports, “Apple is spending more than $30 million a month on Amazon’s cloud.” Apple’s reliance on cloud infrastructure — particularly for online services like iCloud — means it has little choice but to shell out tens of millions of dollars a month to a rival. As Recode has previously reported, Apple is focused on beefing up online services, particularly streaming content, as iPhone sales slow. In May, the company’s earnings report touted “strong momentum” of its services business, including iTunes and Apple Music, the App Store, iCloud, and Apple Pay, as the company tries to gain market share from streaming competitors.
[Jordan Novet / CNBC]

When Sri Lanka shut down social media sites, Kara Swisher’s first thought was, “Good.” Swisher makes the argument in her recent column for the New York Times that “this is the ugly conundrum of the digital age: When you traffic in outrage, you get death.” When those who run the social media giants “seem incapable of controlling the powerful global tools they have built,” there’s little option but to cut the cord in order to save lives. She notes that “as a tech journalist, I’m ashamed to admit it. But this is how bad the situation has gotten.” Swisher ends her column writing that though she supports the move, shutting down social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in times of crisis ultimately isn’t going to work.
[Kara Swisher / The New York Times]

Incels: How a support group for the dateless became one of the internet’s most dangerous subcultures. One year ago, a self-described “incel” drove a van into a group of pedestrians in Toronto as part of a “war” against the society that he felt had deprived him of sex. After the attack, Vox’s Zack Beauchamp spent months speaking with incels and reading online forums to investigate what this community believes — and what kind of danger it poses. The “incel,” or involuntarily celibate, community began as an open-minded support group for men and women with dating troubles — one where people could make virtual friends, commiserate, or work to overcome shyness in the real world. But over the past two decades, it’s devolved into a breeding ground for unbridled, misogynistic rage. The internet has allowed the ideas and mindsets that spurred online movements like Gamergate in 2014 and online-turned-irl movements like 2017’s “Unite the Right” to spread to and mutate with unprecedented speed.
[Zack Beauchamp / Vox]

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