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Recode Daily: More homes will have surveillance devices after this Amazon Prime Day

Plus: Uber is (finally) setting diversity goals for 2022. 

A Ring doorbell on the wall of a house’s front porch.
Prime Day sales of Ring doorbells could contribute to a rise in fear-based social media usage.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Guess what, Prime Day could contribute to a rise in fear-based social media usage. Amazon’s Ring video doorbell was one of the company’s best-sellers on the first day of its two-day Prime shopping fest, thanks to the steep discounts the e-commerce giant offered on Ring and other surveillance products. This year’s Ring push, similar to the company’s wildly successful campaigns to sell Alexa Echo devices in years past, could lead to a more widespread embrace of what Recode’s Rani Molla called “fear-based social media,” as more Americans install surveillance devices in their homes. Ring’s attendant app, Neighbors, lets people in a given community report crimes and share footage of those crimes (spoiler: it’s mainly of people stealing Amazon packages). As Molla writes, “in practice, that means a lot of reports of ‘suspicious’ brown people on porches and a general perception that the world is a scarier place than it is.”

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Uber is (finally) setting diversity goals for 2022. So we know it’s serious, the company is tying the goals to “the compensation of several of its senior executives,” according to CNN. Uber released its diversity report this week, and the company has work to do. White men made up 30.1 percent of its US workforce, and black women made up 5.3 percent, black men 4 percent, Hispanic women 3.7 percent, and Hispanic men 4.6 percent. Though these percentages are low, they are up slightly from last year. Uber’s corporate workforce (not including drivers, of course) grew from 18,000 to 26,000 this year.

Instacart’s app hounds workers when they don’t want to accept an order. Instacart’s “full-service shoppers” are reporting that when a gig comes up for them in the app, there is no way for them to decline the request. Instead, these workers say, they have to “mute their phone, close the app, or sit through about four minutes of that strange pinging, which many say sounds like a submarine’s sonar” to avoid a job for any number of reasons, but often because the gig doesn’t pay enough. On top of this, workers say they are penalized for declining gigs by getting barred from gaining “early access,” a system that surfaces better jobs. (Instacart told Bloomberg it doesn’t force anyone to take on unwanted tasks.)

  • Background: Instacart (which is eyeing an IPO) has faced several other controversies over worker pay practices. In 2017, the company paid $4.6 million to settle a lawsuit brought by workers who claimed they were wrongly classified as contractors. Under public pressure this year, the company also changed a controversial policy that used customers’ tips to cover its base pay minimum.
    [Josh Eidelson / Bloomberg]

Congress wants less talk and more action from Apple on privacy. Privacy advocates, along with lawmakers, say that Apple “has not put enough muscle behind any federal effort to tighten privacy laws” and is an “ally in name only,” according to the Washington Post. Though Apple CEO Tim Cook has been very vocal in advocating for federal privacy regulation, the company has not yet backed a bill. And in states that are introducing their own privacy legislation, like California, Washington, and Illinois, Apple has tried to discourage or “soften” the proposed privacy measures.

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Amazon workers are celebrating Prime Day with a protest. Amazon has to do more than pay a $15 minimum wage to keep workers happy.
[Emily Stewart]

This is Cool

Tonight: Elon Musk reveals his “brain-machine interface.”

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