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.”
The big deal: People of color are still disproportionately featured in Ring videos of “crimes,” and racist language on the Neighbors platform is commonplace. It’s also bad for the mental health of the people who own the devices because they contribute to an inaccurate perception that crime is more common than it actually is.
[Rani Molla / Recode]
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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.
- The breakdown: The percentage of women in leadership roles at the company grew from 20.9 percent to 28 percent in 2019. But compare that to Uber’s main competitor, Lyft, where women occupied 32.8 percent of leadership roles in 2018.
- Here’s how Uber’s diversity numbers compare to those at several other big tech companies in 2018.
[Sara Ashley O’Brien / CNN]
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.
This is significant because states’ stances on privacy regulation could be a roadmap for federal lawmakers looking to impose new rules.
[Reed Albergotti and Tony Romm / The Washington Post]
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