Good Monday Morning

It’s November 6th. Tomorrow is Election Day. All politics are local and likely affect your day-to-day life more than national elections. has a sample ballot and directions to your polling place. Please vote.

Today’s Spotlight is 731 words — about 3 minutes to read.

Headlines to Know

  • EU regulators extended a ban on Facebook and Instagram’s targeted advertising across Europe after privacy compliance failures.
  • Uber and Lyft agreed to pay $328 million in New York’s largest wage-theft case, compensating drivers who were cheated out of earnings and benefits.
  • Google introduced a new ‘small business’ label on Search and Maps to help shoppers connect with local businesses, and will also include AI-driven product images and enhanced business panels.

Spotlight on Short Video’s Social Shakeup

Who’s Who:  TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram dominate the social video landscape. Each is vying for a bigger slice of the daily screen time pie and (more importantly) revenue.

TikTok’s consideration of grocery sales signals a shift from mere content to comprehensive user utility.

YouTube countered with an aggressive stance against ad blockers, indirectly reinforcing its ad-revenue model.

Instagram is increasing Reels’ time limits and tightening the linkage it has to Threads and Facebook.

Screen Time Tug-of-War: They’re not just battling for views; they’re wrestling to become the go-to app for both creators and consumers. TikTok’s engagement rates and cultural impact are potent, but YouTube’s expansive content and Google-backed infrastructure present a formidable challenge. Instagram, with its Facebook lineage, isn’t far behind either. 

Converging Course: The overarching theme? Each platform is evolving beyond its original form. Short-form video is just the hook; the goal is a seamless integration of content, commerce, and technology to lock users into their ecosystems, blurring lines between social media, retail, and entertainment.

Strategic Stakes: It’s a high-stakes game where the prize is user dependency. As they encroach on each other’s turf, the question looms—will users prefer a jack-of-all-trades app, or will the dilution of their core features backfire? The answer lies in how effectively each can integrate new services without diluting their brand essence.

Practical AI

Quotable“A poll should not have appeared alongside an article of this nature, and we are taking steps to help prevent this kind of error from reoccurring in the future.”

— Microsoft’s statement following an AI generated poll that asked news readers to surmise about the cause of a woman’s death reported in an adjacent article.

Biden Signs AI Order: The executive order mandates that AI platform developers report on safety testing via a standardized “red-teaming” process.

 Tool of the Week: Glaze (and soon to be released Nightshade) help protect visual artists’ work by subtly altering the machine readable sections to stop derivations. 

Did That Really Happen — No, IRS Cuts Don’t Offset Israeli Aid

Despite claims in viral social media memes, a bill that proposes exchanging $14.3 billion in Israeli military aid in place of an equivalent amount in IRS funding is wrong. Multiple economics experts say that taxpayers could lose upward of $30 billion in the swap because the IRS funds are earmarked to chase tax cheats and close loopholes.

Following Up — Spotify to Exclude Most Songs from Royalties

We previously wrote at length about the illusion of ownership and how the modern internet has upended traditional artist payouts. Now, despite increasing subscription prices, Spotify’s proposed 2024 royalties will exclude songs with fewer than 1,000 streams each year. This move would hurt independent artists and do little to stop what critics claim is rampant fraud.

Screening Room — Travolta’s Holiday Night Fever for Capital One

The minute long spot Includes the Bee Gees hit & ’77 movie actress Donna Pescow in a cameo.

Science Fiction World — Google Does Your Math Homework Now

Google can now show students step-by-step instructions for solving math problems that include trigonometry and calculus. The company claims that it can even handle word problems in physics. 

Coffee Break — The Invisible Epidemic

Data scientists at The Pudding have brought stunning visuals to the information collected in the American Time Use Survey. One conclusion: everyone’s different, but social interactivity continues to decrease.

Sign of the Times

Good Monday Morning

It’s October 30th. Happy Halloween tomorrow with a comforting note: researchers cannot find any instances of children ever being seriously harmed or killed by doctored trick-or-treat candy. 

Today’s Spotlight is 839 words — about 3 minutes to read.

Headlines to Know

  • California authorities suspended Cruise’s robotaxi permits following an incident involving one of its driverless vehicles. 
  • Elon Musk boorishly trolled Wikipedia during its annual fundraising campaign by offering to make a $1 billion donation if the company changed the service’s name to Dickipedia. Separately, Fidelity further wrote down the value of its holdings in Musk’s X and has now devalued the original investment by 65% in under 1 year. 
  • Google announced eight measures to bolster daily task accessibility, with significant emphasis on voice control and customizable settings for individual functional needs.

Spotlight on Meta Sued Over Kids’ Health

Forty-one states and the District of Columbia filed suit against Meta, alleging that the mental health of children is harmed by addictive features such as harvesting personal data about children and creating tactics designed to keep them online longer that are built into the systems.

This legal challenge highlights the culmination of growing concerns surrounding Meta’s child-centric offerings like Messenger Kids and the proposed Instagram for Kids, programs that drew strong opposition from psychologists and other experts, who urged Meta to abandon them.

Documents provided by corporate whistleblower Frances Haugen in 2021 led to bipartisan outrage in Congress and days of headlines, illuminating Meta’s internal deliberations on their findings regarding children’s mental health impacts. The scrutiny, intensified by Haugen’s revelations and the planned services for children under the age of 13, eventually derailed those plans.

One damning internal slide read, “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.”

As this blockbuster case unfolds over the coming months, Meta is sure to face withering criticism over more than 5 years of negative headlines related to privacy and child safety. Repercussions or scrutiny will also undoubtedly extend to other popular networks among children, including YouTube, Snap, and TikTok. T

Practical AI

Quotable“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear. It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a genuine Beatles recording.”

— Paul McCartney, in a statement describing “Now and Then”, a song to be released this week after AI correction allowed producers to use long obscured vocals.

Google Bets On Anthropic:  Following Microsoft’s $10 billion investment in ChatGPT maker Open AI, Google announced a $2 billion investment in competitor Anthropic.

 Tool of the Week: Canva’s new Magic Studio does all sorts of nifty tricks, including translation, repurposing past creative, text-to-video, and lasso-style tools. 

Did That Really Happen — People Are Not Flying to Austria Instead of Australia 

A funny viral meme claimed that a special counter at Salzburg, Austria’s airport reroutes 100 passengers each year who meant to fly to Australia.  It may well happen, but the Washington Post confirmed the numbers are not tracked nor is there such a counter.

Following Up — MGM’s Costly Hack 

MGM Resorts said that the computer intrusion it suffered after a help desk employee inadvertently allowed a non-employee network access will cost the company $100 million in lost profit.

Protip — Going Off Grid with a Phone

The Markup has created an easy-to-use guide that shows how to use a cell phone and remain off-grid. Caveat: it’s not just burner phones or one time so you have to seriously want to do this. But it’s a great thought experiment read too.

Screening Room — De Niro & Butterfield for Uber One

Science Fiction World — Space Pollution Fine

The FCC has fined Dish Network $150,000 for failing to move its now defunct EchoStar-7 satellite away from other operational satellites. It’s the first time that the agency has enforced regulatory authority in space.

Coffee Break — The Headline Clock

Check out this whimsical clock where each new minute is displayed using clickable headlines from today’s news stories in a playful blend of words and numbers.

Sign of the Times

Good Monday Morning

It’s September 25th. Spotlight is off next week and back with you on October 9th.

Today’s Spotlight is 892 words — about 3 1/2 minutes to read.

3 Stories to Know

1. Wirecutter revoked its endorsement of Wyze security cameras after a breach allowed some users to access live video from other users’ cameras. The NYT feature criticized Wyze’s communications and security measures, urging the company to be proactive, accountable, and transparent.

2. Meta will allow Facebook users to create up to four additional personal profiles, embracing the “finsta” concept. Aimed at separating personal and professional lives, these extra profiles come with limitations, including no support for Messenger, Facebook Dating, or Marketplace.

3. Amid ongoing scrutiny for throttling competitor links, X — formerly Twitter — faces further turbulence as Elon Musk announced plans for a “small monthly payment” to combat bots. X is taking up to 100 times longer to load links to competitors such as Facebook and Substack, according to an analysis by The Markup.

Spotlight on The Illusion of Ownership

Think you own that eBook? Think again.

In a digital world, ownership and licensing blur; from Amazon’s ads to George R.R. Martin’s lawsuit against OpenAI, buckle up as we explore the shifting landscape.


  • Ads in Amazon Prime Video: Settling in for movie night? Expect ads in your ‘ad-free’ Amazon Prime Video next year. Still feel like you own that movie?
  • E-Books That Change: Hitting “buy” often means renting. Your e-books can be edited or vanish without notice.
  • Authors vs. AI: George R.R. Martin and other authors are suing ChatGPT maker OpenAI for using their work without permission. Critical: Who owns the AI-generated content?
  • Movies That Disappear: Ever lose an ‘owned‘ digital movie? Platforms can lose licensing rights, and your copy can vanish. Refunds aren’t guaranteed.

What we think of as “ownership” is often just a changeable lease, but artists, writers, and musicians are taking matters into their own hands.

  • High-Profile Cases: Author George R.R. Martin isn’t only dealing with the Iron Throne; he’s also in a legal fight with OpenAI over the use of his work to train its large language models. He’s not alone; creators are suing tech companies for using their work without permission.
  • Hollywood Writers’ Strike: Writers have been on strike for 5 months, demanding fair streaming revenue and protection against AI job loss.

Lawsuits and strikes could change the game. Imagine a future where your favorite author’s new book isn’t online due to a legal dispute, or your curated music playlist vanishes. These battles impact what you can and can’t do with content you think you own.

In a world where digital ‘ownership’ is an illusion, stay informed and question what you’re really getting when you press ‘buy.’ The landscape is shifting — stay vigilant.

Practical AI

Quotable“I think we’re still a way away from: ‘ChatGPT, please write a Wikipedia entry about the Empire State Building’, but I don’t know how far away we are from that, certainly closer than I would have thought two years ago,”

—Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to The Evening Standard

Indeed on Job Futures: Indeed’s “AI at Work Report” finds that GenAI will impact nearly every U.S. job, with software development roles most vulnerable and driving jobs least exposed. The report analyzed 55 million job postings to assess the reach of GenAI. 

Tool of the Week: YouTube is rolling out new tools that include an AI-generated image or video background tool for YouTube Shorts, a mobile editing app, and an automatic dubbing tool to create content in multiple languages.\

 Did That Really Happen — Immigrants Pay Taxes, Rent

AP Fact Check debunks new viral claims on Instagram and X that immigrants in the U.S. don’t pay taxes or rent, clarifying that many immigrants, including those undocumented, contribute to tax revenue and pay for housing. 

Also an issue: claims of 18 million unauthorized immigrants when experts put the actual number 40% lower.

Following Up — Passkeys Spread

1Password is rolling out passkey support for its web browser extension, enhancing security features we’ve previously covered. The update allows users to generate unique, secure keys for each site, improving overall account safety. Those passkeys can be accessed by PIN, fingerprint, or face scan — removing the need for passwords.

Protip — Transfer to an iPhone 15

CNET offers a step-by-step guide on transferring your data to Apple’s new iPhone 15. The article covers everything from iCloud backups to direct device-to-device transfers.

Screening Room — Father Knows Best-ish

Science Fiction World — Make All the Lights

An Audi technology known as Traffic Light Information advises drivers on the optimal speed to hit all green lights. The Autopian wonders why this feature isn’t more widely discussed, given its potential to improve driving efficiency. Wouldn’t you drive a certain speed to miss red lights?

Coffee Break — Hidden Spotify Game

Spotify’s mobile app has a hidden snake game. The Easter egg is called “Eat this Playlist,” and the game includes cover art from your playlist’s tracks.

Sign of the Times