What’s new in tech
Why Twitter tolerates neo-Nazis
Fear of a political backlash is stopping Twitter from banning white supremacists, said Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler in Vice.com. The platform has had huge success identifying and removing ISIS propaganda, using algorithms similar to those it deploys to detect spam or child pornography. Civil rights groups have questioned why the company won’t use the same tools to banish white supremacist material. Internal company discussions suggest Twitter fears that in such a crackdown, “content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms.” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), for example, has retweeted white nationalists on numerous occasions. Any move seen as being anti-GOP could trigger blowback for Twitter, which has been criticized by President Trump and other top Republicans for having an “anti-conservative bias.”
WHO cuts screen time for kids
Children ages 2 to 4 should get no more than one hour of sedentary screen time a day, said Emily Rueb in The New York Times. That is the latest recommendation from the World Health Organization, which also says that kids under 1 should not be exposed to electronic screens at all. The guidelines are stricter than those set by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which “recommended no screen time other than video-chatting for children under 18 months.” The impact of screen time on brain development is still unclear; the WHO’s recommendations are intended to combat obesity by reducing the time kids sit in front of a screen. “This is about making the shift from sedentary time to playtime,” said Juana Willumsen, a WHO childhood obesity expert.
Amazon’s firing spree
Amazon fired 10 percent of workers at a single warehouse—some 300 employees—in one year, for failing to meet productivity quotas, said Colin Lecher in TheVerge.com. The company uses an automated system to monitor the 125,000 full-time employees at the Baltimore fulfilment center, one of 75 facilities nationwide where customer orders are packaged and shipped. The system tracks “time off task,” so if a worker breaks from duties for too long, “the system automatically generates warnings, and eventually, the employee can be fired.” Amazon says supervisors can override the system, but some warehouse employees argue they are “treated like robots” and “avoid bathroom breaks to keep their time in line with expectations.”