Apple is Now a Proper Guardian of Valuable News and Our Privacy

Fake News - Pinocchio nose with "news"

The Particle Debris article of the week, from the New York Times, discuses fake news and how to stop it.

The subtitle reads: “Google and Facebook should be allies of quality journalism, not its gravest threat.”

Of couse, it’s just a pipedream. When great wealth is at stake, all other values pale in comparison.

Fake News - Pinocchio nose with "news"
Freedom is not free.

There was a time when news bandwidth was limited. Only the best journalists survived in local newspaper and TV news, and people paid for the only games in town to receive valuable news. But now that anyone can stir up a fuss with a free public voice, there’s big money to be made by treating the best and the worst on an equal basis.

NYT author David Chavern writes:

They [Google, Facebook] could start to address the problem by simply recognizing that The Miami Herald is a much better news source than Russian bots or Macedonian teenagers — and highlighting original, quality content accordingly.

But so long as readers and viewers fail to exert skepticism and judgment, the very worst news presentations will continue to earn big money. Apple is trying to address the problem with seasoned journalists and its curated News app—which you should support.

I think it has to do with the inability of many internet users to extrapolate from a current activity to a future threat. Call it internet savvy. That’s why, by the way, so many Facebook users are happy to spill their most personal information for the psychological benefits of Big Tech. Or a US$20 gift certificate. Facebook continues to thrive, immune from the lens of good judgment. See:

As we know from the flood of news this week about the stand Apple took against Facebook, Apple is also working to preserve our privacy.

Somewhere, somehow, young people need to learn about proper places to get their news and savvy, safe ways to conduct business on the internet. And pass on the rest. Genuine freedom is at stake.

Apple is taking the first steps to make us aware of these problems, but education also has to play a big role. Who’s doing that? Here’s one. If you are, I want to hear from you.

More Debris

• Speaking of the lack of internet savvy, we have this. “U.S. teen arrested after telling Siri he planned a school shooting.” At first, I thought perhaps Siri reported him. But no. The 13-year-old posted a screenshot. ::sigh::

How would we feel if Siri had reported him?

• At Medium , Lance Ulanoff looks at the history and evolution of Apple’s AirPods. “AirPods Are Now One of Apple’s Most Important Products.” This is a good read.

• It’s time for mobile, mechanical keyboards as we know them in the MacBook/Air/Pro family to finally come to an end. But nothing as drastic as the virtual keyboards on iPad displays. No, we need something a whole lot smarter and robust. Here’s the story on an Apple patent. “MacBook keyboard failures could end with introduction of glass panel keyboards.

Apple store in China, staircase.
Image credit: Apple

• Finally, Apple retail stores are revered for their architecture. Here’s a great visual tour of the best. “The 15 coolest Apple stores in the world, from New York’s Grand Central Station to London’s Regent Street.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

8 thoughts on “Apple is Now a Proper Guardian of Valuable News and Our Privacy

  • John:

    The David Chavern piece makes a number of very good points about the value of good journalism, and the potential symbiosis between the two surveillance tech giants and modern journalism, however for this to be realised, FB and Google would first require two corporate assets: first to value journalism as a function of their business model; second, to genuinely adopt social responsibility as a corporate value, and view bettering society (local, national, global) as an explicit core objective. Based on past and current behaviour, it appears that corporate profit, in an atmosphere of intense competition for ad revenue, is a siren call that neither of these companies, let alone a plethora of smaller companies that have adopted that same surveillance model, have demonstrated an ability to resist. Attempts at tacking away from rocky shoals that will beach both industry and client alike appear half hearted and token, if not too little too late.

    Industry that relies on what has become dubbed ‘surveillance capitalism’, profiting from trading in user data, has thus far survived in a largely non-existent regulatory environment. No other industry that assumes, and is entrusted with, responsibility for the safety, welfare and even lives of the public is permitted to discharge that responsibility and trust in any manner they choose, with no oversight. Whether transportation, food, medicine, law enforcement, or a host of industries that generate industrial waste, to name but a few, all operate under strict regulation and guidelines, as well as monitoring and penalties for violation. This is not simply a model that works, but has become essential in curbing abuse and ensuring safety, limitations and notable failures notwithstanding. The stakes have become too high, and the serial violations have become too numerous, particularly from FB, for surveillance tech companies, and indeed any company that requires or requests user data, to go unregulated and unaccountable. There must be standards for how data are protected, as well as clear parameters set on terms of use, to protect public and societal safety.

    Regarding Chavern’s NYT analysis about news consumptions patterns, and your point about a generation’s ability to extrapolate to future threats, there seem to be both new patterns of consumption and a different threat calculus for Millennials (certainly for my own ‘kids’). I’ve noted not simply an intolerance to entertaining alternative viewpoints and a tendency towards information safe zones and silos, but an acquiescence to the notion that personal information and data are already compromised, it’s simply a matter of degree and by whom. The notion of privacy and security is fundamentally different from that of their parents, and it’s not clear whether these two will ever converge. This may be what we call in epidemiology a secular trend, a population transition or shift, in behaviour and other indicators. In such a generational environment of general personal information exposure, the definitions of compromise may have already irreparably changed. This is akin to a population with widespread infectious disease and high mortality, in which the definition of ill health is markedly different from that of an affluent society, as is their tolerance for disease burden and death. If this is true, then a course correction will require a massive inertial change over at least another generation. Time will tell.

    As for the glass panel Mac keyboard, this was what I was arguing for some time ago with a ‘configurable’ keyboard, of which the Touchbar might be an embryonic expression. Having a glass panel which the user can configure for different use cases, and which, mediated by A.I., can adapt in real-time to the user’s work patterns, would be a paradigm shift in the legacy PC, and give it renewed life relative to the touch screen computer (eg iPads, iPhones).

    Very thought-provoking reads this week.

    Duty calls.

  • Apple puts up a good front on privacy issues which is good of course, but as we see they are no better than their code writers and those that should be paid to hack them – the iCloud has been hacked leaking your IP addresses; this Facetime debacle and so on. It can and does happen to a lot of companies that depend on psychedelically complex code – which of course paradoxically makes it more vulnerable to exploits. Was reading that 80% of the Chinese approve or like the social credit system they use now – forcing people to”behave” because they are basically on camera if in public. The sacrifice of “privacy” ‘they’ say is worth the feeling of safety from any crime/accident that may hit you in public. If you jaywalk – the “price” would be you don’t get a perk you’d normally get – a choice airline ticket or restaurant seat.

  • Yes I’ve told people over and over, find a news source you trust, and ignore everyone else. For me it’s the BBC and CBC. Everyone else is noise.
    Siri actually reporting something like that would be…disturbing. As error prone as all AIs are I’d hate to think someone could end up with a mark on their record because an AI misunderstood a conversation about bridge (“I am GOING to get that trump”), or from a school nurse, (Right, shots at the school today”)
    It would be a bit creepy.

  • I’m going to have to stop visiting Mac Observer if you continue using light gray text on a white background. Hard to read, causes eye strain, and it’s REALLY stupid from a design standpoint.

    1. Good point, @palmac. As soon as I saw your comment I realized, “I agree! Let’s fix this.”

      We’ve adjusted the text color(s) here on TMO and I think we’re in a much better place right now.

      Thanks so much!

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