- Today ridesharing drivers in cities around the world are striking to demand a livable income among other things.
- The strike comes just days before Uber’s public trading debut on the stock market at the end of the week.
- The company is expected to be valued as high as $91 billion.
In cities around the world, rideshare drivers are choosing not to work for apps like Uber and Lyft to protest the companies low wages.
In cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Melbourne, and London, drivers are striking from anywhere between 2 and 24-hours in an effort to send a message to companies like Uber and Lyft. While these companies bill themselves as a good opportunity for people to earn a little extra cash, drivers are saying that it has been taking more and more hours of work to make a livable income.
Awesome work to the drivers & riders logging off to strike today for fair work + pay.— 💧Pat Simons (@prrsimons) May 8, 2019
We're chanting "Uber uber you must listen we will break your algorithm!" #uberstrike #Melbourne pic.twitter.com/Bms7CglCTE
Right now ridesharing drivers are considered independent contractors, which means more flexibility, but also no sick days or minimum wage requirements. Some drivers are looking to change this especially after drivers have seen a dip in earnings in recent months, like in Los Angeles where drivers saw a 25 percent rate cut in March.
“Most of drivers living in San Francisco are forced to work at least 70-80 hours a week in order to survive in the city. Living expenses increase, gas prices increase, food expenses increase, everything is getting more expensive in order to live in San Francisco,” Mostafa Maklad, an Uber driver and organizer, told Gizmodo.
“We have to drive more and more, deal with health and stress problems, but Uber doesn’t care. What uber is doing is decreasing pay to drivers.”
According to Rideshare Drivers United, an unofficial advocacy group that organized the strike in L.A., drivers are demanding: a 10 percent commission cap, a rideshare vehicle cap, an elected driver-representative at each rideshare company, and want the app to show the estimated fare and destination of a ride before drivers accept the job. Drivers also want an hourly minimum wage of $27.86 before expenses among other things.
Uber said in a statement on Tuesday that they are focused on improving drivers’ experience, saying, “Whether it’s more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections or fully-funded four-year degrees for drivers or their families, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers.”
Meanwhile, Lyft said in a statement that their drivers have seen increased earnings and claimed that 75 percent of their drivers only use the app for 10 hours a week to supplement their existing jobs.
This strike comes before Uber’s public trading debut on the stock market set for this Friday, where the company expects to be valued as high as $91 billion.
The estimate is expected despite last years reports that said the company lost an average of 58 cents per ride. However, showing losses before going public is not uncommon for tech companies. It took Amazon years after its first public offering to become profitable.
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Fox News) (CNN)
The Boeing MAX 8 Scandal & Controversy Explained!
When Boeing first introduced the 737 MAX 8, the new plane was supposed to help usher in a new generation of commercial aircraft. Then two MAX 8’s crashed within five months of each other, killing a total of 346 people.
Since then, the controversy around Boeing has kept growing and growing as numerous investigations revealed a number of highly questionable and even negligent business and regulatory practices that ultimately led to the crashes.
Even now, more than a year after the first crash, Boeing is still in the news and under the microscope as it struggles to keep up appearances.
Facebook to Pay $550 Million to Settle Facial Recognition Suit
- Facebook agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit in Illinois that claimed its “Tag Suggestions” feature illegally harvested facial data from millions of users in Illinois without their permission.
- Facebook disclosed the settlement while also announcing it made $21 billion last quarter.
- Some championed the settlement as a victory for consumer privacy rights.
- Others argued that no matter how much Facebook pays in lawsuits and settlements, the company has continued to grow and has not fundamentally changed its business practices.
Facebook Announces Settlement
Facebook announced Wednesday that it had agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit involving facial recognition technology.
The lawsuit was filed in Illinois in 2015 and claimed that Facebook’s “Tag Suggestions” feature violated the state’s 2008 Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
The “Tag Suggestion” tool uses facial recognition software to scan users’ faces and then suggest the names of other users who might be in the picture.
The lawsuit alleged that Facebook used it to illegally harvest facial data from millions of users in Illinois without their permission or without telling them how the data was kept.
Illinois is one of three states that has its own biometric privacy laws, and BIPA is arguably the strongest of all three.
Under BIPA, companies that collect biometric data, which includes data from finger, face, and iris scans, must get prior consent from consumers and detail how the data will be used and how long the company will keep it. BIPA also allows private citizens to sue.
The lawsuit accused Facebook of failing to comply with those restrictions.
Facebook, for its part, argued that the people who it collected data from without consent could not prove that they experienced any concrete harm, like financial losses. However, the company still ultimately decided to settle.
Once the federal judge overseeing the case approves the settlement, people eligible to claim money are expected to receive a couple hundred dollars.
Other Settlements & Controversies
Many privacy experts and advocates applauded the settlement and said it was a victory for consumer privacy rights.
But others argued that the settlement does not really change anything, because it is not a big deal for Facebook. While $550 million might seem like a lot, for Facebook, its basically pocket change.
Even the way Facebook announced the settlement seemed to emphasize that point. The tech giant disclosed the settlement while announcing its financial results for 2019, reporting that revenue rose 25% to $21 billion in the last quarter alone.
Not only did that indicate how minor the Illinois settlement was for the company financially, it also showcased their incredible ability to weather scandals and controversy.
Over the last few years, Facebook has received a lot of backlash, largely over privacy concerns and the spread of misinformation on the platform.
Most recently Facebook has been under fire for its decision to essentially let politicians lie in political ads.
In July, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Facebook $5 billion over privacy violations— the largest fine the FTC has ever imposed on a tech company by far.
Facebook’s Continued Growth
But even in the face of massive financial costs and prominent controversies, Facebook still continues to grow.
In an article published by Axios, writer Sara Fischer described Facebook’s ability for continued growth despite those obstacles.
“Facebook closed out the second decade of the millennium stronger than ever,” she wrote. “Facebook’s continued ability to post double-digit revenue growth every year speaks to how well it has been able to innovate and adapt, even in the face of regulatory headwinds and increased competition.”
Fischer gave the example of North America and Europe where Facebook has gotten more money per user each year despite the fact that its user growth in those regions has stayed relatively stagnant.
She also mentioned the Illinois case, FTC fine, and other growing concerns over privacy and advertizing Facebook has warned its investors about.
“So far these fines have proven moot in getting the tech giant to fundamentally change its business, which continues to grow substantially,” she said.
While Facebook did agree to be more transparent about how it uses facial recognition technology as part of the FTC settlement, many are skeptical that the Illinois case will bring about any substantive change.
However, in an investor call following the release of Facebook’s earnings report Wednesday, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said that he wanted to be more transparent about the company’s values.
“One critique of our approach for much of the last decade is that because we wanted to be liked, we didn’t want to communicate our views as clearly, because we worried about offending people,” he said.
“Our goal for the next decade isn’t to be liked, but understood. In order to be trusted, people need to know what we stand for.”
See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Verge) (The New York Times)
New 2020 Emoji Include Transgender Flag and More Gender-Inclusive Options
- Over 100 new emoji were revealed on Wednesday, set to be released sometime in 2020.
- The new additions will consist of 62 brand-new emoji as well as 55 gender and skin-tone variants.
- The transgender flag, a woman in a tuxedo, and a more gender-inclusive alternative to Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be among the new options.
- Other emoji introduced include boba tea, a dodo bird, a smiley face with a tear, and an anatomical heart.
More than 100 new emoji will be available for mobile phone users this year, providing both fun new icons as well as more inclusive and diverse options.
The list was unveiled on Wednesday by the Unicode Consortium, an organization devoted to developing and maintaining software internalization standards and data.
There will be 62 brand-new emoji as well as 55 gender and skin-tone variants, reflecting a push toward a more inclusive collection. Among the new icons will be the transgender symbol as well as the transgender pride flag, an idea proposed by advocates and artists with the help of Google and Microsoft.
Along this same vein, more gender-inclusive options will be seen with this new wave. Both a woman and a non-binary figure in a tuxedo will soon be available, as well as a man and a non-binary figure in a wedding veil.
To complement the already-existing Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus options, a more gender-inclusive alternative will be included as well — under the name of Mx. Claus.
There will also be new emoji depicting parents feeding a baby.
Other new emoji include a smiley face with a tear, two figures hugging, boba tea, and an anatomical heart. The animal section is getting a boost too, as a beaver, a seal, a polar bear, and even a dodo bird will be introduced.
The release date of the new emoji depends on each individual vendor, but Unicode Consortium noted that typically the new icons are rolled out in the fall.
Praise for New Emoji
After the new additions were revealed, many took to Twitter to express their joy about the more inclusive options.
“Incredible power in the new 2020 emojis,” one person wrote.