Weekly Roundup 12.17.2020

Posted in Newsletters

Hope finals went well for everyone! In our last roundup of the semester, highlights include more antitrust trouble for Google, influencers promoting the COVID-19 vaccine, and of course, data visualization: 


Google’s Legal Peril Grows in Face of Third Antitrust Suit: In more bad news for Google, over 30 states have signed on to an antitrust suit arguing that Google search downplayed other websites that let users search for specialized items or services. Maybe Google can learn some lessons from Microsoft.


How influencers are being recruited to promote the Covid-19 vaccine: Groups like the World Health Organization, the Ad Council, and the United Kingdom’s National Health Service are preparing for a massive campaign to encourage vaccination, and influencers are being recruited to help.

A.A. to Zoom, Substance Abuse Treatment Goes Online: Like most other things in the world, substance abuse treatment programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) had to move online during the pandemic. The convenience of finding a meeting 24/7, without having to travel, may make online meetings permanent. 

We Asked an Influencer, Yoga Teacher, and Vanlifers Whether Their Pandemic Pivots Worked: The Verge’s Ashley Carman checks in with different groups trying to make fitness classes, religious services and instagram influencing work during the pandemic. The answer? Some are more successful than others. 


How hackers, probably Russian, infiltrated the federal government: It looks like the Commerce Department, the Treasury and State Departments, and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Pentagon and the National Institutes of Health were part of the attack. Here’s what we know so far about the largest hack of government systems since the Obama Administration. For more information, check read here.


In 2021, We Really Need to Fix America’s Internet: As many as one in three US households don’t have broadband internet access, but that’s only part of the problem. If 2020 showed us anything, it’s that we all need reliable, affordable access to broadband. 

Silicon Valley

Facebook Takes the Gloves Off in Feud With Apple: Apple plans to start requiring iPhone users to choose to allow companies to track them through Apps. This is bad for Facebook, since the social network uses information gained from their apps to create targeted ads. Facebook has responded by offering to provide information for an antitrust lawsuit against Apple filed by Epic Games. 

Facebook Is a Doomsday Machine: “Today’s fatalism about the brokenness of the internet feels similar. We’re still in the infancy of this century’s triple digital revolution of the internet, smartphones, and the social web, and we find ourselves in a dangerous and unstable informational environment, powerless to resist forces of manipulation and exploitation that we know are exerted on us but remain mostly invisible. The Doomsday Machine offers a lesson: We should not accept this current arrangement. No single machine should be able to control so many people.”

In Other News

Discoveries That Really, Really Seemed Like Aliens: Just a nice listicle about things that really, really seemed like aliens, but probably weren’t (or were they?). 

2020 in 20 charts:  Charts! Everybody loves ‘em. Here’s 20 that sum up this past year.