a fish tube called fear

Jeff Bezos Cheeto Fingers

Meatspace is Lora and Sarah’s weekly digest of weird/wack/need-to-know tech news — and our warm takes on all of it.

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Dear friends,

Tysm to everyone who completed our survey last week!! We appreciate u and all of ur v helpful feedback!! 

Feedback we are more skeptical of is that of Amazon FC [fulfillment center] ambassadors. Their Twitter accounts, which first showed up in 2018 and popped off again this week, feature Real People praising Amazon for being a positive, well-air-conditioned, not-grueling work environment, they promise! Every once in a while, a new ambassador takes over the account, changes the display name, and says things like “my depression is my fault, not Amazon’s.”

They swear they’re not bots, and there’s no evidence that they are actually bots -- a lot of companies use “employee advocates” to do their PR as Jonah Engel Bromwich explains in the Times -- but they sound a lot like bots! It’s honestly hard to tell which are parody and which are real because…..the truth is so absurd!

This reminded us a lot of the pro-Amazon Quillette piece written by a mysterious Amazon warehouse worker/freelance writer, who said that on Prime Day he was given a pancake breakfast during his 10-minute break and was encouraged to “chant Prime Day slogans during our morning stretch.” 

Finger-lickin good content!!! (Note JB was still wearing the ring when this was taken)

While we were distracted by all this cheeto dust/gaslighting, Amazon was growing their empire into an alcohol business in california, quietly opening an SF store (they already had one in LA!) so that they could technically comply with the CA law that you must have a brick and mortar store to deliver bevs. Hopefully they will not sell 4loko seltzer, which has 14% ABV. Alarming!

And they were also training their Rekognition technology to detect...as they peppily announced in this press release….fear. 

Wonder if u can detect fear through new snapchat steampunk spectacles lol

INSECURE

Apparently the NSA probably uses Slack but they won’t say why and they won’t tell anyone what their network is called! We are dying to know so that we can send :face_with_cowboy_hat: emojis to them all :(

In other non-state-regulated surveillance news, it appears that Facebook paid contactors to transcribe user audio (Facebook’s fault not the contractors, who apparently didn’t rly realize that this what they were doing!)

Sydney Fussell reminds us that this is just how voice assistants work... someone is going to be collecting and listening.

Relatedly, Microsoft admitted that humans were able to listen to audio from its virtual assistant Cortana, too. Team Cortana is, unfortunately/apparently not a good place to be a contractor. Much like Amazon, it would seem, despite aforementioned tweets to the contrary.

Everyone is scaling back tho… Uber is planning on saving $200,000 annually by not getting all of its employees balloons on their bdays. There is also a helium shortage! Uber will give out stickers instead.

TUMBLDRY ONLY

Verizon sold Tumblr to Wordpress this week for a reported sum of less ~$3 million. Or, as many on twitter have gleefully pointed out, less than the price of a single family home in SF/other expensive urban centers, which...we will not even get into rn!

While we personally would be pleased to be given three million dollars, the price was perceived as underwhelming, largely because Tumblr fetched a price of one billion dollars when last it was sold to Yahoo (which is now owned by verizon). :o (Meanwhile, the Museum of Ice Cream was valued at $200 million! Perhaps bc of its universality -- as founder + CEO told the WSJ, “[ice cream] doesn’t see gender, it doesn’t see religion.”)

U may recall (from previous Meatspaces or otherwise) that Tumblr banned adult content late last year, in a move that disturbed some advocates of non-normative, sex worker, and LGBTQ friendly sexual spaces online. 

The nipple shortage was def not the sole reason for Tumblr’s decline, even tho The Verge and others linked it to a nosedive in pageviews this year. Tumblr has been in trouble for a while: so much so that Intelligencer published a piece in December about how Tumblr’s long slow death was something of a meme

Speaking of memes, we learned this week that: “The fish tube is more than a meme. It could help save ecosystems.

h/t david a:

4CHAN

While we will not baselessly promote conspiracies WE CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT how jeffrey epstein died. The guards FELL ASLEEP! There were BROKEN BONES in his NECK! (which Armie Hammer weirdly tweeted about.) Sry we’re just really worked up about this, and dissapointed that his alleged victims may find it harder to find closure and justice in the wake of his suicide.

Please read this bonkers Cut interview with Epstein’s former security guard

Also, Buzzfeed revealed that someone posted about Epstein’s injuries on 4chan before the news broke publicly. The FDNY says it wasn’t someone on their team. WHO WAS IT!

Btw we just learned that a founder of 4Chan, Moot, works at google. Odd redemption arc. But ultimately moot point! Sry again. 

And, in the wake of the El Paso shooting and the growing evidence that white supremacist manifestos that are later used to justify violent domestic extremism have found a home on 8chan, the site’s host Cloudflare cut ties. Which is a good step but….also the ppl who ran Cloudflare could have done this a long time ago….like when any of the other previous horrific content/manifestos were posted on the site. 8chan quickly got a new host, but that host’s host dropped them. TechCrunch explainer for more. 

TASTY BITES

How youtube is helping far-right ideologies proliferate in Brazil (The New York Times)

Taylor Lorenz on why so many influencers are actually….twinfluencers! (The Atlantic)

Ashley Carman wrote about how ppl were butt dialing but for turning on their smart ovens in the night (?!?) (The Verge) And then the company took actions to correct this. Impact! (also The Verge)

Apparently the Ariana Grande stan whose mom took her phone and seemed then to be tweeting from her smart fridge was NOT tweeting from her fridge it was fake! lol (Buzzfeed)

Delivery apps have contributed to the rise of “ghost restaurants” (The New York Times)

Tinder U is sponsoring frat parties, requiring guests to pull up their Tinders at the door (Houston Chronicle)

WeWork wants to elevate the world’s consciousness, which same, and is also going IPO (Bloomberg)

LA’s Earthquake app getting reworked after it failed to warn ppl of quakes (LA Times)

Unusually high concentration of discount furniture companies doing wack things this summer (Wayfair detention-camp-supplying; Overstock CEO having an affair with Mario Butina and then condemning The Deep State) (The New York Times)

Cheers!

Sarah and Lora

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