It’s really not a secret at all that Apple and Facebook aren’t friends. They aren’t even all that friendly of enemies. Sure, they’re mostly polite, but there’s no mistaking the degree to which there is hostility between the two companies.
It’s sort of a strange position for two companies that arguably depend on each other in some unusual ways. For example, Facebook certainly depends on the iPhone considering that mobile represents 98 percent of the social platform’s usage. Sure, a good portion of that comes from Android devices, but in the U.S. at least, the iPhone is probably Facebook’s most important platform.
Of course, Facebook is also important to the iPhone. If suddenly you couldn’t use Facebook’s apps, that would be bad for Apple considering that people genuinely like using Facebook, despite its problems. Many of those people would switch to something else if they couldn’t use it on their iPhone.
Still, the two companies can’t seem to resist the urge to take shots at each other every chance they get. For example, Facebook took out full-page ads decrying Apple’s decision to require developers to request permission before tracking users across apps and websites. That’s a big deal to Facebook considering its business is largely based on doing just that.
Tim Cook responded that he isn’t “focused on Facebook at all.” Which, as I wrote at the time, is both brilliant and brutal in its dismissal of the company.
More recently, Facebook threw shade at Apple over the latter company’s announcement that it was implementing a change in future versions of iOS in order to detect CSAM images uploaded to iCloud Photos. Will Cathcart, the CEO of WhatsApp (which is owned by Facebook) said that Apple’s decision represented a surveillance state and was the wrong approach.
We’ll set aside, for a moment, the fact that Facebook is widely considered the worst privacy offender in a tech industry that can’t resist monetizing user data at every opportunity. The bigger point is that–considering how much emphasis Apple puts on privacy–Facebook saw a chance to hit the company where it hurts most.
Now, Cook has another response, this time in an interview with The Australian Financial Review about tech companies and privacy:
Technology doesn’t want to be good. It doesn’t want to be bad, it’s neutral. And so it’s in the hands of the inventor and the user as to whether it’s used for good, or not used for good…The risk of not doing that means that technology loses touch with the user. And in that kind of case, privacy can become collateral damage. Conspiracy theories or hate speech begins to drown everything else out. Technology will only work if it has people’s trust.
That last part is important–those nine words about how “technology will only work if it has people’s trust.” That’s as clear an explanation of what’s wrong with Facebook as I’ve heard yet. And, while Cook doesn’t specifically mention Facebook, the part about “conspiracy theories or hate speech,” makes it pretty clear who he’s referring to.
The point seems to be that tech companies, specifically Facebook, are focused on building features and products, without regard for the impact they have on user privacy. It’s not hard to see how that is true. Facebook has reportedly been working on ways to analyze encrypted messages for the purpose of targeting ads at WhatsApp users–something it hasn’t been able to do so far.
The company has also gone out of its way to defend its use of tracking user data as the key to the free and open internet, and crucial to small businesses. Even if those things are true, it really just makes Cook’s point, which is that “privacy can become collateral damage.” If your business model depends on gathering up and monetizing as much data from your users as possible, it’s pretty hard to also protect their privacy.
It is also worth mentioning that Apple is facing its own criticism over how it handles user privacy right now. Of course, much of that pushback is related to the fact that Apple has long been a champion of protecting personal data, and its decision to include technology on the iPhone that can “scan” your photos for CSAM, feels like a shift in that promise.
It makes sense that Apple would want to shift the focus back to what it considers far worse privacy offenders while reminding everyone of its own privacy bona fides. Of course, the reason that matters is the reason Cook mentions: trust. Sometimes it seems like there is a huge disconnect between the way Facebook sees its role in the world, and the way the rest of us see it. It’s hard to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt if you don’t trust that it has your best interests in mind.
Use the new Google Illustrations tool to create a custom Gmail profile picture – XDA Developers
If you use any of Google’s services, which we’re pretty sure most if not all of you do, you would be aware of the small avatar that’s displayed next to your name on Google’s homepage and other services. This is also the avatar that shows up next to your name when you email someone. It probably shows an old profile picture for most people that they set up back when Google+ was still a thing. But Google wants you to change it, and the company has released a new Illustrations tool to help you create a custom Gmail profile picture.
As per a recent report from 9to5Google, the Google Illustration tool is baked into the dialog box that appears when you select the option to change your profile picture in the Gmail app. It sits along with the options to upload a new image from your computer, choose an existing photo from Google Photos, or click a photo from your camera. As of now, the feature is rolling out on Gmail for Android, and you can try it out by tapping the avatar icon on the top right corner of the app.
You will then have to select the Illustrations tab to see hundreds of illustrations that you can use as your profile picture. This is a helpful feature for those who do not wish to reveal their identity online or make their photographs public. If you have privacy concerns with uploading your picture online but do not wish to see just your initials as your avatar, you should try out the Google Illustrations tool right away.
The avatar you set up will be used across all of Google’s services like Gmail, Drive, YouTube, Contacts, etc. If you want to look for illustrations related to a specific topic, you can search using relevant keywords. You can even customize the illustrations and switch out the background color to something that you prefer. In the coming months, Google plans to expand support for the Illustrations tool to other apps and iOS devices.
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Alberta doctors raise alarm on specialist staff shortages in intensive care wards – Saanich News
The Alberta Medical Association says the province’s high COVID-19 numbers are behind a desperate shortage of specialized staff to care for critical care patients.
“The demand for (intensive care unit) nurses is currently so high that we need to increase the number of patients assigned to each nurse,” the medical association said in a public letter Monday.
“This reduction in staffing ratio is well below our normal standard of care. This will jeopardize the quality of ICU care that we are able to provide.”
The letter was signed by members of the group’s intensive care section.
Alberta’s hospitals and intensive care wards are overwhelmed by critical care patients, most of them stricken with COVID-19. The overwhelming majority are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
Alberta Health Services has been briefing doctors on criteria to use should the health system collapse and they have to make on-the-spot decisions on who gets life-saving care.
Last week, Dr. Paul Parks, the medical association’s head of emergency medicine, said the staffing shortage is affecting care in other ways. Parks said some critical care patients are not being put on available ventilators because there aren’t enough nurses to monitor them.
Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says while typical ICU care is one nurse per patient, an alternative model, known as a hub, is being used to adapt to the pandemic while ensuring care is delivered.
Each hub includes one or two trained intensive care nurses and two to four registered nurses.
“This model partners registered nurses from other areas with existing trained ICU (nurses) to expand the availability of the critical-care nursing skill set to more patients,” said Williamson in an email.
“ICU patients are never cared for by nurses alone. Whole teams work with nurses in ICU, including respiratory therapists and many others. “
In recent weeks, the province has scrambled to create more ad hoc intensive care beds, effectively more than doubling the normal total of 173 to accommodate 312 patients currently receiving critical care.
Staff have been reassigned, forcing mass cancellations of surgeries, including cancer procedures.
Alberta has asked the federal government for help, and the Canadian Armed Forces has said it will respond with eight more intensive care nurses and air transport to take critically ill patients to other provinces.
Almost two weeks ago, Alberta reintroduced gathering restrictions and brought in proof of vaccination requirements for entry to restaurants, bars, casinos, concerts and gyms to try to reduce spread of the virus.
Daily case counts remain well over one thousand and a growing number of doctors and infectious disease specialists are calling for a “firebreak” lockdown, which would include a shutdown of schools, businesses and other activities.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, in a weekend radio interview, rejected a lockdown. He said it would make “no sense for the 80 per cent of the population that is vaccinated” and who are much less likely to transmit the disease and be hospitalized.
Alberta has lagged behind other provinces in vaccination. Kenney and his United Conservative government have been trying to persuade more people to get their shots by offering $1-million prize draws, other gifts and, more recently, $100 debit cards.
About 73 per cent of eligible Albertans, those 12 and over, are fully vaccinated, while 82 per cent have had at least one shot.
Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said it’s time to partner with community groups and health-care professionals to go door to door and help those who are not vaccinated due to health or work concerns or a language barrier.
Those groups could be “having conversations and offering Alberta vaccines right there on people’s doorsteps,” Notley said in Calgary.
—Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
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