Linkbait 36

Facebook-bashing edition. (I’m merely quoting other people’s bashing, mind you.)
An overview of browser testing services because you deserve to test on IE9 and older Chromes.
Ada built a game in a week using tools currently available on the web. She wrote a report, and introduces many new tools in the
Bad if true: W3C uses browser detects.

Are you aware that since Edge enabled Upgrade-Insecure-Request on our internal builds, we cannot reach any spec because we get redirected from https to http, which we upgrade to https, and loop? If we masquerade our user agent to Chrome’s one all works fine.

Something that interests me a lot lately: Teaching CSS Grid to newcomers. Well, not specifically Grid in my case, but this article has some excellent ideas and notions about why techies find CSS so complicated, and how to explain it to them.

Water, for explaining the cascading, global nature of CSS versus the modular, encapsulated nature of most traditional programming languages. Like, traditional programming paradigms treat functions discretely, like stones you can pick up, but CSS is like water, which flows and cannot be controlled, only shaped.

And the author, Hui Jing Chen, is coming to speak at CSS Day, which is also kind of cool because I can quiz her in person.

High drama in time-honoured American fashion about Facebook having a terrible two years. Facebook once was Shiny and Golden; now it’s Hideous and Dark. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, but this article ignores that for obvious clickbait reasons.
Much more important is the fact that Faecbook-bashing has now reached serious momentum. I think that’s healthy. See also the next few items.
A study of fake news sites in France and Italy. It turns out the problem is somewhat less serious than was assumed; the fake news sites themselves see only very modest numbers of visitors (the most popular reached 3.5% of the online population). The real problem lies with Facebook, where some fake news items generate more interactions that real news items.
Facebook is the problem (and Twitter, too, I suppose, but to a lesser degree). That’s something I already assumed, but it’s very good to have it confirmed by research.
So what are we going to do about it? Block Facebook? It’s too early for that, but the option must be on some internal lists higher up in the EU. If Facebook refuses to take action, we should.
An anti-capitalist look at tech’s trust problem.

But tech appears to have no net positive uses whatsoever. Can it?

This is somewhat disingenious: we have become accustomed to tech benefits, and the problem is more that its rate of benefit production has fallen while we’ve become more aware of its drawbacks. Still, close off the Internet and you’ll have a much worse popular revolt on your hands.
Don’t get me wrong — I think the tech giants being taken down a notch is a good thing, but as technologists we have to be careful to define what tech we need to ditch: ads and their tracking mechanisms, the artificial stupidity that selects your Facebook/Google news — as well as, on the non-tech side, the inability to pay for services such as Facebook and Twitter.

Tech’s challenge was never to remake capitalism all over again — only harder, crueller, meaner, even more harmful. It was to shift beyond it.

I don’t buy this — at least, not entirely. Big tech and the neoliberal movement were born simultaneously in the early nineties, and early tech served as a shining example of neoliberalism while gladly accepting the money. I don’t think tech was ever meant to shift beyond capitalism — the only example I can think of is everything on the web being free of charge, and that was the worst mistake tech ever made, causing, among other things, ad tracking and fake news spread by Facebook’s artificial stupidity.
Still, food for thought.
Remember Facebook Instant Articles that was going to revolutionise news content online? It turns out that more than half of the original 2015 partners have meanwhile abandoned it — and these are not the smallest names in newspaper publishing, either. Apparently it doesn’t work. Also, Facebooks’s announce algorithm change I mentioned in 34 is not going to help here.
Unilever is threatening to pull its ads from Facebook and Google (Guardian; NRC) because those companies do not remove posts that “create division in society and promote anger and hate.”
Unilever is in fact not the first food/personal care multinational to do so: big competitor Procter & Gamble did the same about a year ago. Also in that last article: the tech giants have a trust problem right now, while trust in traditional journalism is increasing.
How the EU is exporting its data and privacy regulations to the rest of the world. It’s the EU that’s setting the standard here; not the US, which is more meh about regulations and privacy, especially under the current administration.
Having sane leaders is a major competitive advantage right now.
On the other hand, the EU regulations are more-or-less forced onto some countries, who could do with a little less neocolonial paternalism. On the gripping hand, the most important quoted example of such countries, South Africa, is not one that has a great trust in its own government, with Zuma about to resign. So maybe an enforced bit of regulation would be good for it nonetheless?
Conundrums, conundrums.
According to Google, 1% of publishers will be affected by the upcoming selective Chrome ad blocker. To be honest I didn’t know Google was working on this, and I think it’s a good idea — especially in order to force internet advertisers to adapt or die.
An older game, but a rather good one, on the evolution of trust. Makes you play the game in order to understand trust/distrust strategies.
How to build a horse with various programming languages. JavaScript: the backbone came out angular, so the horse is paralyzed. Perfect summary.
Your users are irrational. Interesting read about how people can trick our fast intuitive brain into doing things without thinking, or, even more interesting, how to get our fast intuitive brain to start up our slow logical brain. And how all that applies to designing websites or apps.
Something that interests me as a conference organiser: Name badges, the unsung conference heroes. We did some thinking about name badges years ago (see the summary), but this article contains several interesting new ideas, notably adding interests to the badge in order to facilitate conversations.
Have a tip for the next Linkbait? Or a comment on this one? Let me know (or here or here).