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Silicon Valley

Maybe we should ask about Google’s data privacy

The Cambridge Analytica debacle has all eyes on Facebook over privacy concerns—but people are starting to ask whether Google could be just as bad, if not worse.

Data slurping: Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Mims explains how Google hoovers up user data—through apps, web browsing, and more—much the way Facebook does. And how it uses all of that to sell advertising, just like Facebook. Oh, and how its terms of service are hard to understand. Like ... yep, Facebook.

A bigger fish: “Google, in every respect, collects more data [than Facebook],” said David Chavern, president of News Media Alliance, to Bloomberg last week. Google controls about 40 percent of US digital advertising; Facebook controls 20 percent.

Why no attention? Facebook’s scandal is linked to election meddling and third-party data sharing, which sparked a particular kind of outrage. Plus, writes Maya Kosoff in Vanity Fair, “Google’s complexity ... may shield [it] from scrutiny for now.”

What next: Google could easily be rocked by a scandal like Facebook’s. But any incoming regulation that hits Zuck & Co is also likely to affect Google regardless, so we may not need to endure a replay of the last month to have the search firm’s wings clipped.

Deep Dive

Silicon Valley

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Twitter’s potential collapse could wipe out vast records of recent human history

What happens when the world’s knowledge is held in a quasi-public square owned by a private company that could soon go out of business?

Twitter may have lost more than a million users since Elon Musk took over

Estimates from Bot Sentinel suggest that more than 875,000 users deactivated their accounts between October 27 and November 1, while half a million more were suspended.

Former Twitter employees fear the platform might only last weeks

An ultimatum by Elon Musk demanding "extremely hardcore" working culture appears to have backfired. Insiders fear this could spell the end without drastic changes.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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