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Sep 9, 2022 13 min read

👮🏻‍♂️ Wiser! #90: Meta Fined | Apple's Unfair Advantage | Musk in Space | TikTok's Digital Cocaine

👮🏻‍♂️ Wiser! #90: Meta Fined | Apple's Unfair Advantage | Musk in Space | TikTok's Digital Cocaine
Table of Contents

Wiser! #90: Meta has been given their largest ever fine for failing to protect teen users. Apple are applying an unfair advantage to build an ads business. Elon's Starlink faces many hurdles to be the no 1 satellite service. Three reason's why TikTok is as addictive as slot machines.

w/Wiser! #90 - Friday 9th September

Hello Wiser! readers and a happy Friday to you! A special thank you and ¡hola! to the newest subscribers to Wiser! Premium.

This week I'm covering:

  • Meta's largest ever fine for exposing teens' data on Instagram,
  • Apple's Unfair Advantage, having nobbled the digital ads market (double-standards, methinks!),
  • Musk's SpaceX Starlink satellite internet service will have to overcome some stiff hurdles and competition from Amazon and Apple,
  • three reasons why TikTok is as addictive as playing the slot machines.

Plus: the latest episodes from the Big Tech Little Tech podcast and the Wiser! YouTube channel, some premium content with an all-you-need-to-know Collection on Web3, a member's only invite to the Slack Community, and a top tip on how to double your productivity using an AI writing too.

As always, there are a ton of links to other stories, content and stuff I think you'll find interesting and of value.

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Meta/Facebook Given Its Largest Fine Ever

Hide & Seek: In the same week that unsealed court documents in the USA reveal that Facebook doesn’t actually know where it stores user data, Meta is handed a massive €405 million fine by the EU (roughly $402 million).

  • The unsealed docs came from the discovery hearing for the Cambridge Analytica case back in March. They reveal that two veteran Facebook engineers told the court that the company doesn’t keep track of where it holds all of a user's personal data.

Huge Fine: Meanwhile, over in the European Union, a 2 year investigation into the mishandling of data on Instagram resulted in a €405 million fine for the social media giant. It's the largest fine ever for Meta and the 2nd largest issued by the EU's BigTech regulators (who fined Amazon €746 million last year for violating privacy rules.)

GDPR: Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner found that Instagram mishandled children’s private data, breaching GDPR rules.

  • Instagram allowed users aged between 13-17 years old to set up business accounts, thereby making their contact information (email address, phone numbers etc) publicly available.
  • Instagram made the accounts of some young users public by default.

Wrist Slap: This is the third and largest fine the Irish DPC has imposed on Meta/Facebook, easily eclipsing the €225 million the company was fined for failings with user data on WhatsApp. However, it's still only a slap on the wrist for the firm that made $39 billion in profit last year.

A Meta spokesperson told Politico that the fine related to settings changed more than a year ago, and it was reviewing the decision.

Is Instagram to blame for the rise in self-harm amongst teenage girls?
Wiser! Essay: Rates of self-harm, depression and social anxiety continue to rise amongst teenage girls. The question is why?
Teenage Anxiety Linked to Social Media (Again)
Wiser! Essay: A UK study of 84,000 teenagers has identified a link between heavy social media usage and teenage anxiety. They also found it affects girls between ages 11 and 13. Whereas for boys, the sensitive period is 14 and 15.


Screen shots from iOS devices

Apple’s Unfair Advantage

Surveillance by an Internet platform is called “Tracking” unless you’re Apple, then it's called “Personalisation.”

Human Right: Apple’s brand is built on the notion that it doesn't make money from selling your personal information — “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone”, right?

Now, having kicked the legs from under the ad-fuelled tech sector, Apple has plans to build its own ad empire. A flurry of over 600 job posts for Apple’s new ad team set the intention to “drive the design of the most privacy-forward, sophisticated demand side platform possible.

  • Explainer: A demand-side platform allows advertisers to use automation to boost media campaigns, often leading them to spend more money.

Old News: But this is nothing new. The origins of Apple’s move into ads can be traced back to 2019 when Tim Cook wrote this piece for Time Magazine about the world of online advertising. It was a great piece of strategic marketing as well as creating clear blue water between Apple and the rest of Big Tech.

  • Cook’s message was simple: Consumers deserve their right to privacy. Who wouldn’t agree with that?

New News: But what is new is that having created a market space in digital ads by taking out the competition, Apple is now moving to fill it. Apple has used its unfair advantage (owning the rails) to the detriment of others. And they're unlikely to get away with it without a fight.

This week, Apple held its Far Out event, an annual showcase of all the latest updates to their range of phones, watches and gadgets.

Several things caught my eye;

  • the new iPhone 14 comes alongside a super-sized sibling called the iPhone 14 Pro. Apart from a longer battery life, better camera, tougher casing (as you'd expect on any new model), the big new feature is called “Dynamic Island." Basically, the "notch" that holds the front facing camera has been replaced with the "Island" and will now double up as a display showing output from the phone's widgets.
  • the iPhone 14 also features crash detection (also on the Watch). The iPhone uses a new accelerometer and gyroscope along with machine learning models to detect if you've been in a severe car crash. The new iPhone also has a satellite connection to contact emergency services in places where there's no mobile signal.
  • the Apple Watch has a new temperature sensor. Overnight, women can get estimates about when they're expected to ovulate.
  • Apple's latest generation AirPods Pro will have touch controls.

Shaun and I will be discussing all this and more about the new features and updates from Apple on the next podcast. Speaking of which...


🎙 Big Tech Little Tech #8

Co-host Shaun Weston and I discuss NFTs, aka "non-fungible tokens". What are they? How are they used? Are they a fad or the future?

Plus, we chat about

Find Big Tech Little Tech on all major Podcast platforms:
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Anchor

Here's a snippet from Episode #8...

Unlocking Web3: The Decentralised, Democratised Internet
Interested in the next generation of the Internet - NFTs, Crypto, DeFi, Blockchain, aka Web3? You will find all-you-need-to-know in this collection of writings, white papers, videos and podcasts. Access Unlocking Web3 with a Premium Subscription or purchase on Gumtree.

👉 Read Unlocking Web3 Here 👈


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WiserPod! #32 - Web3, Musk, Zuckerberg

Toe Dipping: In the latest video I talk about big brands dipping their toes into the NFT space, what Musk is up to, and Mark Zuckerberg on the Joe Rogan Show. Watch it here...

The most popular WiserPods! on YouTube:


T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert (left) and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced plans for direct-to-cellphone satellite services at SpaceX's Starbase test site in Texas.

Elon Musk Faces Stiff Competition To Be No1 in Satellite Cellphone Connectivity

Space: At the end of August, T-Mobile announced plans to use SpaceX’s Starlink broadband satellites to bring connectivity to phones beyond the reach of its cell towers in the United States.

  • However, if Elon Musk’s SpaceX and T-Mobile are to have any hope of beating a wide range of rivals, including Amazon and potentially Apple, to the market for satellite-delivered mobile phone services, they need to overcome an array of both regulatory and technological roadblocks.

Hurdles: Musk and SpaceX engineers are racing to clear key engineering hurdles. But it will be much harder for Musk to quickly overcome the biggest regulatory challenge; getting approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

Profundity: Despite Musk’s hyping the “profundity” of their venture when it was unveiled last month, the SpaceX-T-Mobile partnership is behind rivals.

  • Globalstar sells bulky satellite phones but already has approval from the FCC to provide satellite-based mobile services using regular phones. And industry chatter suggests it is planning to partner with Apple on a service that could be announced any time now.
  • Satellite service provider AST SpaceMobile also has FCC approval to test a new satellite-based cellphone project.

Further Reading

SpaceX launches 51 Starlink satellites and a space tug to orbit
It was SpaceX’s 40th launch of 2022.
The 1,000 Chinese SpaceX engineers who never existed
LinkedIn users are being scammed of millions of dollars by fake connections posing as graduates of prestigious universities and employees at top tech companies.

w/Premium Content

Photo by Lee Thomas on Unsplash

Three Reasons TikTok Is As Addictive As Playing The Slots

Premium: TikTok is the app that has redefined social engagement. Everyone wants to be like TikTok. The ocean tankers of Facebook and Instagram are turning. But what's the secret? Why is TikTok so addictive? Why is it commanding so much attention? It comes down to 3 things...

Digital Crack Cocaine

Back Story: It's a fair assumption that most people have heard of TikTok. Wiser! definitely have! But for many, TikTok is "just one of those apps that kids play on". Hmmm. Which begs the question, do they really understand exactly what TikTok is and how big TikTok as become? How much it is used and who uses it? And what makes it so addictive and what's the science behind it?

In essence, the science behind TikTok can be condensed into these three  attributes:

  • TikTok knows exactly what you like and want to watch better than anyone, even your partner.
  • TikTok has removed all decision-making. Open the app and away you go, no spending time deciding what to watch, the app already knows what you want.
  • TikTok applies "random reinforcement" to keep you addicted and online for longer than on any other app.

Let me start by giving you some of the headline stats just to show you exactly how big and influential TikTok has become:

  • the app has 1.6 billion monthly users, that's more than Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn combined,
  • TikTok has been the most downloaded app for the past 5 quarters in a row, and downloaded more than any other app since 2020,
  • its global advertising revenues are forecast to exceed $11 billion in 2022, that’s more than Twitter and Snapchat combined, and some!,
  • the average user spends more time on TikTok than on Facebook and Instagram combined….and get this…
  • US users spend an average 26 hours per month on TikTok..that’s equivalent to 36 working days a year scrolling through videos…4 years ago that was only 8 hours a month
  • TikTok also reports that around a third of users (34.4%) watch longer videos at double speed.
  • And to give you an idea of how much the other platforms are worried by TikTok, in the last earnings call from Meta Facebook, they talked about TikTok 5 times, that’s a lot.
"People have a lot of choices for how they want to spend their time, and apps like TikTok are growing very quickly," CEO Mark Zuckerberg told AFP News.
Netflix’s budget for making movies and shows is $17 billion. TikTok’s budget is zero…because all the material is created for free by the users.

How Did TikTok Get So big?



Just Headlines

‘We should welcome cryptocurrencies’ - the UK's new Prime Minister, Liz Truss said this in 2018.
HOT OFF THE PRESS: The report President Biden ordered on crypto and climate has just been published. Read it here.

Just Numbers

Just Interesting

How Twitter’s child porn problem ruined its plans for an OnlyFans competitor
“Twitter cannot accurately detect child sexual exploitation and non-consensual nudity at scale.”
A sceptic’s guide to crypto: bonus interview with a16z’s Chris Dixon
News, analysis and comment from the Financial Times, the worldʼs leading global business publication


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