The Switchboard: What happens when you start liking everything on Facebook

August 12

Published every weekday, the Switchboard is your morning helping of hand-picked stories from the Switch team.

Uber's dirty tricks quantified: Rival counts 5,560 canceled rides. CNN reports: "New data provided by Lyft, a competitor, shows that Uber employees have ordered and canceled more than 5,000 Lyft rides since last October. The data was provided to CNNMoney per a request made when reporting another story on the competition between the two companies."

How Congress could wind up accidentally saving Aereo. "Since the Supreme Court ruled in June that its business model violated copyright law," I write, "the streaming video company's put its service on ice, made new and ever more confusing arguments as to why it should survive, claimed it's "bleeding to death" before a skeptical judge, and generally left onlookers with little doubt about its impending demise — at least, as it exists in its current form. But all that could change thanks to a Senate proposal aiming to rewrite the economics of TV."

The six tech policy problems Congress failed to fix this year. Ars Technica writes: "The current Congress is on track to go down as the least productive in modern history. Sure, counting bills is a simplistic measure, since they vary greatly in importance and complexity. But whatever the metric, no serious observer—or member of Congress, for that matter—could argue that this is a Congress that got much done."

I liked everything I saw on Facebook for two days. Here's what it did to me. According to Wired: "My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages."

Senator wants curbs placed on fitness data use. "Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to investigate the data gathering and sharing practices of makers of personal fitness devices and applications," according to Computerworld. "In a statement Sunday, the senator said fitness bracelet makers like FitBit and makers of smartphone applications for fitness tracking collect highly sensitive information from individuals with few restrictions on how they can use the data."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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Nancy Scola · August 11