Skip to content

BigTech News

The US debate about children and social media just won’t go away. In January, the US Senate held a hearing with the leaders of social media, including Mark Zuckerberg, on the need to protect children from virtual bullying and other online abuses, such as pornography. The social media leaders pointed out that they removed pictures and blocked any accounts which carried online bullying, illegal activities or child abuse, however, they admitted that this could take some time due to the necessary checks and technical requirements. Some Senators raised the possibility of actions being brought against the carriers (the social media) for mental or social damages caused to the victims. This threat is of considerable concern to any US company – readers will recall that US courts are often prepared to hand out enormous damages.

Unfortunately the week after the Senate Hearings, Taylor Swift was the victim of fake explicit images likely generated by artificial intelligence on X which then spread rapidly across other social media platforms. Within 24 hours these posts were removed, but they reigniting calls from lawmakers to protect women and crack down on the platforms and technology that spread such images. Some unkind commentators pointed out that the rich and famous received very fast service in removing disturbing images, while child abuse takes weeks to take down.

Some BigTech employment activities has also been in the news, X (previously Twitter) fired staff in Ghana back in November 2022 when Elon Musk took over the company. Agency Seven Seven, the company providing legal representation to the staff, said it had been successful in its quest to get a redundancy settlement and repatriation expenses for foreign staff, although it did not specify the amount of the pay-out. According to Ghana’s Labour Act of 2003, employees are entitled to redundancy payments and should receive a 3-month notice before being laid off. The terminated Twitter workers in Ghana claim that they received less than a month’s notice before their dismissal. Meanwhile, in Europe. Amazon has been fined €32m by French regulators for ‘excessive’ worker surveillance. Data from staff’s handheld scanners was used to make them justify their breaks.

Better news came from the Chinese gaming giants Tencent Holdings and NetEase, whose shares jumped 6% and 7% respectively after China’s gaming regulator removed draft rules aimed at curbing spending from its website. It is, however, unclear if this means that the Chinese authorities have abandoned their attempt to regulate punters’ bets, or are simply preparing new rules.

Alastair Tempest

Become a member

Join the Ecommerce Forum South Africa and benefit from industry insights in South Africa and Africa.

Sign up to newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter and stay informed of the progress we are making at the Ecommerce Forum South Africa with government during Coronavirus.