The Download: Trolling text scammers, and China’s social media censorship

This is today’s version of the download,Our weekly newsletter provides daily updates on what’s going on in the world of technology.

People use humor to troll their spam text

The other night, I received a mysterious WhatsApp message. “Dr. Kevin?” It started, the question mark indicating that the sender felt bad for interrupting my evening. “My puppy is very slow and does not eat dog food. Can you make an appointment for me? “

I was mysterious. My name is not Kevin, I’m not a veterinarian, and I wasn’t in a position to help this guy and his puppy. When I realized that this was probably a scam to confirm my number, I almost wrote the answer saying “sorry, wrong number”.

I did not answer, but many others who have received similar texts. Some are throwing it back at their spammers by spinning wild stories and sending hilarious messages to frustrate whatever is on the other side. They are fighting back with snark, and in some cases posting screenshots of their conversations online.

Experts do not recommend such a reaction. But it’s cathartic and funny. Read the full story.

-Tanya Basu

China wants all social media comments to be pre-reviewed before being published

News: On June 17, China’s Internet regulator Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) published a draft update on the platform and how creators should handle online comments. One line is different: all online comments must be pre-reviewed before they can be published.

How will it work? The provisions cover many types of comments, including forum posts, replies, messages left on public message boards and “bullet chats” (an innovative way used by video platforms in China to display real-time comments on top of videos). All formats including texts, symbols, GIFs, pictures, audio and video are covered by this regulation.

What does that mean? Users and observers are concerned that the measure could be used to tighten freedom of expression in China. While Beijing is constantly improving its control over social media, the ambiguity of the latest research worries people that the government may ignore practical challenges, forcing the platform to hire a huge army of censors. Read the full story.

– Zei Yang

Must read

I used the internet to find out some of the most fun / important / scary / compelling stories about technology today.

The price of 1 crypto is still falling 3
It has fallen by more than two-thirds since November, but purists are upset. (WSJ)
+ Bitcoin went below $ 20,000 for the first time since last November over the weekend. (FT)
+ Investors are watching Stablecoin Teether in panic to see what happens next. (NYT)
+ Crypto insurance seems like a good idea right now. (vox)

Timeless virality of June 2nd
Because freedom from slavery is something we can all agree on regardless of political or religious affiliations. (Wired $)
+ It has been a terrible year for race politics in America. (NYMag)

3 Attacking a comet is a risky business 3
But it will be valuable if it gives us the first real glimpse of the primordial body. (Nature)
+ Astronomers mistakenly think comet Borisov is too boring. (MIT Technology Review)
+ The Pentagon is conducting research to expose future threats using the SpaceX rocket. (The Intercept)
+ When is a black hole not a black hole? (Busy)

4 How Thousands of Seabound Robots Are Facing Climate Change
90% of their time is spent 1,000 meters below sea level. (Spectrum IEEE)
+ Why heat pumps are emerging as a key decarbonizing tool. (Protocol)
+ UN Climate Report: Carbon removal is now “essential”. (MIT Technology Review)
+ A Peruvian fishing community is still suffering, five months after the oil spill. (Hakai Magazine)

5 AI can do much more than explain to us that it is sensitive
And yet, we fall into the trap of losing the big picture. (Atlantic 2)
+ We are also missing the point of the Turing test. (WP)
+ What the history of AI tells us about its future. (MIT Technology Review)

6 Anti-wax plots are a global problem
Their spread is wider than Native American. (Slate 2)

7 Can a piece made from recycled carbon dioxide ever taste good?
It takes a few days to make an ‘air stick’ compared to the number of years it takes to raise a cow. (Neo Life)
+ Why oat milk companies may have to stop marketing their products as ‘milk’. (Slate 2)
+ Your first laboratory-grown burger will be “mixed.”. (MIT Technology Review)

8 Why Peter Thiel Unfriended Facebook
And what’s next for a billionaire with a craving for crypto. (WP)
+ Even without Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook would be a very different place. (Atlantic 2)

9 How the effect of the drill spread beyond the bizarre Twitter
The platform’s court jester has penetrated into the mainstream. (New York)

10 What’s the worst thing about being on the Internet?
And another case of why putting images in the public domain can backfire. (The Guardians)

Quote of the day

“Shall we bow our heads just to give Jeff Bezos his boat of pleasure?”

– Paul van de Laar, a professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam, is angry at the Amazon founder’s request to demolish a portion of the city’s bridge to facilitate his superyacht, he told the Financial Times.

Big story

The company delivers packages faster than Amazon, but workers pay the price

June 2021

One early morning in October 2020, 27-year-old Zhang Diok-jun came home after working overnight at the South Korean e-commerce giant Kupong and jumped into the shower. He worked for a little over a year at the company’s warehouse in the southern city of Daegu, transporting crates full of ready-made items to be sent to the delivery hub. When he had not been out of the bathroom for more than an hour and a half, his father opened the door to see him unconscious and curled into a ball in the bathtub, his hands clinging tightly to his chest. He was taken to hospital, but with no pulse and failure to breathe on his own, doctors pronounced him dead at 9:09 p.m., with the coroner ruling that he had died of a heart attack.

Zhang was the third coup worker to die that year, raising concerns about the nature of the company’s success. And it has been surprisingly successful: in just a few years, to become South Korea’s third-largest employer, using a vast network of warehouses, 37,000 workers, a fleet of drivers and a suite of AI-powered equipment to take commanding positions in South Korea’s dense e-commerce market.

Coupon’s proprietary AI algorithms calculate everything from the most efficient way of stacking packages in a delivery truck to the exact route and delivery order for drivers. In warehouses, AI expects purchases and calculates shipping deadlines for outbound packages, allowing it to deliver millions of items in less than a day. Such innovations are why Kupang confidently describes itself as the “future of e-commerce” and was the driving force behind its recent launch on the Nasdaq – the largest US IPO by an Asian company since Alibaba in 2014. But what does all this innovation and efficiency mean? For company workers? Read the full story.

– Max S. Kim

We can still have good things

A place for relaxation, pleasure and distraction in these strange times. (Any ideas? Give me a line Or Tweet them to me.)

+ Happy Birthday to the only Brian Wilson who turned 80 today. Out of all his wonderful tunes, this could be the best.
+ Total Mystery: How can UK waste travel more than 1,900 kilometers to Ukraine?
+ How much relief — Denmark and Canada’s humble ‘whiskey war’ is finally resolved.
+ This rage against machine performance on dog toys is a masterpiece.
+ Here is a selection of costumes that we do not mind ruining Kim Kardashian.

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