Amazon experienced a cloud computing outage on Tuesday that showed the world just how much it relies on Amazon and its services.
According to CNBC, the outage started around 11 a.m. EST and lasted until 6:30 p.m. Amazon Web Services’ status page stated that it was having issues primarily in its main US-East-1 region.
While the general public may not know much about what the AWS cloud-computing system does or about its existence at all, many users still felt the effects of the outage when trying to use some of their favorite websites or apps.
AWS is a host for institutions such as universities, governments, and companies, according to the Associated Press. When the hosting system goes down, its entities follow suit.
Users had trouble streaming when using Amazon Prime, Disney+, or Netflix. Work and academic performance were affected by the outage of Slack and Canvas. Users could not even access finance-based apps like Coinbase or Robinhood.
The outage disrupted the company’s retail operations as well, as warehouse and delivery workers were unable to scan or deliver packages. Workers were instructed to just wait until services were up and running again. This was unfortunate timing with the holiday season in full-swing.
In the midst of the outage, users took to social media to express their concerns, commentary, and frustration.
Some took this opportunity to criticize the amount of companies and institutions Amazon has a monopoly over.
Seeing how many daily operations were affected by just an hours-long shortage puts into perspective how much the world, more specifically the United States, relies on Amazon. It really poses the question of what would happen if the outage lasted days or weeks instead of a few hours. Or more hypothetically, what would happen if Amazon shut down for good?
With these questions in mind, the more important notion to ponder is: what should be considered a monopoly?
It would seem like public opinion regarding social media has certainly been on the decline in the last few years. With no shortage of platform controversies and new data about its negative impact on mental health, more and more people have been preaching the idea that the best way to set yourself free, is to just quit. Say goodbye. Log off. Go outside. But is going “cold turkey” really the solution? In a recent Forbes article, John Brandon explained why cutting all ties from social media could actually have a negative impact if not properly thought out. This article was in response to a TED Talk by Professor Cal Newport, where the professor highlighted a variety of negative effects from platform usage. Since the TED Talk was from 2016, not all the issues we’ve come to know now were covered. In the past few years, social media has been associated with causing depression and negative self-image, addiction and lessening attention spans, spreading misinformation and disinformation, selling private data, and causing further divisiveness among a society in the midst of social/political turmoil… to name just a few issues.
That list alone could be enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel on social media for good, but Brandon explained how that could be a recipe for disaster. “Quitting is not the same as controlling” he wrote. Brandon’s take on social media usage is similar to how we would talk about drinking or eating junk food in moderation. Most things that are done in excess tend to have negative side effect regardless of their original intention, and social media is no exception. As much as some of us would like to believe it, a platform is not just some wicked entity; it’s a tool (as Brandon put it), and as autonomous individuals, we have the power to decide how we utilize this tool. And similar to vices like drinking or junk food, if we feel we’ve abused it, quitting cold turkey tends to backfire.
More than anything, I worry about the “cold turkey” approach because people eventually get sucked back into using the apps. “I’m deleting my account” says the person who is not able to control usage, and hasn’t dealt with a tendency to overuse the apps. A few weeks or months later, that person is back using the app again, maybe even more than ever before.John Brandon, Forbes Magazine 2021
This is not to say that you shouldn’t leave social media if you truly want to. Heck, I was offline for most of 2019 and have no regrets about it. It’s just important to remember all the benefits that having these accounts comes with if used responsibly and in moderation. Being connected to world means an endless stream of discovery and inspiration. It means having a direct way of communicating with friends and family that may live across the world. It means more opportunity to promote your passions. I’m not ashamed to say that I won’t leave social media out of fear of general FOMO. I understand how rapidly networking technology is accelerating, and I don’t want to miss out. Though, it does need to change for the better. It will be interesting to see what type of regulations are put in place on the web in the coming years, if any. Though until then, our best course of action to avoid the negative implications of living online is to get a better sense of ourselves, look within, and be honest about if we’re using these tools responsibly.
Social media sites are known for having their algorithms. Algorithms are key to each app, including Instagram, TikTok, and more, as they figure out your interests and show users material that will keep their attention and make them want to stay on the app and continue using it. Michelle Drouin is a professor of Psychology at Purdue Fort Wayne who has studied social media and how it impacts humans and relationships. When discussing algorithms, she tells how certain components, such as fear, anger, happiness, and catastrophic events cause attention and can make things become viral. Social media algorithms tend to the general public, as well as each person’s interests.
This article interests me because social media sites try to keep their algorithms secretive, but people feel that they have somewhat figured out aspects of each algorithm. People know what others want to see and they make their content based on what emotions appeal to other viewers. Algorithms are interesting and a tricky subject because I do not believe they work if you do not let them. When I use apps, I try not to fall into the algorithm trap. I will mute things I do not want to see so that my feed is tailored to me by what I deem interesting. The algorithm is interesting, but I suggest that people try and stay focused and not spend too much time on social media apps because they want you to fall into that trap and get sucked into their algorithms.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is stepping down from his role with the company. The company’s chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal, will take over the position. Dorsey will not be leaving the company, as he will remain a member of the board, but believes it is time for the company to move on from its founders. Agrawal takes over a company with some lofty goals, as they have said they want to have 315 million active users by the end of 2023. Agrawal has been with Twitter for more than 10 years, which means he is familiar with how the company does things and their goals. The company is trying to increase their reach and value and hope to take that step soon, now with new leadership.
This move interests me because I use Twitter daily and it is an entertaining social media app. I have been using Twitter for about five years now and they have not changed much, which is good, in my opinion, as it has kept me on the app. I get a great deal of information from the app, as well as many laughs because some content on the app is funny. Overall, I am interested to see what advancements and changes are made on the app and what direction they go in with new leadership.
Dave Portnoy, founder of the well-known sports and pop culture blog, Barstool Sports, has been accused of sexual misconduct. In an article published by Insider on Thursday, two women, whose identities have been protected, allege that Portnoy sexually assaulted them in the summer of 2020.
One of the women, under the alias “Madison,” described her experience with Portnoy, stating that he began messaging her on Instagram when she was 20 and he was 43. Madison told Insider that when she met Portnoy in his Nantucket home, he filmed her during sexual acts without her consent.
From here, her description of Portnoy’s acts became more violent, with Madison even comparing her experience to “being raped.” She alleged that Portnoy ignored her pain and choked her until she couldn’t breathe. He also ignored her revocation of consent.
The second woman who told her story to Insider went under by name “Allison.” Due to Portnoy’s popularity, Allison wanted to be invited to Portnoy’s home for a party after graduating high school. She claims that Portnoy invited her alone to his home, which she rejected the first time as she was uncomfortable going alone. This did not deter Portnoy, as he invited her again weeks later.
After being nudged by friends, Allison went to Portnoy’s home, where they engaged in rough sexual activity that left her feeling scared and uncomfortable. Allison described that she “didn’t want to disappoint” Portnoy. Afterward, Portnoy kicked Allison out.
Just three nights later, Allison was admitted into the hospital for suicidal thoughts. Her mother contacted the police, but Allison was not comfortable pressing charges.
Portnoy wasted no time responding to these allegations, posting two Twitter videos on Thursday, denying that he is guilty of sexual misconduct. He stated that he feels the author of the Insider article, Julia Black, had a bias against him, calling the article a “hit piece.”
He claims that though he did meet Madison, everything that happened sexually was “100 percent consensual.” Though he did not deny having sex with Allison, he claims that he thought she was older than 21, due to her asking to meet at a bar. He also stated that though it was “awful” that she felt suicidal after their interaction, that she was “continually hitting [him] up to hang out.”
According to NBC, Barstool Sports posted a statement, stating that “This recent news does not involve any workplace behavior.” The company also stated that though they do not usually comment on the private lives of employees, that it will be monitoring this situation closely.
Though no police reports have been filed at this point, many have decided to side with the accusers, as Barstool Sports and Portnoy already have a negative reputation. On the other hand, some believe these allegations were made because of the negative reputation associated with Portnoy and his company. Likely, more will come to the surface regarding Portnoy now that these first allegations have been made. As new information comes in, there will be more substance for observers to decide their stance on the topic.
Apple unveiled their new iPhone 13 line on Friday, with pre-order sales opening at 8 a.m. that morning. For over an hour and a half after of the opening, customers were raising concerns about trouble ordering their new iPhone using the Apple Card, with many unable to purchase using their iPhone Upgrade Program.
Though users were able to purchase using other card payment options, this option takes away from some of the main benefits if getting an Apple Card, like 3% cash back and payment plans.
Users took to Twitter to express their frustrations about not being able to order an Apple product despite using an Apple service, eventually making “Apple Card” a trending topic on Twitter that day.
Some dealing with the issue expressed frustration.
Others, however, used humor to cope with the inconvenience.
Apple addressed the issue on their system status page, stating that “some Apple Card customers are not able to make iPhone Upgrade Program purchases.” The company updated the system status page at 12:36 p.m., claiming that the issue was resolved. The problem lasted for over four hours before Apple was able to address it.
For those who aren’t as familiar with what cancel culture is, canceling and cancel culture have to do with the removal of support for public figures in response to their objectionable behavior or opinions (which can include boycotts or refusal to promote their work.)
In late 2018, comedian Kevin Hart publicly stated he would be hosting the 2019 Oscars; an announcement that triggered intense public scrutiny regarding homophobic jokes and tweets he had previously put forth. While the backlash against Hart came from many different directions, a majority derived from the social media platform, Twitter. Although ‘cancel culture’ is not a new phenomenon, it is evident that it was brought to the forefront of American pop culture after Hart’s “canceling,” and has continued since.
With this idea of “canceling” in mind, the question many have is whether or not canceling is harmful or effective in holding these celebrities and public figures accountable.
Last night during the Oscars, Joaquin Phoenix gave a discursive speech in which he both criticized “cancel” culture and advocated for social justice while accepting the Oscar for best actor for his performance in “The Joker.” In his speech he said,
“I have been a scoundrel all my life, I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance,” Phoenix said. “I think that’s when we’re at our best: when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for our past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow. When we educate each other; when we guide each other to redemption.”
Like Joaquin, many believe that cancel culture is merely harmful to society and those individuals being “canceled,” but, according to the article on Daily Toreador, many also feel that it’s unfair that celebrities can seemingly “get away” with hurting other people or making damaging and harmful statements, even after being canceled for a little while. At the same time, however, it is both concerning and detrimental that as a society, we perpetuate a culture of simply canceling someone instead of encouraging them to be better and holding them accountable in a constructive way (similar to what Joaquin said.)
I think we can all agree that public outrage against celebrities is expected and sometimes even justified in some cases, but is it possible that sometimes cancel culture can go too far? What do you think?
Seemingly the backbone to the political landscape we currently have, Twitter has to defend the president from democrats who look to have the president’s account removed from the platform. President Trump has been locking horns with democrats over the impending impeachment inquiry of Trump. He has not been kind when going to twitter to voice his opinion on the matter, claiming the impeachment was a “coup” intended to strip Americans of their rights. Democrats look to suspend his Twitter account on the basis that his tweets are “blatant threats” that violate Twitter’s policies.
Twitter has since taken a stand in favor of President Trump saying that Twitter has a right to the people to bend the rules for world leaders. Twitter cites that it is for the best interest of the public to keep world leader’s Twitter accounts active even though they may appear to violate Twitter’s own policies. Twitter has said that they would only take action against Trump or any world leader if they, “used their account to threaten an indiviual, promote terrorism or self-harm, or post private information like a phone number.” Twitter then followed up their defence of the president with another statement, “The accounts of world leaders are not above our policies entirely, presently, direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”
This shows that Twitter is taking a stand not towards democrats or any political party but taking a stand protecting the public. We deserve and I think entitled to hear what the president is tweeting no matter what it is. It helps the public know what is going on, not only for the president, but the entire country. Protecting this kind of speech is dangerous but it serves the public by preserving those tweets for all of us.