Welcome to your Friday Tech Fix for May 8, 2020! In the Tech Fix, I focus on what I consider to be the top technology news of the week, and why lawyers need to pay attention. For me there were two big stories this week – let’s dive in:
Microsoft Dives Deep with Surface. While most of us are at home, it’s nice to see that companies are still releasing new technology. And Microsoft did so in a big way this week, unveiling FOUR new Surface devices. They are:
- Surface Book 3 – Microsoft’s convertible laptop with the removable tablet
- Surface Go 2 – A smaller more compact Surface to compete with the iPad and other tablets
- Surface Headphones 2
- Surface Earbuds – truly wireless earbuds, which might make you look a little bit like Frankenstein
The first looks by most tech sites are positive; the real test will come closer to the end of the month when devices start to roll out and the reviews roll in. Why lawyers should care: increasingly, Microsoft’s Surface line has offered very strong alternatives to Apple’s MacBook line, and traditional workplace laptops from Dell and Lenovo. Lawyers I know who use Surface Pros love them, and I have had good experiences with the Surfaces I have owned over the past few years.
One Small Step for Facebook, One Giant Leap for the Internet? This week, Facebook announced the formation of its Oversight Board, a group of 20 individuals tasked with focusing on Facebook’s most challenging content issues – hate speech, harassment, and protecting people’s safety and privacy. The board is made up of individuals from fifteen countries, and includes a former Prime Minister of Denmark, a Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and a formal federal judge nominated by President George W. Bush. Eventually, the board will grow to 40 members.
Initially, the Board will review a selected number of “highly emblematic” content moderation issues from Facebook and determine whether the decisions to allow or prohibit the speech were made in accordance with Facebook’s stated values and policies. If Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t like their opinion, he cannot shut down the board; they intentionally operate separately from Facebook. Which is what makes this interesting for the rest of the Internet. The Board was deliberately structured to have a life beyond the company, and possibly spin off oversight boards for Twitter, YouTube, or any other platform that makes content management decisions. Why lawyers should care: two reasons. First, the board is full of lawyers with backgrounds in free speech, human rights, and constitutional law – of the 20 board members, 10 have legal backgrounds. Second, there are tons of problems with Facebook and most of our social media platforms; we should applaud any effort to address these problems and make them better places for all of us.