Today in Big Tech — November 26, 2020

Happy U.S. Thanksgiving! If you want to sneak in some bad news and hope it lands softly, now is the time.

Microsoft productivity score feature criticised as workplace surveillance by Alex Hern

“The tools, first released in 2019, are designed to ‘provide you visibility into how your organisation works’, according to a Microsoft blogpost, and aggregate information about everything from email use to network connectivity into a headline percentage for office productivity. But by default, reports also let managers drill down into data on individual employees, to find those who participate less in group chat conversations, send fewer emails, or fail to collaborate in shared documents.”

The good news here is that this is being called out. The bad news is that employers will probably start requesting features like this in their business management tools.

Amazon Workers to Stage Coordinated Black Friday Protests in 15 Countries by Lauren Gurley

“The day of action, which is being called #MakeAmazonPay, coincides with Black Friday, one of Amazon’s biggest sales events of the year and the start of its peak season, when warehouse worker injuries are highest and workloads for warehouse workers and delivery drivers skyrocket. On Friday, protest actions will take place across Amazon’s supply chain in Brazil, Mexico, the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Poland, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Australia.”

I wish them good luck, because they’re going to need it. Amazon has shown time and again that it truly does not give a fuck.

Foxconn to shift some Apple production to Vietnam to minimise China risk by Yimou Lee

“During Trump’s tenure, the United States has targeted made-in-China electronics for higher import tariffs, and restricted supplies of components produced using U.S. technology to Chinese firms it deems a national security risk. Taiwanese manufacturers, wary of being caught up in the tit-for-tat trade war, have moved or are considering moving some production from China to countries such as Vietnam, Mexico and India.”

Don’t read into this too much — it’s been a long time coming.

Xerox Unit Accuses Facebook, Twitter of Patent Infringement by Matthew Bultman

“A Xerox Corp. subsidiary has accused Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. of infringing several of its patents, including through tools the social media companies use to help stop the spread of false or misleading news.”

It’s hard to say that I’m rooting for Facebook and Twitter. I’m rooting against the patent troll. There we go!

Social media companies all starting to look the same by Sara Fischer

“Tech platforms used to focus on ways to create wildly different products to attract audiences. Today, they all have similar features, and instead differentiate themselves with their philosophies, values and use cases.”

Is this a direct result of Facebook being allowed to acquire Instagram or simply what inevitably happens when it’s easy to copy features? Either way, something has to give, eventually.

Executive Editor @VentureBeat Formerly @TheNextWeb @ZDNet @CNET @TechSpot @ArsTechnica