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Watch This,

How to Watch Sean Spicer’s First Briefing Since the Comey Testimony, No Cable Required

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, noted liar, waits on the South Lawn of the White House as his boss President Trump, another liar, leaves for his private golf club on June 9, 2017 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Former FBI Director James Comey testified last week that Donald Trump was a lying liar who lied
all the time
. And ever since, we haven’t heard from Sean Spicer, noted surrogate-liar for our liar-president. But Spicer’s back, baby. And you can watch his press conference online.

The press conference is scheduled to start at 1:30pm Eastern, 10:30am Pacific. There are streams on YouTube by
PBS NewsHour
and
the White House
.



After the Comey testimony, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the president ”
is not a liar
,” which is false. But we’ll have to see what Trump’s liar-stooge Spicer has to say about all of this.

White House press briefings didn’t use to attract much attention from the public during previous administrations. But thanks to the rise of streaming video, and the unprecedented number of lies that are told by the Trump regime on any given day, each one has become a spectacle unto itself. You never know what kind of jaw-dropping idiocy is going to be revealed during these things.

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Or perhaps spectacle isn’t the right word, as that can has some positive connotations. What’s the word for when something is on fire and you can’t look away as it consumes everything in its path? That. Whatever that is. Let’s call it that.

Hard to believe Trump has been president for just 143 days. But here we are. Let’s hope we survive another 143 at least.

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Iphone,

Five Things You Might Not Know From ‘The Secret History of the iPhone’

Image: Getty

In his new book The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, Brian Merchant gives us a rare look inside Apple, chronicling the development of the iPhone with details about everything from the selection of raw materials to the product’s famous launch event.

In the past, we’ve heard a few scraps of information from the development history of the iPhone. Like that it almost ran on Linux. Or that Apple didn’t invent the Multitouch technology that allows for pinch-and-zoom. Or even Steve Jobs’ demand that the phone’s screen be made of glass instead of plastic came one month before its launch. Here are five things you might not know about the development of the iPhone, straight from Merchant’s book.

1) Before there was the iPhone, there was an Apple flip phone prototype

Today, touchscreen phones are everywhere, but in 2003, not so much. While there were some early attempts in the 80s, others were developed closer to the iPhone’s launch. Industrial Design (ID) Engineer Brian Huppi, who worked at Apple from 2012 to 2016 explains Apple’s first foray into phones.

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Page 20:

[T]he ID group fabricated plenty of cell phones. Not smartphones, but flip phones. “There were many models of flip phones of various sorts that Apple had been working on,” Huppi says. “I mean very Apple-ized, very gorgeous and beautiful, but they were various takes on cell phones with buttons.” (This might explain why Apple had by this point already registered the domain iPhone.org.)

2) The first iPhone user interface was designed in Photoshop

And not even Adobe could believe it. Apple’s Director of Design from 1995 to 2016, Imran Chaudhri, describes the process by which he and designer Bas Ording built the iPhone’s user interface (UI).

Page 101:

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Ording’s design animations, embedded since the earliest days sharpened by Chaudhri’s sense of style, might be one reason we’re all so hooked on smartphones. And they did it all on basic Adobe software. “We built the entire UI using Photoshop and Director,” Chaudhri says, laughing. “It was like building a Frank Gehry piece out of aluminum foil. It was the biggest hack of all time.” Years later, they told Adobe- “They were fucking floored.”

3) The phone was almost just an iPod with a “steampunk dial”

How would this even work? Senior Apple Engineer Andy Gringon tries to explain an early iPhone design.

Page 220: 

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“We prototyped a new way,” Gringon says of the early device. “It was this interesting material… it still had this touch sensitive click wheel, right, and the Play/Pause/Next/Previous buttons in blue backlighting. And when you put it into phone mode through the UI, all that light kind of faded out and faded back in as orange. Like, zero to nine in the click wheel in an old rotary phone, you know ABCDEGF around the edges.”… The problem was that they were difficult to use as phones… “It was just obvious that we were overloading the click wheel with too much,” Gringon says. “And texting and phone numbers-it was a fucking mess.”

4) There was also an impossible keyboard design

At one time, Apple considered entirely revamping how keyboards were laid out. Director of software engineering Richard Williamson list a few ideas that were being kicked around.

Page 346:

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Radical rethinkings of text input were floated… “We tried all kinds of stuff to come up with all kinds of variants to make the keys appear bigger or have a multitap that you could use to cycle through letters. The chord keyboards were probably the most crazy,” Willamson says. One of them was like a piano keyboard, and you could kind of play letters on the keyboard.”

5) Apple’s Expose feature is right out of the Pre-Crime Department

Ording talks about how the feature that allows iPhone users to look at all of their windows at once was inspired by a gesture-based touchscreen computer from the Steven Spielberg sci-fi classic.

Page 338-9:

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“You know that Expose feature?… I was staring at my screen with a whole pile of windows, and I’m like, ‘I wish I could somehow, just like they do in the movie, go through in between those windows and somehow get through all your stuff.’ That became the Expose thing, but it was inspired by Minority Report.”

Fun fact, the sound effect the phone made when an iPhone is plugged into into a charger until iOS 7 is also from in Minority Report.

Read more about the crazy history of the iPhone in Brian Merchant’s The One Device.

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Apps,

WhatsApp Becomes the Latest Victim of China’s New Wave of Internet Censorship

GIF

Facebook is desperate to do business in China, but authorities in the country are increasingly comfortable with shutting out foreign companies and tightening restrictions on internet communications. On Tuesday, Facebook’s only major product that is still permitted by authorities fell victim to the “Great Firewall” and all signs indicate that we’re entering a new age of censorship.

According to the

New York Times

, WhatsApp users in China are reporting widespread disruptions to the messaging app. It has reportedly been partially blocked by the massive filtering system that authorities use to limit free speech online. Users have found themselves unable to send photos, videos, and in some cases text messages. Security analysts confirmed to the
Times
that the disruptions were originating from the government. Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Symbolic Software, tells the paper, “according to the analysis that we ran today on WhatsApp’s infrastructure, it seems that the Great Firewall is imposing censorship that selectively targets WhatsApp functionalities.”

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Even though WhatsApp is incredibly popular around the globe-it has 700 million users-it’s a small fish in China. Still, the app is popular with citizens who want to communicate with the outside world. That could be one reason that it has suddenly been targeted. According to research by
Citizen Lab
, there has been a concerted effort to block certain communications online following the death of China’s only Nobel Peace Prize winner,
Liu Xiaobo
, on July 13th. Citizen Lab found that for the first time, images were being blocked in one-on-one chats within WeChat. The homegrown messaging app by Tencent boasts
768 million users
. Accounts that are registered to phone numbers from mainland China were unable to view at least 74 images that were tested and numerous keyword combinations have been blocked.

Facebook warned investors last week during an earnings call that it’s
running out of space
to insert ads while still maintaining an acceptable user experience. After hitting
2 billion users
, it’s also running out of the potential for growth. China is one of the few markets left to be tapped, but authorities have consistently resisted
Mark Zuckerberg’s appeals
.Reached for comment a WhatsApp spokesperson told Gadgetlayout, “We are not providing a comment on this topic.”

But it’s not just Facebook that has problems with China, major Western technology companies like Google and Twitter are also shut out of the country. China’s government has been resistant to the explosion of the internet from the beginning, but it made certain allowances knowing that completely blocking the internet wasn’t an option in the modern world. Now, the growth of its own technology sector has given it a sort of parallel internet that can be controlled from within. Domestic companies like Baidu and Tencent offer search, microblogging, messaging, and other alternatives to the most popular web services. They also can’t tell Chinese censors “no.”

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Residents of China have always used VPN services to access the unrestricted internet, but greater efforts to
block access to VPNs
and
remove them
from online marketplaces have been enacted this year. On top of that, a confusing
new cybersecurity law
has left companies uncertain about what is and isn’t allowed on networks within the country’s borders.

We’re not entirely sure why WhatsApp is being disrupted at the moment, or if a permanent ban is in its future. But China is very clearly signaling that it has its own internet now, and that’s a major problem for its citizens.

[
New York Times
and
Citizen Lab
]

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Iphone,

Report: Apple Hopes to Replace Fingerprints With a 3D Face Scanner on iPhone 8

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GIF: Gadgetlayout

Yesterday, a
leak
from one of the most reliable Apple rumor sleuths claimed that the iPhone 8 won’t feature a fingerprint scanner integrated into the display. That feature has been expected for some time. But if a new report is correct, it seems that fingerprints are going to be replaced with 3D facial recognition.

Citing people familiar with the product who did not want to be named,
Bloomberg reports
that Apple is currently testing whole face 3D scanning with the goal of integrating it into the upcoming iPhone 8. A new 3D sensor is said to be the backbone of the technology and iris scanning may also be a feature.

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The sources say that designers are focused on increasing the speed of the sensor’s recognition capabilities and that it only takes “a few hundred milliseconds” to unlock the phone. It can reportedly recognize faces even if the phone is laying flat on a table.

Because the 3D scanner uses more data points, it is said to be more secure than the fingerprint scanner. That would be a leap forward in phone-based facial recognition. Both the
facial recognition
and
iris recognition
software on the Samsung Galaxy S8 have notoriously been easy to fool with a photograph. But the Galaxy S8 is only a 2D scan. Considering the fact that Apple has gone 10 years with a remarkable security record on the iPhone, it’s probably safe to say that this won’t be released until it’s extremely tight.

The report that claims
the iPhone 8 won’t have a fingerprint scanner built into its OLED display came from KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a strong track record of getting things right. Intriguingly, the report also claims that there will know touch ID whatsoever. Though Bloomberg is saying that the inclusion of 3D facial recognition is still dependent on testing, it seems like Apple should have made a decision by now.

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Supply chain leaks
have already given us a peek at what the iPhone 8 will probably look like. If manufacturers are already getting specs, it would seem reasonable that Apple would notify case makers about a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone. There certainly doesn’t appear to be one on the front:

iPhone 8 design leak. Image credit: iDrop News

Your mileage may vary on how excited you are to be feeding your biometric data into another system, but the possibility that the 3D scanner could be integrated with Apple’s new augmented reality features sounds great.
Earlier reports
have also indicated that the phone will have a dedicated chip for AI capabilities will improve voice and facial recognition, as well as extend battery life.

Another factor to consider is whether or not the 3D sensor could bring gesture recognition with it. Making gestures in the air could be Apple’s new evolution of multi-touch. While that feature might have limited use on an iPhone, it’s easy to imagine it being integrated into future iPads or iMacs and taking us one step closer to the world of
Minority Report
.

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[
Bloomberg
,
9to5 Mac
]

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Google,

Ominous ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Case With Global Consequences Heads to Europe’s Highest Court

Photo: AP

Following the laws of individual nations becomes a hell of a conundrum when your business fundamentally has no borders. But recent court cases are threatening to make the situation even more difficult by demanding that a country’s laws be honored by companies like Google all around the world. On Wednesday, an
ongoing case
with terrifying implications was kicked up to the European Union’s highest court.

Back in 2014, European courts
ruled
that Google had to respect the “right to be forgotten,” a set of guidelines that allow citizens to request the removal of certain search results in their home country if the linked page features their name. The rules stipulate that Google has to comply with a request if the link is outdated, irrelevant, or violates the citizen’s privacy. It was a foolish ruling that ignores the way the internet works and is effectively rewriting history.

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But that wasn’t enough for France’s top privacy watchdog. In 2015, The Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL) told Google that it would
have to remove
the search results across all of its websites.

The particulars here are a little tricky. Let’s say that someone in France files a removal request that’s approved. Google will then remove that link on google.fr and all of its other sites in the EU. It will also ensure that anyone searching any Google site from within France will not see the link on any of its sites. That doesn’t apply to other countries within the EU. Someone in Germany could go to google.com, and the link might show up in the search results. But the CNIL has insisted that the link must be removed across all of Google’s sites for all users around the world. When Google refused to comply with the regulator,
it was fined $112,000
by the French government. A ruling by the French court on the subsequent appeal has been delayed until the
highest court in the European Union
decides on the legality of CNIL’s demands.

Part of CNIL’s argument relied on the fact that someone in France could just use proxy services to find the removed links. Google’s lawyers have countered that the original system, “is perfectly effective unless you want to be a fraudster.” In other words, the search giant is arguing that if a person is capable of abusing a system, but a company is perfectly compliant with the system, the company isn’t responsible for that person’s abuse.

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Google has complied with the basic compromise that it agreed to in 2014 and it claims in its transparency reports to have removed 590,000 links over the last few years. While it wasn’t thrilled about the initial ruling, it has adopted the view that each country has a right to its own laws. As a Google spokesperson put it in an email to Gadgetlayout, “For the last 18 months, we’ve been defending the idea that each country should be able to balance freedom of expression and privacy in the way that it chooses, not in the way that another country chooses.”

That’s the core issue at play in this case. It’s just one of many
recent instances
in which governments have charged ahead with their own requirements while ignoring the global repercussions. In June, the
Canadian Supreme Court ruled
that Google can be forced to remove links globally. The ruling applies to all search engines, as does the EUs right to be forgotten. Google can’t appeal the Canadian case, but it can ask for alterations to the order if it can demonstrate that the ruling violates the laws of other countries, such as the protection of free speech.

The $112,000 fine that was levied in 2016 was a one time penalty that was designed to spur Google into action. The potential consequences for Google refusing to comply if they lose the case are unclear.

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[
Bloomberg
,
Wall Street Journal
]

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Chatroom,

What’s the One Device You Need to Survive the Apocalypse?

The zombie horde is coming. The pandemic is spreading. An EMP just fried the grid. One way or another, you need to get out of this soon-to-be-godforsaken city. You gaze forlornly at your glorious pile of technology, knowing you’ve gotta make a hard choice about what to bring.

All week at Gadgetlayout, we’ve been
exploring survival
– how to prepare for the
next major earthquake
, how humans
engineer for disaster

, and how to survive the
terrible, meaningless accidents that hit us out of nowhere

. We’ve also spoken with experts about
how to survive

the collapse of civilization itself.

But honestly, we’re going to be some pretty woebegone survivors without our precious devices. So, we want to know which of those devices to
bring
. What piece of technology will shield us from the nuclear fallout, help us evade the cannibalistic road warriors, or simply keep us entertained in a world without Netflix? What’s the one device we should all be bringing into our apocalypse bunkers, no matter what? Doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be damn useful.

Image: The radio tranceiver I’ll use to chat with the International Space Station after the apocalypse, via Shutterstock

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Facebook,

Governments using Facebook, Twitter for promoting lies, propaganda: Report

Governments and individuals are widely using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter for promoting lies, misinformation and propaganda to manipulate public opinion around the world, an alarming nine-countries study has said.

According to the new set of studies from the University of Oxford, countries like Russia, where around 45 per cent of active Twitter accounts are bots and Taiwan — where a campaign against President Tsai Ing-wen involved thousands of heavily co-ordinated accounts sharing Chinese mainland propaganda — contribute to the dirty politics on social media.

The reports, part of Oxford Internet Institute’s ‘Computational Propaganda Research Project’, include Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Poland, Ukraine and the US.

Citing Philip Howard, Professor of Internet Studies at Oxford, The Guardian reported on Tuesday that “the lies, the junk, the misinformation” of traditional propaganda is widespread online and “supported by Facebook or Twitter’s algorithms”.

One of the techniques to alter people’s opinion is to build fake accounts to automate them to like, share and post on the social networks.

According to the report, these accounts serve to game algorithms to push content on to curated social feeds and drown out real issues by populating social networks with untrue information. As the number of likes and shares is large, users tend to believe the content that manipulates their opinion.

The researchers found that in the US, the propaganda took the form of “manufacturing consensus” — creating the illusion of popularity so that a political candidate can have viability where they might not have had it before.

“The illusion of online support for a candidate can spur actual support through a bandwagon effect. Trump made Twitter centre stage in this election and voters paid attention,” said the US report.

The report also found evidence of institutional support for the use of bots.

“Bots massively multiply the ability of one person to attempt to manipulate people. Picture your annoying friend on Facebook, who’s always picking political fights. If they had an army of 5,000 bots, that would be a lot worse, right?” Samuel Woolley, the project’s Director of Research, was quoted as saying in The Guardian.

One country that the researchers found different from others was Germany where fear of online destabilisation outpaced the actual arrival of automated political attacks.

Germany has implemented world-leading laws, requiring social networks to take responsibility for what gets posted on their sites.

“Germany leads the way as a cautionary authority over computational propaganda, seeking to prevent online manipulation of opinion rather than addressing already present issues,” the report noted.

Last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel accused technology giants Facebook and Google of “narrowing perspective” and demanded that they make public their privately-developed algorithms.

“These algorithms, when they are not transparent, can lead to a distortion of our perception, they narrow our breadth of information,” she had said.

Ever since the results of the US presidential elections were declared, Facebook was accused of spreading and promoting fake news that favoured the win of Donald Trump.

Though the company has taken a number of measures to prevent fake news from spreading, there are still concerns being raised.

The findings were recently presented to a group of “senior” representatives from the technology industry in Palo Alto, California.

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Apps,

PSA: Check Your App Subscriptions So You Don’t Get Stung

Image:
jarmoluk/Pixabay

Thanks to the helter-skelter pace of modern living it can be all too easy to sign up for a free trial or a month’s worth of a particular service, and then before you know it, you’re getting billed for a ton of apps you’re not using and
don’t really need
. Checking up on your subscriptions could save you a serious chunk of change-here’s how to do it.

Get cancellation fever

There’s no shame in having rolling subscriptions you’ve forgotten about, with just about every app and service on the planet offering a free trial in return for an email address and a credit card number. One way of avoiding getting stung is to stick to free trials that don’t ask for card details up front, because that way you can’t get charged when your free period ends.

That’s not always possible though, and you might be keen to get started with something that does require payment details-you might even be willing to pay up for a month or two to get a feel for the service.

Image: Screenshot

If you’re sure you’re going to want out, then one of the best ways to avoid a nasty surprise on your next credit card bill is to cancel your trial as soon as you’ve signed up for it. In most cases, you’ll be allowed to continue to use the service until the trial ends. Have a look around the app or the website while it’s still fresh in your mind to find the cancellation option.

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Of course, it’s in an app’s best interest to keep stringing you along, so that cancel button might be tricky to find. For Apple subscriptions and services, open up iTunes on Windows or macOS, then open the Store tab and click
Account
to find everything you’ve paid for through Apple; as for Google services and Android apps, head to the
Subscriptions and services
page on the web.

Wait, what did I sign up for?

Here are just some of the subscriptions you might be paying for monthly or yearly:

  • music streaming
  • movie and TV streaming
  • paywalled publications
  • photo or cloud storage
  • premium versions of apps
  • desktop software subscriptions
  • security software
  • VPN software
  • forum memberships
  • online gaming networks
  • website hosting
  • premium versions of sites
  • subscription clothing or other goods

These are just the digital app and website subscriptions, and don’t include gym memberships, insurance coverage, and so on.

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Your next port of call should be your credit card or bank statements: Look for recurring charges and anything you’re not expecting. Many banks will break out recurring payments for you, or show you pending transactions you’ve got coming up, so check your options online or on your statement.

Image: Screenshot

If you can’t remember what name or email address you used to sign up for a service-understandable if you registered many months ago-you should be able to recover your account details by opening up the app or heading to the website and looking for
an account recovery option
. If you can’t remember anything about the details you used to sign up, try searching through your inbox for a welcome email.

Getting in touch with the app or website directly might be enough to recover your account details, if indeed you can find a responsive customer service department. As a last resort, you should be able to cancel the payments through your bank, though you may have to pay a fee and
jump through a few hoops
first.

Services that can help you quit services

There’s a pile of apps will also try and take the hard work out of spotting unwanted, recurring payments for you.
Trim
, for example, accesses your account and returns a list of regular payments. Everything works over text message and you can even cancel the services you don’t want any more from inside the app.

Image: Truebill

Truebill
works along similar lines and goes into even more depth, with charts showing your monthly spending and a detailed breakdown of where all your hard-earned cash is going. If any recurring payment should get changed (maybe Amazon Prime raised its prices up again), then Truebill can alert you.

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Meanwhile, 
Clarity Money
is a more comprehensive account management service, but it does include a feature for removing what it calls “wasteful accounts”-those recurring payments for services and apps that you’re no longer making use of. Again, regular payments are highlighted and you have the option to cancel inside the app.

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Gadgets,

The Super Nintendo Classic Edition Arrives With 21 Games on September 29

After the insanely successful NES Classic Edition completely sold out until Nintendoinexplicably stopped making it
, the company is following up with a miniature version of the Super Nintendo that will come bundled with 21 classic 16-bit games including
Super Mario World
and
F-Zero
.

According to a
tweet
on the official Nintendo of America Twitter account, the Super Nintendo Classic Edition will officially launch on September 29 and will also include games like
Star Fox 2
,
Donkey Kong Country
,
Super Mario Kart
,
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
and two wired controllers. Pricing details haven’t been revealed yet, but we’re hoping it falls somewhere near the $60 price point of the NES Classic Edition.

[
Twitter – Nintendo
]

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Facebook,

This Story About Facebook Workers in Menlo Park Is Depressing as Hell

Image: Getty

In his recent adventures
beyond the valley
, Mark Zuckerberg has made a point of hammering on the issue of
income inequality
, saying the US should “explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.” But Zuckerberg needs to look no further than his own workers who live just miles from Facebook’s Frank Gehry-designed campus to find striking examples of appalling income disparity.

A new story from

The Guardian

sheds light on two Facebook contractors who live in a two-car garage with their children. Nicole and her husband Victor both work in Facebook’s cafeterias, but even though they earn well above Facebook’s $15-per-hour minimum, they say it’s not enough to provide for their three children-ages nine, eight, and four.

“He doesn’t have to go around the world. He should learn what’s happening in this city,” Nicole said.

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Nicole makes $19.85 an hour, while Victor makes $17.85 an hour, but both say they don’t make enough to even afford the company’s health insurance. “Back in the day, [the wage] would have been a great number,” Victor told the
Guardian
. “But because of Facebook moving in, everything is so expensive. I have to get payday loans sometimes. We barely make it.”

While $19.85 an hour may sound good in some parts of the US, MIT’s
Living Wage Calculator
estimates that Nicole and Victor each need to earn about $24 an hour to raise three kids in San Mateo County, where Facebook’s headquarters are located. Ever-expanding tech companies like Facebook have been found to
exacerbate income inequality
. And in San Mateo,
Facebook has been pegged
as the cause of spiking housing prices.

On Friday Facebook’s cafeteria contractors voted to unionize “in the hopes of achieving a better standard of living,” the
Guardian
writes. Facebook reportedly did not try to prevent its workers from joining the union.

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A Facebook spokesperson told the
Guardian
that Facebook is “committed to providing a safe, fair, work environment to everyone who helps Facebook bring the world closer together, including contractors.” Yet, contract workers such as Nicole and Victor don’t have access to the company’s clinics or gyms.

These two contractors might not be representative of everyone working at Facebook, but it’s still pretty jarring to hear that Facebook contractors struggle to buy their children clothes and food-especially after you learn
how much Facebook pays its interns
.

[
The Guardian
]