Numlock News: October 18, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Deoxyribonucleic Snitches

Right now, 60 percent of Americans of European descent can be identified through a large commercial DNA database, a figure projected to rise to 90 percent by 2020. This doesn’t mean that they have your DNA, per se, but if, say, your cousin, your grandmother’s sister and your third cousin did a DNA test for fun, there’s enough genetic material to work with that the Feds could probably narrow it down to you. By 2025, 21 percent of all Americans will be genetically sequences at the current rate.

Max Read, Intelligencer

Video Games

Tencent, the Chinese technology and entertainment company, has lost $230 billion in market value since January, a slide that knocks it out of the top ten companies in the world. Tencent is the world’s biggest gaming company in the world’s biggest gaming market, which is usually a pretty rad slot to inhabit, but China has frozen the licenses that allow companies to make money from new online games. China may continue the freeze going into next year. The August decision — linked to youth nearsightedness — has been rough on Tencent, which is expected to see a 20 percent drop in mobile gaming revenue this quarter.

Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

Video Ads Everyone Hates And No One Enjoys

This year marketers will spend $27.8 billion on online video ads, because hell is empty and all the devils are here. Facebook is poised to get 25 percent of U.S. video ad spending, but advertisers are now suing the company over an alleged failure to disclose measurement problems. Facebook told advertisers that it had overestimated the average time people spent watching videos by 60 to 80 percent. The complaint says their analysis shows that the metrics were inflated 150 percent to 900 percent.

Suzanne Vranica, The Wall Street Journal

The correct link to yesterday’s Netflix story is here, sorry for the mix up!

Internal Hires, Decided By Brutal Knife Fight

Employers are increasingly relying on promoting within — internal hires filled 21 percent of 2017 job openings, up from 11 percent in 2016 — but when those positions are filled after a bake-off, holding on to the employee who lost out on the promotion is hard. A study found that employees who win a promotion have better outcomes — 17 percent more likely to stay with the company for two more years, 28 percent more likely to get promoted within three years — but the employee who loses out on the promotion is two-and-a-half times as likely versus the average employee to quit in six to 12 months.

Sue Shellenbarger, The Wall Street Journal

Voting Rights

The Voting Rights Act required parts of the country with a history of discrimination to clear changes to voting with the federal government. In 2013, the Supreme Court got rid of that requirement. But an analysis of over 94,000 polling places between 2012 and 2016 covering 90 percent of electoral jurisdictions found that the areas that had been subject to the Voting Rights Act closed down 2.6 percent of their polling places, considerably higher than the 2 percent of polling places shut down in the rest of the country. This disproportionately affected minorities. A granular, block-by-block analysis of 11 jurisdictions found that following polling place closures the average travel time for mostly white neighborhoods increased by 21 seconds while the average travel time for mostly minority neighborhoods rose by 46 seconds.

Rob Arthur and Allison McCann, Vice News

California Tax Fight

An initiative to roll back restrictions on taxing commercial and industrial properties in California has qualified for the November 2020 ballot. The campaign could get ugly: rolling back parts of Proposition 13 would increase tax receipts $6 billion to $10 billion for cities, counties and school districts. Business groups are preparing for a fight. Right now, home and business property taxes are limited to 1 percent of a property’s taxable value, which can’t rise more than 2 percent per year. The initiative would keep that protection for homes, but would let local governments tax businesses based on market value. The polling finds 46 percent of Californians support that change, 22 percent oppose it, and 31 percent are undecided. Buckle up, Golden State, the 2020 election somehow just got even more intense.

Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times

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Net Neutrality

The New York Attorney General is investigating fraudulent comments sent to the FCC about net neutrality, with an estimated 9.5 million comments submitted using false identities. Telecommunications industry trade groups and lobbying contractors have been subpoenaed as part of the probe to determine if they were behind the flood of fakes asking for the repeal of net neutrality policy. There were 24 million public comments, and a recent analysis of the truly bona fide ones — over 800,000 that were not part of a form letter campaign and had been written by actual humans — found 99.7 percent of a subset studied opposed the repeal of net neutrality.

Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica


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