China’s Burned Out Tech Workers are Fighting Back Against Long Hours

1The draining 996 work schedule—named for the expectation that employees work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week—has persisted in Chinese companies for years despite ongoing public outcry. Even Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma once called it a “huge blessing.”

In early October this year, it seemed the tide might have been turning. After hopeful signs of increased government scrutiny in August, four aspiring tech workers initiated a social media project designed to expose the problem with the nation’s working culture. A publicly editable database of company practices, it soon went viral, revealing working conditions at many companies in the tech sector and helping bring 996 to the center of the public’s attention. It managed to garner 1 million views within its first week.

But the project—first dubbed Worker Lives Matter and then Working Time—was gone almost as quickly as it appeared. The database and the GitHub repository page have been deleted, and online discussions about the work have been censored by Chinese social networking platforms.  The short life of Working Time highlights how difficult it is to make progress against overtime practices that, while technically illegal in China, are still thriving.

But some suspect it won’t be the last anonymous project to take on 996. “I believe there will be more and more attempts and initiatives like this,” says programmer Suji Yan, who has worked on another anti-996 project. With better approaches to avoiding censorship, he says, they could bring even more attention to the problem.

Tracking hours

Working Time started with a spreadsheet shared on Tencent Docs, China’s version of Google Docs. Shortly after it was posted, it was populated with entries attributed to companies such as Alibaba, the Chinese-language internet search provider Baidu, and e-commerce company JD.com.  “9 a.m., 10:30 p.m.–11:00 p.m., six days a week, managers usually go home after midnight,” read one entry linked with tech giant Huawei. “10 a.m., 9 p.m. (off-work time 9 p.m., but our group stays until 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. because of involution,” noted another entry (“involution” is Chinese internet slang for irrational competition).

Within three days, more than 1,000 entries had been added. A few days later, it became the top trending topic on China’s Quora-like online forum Zhihu.  As the spreadsheet grew and got more public attention, one organizer, with the user name 秃头才能变强 (“Only Being Bald Can Make You Strong”), came out on Zhihu to share the story behind the burgeoning project. “Four of us are fresh college and master’s degree graduates who were born between 1996 and 2001,” the organizer said.genesis3-1-1

Initially, the spreadsheet was just for information sharing, to help job hunters like themselves, they said. But as it got popular, the organizers decided to push from information gathering to activism. “It is not simply about sharing anymore, as we bear some social responsibility,”

The spreadsheet filled a gap in China, where there is a lack of company rating sites such as Glassdoor and limited ways for people to learn about benefits, office culture, and salary information. Some job seekers depend on word of mouth, while others reach out to workers randomly on the professional networking app Maimai or piece together information from job listings.  “I have heard about 996, but I was not aware it is that common.

Now I see the tables made by others, I feel quite shocked,” Lane Sun, a university student from Nanjing, said when the project was still public. Against 996 According to China’s labor laws, a typical work schedule is eight hours a day, with a maximum of 44 hours a week. Extra hours beyond that require overtime pay, and monthly overtime totals are capped at 36 hours.125x125-1-1-1

But for a long time, China’s tech companies and startups have skirted overtime caps and become notorious for endorsing, glamorizing, and in some cases mandating long hours in the name of hard work and competitive advantage.  In a joint survey by China’s online job site Boss Zhipin and the microblogging platform Weibo in 2019, only 10.6% of workers surveyed said they rarely worked overtime, while 24.7% worked overtime every day.

 Long work hours can benefit workers, Jack Ma explained in 2019. “Since you are here, instead of making yourself miserable, you should do 996,” Ma said in a speech at an internal Alibaba meeting that was later shared online. “Your 10-year working experience will be the same as others’ 20 years.” But the tech community had already started to fight back. Earlier that year, a user created the domain 996.icu.

A repository of the same name was launched on GitHub a few days later. The name means that “by following the 996 work schedule, you are risking yourself getting into the ICU (intensive care unit),” explains the GitHub page, which includes regulations on working hours under China’s labor law and a list of more than 200 companies that practice 996.  Within three days, the repository got over 100,000 stars, or bookmarks, becoming the top trending project on GitHub at that time. It was blocked not long after by Chinese browsers including QQ and 360, ultimately disappearing entirely from the Chinese internet (it is still available through VPNs).

The 996.icu project was quickly followed by the Anti-996 License. Devised by Yan and Katt Gu, who has a legal background, the software license allows developers to restrict the use of their code to those entities that comply with labor laws. In total, the Anti-996 License has been adopted by more than 2,000 projects, Yan says. Today, 996 is facing increasing public scrutiny from both Chinese authorities and the general public.

After a former employee at the agriculture-focused tech firm Pinduoduo died in December 2020, allegedly because of overwork, China’s state-run press agency Xinhua called out overtime culture and advocated for shorter hours.This company delivers packages faster than Amazon, but workers pay the priceSouth Korean e-commerce giant Coupang uses AI to promise almost-instant delivery. But speed comes with troubling labor issues—including worker deaths.

And on August 26, China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Supreme People’s Court jointly published guidelines and examples of court cases on overtime, sending reminders to companies and individuals to be aware of labor laws. But even though authorities and state media seem to be taking a tougher stand, it is unclear when or if the rules that make 996 illegal will be fully enforced. Some companies are making changes.quintex-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-2-2-1-1-1

Anthony Cai, a current employee of Baidu, says working six days a week is quite rare in big companies nowadays. This year, several tech companies including and ByteDance, the developer of TikTok, canceled “big/small weeks,” an emerging term in China that refers to working a six-day schedule every other week. “Working on Saturday is not that popular anymore,” Cai says. “However, staying late at the office is still very common, which is not usually counted as overtime hours.” 

 Source: https://www.technologyreview.com

.

More Contents:

“Guide to Employment law in Spain”

Black Businesses Receive Tech Industry Push Ahead Of Holiday Shopping Bonanza

The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt Black-owned businesses a tough hand. Stifled by stay-at-home orders, on-again off-again store closures and stricter limits occupancy limits, many businesses are struggling to outlast the seemingly unending virus outbreak.

Although they’ve rebounded slightly in recent months, Black-owned stores have experienced the greatest decline this year, plummeting from 1.1 million businesses in February to 640,000 in April—a 41% drop.

But spurred by a national movement to support Black businesses, which kicked off this summer, a new number of corporations are taking small steps to put the Black in Black Friday.

Black Friday online sales pulled in a record $7.4 billion in 2019— the second largest online shopping day ever and a 19.6% increase over the previous year—while the holiday season overall generated more than $72 billion in online sales, according to Adobe Analytics. Online sales for this Black Friday are projected to generate $10.3 billion.

The surge in digital spending over the holiday season and the heightened visibility that’s been awarded to small businesses through corporate sponsorships could have a considerable impact on Black businesses in particular, sustaining them through the a few more months of the pandemic.

Facebook, for one, launched its #BuyBlackFriday initiative and a corresponding toolkit and gift guide in October as part of a broader three-month campaign to buttress small businesses during the holiday season.

The gift guide features products from Black-owned businesses and was curated alongside the U.S. Black Chambers and several corporate partners. 

“Black-owned businesses have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, closing at twice the rate of other small businesses,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a blog post announcing the initiative. She added, “But we know that millions of people want to help.”

The campaign runs through Black Friday on November 27, a symbolic starting gun for the holiday shopping season.

More recently, Google partnered with Grammy-winning musician Wyclef Jean and the U.S. Black Chambers to promote its #BlackOwnedFriday campaign, an effort to make November 27 “Black-owned Friday” and galvanize shoppers to buy Black beyond the Thanksgiving weekend.

The tech giant has also showcased Black-owed businesses on its social platforms since mid-October and now allows users to find nearby stores that identify as Black-owned through its search engine.

“I’ve seen firsthand the strain and struggle that Black-owned businesses face,” Jean said in a statement. “For many of them, this holiday season will be critical to their survival.”

TikTok, the latest viral social media platform, threw its weight behind Black-owned businesses months after facing censorship allegations from Black creatives in June. Earlier this month, the video sharing platform, which has about 200 million monthly active users in the U.S., launched Support Black Businesses, a digital hub to amplify Black entrepreneurs. 

TikTok also announced #ShopBlack, an in-app campaign that allows users to create videos spotlighting their favorite Black-owned businesses or to share their experience as a Black entrepreneur.

As small businesses reel from the pandemic’s economic disruption, many big retailers have had breakaway growth. Amazon’s profits and sales exceeded analysts’ expectations, reporting a 37% sales growth and tripling its third-quarter profits as more shoppers turn to the e-commerce giant during the pandemic. 

But celebrities and influencers alike have started to leverage Amazon’s omnipresence to highlight Black sellers on the platform. Nearly 70% of the products on Oprah Winfrey’s highly anticipated annual list of her favorite things are created by Black-owned or Black-led businesses this year and all are available for purchase on Amazon.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

The billionaire media mogul has partnered with Amazon on the list since 2015 and her yearly picks have provided brands with considerable gains in sales since the list’s 1996 advent.

Black Americans have developed a growing presence among small businesses owners and could stand to gain considerable sales from dedicated shopping holidays like Small Business Saturday, which raked in an estimated $19.6 billion in 2019. And while physical distancing measures will significantly curb foot traffic this year, more than 112 million Americans visited a small business on that day last year, a record high.

As shoppers increasingly reject winding lines that snake around the store, a trend that’s long been in the making but was exacerbated by the pandemic, they’re also looking to support independent local businesses—a potential boon for niche Black businesses with an online presence this holiday season. Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

Ruth Umoh

 Ruth Umoh

I’m a reporter covering the various aspects of diversity and inclusion in business and society at large. Previously, I was a reporter at CNBC, where I focused on leadership and strategic management. I’ve also dabbled in video journalism, working as a breaking news digital producer for New York Daily News, followed by a yearlong stint as a producer at Rolling Stone. My work has been featured on New York Daily News, Yahoo Finance and Time Out. I’m a proud alumna of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, receiving honors for my investigative thesis on the alarming number of physicians dying by suicide. Tweet me @ruthumohnews or send tips to rumoh@forbes.com.

.

.

MarketWatch

Black business ownership fell more than any demographic group since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We spoke to some across the nation who are still fighting to survive. See this video on MarketWatch: https://www.marketwatch.com/video/sec… MarketWatch provides the latest stock market, financial and business news. Get stock market quotes, personal finance advice, company news and more: https://www.marketwatch.com/ Follow MarketWatch on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marketwatch Follow MarketWatch on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarketWatch Follow MarketWatch on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marketwatch/ Follow MarketWatch on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/mark…

Zoom Promises To Do Better After Banning Tiananmen Square Protests — Then Builds Tech To Help China’s Censorship

1

Already under fire for security lapses and facing scrutiny over its links to China, Zoom made the startling decision earlier this month to ban three users organizing memorials to mark the Tiananmen Square massacre at the request of Beijing. It’s now reversed the decision, according to a company post released late Thursday. But it’s still going to help China block accounts of users in the country.

Though the tech giant neglected to use the words “Tiananmen Square” in its post, it acknowledged that the Chinese government had been in touch earlier this year to warn about four Zoom-hosted commemorations of the famous pro-democracy protests in 1989. China wanted the groups and the administrators banned.

Astonishingly, Zoom chose to monitor the metadata for the calls from the U.S. so it could tell if anyone from mainland China was participating. And when it discovered that people from mainland China were joining three of the meetings, it shut down the calls and suspended or terminated the host accounts.

Those hosts – Lee Cheuk-yan, Wang Dan, and Zhou Fengsuo – have now had their accounts reinstated. Fengsuo, a U.S.-based activist and president of Humanitarian China, sounded the alarm on Sunday when he discovered his paid-for Zoom account had been shut down, according to the South China Morning Post. On Wednesday, he had his account back.

Zoom will still aid Chinese censorship

Zoom admitted it made errors in banning the users, saying  it would “not allow requests from the Chinese government to impact anyone outside of mainland China.” That indicates, of course, that it will still assist the Chinese government on cracking down on dissent within the country.

In fact, it’s creating tech to do just that. “Zoom is developing technology over the next several days that will enable us to remove or block at the participant level based on geography,” it wrote. Such technology is already widely used in China as part of its Great Firewall, which blocks citizens from visiting certain sites and online services. In making this tech, Zoom is effectively aiding the Chinese government with that same censorship, even if it thinks it’s doing something positive.

bitmax2

“This will enable us to comply with requests from local authorities when they determine activity on our platform is illegal within their borders; however, we will also be able to protect these conversations for participants outside of those borders where the activity is allowed,” the company added.

U.S. representatives Greg Walden and Cathy McMorris Rodgers have now sent a letter to Zoom chief Eric Yuan, asking for clarity on what data it shares with China, according to Reuters. Republican senator Josh Hawley even asked Yuan “pick a side” between the America and China.

In its blog post, Zoom wrote: “We did not provide any user information or meeting content to the Chinese government. We do not have a backdoor that allows someone to enter a meeting without being visible.”

Zoom had already faced criticism for creating encryption keys in China, where it has a big research and development arm. It said that was a mistake and has issued a patch to prevent it happening again. Later, Zoom came under fire for only providing end-to-end encryption for paying customers.

In its own SEC filings, the communications company warns investors it could face additional scrutiny because of its Chinese links. “We have a high concentration of research and development personnel in China, which could expose us to market scrutiny regarding the integrity of our solution or data security features,” it’s previously written.

Those ties to China are only going to lead to more strife for the business, one that has become a fixture of lockdown life, and a stock market darling. Tech companies have had to walk a fine line in doing business with China and the rest of the world with Apple, LinkedIn and Google all coming under fire for trying to placate China’s communist rulers. For Zoom, and its founder Eric Yuan, ties to China raise the stakes dramatically.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website. Send me a secure tip.

I’m associate editor for Forbes, covering security, surveillance and privacy. I’ve been breaking news and writing features on these topics for major publications since 2010. As a freelancer, I worked for The Guardian, Vice Motherboard, Wired and BBC.com, amongst many others. I was named BT Security Journalist of the year in 2012 and 2013 for a range of exclusive articles, and in 2014 was handed Best News Story for a feature on US government harassment of security professionals. I like to hear from hackers who are breaking things for either fun or profit and researchers who’ve uncovered nasty things on the web. Tip me on Signal at 447837496820. I use WhatsApp and Treema too. Or you can email me at TBrewster@forbes.com, or tbthomasbrewster@gmail.com.

Source:https://www.forbes.com

GM-980x120-BIT-ENG-Banner

728x90

For the first time in 30 years, police have banned the Tiananmen Square massacre Vigil in Hong Kong. But that didn’t stop the crowd. Subscribe to VICE News here: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE-News

Facebook Deleting Coronavirus Posts, Leading To Charges Of Censorship

Updated 9PM PST March 17: Facebook says it has fixed the bug and all posts are restored. That may not be completely accurate, however, according to one source.

Facebook and other tech companies are working hard to curb misinformation on their platforms about the emerging COVID-19 or Coronavirus pandemic.

Maybe too hard.

“Facebook is blocking COVID-19 posts from fact based sources,” a Facebook friend who noticed it told me. “Facebook is hiding these posts. At the time of viral pandemic this shouldn’t be happening.”

A screenshot of Facebook's message to banned posts.

Multiple others have experienced the same thing, and it’s the day after Facebook, along with Google, Twitter, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Reddit issued a joint statement on combatting misinformation on their platforms. That’s a good thing, as long as what they’re targeting actually is incorrect or spammy information, and not quality reporting from generally-recognized sites.

Apparently, those sites include Medium, Buzzfeed, and USA Today.

Others that I’ve personally seen via screenshotted block notices include Stuff, The Independent, and the NY Post. The Dallas Morning News was also impacted.

Given that Facebook is a key source of news and information for many, this has resulted in more than a few conspiracy theories. “Facebook is going hard on information control, I guess Facebook wants us all to be misinformed and die,” one friend opined.

The reality, according to a Facebook executive posting on Twitter, is that there was a bug in a system designed to stop spam:

We’re on this – this is a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce. We’re in the process of fixing and bringing all these posts back. More soon.

Guy Rosen, VP Integrity, Facebook

That’s resulted in potentially thousands of posts and links being wrongly attributed as spam and blocked from public view. And not all of them are news posts about Coronavirus or COVID-19.

“It’s not just news articles,” according to one response to Rosen’s tweet. “A community flier asking for emergency donations of food to the needy in our community was blocked. A friend in Canada had posts from Royal Canadian Mounted Police blocked. It’s very widespread.”

As you often find with issues like this, conspiracy theories abound.

“[Facebook is] doing what it was designed to do,” said another response to Rosen. “Silencing facts.”

That theory should be easy enough for Facebook to clear up, if the company can fix the bug and get the anti-spam system back on track. Rosen said this afternoon that Facebook was working on it, and should have a fix soon.

A few hours later on March 17, at 6:31 PM PST, Rosen tweeted that the problem was fixed:

“We’ve restored all the posts that were incorrectly removed, which included posts on all topics – not just those related to COVID-19. This was an issue with an automated system that removes links to abusive websites, but incorrectly removed a lot of other posts too.”

That may not be entirely correct, however. Or there may be a lag time in restoring all flagged and deleted posts.

The same Facebook friend who alerted me to the problem in the first place checked her deleted posts at 9:02 PM PST, and was still getting messages about deleted posts. Here’s a video screen grab that illustrates the problem, which she provided.

I’ve asked Facebook for an update or explanation, and will add that when they respond.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I forecast and analyze trends affecting the mobile ecosystem. I’ve been a journalist, analyst, and corporate executive, and have chronicled the rise of the mobile economy. I built the VB Insight research team at VentureBeat and managed teams creating software for partners like Intel and Disney. In addition, I’ve led technical teams, built social sites and mobile apps, and consulted on mobile, social, and IoT. In 2014, I was named to Folio’s top 100 of the media industry’s “most innovative entrepreneurs and market shaker-uppers.” I live in Vancouver, Canada with my family, where I coach baseball and hockey, though not at the same time.

Source: Facebook Deleting Coronavirus Posts, Leading To Charges Of Censorship

​The company said it’s working on limiting “the spread of misinformation and harmful content about the virus.” Learn more about this story at https://www.newsy.com/97530/ Find more videos like this at https://www.newsy.com Follow Newsy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newsyvideos Follow Newsy on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/newsy
%d bloggers like this: