Yesterday, Uber said it settled a couple of class-action suits covering 385,000 drivers in California and Massachusetts that will allow the company to continue classifying its drivers as contractors, rather than employees. The settlement has ramifications on how Uber chooses whether or not to let an individual continue as a driver. As part of the settlement, Uber will have to retool its policies on deactivating drivers with little or no advance warning or explanation. Now the company will have to give drivers a warning, and explanations before it cuts them off from the Uber driver app.
Uber is also supporting a sort of Uber driver’s association in the two states, though the assembly will fall short of a proper union organization. The company plans to meet with its drivers and discuss important issues and work out solutions to common problems. Interestingly, legislation in California that would allow Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize was just pulled by the legislator who submitted it. Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego said there needs to be more time to debate the topic, so the bill is probably dead for the year.
It’s now becoming clear just how much Volkswagen’s chicanery is going to cost the company: $18 billion. The German automaker was caught red-handed programming 11 million of its diesel-engine cars so that pollution controls were only active during testing. This made it look like the cars were in compliance with pollution standards under computerized testing, but once they were on the road, they operated well out of guidelines in order to produce better gas mileage. VW operated at a $6.2 billion lost last year, and is now setting aside $18 billion to deal with fines, legal claims and recalls.
It’s not yet clear how Volkswagen will handle those car owners seeking some sort of compensation. There may be a buy-back program, a pay-out settlement, or they’ll actually fix the cars. Likely, it will be a combination of all of those measures.
Facebook is making some real efforts to rid your feed of clickbait articles, so its changing up its news feed … again. Facebook is changing its algorithms in an effort to show you stories you are actually interested in instead of those lame headlines declaring “She left her kid and husband at home … you won’t believe what happened next!” The change won’t eliminate clickbait entirely, but it should result in a significant reduction. Naturally, Facebook is disclosing specifics about how it will sniff out stories you might be interested in, but we do know Facebook is mining plenty of information about its users, so its a safe bet they’ll be using some of that intelligence. The social media site will also probably monitor how long you spend on a page after you’ve clicked the link. For instance, you click on a headline about 6 cute kitties, but return to Facebook just a few seconds later, Facebook would know that’s not an article you’re interested in. If many more users do the same thing, then it knows the article isn’t of significant interest, and will work to pull that story from news feeds.
While this may sound like good news for you, publishers tend to get nervous any time Facebook makes a change like this. The New York Times said earlier this week that 85 cents of every online ad dollar winds up in the hands of Google or Facebook. Wrap your head around that. Publishers also contend systems that measure clicks don’t provide meaningful data about a users habits, as many folks click a story and bail in a matter of seconds. However, if Facebook’s efforts are successful, it could mean better exposure to stories, and increased revenue from ad sales.