What We’re Following
War Refugees: The Trump administration’s new position on a protected group of Vietnamese immigrants—many of whom fled to the U.S. during the Vietnam War—now leaves them vulnerable to deportation. Returning to a policy it retreated from back in August, the White House is reinterpreting a 2008 agreement that had prevented the deportation of Vietnamese people who arrived in the U.S. before 1995, when Washington and Hanoi officially reestablished diplomatic relations after the Vietnam War.
Ongoing: Michael Cohen, ex-lawyer and ex-loyalist to President Donald Trump, has been sentenced to three years in prison. The Cohen saga began this April with an FBI raid on his home, and has now led to Cohen implicating the president in criminal misconduct. In North Carolina, a closely contested U.S. House race is under national scrutiny over charges of absentee-ballot fraud, and one remedy may be an unprecedented revote. And across the pond, British Prime Minister Theresa May, amid never-ending talks over how exactly to execute Britain’s exit from the European Union, has survived a no-confidence vote.
Music-streaming service Spotify has delighted users with its Wrapped tool, unveiling to people their personal music-listening history of the past year. Such recaps rely on massive amounts of personal data from users, yet Spotify has mostly escaped the backlash faced by its peers (ahem, Facebook):
Spotify is cool and innocuous, and so is Spotify Wrapped. It’s a year-end package of low-stakes personal data, focused on you, for you—as Instagram-ready as the feature’s design is, only on the last of nine screens do you see an option to “share” the results on social media. Benjamin Johnson, an advertising professor at the University of Florida who researches how we selectively share our music tastes to influence self-presentation, says that Spotify has managed to avoid the “creepiness factor” by granting a maximum amount of user control over what someone’s network sees of their listening history. As a result, Johnson says, a person reviewing Wrapped results “feels the control in that moment before they take the screenshot, where they can decide, Is this going to make me look good? or Does this reflect the story that I want to tell about myself?”
Though it presents as a less creepy company, Spotify has still amassed a surprising cache of personal information on its users.