Tech Backlash Grows as Investors Press Apple to do something on Children’s Use

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A creator from the iPhone known as the unit “addictive.”

A Twitter founder stated the “internet is damaged.”

An earlier Facebook investor elevated questions regarding the social network’s effect on children’s brains.

Now, two greatest investors on Wall Street have requested Apple to review the results of its products and to really make it simpler for moms and dads to limit their children’s utilization of iPhones and iPads.

Once uncritically hailed for his or her innovation and economic success, Plastic Valley information mill under fire all sides, facing calls to consider more responsibility for his or her role in from election meddling and hate speech to health and internet addiction.

“Companies contribute to experience in assisting to deal with these problems,” stated Craig Rosenstein, managing partner of Jana Partners, a good investment firm that authored a wide open letter to Apple a few days ago pushing it to check out its products’ health effects, especially on children. “As increasingly more founders from the greatest tech information mill acknowledging today, the times of just tossing technology available and washing both hands from the potential impact are gone.”

The backlash against big tech continues to be growing for several weeks. Twitter and facebook they are under scrutiny for his or her roles in enabling Russian meddling within the 2016 presidential election as well as for facilitating abusive behavior. Google was hit having a record antitrust fine in Europe for incorrectly exploiting its market power.

But so far, Apple had steered clear of largely untouched, and concerns concerning the unhealthy results of excessive technology use haven’t been one of the most pressing matters for Plastic Valley executives.

Jana, an activist hedge fund, authored its letter with Calstrs, the California Condition Teachers’ Retirement System, which manages the pensions of California’s public-school teachers. When such investors pressure companies to alter their behavior, it is normally with the aim of lifting a sagging stock cost. Within this situation, Jana and Calstrs stated these were attempting to raise awareness a good issue they cared deeply about, adding when Apple was positive about creating changes, it might assist the business.

“We believe the lengthy-term health of their youngest customers and the healthiness of society, our economy and the organization itself are inextricably linked,” the investors stated within the letter. Jana, that is frequently vilified because of its aggressive concentrate on short-term profits, also stated it might be raising a fund this season that will participate in more such campaigns, an attempt that may help soften its image.

Regardless of the motivations, the 2 large investors are making use of the growing anxiety among parents regarding their children’s preoccupation with devices, at the fee for pursuits like studying and sports.

“Over yesteryear ten years, there’s been a bottom-up backlash,” stated Sherry Turkle, a professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also the author of “Alone Together: Why We Predict More From Technology and fewer From One Another.” “You view it in such things as people not delivering their children to colleges which use iPads, and youngsters telling their parents to place their phones lower.”

For a long time, scientific study has been sounding the alarm within the ubiquity of cell phones and social networking. A 2015 study by Good Sense Media, an investigation group that studies technology use, found which more than 1 / 2 of teenagers spent upward of 4 hrs each day searching at screens, which for any quarter of teenagers, the figure was greater than eight hrs. In another survey, in 2016, half the teenagers stated they believed hooked on their cellular devices.

“These things could be incredibly addictive,” stated Tony Fadell, an old Apple executive who helped produce the ipod device and iPhone. “It’s amazing, but there are plenty of unintended effects.”

An increasing roster of prominent technology executives have become concerned about the creations that introduced them fame and fortune.

Sean Parker, an earlier investor in Facebook, reflected around the sprawling influence from the social networking. “It literally changes your relationship with society, with one another,” he stated within an interview with Axios in November. “It most likely disrupts productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to the children’s brains.”

Evan Johnson, among the founders of Twitter, this past year lamented the amount that the messaging service became a bastion for hateful speech. “The internet is damaged,” he stated.

Chamath Palihapitiya, an earlier Facebook executive and also the leader of Social Capital, a investment capital firm, stated in November he felt “tremendous guilt” about his role in building the social networking.

“The temporary, dopamine-driven feedback loops we have produced are destroying how society works,” he stated. “No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. And it is no American problem. This isn’t about Russian ads. This can be a global problem.”

By pursuing Apple, Jana and Calstrs, which together own about $2 billion price of their stock, have selected the tech giant that’s possibly least determined by its users’ time. Because Apple makes the majority of its money selling hardware, instead of through digital advertising, it theoretically can afford to inspire its users to invest a shorter period using its products.

“Apple’s business design isn’t predicated on unneccessary use of the products,” Jana and Calstrs stated within their letter to the organization.

Because of this, stated Ms. Turkle, the M.I.T. professor, “it ends up that Apple is the organization best positioned to do something.”

Inside a statement, Apple stated the parental controls already on its devices “lead the industry” which “we think deeply about how exactly our goods are used and also the impact they’ve on users and also the people around them.”

“We take this responsibility seriously,” the statement ongoing, “and we’re dedicated to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially with regards to protecting kids.”

Fears about technology addiction aren’t new. The BlackBerry, an earlier smartphone, was nicknamed “CrackBerry.” Adam Alter, a social psychiatrist and also the author of “Irresistible: An Upswing of Addictive Technology and the process of Keeping Us Hooked,” documents cases of internet addiction spanning the world.

However, many tech executives now acknowledge that not even close to becoming an accident, their goods specified for to become addictive.

Mr. Parker stated that whenever Facebook was getting began, the idea process involved “how will we consume because your time and effort and conscious attention as you possibly can?”

Mr. Palihapitiya stated as Facebook was quickly growing, “in the rear, deep, deep recesses in our minds, we type of understood something bad might happen.”

Mr. Fadell stated that at that time Apple was designing the iPhone, “we was clueless that this would happen.” But, he added, consumers are merely spending a lot of time searching in their phones.

“Now it must be addressed,” he stated. “It’s been ten years within the making.”

Even Mark Zuckerberg, the main executive of Facebook in most cases a staunch defender of his company’s influence, has made an appearance more reflective in recent days.

“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook provides extensive try to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, protecting against interference by nation states, or ensuring time allocated to Facebook ‘s time wisely spent,” he stated inside a Facebook publish a week ago. “My personal challenge for 2018 is to pay attention to fixing these important issues.”

Follow David Gelles on Twitter: @dgelles.

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Condition from the Art: How 2017 Grew to become a Level for Tech Giants

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It was a dreadful year for that tech industry.

That’s a strange factor to state at any given time of record growth and profits. In 2017, large American tech companies have stored hauling in additional money and much more users, and — to some degree that may appear dystopian — they ongoing to grow their foothold within our lives. It was annually by which Amazon . com produced a means because of its delivery motorists to allow themselves to your house, and Apple produced a telephone you are able to unlock together with your face.

Yet underneath this apparent success would be a momentous transfer of the way the tech business handles the planet. Five or ten years from now, our exterminator will come to treat 2017 like a level.

Why? As this year, the very first time, tech giants started to grudgingly accept they have some responsibility towards the offline world. The scope of this responsibility, though, is yet another matter entirely.

Allow me to let you know that this really is all happening.

The dawning realization that the tech platform includes real-world responsibilities.

“Platforms” would be the shiniest prizes within the tech business. The main reason the 5 best American tech companies — Amazon . com, Apple, Facebook, Alphabet and Microsoft — are the five best American companies of any sort is they own these fundamental foundations from the digital economy, whether or not they are os’s, application stores, social systems, cloud servers, or shipping and logistics infrastructure.

Consider these platforms because the roads, railroads and waterways from the information economy — an basically unavoidable a part of existence for just about any business or regular individual who doesn’t reside in a secluded cabin within the forest.

For a long time, despite their growing power, tech platforms rarely received much scrutiny, plus they were frequently loath to simply accept just how much their systems affected the real life. Indeed, the internet ethos continues to be that platforms aren’t really accountable for how people rely on them. It may as well function as the slogan of Plastic Valley: We simply result in the tech, how people utilize it is yet another story.

In 2017, that altered. Initially grudgingly after which with apparent enthusiasm, platform the likes of Facebook started accepting some responsibility for the way they’re affecting the real life. They didn’t go so far as some critics might have loved — however in many significant ways they offered a transfer of tone and tactics that recommended these were rethinking their positions.

You can argue that they no choice. Previously year, social systems and check engines happen to be blamed for undermining this news media, fostering echo chambers, and distributing misinformation, hate, misogyny along with other general social unpleasantness. (YouTube, for instance, removed plenty of videos of youngsters being pretend-tortured by their parents.) There is also, obviously, the unfolding saga from the companies’ role in Russia’s propaganda efforts, which led to their being hauled before lawmakers.

Its keep were the bigger questions regarding who helps make the platforms and who advantages of them. The tech market is overwhelmingly operated by men, which is a location of little racial and sophistication diversity. A whistle-blowing blog publish by Susan Fowler, an engineer who detailed a culture of harassment and misogyny in the ride-hailing company Uber, sparked a women’s movement in tech which was then subsumed through the global #MeToo movement.

Many tech titans were clearly unprepared for that serious questions that started coming their way last year. Once the Facebook leader Mark Zuckerberg was requested about his site’s role within the 2016 election just days after Jesse J. Trump’s victory, he responded having a line from tech’s old playbook: It had been a “pretty crazy idea,” he stated, that misinformation on Facebook had “influenced the election by any means.”

Since tone is finished. Mr. Zuckerberg has apologized for his glibness. And through Facebook’s last earnings are accountable to investors, he place the company’s social mission towards the top of his agenda. “Protecting our community is much more important than maximizing our profits,” he stated.

Other tech executives have expressed similar commitments to some much deeper mission. Timothy D. Prepare, Apple’s leader, told my friend Andrew Ross Sorkin that Apple were built with a “moral responsibility” to try to heal the nation’s social and economic fissures.

Sure, all of this might just be marketing. But I’m inclined to think the shift represents a different way of navigating the planet, for any couple of reasons.

First, workers are demanding a different way. The highly compensated workers of Plastic Valley were lured around the commitment of altering the planet, and previously year many grew to become demoralized regarding their companies’ apparent impact. In some instances they’re pushing their bosses to alter.

Second, the very first time in a long time, there’s real pressure from lawmakers. Which has led to some real-world retreats. For example, tech giants recently stopped fighting an invoice in Congress that will allow victims of sex trafficking to file a lawsuit websites that supported the sex trade. In another time, this will be a gimme for tech companies — they aren’t accountable for how people use their professional services, remember?

Not this time around.

But nobody can tell what ‘responsibility’ means.

When the big shift of 2017 is the fact that tech companies now accept some responsibility for the way their platforms change up the world, the large mystery of 2018 and beyond is exactly what, exactly, that responsibility may be like.

Mr. Zuckerberg stated he was prepared to risk their profitability to enhance its community. Facebook continues to be testing new suggestions for making its News Feed less divisive and fewer vulnerable to misinformation, as well as for promoting what the organization calls “meaningful” social connections. Facebook can also be testing systems it stated would more stringently police advertising, with the hope of stopping foreign actors by using its ad network to help an election.

And as a result of critique from former Facebook employees that it is tech may be addictive, the organization stated now it has conducted extensive research about them and it was “using it to tell our product.”

What if these early efforts don’t mitigate the issues? Let’s say Facebook finds that offering people a less polarized News Feed dramatically reduces engagement on its site, affecting its main point here? Or let’s say the alterations disproportionately affect one political ideology over another — would Facebook stick to a type of responsibility that risks calling into question its impartiality?

I do not mean to provide a barrage of hypotheticals only for the it. My point is the fact that these problems would most likely be pretty difficult to solve.

“Just because the packaged food industry did within the 1950s, Google and facebook have lured users with convenience, while providing them with food an eating plan sure to cause lasting harm,” Roger McNamee, the music performer and venture capitalist, explained. “The problem can’t be addressed by hiring it may simply be fixed by altering the algorithms with techniques which will materially reduce profitability.”

Or think about the question of diversity. I requested Ellen Pao — the previous Reddit leader who unsuccessfully sued the investment capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield &amp Byers for gender discrimination — what she made from the industry’s efforts to deal with the problem this season.

“I will give tech a C grade,” Ms. Pao, who’s the chief diversity and inclusion officer in the Kapor Center for Social Impact, authored within an email. “Leaders do the minimum to deal with problems and therefore are not even close to doing everything is essential to resolve the issue.”

She stated she wished for an even more energetic effort that ushered inside a complete overhaul from the culture of tech companies, which held leaders accountable.

“It means firing everyone active in the failures, in the C.E.O. towards the H.R. leaders towards the board people in some instances,” she authored.

Ms. Pao’s and Mr. McNamee’s comments underline the actual problem for that industry. When you believe that you’re responsible for fixing problems brought on by the factor you built, people will begin to expect that you will will fix them — whether or not the solutions are costly or else conflict together with your business interests.

So, yeah, 2017 would be a terrible year for that tech industry. When the fixing doesn’t really happen, 2018 could be worse.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @fmanjoo.

A version want to know , seems in publications on , on-page B1 from the New You are able to edition using the headline: The Entire Year That Tech’s Giants Learned to consider Responsibility. Order Reprints Today’s Paper Subscribe

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Education Disrupted: Inside Silicon Valley’s Playbook for Wooing School Superintendents

BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — They call it the “Church Lane Hug.”

That is how educators at Church Lane Elementary Technology, a public school here, describe the protective two-armed way they teach students to carry their school-issued laptops.

Administrators at Baltimore County Public Schools, the 25th-largest public school system in the United States, have embraced the laptops as well, as part of one of the nation’s most ambitious classroom technology makeovers. In 2014, the district committed more than $200 million for HP laptops, and it is spending millions of dollars on math, science and language software. Its vendors visit classrooms. Some schoolchildren have been featured in tech-company promotional videos.

And Silicon Valley has embraced the school district right back.

HP has promoted the district as a model to follow in places as diverse as New York City and Rwanda. Daly Computers, which supplied the HP laptops, donated $30,000 this year to the district’s education foundation. Baltimore County schools’ top officials have traveled widely to industry-funded education events, with travel sometimes paid for by industry-sponsored groups.

Silicon Valley is going all out to own America’s school computer-and-software market, projected to reach $21 billion in sales by 2020. An industry has grown up around courting public-school decision makers, and tech companies are using a sophisticated playbook to reach them, The New York Times has found in a review of thousands of pages of Baltimore County school documents and in interviews with dozens of school officials, researchers, teachers, tech executives and parents.

School leaders have become so central to sales that a few private firms will now, for fees that can climb into the tens of thousands of dollars, arrange meetings for vendors with school officials, on some occasions paying superintendents as consultants. Tech-backed organizations have also flown superintendents to conferences at resorts. And school leaders have evangelized company products to other districts.

These marketing approaches are legal. But there is little rigorous evidence so far to indicate that using computers in class improves educational results. Even so, schools nationwide are convinced enough to have adopted them in hopes of preparing students for the new economy.

In some significant ways, the industry’s efforts to push laptops and apps in schools resemble influence techniques pioneered by drug makers. The pharmaceutical industry has long cultivated physicians as experts and financed organizations, like patient advocacy groups, to promote its products.

Studies have found that strategies like these work, and even a free $20 meal from a drug maker can influence a doctor’s prescribing practices. That is one reason the government today maintains a database of drug maker payments, including meals, to many physicians.

Tech companies have not gone as far as drug companies, which have regularly paid doctors to give speeches. But industry practices, like flying school officials to speak at events and taking school leaders to steak and sushi restaurants, merit examination, some experts say.

“If benefits are flowing in both directions, with payments from schools to vendors,” said Rob Reich, a political-science professor at Stanford University, “and dinner and travel going to the school leaders, it’s a pay-for-play arrangement.”

Close ties between school districts and their tech vendors can be seen nationwide. But the scale of Baltimore County schools’ digital conversion makes the district a case study in industry relationships. Last fall, the district hosted the League of Innovative Schools, a network of tech-friendly superintendents. Dozens of visiting superintendents toured schools together with vendors like Apple, HP and Lego Education, a division of the toy company.

The superintendents’ league is run by Digital Promise, a nonprofit that promotes technology in schools. It charges $25,000 annually for corporate sponsorships that enable the companies to attend the superintendent meetings. Lego, a sponsor of the Baltimore County meeting, gave a 30-minute pitch, handing out little yellow blocks so the superintendents could build palm-size Lego ducks.

Karen Cator, the chief executive of Digital Promise, said it was important for schools and industry to work together. “We want a healthy, void-of-conflict-of-interest relationship between people who create products for education and their customers,” she said. “The reason is so that companies can create the best possible products to meet the needs of schools.”

Several parents said they were troubled by school officials’ getting close to the companies seeking their business. Dr. Cynthia M. Boyd, a practicing geriatrician and professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with children in district schools, said it reminded her of drug makers’ promoting their medicines in hospitals.

“You don’t have to be paid by Big Pharma, or Big Ed Tech, to be influenced,” Dr. Boyd said. She has raised concerns about the tech initiative at school board meetings.

A Makeover Is Born

Baltimore County’s 173 schools span a 600-square-mile horseshoe around the city of Baltimore, which has a separate school system. Like many districts, the school system struggles to keep facilities up-to-date. Some of its 113,000 students attend spacious new schools. Some older schools, though, are overcrowded, requiring trailers as overflow classrooms. In some, tap water runs brown. And, in budget documents, the district said it lacked the “dedicated resources” for students with disabilities.

In a district riven by disparities, Dallas Dance, the superintendent from 2012 through this past summer, made an appealing argument for a tech makeover. To help students develop new-economy skills, he said, every school must provide an equitable digital learning environment — including giving every student the same device.

“Why does a first grader need to have it?” Mr. Dance said in an interview last year. “In order to break the silos of equity, you’ve got to say that everyone gets it.”

The district wanted a device that would work both for youngsters who couldn’t yet type and for high schoolers. In early 2014, it chose a particularly complex machine, an HP laptop that converts to a tablet. That device ranked third out of four devices the district considered, according to the district’s hardware evaluation forms, which The Times obtained. Over all, the HP device scored 27 on a 46-point scale. A Dell device ranked first at 34.

Document | How One School District Chose Its Laptops The district’s hardware evaluations for HP, Dell, Apple and Lenovo devices. The winning device: HP.

The district ultimately awarded a $205 million, multiyear contract to Daly Computers, a Maryland reseller, to furnish the device, called the Elitebook Revolve.

Mychael Dickerson, a school district spokesman, said, “The device chosen was the one that was closely aligned to what was recommended by stakeholders.” Daly did not respond to inquiries.

With the laptop deal sealed, Silicon Valley kicked into gear.

In September 2014, shortly after the first schools received laptops, HP invited the superintendent to give a keynote speech at a major education conference in New York City. Soon after, Gus Schmedlen, HP’s vice president for worldwide education, described the event at a school board meeting.

“We had to pick one group, one group to present what was the best education technology plan in the world for the last academic year,” Mr. Schmedlen said. “And guess whose it was? Baltimore County Public Schools!”

An HP spokesman said the company did not pay for the trip. He said the company does not provide “compensation, meals, travel or other perks to school administrators or any other public sector officials.”

Interactive Feature | Education Disrupted A series examining how Silicon Valley is gaining influence in public schools.

The superintendent later appeared in an HP video. “We are going to continue needing a thought partner like HP to say what’s working and what’s not working,” he said.

Microsoft, whose Windows software runs the laptops, named the district a Microsoft Showcase school system. Intel, whose chips power the laptops, gave Ryan Imbriale, the executive director of the district’s department of innovative learning, an Intel Education Visionary award.

Recently, parents and teachers have reported problems with the HP devices, including batteries falling out and keyboard tiles becoming detached. HP has discontinued the Elitebook Revolve.

Mr. Dickerson, the district spokesman, said there was not “a widespread issue with damaged devices.”

An HP spokesman said: “While the Revolve is no longer on the market, it would be factually inaccurate to suggest that’s related to product quality.”

Asked what device would eventually replace the Revolve in the schools, the district said it was asking vendors for proposals.

Mr. Dance’s technology makeover is now in the hands of an interim superintendent, Verletta White. In April Mr. Dance announced his resignation, without citing a reason. Ms. White has indicated that she will continue the tech initiative while increasing a focus on literacy.

A Baltimore County school board member, David Uhlfelder, said a representative from the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor had interviewed him in September about Mr. Dance’s relationship with a former school vendor (a company not in the tech industry).

The prosecutor’s office declined to confirm or deny its interest in Mr. Dance.

Mr. Dance, who discussed the district’s tech initiatives with a Times reporter last year, did not respond to repeated emails and phone calls this week seeking comment.

Courting the Superintendents

In Baltimore County and beyond, the digital makeover of America’s schools has spawned a circuit of conferences, funded by Microsoft, Google, Dell and other tech vendors, that lavish attention on tech-friendly educators.

Mr. Dance’s travel schedule sheds light on that world.

Between March 2014, when the laptop contract was announced, and April 2017, when he announced his resignation, Mr. Dance took at least 65 out-of-state trips related to the district’s tech initiatives or involving industry-funded groups, according to a Times analysis of travel documents obtained under public records laws — nearly two trips per month on average. Those trips cost more than $33,000. The Times counted only trips with local receipts, indicating Mr. Dance set foot in the cities.

At least $13,000 of Mr. Dance’s airline tickets, hotel bills, meals and other fees were paid for by organizations sponsored by tech companies, some of which were school vendors, The Times found. The $13,000 is an incomplete number, because some groups cover superintendents’ costs directly, which means school records may not include them.

Another way tech companies reach superintendents is to pay private businesses that set up conferences or small-group meetings with them. Superintendents nationwide have attended these events.

One prominent provider is the Education Research and Development Institute, or ERDI, which regularly gathers superintendents and other school leaders for conferences where they can network with companies that sell to schools.

ERDI offered several service levels this year, according to a membership rate card obtained by The Times. A $13,000 fee for Bronze membership entitles a company to one confidential meeting, where executives can meet with five school leaders to discuss products and school needs. Diamond members could pay $66,000 for six such meetings.

Document | How Much It Costs to Meet With Superintendents The Education Research and Development Institute, known as ERDI, charges membership fees to school vendors to arrange small-group meetings with superintendents who can provide product feedback.

ERDI has offered superintendents $2,000 per conference as participating consultants, according to a Louisiana Board of Ethics filing. And there are other perks.

“Because we are asking for their time and expertise, we commonly offer to pay the cost of their food, transportation and lodging during their participation,” ERDI’s president, David M. Sundstrom, said in an email.

Mr. Dance’s calendar indicated that he had attended at least five ERDI events.

Mr. Dance received payment last year as an adviser for ERDI, according to his most recent district financial disclosure. It lists Dulle Enterprises, a company that owned ERDI in the past, as an employer from which he earned income.

Last February, at an ERDI conference in New Orleans, Mr. Dance met with Curriculum Associates, which makes reading software, as well as DreamBox Learning, a math platform.

At the time, both companies had contracts with the district. A few months after the event, the school board approved additional money for both companies. Each contract is now worth about $3.2 million.

A DreamBox spokeswoman said there was no connection between the meeting and its contract. “Even the appearance of impropriety is something we take very seriously and take steps to avoid,” she said.

A Curriculum Associates spokeswoman said: “These panels are not sales presentations, but rather focus-group opportunities to solicit feedback on products under development.”

Ms. White, the interim superintendent, has been involved with ERDI since 2013, according to Mr. Dickerson. He said Ms. White used vacation time to attend events, where she “provided guidance to education-related companies on goods, services and products that are in development to benefit student performance.”

Asked whether Ms. White had received ERDI payments, Mr. Dickerson said, “Participation in ERDI is done independently of the school system.” In an email, Ms. White said she found ERDI to be a “beneficial professional learning experience.” She didn’t respond to a question about ERDI compensation.

She added, “I do not believe there are any conflicts of interests” related to the district’s tech initiative.

Mr. Sundstrom, ERDI’s president, said education companies pay a fee to attend events “not to meet school leaders or make a sale,” but to get meaningful feedback on their education products from knowledgeable school leaders. He added that school officials do not make purchases at ERDI sessions and that it is their school boards that approve district purchases.

Baltimore County’s travel rules say, “No travel expenses will be paid by those seeking to do business with the Baltimore County Public Schools prior to obtaining a contract.” Mr. Dickerson explained that applied to companies currently bidding for contracts.

A Foundation’s Big Fund-Raiser

Beneath crystal chandeliers last April, politicians, school leaders, vendors and community members gathered in a banquet hall. The occasion was State of the Schools, an annual fund-raising luncheon arranged by the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools.

The foundation was created in the early 1990s and raises money for schools. Tech companies have made significant donations, and have directors sitting on the foundation’s board. The directors include employees from Discovery Education, Pearson and Microsoft, all vendors with multimillion-dollar district contracts.

Daly, the laptop provider, was the biggest donor, giving $30,000. McGraw-Hill, Discovery Education, Pearson and Microsoft each donated $1,500 to $15,000. Of the $211,500 in publicly listed donations for the event, tech companies gave about 43 percent.

“You have these huge contracts, and then you donate all this money, and the foundation puts up a banner advertising your company’s name,” said Michael J. Collins, a former Maryland state senator and former school board member. “I just didn’t think that passed the smell test.”

Discovery Education said it trained employees to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Microsoft said its policies followed government gift and ethics rules. Pearson said its donation had been nominal and vetted to prevent conflict of interest. McGraw-Hill said it was committed to integrity and transparency.

Deborah S. Phelps, the foundation’s executive director, said it awarded scholarships and gave schools grants for projects in culture, science, technology and other subjects.

When asked if the foundation had policies governing donations from vendors or potential vendors, Ms. Phelps said no. “‘There’s not necessarily a policy,” she said. There is also no policy prohibiting foundation board members who are vendors from reviewing grants involving their or competitors’ products, she said.

Mr. Dickerson said the focus of Baltimore County Public Schools was on “supporting students, teachers and their learning environments.” He added: “We are unapologetic for engaging with our Education Foundation, business partners and community stakeholders in an effort to close known achievement gaps.”

Mr. Reich of Stanford suggested school districts establish clearer rules governing their relationships with vendors, particularly with tech companies racing to win over the gatekeepers to America’s classrooms. Otherwise, parents could lose trust in the system.

“School leaders should be just as concerned about the perception of corruption as actual corruption,” he said.

Russia Analysis Has Tech Giants Shying From ‘Social’ Label

Bay Area — After many years of attempting unsuccessfully to construct a social networking to rival Facebook, Google finally got something in the of their failures: cover.

People of Congress grilled the executives of Google, Twitter and facebook now inside a trio of proceedings centered on the function that social networking performed in evolving a Russian disinformation campaign prior to the 2016 election. Google’s representative at two proceedings, Kent Master, their general counsel, made an item of distinguishing looking giant from the internet brethren. Frequently and positively, he clarified questions in the proceedings by saying, “We’re not really a social networking.Inches

Tech companies took a pounding in the courtroom of public opinion in recent several weeks. Within the eyes of the critics, they’ve become too large, too effective and too unmindful of the influence. Which week’s congressional proceedings cast added and unflattering light around the industry’s growing embarrassment within the Russian election meddling.

“Without sufficient oversight, these businesses never imagined hostile intelligence services would misuse their platforms in this manner,Inches stated Renee DiResta, a completely independent security investigator at Data for Democracy. “The people running it seem to not fully appreciate what they’ve designed.”

Unsurprisingly, possibly, a couple of from the industry’s greatest companies happen to be pleased to say, essentially, don’t blame us.

Tim Prepare, Apple’s leader as well as an blunt critic from the data-collection practices of his company’s technological rivals, stated Wednesday he was concerned that social systems might be weaponized against those who rely on them.

“The bigger concern is that a few of these tools are utilized to divide people, to control people, to obtain fake news to individuals in broad figures, and thus to help their thinking,” stated Mr. Prepare within an interview with NBC News.

Frank Shaw, mind of communications at Apple’s longtime rival, Microsoft, recognized Mr. Cook’s comments inside a Twitter publish, stating that Mr. Prepare had presented the problem “perfectly.” This past year, Microsoft did purchase LinkedIn, a job-oriented social networking, for $26.2 billion, however that site seems to possess performed little role in Russia’s influence efforts.

Using the emergence of Facebook, Twitter as well as their ilk during the last decade, “social” grew to become a vital Plastic Valley buzzword as companies crammed social networking-like features into new items. Even Apple, regardless of the many vast amounts of dollars it’s earned making computers, has attempted its hands in a social networking centered on music.

But because social networking is becoming more and more linked to uncomfortable bickering, race-baiting and Russian propaganda, the must-have “social” label is becoming an albatross, stated Frederick Bayer, a helper professor at Ohio Condition College who concentrates on social systems.

“The mere proven fact that a tech clients are attempting to minimize its overall influence is really a telling signal from the moment we’re in,” stated Mr. Bayer.

Google, which operates underneath the parent company Alphabet, can provide a among its business and just how social systems operate — largely because its tries to develop a social networking haven’t been very effective.

The organization spent huge amount of money creating Google+, a social site built particularly to defend myself against Facebook. The organization tied Google+ into nearly all of its qualities, describing it as being the “social spine” of Google in public places statements at that time.

There also were short-resided efforts like Google Buzz and Google Wave, or geographically specific sites like Orkut — famous South america but overlooked elsewhere.

Google+ is constantly on the exist but it’s considered a disappointment. Google stated it’d found no political posts from condition-linked actors on the internet+.

Google has frequently attempted to fashion YouTube, its sprawling video service, into some thing just like a social networking hoping keeping visitors interested. This past year, YouTube added what it really known as its “Community” product, basically features meant to inspire users to have interaction more with each other.

Google stated accounts thought to have ties towards the Kremlin had submitted greater than 1,100 videos to YouTube on racial, religious and political topics. Individuals videos were viewed 309,000 occasions. A lot of individuals videos had only a small amount of views, though these were “frequently published with other social networking platforms,” Richard Salgado, Google’s senior counsel in police force and knowledge security, told a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

Facebook, to provide a comparison, believed that 150 million users of Facebook and it is subsidiary, Instagram, have been uncovered to 80,000 posts that originated from the Russian influence campaign.

Twitter stated it’d discovered greater than 2,700 accounts which were associated with Russia’s Research Agency, a business associated with the Kremlin, between September 2016 and November 2016. Individuals accounts published roughly 131,000 tweets over the period. Twitter identified yet another 36,000 automated accounts which had published 1.4 million election-related tweets associated with Russia over that very same period. The tweets received about 288 million views.

“Now you’re seeing all of the attention from Congress visit Twitter and facebook, because they’re the linchpin” from the Russian information operations, stated Ms. DiResta, the safety investigator.

In the testimony on Capitol Hill, Mr. Master, Google’s general counsel, searched for to attract a vibrant line separating his company’s services from social networking platforms like Twitter and facebook, that has been an periodic subject of Google acquisition rumors.

Also, he performed lower what Google is aware of its users, an unexpected conceit for an organization which makes more income than anybody from selling advertising in line with the online interests of users.

“We’re somewhat differently positioned because we’re not mainly a social networking,Inches Mr. Master stated as a result of an issue regarding whether Google should inform users who’re uncovered to propaganda or divisive content from the foreign government. “Many users aren’t logged in once they access content, so it’s hard to know who sees what.”

Still, social networking remains an engaging proposition for internet companies, even Google, since it keeps people returning and helps to create a spot for these to spend time, stated Jan Dawson, an analyst in the technology data firm Jackdaw Research.

Consider for example Facebook. Despite getting been assailed for days concerning the role it performed within the 2016 election, Facebook reported another blockbuster financial quarter on Wednesday, shattering analysts’ expectations using more than $4.7 billion in profit within the third quarter. Which was a 79 percent increase in the same period twelve months ago.

“If you gave Google the option of getting a social networking, despite everything that’s happened,” stated Mr. Dawson. “I think it might still enjoy having one.”

Russia Investigation Has Tech Giants Shying From ‘Social’ Label

SAN FRANCISCO — After years of trying unsuccessfully to build a social network to rival Facebook, Google finally got something out of all of its failures: cover.

Members of Congress grilled the executives of Google, Facebook and Twitter this week in a trio of hearings focused on the role that social media played in advancing a Russian disinformation campaign before the 2016 election. Google’s representative at two of the hearings, Kent Walker, the company’s general counsel, made a point of distinguishing the search giant from its internet brethren. Repeatedly and unequivocally, he answered questions at the hearings by saying, “We’re not a social network.”

Tech companies have taken a pounding in the court of public opinion in recent months. In the eyes of their critics, they have become too big, too powerful and too unmindful of their influence. And this week’s congressional hearings cast added and unflattering light on the industry’s growing embarrassment over the Russian election meddling.

“Without sufficient oversight, these companies never imagined hostile intelligence services would misuse their platforms in this way,” said Renee DiResta, an independent security researcher at Data for Democracy. “The people running it appear to not fully appreciate what they’ve designed.”

Not surprisingly, perhaps, a few of the industry’s biggest companies have been happy to say, in essence, don’t blame us.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive and an outspoken critic of the data-collection practices of his company’s technological rivals, said Wednesday that he was concerned that social networks could be weaponized against the people who use them.

“The bigger issue is that some of these tools are used to divide people, to manipulate people, to get fake news to people in broad numbers, and so to influence their thinking,” said Mr. Cook in an interview with NBC News.

Frank Shaw, head of communications at Apple’s longtime rival, Microsoft, praised Mr. Cook’s comments in a Twitter post, saying that Mr. Cook had framed the issue “perfectly.” Last year, Microsoft did purchase LinkedIn, a career-oriented social network, for $26.2 billion, but that site appears to have played little role in Russia’s influence efforts.

With the emergence of Facebook, Twitter and their ilk over the last decade, “social” became a key Silicon Valley buzzword as companies crammed social network-like features into new products. Even Apple, despite the tens of billions of dollars it has earned making computing devices, has tried its hand at a social network focused on music.

But as social media has become increasingly connected to unpleasant bickering, race-baiting and Russian propaganda, the must-have “social” label has become an albatross, said Joseph Bayer, an assistant professor at Ohio State University who focuses on social networks.

“The mere fact that a tech company is trying to minimize its overall influence is a telling signal of the moment we’re in,” said Mr. Bayer.

Google, which operates under the parent company Alphabet, can offer a distinction between its business and how social networks operate — largely because its attempts to build a social network have not been very successful.

The company spent millions of dollars creating Google+, a social site built specifically to take on Facebook. The company tied Google+ into nearly every one of its properties, describing it as the “social spine” of Google in public statements at the time.

There also were short-lived efforts like Google Buzz and Google Wave, or geographically specific sites like Orkut — popular in Brazil but ignored elsewhere.

Google+ continues to exist but it is considered a disappointment. Google said it had found no political posts from state-linked actors on Google+.

Google has often tried to fashion YouTube, its sprawling video service, into something more like a social network in hopes of keeping visitors interested. Last year, YouTube added what it called its “Community” product, essentially features intended to inspire users to interact more with one another.

Google said accounts believed to have ties to the Kremlin had uploaded more than 1,100 videos to YouTube on racial, religious and political topics. Those videos were viewed 309,000 times. Many of those videos had only a small number of views, though they were “frequently posted to other social media platforms,” Richard Salgado, Google’s senior counsel in law enforcement and information security, told a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

Facebook, to offer a comparison, estimated that 150 million users of Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram, had been exposed to 80,000 posts that came from the Russian influence campaign.

Twitter said it had discovered more than 2,700 accounts that were linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, a company tied to the Kremlin, between September 2016 and November 2016. Those accounts posted roughly 131,000 tweets over that period. Twitter identified an additional 36,000 automated accounts that had posted 1.4 million election-related tweets linked to Russia over that same period. The tweets received about 288 million views.

“Now you’re seeing all the attention from Congress go to Facebook and Twitter, because they’re the linchpin” of the Russian information operations, said Ms. DiResta, the security researcher.

In his testimony on Capitol Hill, Mr. Walker, Google’s general counsel, sought to draw a bright line separating his company’s services from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which has been an occasional subject of Google acquisition rumors.

He also played down what Google knows about its users, a surprising conceit for a company that makes more money than anybody from selling advertising based on the online interests of users.

“We’re somewhat differently positioned because we’re not primarily a social network,” Mr. Walker said in response to a question regarding whether Google should notify users who are exposed to propaganda or divisive content from a foreign government. “Many users are not logged in when they access content, so it’s difficult to know who sees what.”

Still, social media remains a compelling proposition for internet companies, even Google, because it keeps people coming back and creates a place for them to spend their time, said Jan Dawson, an analyst at the technology data firm Jackdaw Research.

Take the example of Facebook. Despite having been assailed for weeks about the role it played in the 2016 election, Facebook reported another blockbuster financial quarter on Wednesday, shattering analysts’ expectations with more than $4.7 billion in profit in the third quarter. That was a 79 percent increase from the same period one year ago.

“If you gave Google the choice of having a social network, even with everything that’s happened,” said Mr. Dawson. “I think it would still like to have one.”

Tech Giants, Once Viewed as Saviors, Are Actually Considered Threats

Bay Area — At the beginning of this decade, the Arab Spring blossomed with the aid of social networking. That’s the kind of story the tech industry likes to tell about itself: It’s getting freedom, enlightenment along with a better future for those mankind.

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, announced this was precisely why his social networking existed. Inside a 2012 manifesto for investors, he stated Facebook would be a tool to produce “a more honest and transparent dialogue around government.” The end result, he stated, could be “better methods to a few of the greatest problems in our time.Inches

Now tech information mill under fire for creating problems rather of solving them. Towards the top of their email list is Russian interference in last year’s presidential election. Social networking may have initially guaranteed liberation, however it demonstrated a much more helpful tool for stoking anger. The manipulation am efficient and thus missing in transparency the companies themselves barely observed it had been happening.

The election is way in the only section of concern. Tech companies have accrued a significant quantity of power and influence. Amazon . com determines how people shop, Google the way they acquire understanding, Facebook the way they communicate. All are selection about who will get an electronic megaphone and who ought to be unplugged on the internet.

Their quantity of concentrated authority resembles the divine right of nobleman, and it is sparking a backlash that’s still gathering pressure.

“For ten years, the arguments in tech were about which leader was a lot more like Jesus. Which would run for president. Who did the very best job convincing the job pressure to lean in,” stated Scott Galloway, a professor at New You are able to University’s Stern School of economic. “Now sentiments are shifting. The earthworm has switched.”

News is dripping from Facebook, Twitter and today Google about how exactly their ad and publishing systems were harnessed through the Russians. On November. 1, the Senate Intelligence Committee holds a hearing around the matter. It’s unlikely to boost the companies’ reputations.

Under growing pressure, the businesses are mounting a pr blitz. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, is at Washington now, ending up in lawmakers and making public mea culpas about how exactly things happened throughout the election “that shouldn’t have happened.” Sundar Pichai, Google’s leader, is at Pittsburgh on Thursday speaking concerning the “large gaps in chance over the U.S.” and announcing a $1 billion grant program to advertise jobs.

Underlying the meet-and-greets is the matter that the web lengthy ago grew to become a company, meaning the companies’ first imperative would be to do right by their stockholders.

Ross Baird, president from the investment capital firm Village Capital, noted that whenever ProPublica attempted recently to purchase targeted ads for “Jew haters” on Facebook, the woking platform didn’t wonder if it was an awful idea — it requested the buyers how they wish to pay.

“For all of the lip service that Plastic Valley has provided to altering the planet, its ultimate focus continues to be on which it may monetize,” Mr. Baird stated.

Critique of tech is certainly not new, obviously. Inside a Newsweek jeremiad in 1995 entitled “Why the net Will Not Be Nirvana,” the astronomer Clifford Stoll noticed that “every voice could be heard cheaply and instantly” around the Usenet advertising boards, that era’s Facebook.

“The result?” he authored. “Every voice is heard. The cacophony more carefully resembles citizens band radio, filled with handles, harassment and anonymous threats. When most everybody shouts, couple of listen.”

Such complaints, repeated at regular times, didn’t steer clear of the tech world from appropriating as soon as. Millions after which vast amounts of people flocked to the services. The main executives were considered as sages. Disruption was the greatest good.

What’s different today would be the warnings in the technologists themselves. “The monetization and manipulation of knowledge is quickly tearing us apart,” Pierre Omidyar, the founding father of eBay, authored now.

Justin Rosenstein, an old Facebook engineer, was portrayed inside a recent Protector story being an apostate: Noting that typically inventors have regrets, he stated he’d programmed his new phone not to allow him to make use of the social networking.

Mr. Rosenstein, a co-founding father of Asana, a workplace productivity start-up, stated within an email he had banned not only Facebook but the Safari and Chrome browsers, Gmail along with other applications.

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“I recognized which i spend considerable time mindlessly getting together with my phone with techniques that aren’t serving me,” he authored. “Facebook is an extremely effective tool which i continue using every single day, simply with more mindfulness.”

If social networking is around the defensive, Mr. Zuckerberg is especially around the place — an uncommon event inside a golden career which has made him, at 33, among the wealthiest and many influential people in the world.

“We possess a saying: ‘Move fast and break things,’” he authored in the 2012 manifesto. “The idea is when you won’t ever break anything, you’re most likely not moving quick enough.Inches

Facebook dropped that motto 2 yrs later, but critics say a lot of implicit arrogance has lingered. Mr. Galloway, whose new book, “The Four,” analyzes the strength of Facebook, Amazon . com, Google and Apple, stated the social networking network was still being fumbling its response.

“Zuckerberg and Facebook are violating no. 1 rule of crisis management: Overcorrect for that problem,” he stated. “Their attitude is the fact that something that damages their profits doesn’t seem possible to allow them to do.”

Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s v . p . of worldwide public policy, stated the network was doing its best.

“Facebook is an integral part of numerous people’s lives,” he stated. “That’s a massive responsibility — and something that people take incredibly seriously.”

Some social networking entrepreneurs acknowledge that they’re confronting issues they never imagined as employees of start-ups battling to outlive.

“There wasn’t time for you to consider the repercussions of all things we did,” Biz Stone, a Twitter co-founder, stated within an interview shortly before he rejoined the service last spring.

He maintained that Twitter was through an unfair rap: “For every bad factor, there’s a 1000 good stuff.Inches He acknowledged, however, that typically “it will get just a little untidy.”

Regardless of the swell of critique, most investors, consumers and regulators appear to not have altered their behavior. People still eagerly await the brand new iPhone. Facebook has greater than two billion users. President Trump loves to criticize Amazon . com on Twitter, but his administration overlooked pleas for any rigorous study of Amazon’s acquisition of Whole-foods.

In Europe, however, the floor has already been shifting. Google’s share from the internet search engine market there’s 92 percent, based on StatCounter. But that didn’t steer clear of the Eu from fining it $2.7 billion in June for putting its products above individuals of their rivals.

A brand new German law that fines social systems huge sums because of not taking lower hate speech entered effect this month. On Tuesday, a spokesman for Pm Theresa May of england stated the federal government was searching “carefully in the roles, responsibility and legal status” of Google and Facebook, by having an eye to controlling them as news publishers instead of platforms.

“This war, like a lot of wars, will begin in Europe,” stated Mr. Galloway, the brand new You are able to College professor.

For many tech companies, the brand new power is really a heavy weight. Cloudflare, which supplies many sites with essential defense against hacking, made its first editorial decision in August: It lifted its defense against The Daily Stormer, essentially expunging the neo-Nazi site in the visible web.

“Increasingly tech companies will be put in the positioning of creating these kinds of judgments,” stated Matthew Prince, Cloudflare’s leader.

The image will probably get difficult. Mr. Prince foresees several possible dystopian futures. The first is where every internet search engine includes a political perspective, and users gravitate toward the main one they think preferred with. That will further balkanize the web.

Another possibility may be the opposite extreme: Underneath the pressure of regulation, all hate speech — and finally all dissent — is filtered out.

“People are understanding that technology isn’t neutral,” Mr. Prince stated. “I used to go to Europe to listen to these fears. Now I simply must see Sacramento.”

Condition from the Art: The Frightful Five Wish to Rule Entertainment. They’re Hitting Limits.

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo

Condition From The ART

The tech giants are extremely big. Apart from Jesse J. Trump, that’s the defining story of 2017, the meta-narrative lurking beneath almost every other headline.

The businesses I call the Frightful Five — Amazon . com, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, Google’s parent company — have observed astounding growth during the last couple of years, which makes them the world’s five best public companies. Simply because they own we’ve got the technology which will dominate a lot of existence for that near future, they’re also gaining vast social and political control of much around the globe beyond tech.

Since world is scrambling to determine how to handle them. Which is finding the changes they’re unleashing — throughout the economy, in social and political existence, in arts and entertainment, as well as in our tech-addled psyches — aren’t easy to comprehend, not to mention to limit.

I’ve spent the final couple of years staring at the rise of those giants. As tensions over their ability arrived at a higher boil this summer time — Facebook and Russia, Google and sexism, Amazon . com and Whole-foods — I started thinking much more about the character and results of their ability, and speaking to everybody I possibly could find about these businesses. Included in this were individuals the tech industry, in addition to many in other power centers: Washington, Hollywood, the press, the care and automotive companies, along with other corners of society that could soon be ensnared by a number of the 5.

This is actually the to begin several posts by which I’ll take way of measuring the 5. Here, I assess their efforts to infiltrate entertainment — their intends to push much deeper into the process of movies, TV and music, and also the fears of cultural domination individuals moves have triggered.

Why begin with the culture industries? The 5 elicit worries of total social control. Lots of people fear the businesses can translate their hang on key digital platforms into wholesale possession of adjacent industries that rely on individuals platforms, providing them with wider social and economic power.

The entertainment industry is a great spot to assess individuals claims because diversely, the 5 have spent years building platforms for that distribution of art, culture and media. Facebook runs this news Google’s YouTube has videos and music Microsoft’s Xbox has games Amazon . com runs books, movies and television (and, through its web-hosting service, AWS, hosts anything else, including Netflix) and Apple has virtually of the identical, plus all individuals apps.

Yet in entertainment, we begin to see the limits of the efforts to push into new territory. Though their technologies have altered nearly everything about how exactly we buy and experience popular culture, the 5 themselves haven’t been the finest beneficiaries from the changes.

They’re flowing money into entertainment, but they’ve been cornered by nimbler start-ups like Netflix and Spotify. Amazon . com has battled to create a hit show, while Apple’s plans for original TV are constantly nearby. (It’s now struck an offer to bring back “Amazing Tales,” the 1980s Steven Spielberg series there isn’t any word on if this will air.) All the Five have labored to produce some killer position within the tumultuous new marketplaces their platforms have enabled.

Several occasions in conversations with individuals in Hollywood, I heard the tech people known as “dumb money” — the type of outsiders (previously, they originated from oil, then from finance) who parade through town searching to the shots. One Hollywood executive that has labored frequently with tech companies explained: “I wouldn’t say we’ve checked out all of them with fear, no.”

The Five’s struggles in entertainment, when they persist, suggest that they’ll be as unaware concerning the changes wrought by technology as average folks — that they don’t quite understand, and haven’t yet started to master, how you can translate their technological power into wider cultural power.

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Not lengthy ago, this story looked much more open-and-shut. Using the ipod device and iTunes, Apple acquired dominance more than a music business which was battling to reply to digital age. Amazon . com eclipsed Barnes &amp Noble because the greatest boogeyman from the indie book shop for a long time, it fought against bruising battles using the publishing industry over sales contracts that publishers stated were too burdensome. Through YouTube, Google acquired control of not only funny cat videos, but the modern substitute for radio. (People watch lots of videos online.) And Facebook is just about the world’s most widely used supply of news, a situation which has consumed its leaders over a lot of the this past year.

There isn’t any doubt that technologies have upended the financial aspects of contemporary cultural companies. Inside a recent polemic, “Move Fast and Break Things,” Jonathan Taplin, the director emeritus from the Annenberg Innovation Lab in the College of Los Angeles (along with a former rock-band manager and movie producer), highlights that musicians could once create a decent living business royalty checks.

Technology has completely undercut that business. YouTube makes every song available on the web, although many artists are compensated a cut from the ads put on YouTube (the organization stated it compensated out $1 billion this past year), the cash is certainly not near to what artists got from selling records.

Mr. Taplin sees what is happening in music like a harbinger for a lot of the remainder of culture. “The rise from the digital giants is directly attached to the fall from the creative industries within our country,” he authored.

But there’s another side towards the story. As I’ve contended before, while musicians have experienced to locate new causes of revenue, an upswing of internet subscriptions along with a new consumer readiness to pay for have brought for an explosion of recent cultural voices.

Meanwhile, some earlier doomsaying hasn’t become a reality: Indie bookstores and print books are earning a comeback, while publishers are enjoying record profits. And also the tech giants’ eagerness to produce entertainment marketplaces has brought to some bonanza for many artists. To compete for brand new people, Apple, Tidal along with other streaming services are having to pay out lavish bonuses Apple compensated Chance the Rapper $500,000 for 2 days of exclusive use of his latest album.

The tech-industry money train is making its greatest hauls in Hollywood. “There a multitude of untouched markets for talent and authors to visit, and also the creators here love that,” stated Marty Kaplan, a professor of entertainment, media and society in the U.S.C. Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “Instead of getting seven buyers for the idea, nowadays there are a lot more like 20 — which makes everyone happy.”

This story may seem puzzling. The tech giants would be the most sophisticated media companies on the planet, why, after prying open their wallets, they have battled to capture Hollywood?

It’s because technologies are not the only goal. The 5 acquired their ability by mastering the tech industry. They achieved dominance inside a field that’s won with information, data and precision.

But while they now control valuable platforms, because they proceed to areas that need these to stretch their skills they’re discovering that they won’t have the ability to roll in and dominate. Multiple people in Hollywood explained that lots of the 5 just didn’t appear to “get” the film and television business. They’d introduced Northern California’s tech suggestions to Southern California’s entertainment party, and didn’t understand the need for imagination, talent and subjective inspiration.

This myopia belongs to a design which will repeat itself frequently within this series. The thing is it in how Facebook got caught unawares because when it had been used throughout the election, or perhaps in YouTube’s surprise that a number of its greatest stars were pushing hateful tips on its platform.

The tech giants have upended a lot of society, but they’ve difficulty understanding and navigating the chaos from the new platforms they’ve built. It isn’t quite obvious, yet, they have the long run all ended.

E.U., Citing Amazon . com and Apple, Informs Nations to gather Tax

The city — European competition regulators on Wednesday mounted a push against tax avoidance by Plastic Valley giants, announcing intends to take Ireland to the court for neglecting to collect back taxes from Apple and ordering Luxembourg to assert delinquent taxes from Amazon . com.

Your time and effort, which will come because the Eu views proposals designed to boost the sums levied on technology companies, belongs to a concerted campaign to update how taxes are collected within the 28-nation bloc.

Officials in Europe happen to be particularly centered on flexing their regulatory muscles against American technology companies, including assessing penalties for antitrust violations and opening investigations in to the mishandling of customer data.

Critics have contended the measures reveal that the Eu is unfairly targeting such companies — an accusation that officials in Europe deny.

The moves to deal with tax avoidance have particular resonance in the area, a lot of that has suffered painful austerity measures stemming in the economic crisis. Opponents of individuals measures complain that big companies have skirted their tax obligations, departing small firms and people to from the difference.

European officials are more and more attempting to counter that narrative.

On Wednesday, Margrethe Vestager, the ecu Union’s competition commissioner, purchased Luxembourg to gather around 250 million euros, or about $293 million, in delinquent taxes from Amazon . com. The ruling was associated with a contract between your country and the organization the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, stated dated to 2003.

An order resembles an identical slowly move the commission made this past year, if this directed Ireland to reclaim around $15.2 billion from Apple.

Ireland fears that this type of decision could turn it into a less attractive spot for multinational companies. In an indication of the disquiet in Dublin about this order, the Irish government unsuccessful to satisfy a The month of january deadline to gather the cash. It’s appealed the ruling.

That earned Ireland a powerful rebuke from Ms. Vestager.

Annually later, “Ireland hasn’t retrieved anything, not really partly,Inches she stated, warning the nation to accelerate its efforts to prevent “more conflictual waters,” a mention of prospects for any extended court fight.

Although litigation to pressure Ireland to extract the required taxes could continue for a long time, the commission has effectively sued countries previously and punished all of them with large fines for neglecting to recover money from firms that received illegal condition aid.

During the time of the ruling, Europe’s competition watchdogs stated that Apple’s plans with Dublin were illegal coupled with ensured the iPhone maker compensated practically nothing on its European business in certain years. The city contended the deals permitted Apple to funnel make money from two Irish subsidiaries for an office that had “no employees, no premises, no real activities.”

The Irish Department of Finance stated it “has never recognized the commission’s analysis” within the Apple situation which was shocked by Ms. Vestager’s decision to accept country to the court. The department stated it’d “made significant progress about this complex issue” and accused the ecu government bodies of going for a “wholly unnecessary step.”

Apple didn’t immediately discuss the most recent move, but has belittled the ruling previously. The initial decision has additionally attracted the ire from the U . s . States Treasury Department.

Within the situation of Amazon . com, the commission stated Wednesday that Luxembourg had reduced its goverment tax bill in excess of eight years, from 2006 to 2014, coupled with conferred on the organization a selective advantage. The arrangement basically capped the quantity of tax the store compensated, and trusted a technique referred to as transfer prices.

Typically, transfer prices has been utilized by companies to assign revenues and profits to various sections based on their whereabouts, role within the overall company and assets. However that product is harder to police with technology companies because a lot of their greatest assets, like ip, are intangible. The Ecu Commission stated that Amazon . com had mistreated this technique by delivering the majority of its European revenue to some Luxembourg subsidiary which was not prone to pay corporate tax, helping the organization cut its overall bill.

Ms. Vestager stated the arrangement had “no valid economic justification” which the organization had had the ability to “avoid taxation on almost 75 % from the profits it produced from all Amazon . com sales within the E.U.”

Amazon . com and Luxembourg have denied the costs.

“We think that Amazon . com didn’t get any special therapy from Luxembourg,” the organization stated inside a statement on Wednesday, adding it “paid tax entirely compliance with Luxembourg and worldwide tax law.”

Amazon . com stated it might read the commission’s ruling and it was thinking about whether or not to appeal.

Inside a statement, Luxembourg’s finance ministry also contested Ms. Vestager’s ruling. “As Amazon . com continues to be taxed in compliance using the tax rules relevant in the relevant time, Luxembourg views that the organization is not granted incompatible condition aid,” it stated.

It’s not illegal within the Eu for member states to try to lure companies by lowering corporate tax rates. But, just like Amazon’s agreement with Luxembourg, offering deals to pick companies that aren’t distributed around rivals can add up to “illegal condition aid.”

The investigations are among several by which commission officials have investigated the matters of Plastic Valley companies. Regulators in The city are challenging Google and Qualcomm over alleged antitrust violations, and officials in a variety of countries have investigated Facebook over its handling of customers’ data.

Ms. Vestager makes taxes important of her term as Europe’s competition commissioner. For the reason that time, she’s penalized Starbucks within the Netherlands and Anheuser-Busch InBev in Belgium. But Luxembourg is a particular target: In 2015, she told the nation to claw back about €30 million from the Fiat Chrysler unit, while a situation thinking about Luxembourg’s management of McDonald’s can also be ongoing.

“I don’t believe that we’re done,” Ms. Vestager stated on Wednesday, adding that new laws and regulations were also necessary. “The primary area of the option would be obviously we have legislation that provides a transparent tax landscape and enables national tax government bodies to get the job done.Inches

A wider overhaul might be afoot. The Ecu Commission printed proposals recently to which internet companies could be taxed within the countries where they generated revenue. This type of shift means the businesses couldn’t move their profits to jurisdictions with lower taxes.

A push for the reason that direction could, however, prove complicated and carries several risks, stated Clemens Fuest, the director from the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, a leading think tank in Germany. Particularly, European governments most likely will devise a number of new incentives to lure investment, while legislative changes in the European level could prompt retaliation by major buying and selling partners.

“There are really the dangers if The city keeps acting unilaterally,” Mr. Fuest stated.

The Eu walked up efforts to curb tax avoidance by companies by individuals following the economic crisis, which forced most of the bloc’s member states to chop public services and lift tax rates. But opponents from the austerity programs contended that big corporations hadn’t faced exactly the same pressures, partially simply because they have lengthy had the ability to shift their profits to low-tax countries.

Having a $1,000 Cost Tag, Apple’s iPhone Crosses a Threshold

Bay Area — When Apple unveils its new top-of-the-line iPhone on Tuesday, it’s not just likely to offer features like infrared facial recognition and wireless charging the very first time.

The organization may also enter new territory on cost: The most recent phone will begin at approximately $1,000, in contrast to the $769 minimum because of its current top phone, the iPhone 7 Plus.

“It’s another threshold,” stated Debby Ruth, a senior v . p . in the tech talking to firm Frank N. Magid Associates. I truly do think it’s will make people pause.”

In the iPhone’s introduction about ten years ago, Apple has always priced it as being reasonably limited product — a far more refined and polished option to the legions of cheaper smartphones available for sale.

However this time, the organization is pushing into luxury territory. The brand new phone will definitely cost around their entry-level MacBook Air laptop. “They’re doubling lower on their own strategy: They’re going a lot more towards the high finish,” Ms. Ruth stated.

Apple declined to comment prior to the product bulletins scheduled for Tuesday. (On Saturday, Steven Troughton-Cruz, a developer who combed with the iOS 11 software, found references indicating the new high-finish phone is going to be known as the iPhone X.)

Investors are betting that Apple’s progress the cost ladder pays served by much greater profits, particularly in mature markets such as the U . s . States and The European Union, where most of the buyers is going to be people upgrading from older iPhones. Their stock has risen by nearly 50 % in the last year as anticipation has generated concerning the 2017 models.

Apple’s strategy carries risks, however, particularly in developing countries where smartphone sales are increasing quickly nevertheless its share of the market is really a blip in contrast to devices running Google’s Android software.

Interactive Feature The way the iPhone Is Faring Against Android Around the world

In South america, for instance, Apple devices will take into account just 8 percent from the 125 million active smartphone subscriptions this season, based on Forrester, an investigation firm.

Steep taxes, greater retail income, and added costs from the botched attempt for building iPhones in South america have pressed the cost of the iPhone 6s, a 2-year-old model, to greater than $1,000 at Casa Bahia, an outlet within the Copacabana neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. At the end of August, the store was selling Apple’s most fundamental smartphone, the iPhone SE, in excess of $600, while a Samsung Universe J1 Small, which runs Android, only agreed to be $136.

At another Rio store lately, Vanessa Perreira, 25, a college student, was browsing the 65 models displayed, searching in the choices from Samsung and LG but ignoring the six from Apple. She once owned an apple iphone, she lamented, but tend to not manage to continue buying them. “Price is an essential factor for me personally,Inches she stated.

Still, the iPhone is coveted by wealthier Brazilians, a lot of whom purchase the phone on a trip abroad to prevent their country’s expense. “There will be users in South america that’ll be thinking about purchasing it,Inches stated Tina Lu, a senior analyst with Counterpoint Research.

China’s reception towards the $1,000 iPhone is going to be much more essential to Apple. The Higher China region, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, contributed $8 billion to Apple’s revenue last quarter, but sales happen to be sluggish.

Interactive Feature Ask Us The Questions You Have About Apple’s New iPhones At Apple’s function commemorating the tenth anniversary from the iPhone, the organization is anticipated to announce upgrades for that iPhone, together with a premium model costing around $999, and also the Apple Watch, which might soon include cellular connectivity.

Apple’s share of the market has declined slightly in China in the last year, based on Counterpoint. High-finish phones from Chinese brands like Huawei and Oppo have acquired ground, partly by undercutting Apple on cost.

The brand new iPhone can reverse that trend. Greater than every other tech product, the iPhone has lengthy denoted status in China. If an iphone 4g looks identical to the previous one — and will not be identified by others as new — it frequently doesn’t sell well.

“If the phone’s appearance changes, I believe people will be in love with it, because you’ve seen the iPhone having a similar search for this type of lengthy time now,” stated He Peihuan, a Shanghai-based financial analyst.

Apple has additionally faced pressure in the Chinese government. Condition-run media outlets have known as focus on an element that tracked a user’s most generally visited locations as well as belittled their after-sales policies. And government employees and leaders at condition-run companies avoid being seen using foreign technologies such as the iPhone.

For those that, Zhang Xiang, a telephone reseller and repairman in Shanghai, stated he still expected strong interest in the brand new iPhone. “I think when individuals are able to afford it and wish a higher-finish phone with higher features, they’ll still decide to buy an apple iphone,Inches he stated.

An important factor offsetting the following iPhone’s expected high cost may be the growing prevalence of financing choices for buyers around the world. Within the U . s . States, most phone carriers allow people to spread the price of a brand new phone over 2 yrs, and also the new phone would add under $10 per month towards the payments a person will make with an iPhone 7 Plus.

“There’s not too much improvement in the fee every month you spend,Inches stated John Blau, a technology analyst at Gartner, an investigation firm.

Similar installment purchase plans are emerging in China, South america along with other countries, making Apple’s products less expensive there.

“I’ve seen some banks supplying installment plans for that iPhone with really low, or perhaps no interest, so ordinary people might get an apple iphone this way,Inches Mr. Zhang stated.

Neil Cybart, a completely independent Apple analyst who writes to begin Above Avalon, stated he could be searching to determine what Apple states about lower-priced models . Analysts already expect the organization to announce two phones which are upgrades from the existing iPhone 7 and seven Plus and will also be costing similar levels to individuals phones’ current prices. But when the organization also provides one below $400, specifically in developing countries, that may help lure a brand new generation of users to the iPhone platform, he stated.

That will play into Satish Meena’s theory of iPhone adoption in developing countries.

Mr. Meena, a senior forecast analyst at Forrester who’s located in New Delhi, stated that in places like India and South america, where countless new smartphone users are entering the marketplace, the very first phone that individuals buy is really a cheap Android. The 2nd is commonly a fancier Android. Finally, they upgrade for an iPhone.

“The iPhone is the dream phone,” he stated.

Education Disrupted: Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues

MAPLETON, N.D. — One of the tech-savviest teachers in the United States teaches third grade here at Mapleton Elementary, a public school with about 100 students in the sparsely populated plains west of Fargo.

Her name is Kayla Delzer. Her third graders adore her. She teaches them to post daily on the class Twitter and Instagram accounts she set up. She remodeled her classroom based on Starbucks. And she uses apps like Seesaw, a student portfolio platform where teachers and parents may view and comment on a child’s schoolwork.

Ms. Delzer also has a second calling. She is a schoolteacher with her own brand, Top Dog Teaching. Education start-ups like Seesaw give her their premium classroom technology as well as swag like T-shirts or freebies for the teachers who attend her workshops. She agrees to use their products in her classroom and give the companies feedback. And she recommends their wares to thousands of teachers who follow her on social media.

“I will embed it in my brand every day,” Ms. Delzer said of Seesaw. “I get to make it better.”

Ms. Delzer is a member of a growing tribe of teacher influencers, many of whom promote classroom technology. They attract notice through their blogs, social media accounts and conference talks. And they are cultivated not only by start-ups like Seesaw, but by giants like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, to influence which tools are used to teach American schoolchildren.

Their ranks are growing as public schools increasingly adopt all manner of laptops, tablets, math teaching sites, quiz apps and parent-teacher messaging apps. The corporate courtship of these teachers brings with it profound new conflict-of-interest issues for the nation’s public schools.

Moreover, there is little rigorous research showing whether or not the new technologies significantly improve student outcomes.

More than two dozen education start-ups have enlisted teachers as brand ambassadors. Some give the teachers inexpensive gifts like free classroom technology or T-shirts. Last year, TenMarks, a math-teaching site owned by Amazon, offered Amazon gift cards to teachers who acted as company advisers, and an additional $80 gift card for writing a post on its blog, according to a TenMarks online forum.

Teachers said that more established start-ups gave them pricier perks like travel expenses to industry-sponsored conferences attended by thousands of teachers. In exchange, teacher ambassadors often promote company products on social media or in their conference talks — sometimes without explicitly disclosing their relationships with their sponsors.

Many public schools are facing tight budgets, and administrators, including the principal at Ms. Delzer’s school, said they welcomed potentially valuable free technology and product training. Even so, some education experts warned that company incentives might influence teachers to adopt promoted digital tools over rival products or even traditional approaches, like textbooks.

“Teachers can’t help but be seduced to make greater use of the technology, given these efforts by tech companies,” said Samuel E. Abrams, director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Public-school teachers who accept perks, meals or anything of value in exchange for using a company’s products in their classrooms could also run afoul of school district ethics policies or state laws regulating government employees.

“Any time you are paying a public employee to promote a product in the public classroom without transparency, then that’s problematic,” said James E. Tierney, a former attorney general of Maine who is a lecturer at Harvard Law School. “Should attorneys general be concerned about this practice? The answer is yes.”

Ms. Delzer and other educators forcefully argue that they’re motivated by altruism, and not company-bestowed status or gifts. “I am in this profession for kids,” Ms. Delzer said, “not for notoriety or the money.”

At a time when teachers shell out an average of $600 of their own money every year just to buy student supplies like pencils — and make pleas for student laptops on DonorsChoose.org, a fund-raising site — it’s understandable that teachers would embrace free classroom technology.

“My kids have access to awesome things that, as a district, we could never afford,” said Nicholas Provenzano, an English teacher in the Detroit area who is an ambassador for companies that make $1,299 3-D printers and $300 coding kits. He noted that he had apprised his school, and his students, of his company ties.

Another important draw for teachers, who already often feel underappreciated: Having tech companies, the icons of American society, seek their views provides welcome attention. “Teachers have really responded well to feeling like they are being listened to,” said Carl Sjogreen, a co-founder of Seesaw.

The benefits to companies are substantial. Many start-ups enlist their ambassadors as product testers and de facto customer service representatives who can field other teachers’ queries.

Apple, Google and Microsoft, which are in education partly to woo students as lifetime users of their products, have more sophisticated teacher efforts — with names like the Apple Distinguished Educators program, Google for Education’s Certified Innovator Program and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert program. Each yearlong program selects teachers to attend a conference and work with the company to help create, or develop, education innovations, often using company tools. The tech giants position their programs as professional development for teachers, not marketing exercises.

Microsoft and Apple said they worked with schools to make sure any conference travel expenses they covered for teachers complied with district ethics rules. Google said it provided meals but not teachers’ travel expenses.

An Amazon representative, responding to a question about the gift cards that TenMarks offered to certain teachers last year, said that the company had not given that incentive recently and that it had procedures “to ensure our compliance with applicable laws and to help facilitate teachers’ obligations to their schools.”

The competition for these teacher evangelists has become so fierce that GoEnnounce, a one-year-old platform where students can share profiles of their accomplishments, decided to offer a financial incentive — a 15 percent cut of any school sales that resulted from referrals — to Ms. Delzer and a few other selected teachers just to try to keep up with rival companies’ perks.

So far, no teacher has asked for the payment, said Melissa Davis, GoEnnounce’s chief executive. Still, she said, teacher referrals accounted for 20 percent of GoEnnounce’s first-year sales.

“These champions are really essential in giving us a really powerful foot in the door to meet with districts and schools,” Ms. Davis said.

The medical profession has long wrestled with a similar issue: Can pharmaceutical-company gifts like speaking fees or conference junkets influence physicians to prescribe certain medications? A recent study of nearly 280,000 doctors concluded that physicians who received even one free meal promoting a specific brand of medicine prescribed that medication at significantly higher rates than they did similar drugs. Drug makers are now required by law to provide details on their payments — including gifts, meals and fees for promotional speeches — to a range of physicians and academic medical centers.

Unlike industry influence in medicine, however, the phenomenon of company-affiliated teachers has received little scrutiny. Twitter alone is rife with educators broadcasting their company-bestowed titles.

“If medical experts started saying, ‘I’m a Google Certified Doctor’ or ‘I’m a Pfizer Distinguished Nurse,’ people would be up in arms,” said Douglas A. Levin, president of EdTech Strategies, a consulting firm.

Another issue: The Federal Trade Commission considers sponsored posts to be a form of advertising. It expects people who receive a product, a meal or anything else of value from a company, in exchange for promoting a product, to disclose that sponsorship when they endorse the product.

This is true for celebrities and teachers alike. And it applies equally to conferences, YouTube videos, personal blogs or Twitter posts.

Some teachers and start-ups said they were not aware of those guidelines.

“If you are receiving any sort of incentive to promote the company’s product, that is what we call a material relationship,” said Mary K. Engle, associate director of the trade commission’s division of advertising practices, “and that has to be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the endorsement message.”

For some teachers, corporate relationships can be steppingstones to lucrative speaking or training engagements. Schools often hire company-connected educators to give training sessions to their teachers. And technology conferences for teachers often book influential teachers as speakers.

Ms. Delzer said her fees for such events started at several thousand dollars a day. Some veteran education influencers charge much more.

To do it all, Ms. Delzer negotiated a special contract with her district, allowing her to take 10 unpaid days off a year. She uses those days off to give speeches and run teacher workshops for other schools.

She spends some evenings and weekends doing her consulting work. She also co-founded her own teacher training conference, called Happy Go Teach.

“It’s like two full-time jobs,” Ms. Delzer said.

The Starbucks Classroom

Just before 8:30 a.m. on school days, Ms. Delzer, 32, stations herself at the classroom door. She greets each of her third graders by name, ushering them in one by one with a brief shoulder squeeze. “I want them to feel love when they walk in,” she said.

If her classroom looks less like a traditional schoolroom and more like a den — with a colorful rug and inspirational signs exhorting children to “DREAM” and “LAUGH” — that is no accident. A few years ago, Ms. Delzer decided to remodel her classroom to foster the kind of independent work habits she thought her students would need in life.

So she ditched the standard-issue desks and rearranged the room to look more like the place where she goes to work on her conference talks: her local Starbucks. Today, her third graders sit wherever they please — on cushions, rocking chairs, balance balls.

“If I’m just feeling like relaxing, I usually sit on the rockers or the ball chairs or the beanbag chairs,” Jennings, a third grader in Ms. Delzer’s class last spring, explained. “But if I want to be really, really focused, then I usually feel like going on something a little harder so that I don’t lose concentration.”

The “Starbucks for kids” classroom proved so successful that Ms. Delzer wrote about it for EdSurge, an industry publication, in 2015. The article quickly spread in education circles.

Sitting in her local Starbucks in West Fargo, Ms. Delzer noted: “If you Google ‘Starbucks Classroom,’ it’s a thing now.”

But Ms. Delzer said she did not start out seeking to influence the practice of teaching. It was serendipity, she said, and an iPad experiment.

In 2011, Ms. Delzer’s school, in Thief River Falls, Minn., bought a few iPads and asked her to try using them in class. Two years later, her school’s technology director suggested that they speak at an education conference about her experiment.

That was when Ms. Delzer realized, she said, that by addressing her peers, she could reach vastly more students.

“I see the ripple effect on teachers who leave the conference,” she said. “It’s really gratifying to know that those classrooms are better because of it.”

She soon found herself a bigger stage — at TEDxFargo, a local chapter of the well-known TED conference. It was 2015, and she spoke about using technology and other approaches to give students more autonomy. The YouTube video of her talk has racked up more than 127,000 views.

Today, so many teachers from other districts want to visit her classroom that Mapleton Elementary has set aside every Tuesday to host them. “We limit it to four teachers a day,” Ms. Delzer said.

Interactive Feature | Education Disrupted A series examining how Silicon Valley is gaining influence in public schools.

Some non-tech companies, too, are eager to harness her star power by providing their products at no charge.

“BIG THANKS to our friends @TradeWestEDU for the new chairs, bean bags and tables!” Ms. Delzer tweeted in January after Trade West Equipment, an office and school supplier, furnished items for her classroom. “We are loving our new #flexibleseating options!”

Potential for Conflict

One morning last spring, Ms. Delzer assigned her third graders a math problem to solve on their iPads using Seesaw. Developed by two former Facebook product managers, Seesaw lets students produce and share their schoolwork as written notes, diagrams, audio recordings or videos.

Some children love the sharing aspect. “They can see what you are doing now that we have Seesaw,” McCoy, a third grader in Ms. Delzer’s class, said of his parents. “Other years they couldn’t — they were only able to see on your papers.”

Ms. Delzer is also an ambassador for Seesaw, an unpaid post. “Seesaw, my teacher heart loves you :-),” Ms. Delzer wrote on Instagram this year with a video clip showing her students using the program. It was seen more than 6,500 times.

Teaching, by nature, is a helping profession. And educators have a long tradition of sharing ideas with colleagues.

Ms. Delzer said she did not see a conflict between her teaching and other activities. She said she deliberately divided her work, devoting herself to her students during school hours while giving conference talks on days off and working with companies on some school nights.

“It’s really important to keep the two things separate,” she said.

She added that she worked only with companies whose products she personally believed in. Those relationships, she said, gave her valuable access to resources that could benefit her students, colleagues and teacher followers.

“If I am going to put my name on it, it either has to make learning better for students or teaching better for teachers,” Ms. Delzer said.

But companies that tap public-school teachers to use or promote their products in exchange for perks are effectively engaging the educators as consultants — a situation that could conflict with teachers’ obligations to their employer: schools.

According to the Seesaw site, for instance, the company expects its teacher ambassadors to “use Seesaw regularly in your classroom,” host two Seesaw-related conference talks or workshops annually and participate in Seesaw discussions online. In exchange, Seesaw offers teachers a subscription to its $120 premium service, product previews and a company badge to post on their profiles.

Joel R. Reidenberg, a professor at Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan, said those kinds of arrangements could violate state or school district conflict-of-interest rules governing public employees.

“Vendors offering free technology to teachers for their personal or professional use in exchange for teachers promoting it to students or other teachers is a very questionable activity,” Professor Reidenberg said.

Tim Jacobson, the principal of Mapleton Elementary School, where Ms. Delzer teaches, offered a different view. He described the company-teacher relationships as mutually beneficial for schools and industry. After Ms. Delzer developed a relationship with Seesaw, he noted, the company gave every Mapleton teacher a premium subscription and training sessions.

“It’s a real advantage when she comes back and she shares with us what she sees happening at the forefront of education,” Mr. Jacobson said. “Plus, it is good recognition for Mapleton Elementary School. We do a lot of things you wouldn’t expect in a school of our size.”

Mr. Sjogreen, the Seesaw co-founder, said that his company’s ambassador program did not pay teachers and that its premium software was not valuable enough to be a draw for them.

“There is nothing that we are doing really to incentivize teachers to become ambassadors,” he said. “To the extent that they give us great feedback and help us spread the word, we are happy to support them to become more knowledgeable.”

Ms. Delzer has also served as an Amazon Education “Teacher Innovator”; a “Digital Image Champion” for GoEnnounce, the student portfolio platform; a brand ambassador for GoNoodle, a classroom activity app; and a “Lead Digital Innovator” for PBS LearningMedia, the education arm of the nonprofit broadcasting company.

The Lesson of Drug Makers

One evening last spring, Mr. Provenzano, the English teacher and tech company ambassador, came home from school and went downstairs to his basement.

He had just finished teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird” in his English classes at Grosse Pointe South, a public high school in a Detroit suburb. And he had given his students an unusual choice of assignments: They could make traditional class presentations, or use computer-assisted design software to draft objects illustrating themes from the novel.

At a time when many teachers feel constrained by curriculum requirements, Mr. Provenzano said digital tools provided a creative outlet. The design software assignment also took advantage of his side business, called The Nerdy Teacher. Mr. Provenzano consults for education technology companies, and his basement is chock-full of the electronics they send him to try.

Now, he used a $1,299 3-D printer sent to him by Dremel, a tool brand for which he is an ambassador, to turn his students’ designs into three-dimensional objects. He printed one student’s design, a gavel, representing the struggle for justice in the novel.

Later he posted a photo of the gavel on Twitter, mentioning the brand: “Student designed and @DremelEdu 3D40 printed gavel for a To Kill a Mockingbird presentation.”

Mr. Provenzano also blogs and gives conference presentations to teachers, sharing interesting ways that he uses the 3-D printers. “I feel comfortable saying teachers have bought Dremel because of me,” he said.

This teacher-influencer soft sell may be new in schools. But researchers who study medical marketing recognize it from techniques used for years by the pharmaceutical industry.

Drug makers have long cultivated doctors to promote brand-name medicines to their peers. Insiders have a nickname for these doctors: “Key Opinion Leaders.” Among other things, drug makers have paid physician influencers to give talks about company drugs, sent them on junkets and lavished them with fancy dinners.

If the ed-tech industry is now replicating these strategies, it is because, at least in medicine, they work.

“These techniques encourage the use of the product being promoted rather than evidence-based practices,” said Dr. Aaron S. Kesselheim, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who has studied how drug company payments influence doctors. “There is evidence that even a small amount of money, like a meal, can influence prescribing.”

Some academic medical centers now prohibit their doctors from giving industry-sponsored speeches. And some drug companies have stopped giving doctors swag.

But there has been little public discussion about the ramifications of similar tech industry cultivation of teachers.

Mr. Provenzano said he did not see a conflict of interest between his teaching and industry affiliations, noting that his blog prominently listed his company affiliations. He added that school districts often hired him to train their teachers precisely because his industry relationships had helped him become an expert.

He left his public-school teaching job over the summer and started a position as director of maker spaces at a nearby private school. “These ambassadorships helped me get this job,” Mr. Provenzano said.

Some ambassador programs involve formal contracts that may take advantage of well-meaning teachers, legal experts said. For instance, a document online reviewed by The New York Times titled “Dremel Idea Builder Ambassador Agreement” contains a number of stipulations for teachers.

Among other things, the document said the company would provide a 3-D printer in exchange for a teacher’s developing at least one four-minute video tutorial every other month featuring a classroom project using the device. It required the teacher to give Dremel-related presentations at two or more conferences. The document, as written, also included a noncompete clause prohibiting teachers from working with other 3-D printing companies.

And Professor Reidenberg of Fordham Law pointed out that the document reviewed by The Times would give Dremel the right to settle any legal claims arising from the teacher’s work, while making the teacher liable for legal costs. “This clause could bankrupt the teacher,” Professor Reidenberg said.

Linda Beckmeyer, a spokeswoman for Bosch, the maker of Dremel, said its contract with teachers was confidential and declined to discuss its terms.

“The purpose of the ambassador program is to advance the maker movement in education by giving teachers and students access to 3-D printing,” she said.

‘We Are Not All Kim Kardashians’

Earlier this year, after school, Ms. Delzer drove to Kittsona, a trendy midpriced clothing boutique in Fargo. She already had a host of speaking engagements on her calendar, and she wanted new outfits to wear to them.

The Kittsona staff greeted her like a V.I.P.

Last year, the store’s owners agreed to outfit Ms. Delzer free of charge after she asked them to sponsor her in exchange for her tagging Kittsona on social media. Now, a stylist rushed about, picking out cute sleeveless dresses, embroidered tunics, layered necklaces and suede bootees for the teacher to try on.

Kittsona ran several promotions this year in which Ms. Delzer offered her Instagram followers a store discount. Each one directly resulted in 50 to 100 sales, said Nicole Johnson, Kittsona’s co-owner.

It was an indication, she said, that young working women were responding to Ms. Delzer’s ambitious-but-approachable schoolteacher brand. “We are not all Kim Kardashians,” Ms. Johnson said.

An hour or so later, Ms. Delzer left the boutique laden with shopping bags. But her working day was hardly done.

After dinner, Ms. Delzer installed herself at her kitchen counter. Dozens of emails from companies, conferences, publishers and teacher fans on social media needed responses.

Ms. Delzer recalled how, when she was starting out a few years ago, some veteran teacher influencers snubbed her. Tonight, she would try to respond to as many requests as possible. “I just drink a lot of coffee,” she said.

If her Top Dog Teaching fans nationwide love her, so do her third graders. One reason is that she often treats them like budding adults.

Every fall, for instance, Ms. Delzer holds a social media boot camp to teach her students how to run the class Instagram and Twitter accounts. She teaches them rules like “never share your password” and helps them understand how to maintain an upbeat online image.

After all, the class accounts, called TopDogKids, are essentially an offshoot of her own.

“You don’t want to post something bad,” McCoy, the third grader, said, “because if you want a job, those people are probably going to look at your social media page and they are going to decide if they’ll let you have the job.”

Lest they forget, a sign on the classroom wall reminded students and teacher alike: “I am building my digital footprint every day.”