Facebook is said to have deliberately induced children to spend money in online games

Minors unintentionally spent a lot of money in online games – Facebook even enforced this practice, as was revealed in a lawsuit.

Facebook is said to have systematically persuaded minors to spend money on online games for years, and their parents subsequently refused to refund them to generate more profit. In individual cases, this involves several hundred or even thousands of US dollars, as has now become known in the context of a class-action lawsuit in the USA. This reports the website Reveal, which belongs to the non-commercial organization Center for Investigative Reporting.

Unintentional purchases by minors in online games

The approximately 135-page documents released by Facebook as part of the lawsuit include internal company memos, confidential strategy papers, and messages from Facebook employees from 2010 to 2014, Reveal writes. The class-action lawsuit at a US district court in 2012 is directed against Facebook’s business practices when buying minors in online games. For titles such as “Angry Birds”, “PetVille”, “Happy Aquarium” or “Ninja Saga”, children have equipped their game characters with items that are subject to a charge and have spent money without the consent of their parents.

According to Reveal, despite knowledge of the situation, Facebook has even encouraged game developers to continue to motivate children to buy without parental consent. According to the court documents, the company has downplayed this approach internally as “friendly fraud” and also as part of its game strategy. The children were sometimes not even aware that they were currently spending their parents’ money on a linked credit card. In one case, a 15-year-old spent $ 6,500 in two weeks.

Facebook employees spoke of their own “fraud.”

Facebook employees were aware of this, as can be seen from the documents: There is talk of the “problem” that “FF-minors” (minors in connection with the “friendly fraud”) did not realize that they were spending real money would. Another document shows that many parents do not know that Facebook has stored their credit card details and uses them for debits – and that their children could use them to spend money without any authentication.

Facebook is said to have ignored warnings from its employees on the subject for years and even rejected a system developed by employees to prevent such unwanted purchases. With this system, minors should enter the first six digits of their parents’ credit card before making a purchase. The process was tested for a while in 2011 and is believed to have reduced unwanted purchases and the rate of chargebacks. However, Facebook did not use it.

A lot of reclaims from parents

After parents had become aware of the costs caused by their offspring, Facebook mostly refused to reimburse the resulting claims. Instead, Facebook referred the parents to the bank, to an arbitration board, or the lawsuit. According to the documents, the chargeback rates by credit institutions were so high (an internal Facebook report from 2011 gives them an average of 9 per cent) than they would have exceeded the two per cent threshold set by the US FTC for overtly fraudulent business practices,

An employee of Rovio, the developer of “Angry Birds”, had noticed the high refund rates of up to 10 per cent in the game, and he turned to Facebook. Facebook then looked at the matter and determined that 93 per cent of the claims for “Angry Birds” were due to unintentional purchases. A Facebook employee wrote: “In almost all cases, parents knew that their children were playing Angry Birds, but they thought that the children couldn’t buy anything without a password or authorization (as in iOS).” According to Facebook’s investigation, the average age of “Angry Birds” players at this time was five years. This employee also writes that if you block this path, “good profit” will be offered.

Game developers “educate” to stick to practice

Phone as Source of Light

However, Facebook decided to keep this practice and launched an internal memo titled: “Friendly Fraud – what it is, why it is challenging, and why you shouldn’t prevent it”. The memo states “maximum profit” as a corporate goal and instructs employees to “educate” game developers accordingly so that children can continue to spend money without their parents’ knowledge. In the event of complaints, the money should not be reimbursed, but the dispute should be settled with free allowances for the game, the memo says.

If parents contacted Facebook via the credit institutions and asked for a refund, the company also planned to use a program that would automatically reject the claims without being checked, as can be seen in another document. According to Reveal, the company was waiting at this time to see whether it could successfully reject enough reclaims so that the use of the automatism made sense – but whether the decision about the deployment was made is not clear from the documents.

On request, Facebook only told Reveal that it regularly reviews its business practices, revised the guidelines in 2016 and has since held special funds for reimbursements of minors’ purchases.

Published internal documents increasingly criticize Facebook’s business practices. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, for example, the British Parliament confiscated documents that were said to reveal the company’s knowledge. The whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who was responsible for the announcement of this scandal, also reaffirmed that Facebook had known about it from the start.

Putin allegedly still uses Windows XP

Many employees know this: the operating system, in many cases Windows, is significantly older on the company computer than on the private network. And sometimes a version of Windows is so old that Microsoft has already stopped supporting it.

Vladimir Putin is obviously in this situation too. As the Russian news portal Open Media reports, the Russian president is still using the heavily outdated version XP on his workstations, for which Microsoft discontinued support almost six years ago. XP was first launched in 2001. Windows XP is now extremely vulnerable to hacker attacks because it has long been out of date.

Many institutions in the West still use XP. The vulnerability of the system was demonstrated by the worldwide hacker attack with the “Wannacry” ransomware in 2017. Back then, among other things, British hospitals that still ran on XP and Deutsche Bahn computers were paralyzed.

Open Media derives its knowledge from photos that the Kremlin press service posted on its website a few weeks ago. They show Putin at a conference call in his office in Novo-Ogarjowo near Moscow, and the director of the Russian central bank Elwira Nabiullina at a meeting with Putin in the Kremlin. A computer screen can be seen on both recordings, which suggests that the associated PC is running Windows XP. The same screen saver that shows the Kremlin is installed on both computers.

Mikhail Klimaryov, managing director of the Russian NGO Internet Protection Society, which works for an Internet without censorship, has confirmed that the operating systems on Putin’s computers are Windows XP, Open Media continues.

Windows XP only installed on 1.3 per cent of all PCs

Microsoft officially discontinued support for XP and introduced security updates for the operating system in April 2014. To avoid the worst failures and most dangerous hacker attacks, the software manufacturer only occasionally provides security updates for the operating system, albeit much less frequently than for current versions. This was last the case in May 2019.

After the introduction of Windows XP, a whole series of other versions followed over the past 18 years, including Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and most recently Windows 10 in July 2015. Currently, XP is only supposed to be installed at 1.3 per cent of all running PCs worldwide.

A dispute has now flared up in IT forums: is the analysis of open media correct? Is it Windows XP? Or is it Windows 7 with a “nostalgic” user interface that looks like XP? A unique adaptation of Astra Linux? Or has the Kremlin deliberately scattered the pictures to confuse its enemies and make its IT look old-fashioned than it is?

Philip Ingram, IT expert and former British intelligence officer, brings this possibility into play in Forbes magazine: “The question is why the Russians want to make it clear that their computers supposedly use an operating system that is poorly protected. In the end, we don’t know whether it is so. “

According to Klimarov, Putin is denied the use of newer versions of Windows than XP because they have not been certified by the Federal Service for Technology and Export Control (FSTEC), which reports to the Ministry of Defense. Without the certificate of the authority, operating systems in Russia cannot be installed on the computers of civil servants who deal with security-related processes. Windows XP was the last Microsoft operating system to receive this certificate from FSTEC, as evidenced by documents on the Department of Defense’s export control that are freely available on the Internet.

Russian operating system “Astra Linux” should come

The background to this is the Russian state’s plan to ban all Microsoft and Apple software from all state authorities and strategically important companies by 2030 at the latest. Instead, they should use their Russian operating system Astra Linux, a unique adaptation of the open-source operating system Linux.

But the computers of the presidential administration have not yet been equipped with the domestic operating system. Even though the Linux plans have been known since 2015. FSTEC approved Astra Linux, the Security Council of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Defense last May to work with documents to the highest level of confidentiality.

No security issue

The reason is simple: As shown by a report in the daily newspaper has 2,018 Kommersant became known, Astra Linux was the demands of the Kremlin not yet meet. That is why the introduction of the system has been postponed to 2020.

However, Open Media doubts whether Astra Linux will replace the Windows XP dinosaur software on the Kremlin’s PCs next year. The news portal has so far not been able to find a corresponding call for tenders from the responsible presidential authority on the website of public procurement in Russia.

But even if the President of Russia should continue to work with Windows XP for a long time, this may not pose a significant security problem. Putin repeatedly stresses that he practically does not use the Internet. Those who are not connected to the Internet can only be hacked with excessive effort, for example, by hackers gaining physical access to their computers. In February 2018, Putin also indicated that he did not have a smartphone, and his spokesman Dmitry Peskov even announced that Putin was not even using a regular cell phone. “The president of a country like Russia,” said Peskov, “shouldn’t publicly display all of his affairs.”

Russia has recently intensified its efforts to make itself independent of information technology and the Internet from abroad: In November, the Duma passed a law that from July 2020, smartphones and PCs in Russia may only be sold if Russian software Alternatives are preinstalled. On November 1, the country also launched a “sovereign internet”, the “Runet”. If in doubt, it should be possible to disconnect it from the Internet in the rest of the world. However, experts doubt whether this is technically possible at all.

Facebook for Autocrats

Facebook is tough on disinformation, its bosses in Silicon Valley say. Sounds good, but it’s not quite right: the social network is still the best tool for political manipulation. We reveal the four most essential tricks for right-wing and would-be autocrats.

Online advertising: who is Donald Trump’s ads? Public domain-like released by unsplash.com Darren Halstead

Facebook is increasingly playing the role of an online police officer. The social network regularly reports on new measures against manipulation, it has recently blocked extreme right-wing sites in Austria and unmasked alleged Russian fake accounts. One might think that Facebook will be uncomfortable for right-wing extremists and authoritarian governments.

But don’t worry, dear Donald Trumps of this world! We have compiled the best tips and tricks for you on how you can continue to manipulate people on Facebook and influence elections. Here are our instructions in four steps.

Step one: ask questions and ask for money

Most of us learn the trick in elementary school: a controversial claim is more natural to spread if it appears to be harmlessly packaged as a question. For example: “Can it be that Peter always steals the erasers here?”

Donald Trump takes the principle to extremes. His reelection campaign is flooding Facebook and YouTube with advertising. Trump often relies on surveys. “Do you agree that President Trump didn’t do anything wrong?” Is a statement wrapped up as a question and at the same time a click-bait political statement that many Americans cannot resist.

Trump 2020: Opponents’ allegations as a fundraising tool

The Trump campaign focuses on simple messages that arouse emotions. Around 84 per cent of its advertisements call users to take action – be it a survey, the purchase of a T-shirt or a donation. An internal Facebook investigation came to this conclusion after the 2016 US election.

The reactions of the users are valuable for the campaign: Inside on surveys or donation calls: They generate new data. Emotionally charged content helps to give Trump’s messages even more attention. Trump’s sponsored posts are shared often, which organically increases their reach.

According to the Facebook study, Trump spent far more money on advertising than his opponent Hillary Clinton just before the election – $ 44 million compared to their $ 28 million. His campaign tailored the ads much more precisely to small groups (“microtargeting”), tested many different versions of the same message – and repeatedly asked voters for money.

Trump is pursuing the same strategy for the presidential election in November 2020. Hundreds of ads from his campaigns promote an “Impeachment Defense Fund”, a collection against the planned impeachment process of the Democrats against Trump. Due to political hurdles, it is uncertain whether the impeachment will take place. But Trump doesn’t care, until then he has an excellent fundraising tool.

Trump already relies on Facebook and Youtube 13 months before the election. Some Democratic opponents are far more traditional: Presidential candidate Joe Biden shows Facebook the cold shoulder and shifts his advertising budget to TV spots, reports the New York Times.

Of course, it must be said: Emotional content and microtargeting are not manipulative in themselves. But Trump shamelessly dodges racism, falsehoods, and data-driven advertising into a poison cocktail that turns Facebook into a dangerous political weapon.

Step two: tell fairy tales about your opponents

Trump tells brazen political lies. In a 30-second commercial clip, the President’s campaign claimed that his opponent Joe Biden, as US Vice President of Ukraine, would offer $ 1 billion in aid if investigations surrounding his son Hunter Biden were dropped.

Biden indeed put political pressure on Ukraine at the time. But the claim that Biden directly supported his son lacks any factual basis, according to fact-checkers at Axios and PolitifactCNN, therefore, refuses to broadcast the spot and another Trump video. Facebook and Youtube, on the other hand, see no reason for reluctance.

Trump’s Biden video: His advertising often relies on the colour combination of black, white and red

Facebook boasts of its actions against fakes and misinformation. In Europe, Facebook officially commits itself in a code of conduct to stop the spread of disinformation. But for politicians, the social network is an exception. Since 2016, the year Trump was elected US President, Facebook has been posting high-news content – such as statements by the President – about its community standards that prohibit hate speech.

Since 2019, Facebook has even explicitly allowed political lies. Political speech is a necessary form of freedom of expression, even if it contains falsehoods. On Facebook, this applies not only to regular posts but also to advertising content, which Facebook provides more reach for against payment. The company refuses to remove Trump’s sponsored video about Biden. It is “not our job to interfere when politicians speak,” said Facebook communications chief Nick Clegg.

The group only wants to intervene if there is a “risk of damage” – for example, by calling for violence. Facebook wants to decide whether this is true. Trump previously caused a sensation with a Facebook advertising warning of an “invasion” by illegal immigration, which was also used in right-wing conspiracy forums and by the El Paso assassin.

Facebook still sees no problem in Trump advertising; the Republican can also spread inflammatory and untrue claims. With his attitude, Facebook is likely to find applause from Trump’s friends from all over the world.

Step three: pens with troll armies confusion

Wrong and misleading information is a powerful tool in politics. It is often not a question of actually convincing people of the claims or a message. Instead, the goal is simply to distract from something else or create uncertainty. For this purpose, specific hashtags or discussion forums are deliberately flooded with incorrect information on social media.

One example is the white helmets in Syria. The volunteer organization provides humanitarian aid in the Syrian war zone, but the helpers are always the target of political attacks.

Russian state media accuse the white helmets of falsifying or even committing reports of atrocities committed by the Syrian regime. The European Union’s External Action Service has documented and invalidated many of the stories.

A network of accounts spreads criticism of the white helmets on social media. The network is supported and strengthened by Russian and Iranian state media, scientists from the University of Washington report in a current paper.

Criticism of the white helmets now dominates on Twitter and Youtube. A small number of accounts manage to drown out positive representations of the white helmets. In doing so, they successfully stir up doubts about the aid organization.

Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have been promising to deal with such disinformation for years. Twitter banned sponsored posts from state media; Facebook wants to mark their pages from November at least.

The two companies recently deleted numerous fake accounts. Your action is directed against “coordinated inauthentic behavior”. How successful Facebook is in doing so is unclear; however, as the company hinders access for scientists despite promises to the contrary.

From the Expert’s point of view, the actions of the corporations fall short anyway. Twitter and Facebook block bots and accounts registered under a false name, as well as those of governmental actors from abroad that specifically target disinformation. But with a network like the one that attacks the white helmets, only a small part is controlled from abroad, according to the study by the University of Washington.

Targeted campaigns often mingled with organic support from extreme right-wing groups and volunteers – a real troll army accompanied by a few shepherds. It makes little sense to see disinformation merely as a problem-controlled influence.

Troll armies are a secret weapon for political campaigns. In Germany, there have already been coordinated attacks from the AfD environment. A CDU politician received hundreds of aggressive posts on Facebook last year after an AfD sympathizer page called to leave him “a nice comment”. However, our research showed that the AfD uses Twitter spammer methods to breed Twitter accounts and is suspected of being behind networks of fake accounts.

Step four: let sock puppets speak for you

There are many good reasons not to be found online under your name. But is anonymity also okay for people who exert political influence with millions of euros?

For example, in January, a previously unknown pro-Brexit group called Britain’s Future in the UK spent £ 88,000 on Facebook ads in a short space of time. The ads pushed for a rapid exit from the EU. Who funded the advertising?

Long description

Who paid for this ad? The trail leads to Boris Johnson. The public domain of Facebook

With classic political advertising, it is usually clear who is behind it – the respective party and a candidate. But Facebook makes it practically easy for everyone to get involved in politics in advertising. As a result, in the 2016 US election campaign, anonymous advertisers paid in rubles.

Facebook now prohibits political advertising across national borders, but advertising-funded from unknown sources continues to exist: In the British case, it turned out that “Britain’s Future” is controlled by a lobby group that is now close to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Politicians could do the same for the group in the future. With sock puppets, vast sums of money can be invested in advertising on Facebook without having to justify the content – or explain the origin of the funds.

An interesting example is provided by the Zoom research platform, which caused a stir in the Austrian election campaign. Shortly before the election in September, Zoom published several articles on allegedly dubious connections between ÖVP boss Sebastian Kurz and businessman Martin Ho.

Zoom took over an older page for its Facebook presence, which until then posted humorous criticism of the former head of the Austrian right-wing party FPÖ. Her name: “Can this soulless brick have more friends than HC Strache?” The site already had tens of thousands of fans – Zoom almost seized a huge audience overnight.

The creator of the platform initially hid behind a Swiss club; his real name was unknown. After a few days, “Zoom” turned out to be a project of a lone political warrior, the alleged revelations remained less explosive.

The project raises interesting questions: How far does Facebook go to protect the anonymity of political actors? In an earlier Austrian election campaign, groups also appeared that turned out to be sock puppets for political opponents.

Since then, Facebook has tightened the obligations for site operators. Pages must state when they were created and where their operators are mostly located. However, the social network refuses to enforce the imprint obligation for Facebook pages that applies to all websites. Political Facebook pages like @ kaerntnerstraße with over 2,000 subscribers can, therefore, continue to use “satan.com” as contact information without fear of sanctions.

Facebook announced new rules. Accordingly, pages should in future provide information on the “confirmed page owner”. However, this only applies from January and only for political advertising customers in the USA.

Facebook thus sets a strange double standard. The social network forces its users to use their real names in their terms of use. (Facebook calls this “the same name […] that you also use in real life”.) Shouldn’t the same also apply to site operators, especially if they place political advertisements?

Admittedly, the internet companies are taking steps in the right direction. Facebook, Twitter and Google launched archives for political advertising after significant pressure from politics and civil society. They make advertising on the platforms visible to everyone and searchable for keywords. They show who the target audience of an advertisement was and how much it cost.

But Facebook disappointed hopes for full transparency. Facebook and the other companies find it challenging to define what political advertising is, criticize researchers from the University of Amsterdam in a new paper on the archives. It is also still possible for ad buyers to hide the origin of their money and who they are targeting with ads.

Facebook remains a gateway for Donald Trumps around the world and their dirty money. Perfect targeting, sanctioned political lies, space for troll armies and sock puppets – these tactics by right-wing politicians and authoritarian governments are not only possible on Facebook, but even part of the business model.

No more excuses: Use App Shop and Retargeting to raise new sales potential

Can companies use apps shops to increase their conversions and polish their ecommerce status? These approaches help further.

Mobile commerce is currently the fastest growing form of e-commerce. This development is directly related to the massive increase in in-app shopping. Already 87 per cent of mobile users spend their time with apps. So why do many marketers neglect apps both for sales and as a marketing channel for retargeting?

eMarketer forecasts that mobile advertising pays in 2019 will total $ 232.34 billion globally. According to Statista, global mobile traffic is expected to almost triple between 2018 and 2021. In a rapidly evolving and competitive industry, such as e-commerce, it is a must for every marketer to keep up with trends and changes. The question for marketers around the world is not, “Should we bet on mobile devices?”, But: “How can we leverage the full revenue potential of mobile devices?” Today, every brand, especially in the e-commerce industry, should be apps as a new distribution channel and a new way of improving the customer experience with the brand.

Excuses that speak against using apps can not exist. The numbers speak for themselves too much.

Mobile App Vs. mobile-optimized website

According to TechCrunch, mobile apps not only have a much higher usage rate than mobile-optimized sites or desktop web viewing, but they can also score 100 to 300 per cent higher conversion rates. This increase in revenue compared to non-app distribution channels is due to a higher volume and higher frequency of visits to the apps. According to an analysis by Bain & Co, users of mobile apps are travelling the customer journey three times faster and seeing 4.2 times more products than users of other channels.

Why is that? Apps run faster and load faster. People use their mobile devices and apps very often, just a click away from their brand. According to App, Annie, the time spent shopping on shopping apps rose to 18 billion hours worldwide in 2018. The marketers have with the App an instant connection to the user, which offers them a variety of ways to contact. Directly from the App, but also via push messages, emails, notifications, etc. And this brings us to the essential feature of mobile apps and the main reason for their use: Personalization – from the provision of suitable offers and updates on loyalty programs to location and monitoring user interaction. Still, many advertisers are unaware of the advertising opportunities in the app environment.

Mobile conversions – immense growth is coming to us

According to App Annie, there will be a 60% increase in app monetization through app advertising in 2019. According to Adjust, which has analyzed 8 billion app installations worldwide, apps will be deleted within 5.8 days of their last use. There are many reasons for that. But not only deleting an app due to space issues, system downtime or lousy user experience but just forgetting or not using it will cause a vital communication channel to break down to the user.

That brings us to the subject of retargeting.

Increase conversions and reactivate turned off app users

Brands are successfully using retargeting to encourage active buyers or lapsed users to return and complete the purchase in their online stores. In just a few years, it has become an indispensable, everyday tool in marketing. However, many advertisers do not use retargeting for mobile shopping applications.

The functionality of in-app retargeting is the same as with traditional retargeting. Users who have looked at products in the App are found on other websites or apps and moved to buy the products with products that are relevant to them. However, retargeting campaigns can also complement an app marketing strategy to reach people who can not respond to push notifications or can not be reached. According to Accengage In 2018, only 44 per cent of iOS users had their push notifications enabled at all. The technology provider for push notifications reports that even weekly notifications cause 10 per cent of users to disable their push notifications, and 28 per cent of apps are wholly deactivated after 30 days, making them inaccessible to push message users. Without retargeting the reopening of these users would not be possible anymore.

How good the in-app retargeting works, is shown by the example of Lazada, one of the largest e-commerce shops for the Southeast Asian market.

The company had ambitious goals in launching its in-app retargeting. Active users should be asked to purchase the App, inactive users should be turned into active buyers, and the overall use of the app shopping platform should be increased.

The in-app marketing efforts paid off for Lazada: The reach of the campaigns has increased significantly, and the number of daily active users of the App increased massively. All the metrics of the last few months led to a continuous increase in user retention. At the same time, the cost per visit to the shopping app (cost-per-visit) fell by 60 per cent.

Do not be afraid of change – integration is the most natural part

Many marketers are shying away from integrating the retargeting tool into their apps. They mistakenly assume that this is a complex process, similar to the complexity of integrating a webshop. The opposite is the case: established retargeting providers are already connected to many app platforms. If the marketer has also set up an application on one of these platforms, integrating the retargeting tool takes only a few seconds.

Conclusion

In order not to lose any competitive advantages, marketers should not only stop ignoring the app shop as a sales channel but equally establish the associated retargeting, as they know it from the marketing of their e-shop. There is no real difference to webshop retargeting, apart from the growing number of buyers via the mobile channel. Statista data shows that 67 per cent of users purchased products based on their experience with mobile apps. Also, Compuware analysis shows that 85 per cent of consumers prefer apps over mobile websites. Why wait? Your customer is waiting for you to see your mark under his thumb.

Chalk and blackboard instead of computer in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is the tech mecca of the world. But right at the centre of digital progress, some parents favour old-school classrooms and schools with little computer use for their offspring.

With colourful pieces of chalk, girls and boys crowd in front of the big blackboard in a school in the California town of Mountain View. Human and apes skulls, partly yellowish discoloured, lie on a wooden desk. “Touch ’em,” says biology teacher Jennifer Staub, the 15- and 16-year-old high school teenager. The science class is running; the Waldorf School is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the US stronghold for new digital technologies.

Tech giants such as Apple, Google and Facebook have their headquarters within a 20-minute drive. But this school relies on little technology use. It is based on the old approach of Waldorf education to develop creative and social forces. The room does without monitors and computer.

“Here we learn with our senses, with touch,” explains Headmaster Pierre Laurent. “It’s dangerous when students just stare at a screen, and teachers are just tutors behind their backs.” The computer scientist from France worked for software giant Microsoft for nine years. Now the father of three starts his new career as an administrative school principal “low-Tech”. Such concepts with little or no digital helpers – in lower or all classes – have been receiving much attention for some time.

And right in the middle of Silicon Valley? “Of course,” laughs the 56-year-old. “We have long waiting lists for some classes.”

At the Canterbury Christian School in neighbouring Los Altos, the demand is higher than the number of seats. Dozens of students lined up in the small schoolyard, the girls in plaid dresses, the boys in red and blue uniforms. First, the morning prayer comes, then the chant sounds: “Good Morning, Father Macias.”

“Almost all of our students’ parents work on Facebook, eBay, Intel or HP,” says spiritual headmaster Steven Macias, raving about old traditions: Latin, arithmetic and reading, the same syllabus as when it was founded almost 50 years ago. No computers in the classroom, but discipline and human closeness.

That’s perfect for her six-year-old daughter Macaria, says finance planner Jessica Ho. Her husband, Michael, is an engineer and now hired by Google after working for Apple and Amazon. The technical faith of some sees them critically. “There are people who only look at their smartphone and iPad and no longer look at their counterparts,” complains the 35-year-old. “We teach our children to read books and talk to people.”

“Computers are like digital nicotine or cocaine.”

Native Chinese Sean Chang has made a career in Silicon Valley: studying in Stanford, start-ups, entry at Apple and today with 34 years program manager at Amazon. But his six-year-old daughter Zyana is said to be at the Christian Canterbury School, initially without a computer. She could learn that later. He knows the dangers, says the engineer. He was addicted to video games. “Computers are like digital nicotine or cocaine, you get addicted to it,” says Sean Chang.

Especially the marketing strategists in large engineering companies are driving the digitization of schools in the USA: Away from analog lessons with blackboard and chalk to high-tech classrooms with monitors and Internet usage just as he is often encouraged and demanded in this country. Educators in digitized schools rave about the fact that girls and boys have access to information and sources that are not in textbooks via the Internet. Also, learning with computers and video can increase motivation.

Search engine size Google makes itself full in the US schools with the help of cheap mobile devices, with Chromebooks. Apple keeps up with his iPads. Microsoft also relies on special school subsidies. Education is a billion-dollar market. It is also essential to be present in the lives of young people at an early age. However, parts of the teaching staff are quite against too free digitization in the classroom, supported by psychologists, politicians and some ex-techies.

For example, former Google employee Tristan Harris is a mouthpiece of the counter-movement in Silicon Valley. Smartphone apps are addictive; users are manipulated, digital technology can often bring an excess of distraction, complains the co-founder of the initiative “Time Well Spent” – translates that translates into meaningful time spent.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates do it

Computer industry greats like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates faked it years ago. Jobs acknowledged in 2010 in an interview with The New York Times that his children would not use his newly released iPad of his company. “We restrict the use of devices to our children at home,” the newspaper quoted the Apple founder, who died in 2011. Also, Microsoft founder Bill Gates 2007 spoke on limits on the screen, which he set his children.

For the technology-critical private schools in Silicon Valley, the parents have to reach deep into their pockets. The Canterbury School, for example, costs around $ 7,000 a year depending on the grade level (over € 6,000). The Waldorf School takes about fivefold with the equivalent of more than 30,000 euros.

From mother, Jessica Ho pays off the individual lessons. Her little daughter shows little interest in devices with a screen. “She enjoys talking and scolding me when I’m using the smartphone too long,” she says. Her family is not anti-technology at all, says Ho. “But everything in moderation.”