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Why are we drawn to spend more and more time staring at screens? In this week's column, Rana Foroohar reminds us that the technology companies actively want us that way — in fact their business model depends on maximising our time online so that we can then be in grateful receipt of hyper-targeted advertisements.

Making a connection between these deliberate manipulations and the revelations of sexual harassment in Silicon Valley in recent weeks, Rana argues that a toxic corporate culture is a sign of deeper deficiencies in the way these technology companies affect their users and society at large: “Both display a tendency to do harm until they are fully exposed and force action.”

She applauds efforts to design “more humane” models than one which relies on keeping users hooked, but doubts that there will be any changes soon. Start-ups and innovators cannot disrupt the business of the tech giants because they enjoy such dominance. In the meantime, Rana wants regulators to force platforms — the “attention merchants” as she calls them — to make their algorithms public. That way at least we will know how we are being sucked in.

Wolfgang Munchau warns that Italy's stand off with the rest of the eurozone over its fiscal plans is a reminder that the crisis is not dead, just dormant.

Marshall Billingslea, president of the Financial Action Task Force, argues in favour of new international standards governing regulation of virtual assets, appealing for all countries to crack down on these conduits for money laundering and terrorist financing.

John McDonnell, the UK Labour party's shadow chancellor, attacks the UK Conservative government's record, as Philip Hammond, his opposite number, prepares to deliver his Budget in the House of Commons today.

With midterm elections in the US looming, Gavin Davies asks whether the markets have fallen out of love with Donald Trump and his policies.

What you've been saying . . .

Letter from David Tuckwell in response to Joan C Williams’ essay “ #MeToo and the new work rules” (Life & Arts, October 20)
I would suggest that liberal elites aren’t “class-clueless”; rather, they’re class-silent. Liberal elites in the US congregate around foundations, charities, non-governmental organisations, universities and, most crucially, the Democratic party. These institutions all depend on donations from rich people. To make sustained criticism of class while employed at these institutions is to bite the hand that feeds you.”

Letter from Peter Mills in response to a report “ Jewish refugees’ descendants rush for German citizenship” (October 20)
Only those descendants of male victims of the Holocaust may obtain German citizenship. My mother escaped the clutches of the Nazis on a 1939 Kindertransport, but the option of a German passport is not open to us as a result of an arcane ruling under German Basic Law dating back to 1953. It seems to me they too need to get behind the #MeToo movement.”

Comment from Nick Antill on “ The Philip Green case is not as simple as it seems” by David Allen Green (October 26)
Whatever the rights and wrongs of NDAs there is absolutely no doubt that Lord Hain abused parliamentary privilege. It is not there so that members of either House can intervene in and overrule judicial processes.”

Today's opinion

The FT View: Homegrown US terror fuels cultural divide
Donald Trump has stoked the language of violence. He must not be emulated

Has the market fallen out of love with Donald Trump?
The post-election bull market is changing at midterm

Virtual assets and financial crime now go hand in hand 
All countries must supervise and monitor cryptocurrency exchanges and ‘wallet’ providers 

The FT View: UK police forces are under excessive strain
Britain needs a broader, better-funded approach to surging crime

Big Tech’s unhealthy obsession with hyper-targeted ads
The business model causes collateral damage, but they will never walk away from it

Italy is setting itself up for a monumental fiscal failure
Confrontation over spending is reawakening the dormant eurozone crisis

Big feet: the female trend the shoe business ignores
Women’s hooves have grown by enough to support a minor industry

FT View

The FT View: Homegrown US terror fuels cultural divide
Donald Trump has stoked the language of violence. He must not be emulated

The FT View: UK police forces are under excessive strain
Britain needs a broader, better-funded approach to surging crime

The Big Read

The Big Read: Venezuela: oil producer’s slump reflects nation’s decline
PDVSA’s decline is intensifying the search for a solution to the country’s woes

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