Friday round-up: A week in tech

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The Chinese state has dreamed up a super-sinister digital scheme, which has been sketched out in a document called ‘Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System’.

It sounds almost nice, doesn’t it? It isn’t. Basically, the idea is to monitor everything every citizen does – and then rate their trustworthiness. (And I thought firms using GPS systems to monitor staff movements were bad.)

The national trust score (which basically means, I think, how likely you are to give the Chinese government grief) will be based on things like the places you go; what sort of activities you take part in; who you associate with; whether you’ve repeatedly vowed to bring down the government, etc.

Johan Lagerkvist, a Chinese internet specialist at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, said: ‘It is very ambitious in both depth and scope, including scrutinising individual behaviour and what books people are reading. It’s Amazon’s consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist.’

Digital isn’t all fun and games.

Here’s a long expose of the disturbing concept.

***

Our brand new defence minister has been mocked for having a tedious Instagram account. So serious were the allegations that I had to borrow a colleague’s phone to look into it.

Gavin Williamson took over the role this week, after the previous minister, Michael Fallon, quit following a torrent of sleazy sexual harassment allegations.

With the sound of squalid scandal ringing in her ears, prime minister Theresa May might have opted for Williamson because, if his online activities are anything to go by, he seems like a safe pair of hands (figuratively and literally).

The MP’s Instagram features such highlights as a pic of an incinerator bin, with the following quip-caption ‘Very pleased with my new garden incinerator only £14.99 from #aldi’. Bargain.

Another gem features a pic of a motor vehicle publication: ‘You can’t beat a small treat such as @carmagazine. Much cheaper than actually buying a new car.’ Very true and astute. Perhaps he should have been made chancellor instead.

Other pics include Land Rovers, various animals and underwhelming but pleasant enough pastoral scenes.

Silly, really, but the Guardian have spun a whole article out of it if you’re interested.

***

President Donald Trump’s notorious Twitter account has been shut down…for 11 minutes. It’s now functioning again. Phew!

In a moment of devilish insolence, a Twitter employee took the opportunity to deactivate the raving commander-in-chief’s account. The social media network is now investigating.

Trump often uses Twitter to denounce his enemies, intimidate opponents, humiliate and belittle rivals, lie and threaten war.

Fans visiting the US President’s Twitter page during the peaceful interlude were greeted with the message ‘Sorry, that page doesn’t exist’. After the interruption was rectified, visitors received the update ‘We’re really, really sorry, this page does exist, we feel nothing but shame’.

According to Twitter, the innocuous stunt was pulled by a ‘customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day. We are conducting a full internal review’.

Another day, another Trump/Twitter tale. We’ve got at least another three years of this. Every day. For three more years. At least.

Friday round-up: A week in tech

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