Friday roundup: A week in tech

Switzerlan

Poor old Kaspersky has announced plans to shift some of its operations abroad (if it has any left) in an attempt to fix its tattered image.

Accused of being a spying lapdog of the Russian state, the firm has decided to up sticks to…Switzerland – on account of its ‘policy of neutrality’ and no doubt ‘stunning mountains, verdant meadows, dubious financial accountability structures’.

The antivirus outfit has been in the digital dustbin since the US’s Homeland Security people demanded that government departments stopped using its software, fearing that precious information was being fed back to Moscow.

Naturally, Kaspersky has always proclaimed its innocence but now even the chilled-out Dutch have had enough, with the government there announcing that it is beginning to dump the company’s software.

According to Holland’s justice and security ministry, ‘Russia has an active offensive cyber programme focusing on the Netherlands and vital Dutch interests’.

So, how will a move to the land of cheese and Roger Federer help repair Kaspersky’s standing? Apparently, moving its servers to Zurich will assuage fears that Mr Putin is watching the flow of data coming in from around the world.

In a statement, the firm said: ‘Our new centre in Switzerland will strengthen the proven integrity of Kaspersky Lab’s products.’

Very reassuring, and how fortunate that here in the West there aren’t any gargantuan software firms that have suspicious and deeply worrying relationships with our data.

***

Those whose only outlet for discourse, interaction with others or any kind of catharsis is impishly tapping out messages of no more than 280 characters to bewildered strangers could be in trouble – Twitter has announced plans to deflate the remonstrations of ‘trolls’.

In the 12 millionth attempt to control hateful, mad abuse on the platform, the social media network hopes to make the drivel of idiots ‘less visible’.

According to the firm, signallers of ‘trolling’ include a user registering multiple accounts simultaneously; somebody repeatedly messaging someone who doesn’t follow them; and those who fail to confirm their email address.

Henceforth, suspected ‘trolling’ tweets will be ‘less visible’ – unless you click ‘Show more replies’, and why on Earth would you want to do that?

According to Twitter, ‘These [troll] accounts have a disproportionately large – and negative – impact on people’s experience…The challenge for us has been: how can we proactively address these disruptive behaviours that do not violate our policies but negatively impact the health of the conversation.’

And things are going well, apparently, as tests of the anti-trolling system have led to a decrease in reports of abuse.

So, well done there, then.

***

Papal news now: none less than the person heading-up God’s office on Earth, the Pope, has published ecclesiastical guidance on the way nuns should conduct themselves on social media.

His holiness has prepared a manuscript that calls for ‘sobriety and discretion’ when using digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

So, why’s this happened?

Last month, some nuns in Spain posted messages on Facebook about a group of men in Pamplona who were recently cleared of rape, instead being found guilty of the lesser charge of sexual abuse.

The Carmelite Nuns of Hondarribia defended the 18-year-old victim in the case, writing that all women had the right to do the opposite of living in a convent ‘without being judged, raped, intimidated or humiliated’.

The Pope first laid down some digital doctrine in 2016 when he cautioned about the internet’s ‘decisive influence’ on Christendom, and pressed nuns not to let Twitter et al ‘become occasions for wasting time’ – advice that could be applied to everyone everywhere.

Not that the Vatican itself seems to have paid any attention: the hallowed institution has found the time to pump out over 15,000 tweets, while also operating YouTube, Instagram and Facebook and Google+ accounts. Good to hear they’re keeping themselves busy.

Friday roundup: A week in tech

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