Friday roundup: A week in tech

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Social media firms are actively trying to make their products as addictive as possible, a man who has helped to make social media as addictive as possible has said.

Speaking to the BBC’s Panorama show, Aza Raskin claimed that it’s as if companies are ‘taking behavioural cocaine and just sprinkling it all over your interface and that’s the thing that keeps you like coming back and back and back’.

Mr Rashkin, a tech engineer, designed infinite scroll, a common feature of social media interfaces that allows spellbound, stupefied users to trawl endlessly through a sea of empty gibberish while day and night pass silently around them.

The repentant engineer added that ‘behind every screen on your phone, there are generally like literally a thousand engineers that have worked on this thing to try to make it maximally addicting’.

Lots of other Road to Damascus Silicon Valley types also contribute to the Panorama special, expressing remorse for their past work at the likes of Facebook, where they were compelled to contribute to the farce called 21st century culture.

Anyway, a big, properly written and genuinely informative report can be read here.

Do you use social media? Would you like to comment on these issues? We’d love to hear from you. Please write to: Socitm, 8a Basset Court, Grange Park, Northampton, NN4 5EZ.

***

Everybody’s favourite internet oddity Kim Dotcom has lost the latest round of his long running battle to avoid extradition to the US.

Currently holed-up in his New Zealand lair, the creator of file-sharing behemoth Megaupload is wanted in America for copyright infringement and fraud.

But New Zealand’s Court of Appeal has ruled that Mr Dotcom and three of his cohorts can be extradited to the Land of the Free – where, if found guilty, the four may have to practice freedom in prison.

Last week, or last month, or at some point, Mr Dotcom announced plans to destroy Twitter and create his own new, shiny, special social media network that will take over the world – a grand scheme that extradition will surely interfere with.

And it’s not over: ‘We will seek review with the NZ Supreme court,’ Mr Dotcom’s lawyer TWEETED via the HATED Twitter network.

***

Aggrieved types who seek some form of relief by indulging in the mania of ‘revenge porn’ are about to feel the force of a souped-up legal system.

The Sentencing Council for England and Wales has instructed courts to hand down the harshest punishments for the repellent and pathetic activity – currently a maximum of two years in jail.

Judge Rosa Dean, of the Sentencing Council, said: ‘Our guidelines recognise and reflect the very intimate, personal and intrusive nature of these offences, which can have devastating, often long-term, impacts on victims and their families.’

There were 465 prosecutions for ‘revenge porn’ over 2016/17 in England and Wales, so it is hoped that the new guidelines, which come into effect on 1 October, may curtail things a bit – but, you know, if you’re vile, stupid AND angry it’s probably unlikely that the threat of silly old prison will deter you from your macabre mission.

***

Former fireplace salesman turned defence secretary Gavin Williamson was apparently interrupted by his iPhone during some debate or other in the House of Commons.

Problem-solver and future human ruler Siri burbled into life while the minister updated MPs on the battle against ISIS.

The much-loved and widely admired Speaker of the House, John Bercow, commented that it was a ‘very rum business’ – though I’m not sure if that was a reference to Mr Williamson’s past activities in his fireplace showroom or to the phone mishap.

Apparently, the Siri incident was not evidence of a wider security risk, as the minister doesn’t take the troublesome phone into important meetings. No, of course he doesn’t.

Hilariously, Mr Williamson said that it’s ‘very rare that you’re heckled by your own mobile phone’.

You can watch it here, if you can be bothered.

Friday roundup: A week in tech

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