Friday roundup: A week in tech

Digital skills

The Chinese government has been busy purging the ol’ internet of things it finds distasteful – which is a good deal of it.

The seemingly easily-perturbed-by-people-doing-things regime has given 4,000 sites the chop in the last three months, citing concerns about the cyber spread of ‘improper values, vulgarity or obscenity’.

Well, those metrics could cover a whole multitude of sins: Mail Online, Twitter, YouTube comments…hang on, most of the internet.

However, according to the BBC, the digital slaughter has included free e-books – and quite right, too: books can have ideas in them, which can lead to thinking, and thinking can unleash all kinds of mayhem.

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that a story that doesn’t necessarily paint the Chinese government in the best light has found its way into quite a few round-ups in the last few weeks. Not my fault: I swear, as soon as Finland builds a big bureaucratic firewall around the internet, or Mexico asks Google to create it a government-beholden search engine, I’ll write about that too.


Ethically whiffy taxi-hailing outfit Uber is paying out a purse-splitting heap of money to settle the fallout over a massive data breach, and its subsequent attempts to hide the incident.

The firm is forking out £133m to soothe the US government and 50 American states, after it ludicrously failed to inform 57 million of its customers and drivers that their data was breached in 2016.

Instead of fessing up, cowardly Uber paid the hackers behind the attack $100,000 to delete the data – which I’m sure they did because it would be wrong of the criminals to steal the data, collect the ransom, and then lie about destroying it, wouldn’t it?

On top of the pay out, the company has kindly pledged to change its (deeply stupid, selfish) ways, ensuring such a thing never happens again. Isn’t that nice?

I still wouldn’t open an account with them, though. I’d rather walk. In the rain. With a bad leg.


A firm’s plans to open a robot brothel are looking like they may be kyboshed by the authorities.

Kinky S Dolls hopes to open a ‘love dolls brothel’ in Houston, USA, but the city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, doesn’t seem to like the idea very much and is currently trying to work out if the outlet presents a health and safety risk to the public.

The firm already has a similar shop in Toronto, Canada, where, clearly, the local administration isn’t too concerned with people having ‘sex’ with robots in a shop.

The company’s website states ‘WE ARE WORKING ON IMPROVING OUR WEB PAGE WE WILL BE BACK SOON…’ which seems remarkably remiss for an outfit that has apparently turned cyber-sex literally into a real thing in the real world. Maybe that’s the point?

Depressing, or merely insane? Both? We live in interesting times.


A company’s use of a stock image of a man looking at a woman while another woman looks aghast at the man has been ruled sexist, by no less than Sweden’s advertising regulator. Got that?

The miserable ‘distracted boyfriend’ image became the focus of much internet tomfoolery and japery last year – and continues to be, as people insist on churning out chronic memes based around it.

Anyhow, told-off firm Bahnhof used the notorious pic to advertise some job vacancies on Facebook, and in its wacky version the ‘distracted boyfriend’ is ‘you’; the woman the ‘distracted boyfriend’ is looking at is ‘Bahnhof’; and the woman looking aghast at the ‘distracted boyfriend’ is ‘your current employer’. Got that?

(Isn’t it fun having to read a long description of an image rather than seeing the actual image?)

The regulator, Reklamombudsmannen, has ruled that Bahnhof’s use of the pic not only objectified women but also managed to be ‘sexually discriminatory’ towards men.

And you’ll never guess what: the ruling has led to yet another flurry of rubbish, gruellingly unfunny memes based on the image. I don’t like memes much. Can you tell?

Having gone through all this, Bahnhof won’t be fined – and won’t even have to remove the image! So, I don’t know what the point of all this was.

And what do Bahnhof do, you ask? Well, they’re a robotic sex doll manufacturer. Only joking. I don’t know what they do.

Friday roundup: A week in tech

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