Friday Roundup: A Week in Tech (21/12/18)

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It’s Friday. It’s the roundup. It must be time for Facebook Disaster of the Week – and this one’s a classic balls-up.

The social network – which, amazingly, continues to operate – has revealed the discovery of a bug that exposed nearly seven million of its long-suffering users’ photos.

According to Facebook, during September up to 1,500 third-party apps gained access to a ‘broader set of photos than usual’.

What makes all of this particular poignant/gruesome is the offer Facebook made last year for users to send it their most intimate photos as part of an effort to tackle revenge porn.

I suggested at the time that only the bravest of souls would send in their most private of pics, what with the firm being submerged in a ocean of fishiness and ineptitude even then – and this year has seen that risible sea deepen to the point that I doubt even a specialised Elon Musk submarine can save it.

Anyhow, Facebook says it plans to notify the victims of the latest screwup, and explained itself thusly: ‘When someone gives permission for an app to access their photos on Facebook, we usually only grant the app access to photos people share on their timeline.

‘In this case, the bug potentially gave developers access to other photos.’

Have you been affected by this present fiasco? Please let us know why you haven’t shut down your Facebook account.

***

Poor old Uber has been found wanting by the forces of justice, and must now treat its workers like human beings.

Actually, it must now treat its workers as workers after the Court of Appeal ruled that the firm could no longer regard its drivers as self-employed; meaning – the horror! – that they are entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the minimum wage.

Of course, these entitlements could be short-lived when the genius of Brexit crash lands into the UK mainland in March and destroys 40 years of carefully crafted employment law – but who cares anymore, right? Sovereignty! Woo! Go Brexit!

Anyhow, the action was brought by two former Uber drivers, one of whom is Yaseen Aslam, chairman of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union, and he had this to say: ‘I am delighted today’s ruling brings us closer to the ending of Uber’s abuse of precarious workers made possible by tactics of contract trickery, psychological manipulation and old-fashioned bullying.’

Hard to put it any better than that – however, responding to Uber’s plans to appeal the decision, thus further delaying the implementation of the treat workers well edict, Mr Farrar outdid himself with: ‘This is nothing more than a cynical ploy to delay inevitable changes to its business model while it pursues a record breaking $120bn stock market flotation.’

Greedy, greedy Uber! Just like Facebook, very greedy and very sloppy with its users’ data. Rich, sloppy, disdainful and shady. We’ve let these firms take over our lives, folks. What are we thinking?

***

And now it’s time for a look back over the year that everyone’s calling ‘2018’ – not all of which has been about Russia, China and Facebook.

Things kicked off with the disconcerting news that many CPUs are vulnerable to hackers. AMD, ARM and Intel chips were all apparently prone to a number of weaknesses. Interestingly, the story seems to have gone very quiet over the last six months, which means they either fixed it or everyone lost interest because of Brexit. Probably the latter.

In far more alarming hacking news, it was revealed that America’s gargantuan nuclear arsenal is also susceptible to hackers, in another story that has since gone incredible quiet, possibly because of most people’s attention being drawn to the deranged Donald Trump.

At the end of January, friendly Facebook announced plans for a child version of Facebook, while simultaneously claiming it was very concerned with the effect social media is having on the young. No shame! None at all!

In February, then digital minister Matt Hancock released an app – which was immediately implicated in a data privacy breach fiasco. I wonder whatever became of it?

The end of February bought moon news. 4G moon news.

(Only the end of February? This is going to take ages.)

I’ve zipped to April (not that much happened in March, honest) when the notoriously tech-illiterate Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced £9m to fight cyber crime. Whatever happened to her?

Lots of our focus this year was concerned with the hateful Cambridge Analytica. Here’s one of many stories about the scandal-filled enterprise.

In June, I couldn’t find a single World Cup-related tech tale, so had to make do with stuff like this.

July started with shock and horror! Social media firms are actively trying to make their networks as addictive as possible!!! Who would have thought it possible??!!

In mid July I got a bit maudlin with this effort about the strange story of the trapped teenagers and Elon Musk.

August brought some pretty good news: the demise of spite hive InfoWars. Well, not demise exactly, but hopefully all the frenzied liars involved in the dirty enterprise felt their pockets pinched a little bit.

Apple and Samsung got some massive fines for deliberately slowing their phones down. As for me, my October was reasonably enjoyable.

Which brings us to November and news that Google lost loads of its IP addresses for a short while – and China has built a literal fake newsreader.

That’ll do it. Didn’t enjoy compiling this at all. 

***

Anyhow, this is the last of my Friday roundups. I hope you’ve enjoyed them. Have a great Christmas and a happy New Year.

 

by Max Salsbury

Friday Roundup: A Week in Tech (21/12/18)

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