Friday roundup: A week in tech, 13 August | News

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The Innovation and Technology Network

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Friday roundup: A week in tech, 13 August

TikTok, the world’s fastest growing time-wasting exercise, has decided it wants to help protect its core userbase, teenagers.

Henceforth, those aged 13-15 will no longer receive push notifications after 9pm, whilst those aged 16-17 will be left undisturbed after 10.

According to the Chinese giant, the steps have been designed to help young people get a good night’s sleep, relax, and leave ample time for study – much better that they pick up the backlogged 17,000 notifications in the morning, before school.

In a preening statement, TikTok said: “We want to help our younger users in particular develop digital habits early on.” Of course!

Despite my guarded, no doubt somewhat tedious cynicism about the motives of a large social media enterprise, someone who presumably knows what they’re talking about is pleased. Andy Burrows, head of online child safety at the NSPCC, reckons the measures will “give children more control over who can contact them and view their content, reducing opportunities for offenders to groom them.

“TikTok continue to show industry leadership when it comes to protecting children and we urge those tech firms who have been slow to catch up to be similarly proactive.”

It’s all weird, innit? These social media empires are hives for racism, anti-vaxxers, grooming, and lots more unpalatable hellishness. The firms make endless gestures towards improving things, but, in essence, in the final analysis, it’s about high numbers of users DOING ANYTHING ON THE NETWORKS AS LONG AS IT’S SOMETHING because that’s the point of it all: selling advertising and gathering data.

Imagine if Sainsbury’s, or Halfords, or Massey Ferguson, or the BBC were utterly riven with these toxic qualities – if racism and grooming, say, were endemic and they vaguely tried to fix things now and again. They’d be closed down by lunchtime.

Yet, social media companies survive these endless atrocities, and thrive. They get bigger. Like I said, weird, innit?

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It’s happened. Finally, Brexit is paying off…for Vodafone.

The much-missed roaming charges that haunted UK travellers to the hated European Union back in the good old days are set to return in January, with Vodafone users facing a charge of a least £1 a day to use their phones in distant, mysterious lands like Belgium and France.

The firm’s new rules actually came into effect this week, but the charges won’t apply until the new year.

Vodafone spake: "Existing customers will not be impacted by these changes while they remain on their current price plan, and roaming in the Republic of Ireland will still be included for all customers.”

Fair-usage rules also limit Twitter addicts to 25gb a month while they roam fortress Europe.

EE have already declared a similar state of affairs (£2 a day from January), while Three has slashed its fair-use limit from 20gb a month to 12gb, with a delightful £3 charge per gigabyte beyond that paltry amount.

Once optimistic Uswitch mobile analyst Ernest Doku said: "In the aftermath of Brexit, the UK's biggest mobile providers all said that they had no immediate plans to change their charging models for consumers roaming within the EU.”

But for Mr Doku that idea has turned to despair: "It's disappointing for consumers to see that the situation looks to be shifting, with a risk that roaming at no additional cost could soon be a distant memory for UK residents."

And according to Paolo Pescatore, an analyst at PP Foresight, the return of providers’ roaming charges are a "harsh reality" of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

The shameful remoaner whined: "Wholesale roaming rates will change given UK's exit, and this in turn will inevitably drive higher prices without EU protection. It's a pretty easy decision for UK telcos.”

Thanks, Brexit!

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Roundup roundup

The Guardian have cobbled together an article that asks if we’re using the “smiley emoji all wrong”. I can’t possibly countenance reading such a thing, but you can if you want by clicking here.

A cinema chain plans to start accepting payments in Bitcoin. Odeon will soon allow filmgoers to buy their tickets with the cryptocurrency – but I thought a single Bitcoin’s worth about £100,000 so I’m not sure how you’re supposed to get change after purchasing a £10 ticket. Read this article to find out what’s going on.

An algorithm deep in Twitter’s mad brain prefers younger, slimmer, whiter faces, a man has discovered. Bogdan Kulynyc bagged £2,530 in a contest held by the social media firm aimed at rooting out biases in its cropping algorithm. And he found one! Read about it here.

Social media outfits must declare ‘altered images’ – which at first I thought was something to do with the Clare Grogan-fronted 80s pop group and so was reasonably interested. But no. It’s about the ongoing widespread manipulation of images to apparently make humanoids look more better than they actually are, and the effects that has on everyone’s mental health. Read more here.