Friday roundup: A week in tech, 20 August | News

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The Innovation and Technology Network

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Friday roundup: A week in tech, 20 August

Cuba’s tentative experiment with letting people go on the internet has apparently proven problematic, as the government has now decided to tighten things up a bit.

The socialist island’s inhabitants first got a taste of mobile internet as early as December 2018, a mere 30-odd years after web surfers in the West gained the right to insult one another through electrical wires whilst downloading vast amounts of pornography.

Sadly for Cuba’s avuncular yet slightly precious regime, unruly types took the opportunity to access news sources other than state-controlled media. Reckless and ungrateful, I think you’ll agree.

This ‘fake news’ consumption has troubled the government, which unlike former US President Donald Trump, who craved and continues to crave the power to abolish large sections of the media, actually has the capacity to crush troublesome content.

Anyhow, following the largest anti-government protests in years on the island last month, the government has found some new legislation lying around that demands internet providers curb the access of upstarts who “spread fake news or hurt the image of the state”.

Protesters used the internet to share footage of the demos – which Cuba’s rulers noticed was an effective way of alerting others to their existence.

Hours after the protests, internet dwellers found they couldn’t access the likes of Facebook and Instagram (which sounds quite nice, actually). The government controls the telecommunications network and thus found it easy to pull out a few cables, or smash the dilithium crystals, or break whatever it is that makes the internet work.

Officials have claimed the steps are designed to protect Cubans from cybercrime – and it’s certainly true that you’re unlikely to be a victim of online crime if you can’t get online, so well done on that front.

The final word sits with Deputy Communications Minister Wilfredo Gonzalez, who said Cubans’ “privacy” was the key driver for turning the internet off, but he added, in what seems almost an afterthought, that “no one can denigrate an official of our country or our revolutionary process”.

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The Taliban may have earned the ire of the international community following their swift recapture of Afghanistan, but the original queens of the stone age are yet to offend a certain social media firm.

Bastion of morals Facebook has already forbidden content from the famous rejectors of female education from its main network, as well as its subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp – but fellow digital dustbin Twitter continues to honour the gruesome group with a presence on its demented network.

Supporters of the crestfallen Donald Trump are incandescent. The former president was banned for life from Twitter for trying to instigate a crummy yet terrifying insurrection – well, that and a decade of general lunacy.

So, should a misogynistic, bigoted, reactionary, violence-supporting, chauvinistic force be banned from Twitter? And what about the Taliban?

Twitter explained: “The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving. We’re also witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance. Twitter’s top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant.

“We will continue to proactively enforce our rules and review content that may violate Twitter Rules, specifically policies against glorification of violence, platform manipulation and spam.”

Meanwhile, over at Castles YouTube and TikTok a tolerance for Taliban content also seems to be in effect,  and I’m not sure if they’re still allowed to post reviews on Tripadvisor.

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Roundup roundup

Brave Apple has banned the engravement of words onto its products that might upset China’s political class. The company says it’s made the move so it can continue to make a great deal of money in certain territories with ease…sorry, to ensure that “local laws and customs are respected”. Read about the courageous act here.

T-Mobile has admitted that more than 40 million of its US customers have been hit by a data breach. According to the mobile provider, the breach was the result of a "highly sophisticated cyberattack", which its customers will certainly find more reassuring than a statement that said it came about because of ‘a laughably simplistic hack that a lamb could’ve done’. Read more here.

Sore spaceman Jeff Bezos is suing Nasa because it chose to award a £2bn contract to his astral rival Elon Musk’s SpaceX, over his Blue Origin outfit. It’s “unfair” according to Bezos, so he’s preparing for some courtroom action. More here.

Twitter is urgently redesigning its recent redesign after users complained it did their heads in. “We can still see all these abysmal tweets,” complained one, whilst another raged, “Peter Hitchens’ account gave me a migraine!”. Not really. Actually, twitterers have found the company’s new bespoke font, Chirp, hard to read and generally annoying. A Taliban spokesman said, “it’s not very easy on the eyes”. Not really. Here’s the story.