We’re back and ready to start a new week! And the best way to get a head start is to catch up on what’s been going on in the world.
Shake off the weekend and dive into this week’s product news…
Rise of the Cabbies
London, famous for its beloved black cabs, has had a love-hate relationship with Uber for the past few years. Last week Transport for London (TfL) decided not to renew Uber’s licence, and the city is up in arms over the decision.
TfL cites various reasons for the ban, including a ‘pattern of failure’ such as allowing fraudulent drivers to upload their photos on other people’s accounts. There’s also been claims of sexual harassment, with an Uber driver being convicted only a few months ago in October 2019.
However, Londoners are taking to social media to argue against the decision. Although London’s public transport system runs throughout the night, services are more limited, and there are clear benefits to being able to call a car on demand to your location. Some are calling on the government to make the streets safer before criticizing Uber.
Uber plans to appeal the decision, and will be able to operate until the end of the year. They may have to make some serious changes to their security protocol if they want to avoid handing the keys to the city’s nightlife back to the traditional London cabbies. Or will another operator swoop in to steal the spotlight?
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China has made it a criminal offence to create, spread, or publish deepfakes without proper disclosure.
The law will take effect on January 1st, 2020. The new law follows in the footsteps of California, which became the first US state to criminalize the use of deepfakes for political campaigning.
Deepfakes have been both delighting and terrifying us in recent years, perhaps more terrifying as the technology advances and deepfakes become almost indistinguishable from the real thing. On the plus side, Facebook and Google are busy developing ways of identifying deepfake videos.
The technology isn’t all bad. It can be used to create fake (and therefore cheaper) models for advertising campaigns, and to create age-progression photos to help the police find missing people. For now however, everyone seems to agree that the threat outweighs the potential benefits.
Want to learn more? Check out this video from Techquickie:
Buzz Begins for PS5
We’re a year away from the next generation of games consoles, but sources within the video game industry claim that a prototype of the upcoming Playstation 5 is already in the hands of developers, according to Business Insider.
Design leaks and swirling speculation aren’t exactly uncommon when consumers are eagerly anticipating a next-gen console, and people love stirring the pot with fake insights.
However, the internet did some digging and found that the supposed prototypes (first shared by Twitter user Alcoholikaust) found that the designs matched patents filed by Sony earlier in the year.
We’ll have to wait until E3 in June 2020 to find out how closely these prototypes match the final product. Sony have been fairly tight-lipped, but we can expect backwards compatibility, the next evolution of graphics, and ray tracing.
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Dutch Facebook Left Unchecked
Dutch newspaper NU.nl has quit as Facebook’s third-party fact-checker in the Netherlands. Previously the company’s sole partner, editor-in-chief Gert-Jaap Hoekman said in the official announcement; “What is the point of fighting fake news if you are not allowed to tackle politicians?”
The newspaper revealed that they had clashed with the social giant after Facebook reversed some of their decisions. In May of 2019, NU.nl marked an ad by the politician Esther de Lange as unsubstantiated, as the claim could not be verified. Facebook’s gave the reason for their intervention, saying that politicians’ speech should not be verified.
This leaves Facebook without a fact-checker in the Netherlands, but a spokesperson speaking with The Verge said “We have strong relationships with 55 fact-checking partners around the world who fact-check content in 45 languages, and we plan to continue expanding the program in Europe and hopefully in the Netherlands.”
The decision seems to be another blow against social media in general, after all of the major platforms have been on the receiving end of serious backlash. The pressure to verify the content that users upload onto their platforms is forcing companies to take steps. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey received praise earlier this year for banning political ads.
Now the focus has turned back to Facebook, with the news coinciding with Sacha Baron Cohens viral speech at the Anti-Defamation League, which described Facebook as part of ‘the greatest propaganda machine in history.’ Facebook’s employees have also written an open letter to Zuckerberg, demanding that the platform limits lies in political ads.
What are the next steps for Facebook, and the social sphere in general?
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