This Week in Tech:
Facebook Spends the Week Defending Fake News and Denying Blame for Trump Election
Last week’s election threw the world into a chaotic tail spin and now it seems Facebook is being questioned. While Facebook’s news feed ranking is guided by data, there are reports that Facebook killed an update to remove fake news from its feed because it affected right wing politics. This fake news, with a right wing slant, had the ability to reach over 150 million Facebook users in the United States. Early in the week, the allegation came from Gizmodo. Today, Facebook employees have formed an unofficial task force to question the role their company played in promoting fake news. The employee task force has refuted a statement made by Facebook CEO that fake news on the social platform influenced the election was “a pretty crazy idea.” One Facebook employee told Buzzfeed, “It’s not a crazy idea. What’s crazy is for him to come out and dismiss it like that, when he knows, and those of us at the company know, that fake news ran wild on our platform during the entire campaign season.”
Alibaba Breaks Record by Hitting $17.7 Billion in Singles Day Sales
Sales on the e-commerce platform Alibaba reached 102 billion yuan or $15 billion in sales with 4 hours left to go, topping last year’s 91.2 yuan. By the end of the day, the sales had climbed to $17.7 billion in the world’s largest online shopping festival in China. What started out as a small online tribute to single people has grown to eclipse Black Friday. Held on November 11th, the online shopping event processed $1 billion through the mobile payment platform Alipay in the first five minutes.
Billionaire Jack Ma turned up the celebrity status by including actress Scarlett Johansson, soccer player David Beckham, basketball star Kobe Bryant, and the pop-rock band One Republic. E-commerce in the United States is hopeful Black Friday will also see similar gains.
Trump Election Raises Fears in Tech Community over Privacy and Surveillance
The election last week has led to fears from tech founders and companies as to whether the new President will expand surveillance programs and push for government access to encrypted information. Trump’s campaign called for censoring the internet from Islamist propaganda and even urged a boycott of Apple products when the company protected consumer data from the FBI during the San Bernadino shootings.
The encryption battle could resume from the 1990s with Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, by requiring tech companies to build “back doors” into their products allowing government agencies to bypass encryption and other forms of data protection. These measures would be fiercely opposed by tech companies, who would see these measures as federal control over tech products with mandates applying to design, and it would weaken security overall.
Image Credit: Politico.com