Facebook Meddles in Politics, Pay Monthly for Amazon Prime… [Tech News Digest]
Facebook could change the face of politics, Amazon launches monthly Prime option, Apple gives iPhones three years, Microsoft’s Captionbot is crap at identifying photos, and a Fallout game arrives on YouTube.
Facebook Could Affect Elections
BREAKING: Facebook employee and former Romney staffer caught asking, "What can Facebook do to stop Donald Trump?" pic.twitter.com/ol2ZpwwJLP
— Ricky Vaughn (@Ricky_Vaughn99) April 15, 2016
Facebook could, if it wanted to, try to affect the outcome of elections such as the U.S. Presidential Election currently taking place. And some employees seem keen to do so. That’s the logical conclusion to draw from the revelation that Facebook employees recently asked their CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?”
This was the fifth most popular question put forward for Zuckerberg to answer during a recent Q&A session. We don’t know how Zuckerberg answered this question, and probably never will. However, Facebook has since issued a statement saying:
“We encourage any and all candidates, groups, and voters to use our platform to share their views on the election and debate the issues. We as a company are neutral — we have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote.”
This is a clear, unequivocal commitment never to meddle in politics, but it flies in the face of Zuckerberg’s recent rant against “people” who sound suspiciously like Donald J. Trump. During his F8 keynote speech, when Facebook also launched its army of disappointing bots , Zuckerberg said:
“I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as ‘others.’ I hear them calling for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, for reducing trade, and in some cases even for cutting access to the internet. It takes courage to choose hope over fear. People will always call you naive but it’s this hope and optimism that’s behind every important step forward.”
So, Facebook as a company is maintaining political impartiality , its boss has made his feelings perfectly clear. And what’s to stop Facebook nudging elections a certain way in the future? With more than 1.6 billion users, this is one of the few tech companies with the pull needed to exert such influence. And if it did it would be devastating for democracy.
Pay Monthly for Amazon Prime
Amazon is now offering more options when it comes to Amazon Prime. The premium service, which brings a host of benefits to customers, was previously only available as an annual subscription priced at $99. However, now, Amazon Prime can be paid for monthly, and Amazon Prime Video can be paid for separate to everything else.
The annual Amazon Prime subscription still costs $99, while the monthly Amazon Prime subscription costs $10.99-a-month. That works out to $131.88 for one year. Amazon Prime Video , which is now available as a standalone service with none of the other extras, costs $8.99-a-month. That works out to $107.88 for one year.
We will have a full article on this in the coming days, helping you decide which option is right for you. In the meantime, it’s a good reminder of Amazon Prime is a good deal .
Apple Expects iPhones to Last 3 Years
Apple expects your iPhone or iPad to last for three years under normal usage conditions. That is at least according to a FAQ about Apple’s relationship with the environment. The company was asked, “How does Apple conduct its Product Greenhouse Gas Life Cycle Assessment?” To which it replied:
“To model customer use, we measure the power consumed by a product while it is running in a simulated scenario. Daily usage patterns are specific to each product and are a mixture of actual and modeled customer use data. Years of use, which are based on first owners, are assumed to be four years for OS X and tvOS devices and three years for iOS and watchOS devices.”
This doesn’t mean your iPhone is designed to fail after 1096 days (as conspiracy theorists may now tell you). Instead, it’s just that Apple expects you to upgrade after that relatively short space of time, whether or not the hardware is still going strong.
Microsoft Launches Another Crappy Bot
Microsoft has launched another bot, this one designed to describe everything it sees in a photo. Unfortunately, CaptionBot isn’t very good at its job, with plenty of people flagging up extremely wrong, and sometimes offensive, results.
It’s an artificial intelligence bot, which means it should get better as it feeds on more information. However, having already killed its teenage chatbot Tay off for tweeting some shocking things, Microsoft is taking a gamble letting CaptionBot loose on the Internet.
Choose Your Own Fallout Apocalypse
And finally, you can now play a Choose Your Own Adventure-style game on YouTube. Even better, it’s a Choose Your Own Adventure-style game based on Fallout: New Vegas. You get to watch a story unfold, making decisions at various points which redirect you to the next video. If you mess up, you simply return to the start and try again.
This is an amazing idea that must have taken months to put together. After all, every decision creates a new branch in the storyline, and every single branch has to lead somewhere. Luckily, the time and energy spent making this YouTube adventure should pay dividends, as it’s likely to grab you and refuse to let go the same way it did me. [H/T Reddit]
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Should Facebook be allowed to get involved in politics? Can you see the appeal of paying monthly for Amazon Prime? How old is your current smartphone? Has CaptionBot accurately described a photo for you? How did you fare at the Fallout YouTube game?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.
Image Credit: David Mulder via Flickr