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Tech titans tense over Trump

Silicon Valley prepares for change, Facebook promises to improve misinformation on its newsfeed and CSIS tries to defend its handling of citizen data. It’s been quite a week — read all about it in our latest tech roundup.


Stressed leader sitting at the head of table at staff meeting

The Canadian military was investigating a strange humming sound on the Arctic seafloor earlier this week. It was so loud that it penetrated the hulls of boats and alarmed local First Nations people. All was well, though, after it was revealed to be Canadians building a secret base at the bottom of the ocean to get as far away from America as possible.

That’s right. Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States, turning social media into the biggest conservative gloat-fest or the deepest pit of liberal hand-wringing outrage since Brexit, depending on which digital echo chamber you live in.

Now the tech industry must stop calling him The Donald and start calling him President Trump, and Silicon Valley CEOs have been trying to deal with it.

Execs at Apple, eBay, LinkedIn and Microsoft have all sent internal memos telling employees to try and find a way to move forward. The underlying message: stay focused, and let’s all just try and get along. That’s probably what prompted Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos — the latter of whom previously wanted to banish Trump into space — from openly congratulating him.

The President-elect has had strong words for companies such as Apple in the past over their offshore manufacturing and their attitude to government surveillance, and is no fan of net neutrality, so there’s that. He doesn’t like the proposed AT&T/Time Warner acquisition either. He also has a Republican congress behind him. Expect lots of changes.

Or maybe it’ll be okay. Because Ken Bone, who was Internet-famous for about five minutes last month for asking a debate question while wearing an ugly sweater, says it’ll be okay. And the BBC aired it, calling it a “message of hope.”

Facebook says it must do better

Crummy information from dubious sources on social media got us here in the first place, warn commentators, worried that Facebook’s newsfeed amplifies misinformation. Over six in 10 Americans get their news from social media, a lot of it is patently untrue, and Facebook keeps letting it happen.

The social media site has admitted that it must do better. It promised to do so almost two years ago, and since then fired all of the editors in its trending news section, which is now run algorithmically and posts fake stories like this one. So, that worked out well.

Canadian immigration site crashes

The Canadian immigration website crashed on election night, as half of America wondered if they could make the switch to poutine before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau builds a wall.

Dingbat of the week

This week’s dingbat: It’s CSIS, the Canadian government’s secretive domestic spy agency.

Director Michael Coulombe said the agency assumed it was okay to keep vast swathes of Canadians’ communications metadata for more than a decade in its Operational Data Analysis Centre (ODAC), which retained phone numbers, email addresses and geographic co-ordinates. Apparently calling a lawyer to check would have been one piece of metadata too many.

CSIS claimed it did tell Stockwell Day, who was minister of public safety at the time. Oh not it didn’t, replied Day, in a Christmas panto that came a month too early. Apparently communications records aren’t that well kept, eh chaps?

A federal judge, who provided the warrants for all this data collection, said this week it was most certainly not okay to keep it, because the metadata reveals intimate details of the lives of specific Canadians.

So now CSIS is assessing the operational impact of the ruling. We assume there’s a delete key on someone’s keyboard somewhere?

Photo: iStock

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