FROM Will Oremus
At CES: $980 clothes-folding machine, smartphone-proof boxers We talk about why you might want to invest in a pair of boxer briefs that are billed as smartphone-proof, and why you might not want to get a laundry-folding machine. We look at gadgets at this year’s CES, the annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.
What we know about Russian ads on Facebook and Twitter Russian influence in the 2016 election is more extensive than anyone thought. The leaders of Facebook, Twitter, and Google are testifying on Capitol Hill about how many millions of users were exposed to fake Russian information. The question now: How are they going to prevent that from happening in the future?
What's up with Twitter this week? Twitter rep’s are on Capitol Hill today talking to staff members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about Twitter’s role in spreading fake news during the 2016 election. Also, the White House confessed this week that @realDonaldTrump blocks Twitter users that criticize him (and some of those users are suing). Plus...do we need more than 140 characters? We talk all things Twitter in our weekly tech segment.
Facebook comes under fire for campaign ads Facebook is coming under even more scrutiny for the ads it sold during the election. The company says it will turn over at least 3,000 ads to congressional investigators looking into Russian interference. The company say it is also changing some of its ad-buying system. This comes after it sold ads relating to offensive terms, including “jew hater.”
How Tesla gave drivers fleeing Hurricane Irma more battery juice Some Tesla owners fleeing Irma were surprised to see their car’s battery capacity increase. The electric car company provided a software update for free to give drivers more range in the face of danger.
Facebook sold ads to Russian trolls during November election Facebook has a fake news problem -- that’s something the social network itself owned up to after the election. Now it’s acknowledged that it sold about 300 ads to a shadowy Russian company during the election. Those ads spread political messages about things like gun rights and immigration.
Is Mark Zuckerberg planning a political campaign? Facebook is more popular now with young people. We find out why, and whether there’s anything to the rumors that Mark Zuckerberg wants to run for president. He’s hired pollster Joel Benenson.
Foxconn plans to build first U.S. factory, but is it real? The chairman of Foxconn announced a new $10 billion factory in Wisconsin to make flatscreens and other electronics. Foxconn is the Taiwanese company that makes iPhones and iPads for Apple. But it has a habit of not following through with big announcements.
Is the Seth Rich conspiracy over? DNC staffer Seth Rich was killed last summer, and his murder is unsolved – although it’s suspected to have been the result of a botched robbery. However, conspiracy theorists went into overdrive trying to link his murder to the Clinton campaign. Fox News, which published the story on its website, has since retracted it.
Identifying real news v. fake news: it's complicated Facebook, Twitter and Google have all been criticized for posting fake news stories, misleading clickbait and conspiracy theories. For example, the Pope endorsing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton involved in a child sex ring in a pizza parlor. These companies are working on plans to combat fake news.
Are PCs are making a comeback? Apple just revealed a new MacBook Pro with a touch panel instead of function keys at the top of the keyboard. Yesterday, Microsoft unveiled the Surface Studio, a desktop PC with a giant, ultra high-definition touchscreen. One technology writer is calling it a comeback for PCs and a letdown from Apple.
Tesla’s 'ingenious' autopilot software update Following a fatal crash in May in which a Tesla Model S on autopilot crashed into a truck because it didn’t recognize it as a truck, Tesla has been working on a software fix to prevent that kind of an accident. Now Tesla says they’ve done it, and if true, it could make self-driving cars a lot safer. Slate’s Will Oremus calls the fix “ingenious.”
Facebook’s Influence in the Presidential Election More than a billion people log onto Facebook every day to look at cat gifs and baby pictures; and now more than ever, people are getting their news from the social networking site. That news is controlled by Facebook’s powerful news feed algorithm, but there are also humans involved. Gizmodo reported Monday that, according to a former Facebook contractor, curators of Facebook’s trending news feature routinely suppressed conservative news stories. Facebook has denied the allegations, but a Senate committee is looking into the matter. Regardless of whether the allegations are true or not, Facebook is clearly having an effect on this election.
The Elitism of the Apple Watch Tech addicts around the world have been waiting anxiously for the final rollout of Apple’s new smart watch. And they finally got their fix, Monday. Aside from the usual debates that accompany any new Apple product, there is the issue of price. The company says, “There’s an Apple Watch for everyone.” But that’s if “everyone” has at least $349 and a late-model iPhone. Mid-range models are closer to $1,000 and high-end models will go for as much as $17,000. That’s the cost to consumers, but what about the cost to Apple? The steep price of the watch could damage its image as a company that brings high-tech and great design to the masses.
Cyber Silliness It’s Cyber Monday, the day that online retailers offer deals hoping to lure consumers into spending a lot of time and money shopping on the Internet. Is it a day of great bargains, or a bunch of manufactured hype? Slate’s Will Oremus is firmly in the second camp. Two years ago he wrote a piece titled “ The Unmitigated Inanity of Cyber Monday: The Dumbest Fake Holiday of the Year ,” and today he explains why he stands by it.
Requiem for the San Francisco Bay Guardian The owners of the San Francisco Bay Guardian announced that it will cease publishing today. The progressive weekly newspaper was founded in 1966 by muckraking reporter Bruce Brugmann and his wife, Jean Dibble. They vowed "to print the news and raise hell." Its demise reflects not only the changing face of the Bay Area, but troubles experienced by alt-weekly papers nationwide.
Why is Trump so behind on filling staff jobs, establishing concrete policies? Yesterday Donald Trump signed a “decision memo” to revamp the air traffic control system. But there was little legislative detail in the plan. There’s not much to other splashy announcements from the White House, including tax cuts and the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And hundreds of positions are unfilled in federal agencies.
Farewell LA freeways, Peter Shire is back Angelenos don't want more freeways but we seem not to want mass transit either. Metro has killed the 710 freeway extension, and bus and train ridership is down across the region. What's the future of getting around in LA? And, Peter Shire is having a comeback. What attracts a new generation to his playful ceramics and furniture?
Trump says goodbye Paris Accord: What does it mean for U.S. and the planet? President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, the landmark international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Trump was to renegotiate a new deal, but will that happen?