Snooping Sites, Aimless Ads, Sexist Stereotypes: A Look Back At The Week In Tech News



It’s a big, busy world, and even with a smartphone in your pocket at all times it’s hard to read everything written about it in a week. Sometimes, useful info slips through the cracks. So, here are five interesting stories from the world of internet and technology news.

1.) Does internet advertising even work? Facebook is selling even more of its users’ data to advertisers — and in a sense, none of us are surprised. Advertising is pervasive on the web; the internet is basically made of advertising and at this point we are, collectively, used to it. So it must work, right?

Well, actually, maybe not so much, as The Atlantic points out. And if it does work at all, we still don’t know how.

2.) Online Privacy. Ha! Just kidding, you don’t have any. Or at least, nominally you do, but online tracking is getting creepier, writes Pro Publica, and the marriage of data collected offline with data collected online is creating a massive web of information that no consumer can escape.

3.) Comcast and the competition get snippy. A large group of technology companies — including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, T-Mobile, and Sprint — wrote to regulators Monday encouraging them to block the Comcast/TWC merger. Comcast fired back claiming that “the size of the deal is not unprecedented” and that the merger wouldn’t substantially change its market share. Which seems… unlikely.

4.) Internet surveillance isn’t that hard — and tells you a lot about someone. The crew over at Ars Technica, in partnership with NPR, decided to learn just how much the NSA can tell about someone from their internet traffic.

The answer, as one might expect, is “lots.” And even most mainstream encryptions don’t make a users’s information that hard to access. “In the first two minutes of our test, we had already captured a snapshot of Henn’s recent online life—and the real surveillance hadn’t even begun.”

5.) Video games continue to have a gender problem. Ubisoft made a splash at E3 when they unveiled gameplay footage of their new Fall 2014 game Assassins Creed: Unity. The game allows up to four players to explore and stab their way through revolutionary-era Paris in a co-op mode together.

All of the multiplayer avatars are male, which players would be willing to accept but for two things. One, the fact that Ubisoft has, in the past, represented female characters well in the Assassins Creed series. And two: the incredibly ham-fisted way an employee of the company announced that women were deprioritized because they were too much work.

A former Ubisoft employee refuted the claim, game developers from other studios weighed in, and critics took a long look at how the cycle of women in games being “too much work” perpetuates itself.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.