What’s new in tech
Another platform for hate
Instagram is “where the next great battle against misinformation will be fought,” said Taylor Lorenz in TheAtlantic.com. The platform is full of “conspiracy theories, viral misinformation, and extremist memes” that reach millions of young people. Yet, unlike Twitter, YouTube, and its corporate sibling, Facebook, it has largely escaped scrutiny. Older users tend to post photos and follow “aspirational” accounts. But teenagers use Instagram differently: “to consume information about current events.” For extremist groups, attaching certain hashtags to memes generates huge visibility, which can easily “serve as an entry point into the internet’s darkest corners.” I clicked Follow on a handful of far-right meme pages. Almost immediately, my feed was filled with videos of the Christchurch attack, including some claiming it was a hoax, as well as anti-vaccination conspiracy theories and racist caricatures of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Volvo keeps your eyes on the road
Volvo plans to install cameras inside cars to “monitor eye movements to gauge driver distraction and/or intoxication,” said Andrew Hawkins in TheVerge.com. If a driver “looks away for a period of time,” closes his eyes, or removes his hands from the wheel, a Volvo representative will call the car’s on-star system to check in. If the driver doesn’t respond, Volvo can intervene by slowing and even stopping the car. The system, which could be introduced next year, is part of the company’s plan to reduce all fatalities or serious injuries in Volvo vehicles by 2020. Cadillac uses an infrared in-car camera that powers its hands-free driver-assist system. But “if the driver’s attention wanders,” it’s limited to vibrating alerts.
iPad models multiply
Apple released updated versions of two throwback devices last week: the iPad Mini and the iPad Air, said Lauren Goode in Wired. Apple’s tablets now come in five varieties, and the newest offerings revive some older-model features. They have wide bezels, a Lightning port instead of USB-C, and a home button, even though “Apple is doing away with them everywhere else.” The new iPad Air is particularly surprising, since the original Air was discontinued years ago. This 10.5-inch version is more powerful than the base iPad, with a new processor and updated display. While the announcement of the new iPad Pro was made with great fanfare last fall, this time around “all we got was a simple and enigmatic tweet.”