What’s new in tech
Don’t get ripped off on Nextdoor
Nextdoor, an app intended to connect homeowners and renters to their communities, has become a favorite platform for scammers, said Nicole Nguyen in BuzzFeed.com. The service, which enables “neighbors to chitchat about everything from lost keys at the local park to a sassy Bengal cat terrorizing the cul-de-sac’s pets,” also breeds “a false sense of security.” Scammers love that it reveals who in the area might need a particular service—and where they live—by sharing users’ full names and addresses by default. One Colorado woman hired contractors who had been reviewed by multiple users on Nextdoor. After paying an $11,800 deposit, however, “she never saw them again.” Nextdoor’s local feel works to scammers’ advantage; many users assume that “because these are people in your immediate community, they must be trustworthy.”
China’s video game surveillance
U.S. video game companies are building tools for China to track how much time minors spend online—and kick out those who play too much, said James Cutchin in the Los Angeles Times. China is in the midst of video game addiction panic, and the government has demanded that game companies develop systems to banish kids who play more than two hours a day. Riot Games added an “anti-addiction system” to the Chinese version of its hit League of Legends to comply with China’s new rules. But “data privacy advocates say that for Americans to participate in the creation of these tools represents the crossing of a concerning new threshold.” China plans a national “social credit system,” which will assign citizens a score incorporating personal habits such as online behavior—and potentially cut scores for time spent playing video games.
Google’s Pixel 3a notches a win
Google’s Pixel 3a phone is proving to be a hit, said Nick Statt in TheVerge.com. While the company does not release sales figures, CEO Sundar Pichai credited the new smartphone with helping to buoy the company’s strong second-quarter earnings, saying that Pixel sales had doubled from the year before. That’s significant, given “that Google has had a lot of trouble selling the Pixel 3,” its precursor. The Pixel 3a is relatively affordable—starting at $399—and received reviews comparing it favorably with other flagship phones without any major trade-offs. It also benefited from arriving “at a time with little to no other major product launches to compete with.”