The Week Unwrapped: France in revolt, junior networks and digital emotions

Why are French soldiers up in arms? Is Instagram the right place for children? And can computers recognise emotions?

Emmanuel Macron
(Image credit: SpaceX)

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days.

In this week’s episode, we discuss:

A new French revolution

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Emmanuel Macron has been warned in an open letter signed by serving members of the French armed forces that he risks dragging France into a civil war over his “surrender” to Islamists. The letter follows a similar missive signed by retired military generals just weeks ago and has been leapt on by France’s far-right. So is the letter a real warning of things to come - or is it simple politicking ahead of next year’s election?

Instagram Junior

Facebook is facing backlash from US lawmakers and mental health campaigners over plans to launch a version of its photo-sharing app Instagram for children under the age of 13. The social media giant says it wants to find ways to keep children safe on the platform, but critics of the plan point to the company’s already poor safety record. Millennials who grew up on internet chat rooms know all too well the dangers their children might face in these virtual spaces - can the internet ever be a safe space for children and young people?

Digital emotions

Spotify recently acquired a patent to use emotion-recognition software to guide its music suggestions, raising fears about the implications for privacy and mental health. Hundreds of recording artists, human rights groups, and academics have written an open letter, requesting that the company does not use technology that would listen to users’ conversations and then recommend content based on their perceived emotions. But can automated systems really detect our feelings from our outward expressions?

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