From Facebook disaster to Apple’s fight: How tech altered in 2018


By Brian Chen

Personal record was so awful this year that nobody would consider we were paranoid if we dug a hole and buried your computer, phone and intelligent orator underneath 6 feet of earth.

Facebook finished headlines week after week for unwell to strengthen a remoteness and for swelling misinformation.

Juul, a e-cigarette association underneath review for selling products to teenagers, emerged as a Joe Camel of a digital era. And don’t get me started on usually how forward online promotion has become.

On a other hand, there was good record this year that softened how we live, like parental controls to quell smartphone obsession and a web browser with built-in remoteness protections.

Tech that still needs fixing

Social Media: Facebook this year was equivalent to a intrigue regretful partner who was held betraying us and apologised — usually to be held again weeks later.

The amicable network certified that Cambridge Analytica, a domestic consulting firm, had improperly gained entrance to a information of millions. Later, a association confessed that a confidence crack had unprotected a information of 30 million accounts.

This month, a New York Times review suggested that Facebook gave tech giants like Netflix and Spotify special entrance to user data, including private messages.

Other amicable media companies also stumbled. Twitter came underneath glow for being delayed to conflict to Alex Jones, a swindling idealist who frequently widespread misinformation, including that a Sandy Hook propagandize sharpened was a hoax. Even after Facebook, Apple, You-Tube and others took down Jones’ calm in early August, Twitter pronounced his posts had not disregarded a company’s policies. After several some-more weeks, Twitter barred Jones in response to reports of violent behavior.

Google’s YouTube, prolonged precious as a venue for people to share song videos, food recipes and DIY home alleviation projects, also had a tough year. The video-sharing site pronounced it had private 39 channels that were related to an Iranian disinformation campaign.

The bottom line: Social media companies demonstrated they could hardly be devoted with a information and were still perplexing to get a hoop on all of their issues. Unfortunately, there is no elementary resolution for problems like hatred debate and misinformation. And gripping a information private is not unequivocally in a seductiveness of many of these companies, that use a information to aim us with digital advertising.

Online Advertising

Speaking of which: Online ads became so forward in 2018 that they increasingly busted people’s web-browsing practice and lifted some-more hackles about privacy. The online ads courtesy became so good during tracking a web browsing activities that it increasingly knew precisely what we were meditative about buying. If we did a web hunt for a blender, for example, we could be certain that a digital ad for that blender would follow we around.

In addition, a autoplay videos embedded on many news sites were cruel about cheering for a courtesy while removal a batteries and blazing by information plans. Fortunately, there are solutions for this, that we summarized in several articles this year about how a web is breaking. They enclosed installing ad and tracker blockers, downloading add-ons that stop auto-play videos from loading and changing some browser settings.

These fixes are not ideal given they take a prolonged time to put in place, and restraint ads hurts media businesses. That means there’s work to do on this yet.


E-cigarettes, or vape inclination like Juul, have been a useful assist for adult smokers to give adult cigarettes. But for teenagers, vapes have transposed cigarettes as a gateway to addictive substances. According to a 2018 National

Youth Tobacco Survey, about 3.6 million center and high propagandize students now vape, adult from 280,000 in 2011.

The Food and Drug Administration this year announced restrictions that authorised stores to sell many flavored e-cigarettes usually in areas where minors were not permitted. The group also pronounced it was questioning either Juul, that accounts for some-more than 70% of e-cigarette sales, intentionally marketed a products to youths. Juul has given dangling a amicable media promotions.

But a repairs has been done. While e-cigarettes don’t furnish a carcinogenic fume that cigarettes do, they broach lots of nicotine and damaging chemicals. Parents are disorder over a outcome on teenage brains.

Tech that was fixed

Smartphone Parental Controls

E-cigarettes notwithstanding, during slightest relatives can worry reduction about their children’s obsession to smartphones.

This year, Apple expelled Screen Time, a underline for people to set restrictions on a volume of time they spend on their iPhones. The program includes a ability for relatives to remotely guard and extent their children’s iPhone use. we tested Screen Time for 3 weeks with a colleague’s daughter and was anxious to see that a curbs helped a screenager cut iPhone use down to about 3 hours a day from roughly 6 hours. (The constraints we set on myself were not as effective given we could simply overrule them as a parent.)

There’s still room for smartphone parental controls to improve. Google offers Family Link, a extensive parental controls apparatus for Android phones. Yet a program has vital limitations, as children can spin off a facilities once they spin 13 — that seems like precisely a time when we would wish to be monitoring your child’s phone.

A Browser for a People

Remember Firefox? Over a final decade, a once distinguished web browser became irrelevant after Google expelled Chrome, a speedier and some-more secure web browser. Then late final year, Mozilla expelled a redesign of Firefox with courteous remoteness facilities and most faster browsing speeds. This year, Mozilla kept polishing and expanding on Firefox’s capabilities. It expelled a “container” that can be commissioned to forestall Facebook from tracking your activities opposite a web.

In August, Mozilla also pronounced that it would, by default, spin on anti-tracking facilities to forestall third parties, including advertisers, from snooping. Firefox could still be better. Chrome, for instance, is still faster during loading some web pages. But after a oppressive year when consumers mislaid faith in how companies like Facebook managed their data, it feels heartening to know that someone in a tech courtesy is creation a browser for a people.

So did we get to a shorter list of personal tech lows and a longer list of highs? Not quite. we theory there’s always subsequent year.

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