Apple branches out, Facebook faces a test

|| June 7, 2019

By Jordan McDonald

55 comms social media coordinator

Welcome back to another weekly blog – 13 blogs down now! This week looks at Australia’s data breach scare, Apple’s announcement at their Worldwide Developers Conference, the rising pressure surrounding Mark Zuckerberg, and Facebook’s new cryptocurrency.

Australia just experienced a data breach that many felt was a little too close for comfort

The Australian National University (ANU) is in damage control this week after it was discovered that an estimated 200,000 students have fallen victim to a sophisticated database hack. The hack was discovered a fortnight ago but actually took place in late 2018. The stolen data included names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, personal email addresses, emergency contact details, tax file numbers, payroll information, bank account details, passport details, and student academic records. It’s a substantial haul.

For those affected it’s an awful situation to be presented with. For wider Australia, having watched Facebook struggle with privacy issues from afar, having something happen in home territory is a reality check.

We aren’t invincible to privacy breaches here and organisations storing databases of our information need to ensure they are up-to-date with the best protective measures to ensure privacy.

ANU concluded their hack announcement acknowledging that they had implemented the latest protection measures to ensure no additional data could be accessed.

We’ll have to see whether or not the number of people affected by this attack increases 

Apple changes it up

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference took place in California this week and there was a stack of announcements for a variety of their products and services. Here’s a quick run-down of what was shared:

  • Apple is killing iTunes: Instead it will be split into three individual apps: Music, Podcasts, and TV & Movies. Apple users have been complaining that the program is out-dated for years and it seems Apple is finally listening.
  • Mac Pro: A brand new Apple toy was revealed at the conference. It boasts a list of improved features that make it their best Mac product ever. Apple made a point of highlighting its price ($5,000 USD for Regular, $6,000 USD for XDR Pro) by comparing it to competitors’ models of that calibre ($43,000 USD).
  • Dark Mode: Finally, we’ll be able to sit in bed at night on our Apple devices and not strain our eyes (as much). If you aren’t familiar with dark mode I assume you can have a good guess. It will be a toggled option that will darken the display on your phone to make it more eye-friendly at night time.
  • Productivity Improvements: Apple seemed to understand that its users, while they want a cool device, want improved productivity more than anything else. For this they announced a bunch of productivity improvements, such as: 30 per cent faster Face ID unlock, app downloads are 50 per cent smaller (quicker to download), app updates 60 per cent smaller (quicker again), app launch speed is 2x faster.
  • Safari (phone devices & tablets): Safari will have new options to quickly change text sizing and has per-website preferences.
  • Mail: Will get desktop class text formatting for your emails which includes support for rich fonts.
  • Notes: Gets a nice gallery view upgrade so you can quickly find your existing notes.
  • iWatch Apps: iWatch is getting a bunch of new apps as well as (finally) its own App Store.
  • iPadOS: Ever since introducing the iPad to the market, Apple always hoped it would compete with existing laptops and eventually dominate. However, it’s very evident this isn’t the case but Apple isn’t giving up. They have announced a brand-new operating system called iPadOS which is the first serious OS for the iPad which enables it qualities previously reserved to laptops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the biggest announcement came when Apple revealed a new privacy measure aimed at combatting our distrust in Facebook/Google sign-ins for apps and websites. Apple announced Sign-in with Apple.

The new tool is described as a fast, easy sign-in without tracking. You’re authenticated via Face ID on your iPhone and granted access without any additional information provided which will make people feel a lot more comfortable using this button.

In cases where apps might want your name and your email, when you arrive at the Face ID verification step, you will be able to choose your actual email address or hide it.

Hiding it will tell Apple to create a unique, random email address which forwards to your real email address.

This unique address can be disabled any time and guarantees your personal email is kept hidden.

In all, the Apple conference was fairly tame on the software and product front but certainly powerful in its attempt to secure the trust of its users.

Pressure increases for Mark Zuckerberg to step down as Facebook CEO, but is it even possible?

Facebook revealed on Monday morning that two proposals to weaken Mark Zuckerberg’s power at Facebook were overwhelmingly backed.

A total of 68 per cent of ordinary investors (those who are not part of the management board), want to oust Zuckerberg as chairman and bring in an independent figure to chair Facebook’s board. It’s worth noting that this is a significant increase from 51 per cent last year on similar proposals.

This increase mirrors the increasing frustration and anger with how Zuckerberg has handled the series of Facebook scandals, including election interference on the social network in 2016 and the giant Cambridge Analytica data breach last year.

The thinking is that Facebook and its investors would benefit from an independent chairman tasked with holding Zuckerberg and his top team accountable.

Facebook’s share price has been suffering in light of all the scandals and still hasn’t recovered to its high of $US 217.50 from July 25last year which prompted 83 per cent of outside shareholders to also back a proposal to scrap the dual-class share structure – currently there is Class A and Class B. Class A shareholder have one vote for each share whereas Class B shareholders get 10 votes per share, and management and directors control Class B.

In fact, Zuckerberg owns 75 per cent of the Class B shares giving him approximately 60 per cent voting power at Facebook.

Put simply – it’s going to be hard to push Zuckerberg at this rate. Investors are clearly concerned and want change.

It will be interesting to watch this situation develop.

Facebook is entering the cryptocurrency market.

Mark June 18 in your calendar.

It’s the date that Facebook is expected to unveil details of their new cryptocurrency codenamed ‘Libra’.

The currency will mainly be used in Facebook products (WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and so on), but the target market is for developing nations where government-backed currencies are more volatile.

The company also plans to install ATM-like physical terminals and there will also be sign-up bonuses for merchants who accept Facebook’s cryptocurrency as payment.

The move aligns with Facebook’s push into e-commerce.

At the F8 conference – Facebook developers conference – the company announced some upcoming shopping features: letting Instagram users buy straight from their favourite influencers; letting businesses put their product catalogues on WhatsApp and letting Facebook Marketplace sellers ship products through the Facebook app to make buying and selling easier.

It’s worth noting that Facebook is attempting to acknowledge people might not trust Facebook to be in charge of a new currency and so the company is reportedly seeking partners to form a foundation to govern the new cryptocurrency.

What we do know for sure is that the Facebook employees who work on this project can choose to be paid in the cryptocurrency token instead of hard cash and a global launch of the currency is expected to happen next year.

That’s all for this week, enjoy your weekend.