Tech Tent: Maths, Facebook and phones

On this week's Tech Tent we hear about that big U-turn from Facebook on its role in allowing Russians to buy political adverts. We explore the pressures that have forced the phonemaker HTC to sell some of its key engineering talent to Google. And we learn about an app that could help Syrian refugee children keep up with their schoolwork.

Facebook's about-face

When Donald Trump won the US presidential election last November, Facebook came under scrutiny for its role in spreading fake news stories and other propaganda believed to have been helpful to Mr Trump.

At that stage, Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg appeared to dismiss the suggestion that his company could have swung the election as a "crazy idea".

Now Mr Zuckerberg seems to have changed his stance quite radically. In a video broadcast on his own Facebook page he announced a range of measures to tighten up political advertising on the platform, and said he would hand over to Congress details of 3,000 political adverts that were paid for from Russian accounts during the campaign.

Mr Zuckerberg's statement has been met with a stinging response on Twitter by President Trump, who wrote: "The Russia hoax continues, now it's ads on Facebook." Mr Trump also took the opportunity to attack the media once again for "totally biased and dishonest coverage" of his rival Hillary Clinton.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Google is getting a lot of engineering talent for its $1.1bn

Google's billon-dollar shopping spree

Read full article Tech Tent: Maths, Facebook and phones

Fake news worries 'are growing' suggests BBC poll

Fake News Image copyright Getty Images

There is growing concern among global net users about fake news online, according to a BBC World Service poll.

It also indicates mounting opposition to governments stepping in with regulation.

Read full article Fake news worries 'are growing' suggests BBC poll

Terror online: Politicians v tech tycoons

Body with digital brain Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Can artificial intelligence help solve the issue of online extremist content?

There is a long history of governments and technology companies falling out over extremist content. It has largely gone this way.

Impatient minister: "You've got some of the brightest boffins on the planet - if they can get an AI to tell me whether I need to take an umbrella tomorrow, why can't they sort out terrorism?"

Read full article Terror online: Politicians v tech tycoons

Tech Tent: Kaspersky and the Kremlin

Rory Cellan-Jones

On this week's Tech Tent we talk to the founder of the Russian cyber-security firm banned by the US government. We also look at whether Apple is taking a big risk by pushing the price of its latest iPhone so high, hear how an app helped save victims of flooding in Texas and discuss whether there is a better way for companies to store data and keep our information safe.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Eugene Kaspersky believes his company is being smeared

Safe and security

Eugene Kaspersky is a buccaneering figure, proud of his achievements in building a thriving anti-virus firm over the last 20 years and never shy about giving his opinions at industry conferences.

Read full article Tech Tent: Kaspersky and the Kremlin

Kaspersky: You can trust us despite US government ban

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Media captionWATCH: Eugene Kaspersky says customers have no reason to fear his firm's software

Eugene Kaspersky has denied that the cyber-security firm he founded is close to the Russian government and insists it poses no danger to its American customers.

Mr Kaspersky told the BBC that the Trump administration's move to ban government agencies from using his products was an "uncomfortable situation". The US has said it is concerned that Kaspersky is vulnerable to influence from the Kremlin.

Read full article Kaspersky: You can trust us despite US government ban

Equifax and the UK - what’s going on?

Equifax Image copyright EPA

Last Thursday, the credit-scoring company Equifax revealed it had been the victim of what sounded like a disastrous hacking incident, with the data of 143 million US customers potentially put at risk.

The company's statement also mentioned unauthorised access to "limited personal information" for some UK residents.

Read full article Equifax and the UK - what’s going on?

Apple’s augmented reality ambitions

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Media captionWATCH: What can AR do on iPhone?

Face recognition, an OLED screen and a £999 price tag will grab all the headlines. But software developers around the world were waiting on one thing from the Apple event - more news on augmented reality.

And slap bang in the middle of the iPhone 8 unveiling, a long section about AR, and a demo from a games developer - a clear signal that the company sees the technology as a key attraction in its new phones.

Read full article Apple’s augmented reality ambitions

Tech Tent: Facts, faces and the Nissan Leaf

Rory Cellan-Jones

Has this week seen the arrival of the car which heralds the dawn of the electric era? Is facial recognition just too invasive a technology to be allowed out without strict safeguards? And is it worth arguing on the internet? This week's Tech Tent seeks answers to all of these questions.

Nissan's new Leaf

Every week seems to bring more news of the move to electric motoring with many of the headlines centring on Tesla. Its Model 3 has been touted as the Model T Ford of the electric era, bringing an affordable battery-powered car to the mass market.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The new version of the Leaf gives the car an extended range between re-charges

Read full article Tech Tent: Facts, faces and the Nissan Leaf

Scenes from the crypto gold rush

Wild Crypto Image copyright Wild Crypto
Image caption Wild Crypto says it will turn the lottery business on its head

Want to get in on the latest investment craze and make spectacular returns while feeling that you are at the cutting edge of crypto-currency technology?

Keep this to yourself, but I've been told about two amazing schemes. And both of them provide more evidence that we're in the middle of another bubble.

Read full article Scenes from the crypto gold rush

Tech Tent: Estonia's crypto-currency concept

Rory Cellan-Jones

Could a country issue its own crypto-currency such as bitcoin? Or would that be defeating the point of a form of money that is supposed to be free from government control?

On my Tech Tent podcast this week, we hear about estcoins, a currency that could be launched in Estonia. We also discuss Samsung's new flagship phone and meet the young people who are hacking with hydrogen fuel cells.

Estonia's estcoin experiment

Read full article Tech Tent: Estonia's crypto-currency concept