"Unriddled" is HubSpot's weekly digest of the tech headlines you need to know. We give you the top tech stories in a quick, scannable way and break it all down. It's tech news: explained.
1. Facebook and Google's Trouble With Apple
In what some might describe as a convoluted love triangle of sorts, Google and Facebook have come under fire from Apple for running research operations involving mobile apps.
The apps were built to monitor user activity on smartphones, which they were able to do after users voluntarily installed a virtual private network (VPN) to their devices. That VPN would then feed information to researchers -- behind whom, in this case, were Facebook and Google -- about each user's internet browsing activity, usage of other apps, and more. The program was voluntary, paid, required users to opt-in, and mostly disclosed what information would be collected.
But there was a problem.
Apple does not allow the installation VPNs for this type of research on its devices, which Google and Facebook were able to circumvent by using their enterprise developer certificates. These certificates are typically meant to allow direct downloads (outside of the app store) of apps for internal use only, and not for external, non-developer consumers.
Apple's policies ban the use of certificates for this purpose -- direct app download by external, non-developer consumers. And once this monitoring activity from Facebook (where the research was codenamed "Project Atlas") and Google was reported, Apple revoked the certificates of both.
As a result, not only was the research program ceased, but both Google and Facebook lost their abilities to use internal developer tools.
Apple restored certificates for both Facebook and Google within roughly two days, but the entire incident has many shaken over the activity of all three companies -- from the data collection itself to the power wielded by Apple over other tech giants. To learn more about the response and deeper meaning of the situation, check out the analysis from Benedict Evans. Read full story >>
2. Facebook Turns 15
In a moment that made many of us respond with, "What? Already?", Facebook turned 15 this week, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg celebrated with a lengthy narrative on how the company's focus will shift moving forward (and after an especially tumultuous 2018).
Among the changes pledged by Zuckerberg are a renewed emphasis on "safety and security," on which the CEO says the company will spend more than the amount of its entire revenue at its 2012 IPO -- which, at the time, weighed in at $3.71 billion. Read full story >>
3. Slack Files to Go Public
Slack confidentially filed to become a publicly traded company in the U.S. this week, and plans to do so via direct listing. That means the company would forego an IPO when going public, and instead sell shares to buyers directly. (Last year, Spotify took the same approach to its own IPO.) With this move, Slack joins the ranks of several other tech companies that are either confirmed or rumored to be going public this year, including Lyft, Uber, and Airbnb. Read full story >>
4. Snopes Breaks up With Facebook
Snopes has bowed out of its two-year relationship with Facebook as one of the social network's fact-checking partners.
According to Bloomberg, Facebook's fact-checking systems are short-staffed, and often are not properly equipped to efficiently or effectively handle the volume of misinformation shared or published on the site. Just last week, Facebook said it removed hundreds of Pages and accounts in a coordinated misinformation campaign, and some false content distributors have found ways to circumvent the system -- in some cases, by simply changing their domain names.
"Just as we believe credible and reliable content creators deserve to be paid for their work," Snopes wrote in an official statement, "we believe that fact-checkers should be compensated commensurately for the valuable services they provide to platforms." Read full story >>
5. How Could Online Ads Change in the Next Five Years?
In the past year alone, ads have seen a considerable number of changes. But in the online realm, how do users think ads might change in the future? Read full story >>
6. What You Missed Last Month in Google
It's been a cold first month of 2019 (in the Northeast U.S., anyway), but in January, Google was hot with new product announcements, integrations, and an intriguing new feature you might have noticed during your last online search. Let's dive in. Read full story >>
7. How Does Constantly Being Online Really Impact Teens?
While many have pointed to the problematic outcomes of spending too much time online, a recent study shows that for teens, social media can result in positive interpersonal relationships -- despite the issues that come with its use. Read full story >>
8. If Spotify Acquires Gimlet, What Does It Mean for the Future of Podcasts?
Digital music service Spotify is rumored to be acquiring Gimlet, an original podcasting company. What could such a move mean for the future of tech's slow takeover of audio entertainment -- and for the creators of such content? Read full story >>