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SciTech wRap for January 27, 2018

This week in tech and science, the world's largest social network admitted that it may be a threat to democracy, the Philippines' information and communication department revealed the 3 consortia battling for the country's 3rd telco slot, while Samsung just announced when they'll be revealing their next flagship, to name some of the week's biggest news. 

Below, a rundown, as well as some of our thoughts on these matters: 

File Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP

The Facebook admission

Facebook on Monday, January 22, had a bold admission: that, indeed, they're having a huge effect on democracy, and that the effects may not be all that positive.

Their role in recent events such as national elections, and their ongoing battles with certain parties cleverly manipulating their platform forced the eventual admission. Will this acknowledgment lead to effective changes that will turn Facebook into an ally of democracy? Facebook's civic engagement chief Samidh Chakrabarti hopes as much: "In 2016, we at Facebook were far too slow to recognize how bad actors were abusing our platform. We're working diligently to neutralize these risks now."

The search for the 3rd telco player

Internet users in the Philippines has been singing the same chorus over the years: internet in the country is slow, unreliable and expensive. 

A 3rd telco might be able to fix that. There have been attempts, the more recent among which include San Miguel Corporation's in 2016 before it was bought out by PLDT and Globe, and the controversial bid by China Telecom to dip their toes in the country. 

Right now, there are 3 companies bidding for the final slot. "These are PT&T, Now, and Converge ICT," said Department of Information and Communication Technology officer-in-charge and undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. adding that they will be the leader of their own consortium.

The follow-up to Samsung's Galaxy S8

Samsung, via Twitter, announced when they will be revealing their newest Galaxy flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S9: February 25, right before the Mobile World Congress starts. 

While their S8 focused on a physical redesign, the S9, as the post indicates, is trumpeting a new camera, above all the other components we expect to be upgraded. Will it be as breathtaking as the S8? We'll all have to tune in next month, on the 25th.

Tinder users, beware

The world's most popular dating app, Tinder, was in the news this week for having crucial vulnerabilities: Individuals connected on the same WiFi network as the Tinder user will potentially be able to see what photo the user is looking at and whether they've swiped left or right. 

Its a privacy concern that the research firm who discovered the flaws has informed Tinder about back in November 2017. Unfortunately, Tinder has yet to definitively act on the matter, with the vulnerabilities remaining unpatched when the research firm made the information public, on Wednesday, January 24.

File photo by Justin Sullivan/AFP

Speaking of vulnerabilities, Intel has warned everyone to stop deploying the Meltdown and Spectre patches that they themselves issued back in early January. Why? Because deploying them might ironically lead to more problems. 

"They may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior," Intel data center group executive vice president Navin Shenoy said in an online post. 

"We ask that our industry partners focus efforts on testing early versions of the updated solution so we can accelerate its release." Other than Facebook, it's Intel that's not having the best start to the year. –