Tech round-up for August 1: Apple nears trillion dollar mark, Facebook closes accounts, 3D printing guns, Calgary malls using facial recognition software

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This week, Apple’s revenues pushed the stock price high enough that the company is almost worth a trillion dollars. Plus, Calgary malls are using facial recognition software to track the movement of visitors. and 3D printers can be used to make firearms. But first, Facebook has taken some accounts offline for being “inauthentic”.

“Inauthentic” Facebook accounts taken offline

This week, Facebook pulled the pages of 32 accounts. The company was careful not to claim the accounts were trying to influence the U.S. midterm elections with disinformation, however, saying instead that they were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior.

Unlike the obvious activity of the Russia-based Internet Research Agency leading up to the 2016 U.S. federal election, Facebook said it could not definitively identify the people or organizations behind the Facebook and Instagram accounts, in part “due to changes we’ve made over the last year to make this kind of abuse much harder”.

Former Facebook advisor Dipayan Ghosh told NPR that he believes the accounts were controlled by Russian influencers.

Ghosh also said he believes that the 32 accounts are a “drop in the bucket”.

What it means to be able to use 3D printers to make weapons

Defense Distributed, a Texas based company, wants to publish online gun frame blueprints that can be used with 3D printers. They’ve been blocked this week by judges who don’t want the plans to be available outside the U.S.

The truth is, such blueprints are already readily available. Since 3D printers have been available, the plans to print gun frames and gun parts have been available, too.

And, as Kyle Mizokami wrote in Popular Mechanics, it’s easier to purchase actual parts to build a gun than it is to print the parts out of plastic with a semi-reliable printer.

Calgary malls using facial recognition to track shoppers

Technically, no law is being broken. But if you live in Calgary and you’ve been to Chinook Centre or Market Mall, you’ve been tagged by facial recognition software.

In fact, it’s likely that malls across Canada are all doing it.

Because the mall owner, Cadillac Fairview, claims to not be “capturing or retaining images” they are not violating any privacy laws.

A spokesperson for the company told CBC that the software is only used to tag the gender and approximate age of people in the mall.

The software was captured running in the digital map kiosk at Chinook Centre.

While the use of the software might not be overtly violating any laws, the ethics of not explicitly notifying customers they are being watched is questionable.

Apple on the verge of being a trillionaire

Apple made more than US$50 billion in the last quarter. It’s projecting some $60 billion for the next one, which is a more than 15 percent bump over the last Q4.

Despite the concerns of some about the saturation of iPhones, Apple sold a few more than last year. The premium price on models like the iPhone X helped contribute to the booming revenues.

All of that success puts the company’s market valuation at $935 billion.

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