Tech round-up for May 1: Suits against Facebook, McDonald's app fail, Roku's guest features, video games and health

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, why you might want to avoid using the McDonald’s app to place orders, Roku introduces guest features on streaming devices, and a video game proves successful at diagnosing precursers to dementia. But first, a look at what’s going on with Facebook.

Facebook fallout: What’s going on with the social network this week

It’s been a year since the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. Last week, a report released by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia provided specific details about the 622,000 Canadians who were impacted by the breach.

This all came about, recall, because of a “personality quiz” app, and the data shared in the report shows just how the app spread. There were only 33 people in B.C. who installed the app, but because the quiz was able to collect information on people who were connected to those users, 92,208 people were affected by those 33 people.

In Ontario, 142 installs compromised the privacy of nearly 300,000 people.

The report says that Facebook violated federal and B.C. laws and “either outright rejected, or refused to implement our recommendations in any manner acceptable to our Offices.”

Federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien plans to take Facebook to court. “Canadians are at risk because the protections offered by Facebook are essentially empty,” Therrien said in a press conference on April 25.

This all happens as reports out of the U.S. suggest that Facebook is preparing to pay a US$5 billion fine related to privacy violations.

Announcements from Facebook’s developers conference, F8

The annual conference began yesterday with a keynote address by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Highlights include a coming redesign to Facebook that reduces the prominence of the News Feed and instead promotes information from groups you are a part of.

We also learned that Canada will be the test location for a new Instagram approach that hides the “likes” on a person’s feed.

Reporter defrauded after using McDonald’s smartphone app

It’s very convenient to be able to use your smartphone to place an order at a cafe or restaurant and have it ready for you to take away when you arrive, but be careful about the security of those apps.

Patrick O’Rourke, a tech journalist at MobileSyrup, claims that he’s out more than $2,000 after trying to use the McDonald’s iPhone app to order a coffee.

And he’s not the only one who seems to have been defrauded.

In an article, O’Rourke details his experience and the claims by McDonald’s Canada that the issue is solely the result of users not following proper password protocols.

“Most of these over 100 transactions were completed over just a couple days,” he wrote. “They’re also all under $30 CAD and minutes apart from one another.”

O’Rourke’s pro tip? “Delete the McDonald’s app from your phone.”

Good advice.

Roku makes it easier for people to use its streaming devices

In an effort to make its software easier to use, Roku has introduced some new features to its Roku streaming players and televisions that use the Roku interface.

The new Guest Mode was created so that visitors can use their own subscriptions to access streaming services like Netflix or Crave. They can then specify when those credentials will expire so they don’t have to worry about other people using their subscription.

This is great for hotels and other short-term stay hosts, and as a guest it’s ideal because you can easily set up the removal of your sign-in details.

The other feature added by Roku is to make it easier to use multiple Roku devices. If you’ve logged in to a subscription service through your Roku account, it will automatically be enabled on all other Roku devices.

This automatic sign-in requires channels to integrate the functionality. So far, only CBS All Access, fuboTV, and Plex are supporting the service.

Video game may be better at detecting dementia than traditional tests

New research into methods of diagnozing Alzheimer’s suggests that a simple video game may be more effective, and cheaper, at detecting people who may be at high risk.

Results of the study were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last week.

Sea Hero Quest was developed specifically to be used to test how players navigated through the game space by having them get their boat to locations on a map that they have to memorize before it disappears.

The game susses out the degree to which spatial orientation, one of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s, may be lacking in players.

And because the app is easy to use and can be distributed widely, it’s a far cheaper method of doing research than traditional methods requiring subjects to get wired up in a lab.

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