Tech round-up for July 17: Facebook fined, Calibra questioned, Twitter testing in Canada, updates to MacBooks, new Women in Game Design scholarship

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, details of the fine to be levied against Facebook by the FTC and why a Facebook exec was in Washington this week. Plus, Twitter tests a new feature in Canada and Apple updates the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro entry level laptop. Also: a unique new scholarship from Vancouver Film School aims to get more diversity into game design.

Facebook fine in U.S. to be $5 billion

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will fine Facebook $5 billion to settle its investigation into the violations tied to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The Guardian reports that Facebook’s revenues in the first quarter of 2019 were over $15 billion.

Accompanying the fine are requirements that Facebook conduct an analysis of how user data is used, “but the settlement will not restrict the company’s ability to share data with third parties,” according to the Guardian citing reports.

Head of Facebook’s Calibra project in Washington this week

While we’re on the subject of Facebook, the U.S. government held sessions this week investigating the Libra cryptocurrency plan put forward by Facebook and a membership group.

Facebook’s David Marcus, who is heading up the Calibra implementation of the Libra cryptocurrency, appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and the House Financial Services Committees on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Democrat senator Sherrod Brown said the company was “delusional” to think that people will trust it.

I’m not so sure. It’s been more than a year since Cambridge Analytica, and Facebook seems to be as popular as ever.

Twitter testing new “hide replies” feature in Canada

Canadian Twitter users are getting the first chance to test a new feature.

This week, the social media company made it possible for you to hide replies to your posted messages. The idea is to give you control over the conversation that is generated by your tweets.

Twitter posts that have had replies hidden will be flagged so you’ll know if a user has opted to hide replies.

And if you want to see those replies anyway, you’ll be able to show them. The company says this is being done in the interest of transparency, and to prevent any abuse of the hidden replies feature.

Meanwhile, Twitter users around the world really want a simple “edit” function to correct spelling mistakes. Alas, Twitter doesn’t seem to think that’s too concerning.

Apple updates MacBook Air and MacBook Pro entry level model

It may only be the middle of July, but that’s not too early to be thinking about getting some equipment in place for back to school.

Last week, Apple announced it was updating two of its laptops, the MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The MacBook Air display now has True Tone functionality that automatically adjusts based on the ambient light in the room you’re in. It also gets a slight price cut, coming in at $1,449 ($1,319 for post-secondary students).

The 13-inch MacBook Pro models, meanwhile, get some alignment. All of them will now have the Touch Bar, including the Touch ID feature that lets you unlock your system with a fingertip. They will also get an Intel 1.4 GHz quad-core i5 chip. The updated MacBook Pros start at $1,699 ($1,569 for post-secondary students) with 128 GB of storage.

This also marks the start of Apple’s annual Back to School promotion. Purchase a qualifying Apple computer and students can get a free pair of Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones, which retail for $400.

New scholarship at Vancouver Film School aims to get more women making games

In an effort to get more females involved in game design, Vancouver Film School has partnered with two Vancouver studios on a new initiative, the Roberta Williams Women in Game Design Scholarship.

It’s named after the game designer who created Kings Quest and co-founded Sierra On-Line.

What makes the new scholarship so unique is that recipients – there will be two announced this year for admission in 2020 – get to participate in the intensive game design program at VFS and follow that up with a paid, six-month work contract with either Blackbird Interactive or The Coalition that will get the student a credit on the title they work on.

Blackbird has three unannounced projects on the go at the moment, but in 2016 shipped Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak for Gearbox. The Coalition is wrapping up development on Gears of War 5, an Xbox exclusive, which has players taking on the role of Kait, a female character.

Applications for the Roberta Williams Women in Game Design Scholarship are being accepted until July 31.

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