Technological World for November 4: Social media on election night, how covid-19 spreads, Canada feds to regulate streaming services, Cadillac Fairview malls fail to get consent, Torchlight III is light-hearted dungeon crawler

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, online animations show how coronavirus spreads and what you can do to stop it, the Canadian government looks to regulate streaming services, an investigation into Cadillac Fairview malls shows the company did not get required consent from shoppers, and Torchlight III is a light-hearted dungeon crawler. But first, Twitter and Facebook on election night.

How social media companies managed on the night of the U.S. federal election

Twitter and Facebook both had to intervene in Trump’s accounts in the past 24 hours.

The President posted to both platforms on the night of the election claiming that Democrats were trying to steal the election.

The two social media platforms added labels that the claim was misleading.

It got worse when Trump actually falsely claimed victory early on Wednesday morning.

While this seems simple, for Facebook it’s somehow less obvious. Earlier on Tuesday,
Facebook said it would not intervene if anyone prematurely declared victory in state contests as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Web animations clearly demonstrate how the coronavirus spreads through the air

The graphics recently published by Spain’s El Pais newspaper to its website are stunningly clear.

The animations demonstrate how covid-19 spreads through the air when people are gathering in three indoor contexts:

  • in a living room
  • in a restaurant
  • in a school

The simulations were created based on the lastest information from scientists studying how the coronavirus is transmitted.

They show how the rate of infection drops dramatically when people wear masks and when the ventilation of our indoor spaces is improved.

As case counts go up around the world, it’s important to remember the basics that can do so much to save lives: keep your distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands.

Netflix, Spotify to be regulated by federal government if new bill passes

Yesterday, the Canadian government introduced a new bill which will amend the Broadcasting Act so that streaming services are considered broadcasters.

This would mean that media companies like Netflix and Spotify will be treated the same as traditional broadcasters when it comes to regulations and penalties.

These “online undertakings” (that’s the government’s term of choice) would also be expected to pay into Canadian content funds.

“Canadians have a right to recognize themselves in the music they listen to and the television they watch,” said Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault in a statement. “We are proposing major changes to the Broadcasting Act in order to ensure online broadcasting services that operate in Canada contribute to the creation, production and distribution of Canadian stories.”

If passed, the bill will also give the CRTC “new powers to regulate online audio and audio-visual services”.

Cadillac Fairview malls did not meet the standard for meaningful consent when it recorded images of customers

Back in August of 2018 I wrote about how Calgary’s Chinook Centre and Market Mall were found to be using facial recognition software in digital map kiosks without any notification to customers that they were being recorded.

Those reports triggered a joint investigation by the privacy commissions of Canada, Alberta, and B.C.

The report from that investigation was filed this week.

It turns out that the digital kiosks that were recording video had been installed in 12 shopping malls across the country, and some five million images of shoppers were collected without their knowledge.

In a statement issued by his office, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Daniel Therrien said that the biometric data that was collected by Cadillac Fairview, “is a unique and permanent characteristic of our body and a key to our identity.” 

Cadillac Fairview claimed that decals on the entrance doors to the malls with references to its privacy policy should have been sufficient warning to customers, but Therrien said that did not qualify as “meaningful consent”.

The real estate company has deactivated the cameras, but they remain in place.

The malls which used the facial recognition software and collected biometric data are:

  • CF Market Mall (Calgary)
  • CF Chinook Centre (Calgary)
  • CF Richmond Centre (Richmond, B.C.)
  • CF Pacific Centre (Vancouver)
  • CF Polo Park (Winnipeg)
  • CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Toronto)
  • CF Sherway Gardens (Toronto)
  • CF Fairview Mall (Toronto)
  • CF Lime Ridge (Hamilton, Ont.)
  • CF Markville Mall (Markham, Ont.)
  • CF Galeries d’Anjou (Montreal)
  • CF Carrefour Laval (Laval, Que.)

Torchlight III brings some fun to cooperative role-playing adventuring

After being in early access for a good chunk of 2020, Torchlight 3 is now in final release, and is available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Windows, and Xbox One.

The release of this third game is as much a story about how it came to be.

The first Torchlight (2009) was a single-player dungeon crawler developed by Runic Games, which was founded in part by Max Schaefer, who had helped to create Diablo.

Torchlight II, which introduced multiplayer, came along in 2012.

In 2016, Schaefer left Runic and created Echtra Games as a subsidiary of Perfect World, which was the majority owner of Runic. Before 2017 was over, Perfect World had closed Runic, and the Torchlight rights went to Shaefer’s Echtra.

Fast forward a few years, and Torchlight III is a reality, and while plans to turn the action role-playing game (ARPG) into a massively multiplayer experience were abandoned, what remains is a game that will scratch that dungeon crawler itch.

Another shift was to lighten the tone of the game, and Torchlight III is delightfully goofy at times, without becoming a parody of itself.

It’s presented with an isometric top-down view, and you’ll enjoy exploring the various environments, killing the baddies and looting gear. You’ll get to choose a pet to fight alongside you as before, but you’ll also have a fort that becomes your base of operations, a place for you to return to when you want to swap out your weapons and armor.

But the killer feature in Torchlight III remains the cooperative multiplayer. Being able to play with my younger kids – who aren’t quite up for the darker storylines of Diablo – is amazing.

Torchlight III is available now for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Windows, and Xbox One. Rated teen.

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