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The metaverse and 11 other trends that have marked 2021

Mark Zuckerberg, during the presentation of the 'Metaverse'. FACEBOOK (REUTERS)

2021 It has been an especially busy year for the tech world. From the suspension of the accounts of various social networks of former United States President Donald Trump in January until the approval of the Rider Act in Brussels this December. Newsfresh reviews the most important events of this course, not in chronological order but according to the impact that we consider each news item has had.

one. Frances Haugen plunges Facebook into the greatest crisis of its existence with a series of revelations to the press

Frances Haugen attends a session of the European Parliament on the negative impact on users of the products and business models of large technology companies. DPA via Europa Press (Europa Press)

“There were constant conflicts of interest between what is good for the public and which is good for Facebook ”. After having leaked a series of documents to the Wall Street Journal that revealed that Mark Zuckerberg's company was Aware that Instagram, her photo social network, was toxic to many teenagers, computer engineer and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen revealed her identity on the show 60 Minutes , from the CBS network. “I've seen multiple networks on the inside, and Facebook is substantially worse,” said Haugen, who worked at Google and Pinterest before joining Mark Zuckerberg's company in 2019.

After the identity of the “snitch” was known, the US Congress and the European Parliament asked Haugen to attend two sessions to testify about the information he had made public and offer a vision that would be fundamental in the debates that are taking place in both chambers on the ethics of the services offered by big technology and the need to regulate them.

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The 'deep throat' that led Facebook to its worst existential crisis

Frances Haugen, Facebook's 'deep throat', before the European Parliament: “I am very concerned about the metaverse”

In the appearance that he offered in the European Chamber , Haugen transferred his concern about the metaverse that Zuckerberg is preparing.

two. Mark Zuckerberg presents the metaverse he plans for Facebook and renames his matrix to Meta

Mark Zuckerberg presents his avatar in the metaverse. FACEBOOK (VIA REUTERS)

Shortly after the Wall Street Journal went public that Facebook knew that Instagram was harmful to teenagers and after Frances Haugen revealed her identity, Mark Zuckerberg announced the name change of the parent company of his company from Facebook to Meta. This movement, probably precipitated in part by the reputational and identity crisis in which the company was mired, also revealed the future that the tycoon plans for his company. On the same day, he officially presented the metaverse, the virtual universe in which he intends for us to work, shop and socialize, but which is still under development.

Microsoft wasted no time in joining the bandwagon, confirming to the general public that what Zuckerberg had presented was not an occurrence. The company founded by Bill Gates announced a few days after the Meta earthquake the launch of customizable avatars for its Teams video calling tool. Other companies, from large operators such as Orange or Vodafone to consumer brands, have also announced projects in this virtual environment.

More information

Facebook changes the name of its parent company to Meta amid a serious reputation crisis

'Metaverse': the virtual world where Zuckerberg wants you to shop, have fun and work

3. The shortage affects the production of chips and Apple is forced to ration its products to reach Christmas

New Apple iPhone 13. Apple

The pandemic and the crisis caused Due to the blockage of the mega-ship Ever Given in the Suez Canal from March to July, they have generated a shortage of products and raw materials around the world. One of the main problems has been the production of microprocessors that are used to power technological devices and even vehicles. Apple was one of the companies that, at one point, chose to ration its iPad production in order to make more iPhones. The latter were in higher demand since the 13 range was introduced in September. The decision was made due to the fear of not being able to meet the demand with a view to the Christmas holidays.

Among the products that have been repeatedly sold out this year has also been found the console PlayStation 5, various household appliances and even medical equipment. The weight of the production of these chips is carried mainly by Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and China.

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Chip shortage threatens recovery and opens up a race between powers

Apple reduces iPad production to make more iPhones

4. TikTok becomes the app more downloaded in the world and the fastest to add 1 billion users

Egyptian influencers. KHALED DESOUKI (AFP)

From almost disappearing in the United States to becoming the most popular social network on the planet: the pandemic has turned TikTok into a global phenomenon despite of former United States President Donald Trump, who during the last stages of his mandate tried to ban its use in the country. Before becoming TikTok, this platform of Chinese origin was called and its use was limited to tweens who were not ashamed to mark some dances and publish them. Its meteoric popularization began in 2020, when people from all over the world were confined to their homes. It was then that Charli D'Amelio also experienced the boom of the platform in the first person. In 2021, this 17-year-old has reached 132 million followers on TikTok.

However, like any other mass phenomenon, the platform has not escaped controversy. In January, Italy blocked the app for a couple of weeks after a 10-year-old girl died, allegedly participating in a challenge it had seen on the social network. In November, the company announced new measures to prevent the spread of dangerous challenges.

Even so, the platform has served to give voice to many users, to boost business and to deliver advice thousands of miles away. TikTok's ability to go viral is unprecedented. It is not necessary to have a large number of likes for a video to reach the other side of the planet in a few seconds .

A missing girl from North Carolina was rescued after she signaled for help using a hand gesture she learned on TikTok, police say. A motorist recognized the gesture and called police.https: //

– CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) November 7, 2021

In fact, thanks to one of the viral contents (the symbol that can be represented with one hand when a woman is in a situation of danger from sexist violence) has helped save lives. First, in the United States, a minor who had been kidnapped made the signal by sticking her hand out the window and was able to be rescued. Shortly after, in Spain, a woman who was a victim of sexist violence used the signal in a hospital, a nurse reported it to the authorities and the man was arrested.

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5. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram suspend Donald Trump's accounts after the assault on the Capitol

Former President Donald Trump, during a rally in Iowa last October. Scott Olson (Getty Images)

On January 6, while in Spain we were celebrating Three Kings Day, supporters of Donald Trump who had gathered to demonstrate against the election results of December 3, 2020 stormed the Capitol, the headquarters of the US Congress and Senate, where the session was being held to certify the results. Two days later, the large social networking companies Facebook and Twitter decided to suspend the accounts of the still president, understanding that through them he had encouraged the attack. The blockade of Twitter is permanent and that of the Meta platforms until at least 2023.

Although he tried After avoiding the veto using the Parler platform as a loudspeaker, a few days later the digital stores eliminated this application. The only alternative left was to create his own social network. And it is precisely what he announced last October: a platform called Truth Social, which he is developing through his new company, Trump Media Technology Group, with which he hopes to face the Silicon Valley companies that took away his speaker.

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Trump announces the launch of his own media company and a social network called Truth
Donald Trump's social network, attacked before launch

6. Jeff Bezos announces his retirement at the head of Amazon

Jeff Bezos, with the glasses he wore during his space trip. JOE SKIPPER (Reuters)

The creator of Ama zon left his post as CEO in July, although he remains on the board of directors. Jeff Bezos created the company in 1994 and in recent months the position of richest person in the world has been disputed with Elon Musk. His fortune is valued at nearly $ 200 billion, according to Forbes magazine .

Although he may no longer be the CEO of the company he founded, Bezos has wasted no time this year. The same month of July, he flew for 11 minutes through space in a ship of another of his companies, Blue Origin. In fact, Musk himself also organized the first flight with only civilian passengers with SpaceX in September, although he was not included. This is the new space race: the biggest billionaires competing with their companies to conquer outer space.

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7. Graphic designer Beeple sells a digital file for 57 million euros

The First 5,000 Days, by the artist known as Beeple, which sold on March 11, 2021 for $ 69.3 million at Christie's.

Mike Winkelmann, a graphic designer better known as Beeple, sold one of his works for 57 million euros, thus becoming the third most sought-after creator in life, only behind Jeff Koons and David Hockney. The work, Everydays: The First 5000 Days , is a collage of 5,000 images that the artist has collected over the past 13 years. It is a unique non-expendable object (NFT), a digital piece made from codes that make it unique and was sold through the Christie's auction house. NFTs in the art world have not stopped gaining popularity this year.

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The 'tokens', a market that flies over reality
Euphoria in digital art: bubble or NFT revolution?

8. Brussels approves the 'Rider Law' and requires the regularization of more than four million digital platform workers

Several 'riders' participate in a demonstration of delivery drivers at home, in Valencia, Valencian Community. Europa Press

The European Rider Act has followed this December to which Spain approved in May. The concern that has led to regularize the activity of digital delivery platforms has been the precariousness of employment. The European Commission directive sets minimum working conditions and positions itself on the most controversial issue that has caused the most clashes in the courts: according to Brussels, the riders are salaried if there is any type of control by the company. This may mean the regularization of some 4.1 million false self-employed, according to the European Executive.

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Brussels will force the regularization of more than four million digital platform workers
The delivery officers' law starts amid the refusal of companies to hire their entire fleet

9. Lithuania advises its citizens to get rid of Chinese phones

Chinese manufacturers Xiaomi and Huawei are the main accused by the Lithuanian government of poor privacy and security practices on their devices. DADO RUVIC (Reuters)

Precisely, a member country of the European Union was the first to position itself in terms of the security of mobile phones from Chinese brands last September. The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense prepared a cybersecurity report in which it established that the devices that Xiaomi sells in Europe incorporate tools that detect and censor terms so that the user cannot see them. The Government recommended that citizens dispose of these phones as soon as possible. Germany admitted that it was also conducting an investigation on those Xiaomi phones, which, moreover, was the best-selling brand in Europe for the first time in the second quarter of this year. The Chinese technology company denied that it has ever restricted or blocked content and assured that it respects the rights of its users.

The main concern is that these types of functions can be activated remotely by the manufacturer and, in fact, even if the mobile does not have them built in from the factory, they could be activated with updates. In addition, if terms can be blocked, the user's searches can also be collected and sent, a privacy problem that in non-democratic countries can lead to serious dangers.

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Why the recommendation to get rid of Xiaomi phones reveals a more serious threat than it seems
Lithuania recommends its citizens to get rid of Chinese phones

10. An attack by ransomware paralyzes the pipeline Colonial, which ends up paying a $ 4.4 million ransom

Petya 'ransomware' message Getty Images

Attacks by ransomware have also starred in 2021 and the country that has suffered the most has been the United States. The Colonial oil company was the victim of one of the most notorious cyberattacks, for which it was forced to suspend its activity in the 8,850 kilometers of oil pipelines it manages. Ultimately, he paid the group of attackers $ 4.4 million, although the Justice Department was able to recover more than two million in cryptocurrency a few weeks later. The Russian DarkSide group of hackers carried out the attack.

Also a group of Russian hackers linked to espionage infiltrated the e-mail system used by the International Aid Agency (USAID) of the Department of US state to enter the computer network of groups and organizations critical of the Kremlin, as announced by the Microsoft company. The attack occurred a few weeks after the first summit between President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Another cyberattack paralyzed the networks of at least 200 US companies, successfully infiltrating the technology company Kaseya, which provides network management services. These are just a few examples that portray how common cyberattacks have become .

More information
One of the largest oil pipelines in the United States suspends operations after suffering a cyberattack
The mysterious group responsible for the last great cyberattack in the US disappears from Internet

eleven. A problem in a cloud company, Fastly, causes a multiple drop in pages and services around the world for an hour

View of a web page that reports the problems to connect to the network after the failure that this Tuesday has left dozens of web pages throughout the world without service. Sergio Barrenechea (EFE)

A problem at a cloud company, Fastly, caused a drop in pages and services around the world in June: The New York Times, Newsfresh, Amazon, Twitch, Paypal, Reddit, Stack Overflow and many other websites did not work or could not run well because a single provider had gone down. The incident was resolved in an hour, but it left a question: How is it possible that a large part of an infrastructure such as the internet, which was born to avoid the problems of centralized systems, collapses due to a failure of a single company?

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Fastly: how a single company has caused the fall of Internet

12. The transposition of a European directive brings Google News back to Spain

Google against the ' fake news'. Unsplash

In January 2022 Google News will return to Spain, after The Government approved in early November the new intellectual property law, which allows information companies and news agencies to negotiate independently with large technology companies a remuneration for the dissemination of their content online. The reform adapted, with a five-month delay, the European directive on intellectual property rights.

Google closed in 2014 its news service when the previous rule was approved, which recognized the inalienable right of publishers to be remunerated and required them to negotiate the rights through a management entity. The return of the service is essential so that the Google News Showcase can be available, a showcase in which publishers will choose the informative content that will be shown to readers.

More information
Google News will reopen in Spain after the approval of the intellectual property law

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