Facebook is launching its own Clubhouse-inspired audio rooms, public health experts are not in favour of Instagram for kids, and Canada’s tabled 2021 budget has updates for Canada’s tech industry.
It’s all the tech news that’s popular right now. Welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Wednesday, April 21 and I’m your host Baneet Braich.
Thanks to the success of Clubhouse, Facebook is soon launching it’s own audio rooms and giving a way for users to find and play podcasts. In the coming months you can expect short-form audio clips called “Soundbites” and ways to create sound effects or improve audio quality. Facebook also says it will begin to test live audio rooms with a launch planned for this summer. In a statement, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook was looking to “treat audio as a first-class medium in the way that we would photos or video.”
Instagram for Kids? Many public health experts are urging Facebook to scrap its idea for a platform catered to kids 13 and under. Facebook says it will not include ads, and it’s trying to find new methods, including using artificial intelligence, to confirm that users on the actual Instagram app aren’t under 13. Advocacy groups wrote Facebook a letter highlighting that Instagram’s focus on photo sharing and appearance makes the platform unsuitable for children who are in the midst of crucial stages of developing their sense of self. On the other hand, Facebook argues the app is a way to keep younger people off the main service and that they are consulting child development and mental health experts as well as privacy advocates. Facebook, the company that just a few years ago obtained the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent with a research firm, says the reality is kids are online and they want to help navigate social media in a safe and age-appropriate manner.
It’s budget time and you may be wondering what’s new for tech? The 2021 federal budget reveals the government’s plan to develop a digital economy by hiring a new Data Commissioner plus investments in cybersecurity. The federal government says it will implement a three per cent Digital Services Tax on revenue from web giants that are dependent on Canadian content. The new tax should take into effect this summer and will likely increase revenue by $3.4 billion over five years. Canada also says it will commit $1 billion over six years for the universal broadband fund to increase access to high-speed internet in rural and remote communities. And finally, the budget also includes mention of an investment of up to $4 billion in the Canada Digital Adoption Program. This will allow 160,000 small and medium-sized businesses to buy new technologies they need to grow.
That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire Newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Plus, catch episode one of Hashtag Trending in French, hosted by our own Catherine Morin from Quebec at DirectionInformatique.com. Episode 2 drops this weekend. I’m Baneet Braich, thanks for listening!