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The biggest tech fails of 2021

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This year there were times when technology failed or failed completely, from giant Internet outages and crippling ransomware attacks to a series of problems for Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook. (Tantes, in fact, is the only company we’ve listed twice here.)

Here is CNN Business’s list of some of the biggest tech hotspots of 2021:

In April, said cybersecurity experts the personal information of half a million Facebook users, including phone numbers, birthdays, and email addresses, had been posted on a website used by hackers. Facebook he said at that moment that the same data had previously been reported as “malicious actors” removed from people’s profiles in 2019, and the problem that made it possible was fixed the same year. The incident once again showed how vulnerable companies that collect large amounts of personal data can be for bad actors.
Also in April, LinkedIn confirmed that publicly available details extracted from about 500 million profiles of its users had been put up for sale on a hacker website. Linkedin said at the time that the database for sale was “actually an aggregation of data from a number of websites and businesses.” The company also said it was “not a violation of LinkedIn data.”

The Citizen app mistakenly identifies an alleged arsonist

In May, Citizens, a startup whose app sends real-time crime alerts, offered a $ 30,000 reward to help determine who started a Los Angeles wildfire. The tips, including a photo of a man posted on Signal, led police to arrest a suspect. There was only one problem (very big): it turned out that he had been mistakenly identified.

The company had used a new product in its app called OnAir to spread the information about the suspect, but said it did not follow its own verification protocols before circulating the information.

Ransomware attacks become a big problem

This year, ransomware attacks, in which hackers have access to a computer system and basically have a company hostage for money – sharp pink, especially those business-oriented and critical infrastructure. A major attack in May highlighted the vulnerability of US infrastructure to these crimes: Colonial Pipeline.
One of the largest fuel pipelines in the United States, Colonial Pipeline was forced to halt operations when its network was hit by a cyberattack, which was apparently made possible by hackers accessing a compromised password. The general manager of Colonial Pipeline later admitted it paying $ 4.4 million in ransom to get the company network up and running again. In June, U.S. investigators with the Department of Justice said they recovered $ 2.3 million in cryptocurrency paid to hackers who were behind the Colonial Pipeline attack.

Two outages (briefly) disrupt much of the Internet

It happened twice in less than two weeks: Large strips of the Internet fell, a downturn in technology companies that most people haven’t even heard of. The outages were quickly detected and short-lived, but they underscored the confidence we have in the Internet and the precariousness it can be.
First, on June 8, countless websites like Reddit, CNN, Amazon and many more it got dark due to a disruption to the Fastly content delivery network. Then, on June 17, a problem in a similar company, Akamai Technologies, broken websites including those belonging to Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Fastly’s outage was detected in one minute and lasted less than an hour for most affected websites, while Akamai informed customers of the problem in seconds and was able to resolve it in four hours. (And the company said most of the affected customers were offline for just minutes).

These were not the only major Internet bugs of the year: in December, Amazon’s cloud computing service suffered three outages that caused problems with Disney +, Slack, Netflix, Hulu, and many others. too disrupted Amazon’s logistics operations during the important holiday season.

Facebook is a terrible day, horrible, not good, very bad

Monday, October 4 was horrible on many fronts for the company that would soon be renamed Meta.

The night before, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed her identity in a “60 Minutes” segment, claiming the company knew how its social media was used to spread misinformation, hate speech and violence. (Haugen was previously the unnamed source. The leak of thousands of pages of internal documents in The Wall Street Journal resulted in a series of doomed stories, known as The Facebook Files, starting in September.)
Then Monday a major disruption shut down Facebook, WhatApp and Instagram for hours, blaming the “configuration changes”. His sunken stock in the trade, as the company struggled with the dueling problems of an interruption and a setback from Haugen’s appearance on television. And he prepared for more regulatory scrutiny, as Haugen had to testify before members of Congress the next day. Oh, and that day the company also asked for the dismissal of an antitrust complaint filed against it by the Federal Trade Commission.
The day foreshadowed more for that month. In late October, a consortium of 17 U.S. news organizations they began to publish their own stories based on documents included in communications made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in a form drafted by Haugen’s legal counsel. The consortium, which included CNN, revised the drafted versions received by Congress. These stories included details on how the groups were coordinated use Facebook to encourage violence (like the January 6 uprising), and how human traffickers use the social network to exploit people. (Facebook has repeatedly tried to discredit Haugen and said his testimony and reports on the documents misrepresent his actions and efforts.)

Zillow learns a hard lesson about estimating home prices with AI

In november announced Zillow would close its home exchange business, Zillow Offers, citing “unpredictability in house price forecasting” that “far exceeds” what the company had expected.

The news was an incredible defeat admission for the real estate company, which had a $ 304 million inventory revaluation in the third quarter, saw its shares fall and said it planned to cut 2,000 jobs. work, a quarter of its staff.

But it also marked an abrupt change from earlier this year, when the company seemed so confident in its ability to use artificial intelligence to estimate the value of homes that it had said its so-called “Zestimate” would act, for certain houses, as a an initial cash offer to buy a property. Not only is it difficult to buy and sell profitable homes, it seems; It is also very difficult to use AI to make real world decisions.

Tesla’s “fully autonomous driving” scares drivers (including CNN)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has long promoted the electric vehicle company’s “complete autonomous driving” software. At the end of 2021, however, it is not yet fully autonomous, but offers driver assistance features that require users to accept that they must remain alert at the wheel in case they need to take charge. In addition, only a small number of Tesla drivers have been able to test it so far, including a group of customers who have paid $ 10,000 each to access the “beta” version of the feature.

And while the feature may look great, the drivers who used it told CNN Business in November which, beyond the surprise factor, are often unsure of what their cars will do next: a terrifying prospect when you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds. CNN Business tested the feature on a Tesla Model 3 on the streets of New York City in November and the results were sometimes terrifying: the software tried to drive the car on a UPS truck to avoid a cyclist, tried to drive on the wrong side of the road and almost hit a fence, among other issues.

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