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ExtraBITS for 20 November 2017

In ExtraBITS this week, Apple announced that it is delaying the HomePod until next year, Gizmodo exposes the secrets of Facebook’s creepiness, and the Web’s inventor expresses concern for its future.

Apple Delays the HomePod Until 2018 -- Apple originally promised to ship the HomePod smart speaker in December 2017, but the company has now delayed it until early 2018, saying it needed “a little more time before it’s ready.” Although missing the holiday shopping season may give a leg up to competing products from Amazon and Google, it’s better for Apple to delay the HomePod than ship a half-baked product.

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How Facebook Knows More about Your Personal Network than You Do -- Facebook does a lot of creepy things, like recommending that someone befriend their father’s mistress or connecting a couple with their anonymous sperm donor from years before. But how does Facebook tease out such obscure connections? Gizmodo investigated and traced Facebook’s behavior back to what’s known as “shadow contact information” — a secret database that Facebook keeps to track everyone you might know. It collects much of this information from other users who share their address books with Facebook, so if two otherwise unrelated people both have your phone number, the company can then connect them. Alas, there’s nothing you can do about this.

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Inventor of the Web Concerned for Its Future -- Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web as an “open platform that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries,” but he’s less optimistic about its future than he used to be. “We have to grit our teeth and hang on to the fence and not take it for granted that the Web will lead us to wonderful things,” he said. In particular, Berners-Lee criticizes Web advertising for its role in creating clickbait and spreading propaganda. “The system is failing. The way ad revenue works with clickbait is not fulfilling the goal of helping humanity promote truth and democracy.”

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