Hashtag Trending Feb. 3 – Big tech should pay back online scam victims; Is there a demand for the metaverse? Texas preps it’s power grid

With files from Samira Balsara

Big Tech should reimburse victims of online scams advertised on their platforms, Texas prepares its power grid for winter weather, and is there really a huge demand for metaverse features?

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That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Thursday, February 3, and I’m your host, Tom Li.

Big Tech companies whose platforms host advertisements for scams should reimburse victims, said British lawmakers. This notion is all part of a wider effort to tackle the growing epidemic of online scams. Banks have signed up for a voluntary code to reimburse fraud victims who do enough to protect themselves but there is no sufficient regulation for social media platforms or websites where victims are first lured in. Last week, a report from the FTC revealed that more than 95,000 U.S. consumers had been duped by scams posted on social media.

Big Tech companies around the world are hopping into the metaverse, trying to stay competitive against each other, but is there even a huge demand for meta-related features? An article from Wired claims that “the race is on to sell an amorphous concept that no one really wants them to build.” Over the past few months virtually every tech company has incorporated the metaverse into their business in some way. Facebook, which rebranded to Meta, is working on a supercomputer to power its metaverse while also planning to implement NFT features to its social platforms. Twitter has also made similar moves and YouTube is in talks to also join in. However, the metaverse as a concept is “fuzzy” in general, the report says. While tech companies have disclosed that the metaverse is coming, no one really knows what it means or what it looks like.

As Texas preps for a batch of winter weather, questions arise wondering if the state’s power grid is ready to brave the storm. One year ago, Texas suffered a power outage to its independent power grid amidst one of the coldest Arctic freezes in decades. This week, it was announced that an Arctic front is moving towards Texas, bringing several days of cold weather. Two weeks ago, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), released its “final winterization report” to assess the state’s readiness for this winter. The council’s interim chief executive said Texas’ “electric grid is more prepared for winter operations than ever before.” However, there are still some uncertainties. During a press conference, the state admitted some residents may lose power this week or weekend but it would not be due to grid issues rather ice on power lines.

Now for something a bit different. Over a year ago, an independent hacker who goes by the name P4x was hacked by North Korean spies. P4x was one victim of a hacking campaign that targeted Western security researchers with the apparent aim of stealing their hacking tools and details about software vulnerabilities. To get back at North Korea, P4x decided to take matters into their own hands, a Wired article reports. The hacker found several unpatched vulnerabilities in North Korean systems which allowed them to launch “denial-of-service” attacks on the routers and servers that the country uses for internet connection. According to the report, these hacking methods had immediate effects on the country’s system. Records from Pingdom show that at several points during P4x’s hacking, almost every North Korean website was down.

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 briefings 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. Also, if you have a suggestion or a tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thank you for listening, I’m Tom Li.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT Business. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at tli@itwc.ca.

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