Weekly output: social-media misinformation, Comcast voice remote vulnerability, Cambridge Analytica, T-Mobile 5G, phone plans

I had at least one work event on my calendar each workday of this week, which has not happened in quite some time. Since CES, to be exact.

10/6/2020: Social-media misinformation, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language network had me on for half an hour to talk, once again, about governments staging misinformation campaigns on Twitter and other social networks. 

10/7/2020: Hackers could have used Comcast’s XR11 voice remote to spy on homes, Fast Company

The security firm Guardicore figured out how to load malware onto a widely-used Comcast remote control that would turn its voice input into a remote eavesdropping tool–and then Comcast promptly responded to their disclosure and fixed the flaws that made this possible. 

10/8/2020: The Real Problem Wasn’t Cambridge Analytica, But The Data Brokers That Outlived It, Forbes

An online talk by David Carroll, the New York professor who went to court in the U.K. to try to force Cambridge Analytica to disclose what data it had collected about him, gave me an opportunity to revisit everybody’s least favorite political consultancy.

10/9/2020: T-Mobile’s 5G sales pitch continues to miss on mid-band , Fierce Wireless

T-Mobile staged a bit of a dog-and-pony show for journalists about its wireless ambitions that had some entertaining moments but left some big questions about its 5G strategy unanswered. 

10/9/2020: The Best Cell Phone Plans, Wirecutter

I updated this guide to cover slight changes to the “unlimited” plans at Verizon, Mint Mobile’s new “unlimited” plan, Cricket’s addition of a 5G plan, the Verizon prepaid brand Visible, and a set of simpler plans at TracFone.

Weekly output: Facebook and politically-tied local news, smartphone plans

This week was a lot less hectic than the week before, and yet most of the items on my household to-do list remain undone.

8/13/2020: No, Facebook Isn’t Getting Political Clickbait Out Of Its News Tab, Forbes

I took a closer look at a new Facebook policy about political propaganda disguised as news and found two huge holes in it. I was pleasantly surprised to see the tech-news aggregator Techmeme give this post a shout-out, but a plug from that influential site doesn’t seem to have graced me with a lot of extra page views.

8/13/2020: The Best Cell Phone Plans, Wirecutter

This update to the smartphone-plans guide I’ve been maintaining since 2014 leads with the same two picks as before, but the Verizon plan we endorse as the best choice for most people is no longer limited to a single line, while T-Mobile’s advantage for high data use includes a big lead in usable 5G connectivity. (We thought about giving our best-for-most-people nod to an AT&T plan that offered more data but cost more, but “don’t buy more than you need” is a big Wirecutter principle.) This update also benefited from a more systematic process of ranking all of the services we considered in 11 different categories, from coverage to to cost to customer-satisfaction scores.