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Hashtag Trending Aug 25 – Snap privacy lawsuit settlement; random celeb posts in Facebook feeds; and Gmail targeted ads complaint

Snap settles privacy lawsuit in Illinois, Facebook users bombarded with random celebrity posts, and does Google need consent to serve ads in Gmail inboxes?

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Thursday, August 25, and I’m your host, Samira Balsara.

Snap has agreed to pay $35 million to settle a class action privacy lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that Snap violated the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act by collecting Snapchat user’s biometric data without their consent through Snapchat filters. Relative to other U.S. states, Illinois has tougher privacy laws, especially when it comes to personal data. Snap denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to the payout anyway out of “abundant caution.” Now that the suit has been settled, Illinois Snapchat users who used lenses and filters can now claim up to $117 in compensation. As the Verge reported, the settlement is being finalized, but in the meantime, users have until Sept. 24 to submit a claim.

Some Facebook users received random posts to celebrities’ pages from strangers on their timelines on Wednesday. The affected users complained that these posts were cutting into the feed they expected to see. This bug apparently pushed pages from any celebrity the user had previously engaged or liked in the past. In a response to TechCrunch’s inquiries, Facebook said that it’s aware of the problem and that it’s caused by a “configuration error.” The company has since then fixed the error.

There’s no shortage of issues against Big Tech. Google is facing another privacy complaint in Europe for inserting ads into Gmail that look too much like regular emails. A privacy advocacy group called noyb filed the complaint with France’s data protection watchdog, accusing Google of breaking the EU’s ePrivacy Directive rules. The group argued that the ads displayed inside the user’s inbox counts as using email for direct marketing, which if proven true, then it would require user consent. Gmail distinguishes the ads from actual emails by removing a timestamp and attaching an “ad” label to them. This isn’t the first time noyb has gone against Big Tech, the organization also has complaints against Google Analytics and Facebook Connect. 

A new detection system can potentially save sperm whales from colliding from Ships. Ship collisions, along with abandoned nets in the ocean, are among the leading causes of death of whales. This new system uses three hydrophones to pinpoint the location of a sperm whale by listening to its clicks. It’s accurate to within 30 to 40 metres. The system was developed by a team of biological and computational researchers, and has been aptly named SAvEWhales, which stands for System for the Avoidance of Ship-Strikes with Endangered Whales. Currently, the system only works for whales that produce clicks and not songs, like the fin whales.

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, catch the next episode of Hashtag Tendances, our weekly Hashtag Trending episode in French, which drops every Thursday morning. If you have a suggestion or a tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thank you for listening, I’m Samira Balsara.

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