Year in Technology: Stories Headlined in 2021



By Jane Wakefield
Technology reporter

2021 introduced us to technological terms like Metaverse and NFT (non-fungible token).

Facebook took a dramatic new direction, heading into virtual reality.

The Internet, which had held up remarkably well during a series of blockages, experienced some setbacks.

And we learned that those chips from all our devices, which we take for granted, were not infinite.

Here is our summary of some of the most important stories on the BBC Technology site over the past year.

January: Winter disconnection

Image source, Getty Images

Although he lost the presidential election in late 2020, Donald Trump continued to make headlines in 2021.

The tweet that led to the ban was considered especially inflammatory given the assault on the Capitol building just the day before.

The facts acted as a wake-up call to social media that had previously allowed politicians to have, more or less, a free way to post online.

During the year, both Facebook and Twitter adopted new rules on how to handle high-profile accounts of world leaders and politicians.

Of course, it wasn’t the last thing we heard from Mr. Trump, but we’ll talk about that later.

February: What about WhatsApp?

Facebook insisted that the changes did not mark a dramatic change, but acknowledged that communication had been poor.

Privacy advocates said he only stressed that WhatsApp was already collecting large amounts of data for its parent company.

A few days after the reaction to the media, WhatsApp revealed that those who did not accept its updated terms and conditions could not receive or send messages after the May 15 deadline.

Later that year, WhatsApp was forced to rewrite its privacy policy following a £ 190 million fine imposed by the Irish data protection authority. He later had to provide much more information about what exactly he does with user information.

March: McAfee loaded

Image source, Reuters

In the spring, antivirus creator John McAfee, who has always been a controversial figure, was accused of fraud, accused of promoting cryptocurrencies on Twitter to inflate the price.

At that time, he was already detained in Spain on separate charges related to tax evasion.

April: Grab the tokens

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,

Computer chip plants work smoothly

It has been a year dominated by the scarcity of chips, the result of a combination of factors such as the pandemic and the sharp rise in demand for certain goods, as everyone has adapted to working, learning and socializing at home.

In April, Cisco became one of the first to warn that a shortage of computer chips was a problem, although its suggestion that it could last six months was quite optimistic.

May: Trump’s return?

Some noted that it appeared to be little more than a glorified 1990-style blog, and only closed a month later.

So far it has raised $ 1 billion, but it has also generated controversy and is facing an SEC investigation.

June: Live Internet

Similar problems affected Amazon Web Services, Akamai, and Cloudflare during the year, prompting some to question the reliance on a handful of businesses to keep the Internet running.

July: Goodbye Jeff

Image source, Reuters

One of Silicon Valley’s original innovators, Jeff Bezos, left Amazon, exactly 27 years after founding the online retail giant. For many, he was a business visionary, and the company he founded proves it, worth $ 1.8 trillion at the time of his departure.

But like all tech giants, Amazon faces greater scrutiny, for example, about how it treats its warehouse workers, as well as questions about whether it monopolizes online retail.

However, Bezos has no plans to leave the spotlight. His last obsession is with space: in October he and the original Captain Kirk of Star Trek, also known as William Shatner, launched into orbit with his rocket, Blue Origin.

August: How to Make Money on School Holidays

Image source, Benjamin Ahmed

This year we learned that NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. It was not understood what it meant: essentially a digital token that can be used as a way to pay for digital collectibles.

Elsewhere, an NFT of an animated cat GIF sold for over £ 365,000, while Jack Dorsey’s first tweet reached £ 2.5 million and Tim Berners-Lee NFT’s web source code it cost $ 5.4 million.

But NFT madness was not without criticism: author David Gerard describes NFTS as the “new form of worthless magic bean.”

Either way, it was hard to ignore and NFT entered the Collins Dictionary of New Words for 2021, along with Metaverse.

September: Bad vibrations

The paper, published by Apple and detected by MacRumours, suggested that engine vibrations could impair the optical image stabilization of phones or closed-loop autofocus systems.

The BBC’s storytelling had millions of views.

October: The company formerly known as Facebook

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,

A brand change for Facebook attracted less attention than a few hours of interruption of its services

It was also the month that Facebook announced its new approach to metavers, a concept that has quickly become one of the most popular words of 2021, and for which Mark Zuckerberg seems to have infinite enthusiasm.

Essentially, it is a virtual reality version of the Internet in which Meta, along with other big names in technology, believes that we will live, play, and work at some point in the future.

Of course, the most cynical wondered if the new enthusiasm for the metavers – which came with not only a change in the company’s brand, but a plan to hire 10,000 people in the EU to build it – was a distraction. of Facebook’s current issues with actual content. .

November: Hacker hunt

Image source, National Crime Agency
Image caption,

Rumors suggest that the wedding of alleged Evil Corp hacker Maksim Yakubets could have cost more than half a million dollars

It took him to a golf course and a bright skyscraper in Moscow. He didn’t find the hackers, but he did know that they were making a lot of money, in addition to driving the necessary Lamborghinis, arranging stuffed weddings, and having exotic pets.

The Kremlin denies any direct links to the Russian state, but experts believe that hackers can thrive in the country as long as they do not target Russian nationals. Although U.S. law enforcement says they are also ready for state piracy.

December: radioactive necklace

Image source, RIVM

This year there has been a new wave of misinformation about vaccines, Covid and politics.

Technology has also not been immune to conspiracy theories, with attacks on 5G transmitters by those who believe they omit dangerous radio waves.

While there is no evidence that transmitters cause any harm, the theory has led to a number of products claiming to protect people against them.

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