Facebook Abandons Flash, Apple Pays More Tax Than You… [Tech News Digest]

Facebook hammers another nail in Flash’s coffin, Apple dismisses tax attacks, Hillary Clinton hasn’t got a clue, Making a Murderer debuts on YouTube, and advertising YouTube advertising on YouTube.

Facebook Adopts HTML5 Over Flash

Facebook is the latest company to ditch Adobe Flash, with the social network switching its video player to HTML5 instead. All videos you watch on Facebook from now on will load in HTML5 by default, regardless of which Web browser you use. Facebook has been working on this for some time, debugging in order to ensure even older browsers are compatible.

In announcing the switch from Flash to HTML5, Facebook engineer Daniel Baulig said in a blog post, “We are continuing to work together with Adobe to deliver a reliable and secure Flash experience for games on our platform, but have shipped the change for video to all browsers by default.”

This is yet another nail in the coffin for Flash, which even Adobe admits is on its last legs. Unfortunately, Flash is so embedded in the way we use the Web that it will take years to eradicate it completely. Still, you can speed up its demise by personally uninstalling Flash. So, do it. Do it now!

Apple Defends Tax Record

During a 60 Minutes special, CEO Tim Cook defended Apple’s record on tax. Apple’s tax affairs have caused controversy for many years. As reported by BBC News in 2013, Congress accused the company of setting up multiple offshore subsidiaries which generate billions of dollars in profit but which pay no (or very little) tax.

However, Cook maintains Apple is doing nothing wrong. When 60 Minutes host Charlie Rose asked Cook how he feels about being labelled a tax avoider by Congress, the boss of Apple replied, “What I told them and — what I’ll tell you and — and the folks watching tonight is we pay more taxes in this country than anyone.”

Rose then pushed Cook on the money being stored overseas, which was dismissed with an acknowledgement that “two-thirds of our business is over there.” Rose then raised the notion of bringing that money home to the U.S., to which Cook replied:

“It would cost me 40 percent to bring it home. And I don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to do. This is a tax code, Charlie, that was made for the industrial age, not the digital age. It’s backwards. It’s awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It’s past time to get it done.”

Finally, Rose confronted Cook with what Congress had concluded, which is that “Apple is engaged in a sophisticated scheme to pay little or no corporate taxes on $74 billion in revenues held overseas.” However, according to Cook, “That is total political crap. There is no truth behind it. Apple pays every tax dollar we owe.”

We’ll let you make your own mind up on this one. Because, well, Apple can be rather litigious.

Clinton Doesn’t Understand Back Doors

It turns out that Donald Trump isn’t the only American politician who doesn’t understand technology. Hillary Clinton is also rather confused about how stuff works, particularly in relation to encryption and backdoors designed to circumvent encrypted communications.

While Trump wants to close parts of the Internet to stop terrorism, Clinton insists that something must be done about encryption. After referring to encryption as a “terrorist tool used in the Paris attacks,” Clinton said:

“Maybe the back door isn’t the right door, and I understand what Apple and others are saying about that. I just think there’s got to be a way, and I would hope that our tech companies would work with government to figure that out.”

“It doesn’t do anybody any good if terrorists can move toward encrypted communication that no law enforcement agency can break into before or after. There must be some way. I don’t know enough about the technology to be able to say what it is, but I have a lot of confidence in our tech experts.”

The problem is, of course, that you cannot build a backdoor into the hardware and platforms only being used by terrorists. A backdoor is a backdoor, and will affect everyone, both in terms of covert surveillance and criminal hacking. But it’s OK, as the boffins can figure it all out.

Watch Making a Murderer on YouTube

Netflix has uploaded the first episode of its new show to YouTube, allowing anyone to watch it for free, even without a Netflix subscription. The show in question, Making a Murderer, is the TV equivalent of Serial, the popular podcast which recently returned for a second series.

The first season of Making a Murderer tells the story of Steven Avery, who served 18 years in prison for rape before being released based on DNA evidence. Two years later, he was arrested on suspicion of murder.

By making the first episode available for free on YouTube, Netflix clearly hopes to get people hooked enough that they’ll then purchase a monthly Netflix subscription. Which is a crafty marketing move when Netflix needs to keep adding users in order to fund original programming.

Homer Advertises YouTube Advertising

And finally, The Simpsons meets Inception, with YouTube employing the cartoon family to advertise YouTube advertising on YouTube. Homer sets up a snow plow business called Mr. Plow, which fails miserably until Lisa creates a viral video advertising campaign.

The popularity of The Simpsons has waned in recent years, but Homer and co. remain characters that most people will instantly recognize. Which makes them perfect for a viral video ad campaign which requires people to actively choose to carry on watching past five seconds.

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

When will Flash finally die? Should Apple be forced to pay more tax? Do any politicians actually understand technology? What is your favorite TV show on Netflix right now? What is the worst advert you have ever seen on YouTube?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Image Credits: Denis Dervisevic via Flickr

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