Author: Toby Shapshak

Toby Shapshak is editor-in-chief and publisher of Stuff, a Forbes contributor and a Financial Mail columnist. He has been writing about technology and the internet for 20 years and his TED Global talk on innovation in Africa has over 1,5-million views. He has written about Africa's tech and start-up ecosystem for Forbes, CNN and The Guardian in London. He was named in GQ's top 30 men in media and the Mail & Guardian newspaper's influential young South Africans. He has been featured in the New York Times. GQ said he "has become the most high-profile technology journalist in the country" while the M&G wrote: "Toby Shapshak is all things tech... he reigns supreme as the major talking head for everything and anything tech."

Things have just gotten very real for Facebook, as the first two significant lawsuits have been filled since whistle-blower Frances Haugen’s bombshell revelations. “Facebook said it was looking out for our children and weeding out online trolls, but in reality was creating misery and divisiveness for profit. We are not people to Mark Zuckerberg, we are the product and we are being used against each other out of greed,” said Ohio attorney general Dave Yost in the first case. He’s acting for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, who were among the Facebook investors that collectively lost more than $100bn…

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So, World Rugby has shot the messenger. Rassie Erasmus’s now infamous video pointing out the myriad faults of referee Nic Berry in the first Test against the Irish and British Lions has seen him severely punished for bringing the game into disrepute. Known for being amazingly innovative with his coaching, this arguably wasn’t Erasmus’ best attempt at trying something different. The 62-minute leaked video of the Springbok director of rugby pointing out 36 errors by the Australia ref and the touch judges was the subject of a World Rugby disciplinary process that has seen Erasmus banned for 10 months. Think…

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“Lights stay on” the headline read on a street pole last week. South Africa is so entrapped by Eskom’s broken power supply that it’s now newsworthy when there isn’t any load shedding. I thought of that street pole headline when news broke that the Independent Communications Regulator of SA (Icasa) had convinced Telkom, MTN and Vodacom to drop their impending lawsuits over spectrum allocation. This is in fact the second time in a year that Icasa has convinced angry mobile operators to back down from their legal high horses – when it attempted to auction off spectrum this March but…

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If you didn’t already know the future of internet connectivity involved fibre, this month’s massive R13.2bn deal between Vodacom and Remgro to combine their fibre offerings into a new infrastructure company should be enough confirmation. Vodacom will combine its fibre assets – worth R4.3bn – with that of Remgro’s 57% owned Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH), which will combine its Dark Fibre Africa and Vumatel into the new InfraCo venture. Vodacom is injecting R6bn in cash, and will hold 30% of the new company, with an option to acquire another 10%. This kind of consolidation is part of a global…

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Any doubt that Facebook wasn’t aware of what it was doing and the consequences of its “growth over safety” strategy have been blown away by the Facebook Papers. This trove of internal documents revealed by whistle-blower Frances Haugen shows that the social giant’s leadership knew what they were doing. If they didn’t, they were deliberately not reading their internal research and shocking findings. The Facebook Papers have been widely reported on by numerous news organisations, laying bare just how damaging Facebook’s apps and out of control hate speech and misinformation are to youngsters’ mental health. Facebook “went a little too…

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How do you explain what the Covid-19 vaccine does to defeat the virus and help convince sceptics that vaccination is not only a good thing, but also safe? Like every other rational South African adult, I have been double vaccinated. But I am astounded at the flimsy, unscientific excuses from anti-vaxxers about why they refuse to take a vaccine that could save their lives – and prevent them from infecting other people. Madhav Sarda, a psychiatrist who works in medical education at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada tweeted a brilliant and funny explanation. He describes himself as being “in medical…

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The latest controversy to hit Facebook is its lame attempt to change its holding company’s name to Meta, believing it will somehow convince people not to notice its ongoing privacy and mental health scandals. Named for the metaverse, an early depiction of virtual reality conceived by science-fiction author Neil Stephenson in his groundbreaking cyberpunk novel Snow Crash. Published in 1994, it depicted a computer virus and, arguably, one of the first examples of cybersecurity. CEO Mark Zuckerberg – besieged by the swirling dragons of angry shareholders, US state attorneys-general, the US Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission – tried…

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When someone thinks you are wrong on the internet, they waste no time telling you – nor smirking when they think they have proved you wrong. I’ve experienced it many times over the years, but perhaps never as intensely as after a recent column about Minerals & energy minister Gwede Mantahse’s frankly irrational defence of “cleaner coal” as a power source for the future. My Twitter timeline was clogged with response in defence of Mantashe – and I was followed by numerous fake accounts which I blocked and reported to Twitter. It’s noteworthy that the only time I see clearly…

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“How easy is it to type on?” a friend asked me about the smartphone I was testing. It’s not a question I get very often, but then the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is not an ordinary phone. It’s the third generation of Samsung’s remarkable new form factor which has a foldable screen. It’s an innovation I didn’t ever think I would come to like so much, because it enables you to open the “normal” sized 6.2in phone into a small tablet with a 7.6in screen. It’s a screen that folds. That alone is impressive engineering, especially given how badly-received…

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Wholly unscientific justifications for inexplicably weird decisions have been a hallmark of the SA government’s response to Covid-19. The alcohol ban, prevention of e-commerce stores doing even a little economic activity during lockdown, and curfews are some of the lowlights. The latest confounding decision to withdraw the temporary spectrum from the mobile industry by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) is a new low in irrationality and pettiness. Icasa is an agency that is often maligned for imposing the frankly weird regulations the government passes. In this instance, the blundering is all of its own. At the beginning of…

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