Friday Five: Giant 4G balloons take off over Kenya

1. Giant 4G balloons bring web to remote Kenya

A network of giant internet-enabled balloons from Google’s sister company Loon is to provide internet access to remote areas of Kenya. It will provide 4G coverage so people can use the web and make voice and video calls. The project has been fast-tracked to improve communications during the Covid-19 pandemic.

2. US government threatens to ban TikTok

Worrying news for US teens — secretary of state Mike Pompeo has said the US government is “looking at” banning Chinese social media apps such as TikTok. Pompeo told Fox News that viewers should only download the app if they want their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

3. SpaceX could send NASA to Jupiter moon

A new congressional bill in the US has opened the door for Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket company to launch a NASA mission to the icy Jupiter moon Europa, which hides a subsurface ocean many scientists think could support alien life. The Space X rocket would carry the Europa Clipper (illustrated above) into deep space by 2027.

4. Instagram rolls out pinned comment feature

Following a successful test in May, Instagram is rolling out its its pinned comments feature to everyone. The social media giant said the feature aims to help Instagrammers “better manage the conversations” being had in the comment section of their posts. The tool lets users pin up to three comments to the top of the thread.

5. “Elissa, fetch my electrotelegraphic mixer”

Researchers have identified dozens of words that accidentally trigger Amazon Echo smart speakers, adding to concerns that users’ private conversations could be being recorded without their knowledge. The researchers developed LeakyPick, a platform designed to identify hidden voice audio recordings and transmissions.

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