Friday Five: Royal Mail goes electric in Bristol

Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. Royal Mail’s first all-electric office in Bristol

Royal Mail has transformed Bristol East Central into its first delivery office to have an all-electric fleet of collection and delivery vehicles. It said Bristol was selected because of its plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone later this year, with motorists who drive the most polluting cars into the city centre set to be charged £9 a day.

All 23 of Bristol East’s diesel vehicles have been replaced by fully electric ones. Six charging posts have been installed on the site, with electricity for powering the office and charging the vehicles coming from renewable sources. Bristol also has 99 bio-gas buses on its streets, helping to reduce emissions and improve air quality.

2. Instagram rolls out global ‘hide likes’ feature

Instagram users now have the option to hide the number of likes they receive on posts, with the aim to “depressurise people’s experience” on the platform. The tool has been tested out in several countries since 2019, but is now being rolled out globally. It will also be available on Facebook in the next few weeks.

Users who enable the feature (which can be turned on or off at any time) will now see the user name of a follower who has liked the post, “and others”, instead of a number. You can also hide likes on other people’s posts in your feed. Instagram’s algorithm will still take the number of likes into account when promoting posts.

3. Uber to recognise union in landmark deal

Uber has agreed to recognise a trade union for the first time, in a landmark deal that could pave the way for a “fairer working life” for millions of gig economy workers. The GMB union will have the power to represent Uber’s 70,000 UK drivers in discussions over earnings, pensions, benefits and their health and wellbeing.

For years Uber resisted calls to recognise unions, which had criticised it for not granting basic rights such as sick pay or a minimum wage. But in March it changed its stance after a court ruled that its drivers should be classified as workers. Now it provides them with a National Living Wage guarantee, holiday pay and a pension.

4. ASA bans another ‘irresponsible’ Bitcoin ad

Another week, another cryptocurrency advert falling foul of the Advertising Standards Authority. This time it’s an “irresponsible” ad which was plastered all over the tube and buses which said: “If you’re seeing Bitcoin on the Underground, it’s time to buy.” The ASA said the advert was misleading and left out important risk warnings.

Luno, the cryptocurrency exchange responsible for the ad, said it wouldn’t run again and future ads would feature an appropriate warning. It joins fellow exchange Coinfloor — which proclaimed “there’s no point keeping your money in the bank” — on the naughty step. Still, I bet the resulting publicity hasn’t hurt either of them, eh?

5. No time to die for MGM as Bezos buys Bond

Amazon has agreed to buy MGM Studios for $8.45bn (£5.97bn) in a move that will give its Prime streaming service access to a huge back catalogue of content. MGM is one of Hollywood’s most famous studios, having produced classics such as Some Like It Hot and Singing In The Rain, not to mention the James Bond franchise.

More than 4,000 film titles will be added to Amazon’s offering, as well as 17,000 TV shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale. It is Amazon’s biggest acquisition since it bought Whole Foods Market for $13.7bn in 2017. However, rumours that Jeff Bezos is putting himself forward as the next James Bond are, as yet, unsubstantiated…

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