Weird Tech: Facebook stirs Middle East conflict

Facebook managed to increase tensions between Israeli and Palestinian West Bank residents

Weird Tech takes a political twist this week, courtesy of Facebook. The social networking site found itself in a cauldron of boiling political fury after its auto-complete function controversially listed Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank as residents of ‘Palestine’.

Tensions in the area have run high between Jewish settlers and the non-Jewish population of Palestine since World War I. The situation worsened when Israel captured the West Bank in 1967.

"I was surprised and disappointed to find that my hometown of Ariel is listed in Facebook as being part of a country called 'Palestine,'" wrote Ari Zimmerman in a posting on Facebook. "I am a citizen of Israel, as are all of the other residents of Ariel. We do not live in 'Palestine', nor does anyone else."

Facebook has hurriedly responded to accusations of having a “political agenda”, with users in specific Israeli West Bank settlements now able to choose between Israel and Palestine residency options, Reuters reported.

“What? I was just warming my ear…”

In other news, a German lorry driver escaped charges for talking on his mobile phone whilst driving after claiming he was using it to warm his ear. A court in Hamm accepted Walter Klein’s story that he was holding the phone to his ear because it was warm after being recharged, and he had an earache.

Had he been making a call without using a handsfree set, the 43-year-old would have been in breach of the law. The court accepted his excuse after he provided an “itemised telephone bill proving he had not been using the phone at the time he was stopped”.

Round-up in brief

Thanks to some newly restored Houdini movies, it was discovered that the master of escape was in fact also the first person – ever – to fight a robot on film.

And many technological advances were made this week (this does not include the Sour Milk Alarm) - not least in the form of Patakara's decidely torturous-looking Smile Trainer. If you’re finding the latest digital cameras with their smile detection tech simply too difficult to work with, then this could be one for you.

(If you’re having problems installing Windows Vista SP1 then Japan’s SP1 toilet roll might be more down your street.)

And finally…

A serial burglar who thought he had made a clean getaway after committing multiple burglaries was foiled after failing to take into account his GPS ankle bracelet. Police followed signals from the suspect’s electronic monitoring bracelet, which had been fitted as a term of his probation for an unrelated crime.

The man was apprehended during a traffic stop when deputies found several stolen items in his car, the Springfield News reports.

Julia Sagar
Content director, special projects

Julia specialises in ecommerce at Future. For the last four years, she’s split her time between leading TechRadar’s crack team of deal editors - covering all the biggest sales of the year including Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day - and helping the audiences of Future’s consumer tech and lifestyle brands (TechRadar, Tom's Guide, T3, Marie Claire, Woman & Home and more) find the best products and services for their needs and budget.

A former editor of global design website Creative Bloq, she has over 15 years’ experience in online and print journalism, and was part of the team that launched TechRadar way back in the day. When she isn't reviewing mattresses (she’s tested more than she cares to remember), or sharing tips on how to save money in the latest sales, she can usually be found writing about anything from green energy to graphic design.