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Misinformation on the midterms on social media

With the US midterm elections only a few months away Twitter has announced how it plans to “enable healthy civic conversation” on its platform i.e. how they plan to control political disinformation. Journalist Emma Woollacott who has written about the new measures for Forbes is on the show, as is New York Times Reporter Tiffany Tsu to tell us about political misinformation on TikTok.

Facebook evidence – should they have handed over private messages?
Should Facebook have handed over private messages between a mother and her teenage daughter about procuring abortion pills? The two are facing criminal charges. Bill Thompson examines why this happened – Facebook messenger data, unlike many other messaging apps, is not end-to-end encrypted. Should the company be able to hold onto so much data and what can our listeners do to ensure their conversations on messenger apps remain private.

Satellite pollution
In this week’s Discovery reporter Jane Chambers looks at the unexpected impact of satellites. There are currently around 7000 active satellites orbiting space and there are plans for many more to be launched in the next decade by internet companies and countries around the world. They are revolutionizing our lives but having some unintended consequences from disrupting million dollar astronomical research to the real danger of satellite collisions in space as orbits become increasingly crowded. She tells us what the satellite companies are doing to minimize the impact.

The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.

Studio Manager: Giles Aspen
Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

(Image: Hash tag over US election badges credit: Getty Images)

How Nancy Pelosi’s flight was tracked

Were you one of the 2.92million people who was watching Nancy Pelosi fly into Taiwan on FlightRadar24 bypassing Chinese bases in the South China Sea as it approached Taipei? It’s one of the most popular flight tracking sites in the world and uses open standard surveillance technology which allows planes to transmit their location data to anyone with a receiver. As the receivers are fairly inexpensive it now has a network of more than 30,000 and collects data from other sources too like satellites. These data sources aren’t blocked which is why so many flights can be tracked (although they are not always named). It’s often used by fans to track celebrities, especially sports stars, it also shares information with air crash investigators. Ian Petchenik from FlightRadar24 is on the show to explain more.

New push to get women into fintech in Ethiopia
Digital payments in Ethiopia are just part of a much wider push by the government to get the country financially online. Currently most payments – including fuel bills - are paid by cash. Wairimu Gitahi, Global Communications & Knowledge Management Analyst at the United Nations Capital Development fund tells us about a new project the “Women’s Digital Inclusion Advocacy Hub.” The project is aimed at women, so they don’t get left behind in Ethiopia’s fintech revolution.

Wikipiano – a call to compose our Radio Theatre performance piece
Digital Planet is celebrating its 21st birthday this September and we’re recording a special show in the Radio Theatre (you’re all invited). To help us party we’re asking our listeners to compose a special multimedia performance of Wikipiano that will be premiered on the night in the Radio Theatre. You don’t have to be musical – just log onto and add text, video, images, compose new music (if you can), add actions for cyber soloist Zubin Kanga to perform on the night. Zubin helps Gareth add to the score and invites all our listeners to have a go themselves. The piece was composed by Alexander Schubert.

The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.

Studio Manager: Bob Nettles
Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

(Image: FlightRadar24. Credit:

Is disability tech delivering?

Why does tech not understand my speech?
Physicist Dr Claire Malone is facing a problem: no speech-to-text software understands her. She is living with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects her movement and muscle coordination, including her speech. Claire shares how much of a difference this tech could make in her life, and Gareth speaks to Sara Smolley, the co-founder of Voiceitt, one of the leading companies in the area, about how close we are to having software that can understand people like Claire.

Listening glasses
Many people have reading glasses, but what about glasses that can hear? A new pair of augmented reality glasses can hear what other people say, transcribe it, and then displays the text on your glasses like real-life subtitles. How could this type of tech help people with hearing impairment? Gareth speaks to XRAI CEO Dan Scarfe, as well as Josh Feldman, who was born hard of hearing and usually relies on lip reading. Will the listening glasses work live on the show?

Who gets to use assistive tech?
Technological solutions for people with disabilities are hugely beneficial, but as a new report from WHO and UNICEF shows, many people in need never get to access them. Chapal Khasnabis, head of the Access to Assistive Technology and Medical Devices unit at WHO, tells Gareth just how big the global inequity of assistive tech, and what we can do to fix it.

The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.

Studio Manager: Bob Nettles
Producer: Florian Bohr

(Image: Wheelchair user using assistive technology credit: Getty Images)

3 episodes