It was hard to avoid the “Korea bans crypto” lines last week.

South Korea’s ban on cryptocurrency exchanges made every major news outlet in the world. The BBC, CNBC, the Financial Times, The Guardian – all the old guard – couldn’t get the news out fast enough.

The Guardian had a particularly nice juxtaposition going on in its line:

FTSE 100 hits record high; Bitcoin falls as South Korea announces crackdown – as it happened

Anyone would think the gains of the FTSE 100 and bitcoin were comparable. In 2017 The FTSE 100 rose 7.6%. Bitcoin rose 1,282%. None of the mainstream press seem to put that in their lines though. I wonder why?

As usual, the old guard got the cryptocurrency news wrong.

Have a look at how it was reported in the BBC. This is a snapshot of the original news report the BBC published:

BBC original misleading line about South Korea crypto banBBC original misleading line about South Korea crypto banThis is what is has been quietly changed to:

BBC fixed line about South Korea and BitcoinBBC fixed line about South Korea and BitcoinThe current article also omits the key quote of the original:

“There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and the justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges,” said Justice Minister Park Sang-ki.

It is understood the department is preparing legislation that would allow the exchanges to be shut down.

Why? Because it’s been proven to be untrue.

It’s no wonder most people don’t believe the mainstream press anymore. It’s crazy the BBC can get away with doing this, without publishing any kind of retraction.

The only way you would know it had published this “fake news” is if you had read the first story, as I did, and then read it again a few days later.

In fact, I didn’t even really believe it’d done this myself until I checked using the internet archive. It seemed like too corrupt a thing for the BBC to do. But nope, it did it alright.

You can see the facts for yourself. Here is the article in its current state. And here is a snapshot of what it looked like when first published.

It’s worth noting that the CNBC reporter who also wrongly published this story has been harangued on social media. There have been no such repercussions for the BBC.

And let’s not forget these news stories caused a huge dip in crypto prices. Certain people will have made a lot of money trading on this fake news.

The rewriting of the news – which is in effect the rewriting of history – is a huge problem right now. In the times of paper press, you had to print a retraction if you were found to be lying. Today, you just go back and quietly edit the webpage and no one is the wiser.

Most people seem to believe in the integrity of the big news organisations. I’d urge anyone reading this to look at them more critically. Don’t just get your news form one source. Always do your own research and don’t blindly believe what the press says – especially what the BBC says, and especially on anything cryptocurrency related.

CoinDesk did a much better job or covering this story. If you want to find out what really happened, and what the current state of crypto trading in South Korea, you can read its article here: Korea’s Crypto Crackdown Talk Draws Backlash From Users and Politicians.

France sues Apple for slowing down old iPhones

Do you ever notice how your iPhone slows down whenever a new model gets released?

Of course, it would be highly illegal of Apple to do this. But over the last few months, hard evidence has come out that proves this is what’s happening.

So on 28 December Apple issued a statement:

We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologise. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.

First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.

Apple goes on to say that the reason for this slowdown (which it only admitted existed after being forced to do so) is because of battery degradation.

It says that older batteries can’t supply as much power and so it could – could – result in the phone shutting down unexpectedly if it doesn’t make the phone walk instead of run.

So to combat this “problem” it has secretly put code into the iPhone software that makes iPhones slow down as their batteries age. Because, we’d all prefer a constantly slow phone to one that may or may not restart on occasion.

It’s worth noting that no Android phone does this. Maybe Apple just cares more about its customers’ wellbeing than other manufacturers do… yeah, right.

The good news is Apple says you can restore your outdated phone’s performance by buying a new battery – which will cost you time and money.

It’s clear that Apple doesn’t really have its customers’ best interests at heart and it is just trying to get them to upgrade to the latest model, by illegal means.

It got caught and had to make up a story that kind of fits what’s going on, but also fails to mention why this wasn’t a stated policy before it was exposed. Or why other phone manufacturers don’t do this.

I don’t buy it. And nor do a lot of people. So many, in fact, that the French government has decided to intervene.

As the BBC reported on 8 January (oh the irony of quoting a BBC story, right?):

The French investigation is being led by the economy ministry’s consumer protection agency.

It follows a legal complaint filed in December by pro-consumer group Stop Planned Obsolescence (Hop).

Hop said France was the third country to investigate Apple after Israel and the US, but the only one in which the alleged offence was a crime. Penalties could include up to 5% of annual turnover or even a jail term.

The group alleged that Apple had both deliberately slowed down some iPhone models through a software update and timed the update to coincide with the release of the newer model, the iPhone 8.

I can’t see Apple paying a fine of 5% of its annual turnover, but let’s wait and see. If Apple is found guilty, it’s not going to do wonders for its stock price either way.

And if you have an iPhone, maybe it’s time to vote with your feet and move on to Android.

Chernobyl transformed into huge solar power plant

Okay, that’s enough ranting. Let’s end today’s Exponential Investor on some good news.

On Saturday, sciencealert.com reported that Chernobyl – once synonymous with nuclear disaster – is being turned into a huge solar power plant:

At the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, work is almost finished on a huge new solar plant that’s set to provide one megawatt of renewable power for the local electricity grid.

The new plant sits just a hundred metres (328 feet) from the Object Shelter, nicknamed the “sarcophagus”, a sealed metal dome designed to prevent further radiation leakage from the remains of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant…

The soil in the area remains heavily contaminated, and Ukrainian authorities have said it would take more than 24,000 years before people could safely return to live there, but the new plant shows that this vast area of sealed-off land can be put to good use.

And it’s partly possible thanks to the Shelter Object – installed in late 2016 to replace the ageing concrete shield originally put in place, it reduced the radiation near the plant to one-tenth of its previous level.

The solar plant only covers around 16 square km right now, but 25 square km has been set aside for solar developments by the Ukrainian government.

Maybe in the future Chernobyl will be remembered not just for the 1986 disaster, but also for its championing of renewable energy. It’s already become quite a tourist hotspot.

Until next time,

Harry Hamburg
Editor, Exponential Investor