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Robocalls Are (Finally) Being Shaken Up


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Hey, have you heard that your car’s extended warranty is about to expire? That’s what the disembodied robot voice on the other end of the phone wants you to think, anyway. Fortunately, these incessant spam calls may soon be getting less frequent.

This week, the US Federal Communications Commission closed a loophole in a policy that requires voice service carriers to adhere to a standard that would help block robocalls. All carriers in the US are now required to utilize a tech known as Stir/Shaken (an acronym for a very long and unwieldy title of federal standards for calls). It’s a way to identify legitimate carriers and allow them to connect calls, while blocking out those who are trying to spam you.

The big carriers had already been using the standard when the FCC announced this policy last year. But there was an exception for landlines and companies with fewer than 100,000 customers. Turns out, a surprising number of spam calls are filtered through those smaller companies, and this week the FCC said it is requiring everyone to adhere to the Stir/Shaken standard regardless of size.

As Ars Technica points out, it’s not a perfect plan, and it won’t eliminate spam calls entirely. The Stir/Shaken standard doesn’t work on landlines, so old-school scammers could still make house calls. Also, the standard applies only in the US, so anyone spoofing numbers overseas could find a way around it. And you’re still liable to get some real weird scams via text. In the meantime, our best advice is, when in doubt, don’t engage—even if your car’s warranty really is about to expire.

Here’s some more gadgety news.


If you’re an iPhone user who at one point decided you were totally done with Instagram, it was probably a bit of a challenge to actually delete your account. You couldn’t do it in the app itself; instead you had to log in via a web browser. Now it’s possible to delete your Instagram account on iOS right there in the app.

The move comes in response to a new policy Apple implemented in its App Store on Thursday, which requires any app that asks users to create an account to also give them a way to end it. It’s still not a clean break, at least not right away. The app tries to steer you to “deactivate” the account rather than delete it, which would just put it in a suspended state. And if you actually, really delete it, there’s still a 30-day grace period before the account is wiped entirely, and if you log back in it will automatically restore the account. Sounds a lot like … deleting Facebook.

Speaking of, did you know you can delete your Facebook account too?

Like Every Other App, TikTok’s All About Shopping Now

Get ready to buy more stuff in TikTok. Last year, TikTok partnered with Shopify to let creators sell merch on the platform. Now it’s testing a feature to display those shop features more prominently in the app.

TechCrunch unearthed screenshots of the Shop option, which looks like it allows people to surf product categories and add items to a shopping cart right within the app. The Shop tab is displayed prominently, up at the top with TikTok’s main Following and For You tabs.

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