What’s new in 2021 on Les Numériques: the most striking themes


What are the main topics that shook the tech news in 2021? We scrolled through the endless list of articles published over the last 12 months and delved into audiences. Here’s our verdict, in “recap” mode.

Donald Trump says goodbye to social media

On January 6, 2021 in Washington DC, the United States Capitol was stormed by thousands of rioters and supporters of Donald Trump, the outgoing president, while Joe Biden was elected the country’s new president. The event, very serious since there are five deaths, causes a radical change in the treatment given to Trump on social networks. Donald Trump is banned from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, even though he has tens of millions of followers there. A few weeks later, some analysts estimate that the disappearance of his Twitter account reduced fake news related to the US elections by 73%, even if the bellows had naturally fallen over time.

Since then, the former president of the United States has tried to return to social networks, in particular with the launch of his own social network, Truth Social. The app will also have been pinned just hours after its submission for unauthorized use of the license. She still managed to raise almost a billion dollars.

Once in charge, the Biden administration relaxed relations with several Chinese companies and sent positive signals regarding net neutrality.

Facebook is taking water everywhere

We can say that the year has not been easy for Facebook. Before the company made its big metaver presentation and decided to unveil its new name Meta, it was mostly mired in scandals. Frances Haugen, a former employee of the social network, transmitted to the US media hundreds of documents that constitute the Facebook Papers. These documents made it possible to point the finger at many failures in the company, in particular when it comes to Instagram and the preservation of the well-being of users.

The complainant made a real media and political tour, inviting the National Assembly and the French senators. She also said she was very concerned about Facebook’s desire to launch a metavers.

Another related topic should further fuel the debates around the dismantling of the social network, as a large-scale outage affected the three main applications Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. The incident paralyzed the giant’s services for several hours, to the point that some company employees could no longer access the premises.

WhatsApp changes its terms of service and fails

Also in the Facebook galaxy, one of its apps received especially bad press and without the help of whistleblowers. WhatsApp instant messaging wanted to update its terms of use, which angered some of its users, and the migration of hundreds of thousands of people to other competing applications.

Updating these T & Cs implied, in particular, that their non-acceptance would lead to the closure of the account. But after May 15, nothing changed for users, and WhatsApp made sure that the application was usable even by those who had rejected its update. Much noise at all …

China regulates its internet giants

The Chinese authorities have decided to toughen the tone against the tech giants. The objective is twofold: to regain control of these companies and impose new regulations, particularly for the youngest. Which even pushed LinkedIn out of the Chinese market.

So much so that since the beginning of this Beijing takeover of Chinese tech flagships, the market capitalizations of giants like Alibaba and Tencent have shrunk by several hundred billion dollars. The retirements of the heads of these companies are also linked, and Jack Ma, the head of Alibaba, even disappeared from the radar for many months.

On the user side, this translates into new bans. The Xi Jinping government has implemented new regulations to force video game streaming platforms not to accept users under the age of 16. This is in addition to other rules, such as the prohibition for those under 18 to gamble online between 10 pm and 8 am to “reduce addiction,” according to the official speech.

NFT lands

2021 was the year of the emergence of NFTs. These non-fungible tokens make it to the headlines. What are they ? What are they for ? Originally, it was about exchanging unique digital objects based on blockchains, the NFT acting as a digital certificate. A revolutionary idea for avid collectors of digital art, but especially for artists eager to regain control of their works.

And some NFTs have reached dizzying heights: a jpeg sold for $ 69.3 million, Jack Dorsey’s first tweet for $ 2.9 million, the video Charlie Bit Me! for € 623,000, the source code of the World Wide Web for $ 5.4 million, the Disaster Girl meme for $ 400,000 … By the middle of the year, transactions already represented more than $ 2.5 billion in sales. Some platforms have specialized in collectible NFTs, such as the French Sorare who revisits the Panini album of soccer players.

The term NFT has been so intrigued that it appears in the summary of search terms that emerged in 2021 on Google. We even learned that Martin Scorsese’s next movie would be partially funded by the NFTs.

A year in space

After more than six months on the International Space Station, four astronauts, including Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, returned to Earth after the successful landing of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule in the Gulf of Mexico, off Pensacola.

But the year was marked above all by departures. Former Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, accompanied by three other passengers, flew into space aboard a Blue Origin capsule. Thus he was able to enjoy a few minutes in zero gravity in space, while, on Earth, the company’s employees struggled to improve their working conditions.

Meanwhile, on Mars, the Perseverance rover captured a selfie with the Ingenuity drone in the background. The rover, which landed on the Red Planet last February, was presented with a retrospective of its epic in 20 spectacular images.

And if not, did you know that a solar mega-storm could damage all terrestrial communications?

Cyber ​​attacks and giant raids

The cybersecurity situation has been particularly stormy this year, in part due to the Pegasus scandal. This spyware, developed by the Israeli company NSO Group, has been found on the smartphones of politicians, journalists and activists, in France and elsewhere. The breach that Pegasus exploited threatened the security of the iPhone, and Apple was quick to fix it.

In the Rome region, a cyberattack disrupted Covid-19 vaccination services. A serious event, which led the president of the region to describe it as a “serious and serious cyber attack.” Large-scale cyberattacks have also hit SolarWinds, Colonial Pipeline, JBS, and Kaseya, with demanded ransoms reaching tens of millions of dollars. In the case of the Colonial Pipeline attack, the United States had managed to recover a good part of the ransom paid. Another big attack: the identity data of all Argentines was sold on the dark web a few months ago, or around 45 million people.

Regarding the nets, there were great catches. The Anom messaging service, used by criminals, led to the arrest of 800 people last June. A case similar to EncroChat, where criminals used secure terminals.

The chiefs’ waltz

There has been movement on the technological chessboard. In late 2021, Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as CEO of Twitter, in order to focus his energy on his second business, Square. A few days later, the company specializing in mobile and electronic payments announced that it would be renamed Block.

At Amazon, Jeff Bezos officially relinquished his CEO role to Andy Jassy, ​​who until then served as CEO of Amazon Web Services. Jeff Bezos will thus be able to focus on Blue Origin, created in 2000, with the aim of developing new technologies that make it possible to lower the cost of access to space.

In France, it is Stéphane Richard, the head of Orange, who ended up leaving his post after his conviction in the context of the “Tapie affair”. We have dedicated an article to his career at the head of the incumbent operator.

A French year in technology

The sovereign cloud, a not so sovereign French ambition? Jérôme Lecat, co-founder of private cloud specialist Scality, gave us his perspective on the national divisive cloud strategy announced in May 2021 by the government.

However, the good news: fundraising by French startups is flying from record to record. Is it a sign of a mature tech ecosystem or a lack of perspective that favors finance as an end? OVHcloud also went public.

Emmanuel Macron also presented, on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at the Elysee, the France 2030 plan. He promised 30 billion investments over nine years to bring out the technological champions of tomorrow. The Franco-French news itself was also marked by two exits from the Stock Market, that of Iliad, that of Xavier Niel’s group, and that of Altice. The OVHcloud fire also paralyzed many French sites, while one of Strasbourg’s data centers was completely destroyed.

The shortage of electronic components

The hardware sector was hit hard in 2021 by chip shortages. Demand outstrips supply, and many smartphone, camera, PC and auto makers are paying the price. Since the first quarter of the year, the specialists in the matter that are Intel, TSMC or Nvidia, estimated that the return to normality would not be possible before 2023.

Last September, it was estimated that the auto industry could produce 7.7 million fewer vehicles than expected in 2021, representing a deficit of $ 210 billion. In October, Apple and Amazon feared heavy losses. The former predicted a deficit of $ 6 billion, while the possibility of near zero earnings was considered for the latter. Apple won’t be able to keep up with demand for the iPhone 13 at Christmas.

Xiaomi is also bearing the brunt of the component shortage, with mobile shipments dropping nearly 6% year-on-year, while Sony has announced that it will no longer accept orders for its Alpha 7 II and Alpha 6400.

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