The Biggest Tech Fails of 2018

Dec 31, 2018 · 11 min read

Facebook, Amazon, and Apple had big years, but they also make our list of the biggest tech fails of 2018. Here’s what they (and others) did to earn a Silicon Valley facepalm.

By Chloe Albanesius

This has been…a year. Honestly, if you’d asked me when the Snapchat redesign kerfuffle and that fake Hawaii missile alert had occurred, I’d have sworn they happened three years ago. But no, they were among the blessings bestowed upon us in 2018.

But those were not the only tech fails this year. Not by a long shot. As usual, security breaches made headlines quite regularly, from Orbitz and MyFitnessPal to T-Mobile and Marriott. (Password manager, anyone?) Malware hit routers, while ransomware hobbled cities such as Atlanta.

Below, we’ll chronicle some of Silicon Valley’s other notable facepalms. Read on for the stories that made us shake our heads and kept execs, shareholders, and PR teams up at night.

Meltdown and Spectre

The flaws, code-named Meltdown and Spectre, could be exploited to pull sensitive information from vulnerable machines. Meltdown was found mostly in Intel processors as far back as 1995, but Spectre was also found in AMD and ARM-based chips. Fix rollouts were complicated, but on the bright side, we tested four PCs from a variety of manufacturers and found that while each of the systems did suffer a slowdown in computing performance, it was slight enough that most users won’t notice the difference.

Hawaii Is (Not) Under Attack

VPN Slip Reveals ‘Guccifer 2.0’ Identity

Members of Congress or Criminals?

‘Active Shooter’ Video Game

The incident kicked off a discussion about what type of content Valve would allow on Steam. Ultimately, it decided not to censor any games for controversial content, “except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.” The developer of Active Shooter fell into the troll category because, Valve said, he has “a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation.” The developer, Ata Berdyev, denied any wrongdoing.

Farewell, Google+

Unwiped Servers Sold on Craigslist

Jack Dorsey’s Myanmar Meditation Sessions

After some pushback, Dorsey returned to the thread to say he was “aware of the human rights atrocities and suffering in Myanmar. I don’t view visiting, practicing, or talking with the people, as endorsement. I didn’t intend to diminish by not raising the issue, but could have acknowledged that I don’t know enough and need to learn more.”

The gaffe was all the more striking because social networks like Facebook have been accused of not doing enough to stop disinformation that has led to violence in the region — something Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was quizzed about during a September Senate hearing where Dorsey also appeared.

Facebook [Insert Scandal of the Moment]

Hey Siri, Define ‘Mother’

Alexa Sends Family’s Conversation to Contacts

Huawei Fakes Camera Phone Photos in Ad

MacBook Butterfly Keys

MoviePass’s Roller Coaster Year

Elon Musk Booted From Tesla Board

At issue was an Aug. 7 tweet from Musk that said he was “considering taking Tesla private at $420” and asserted that he’d secured funding for the move. According to the SEC, however, “Musk knew that the potential transaction was uncertain and subject to numerous contingencies.”

The tweet caused Tesla’s stock price to jump by over 6 percent that day “and led to significant market disruption,” the agency said.

As part of the SEC settlement, Tesla must “put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications,” but Musk told 60 Minutes that no one’s approving his tweets.

Verizon Throttles Firefighters

Amazon Prime Day 404s

Everyone Hates Snapchat’s Redesign

Lime Scooters: Too Hot to Handle

Amazon Workers Hit With Bear Repellent Spray

CenturyLink 911 Fail

Drones Shut Down Gatwick Airport

Instagram’s Horizontal Scroll

Not every idea is a winner. And not every winning idea will last forever. Let us reflect on the tech we lost in 2018.

Originally published at

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