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26 January

In the headlines

Donald Trump will be allowed back on Facebook and Instagram “in the coming weeks”, parent company Meta has announced. The social media obsessive, who was suspended in 2021 for his role in the Capitol riot, marked the news by observing that Facebook had “lost billions of dollars in value since ‘deplatforming’ your favourite president, me”. The UK government is planning to ban the possession and sale of laughing gas, cracking down on its use as a recreational drug. Those with a “legitimate” purpose for nitrous oxide, such as chefs making whipped cream, will be exempt. Netflix will launch a crackdown on password sharing by the end of March, says Fortune, with additional fees likely to be introduced for subscriptions that span more than one household. “Warn your cousins and exes and anyone else sponging off your account.”


“Kim Kardashian just won Valentine’s Day,” says Vogue. We always get hundreds of emails filled with lingerie campaigns for the big day, most of which are deeply uninspiring. But Kardashian’s $3bn clothing empire Skims had the genius idea to feature Simona Tabasco and Beatrice Grannò, who play the “trouble-making double-act” Lucia and Mia in The White Lotus. The entrepreneur, who last week delivered a lecture at Harvard Business School on being clever at marketing, said she watched the HBO show and “had to have my girls”.


Whimsical web developer Neal Agarwal has created “Wonders of Street View”, which randomly generates fun images from Google Maps. They range from quirky architectural features (a giant bronze fish crashing into a building, say, or a fence made of colouring pencils) to striking vistas (the salt flats in Bolivia, elephants bathing in Kenyan mud) to silly things caught on the Street View camera (someone squaring up to a statue of a dinosaur). Enjoy it for yourself here.

On the money

Lebanon’s inflation woes make ours look trifling. Tech entrepreneur Christian Mischler has tweeted his bill from a Beirut café, which consists of two lattes ordered two and a half hours apart. The second cost nearly 9% more than the first.

Love etc

Picky singles on dating apps are sending out questionnaires to screen matches before agreeing to meet, says The Guardian. Questions range from the straightforward (Are you married?) to the more invasive (Are you in therapy?) to the downright bizarre (Which way round do you position the loo roll on the holder?). Pop-quiz proponents say that by checking compatibility on these key issues, they can avoid wasting “money and good outfits” on futile first dates. Kennedy, a 26-year-old from Vancouver, says she always asked potential suitors for their take on Taylor Swift. If they responded with anything rude, she would “immediately delete them”.


It’s asking to be groomed. Don’t feel too special if you worked it out: a new study from the University of St Andrews suggests that humans have retained the ability to understand many of the gestures that great apes use to communicate. When more than 5,500 volunteers were played similar clips and asked to choose between four possible meanings for each, the average success rate was over 50% – more than double what would be expected through chance alone. Try more ape interpretation here.


quoted 26.1.23

“The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.”

American columnist George Will