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Tech this week: SpaceX rocket set to hit Moon and US consumers lose $770m in social media scams

A picture from the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in Florida in 2015.
A picture from the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in Florida in 2015.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
By Ian Smith  with Reuters

A rocket launched by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX is on a collision course with the Moon after seven years in orbit, according to satellite trackers.

The Falcon 9 booster rocket was first used in 2015 to propel the US Deep Space Climate Observatory to a Sun-Earth LaGrange point more than 1 million km away.

It then didn’t have enough fuel to return to Earth and lacked the energy to escape the gravity of the Earth-Moon system and has been in a somewhat chaotic orbit since.

Bill Gray, who uses software to track near-Earth space objects, projects that it will crash into the Moon on March 4. He says that it is the first unintentional case of space junk hitting into the Moon that he is aware of.

However, he doesn't believe there are any safety issues to be concerned about.

“Keep in mind that this is a roughly four-ton object that will hit at 2.58 km/s,” he wrote in a blog post.

“The moon is fairly routinely hit with larger objects moving in the ballpark of 10-20 km/s; hence, the craters. It's well-built to take that sort of abuse".

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, also appeared nonplussed about any potential danger from the crash writing on Twitter that it’s “not a big deal”.

US consumers lost $770 million in social media scams in 2021

A growing number of US consumers are being scammed through social media, according to a new report from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

More than 95,000 consumers told the FTC that they had been scammed in 2021 with a con that started on social media.

People aged 18 to 39 were more than twice as likely to report losing money than older adults.

The losses added up to around $770 million (€690.3 million) with fraud initiated on social media making up about one fourth of all reported fraud losses for the year, an 18-fold increase from 2017.

Investment scams topped the list of total reported money losses, followed by romance scams.

The largest number of reports came from people who lost money to online shopping scams. Most of the reports about online shopping scams involved someone who ordered a product they saw marketed on social media that never arrived.

Consumers who listed the social media platform where the undelivered products were marketed most often named Facebook or Instagram.

People aged 18 to 39 were more than twice as likely to report losing money than older adults.

To avoid falling foul of a social media scam, the FTC advised users to limit who can see their posts and information through privacy settings, to research a company before buying from them and not to deal with a vendor that requires payment by cryptocurrency, gift card or wire transfer.

Europe's tech stocks set for biggest monthly drop in more than 13 years

European technology stocks fell on Friday and were on track for its biggest monthly drop since the 2008 global financial crisis as investors sold growth stocks in January amid concerns about an aggressive Federal Reserve tightening and mounting tensions in Ukraine.

A darling of the pandemic, Europe's technology sector, which had risen to its highest level in 21 years in November, slid 15 per cent in January and were on course for its worst month since October 2008.

European tech moved in January in tandem with the Nasdaq index in the US, which also registered the worst month in more than 13 years.

Global tech stocks have been under pressure as investors have been more reluctant to pay hefty valuations for growth stocks, as the Fed said it will likely hike interest rates in March and reaffirmed plans to end its bond purchases that month in a battle to tame inflation.

Mounting tensions between Russia and the US over Ukraine also sent investors looking for safer assets.