Facebook told to investigate its role in insurrection
Facebook's independent oversight board on Wednesday upheld the company's decision to suspend former President Donald Trump. But one of the most important aspects of the decision wasn't really about the former President's social media accounts at all; instead it was a recommendation for a deeper review of the role the platform played in the spread of election conspiracy theories that, in the board's words, "exacerbated tensions that culminated in the violence in the United States on January 6."
Kids on TikTok find the sunny app has a dark side
Media|: TikTok is known primarily as a launchpad for funny memes, dance routines and lip-synching videos. The company embraces that reputation with a tagline, "the last sunny corner on the internet." But there's a dark side to TikTok that engulfs some of the app's youngest users. Beneath the surface, TikTok also hosts videos promoting anorexia, bullying, suicide and sexual exploitation of minors. Highly personalised recommendations, driven by algorithms owned by the parent company ByteDance Ltd., often make it harder for parents to track what their children are seeing and for regulators to monitor what kids are being exposed to on the app. "Parents think that TikTok has some redeeming values," David Gomez, a school resource officer in Idaho, said on the fourth episode of Foundering: The TikTok Story. "Videos, lip syncing, singing, dancing around. OK. I see that stuff. But parents are just not understanding how many predators are on TikTok." A spokesperson for TikTok said the company is "deeply committed" to the safety of minors and that it continues to strengthen safeguards. In January, TikTok stopped allowing strangers to comment on videos posted by users under 16 years old. And it restricted the ability to download their videos and changed the default settings on kids' accounts from public to private. But the problems began years before TikTok even existed. Kids flocked to Musical.ly, the precursor to TikTok. Back then, one advertising executive called it "the world's youngest social network" because its audience included elementary school students. Safety advocates said TikTok for years prized expansion over the protection of minors. "Their company exploded in growth across the world, and they just didn't prioritize child safety as they were growing," said Dawn Hawkins, who runs an advocacy group called the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Hawkins said she spent months helping an 8-year-old relative get inappropriate videos of him in his underwear taken down from TikTok. Hawkins acknowledged that TikTok recently made a number of sought-after improvements but said it's still not a safe place for very young children to roam unmonitored.
Twitter rolls out new prompts to curb bullying on its platform
Media|World|: New Delhi: Twitter has rolled out improved prompts on iOS and Android that will encourage users to pause and reconsider a potentially harmful or offensive reply - such as insults, strong language, or hateful remarks - before tweeting it. In other words, the upgraded feature is better at spotting "strong language" and now takes into account your relationship with the person you're messaging. "For example, if two accounts follow and reply to each other often, there's a higher likelihood that they have a better understanding of preferred tone of communication," Anita Butler and Alberto Parrella from Twitter said in a joint statement on Wednesday. In 2020, Twitter first tested prompts that encouraged people to pause and reconsider a potentially harmful or offensive reply before they hit send. "Starting today, we're rolling these improved prompts out across iOS and Android, starting with accounts that have enabled English-language settings," the company informed. Early tests revealed that if prompted, 34 per cent of people revised their initial reply or decided to not send their reply at all. "After being prompted once, people composed, on average, 11 per cent fewer offensive replies in the future," Twitter said. If prompted, people were less likely to receive offensive and harmful replies back. Since the early tests, here's what we've incorporated into the systems that decide when and how to send these reminders: Twitter said it will continue to explore how prompts - such as reply prompts and article prompts - and other forms of intervention can encourage healthier conversations on Twitter.
Google says 20% of workers will be remote, many more hybrid
Companies|Business|: Mountain View, California: Google says it expects about 20% of its workforce to still work remotely after its offices reopen this fall, while some 60% will work a hybrid schedule that includes about three days in the office and two days "wherever they work best." The remaining 20% can change their location to a different Google office. The policy announced Wednesday relaxes the company's stricter earlier stance. "The future of work is flexibility," CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an email to employees that was also posted on Google's website. "The changes above are a starting point to help us do our very best work and have fun doing it." Most of Google's 135,000 employees can continue to work from home through September of this year. For up to 20 days per year, Google employees will also be able to work from any location other than their main office. That's up from a previous allotment of 10 days. The company based in Mountain View, California, will also continue offering extra "reset" days - days off to help cope with the pandemic. Google was among the first major technology companies last year to tell its employees to work from home at the onset of the pandemic. Other tech giants, such as Facebook and Twitter, have announced that people can work from home permanently after the pandemic if their jobs allow for it.
SpaceX's Starship has successfully landed for the first time: what's next?
SpaceX achieved the first successful touchdown of its prototype Starship rocket during the latest test flight of the next-generation launch vehicle in south Texas on Wednesday, after four previous landing attempts ended in explosions.
Antigonish's green dreams include net-zero carbon emissions
News/Canada/Nova Scotia: The Town of Antigonish, N.S., is looking to become the first net-zero emissions community in Canada. About 63 per cent of the town's energy comes from green sources, which includes power from its own wind farm.
Astronauts with disabilities can apply to Europe's space agency for 1st time
News/Science: In our push for a human presence in space, there has been a group who have been left out, no matter how well-educated, fit or skilled they are: people with physical disabilities. The European Space Agency is aiming to change that.
U.S. supports waiving intellectual property rules for COVID-19 vaccines
News/World: U.S. President Joe Biden's administration on Wednesday joined calls for more sharing of the technology behind COVID-19 vaccines to help speed the end of the pandemic, a shift that puts the U.S. alongside many in the developing world who want rich countries to do more to get doses to the needy.
SpaceX finally nails the landing of the rocket that will take humans to the moon
News/Science: SpaceX's Starship, the rocket that CEO Elon Musk hopes will take people to the moon and eventually Mars, completed a test on Wednesday that marked the first time it successfully launched and landed.
SpaceX lands Mars rocket prototype for the first time
SpaceX just launched another test flight of an early Mars rocket prototype at its South Texas facility, sending the towering silver vehicle soaring up to about six miles above Earth, then putting it through a series of aerial acrobatics before re-lighting its engines and landing it upright back on a landing pad.
WhatsApp introduces six new sticker packs for iOS, Android
Media|: Washington: With the latest update on the instant messaging service, WhatsApp has recently released six new sticker packs for iOS and Android on the sticker store. As reported by Mashable, the feature was first spotted by WABetaInfo, a popular website that posts regular updates around WhatsApp. According to WABetaInfo, sticker packs are available now on the WhatsApp sticker store. A user can access them by opening any chat, tapping the sticker button and the 'more' icon. In case one is not able to spot the new stickers in the store, a user will be able to see them after 30 minutes. Per Mashable, the six sticker packs that have been released on WhatsApp includes egg and chup, realistic rabbit, betakkuma 2, square cheese's daily life, woman cactus, and a burdensome pigeon named eagle. All the stickers look super cute and fun and would certainly make the conversations over the platform more engaging. In related news, WhatsApp is testing a new feature called 'review' that will allow WhatsApp users to preview their voice note or voice message before sending them. The review button feature is currently under development and will be released soon for both Android and iOS users. Moreover, WhatsApp recently also added to the app a new 'Covid-19 vaccination centre' related functionality under its MyGov chatbot to help users find the vaccination centres in their locality.