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Meta board hears over a million appeals over removed posts

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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesMeta’s independent system of appeals against its decisions to remove content on Facebook and Instagram had about 1.1 million cases in its first year.The disputed posts, most of which originated in the US, Canada or Europe, had largely been removed for either violence, hate speech or bullying. Of the 20 cases about which The Oversight Board published decisions, it ruled against Meta 14 times.One case was about removed images of female breasts in a breast cancer post.Others featured an image of a dead child alongside text about whether retaliation was justified against China for its treatment of Uighur Muslims, and the decision to ban Donald Trump following the Capitol Hill riots.The board overturned Meta’s decision to remove the first two examples, but supported its decision to ban Mr Trump – although it criticised the “indefinite” time frame.It had initially shortlisted 130 cases to investigate, but Meta agreed up front that it had been wrong on 51 of those occasions.Board director Thomas Hughes said it looked for “emblematic” cases with “problematic elements” to take on.He added that the categories of hate speech, violence and bullying were “difficult-to-judge issues” – especially for automated systems.”Also in many of those cases, context is extremely important,” he said.Restore requestsThe board has just released its first annual report, covering the period October 2020 to December 2021.Anybody – including Meta itself – can appeal to it if they disagree with a decision to remove content. Of the 1.1 million cases received during the 14-month period, only 47 came from the firm.About 2,600 cases per day were reported on average. However, Facebook alone has more than two billion users around the world, making this a relatively tiny percentage of its vast content. It was also noticeable that relatively few complainants were from outside Western countries.Of all the cases submitted to the board:1% related to Instagram posts and the rest were about Facebook content94% were requests to restore content – only 6% wanted it removed – but most were about people’s own posts rather than somebody else’sonly 1.7% came from sub-Saharan Africa and 2.7% from central and south Asia49.4% came from the US and CanadaThe Oversight Board is known as a kind of “supreme court” and was formed by Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg. It operates as an independent entity, although its wages and other costs are covered by Meta. It consists of journalists, human rights activists, lawyers and academics.Mr Hughes described the relationship between the board and Meta as “constructive but critical”.It has made 86 additional recommendations to the tech giant, including translating its policies into more languages and being more specific when explaining why content has been removed on the grounds of hate speech.More on this storyFacebook ‘supreme court’ orders takedowns restoredBBC finds upskirt footage shared in Facebook groupsFacebook unveils its plan for oversight board

NHS warns of scam Covid-test texts

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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingThe NHS is warning about widespread scam text messages telling recipients they have been in close contact with a Covid case.”We’ve seen reports of fake NHS text messages about ordering Omicron Covid-19 test kits,” it tweeted.Close contacts of people who have tested positive are no longer advised to test.The aim of the messages appears to be harvesting financial and personal information. ⚠️ We’ve seen reports of fake NHS text messages about ordering Omicron COVID-19 test kits. We never ask for bank details, so please be aware of suspicious messages.Find out more about scam emails, texts and phone calls ⬇️https://t.co/DV13iNJ6GK— NHS (@NHSuk) June 21, 2022
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on TwitterSeveral BBC staff have received similar messages linking to newly registered websites associated with dozens of others with names indicating they have also been used in scam Covid test-ordering schemes.Twitter users have sought advice after receiving similar texts.If clicked on, the link in the messages takes the recipient to a fake NHS page asking for personal and financial information. In its alert, the NHS says it will “never ask for bank details, so please be aware of suspicious messages”.Most people are no longer advised to test for Covid and are ineligible for free tests – but some some pharmacies and shops sell them.The National Cyber Security Centre told BBC News: “Cyber-criminals are opportunistic and sadly continue to exploit concerns around the coronavirus to trick people into sharing their financial or personal details.”In 2020, trying to combat phishing attacks, the NCSC helped develop the Suspicious Email Reporting Service with the City of London Police. “As a result, we have received 12 million red flags from the public to potential phishing attacks – leading to more than 80,000 scams being removed from the internet,” it said.

Upskirt photos shared in Facebook groups, BBC finds

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Meta, Facebook’s owner, says it has removed a large number of accounts and groups posting pictures and videos of upskirting, following an investigation by BBC News. The BBC found thousands of users openly sharing obscene material of women and girls taken in public without their consent. One man who posted videos of himself stalking schoolgirls in New York is now being investigated by police. Watch BBC correspondent Angus Crawford and camera journalist Tony Smith’s report.

Elon Musk: Billionaire's daughter cuts ties with her father

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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesElon Musk’s transgender daughter has applied to legally change her name and gender, saying she no longer wants to “be related to my biological father in any way, shape or form”.The 18-year-old has asked to be recognised as female and have the name Vivian Jenna Wilson.She was known as Xavier Alexander Musk.The petition for both a name change and a new birth certificate was filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Santa Monica.Her request is set out in court documents filed in April, which have only recently come to light.There was no further detail of the apparent rift between Mr Musk’s daughter and her father.The Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur has yet to comment.Mr Musk was married to Vivian’s mother, Canadian author Justine Wilson, from 2000 until they divorced in 2008. Their first son, Nevada, was born in 2002, and died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) at 10 weeks.The pair went on to have twin sons called Xavier and Griffin and triplet boys – Damian, Kai and Saxon. He has two other children, X Æ A-Xii and Exa Dark Sideræl – who goes by Y – with singer Grimes, with whom he has had an on-off relationship. His children have kept a relatively low profile despite their father’s fame.On Father’s Day, the entrepreneur tweeted that he loves all his children.I love all my kids so much— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 19, 2022
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on TwitterThere has been no comment from Mr Musk about his daughter’s decision to distance herself from him.He has been vocal on various transgender issues, and has been branded anti-gay in several rows. Last year he complained about people using their own pronouns.The court document for his daughter’s name and gender change was filed a month before he publicly declared his support for the Republican Party, having previously voted Democrat.He has also said he is a fan of Ron DeSantis, the Republican Florida governor who introduced the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This controversial piece of legislation restricts schools from teaching students about sexual orientation and gender issues, with teachers opening themselves up to lawsuits should they fail to comply.In 2020 Elon Musk wrote on Twitter “Pronouns suck” before deleting it. He then said: “I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an aesthetic nightmare.”More on this storyElon Musk hints at potential Twitter layoffsMusk threatens to walk away from Twitter dealElon Musk declares end to remote working at Tesla

Could nuclear desalination plants beat water scarcity?

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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesThere are communities on every continent running short of water, according to the United Nations. Unfortunately, although our planet is swathed by oceans and seas, only a tiny fraction of Earth’s water – about 2.5% – is fresh, and demand for drinking water is projected to exceed supply by trillions of cubic metres by 2030.Desalination plants, which remove the salt from seawater, could help supply the fresh water needed.However, these plants are considered among the most expensive ways of creating drinking water- as they pump large volumes across membranes at high pressure, which is an extremely energy intensive process.One radical solution could be using floating vessels equipped with desalination systems. Powered by nuclear reactors, these vessels could travel to islands, or coastlines, struck by drought, bringing with them both clean drinking water and power.”You could have them moving around on an intermittent basis, filling up tanks,” says Mikal Bøe, chief executive of Core Power, which has come up with design for this type of desalination plant. It may sound far-fetched but the US Navy has provided desalination services during disasters in the past, with the help of its nuclear-powered ships, while Russia already has a floating nuclear power station designed to potentially power desalination facilities.There are already around 20,000 desalination plants worldwide, almost all of which are onshore. The majority are located in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, with others in countries including the UK, China, the US, Brazil, South Africa and Australia, to name a few. But some engineers say it could be cheaper to position this desalination technology offshore, where the seawater can be more easily pumped aboard.Image source, Core PowerFor decades, engineers have dreamed of building floating, nuclear powered desalination systems.Core Power want to use a vessel very much like a small container ship, but stack containers on board filled with desalination technology. The nuclear reactor would then lie at the heart of this vessel providing the huge amount of power needed. The firm’s floating nuclear desalination vessels could have varying levels of power output, from five megawatts, up to around 70, Mr Bøe adds. At five megawatts of nuclear power, it could pump out 35,000 cubic metres – or 14 Olympic swimming pools’ worth – of freshwater every day. To take the salt out of saltwater, desalination technology pushes treated seawater across a semi-permeable membrane at pressure. Osmosis, the movement of molecules in liquid across such membranes, removes the minerals, leaving freshwater and a separate, particularly salty water called brine.There are different versions of this technology and it has become increasingly more efficient over the years. But floating desalination systems remain relatively rare.Saudi Arabia, however, has just taken delivery of the first of three desalination barges, the largest ever built. So, can floating desalination plants take-off?Image source, Getty ImagesOisann Engineering, which has developed a system called Waterfountain, hopes so.The company has various designs, from large ships to small buoys, but they all work on the same principle, explains chief administrative officer, Kyle Hopkins.However, the big difference is that instead of using nuclear power, they would all use what’s called subsea desalination, a decades-old technology. “[The technology] was never commercialised because you still need subsea pumps to facilitate taking the water to the surface,” says Mr Hopkins. “We removed the pump.”He declines to elaborate as to how this works, beyond saying that the Waterfountain system as a whole takes advantage of the higher pressure on the seafloor to move water around, without incurring high energy costs.He also mentions that the pipeline from the vessel to shore, where the freshwater must ultimately go, could be raised so that gravity can further assist the water’s flow, too, cutting the need for extra power.Mr Hopkins estimates that the technology could be, roughly, 30% more energy efficient than a traditional onshore desalination facility. The firm is currently building a miniature version of one of its designs and hopes to establish its first commercial installation in the Philippines in 2023.Image source, Water FountainIdeas such as this, and Core Power’s design are “promising”, says Raya Al-Dadah, head of the Sustainable Energy Technology Laboratory at the University of Birmingham. However, floating desalination has both advantages and disadvantages, she says. There are still challenges in terms of pumping the desalinated water ashore and in finding a workforce with both offshore experience and desalination expertise.Ultimately, humanity needs more water resources, says Dr Al-Dadah, not least because of the expected effects of climate change, should the world experience more than 1.5C of warming. “This will have a catastrophic impact on water,” she says.Referring to onshore systems, Amy Childress, at the University of Southern California, says that smaller desalination systems could help reduce the environmental impact of the technology. The highly salty water left after desalination is toxic to marine life and today’s desalination facilities produce huge quantities of it – more brine, in fact, than freshwater. Mr Hopkins says that the byproduct expected from the Waterfountain system will not be salty enough to be classed as brine.More technology of business:Could flat tyres soon be a thing of the past?How artificial intelligence ‘blew up’ tennisSoaring fertiliser prices force farmers to rethinkCan contact lenses be the ultimate computer screen??Will swappable electric car batteries catch on?The most significant application of floating desalination systems could be in disaster relief, says Greg Pierce, co-director of the University of California Los Angeles Luskin Center for Innovation. Currently “we’re flying and trucking-in bottled water… it’s the most inefficient thing possible,” he explains, referring to the standard approach to relief efforts. “If floating desalination can address that, I’m all for that.”However, Dr Pierce questions whether it can be made cost-effective enough in other contexts – and notes that there are many other ways of securing clean water supplies. In California, for example, Dr Pierce estimates better water conservation measures could conserve about 30-40% of the water currently consumed in the state. Communities will probably also turn to measures such as water recycling or treatment of rainwater. But should this still not suffice, desalination, no matter the expense, begins to look inevitable in some parts of the world, he adds. For now, Core Power’s design is merely that, a design. But Mr Bøe hopes that, within a decade, the firm could have a commercial system in operation. The need, he stresses, will be there.

New rules proposed for buy now pay later

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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesRules on so-called buy now pay later (BNPL) loans will be tightened up, the government says – including new guidelines on advertising and checks to ensure customers can afford to pay.Apple has said it plans to launch a buy now pay later option for users of Apple Pay, initially in the US.But critics say BNPL schemes encourage people to spend beyond their means.The loans – used by 15 million people in the UK in 2021 – are typically spread over a number of payments.Although the instalments are interest free – BNPL companies make money from the retailer, usually taking a cut from sales – there may be additional charges if customers miss payments.The main operators offering the service in the UK are Klarna, Clearpay, Laybuy and PayPal.In September 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) commissioned a review of BNPL schemes, which recommended the industry should be regulated.Credit warningA recent survey by Citizens Advice suggested many consumers were using credit cards and other forms of debt to make payments.The charity heard from 2,288 people who had used buy now pay later during the past 12 months.It found that 52% made repayments from their current account, but 23% used a credit card, 9% used a bank overdraft and 7% borrowed from friends and family.In March it found that that young people, people in debt and people claiming Universal Credit, were at least twice as likely to have used BNPL to cover essentials such as food and toiletries, than other groups.Under plans set out by the government: Lenders will be required to carry out checks to ensure that loans are affordable for consumers, Advertisements must be fair, clear and not misleading. Lenders will need to be approved by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Borrowers will be be able to take complaints about BNPL schemes to the Financial Ombudsman Service.The government said other forms of short-term interest-free credit, such as those used to pay for dental work or larger items like furniture, will be required to comply with the same rules.In a statement accompanying the proposals, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen said: “We are protecting consumers and fostering the safe growth of this innovative market in the UK.”But the proposals will not come into force for at least a year, with legislation scheduled for mid-2023, after which the FCA will consult on new rules.Alex Marsh, Head of Klarna UK, said he welcomed the new rules – telling the BBC the company already checked customers could afford to pay – and called for them to be brought in sooner.”We urge the Government to move quicker than planned to implement regulation which gives additional protections to consumers from both irresponsible, unregulated BNPL providers and traditional banks disguising high interest products as ‘BNPL’.”Citizens Advice also called for faster action: “The buy now pay later sector continues to grow at a meteoric rate, but it could now remain unregulated for years,” Dame Clare Moriarty, its chief executive wrote.She called on the government to “turbo-charge” its plans, and protect consumers sooner.More on this storyWarning as credit used to cover buy now pay laterApple plans buy now pay later schemeHow does buy now pay later work?

Can crumbling cookies sweeten UK data-protection plans?

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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesWould you like a cookie – or are you absolutely fed up of being asked?When the government published its proposals for striking new data-protection plans in the UK, all eyes were on cookie consents – those annoying pop-ups that appear in the foreground on many websites, asking whether you will accept cookies, tiny bits of text that can be used to track things about you, including:what you do on the sitewhereabouts in the world you arewhat device you are usingwhere you go online afterwardsThe companies behind the sites use this information for a number of reasons – ad targeting being a huge one. But it also, they say, gives you a more bespoke version of the site.If it knows you look at lots of technology news, it can serve you up more – and less about gardening, for example.If you choose not to enable cookies, it can mean the site has no other way of storing this choice, leaving you to opt out every visit.But now, the government wants to limit these cookie consents – suggesting instead a one-stop data-privacy setting applied at browser level. Advertising revenueGoogle tried something similar years ago, a “Do not track,” header – but it was not legally enforceable, users could not check to see whether sites were respecting it and it has largely been dropped. A note on the Mozilla developer pages advises against using it.The more privacy-focused technology giant Apple gives owners of its products regular reports about how many sites and apps are trying to track them. But like it or loathe it, tracking and data gathering has become the way in which a “free-to-use” internet is funded – by content providers who can turn it into advertising revenue.Even for those who fundamentally disagree with cookies, it has become a wearying war of attrition. “Yes, you can have my damn cookie!” tweeted a despairing Elon Musk. Yes, you can have my damn cookie! should be a browser setting— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 9, 2020
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on TwitterMany critics say the pop-ups in their current form are pointless. A 2019 study found most cookies were “not compliant with EU privacy law”.But the TechUK trade association says there are “outstanding questions” around exactly how the UK’s alternative would work, suggesting more consultation is needed.And privacy campaigners the Open Rights Group are outraged it might involve opting out of tracking, rather than opting in, saying this wrongly places the onus on individuals preventing, rather than permitting, their online lives being monitored.Image source, Getty ImagesThe Data Reform Bill is an attempt to move away from what the government calls the “red tape” of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation – most of which has been adopted into British law.The GDPR puts enormous weight on protecting the privacy and data of individuals, with steep penalties for non-compliance, but cookie consent is not covered.The Data Reform Bill also proposes:removing the requirement for small and medium-sized businesses to employ data-protection officers and conduct thorough impact assessments of data-gathering activitiesallowing the Information Commissioner’s Office, which currently has to investigate every data-protection complaint it receives, to, according to commissioner John Edwards, “be more flexible and target our action in response to the greatest harms”widening data access for public services and research – currently, if you consent to your health data being used in a particular Covid 19 study, for example, similar future studies have to ask again for your permissionAll this can be done without reducing Britain’s data-protection “gold standard”, the government says. It could save businesses £1bn over 10 years and remove “box-ticking” exercises.Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries calls it “cementing post-Brexit Britain’s position as a science and tech superpower”.’Welcome package’ But so far, reaction has been mixed, with industry broadly more supportive than privacy campaigners.TechUK – which worked with the government on the proposals – calls them “a welcome package”.”The reforms… find a good balance between making the UK’s data-protection system clearer, more flexible, and more user friendly to researchers, innovators, and smaller companies,” chief executive Julian David says.But the Open Rights Group calls the bill a “bonfire” of rights.”At a time when personal data can be leveraged to do all sort of wrong things, depicting data protection as a burden is wrong, irresponsible and negligent,” it said.Meanwhile, the lawyers are looking at how the proposals may affect the passage of data between the UK and the EU.Vinod Bange, of law firm Taylor Wessing, says his initial response was “relief” there was no entire rewrite of existing policy.But he adds: “The most impactful changes for UK organisations will be the unintended consequences, so changes that could derail the current data-flow adequacy with the EU will be the ones to watch.” Nothing is likely to change overnight – the bill first has to trundle its way through Parliament – but expect much more debate in the coming months.More on this storyCookies crumbling as Google phases them out

Apple store workers vote to form first US union

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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Machinists UnionWorkers at an Apple store in Maryland have voted to unionise, forming the tech giant’s first retail union in the United States.The employees of the shop in Towson passed the measure 65-33, with about a dozen abstentions.After the result came in, the group tweeted: “Now we celebrate… tomorrow we keep organising.”It is the third Apple store to launch a union drive this year, but the first to successfully hold a vote.The new Apple Core union – short for the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees – penned an open letter to Apple in May, saying its bid was “about us as workers gaining access to rights that we do not currently have”, but that it did not want to “go against or create conflict with our management”.Other Apple stores in Atlanta and New York, have also made moves toward unionisation. Staff in Atlanta, however, have delayed their planned ballot, with the union involved – the Communications Workers of America – alleging anti-union activity by the company.Unions are less common in the US than in many European countries, but are still protected in law. Forming one involves either the company voluntarily recognising a union, or workers gathering signatures from at least 30% of employees so that the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) can hold a formal election. News outlets have alleged that Apple has hired a law firm known for its union expertise, and collated “talking points” for its management teams to dissuade employees from signing up to one. In April, Motherboard released an audio recording of retail vice president Deirdre O’Brien telling employees that while she recognised the right to join a union, “it’s equally your right not to join a union”.”I’m worried about what it would mean to put another organization in the middle of our relationship, an organization that does not have a deep understanding of Apple or our business,” the released audio says.The employees in Towson had the backing of a long-established union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Its president, Robert Martinez Jr, congratulated the Apple employees on what he called a “historic victory”.That feeling when ⁦you form the first union at Apple in America. Congrats, ⁦@acoreunion⁩!Welcome to the Machinists Union! #1u pic.twitter.com/U7JzwXcoz7— Machinists Union (@MachinistsUnion) June 19, 2022
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter”They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election,” he said.”This victory shows the growing demand for unions at Apple stores and different industries across our nation.”Apple told the AFP news agency it was declining to comment on the vote, which still has to be officially certified by the NLRB.The Towson store’s union is the latest in a string of high-profile union campaigns in the US.In December, a successful campaign in New York saw Starbucks employees form their first union at the coffee chain in decades, which has sparked similar campaigns across many of the company’s individual stores. And in April, Amazon saw 55% of workers at a New York warehouse vote in favour of unionisation – though Amazon is disputing that ballot and appealing for a re-run.

Big Tech must deal with disinformation or face fines, says EU

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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesLarge tech companies, such as Google and Meta, will have to take action on deepfakes and fake accounts – or risk facing huge fines.Deepfakes are videos using a person’s likeness to portray them doing something they never did. New EU regulation, supported by the Digital Services Act (DSA), will demand tech firms deal with these forms of disinformation on their platforms.Firms may be fined up to 6% of their global turnover if they do not comply.The strengthened code aims to prevent profiting from disinformation and fake news on their platforms, as well as increasing transparency around political advertising and curbing the spread of ‘new malicious behaviours’ such as bots, fake accounts and deepfakes. Clubhouse, Google, Meta, TikTok, Twitter and Twitch are among the 33 signatories to the enhanced code and worked together to agree the new rules . Firms who have signed up to the code will be compelled to share more information with the EU – with all signatories required to provide initial reports on their implementation of the code by the start of 2023.Platforms with more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU will have to report to the Commission every six months. Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, wrote on Twitter: “Combating the spread of misinfo is a complex and evolving societal issue”. “We continue to invest heavily in teams and technology, and we look forward to more collaboration to address it together.” A Twitter spokesperson said the company welcomed the updated code. “Through and beyond the Code, Twitter remains committed to tackling misinformation and disinformation as we continue to evaluate and evolve our approach in this ever-changing environment,” a statement said.Google did not respond to a request for comment. What are the dangers of deepfakes? This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.Deepfakes have been identified as an emerging form of disinformation when used maliciously to target politicians, celebrities and everyday citizens. In recent years they have become increasingly associated with pornography, with faces of individuals mapped onto explicit sexual material.Deepfakes expert Nina Schick says non-consensual pornographic deepfakes are the primary form of malicious deepfakery today – notably affecting well-known figures including Michelle Obama, Natalie Portman and Emma Watson. Concerns have also been raised about the use of deepfakes in political sphere, with fake videos of world leaders being shared online during the Russia-Ukraine war. “This new anti-disinformation Code comes at a time when Russia is weaponising disinformation as part of its military aggression against Ukraine,” said Věra Jourová, European Commission vice-president for values and transparency, “but also when we see attacks on democracy more broadly.””We now have very significant commitments to reduce the impact of disinformation online, and much more robust tools to measure how these are implemented across the EU in all countries and in all its languages.”‘Double-edged sword’The difficulty of telling deepfakes and real footage apart is likely to grow in coming years, says Ms Schick, citing the increased availability of tools and apps needed to develop malicious deepfakes. While deepfakes allow troublemakers to directly spread disinformation, their appearance more widely on online platforms is causing a climate of information uncertainty – which is open to further manipulation. For example, genuine footage could be dismissed as deepfakes by those seeking to avoid accountability. This makes the challenge for citizens to recognise genuine content, and for regulators and platforms to take action on them, ever more difficult. “You have this kind of double-edged sword – anything can be faked and everything can be denied,” Ms Schick says. Image source, Getty Images/The Washington PostIn recent years, Big Tech companies have made efforts to detect and counter deepfakes on their platforms – with Meta and Microsoft among stakeholders launching the Deepfake Detection Challenge for AI researchers in 2019. But platforms “too often use deepfakes as a fig leaf to cover for the fact that they are not doing enough on existing forms of disinformation”, Ms Schick says. “They aren’t the most prevalent or malicious forms of disinformation; we have so many existing forms of disinformation that are already doing more harm.”Under the revised EU code, accounts taking part in co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour, generating fake engagement, impersonation and bot-driven amplification will also need to be periodically reviewed by relevant tech firms. But Ms Schick adds deepfakes still have the potential to become “the most potent form of disinformation” online. “This technology will become more and more prevalent relatively quickly, so we need to be on the front foot,” she says. Vlops and VlosesThe DSA – agreed by the European Parliament and EU member states in April – is the EU’s planned regulation for illegal content, goods and services online, based on the principle that things which are illegal offline should also be illegal online. Expected to come into force in 2024, the DSA will apply to all online services that operate in the EU, but with particular focus on what it calls Vlops (very large online platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube) and Vloses (very large online search engines, such as Google) – defined as services that have more than 45m users in the EU.It will be the legal tool used to support the new code of practice on disinformation, in a bid to tackle fake news and falsified imagery online.More on this storyBella Thorne fighting back on deepfake pornographyDirector James Cameron on the dangers of deepfakes

Elon Musk hints at layoffs in first meeting with Twitter employees

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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesMulti-billionaire Elon Musk has in a meeting with Twitter employees hinted at potential job cuts if his $44bn (£35.8bn) takeover bid for the social media company is successful.He also addressed topics like remote working, freedom of speech and potential extra-terrestrial life. Mr Musk was talking to staff for the first time since launching his bid for the firm in April.He has said he may quit the deal if he is not given data about fake accounts.On a wide-ranging video call with Twitter employees on Thursday, Mr Musk said layoffs at Twitter would depend on the company’s financial situation. “The company does need to get healthy. Right now the costs exceed the revenue,” he said. However he added: “Anyone who’s… a significant contributor should have nothing to worry about”. He also stated his preference for working from the office unless “somebody is exceptional”. However he did not provide an update on takeover discussions and Twitter employees took to an internal communications channel to express their disappointment about his views on the business and employee compensation.Musk threatens to walk away from Twitter dealElon Musk declares end to remote working at TeslaMr Musk, who is the boss of electric vehicle maker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, also discussed the possibility of life beyond earth although he said he has not seen “actual evidence for aliens”.”Can we travel to other star systems and see if there are alien civilisations?” he asked, adding that the platform could help “civilisation and consciousness”.Separately, a group of employees at SpaceX – where Mr Musk is chief executive – called Mr Musk a “frequent source of distraction and embarrassment” in an internal letter to the company’s executives on Thursday. Meanwhile, he was also sued for $258bn (£209bn) later in the day by a investor in the Dogecoin cryptocurrency, who accused him of running a pyramid scheme to drive up its price. The complaint filed in New York alleges that Mr Musk “used his pedestal as world’s richest man to operate and manipulate the Dogecoin Pyramid Scheme for profit, exposure and amusement”. Earlier this month, Mr Musk threatened to walk away from the takeover bid and accused Twitter of “thwarting” his requests to learn more about its user base.In a letter filed with regulators, he said he was entitled to do his own measurement of spam accounts.The letter formalised a dispute that had simmered for weeks after he declared the deal was “on hold” pending further information.Shares in the company stood at $37.36 each at the end of New York trading on Thursday, well below Mr Musk’s offer price of $54.20.You may also be interested in:This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.More on this storyMusk to hold first meeting with Twitter workersYouTube accused of failing to tackle Musk scamsMusk threatens to walk away from Twitter dealElon Musk declares end to remote working at TeslaTwitter investor sues Elon Musk over takeover bid

Apple battery lawsuit: Millions of iPhone users could get payouts in legal action

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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesMillions of iPhone users could be eligible for payouts, following the launch of a legal claim accusing Apple of secretly slowing the performance of older phones.Justin Gutmann alleges the company misled users over an upgrade that it said would enhance performance but, in fact, slowed phones down.He is seeking damages of around £768m for up to 25 million UK iPhone users. Apple says it has “never” intentionally shortened the life of its products.The claim, which has been filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal, alleges Apple slowed down the performance of older iPhones, in a process known as “throttling”, in order to avoid expensive recalls or repairs.It relates to the introduction of a power management tool released in a software update to iPhone users in January 2017, to combat performance issues and stop older devices from abruptly shutting down.Apple to pay $113m to settle iPhone ‘batterygate’Mr Gutmann, a consumer champion, says the information about the tool was not included in the software update download description at the time, and that the company failed to make clear that it would slow down devices.He claims that Apple introduced this tool to hide the fact that iPhone batteries may have struggled to run the latest iOS software, and that rather than recalling products or offering replacement batteries, the firm instead pushed users to download the software updates.Mr Gutmann said: “Instead of doing the honourable and legal thing by their customers and offering a free replacement, repair service or compensation, Apple instead misled people by concealing a tool in software updates that slowed their devices by up to 58%.”The models covered by the claim are the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X models.It is an opt-out claim, which means customers will not need to actively join the case to seek damages.In a statement, Apple said: “We have never, and would never, do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.”Apple has been haunted by so-called “batterygate” for some time although it has always insisted its intentions were honourable.Its chief executive Tim Cook took the highly unusual step of apologising in 2018 to “anybody that thinks we had any other kind of motivation”.Critics say the update pushed people into buying newer devices as their older phones dramatically slowed down when carrying out fairly standard functions like Facetime following a software update.Apple says the opposite is true – it was trying to extend their lifespan. The tech giant later offered discounted replacement batteries for iPhone 6 and above.There are two broader issues here: one is the way in which gadgets in general become obsolete comparatively quickly, as they become unable to handle the latest and most advanced software updates that drive them.The tech firms say these updates are essential to keep devices secure and working at their best but they soon outstrip older hardware – that is, slower processors and older batteries with less power.As batteries age they need charging more frequently, and this is the second point: the more powerful a portable device becomes, the more power-hungry it becomes. The typical life of a lithium-ion battery is 500 charge cycles.BatterygateThe claim by Mr Gutmann comes two years after a similar case was settled in the United States.In 2020, Apple agreed to pay $113m to settle allegations that it slowed down older iPhones.Thirty-three US states claimed that Apple had done this to drive users into buying new devices.Millions of people were affected when the models of iPhone 6 and 7 and SE were slowed down in 2016 in a scandal that was dubbed batterygate.At the time, Apple declined to comment, however, it had previously said the phones were slowed to preserve ageing battery life.Claire Holubowskyj, an analyst at the research firm Enders Analysis, said issues like this may continue to crop up, given the technical limitations of ageing batteries.”Technology in newer devices improves in leaps and bounds, not as a steady crawl, creating issues when releasing software updates which have to work on devices with often wildly different capabilities,” Ms Holubowskyj said.”Apple generates 84% of its revenue from selling new devices, making them reluctant to hold back updates to ensure older models keep working smoothly.”She added: “Until problems of devices and software updates outlasting and exceeding the capabilities of aging batteries are resolved, this challenge will recur.”More on this storyApple to pay $113m to settle iPhone ‘batterygate’

Bitcoin: Will El Salvador's big crypto gamble pay off?

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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingCryptocurrencies have continued to tumble this week with billions wiped from the value of tokens like Bitcoin. The crash is affecting investors worldwide, including the government of El Salvador. The Central American country has poured millions of dollars into Bitcoin and made it legal tender nine months ago, encouraging people to use it for day-to-day transactions.From trinkets and tacos to petrol and even houses – you can shop for pretty much anything in El Salvador with Bitcoin. Buying with cryptocurrency from street sellers and major chains alike is a remarkable experience.It shows how far Bitcoin has come since it was dreamt up on internet forums back in 2008.The decision by President Nayib Bukele to make the cryptocurrency legal tender means that in theory it must now be accepted by all businesses, alongside El Salvador’s other currency, the US dollar. But the latest cryptocurrency crash has prompted more questions about the policy, especially the use of nearly $100m of public funds to buy Bitcoin – each purchase celebrated by the president with a tweet.El Salvador just bought the dip! 🇸🇻500 coins at an average USD price of ~$30,744 🥳#Bitcoin— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) May 9, 2022
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on TwitterThe country’s 2,300 bitcoins are now worth half what the government paid for them, but the finance minister has brushed off criticism, saying there is “extremely minimal fiscal risk”.Bitcoin BeachThe place where El Salvador’s Bitcoin movement started is El Zonte, a small surfing and fishing town on the south coast. Here, in 2019, an anonymous donor gave a group of cryptocurrency fans the first of many large donations of Bitcoin.No-one admits to knowing who he or she is, but the deal was that the town could keep the digital coins on condition they weren’t converted into dollars.The idea was to create the world’s first circular Bitcoin economy, where people can be paid in Bitcoin – a peer-to-peer internet cash system – and live on it.It’s a radical idea. In the rest of the world Bitcoin can be used for online purchases, but except in a small number of trendy cafes or one-off projects, it hasn’t been possible to use it on the high street.El Zonte has so far received about $350,000 from its anonymous benefactor, a significant amount for this shabby but beautiful town, now also known as Bitcoin Beach.Katerina Contreras was one of the first beneficiaries. Two years ago, during the pandemic, she was offered a lifeguard course, and it seemed like a good deal. The organisers paid for the trainees’ transport and food in Bitcoin.”Then for six months we worked as lifeguards and we