Google says to invest $1bn in deals with news partners

Google plans to invest $1 billion in partnerships with news publishers worldwide to develop a “Showcase” app to highlight their reporting packages, chief executive Sundar Pichai said Thursday.

“This financial commitment — our biggest to date — will pay publishers to create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience,” Pichai said in a statement.

Google has locked horns with publishers repeatedly in recent years over its reluctance to pay for displaying articles, videos and other content in its search results, which has become a vital path for reaching viewers as print subscriptions fade.

It is currently in a standoff with several European media groups, including Agence France-Presse, over its refusal to comply with a new EU law governing digital copyrights.

The US giant says it should not have to pay to display pictures, videos or text snippets alongside search results, arguing it drives hundreds of

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Should you be buying a second-hand smartphone?

Phone being refurbishedImage copyright
Back Market

French entrepreneur, Thibaud Hug de Larauze, looks down at his laptop and taps a few keys.

“So today we have 200,000-plus smartphones available to sell,” he tells me.

None of those smartphones are new, instead they have been refurbished, a process involving checks, repairs and cleaning.

Once the phones meet the required standard they can then be sold with a one-year warranty on his company’s website, Back Market, which operates in European countries plus the US.

Based in France, Back Market sells electronics across Europe and the United States. While smartphones are the big sellers, his website lists everything from coffee makers, laptops, to irons.

Formed six years ago by Mr Hug de Larauze and two partners, Back Market does not refurbish the products itself, instead it provides a marketplace for hundreds of other firms to sell their used goods.

It is one of many firms

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Task force: U.S. must prioritize AI in race to defend against Russia, China

A bipartisan congressional task force this week recommended that the Department of Defense prioritize investing in artificial intelligence, supply chain resiliency and cyberwarfare in order to deal with imminent threats from China and Russia.

The Future of Defense Task Force, chaired by Reps. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Jim Banks, R-Ind., on Tuesday released an 87-page report pointing out the vulnerabilities in U.S. national security and recommending how to fix them.

Banks said in a statement that the Pentagon needs to innovate to ensure the United States maintains its global military supremacy, and the report was the roadmap to do it.

“This report details a vision of the future of defense–specifically a smart, whole-of-nation strategy addressing the rise of China,” he said.

The U.S. economic and military dominance post-Cold War has been reduced in recent years, the report said. China is expected to soon overtake the United States as the world’s

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A PC gaming site had to ban political troll mods for games, because nowhere is safe

NexusMods, a large platform and gathering place for modding PC games, has banned all content relating to the U.S. elections following a flood of troll content, saying “we’ve decided to wipe our hands clean of this mess.” Not exactly headline news, no, but a reminder that the toxic behavior frequently seen (and blamed) on social media is pervasive even in niches where politics would seem to be completely irrelevant.

“Modding” (as in modifying) is the practice of creating new content for games that players can then install on their own, for example adding new levels or characters, or adjusting the interface or difficulty. NexusMods is one of the larger collections of such mods and a lively community.

Unfortunately, even something as simple as a way to add decorative tapestries to Skyrim is a proxy political battleground, with numerous mods appearing to, for example, replace generic enemies in a game with

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President Trump is the “single largest driver” of coronavirus misinformation in the world: study

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump reacts to a question during a news conference in the Briefing Room of the White House on September 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

President Donald Trump is responsible for nearly 38% of coronavirus misinformation in traditional media around the world, according to a new study by researchers at Cornell University.

The study looked at what the World Health Organization has termed the “infodemic” of misinformation about the new coronavirus across 38 million traditional media articles published between Jan. 1 and May 26 in English-language media around the world.

“We found that media mentions of U.S. President Donald Trump within the context of COVID-19 misinformation made up by far the largest share of the infodemic,” the study said, noting that Trump mentions comprised 37.9% of the overall misinformation conversation.

“The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the

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Wildcats threatened by their domestic cousins — ScienceDaily

European wildcats, thought to be extinct 50 or so years ago in the Jura mountains, have since recolonised part of their former territory. This resurgence in an area occupied by domestic cats has gone hand-in-hand with genetic crosses between the two species. The hybridisation between wild and domesticated organisms is known to endanger the gene pool of wild species. In a study to be published in the journal Evolutionary Applications, a team of biologists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), in collaboration with the University of Zurich and the University of Oxford, modelled the interactions between the two species to predict the future of the wildcat in the mountainous region of the Swiss Jura. The different scenarios modelled by the scientists show that within 200 to 300 years — a very short time in evolutionary terms — hybridisation will entail the irreversible genetic replacement of wildcats, making it impossible … Read More

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Facebook and Twitter missed QAnon warnings for years

Others just craved speed: “TREASON = FIRING SQAUD [sic] OR HANGING! DO IT NOW PLEASE THAT’S THE LAW! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !”

These posts — from January 2018, just months after QAnon flamed to life from the embers of Pizzagate, with its false claims of a child sex ring run by Democrats out of a Washington pizzeria — were among the many early warnings that the new conspiracy theory was fueling hatred and calls for violence on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

But it would be years before Facebook and Twitter would make major moves to curb QAnon’s presence on their platforms, despite serious cases of online harassment and offline violence that followed, and moves by other social media companies to limit the spread of QAnon’s lurid and false allegations of pedophilia and other crimes.

One social media company, Reddit,

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Facebook will fight QAnon by adding ‘credible’ info to #savethechildren hashtag

Facebook is taking additional steps to restrict militia movements and the QAnon conspiracy movement. The company will reject ads that “praise, support or represent militarized social movements,” including militias and anarchist groups as well as QAnon. It will also start linking to “credible child safety resources” when people look up child safety-related hashtags like #savethechildren, which has been coopted by QAnon adherents.

The new changes codify policies Facebook has previously taken steps toward. The update follows an August crackdown on QAnon and other social movements that celebrate violence, as well as criticism over Facebook’s failure to remove a militia event page before a shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Facebook removed 900 pages and 1,500 ads in August, and it reduced the visibility of around 2,000 groups. It’s now placing those groups’ content lower in followers’ news feeds.

“Starting today, we will direct people

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Ad-Tech Company Adomni Is Targeting Voters in Digital Out-of-Home Spots

With Election Day almost a month away and major platforms like Facebook not accepting political ads in the days leading up to Nov. 3, marketers are looking to take messaging outside.

Adomni, the digital out-of-home (OOH) ad-tech company, is welcoming political marketers with open arms, offering them a chance to display ads in more than 200,000 programmatically-connected screens across the U.S. The goal is to give issue advocacy groups and people running for office the opportunity to reach voters with ads that can be updated as the news cycle changes.

Jonathan Gudai, Adomni’s CEO, said that “a lot of the political marketers” currently “have more money than they have actual ways to reach audiences.” And for companies like Adomni, it’s an opportunity to bring “the physical world” into the mix of reaching voters because there are no ad blockers or ways for them to skip what they’re seeing outside.

“It’s

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Monstrous black hole traps six ancient galaxies in a cosmic ‘spider’s web’

The bright galaxies are trapped in a cosmic web of gas that surrounds the quasar  SDSS J103027.09+052455.0


ESO/L. Calçada

The first billion years of the universe was about as chaotic as Tuesday’s first presidential debate. Galaxies were forming, gas was flowing… It was a real time. While we won’t want to look back on Tuesday too often, we do like to look back in time. And, in a cosmic sense, Earth is perfectly positioned to do so. Because of how long it takes light to travel across the universe, our telescopes can pick up the faint signals of what life was like in the universe’s very early days. 

On Thursday, astronomers announced the discovery of a massive, intriguing structure from when the universe was just 900 million years old. The structure, about 300 times the size of the Milky Way, contains a supermassive black hole that has ensnared six

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