Microsoft and Facebook vet leads nonprofit making software to improve COVID-19 rapid tests

Most of the Audere team, gathered together in pre-COVID times. (Audere Photo)

A Seattle-based nonprofit launched to provide digital health solutions for poorer countries is applying its expertise to help with COVID-19 testing.

Audere is building software for administering rapid result COVID tests that can be integrated into products being developed by U.S. manufacturers that use saliva or nasal swab samples.

“There is a critical need for rapid testing,” said Philip Su, CEO and founder of Audere. People are increasingly realizing that the widespread distribution of a vaccine is still many months away. The availability of accurate, inexpensive tests that provide results in minutes can help control the spread of the virus in the meantime, Su said.

Philip Su, Audere CEO and founder. (Audere Photo)

The tests — known generally as rapid diagnostic tests or RDTs — can have high rates of failure, though the basic concept is simple. Imagine

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Facebook removes fake accounts linked to conservative group

By David Klepper | Associated Press

Facebook has removed 276 accounts that used fake profiles to pose as right-leaning Americans and comment on news articles, often in favor of President Donald Trump, the company announced Thursday.

The platform also permanently banned an Arizona-based digital communications firm that it said was behind the fake accounts.

The move was prompted by reporting last month in The Washington Post that a pro-Trump group known as Turning Point Action was paying teenagers to post coordinated, supportive messages, a violation of Facebook’s rules.

Facebook and Twitter have been regularly removing fake accounts — both domestic and foreign — that try to insert themselves in the U.S. political discourse and influence the election. But social media companies face broader threats around misinformation and voter suppression that at times come from President Donald Trump himself.

The latest network Facebook removed became active before the 2018 midterm elections

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7 Countries Tell Facebook To Break Encryption

The governments of seven countries are calling on Facebook and other tech firms to do the technically impossible – to weaken encryption by giving law enforcement access to messages, whilst not reducing user safety.

The governments of the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and Japan have issued the joint statement which pleads with Facebook specifically, as well as other tech firms, to drop “end-to-end encryption policies which erode the public’s safety online”.

The governments once again raise the issue of child abusers and terrorists using encrypted services such as WhatsApp to send messages without fear of content being intercepted.

“We owe it to all of our citizens, especially our children, to ensure their safety by continuing to unmask sexual predators and terrorists operating online,” the U.K.’s home secretary, Priti Patel, said in a statement.

“It is essential that tech companies

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Strict NDAs reveal how Facebook controls messaging

  • Facebook’s contracts with some of its ad agencies have a nondisclosure clause that prevents them from discussing any aspect of the company’s business, even if that information is already public.
  • Industry insiders say the language is stricter than most client contracts but that it doesn’t apply to most larger and holding company-owned agencies that have more financial leverage.
  • This language could be a major conflict for agencies that do work for Facebook but also use Facebook to market their other clients, said Jeffrey Greenbaum of law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.
  • Facebook declined to comment.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook spends millions managing its reputation and business relationships, and this practice also applies to the ad agencies it uses in its marketing.

Facebook has contracts with some agencies that forbids them from confirming or commenting on any aspect of Facebook without its written permission — even

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Even After The Plot To Kidnap Gov. Whitmer, Michigan Militant Groups Continue To Thrive On Facebook

A day after the FBI disclosed that organized armed extremists coordinated on Facebook to hatch a terrorist plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, multiple pages that encourage political violence were still active on the social network.

An examination by BuzzFeed News and the Tech Transparency Project, a nonpartisan watchdog group, found at least five such pages on the platform as of Friday morning. Those pages, which in some cases appear to be simply rebranded versions of previously banned organizations, use Facebook to recruit and to promote objectives that at times call for violent uprising.

Facebook announced in August that it was banning right-wing militant, anarchist, and QAnon groups after a series of violent crimes were tied to organizations that used the platform. Since then, the company has removed thousands of groups, and this week announced it had banned all accounts, pages, and groups tied to QAnon, the collective delusion

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Why Trump’s viral Covid and flu misinformation is hard for Facebook and Twitter to stop

A perfect storm of medical misinformation and political disinformation is creating new challenges for the press, for social media platforms and for the public. Take just the events of the last few days. On the heels of his release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, President Donald Trump stood on the balcony of the White House, removed his mask and then gave a short speech that was quickly uploaded to social media. “Maybe I’m immune, I don’t know,” he declared. The truth is, he is still very contagious. But the public declaration alarmed scientists, who are working to produce an effective and safe vaccine. Online, fans cheered that Trump had beaten Covid-19, even as he put his staff in danger.

A perfect storm of medical misinformation and political disinformation is creating new challenges for the press, for social media platforms, and for the public.

Trump followed up that appearance

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Sacha Baron Cohen slams Facebook as a home for conspiracy theories

  • Actor Sacha Baron Cohen wrote an op-ed for Time condemning social media platforms for allowing misinformation to spread, and he singled out Facebook in particular.
  • The “Borat” actor, who has come out hard against Facebook before, said the company is a “dutiful ally” to President Donald Trump and attacked the firm for its failure to fact-check misleading political ads and posts.
  • Cohen wrote how the “trifecta” of President Trump, Facebook, and the spread of misinformation has created “a whirlwind of conspiratorial madness” leading up to the 2020 election that could “kill democracy as we know it.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen in an op-ed for Time Magazine called for an end to the proliferation of conspiracy theories on social media platforms — and the actor zeroed in on Facebook specifically.

The actor slammed the company for the role it has played in misinformation spreading

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Facebook, Regeneron, Southwest: Stocks That Defined the Week

Facebook Inc.

Scrutiny of Silicon Valley is mounting in Washington. A Democratic-led House panel released a report Tuesday that said America’s biggest technology companies leveraged their dominance to stamp out competition and stifle innovation. The report capped a 16-month inquiry into the market power of Facebook, Google,

Amazon

and

Apple.

Republicans issued a separate response that didn’t endorse many of the Democrats’ policy prescriptions and accused the companies of bias against conservative viewpoints. Facebook shares fell 2.3% Tuesday.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.

A treatment meant to jump-start President Trump’s immune response to Covid-19 provided a healthy boost to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals shares on Monday. The President touted Regeneron’s drug cocktail after doctors administered it along with other treatments, including

Gilead Sciences Inc.’s

remdesivir, which has been authorized for emergency use to treat hospitalized Covid-19 patients. The Regeneron treatment hasn’t been approved for broad use, and the company said that Mr. Trump

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Facebook launches bug bounty ‘loyalty program’

fb-hackerplus.png

Image: Facebook

Social media behemoth Facebook launched today Hacker Plus, the first-ever loyalty program for a tech company’s bug bounty platform.

Designed after the loyalty programs used by airlines and hotels, Facebook said Hacker Plus would provide extra bonuses and special perks to bug hunters based on their past reports.

Any researcher who submitted or submits bugs to Facebook’s bug bounty program is automatically included and ranked inside the Hacker Plus loyalty program.

Facebook said it plans “regularly evaluate” security researchers’ performance based on the cumulative quantity, score, and signal-to-noise ratio of their bug submissions over the last year.

Based on the scores, bug hunters will be placed inside one of five tiers (leagues): Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond.

Each tier comes with its own benefits. The most common benefit is an added bonus for successful bug submissions.

“Starting at 12:00 a.m. UTC on October 9, 2020, bounty

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Tiny Changes Let False Claims About COVID-19, Voting Evade Facebook Fact Checks : NPR

Facebook labels posts that its fact checkers have found false, as in the screenshot on the left. On the right, a similar post had no label applied.

Screeenshot via Avaaz


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Screeenshot via Avaaz

Facebook labels posts that its fact checkers have found false, as in the screenshot on the left. On the right, a similar post had no label applied.

Screeenshot via Avaaz

Something as simple as changing the font of a message or cropping an image can be all it takes to bypass Facebook’s defenses against hoaxes and lies.

A new analysis by the international advocacy group Avaaz shines light on why, despite the tech giant’s efforts to stamp out misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. election, it’s so hard to stop bad actors from spreading these falsehoods.

“We found them getting around Facebook’s policies by just tweaking the misinformation a little bit,

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