UK lawmakers question tech attempts to stem coronavirus conspiracies

UK lawmakers question tech attempts to stem coronavirus conspiracies

UK lawmakers question tech attempts to stem coronavirus conspiracies

UK lawmakers questioned whether social media giants are doing enough to stop the spread of false information, after a conspiracy theory that 5G technology is contributing to the Covid-19 pandemic led to a spate of attacks on telecom masts and engineers.

Representatives from Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter Inc were asked to appear before the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee on Thursday to explain how their companies are tackling disinformation. It didn’t go well.

“We will be writing to all of your organisations with a series of questions and, frankly, we will be expressing our displeasure at the quality of the answers – well, the lack of answers – we received today,” chairman Julian Knight concluded after more than an hour of questioning via conference call.

The Silicon Valley giants outlined measures they’ve taken to combat fake news, such as Facebook’s move to restrict WhatsApp message forwarding and promote official guidance on the pandemic. But the panel of British lawmakers often interjected bluntly and deemed the testimony unsatisfactory.

Legislators demanded to know how Twitter was cracking down on world leaders, including US President Donald Trump, if they spread misinformation. The company’s UK head of government relations, Katy Minshall, was also grilled about the prevalence of bots on the site, which are automated accounts that perform repetitive tasks, such as sharing fake news stories.

“We’re really proud of the progress we’ve made over the past couple of years,” said Minshall, responding to a question about online abuse.

“Well I don’t know why,” interrupted member of Parliament John Nicolson.

Google public policy manager Alina Dimofte was asked why YouTube didn’t tackle 5G conspiracy videos earlier. It banned such videos on April 7 after a spate of attacks on towers and telecom engineers.


MP Steve Brine said that, during the session, he found a Facebook post from his district inciting the destruction of a 5G mast, which has been baselessly linked to the spread of Covid-19.

More than 60 telecom masts have been attacked in the UK in the past few weeks as the theory has gained traction and even made it onto mainstream TV shows.

Brine added that he was “astonished” that Facebook’s UK Public Policy Manager Richard Earley had not personally discussed the issues with chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg or its vice president for global affairs and communication, Nick Clegg. Clegg is also the former UK deputy prime minister.

TikTok, the most downloaded app in the world outside of China during the crisis, avoided questioning. The relatively new social media site was not asked to appear despite also hosting conspiracy theories. – Bloomberg

face shield: Varsity professor designs 'Face Shield' to counter coronavirus spread - Latest News

face shield: Varsity professor designs ‘Face Shield’ to counter coronavirus spread – Latest News

An assistant professor at the SRM University, Amaravati, has designed a Face Shield, using 3D printing technology, that will cover all the vital parts of the face and offers complete protection from coronavirus. “While manufacturing the Face Shield, 3D printing technology is used for designing a headband, upon which a 100 micron thick transparent plastic sheet is attached to ensure superior protection against the virus. It prevents air, dust, and liquids that are contaminated to come in contact with people. Also, there are no probable side effects on using the mask,” Panchagnula Jayaprakash, the designer, said.

Unlike the other face masks in regular use by all, including doctors, policemen and journalists, the Face Shield has no limitations and ensures full protection of the eyes, mouth and nose, which eliminates the risk of infection.

A release from SRM University on Friday said the Face Shield could be an effective alternative to the N95 mask that was found to cause facial irritation.

SRM University pro-chancellor Narayana Rao wrote to AP Deputy Chief Minister (Health) A K K Srinivas and Education Minister A Suresh explaining the features of the Face Shield, which could be a low-cost alternative.

“The Face Shield could be marketed for public use if the government approves it,” the release added.

Satya Nadella: Microsoft starts free registrations for Build 2020 - Latest News

Satya Nadella: Microsoft starts free registrations for Build 2020 – Latest News

NEW DELHI: Tech giant Microsoft decided to shift its annual conference — Microsoft Build online due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Now the company decided to make the event free. Scott Hanselman, principal program manager, Microsoft announced in an official blog post that the conference will start on 19 May and will feature 48 hours of programming. These 48 hours will include sessions, talks, and demos which will be hosted by the company’s engineers.

Hanselman said, “It’s not the Build we thought it would be, but it’s gonna be special. Today, we’re excited to share that registration for an all-new virtual Build experience is now open. We can’t wait to bring together our community of developers to learn, connect, and code together.”

The company has also announced in the same post that anyone can register to attend Build 2020 starting today and that too free of charge.

The event will start with the keynote of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The company is also expected to host workshops on Twitch and the attendees will also be able to interact with Microsoft employees. The developers will also get goodies in mails as the registration process is asking for their shipping information.

Here’s a little more of what you can expect at Build this year:

* Two days of continuous learning in your time zone: Attend sessions, talks and demos carefully chosen to help developers be productive wherever you work, and drive innovation and transformation. You will hear from the engineers behind the products you use every day and connect with your peers in a digital event experience.

* Build community connections: Expand your network and your perspective on what’s possible. Connect and collaborate with your peers from around the world and with the Microsoft engineers behind the tools and services you rely on.

* Level up your coding: Discover new ways to take your code and application architecture to the next level with as we help you troubleshoot, optimize and secure your projects.

* Helping developers today: We’re committed to support developers with cost-effective, efficient innovations that make people’s lives easier and better, especially in uncertain times. Today, we announced new lower pricing for Visual Studio Codespaces (formerly Visual Studio Online) so you can create cloud-hosted dev environments that are accessible from anywhere, from any device. Earlier this month, GitHub announced that all of its core features are now available for free to all users. You can expect more such announcements as we journey through Microsoft Build.

Robots on hand to greet Japanese coronavirus patients in hotels - Latest News

Robots on hand to greet Japanese coronavirus patients in hotels – Latest News

Coronavirus patients with light symptoms arriving to stay at several Tokyo hotels are likely to get a lift from a pleasant surprise – a robot greeter in the lobby.

Japan is now using hotels to house patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus but whose symptoms are too light to need hospitalisation, and several in the capital of Tokyo just opened on Friday feature robots to help lighten the burden on nurses.

In one, a big-eyed robot named “Pepper” – appropriately wearing a protective mask – stood waiting to welcome visitors.

“Please, wear a mask inside,” it said in a perky voice. “I hope you recover as quickly as possible.”

Other messages include “I pray the spread of the disease is contained as soon as possible” and “Let’s join our hearts and get through this together.”

Pepper is not the only robot at work in the hotel in the Ryogoku area of Tokyo. A cleaning robot with the latest in Artifial Intelligence has been deployed to clean several parts of the hotel, including riskier “red zone” areas where staff access is limited.

In an effort to reduce the burden on the medical system, Japan has secured more than 10,000 hotel rooms around the nation to put up patients with lighter symptoms, according to the Health Ministry.

The Ryogoku hotel, where patients will start checking in later on Friday, can accommodate about 300 people. Two nurses will be on hand around the clock, while a doctor will also be present during the day.

The number of coronavirus cases in Japan is now over 14,000 with 448 deaths as of Thursday, according to a Reuters tally.

Coronavirus lockdown: D2h offers new plans and services - Latest News

Coronavirus lockdown: D2h offers new plans and services – Latest News

NEW DELHI: In order to offer uninterrupted TV viewing experience to users d2h, the DTH brand of Dish TV has announced a slew of offers and packages.

The latest Friends and Family Recharge enable any d2h customer to recharge for any other d2h customer using the respective RTNs/Customer IDs on the d2h website or d2h Infinity App. Further, the company has improved its ‘You Promise We Resume’ plan, offering a five days extended recharge credit window to customers at a nominal cost of Rs 10 per month.

Along with this, the service provider has also launched special programmes and offers. d2h has started a free ‘Ramzaan Mubarak’ show on channel 785 that runs content related to Ramzaan. Further, a new ‘Special Ramzaan Combo’ is now available allows subscribers to watch spiritual Islamic channels along with regional news channels at a recharge of Rs. 78.60 which can be activated or deactivated through a simple missed call. Further under the Ramzan offering the company is giving a special offer of only Rupee 1 for the first month on its Islamic spiritual service ‘Ibadat Active’ available on channel no 786. Ibadat Active broadcasts Ramzaan special shows like Quran Allah Ka Kalaam, Ramzaan Ke Masail, and others.

For keeping customers engaged at home, d2h has made available content-rich active services (like Fitness Active, Dance Active, Thriller Active, Evergreen Classic Active, Comedy Active, Kids Active) at Rs 1 for the first month for its customers.

Commenting on the launch of special services and plan Sugato Banerji, corporate head-marketing, d2h, Dish TV India Ltd, said, “ In this unprecedented nationwide lockdown, our customers are stuck at home. Now, more than ever, the customer and their family need entertainment and news. That is why we have launched the ‘Friends and Family Offer’ and extended the days of credit under the ‘You Promise We Resume’ facility. And this time, with Ramzaan starting under lockdown, we have special Ramzaan offers showcasing spiritual Islamic content at great value for money for those who follow Ramzaan. Together these 3 launches reaffirm our endeavor to keep our customers entertained and engaged, while they stay at home and stay safe.”