The Most Popular YouTube Videos About The Coronavirus Are Being Made In India — And They’re Full Of Hoaxes

India is in the middle of a YouTube-powered coronavirus frenzy that could kill people. From a report: The most popular YouTube video in the world about the coronavirus was created by a channel called Wonderful Secrets of the World, which typically publishes Hindi-language videos about sports and cars, as well as roundups like “Top 5 Secret Places Hidden in Famous Locations” or “30 Amazing Facts About Human Body.” The channel, the logo of which looks uncannily like that of Volkswagen, hides its subscriber count, but 16 of its videos have been viewed over a million times — the most popular being the coronavirus explainer, which has been seen 13.6 million times as of Wednesday. Wonderful Secrets of the World isn’t an outlier. It is the tip of a huge Indian YouTube iceberg of content about the outbreak. The disease has 75,280 confirmed cases, and 2,014 deaths, mostly in mainland China. Shared at high rates, these videos often combine basic facts about the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China, with Indian nationalist propaganda and hearsay — with serious real-life consequences.

There are reports of a man in southeast India who had a urinary tract infection and killed himself on Feb. 10, mistakenly thinking he had the coronavirus. His son told local media he was watching a lot of videos about the virus online. “We told him that he did not have coronavirus, but he refused to let us near him. He told all the villagers to stay away. He would tell them that their kids would also end up contracting it if they came close to him,” his son told reporters. Karen Rebelo, deputy editor for Boom, an Indian fact-checking organization that reported on the story, told BuzzFeed News it’s extremely difficult to fact-check YouTube videos because often it’s not a straightforward question of whether the content is true or false. “Most Indians coming online for the first time start by streaming YouTube videos because it’s free,” Rebelo said. She said that most fact-checking efforts in India are only being done in English and Hindi, so things are even more complicated for videos being created in regional languages. It’s also hard to fact-check videos that mix truth and hoax freely together.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review—Foldables aren’t forever doomed to failure

After the very public failure of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Samsung is back, in what seems like record time, with another foldable smartphone. This one is the Galaxy Z Flip, a smartphone that, instead of opening up into a tablet, is a normal-sized smartphone that folds in half, making it a little more portable than normal.

The Fold had a very rocky life, and while it only launched about five months ago, that was after a six-month delay. So really, with the Z Flip being nearly a year removed from the original Fold launch date, you could say this is Samsung’s second-generation foldable smartphone. And you know what? It really feels like it. Samsung has made some big technology improvements with the Z Flip, with a flexible glass display cover and some work toward dust ingress. The Z Flip shows the foldables category isn’t forever doomed to failures, delays, and recalls. This is an actual, viable product that the industry is slowly working towards improving.

That’s not to say the Z Flip is a good foldable yet, but it’s better than the complete failure that was the Galaxy Fold. Samsung continues to make some old mistakes, and some new mistakes, but the end result is that the technology is still very expensive and unproven. The new flip phone form factor is a cheaper way to get this foldable display technology out to consumers, but it doesn’t offer much of a sales pitch as to why you’d want to spend a premium for this device. The Z Flip quickly gives you a lot to think about—most prominently Samsung’s foldable display technology improvements and this weird new form factor straight out of 1999.

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Source: Tech – Ars Technica

A High School Student Created a Fake 2020 Candidate. Twitter Verified It

From a report: Andrew Walz calls himself a “proven business leader” and a “passionate advocate for students.” Walz, a Republican from Rhode Island, is running for Congress with the tagline, “Let’s make change in Washington together,” or so his Twitter account claimed. Earlier this month, Walz’s account received a coveted blue checkmark from Twitter as part of the company’s broader push to verify the authenticity of many Senate, House and gubernatorial candidates currently running for office. Twitter has framed this effort as key to helping Americans find reliable information about politicians in the leadup to the 2020 election. But there’s just one problem: Walz does not exist. The candidate is the creation of a 17-year-old high school student from upstate New York, CNN Business has learned.

The student, who CNN Business spoke to with the permission of his parents and has agreed not to be named as he is a minor, said he was “bored” over the holidays and created the fake account to test Twitter’s election integrity efforts. The blue checkmark is a hallmark of Twitter and one that was later copied by Facebook. It is often given to prominent accounts belonging to journalists, politicians, government agencies and businesses. The feature is central to Twitter’s goal of helping users find reliable information on the platform, often from verified newsmakers.

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‘GTA Online’ Gets Competitive F1 Racing Today

An anonymous reader shares a report: Rockstar refuses to let GTA Online die, and why would it when it’s one of the company’s biggest moneymakers? If you haven’t played GTA 5’s online component in a while, today’s update may convince you to step back into the world of San Andreas. Rockstar is adding a new competitive racing mode to GTA Online called Open Wheel Races that allows you to drive the game’s equivalent of F1 cars against other players. As part of the update, Rockstar is adding two new cars, the Ocelot R88 and the Progen PR4. You can purchase both through the in-game Legendary Motorsport store and customize them with different tires, spoilers, engine mods and more through Los Santos Customs.

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Amazon Transcribe Can Now Automatically Redact Personally Identifiable Data

Amazon is adding a new privacy-focused feature to its business transcription service, one that automatically redacts personally identifiable information (PII), such as names, social security numbers, and credit card credentials. From a report: Amazon Transcribe is part of Amazon’s AWS cloud unit and was launched in general availability in 2018. An automatic speech recognition (ASR) service, Transcribe enables enterprise customers to convert speech into text, which can help make audio content searchable from a database, for example. Contact centers can also use the tool to mine call data for insights and sentiment analysis. However, privacy issues have cast a spotlight on how technology companies store and manage consumers’ data.

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We Should Prepare For a US Outbreak of Coronavirus, Not Because We May Feel Personally at Risk, But So That We Can Help Lessen the Risk For Everyone.

Zeynep Tufekci, writing for Scientific American: Preparing for the almost inevitable global spread of this virus, now dubbed COVID-19, is one of the most pro-social, altruistic things you can do in response to potential disruptions of this kind. We should prepare, not because we may feel personally at risk, but so that we can help lessen the risk for everyone. We should prepare not because we are facing a doomsday scenario out of our control, but because we can alter every aspect of this risk we face as a society. That’s right, you should prepare because your neighbors need you to prepare — especially your elderly neighbors, your neighbors who work at hospitals, your neighbors with chronic illnesses, and your neighbors who may not have the means or the time to prepare because of lack of resources or time.

Prepper and survivalist subcultures are often associated with doomsday scenarios and extreme steps: people stocking and hoarding supplies, building bunkers and preparing to go off the grid so that they may survive some untold catastrophe, brandishish weapons to guard their compound while their less prepared neighbors perish. All this appears both extreme and selfish, and, to be honest, a little nutty — just check the title of the TV series devoted to the subculture: Doomsday Preppers, implying, well, a doomsday and the few prepared individuals surviving in a war-of-all-against-all world. It also feels like a scam: there is no shortage of snake oil sellers who hope stoking such fears will make people buy more supplies: years’ worth of ready-to-eat meals, bunker materials and a lot more stuff in various shades of camo. (The more camo the more doomsday feels, I guess!) The reality is that there is little point “preparing” for the most catastrophic scenarios some of these people envision. As a species, we live and die by our social world and our extensive infrastructure — and there is no predicting what anybody needs in the face of total catastrophe. In contrast, the real crisis scenarios we’re likely to encounter require cooperation and, crucially, “flattening the curve” of the crisis exactly so the more vulnerable can fare better, so that our infrastructure will be less stressed at any one time.

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Let’s Encrypt Has Issued a Billion Certificates

Let’s Encrypt, writing in a blog post: We issued our billionth certificate on February 27, 2020. We’re going to use this big round number as an opportunity to reflect on what has changed for us, and for the Internet, leading up to this event. In particular, we want to talk about what has happened since the last time we talked about a big round number of certificates – one hundred million. One thing that’s different now is that the Web is much more encrypted than it was. In June of 2017 approximately 58% of page loads used HTTPS globally, 64% in the United States. Today 81% of page loads use HTTPS globally, and we’re at 91% in the United States! This is an incredible achievement. That’s a lot more privacy and security for everybody.

Another thing that’s different is that our organization has grown a bit, but not by much! In June of 2017 we were serving approximately 46M websites, and we did so with 11 full time staff and an annual budget of $2.61M. Today we serve nearly 192M websites with 13 full time staff and an annual budget of approximately $3.35M. This means we’re serving more than 4x the websites with only two additional staff and a 28% increase in budget. The additional staff and budget did more than just improve our ability to scale though – we’ve made improvements across the board to provide even more secure and reliable service.

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Apple Plans To Release an iPad Pro Smart Keyboard With Trackpad in 2020

Apple is working on an iPad keyboard that includes a built-in trackpad, reports The Information, citing a person familiar with the company’s product roadmap. From a report: Apple has reportedly been experimenting with trackpads for the iPad for a “number of years.” Some of the prototypes have featured capacitive keys, though it is not known if this feature is in the finished product. The Information’s source says that the keyboard will be made from materials similar to those in Apple’s current Smart Keyboard Folio designed for the iPad Pro. Apple is preparing the keyboard for mass production at the current time, and is expected to release the new accessory alongside the next version of the iPad Pro.

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Facebook cancels F8 conference over coronavirus fears

Mark Zuckerberg speaks.

Enlarge / Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook’s F8 summit in 2018. (credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Facebook is canceling its massive F8 developers’ conference over fears of COVID-19. The conference had been scheduled to begin on May 5 in San Jose, California.

“F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook, and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world—but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees, and everyone who helps put F8 on,” wrote Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s director of developer platforms.

Facebook will attempt to compensate for the closure of the main event with “locally hosted events, videos, and live streamed content,” Papamiltiadis said.

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Biz & IT – Ars Technica

T-Mobile conducts layoffs as it prepares to complete Sprint merger

The logo of Deutsche Telekom, owner of T-Mobile, seen over a booth at the Mobile World Congress expo hall.

Enlarge / The logo of Deutsche Telekom, owner of T-Mobile, seen at Mobile World Congress in February 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

T-Mobile “has laid off a number of employees” in its prepaid business, Light Reading reported yesterday. Light Reading said three sources confirmed layoffs in the Metro by T-Mobile prepaid business, but “the extent of the layoffs is unclear.” We contacted T-Mobile about the reported layoffs and will update this article if we get a response.

A federal judge approved T-Mobile’s $26 billion acquisition of rival Sprint about two weeks ago, rejecting a lawsuit by 13 state attorneys general who warned that the merger will reduce competition in the wireless telecommunications market and harm consumers with higher prices.

New York Attorney General Letitia James decided not to appeal the ruling, and the merging firms say they expect to be one company by April 1. California telecom regulators still have not approved the deal, a potential factor that could delay the merger closing.

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Biz & IT – Ars Technica