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Majority of Covid misinformation came from 12 people, report finds

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CCDH finds ‘disinformation dozen’ have combined following of 59 million people across multiple social media platforms

The vast majority of Covid-19 anti-vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories originated from just 12 people, a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) cited by the White House this week found.

Related: ‘They’re killing people’: Biden slams Facebook for Covid disinformation

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/17/covid-misinformation-conspiracy-theories-ccdh-report
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Erum Salam

When science breaks bad: A rogue gallery of history’s worst scientists

When science breaks bad: A rogue gallery of history’s worst scientists

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Walter Freeman was ambidextrous, so he could do two lobotomies at the same time. These involved jabbing two icepicks from the junk drawer in his kitchen into the eye sockets of two different patients until he felt the thin orbital bones behind their eyes crack. Swishing the picks back and forth was then all it took to sever each patient’s frontal lobe from her limbic system, unhooking her executive function and judgement from her emotions and appetites. Yes, it was usually a her.

Although he got the dubious honor of having this nifty book named for him, Dr. Freeman is not even the worst among the gallery of rogues profiled by Sam Kean in his new book The Icepick Surgeon. Freeman wasn’t a Nazi, and he wasn’t a slaver. It’s hard to beat those populations for bad guys.

Breaking bad

Sam Kean has a thing for scientific malfeasance. His previous books have touched on it, but this one is entirely dedicated to mad scientists—monomaniacs who kept their eye on the prize to the exclusion of all else, like pain, suffering, and morals. Occasionally, the prize was data; more often it was fame and fortune. But regardless of their motives, these guys (yes, it was usually a him) brushed aside any ethical qualms they may have had if those qualms interfered with their research program or whatever hypothesis they were chasing down. This book addresses why and how they did so.

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/07/when-science-breaks-bad-a-rogue-gallery-of-historys-worst-scientists/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Diana Gitig

Experts say Trump’s social media lawsuits are likely doomed

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Legal experts and First Amendment scholars say former President Donald Trump’s class-action lawsuits announced Wednesday against Facebook, Twitter, Google, and their CEOs are unlikely to go far.

The big picture: That, according to some of these experts, suggests Trump’s chief aim is to fire up his supporters and fundraise off of their anger over what they see as censorship by Big Tech.


“This is not a lawsuit. It’s a fundraising grift,” said Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, a progressive advocacy group that often targets Big Tech.

  • “There is no chance Trump’s lawsuits will do any better than the dozens that have preceded it, and Trump and his lawyers surely know that,” said Eric Goldman, associate dean and professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.
  • “Which raises the obvious question: if Trump doesn’t care if he wins in court, why did he bring the lawsuits at all?”

The Trump campaign did immediately start reaching out to supporters for fundraising after the former president revealed the lawsuits in a press conference Wednesday morning.

  • Trump’s joint fundraising committee sent out a text saying, “Pres Trump: I am SUING Facebook & Twitter for UNCONSTITUTIONAL CENSORSHIP,” adding “5X-IMPACT on all gifts!”

Details: The central argument made by the plaintiff is that social media platforms are “state actors,” and thus should be bound by the First Amendment’s free speech protections. First Amendment experts quickly dismissed the claim as destined to fail.

  • “The First Amendment simply protects citizens from government censorship,” said Syracuse University associate professor Roy Gutterman. “Social media platforms exercise great power, but they are not a branch of government.”

“In what constitutional universe can it be the case that Trump wasn’t a state actor when he blocked critics from his social media accounts but the social media companies were state actors when they blocked him?,” tweeted Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

  • The Knight First Amendment Institute in 2017 filed a lawsuit on behalf of several people who were blocked by Trump on Twitter. A lower court sided with the plaintiff and argued that that Trump’s Twitter account constituted” as a “public forum” under the First Amendment, so he couldn’t block people.

Trump’s suits also suggest that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that gives tech platforms immunity for material third-party users post or say on their sites, is unconstitutional. Experts say the reference to Section 230 is irrelevant to the case.

  • “Section 230 can never be a defense to Trump’s allegations of First Amendment violations,”said Goldman. “Section 230 is a statute, which cannot modify the Constitution (amending the Constitution requires a more elaborate set of procedures; Congress can’t do it alone).”
  • “So the defendants in Trump’s cases will not assert Section 230 defenses. They will instead argue that they are not state actors  The courts will agree that the services aren’t state actors. This is not a close call.”

The big picture: As Axios has previously noted, the former president has filed many lawsuits throughout his career, but he has rarely taken cases all the way to court, and hasn’t won many of the cases that he has.

  • In fact, some of his lawsuits have actually led to historic legal precedents set by courts that create stronger First Amendment protections long-term.

The bottom line: “This is not the first time social media companies have been faced with these arguments, and in the past, they have won,” said Gutterman.

Source: https://www.axios.com/trump-social-media-lawsuits-doomed-experts-a9a021c7-fa78-47f3-9732-b99309c464ca.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Sara Fischer

Steve Wozniak Voices Strong Support for the Growing Right to Repair Movement

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In what has become a growing battle between big tech companies and the people who use their products, iconic Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recently spoke out in support of the right to repair movement.

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Source: https://gizmodo.com/steve-wozniak-voices-strong-support-for-the-growing-rig-1847251718
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Sam Rutherford

The high stakes of Branson and Bezos’ race to space

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When Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson take flight aboard the rockets their companies built, the hopes and dreams of a burgeoning industry will be flying with them as well.

Why it matters: Accidents or errors on these high-profile flights from Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin could derail their plans — and possibly affect others’ plans — for commercial space tourism and travel.


Driving the news: Last week, Virgin Galactic announced that it would push to fly Branson and others on a fully crewed test flight on July 11, just ahead of Blue Origin’s first flight with Bezos, scheduled for July 20.

  • There has been a low hum of animosity brewing between the two companies in public since it was revealed Bezos might fly before Branson.
  • That rivalry spilled over last week after the Branson announcement, with Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith saying the two companies aren’t after the same prize in these first flights.
  • “We wish him a great and safe flight, but they’re not flying above the Karman line and it’s a very different experience,” Smith said of Branson and Virgin Galactic in a statement via the New York Times. (The Karman line is the unofficial altitude at which space begins, about 62 miles up.)

The big picture: Launching and building satellites is a big moneymaker in the space industry, but suborbital space tourism is seen as a means of getting more people interested in the space industry in the long term.

  • In theory, these flights should be more affordable and available to a large group of people who will only need to train for a day or two before going to the edge of space.
  • If something were to go wrong with one of these high-profile, early flights, it could threaten the companies’ business plans going forward and cast doubt on whether suborbital space tourism could serve as a boon for the rest of the industry.

Flashback: An accident during a Virgin Galactic test flight in 2014 left one pilot dead.

  • After the crash, Branson considered stopping development of the company’s space plane altogether.

Yes, but: The company did continue on, and public support for it has been steady.

  • It’s possible an accident from either of the companies wouldn’t hurt public opinion of the endeavor as a whole.
  • Depending on why an accident occurred, “I don’t think you would see a mass exodus of Virgin Galactic reservation holders or a noticeable drop in interest in flying on Blue Origin,” space historian Robert Pearlman said.

What to watch: A major failure or problem could also put pressure on Congress to start pushing for more regulation of private human spaceflight, which some argue could stifle the space travel industry just as it is beginning.

  • At the moment, the FAA is not allowed to regulate the safety of “spaceflight participants” — Bezos, Branson or anyone else who would fly on one of these vehicles — until at least 2023.
  • Instead, the crews today fly under a regime known as “informed consent” where they must agree to and be told of the risks before launch.
  • That moratorium on regulation was put in place in order to allow the industry to launch before restrictions were placed on it.

Source: https://www.axios.com/branson-bezos-space-race-stakes-8261d5aa-a206-4fbe-9d89-84c72caf5f14.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Miriam Kramer

Schumer now backing Sanders plan to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare

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Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday threw his support behind a push, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare.”There is a gaping…

Source: https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/559356-schumer-now-backing-sanders-plan-to-add-dental-vision-and-hearing-coverage-to
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Mychael Schnell

This Stargate-esque Portal Connects You With People 376 Miles Away in Real-Time

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It goes without saying that the pandemic has been hard on travel and human connection. While things are looking up, we are far from back to normal yet. That’s one of the reasons behind the Stargate-esque portals unveiled by two cities in Lithuania and Poland, which are hoping to give their residents access to these…

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Source: https://gizmodo.com/this-stargate-esque-portal-connects-you-with-people-376-1847002155
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jody Serrano

How to Restrict Someone on Facebook

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Don’t want to share all of your posts with every person you’ve friended on Facebook? Facebook lets you restrict people and prevent them from reading your private posts without unfriending them. Here’s how to do it.

Read This Article on How-To Geek ›

Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/728204/how-to-restrict-someone-on-facebook/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Shubham Agarwal

Warren: Trump is ‘a danger to democracy’

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a critic of Facebook and other tech giants, on Thursday called Donald Trump “a danger to democracy” and applauded a decision by Facebook’s Oversight Board to uphold the company’s ban on th…

Source: https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/552120-warren-trump-is-a-danger-to-democracy
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Alexander Bolton

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