WhatsApp will now limit users to forwarding a message only five times, in an attempt to cut down on the spread of misinformation. According to Reuters, the five time forwarding limit is being implemented across the world starting today.
While fake stories and deceitful groups on Facebook have been the focus in the US, misinformation on WhatsApp has become a problem elsewhere in the world. In Brazil, it became a particularly big issue ahead of the country’s presidential elections in October, as bad voting information, conspiracy theories, and false stories about candidates spread across the network. One study of the most widely shared images in Brazilian political group chats found that more than half of the top 50 images were misleading, with many being completely false or presented out of context.
WhatsApp initially limited messages to being forwarded 20 times in July, with the five time forwarding limit being tested out in India. Before that, you could forward a message to up to 256 people. WhatsApp began labeling forwarded messages around that time, too. The initial limits were prompted by a series of mob attacks and killings in India, set off by the spread of false information about child kidnappings.
While the smaller forwarding limit could help curb the spread of bad information, it won’t necessarily be as limiting as it sounds. Messages can still be forwarded to groups, with each group including up to 256 people. That means a forwarded message could be put in front of nearly 1,300 people, despite the five time limit.
WhatsApp didn’t immediately disclose any data on whether it had seen a substantial decline in the spread of false information by reducing the limit to five. We’ve reached out for further information.
Fighting misinformation on WhatsApp presents different challenges than misinformation on Facebook, because of the different ways the networks operate. Unlike Facebook, much of WhatsApp’s messaging and sharing is done through private, encrypted channels, limiting moderators’ ability to see what’s happening and intervene.
Source: The Verge.
Instagram Will Notify You Before Deactivating Your Account.
Instagram is strengthening its moderation policies today and adding a new alert that will warn people who violate rules when their account is close to being deleted.
The alert will show users a history of the posts, comments, and stories that Instagram has had to remove from their account, as well as why they were removed. “If you post something that goes against our guidelines again, your account may be deleted,” the page reads.
Instagram will give users a chance to appeal its moderation decisions directly through the alert, rather than having to go through its help page on the web. Only some types of content will be able to be appealed at first (such as pictures removed for nudity or hate speech), and Instagram plans to expand the available content appeal types over time.
The change will help clarify for users why they’re in trouble and should remove the shock of suddenly finding that your account has vanished. While it’s likely that a great number of banned accounts are removed for obvious rule violations, Instagram — like its parent company Facebook — has regularly had moderation problems when it comes to nudity and sexuality, where users have had photos removed for posting pictures of breastfeeding or period blood. This update won’t prevent those mistakes (those types of photos are supposed to be allowed), but it would make appealing the decision easier.
In addition to the new alert, Instagram is also going to give its moderating team more leeway to ban bad actors. Instagram’s policy has been to ban users who post “a certain percentage of violating content,” but it’ll now ban people who repeatedly violate its policies within a window of time, too. The specifics here are all as vague as ever, as Instagram doesn’t want to offer details and let bad actors game the system, but it sounds like it could lead to fewer problematic accounts slipping through on a technicality.
Nokia Disowns Executive’s Attack On Huawei Security.
Nokia has issued a statement disowning disparaging comments made by one of its senior executives about Chinese rival Huawei.
In an interview with the BBC, Nokie chief technology officer Marcus Weldon warned the UK against using equipment made by Huawei, citing concerns about national security. Advertisement
Weldon also said US restrictions on Huawei made up for unfair financial advantages the Chinese firm had enjoyed in the past.
“It’s fairness returning to the market,” he said. “We were disadvantaged in the past relative to the practices that the Chinese were allowed to have in terms of funding mechanisms.”
Nokia is a key competitor to Huawei, alongside Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson.
Weldon slammed the Chinese firms over security vulnerabilities in its products, which have been outlined in reports by UK spooks.
“We read those reports and we think okay, we’re doing a much better job than they are,” Weldon said.
“Some of it seems to be just sloppiness, honestly, that they haven’t patched things, they haven’t upgraded. But some of it is real obfuscation, where they make it look like they have the secure version when they don’t.”
But the Finnish firm today said the comments did not reflect its official position.
“Nokia is focused on the integrity of its own products and services and does not have its own assessment of any potential vulnerabilities associated with its competitors,” it said in a statement.
NASA About To Grow Fruits In Space.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has big plans for space travel that include heading to both the Moon and Mars sooner rather than later.
If humans begin to travel to other worlds on a regular basis — or even set up shop and live there — we’re going to need food, and that means finding a way to grow fruits and vegetables in otherworldly environments.
Now, in what will be a huge first for NASA, the agency has picked a new edible plant to be grown aboard the International Space Station, and it’s a seriously spicy selection.
As the Rio Grande Sun reports, NASA has selected none other than the Española chile pepper to be its next space crop project.
While such peppers are often lumped in with vegetables, they’re actually fruits, and this means the chile pepper will be the first fruit ever grown by NASA in space.
Picking plants to grow in space — especially when it comes to potential food options for future missions — has to be done carefully.
Many considerations must be made, including whether or not a plant will provide suitable nutritional benefits for astronauts, not to mention the individual requirements of each plant in terms of water and mineral usage.
“We were also looking for varieties that don’t grow too tall, and yet are very productive in the controlled environments that we would be using in space,” NASA Plan Physiologist Ray Wheeler told the paper. ”
Wheeler explained that growing peppers might have other benefits as well, such as giving astronauts an option for spicing up their sometimes bland food options in space.
As an added benefit, peppers are rich in Vitamin C, which Wheeler said is “important for space diets.”
Chief of BMW Quits Amid Disappointing Earnings.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dutch automobile company Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW), Harald Krueger is stepping down in the wake of the luxury automaker's weakest earnings performance in a decade.
The Germany company said Friday that Krueger, 53, would not seek an extension of his contract, which expires at the end of April 2020. The board of directors will meet to discuss the issue of a successor on July 18 and Krueger will remain in his job until a decision is made.
The news comes after BMW lost money on its automotive business in the first quarter of the year after the company was hit by a 1.4 billion euro ($1.6 billion) charge for an anti-trust case and by higher upfront costs for new technology. Only the financial services and motorcycle divisions kept the group as a whole in profit.
The automotive loss was in sharp contrast to the steady profits and fat profit margins that the carmaker used to rack up quarter after quarter. Profit margins excluding the anti-trust charge had not been so weak since 2006-7 by one analyst reckoning, not counting the global financial crisis and recession in 2008-9 when the company turned in several lossmaking quarters.
BMW, which is based in Munich, is facing pressures that are affecting the car industry in general, including high costs to develop electric vehicles to meet tighter emissions regulations in Europe and China, and investments in autonomous vehicles to compete with tech companies like Waymo and Uber. BMW has been hit by increased tariffs on vehicles exported to China from its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, due to the trade dispute between the U.S. and China.
A company news release quoted Krueger, who became CEO in 2015, as saying he would like to pursue "new professional endeavors."
It's typical for German executives' contracts to be renewed a year ahead of their expiration, and the lack of an announcement on a renewal had led to speculation in the German news media that his tenure might be shaky.
Board Chairman Norbert Reithofer — who was Krueger's predecessor as CEO during years of strong profits — praised Krueger's "unwavering dedication to the BMW Group" and said he had "complete respect and understanding for his decision and his future plans."
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