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Facebook-backed Australian group to probe social media misinformation complaints – Global News

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A tech body backed by the Australian units of Facebook, Google and Twitter said on Monday it has set up a special committee to adjudicate complaints over misinformation, a day after the government threatened tougher laws over false and defamatory online posts.

The issue of damaging social media posts has emerged as a second battlefront between Big Tech and Australia, which last year passed a law to make platforms pay licence fees for content, sparking a temporary Facebook blackout in February.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week labelled social media “a coward’s palace,” while the government said on Sunday it was looking at measures to make social media companies more responsible, including forcing legal liability onto the platforms for the content published on them.

Read more:
Facebook will add new controls for kids on platforms after whistleblower report

The Digital Industry Group Inc (DIGI), which represents the Australian units of Facebook Inc, Alphabet’s Google and Twitter Inc, said its new misinformation oversight subcommittee showed the industry was willing to self-regulate against damaging posts.

The tech giants had already agreed a code of conduct against misinformation, “and we wanted to further strengthen it with independent oversight from experts, and public accountability,” DIGI Managing Director Sunita Bose said in a statement.

A three-person “independent complaints sub-committee” would seek to resolve complaints about possible breaches of the code conduct via a public website, DIGI said, but would not take complaints about individual posts.


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Zuckerberg hits back at claims by Facebook whistleblower

The industry’s code of conduct includes items such as taking action against misinformation affecting public health, which would include the novel coronavirus.

DIGI, which also counts Apple Inc and TikTok as signatories, said it could issue a public statement if a company was found to have violated the code of conduct or revoke its signatory status with the group.

Australian communications minister Paul Fletcher, who has been among senior lawmakers promising tougher action against platforms hosting misleading and defamatory content, welcomed the measure, while consumer groups argued it did not go far enough.

“I’m pleased that DIGI is announcing an important development to strengthen the way the code will protect Australians from misinformation and disinformation,” Fletcher said in a statement.

Read more:
‘Chilling effect’: How whistleblower Frances Haugen unfriended Facebook

But Reset Australia, an advocate group focused on the influence of technology on democracy, said the oversight panel was “laughable” as it involved no penalties and the code of conduct was optional.

“DIGI’s code is not much more than a PR stunt given the negative PR surrounding Facebook in recent weeks,” said Reset Australia Director of tech policy Dhakshayini Sooriyakumaran in a statement, urging regulation for the industry.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network CEO Andrew Williams said the move was “a step in the right direction” but too limited since only people with Google accounts could lodge complaints on the new website.

“It’s important that any information that consumers need to know about the DIGI Complaints Portal is easy to find and accessible for everyone,” he said.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; editing by Richard Pullin)

© 2021 Reuters

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Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ estimated to be worth about $900 million – Bloomberg News

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Squid Game,” Netflix Inc’s biggest original series launch, is estimated to be worth almost $900 million for the streaming giant, Bloomberg News reported late on Saturday, citing figures from an internal Netflix document.

The nine-episode thriller, in which cash-strapped contestants play childhood games with deadly consequences in a bid to win 45.6 billion won ($38.58 million), became an international hit after it launched last month.

In comparison to its estimated net worth, the show cost just $21.4 million to produce, Bloomberg said.

According to the report https://bloom.bg/3lNzxGY, about 132 million had watched at least two minutes of the show in its first 23 days, easily breaking the record set by U.K. costume drama “Bridgerton,” which was streamed by 82 million accounts in its first 28 days.

Netflix had earlier announced the show had amassed 111 million fans, but Bloomberg said those figures were based on slightly older data.

Los Gatos, California-based Netflix estimated that 89% of people who started the show watched more than one episode, the news agency said, and 66% of the viewers finished watching the series in the first 23 days.

Netflix did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request to comment on the report. An attorney for the company told Bloomberg that it would be inappropriate for Bloomberg to disclose the confidential data contained in the documents that it had reviewed.

The series is also the first Korean drama to snatch the top spot on Netflix in the United States, and has even spurred interest among people in learning Korean.

In China, where Netflix is unavailable without a VPN, a Beijing bakery has introduced a Squid Game-themed confection-making challenge in its store.

The show has even drawn positive comments from Amazon Inc founder Jeff Bezos, with the billionaire calling the work “impressive and inspiring.” Amazon’s streaming service Prime Video competes with Netflix.

($1 = 1,182.0700 won)

 

(Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru, Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Russian actor and director making first movie in space return to Earth after 12-day mission

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A Russian actor and a film director making the first move film in space returned to Earth on Sunday after spending 12 days on the International Space Station (ISS).

The Soyuz MS-18  Space capsule carrying Russian ISS crew member Oleg Novitskiy, Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko landed in a remote area outside the western Kazakhstan at 07:35 a.m. (0435 GMT), the Russian space agency Roscosmos said.

The crew had dedocked from the ISS three hours earlier.

Russian State TV footage showed the reentry capsule descending under its parachute above the vast Kazakh steppe, followed by ground personnel assisting the smiling crew as they emerged from the capsule.

However, Peresild, who is best known for her role in the 2015 film “Battle for Sevastopol”, said she had been sorry to leave the ISS.

“I’m in a bit of a sad mood today,” the 37-year-old actor told Russian Channel One after the landing.

“That’s because it had seemed that 12 days was such a long period of time, but when it was all over, I didn’t want to bid farewell,” she said.

Last week 90-year-old U.S. actor William Shatner – Captain James Kirk of “Star Trek” fame – became the oldest person in space aboard a rocketship flown by billionaire Jeff Bezos’s company Blue Origin.

Peresild and Shipenko have been sent to Russian Star City, the home of Russia’s space programme on the outskirts of Moscow for their post-flight recovery which will take about a week, Roscosmos said.

 

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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'Don't squish them': Photos on social media show slimy, sticky salamanders in Labrador – CBC.ca

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It was late at night when Adam Reid took his dog out and found a little salamander on his front steps. The Happy Valley-Goose Bay man says he panicked, thinking it was an escaped pet, and took it inside. 

“I was like, ‘I cannot leave this poor little salamander here,'” Reid said. “It’s started getting cold in Labrador. Things get pretty chilly.”

Reid made a Facebook post and was surprised to learn that the critters are native to Labrador and even thrive there.

After confirming the salamander — who Reid had affectionately named Sal’ — was in fact going to be OK, he took it out and let it go in his garden. 

“We had our parting words and a few tears were shed by my puppy who didn’t want to let him go. But I put him back in the garden and he went on his way,” Reid said.

“Sal, if you’re out there, I hope you’re doing good, buddy.”

A post in the public ‘Concerning Happy Valley-Goose Bay’ Facebook Group sparked an online conversation where some people realized for the first time that there were salamanders native to Labrador. (Concerning Happy Valley-Goose Bay/Facebook)

Shylah Ernst said after Reid’s post, she too saw salamanders on two occasions outside her work at a local daycare. 

“We found four smaller salamanders inside of an old tire that had some water in the bottom of it,” Ernst said. 

Shylah Ernst found four salamanders and some larva in an old tire that had water in it. (Submitted by Shylah Ernst)

The little amphibians were paraded around the daycare to show the children, Ernst said. However, they were all released back to the wild a short time later. 

“Of course, they kept trying to pick him up. But we put him in a little container with some grass and sand,” Ernst said.

“They looked at him and they played with him in his little basket … they loved him.”

Salamanders more common than you’d think

Sean Boyle, a postdoctoral researcher at Memorial University, says people may not realize just how common the creatures are. He said they are an important part of the ecosystem but they are out of sight for almost the entire year. 

“If you think in terms of biomass — which is the total mass of all of the individuals of the species — the biomass of a salamander will greatly outweigh the biomass of moose. So say you have 100 moose, you’ll probably have tens of thousands of salamanders that weigh more than all of that combined,” Boyle said. 

There are two types of salamanders in Labrador — the two lined salamander and the blue-spotted salamander. The two-lined salamander is aquatic while the blue-spotted salamander lives mostly on land. 

The blue-spotted salamander mainly lives on land but travels to local ponds to mate and lay eggs. (Submitted by Sean Boyle)

“Amphibians in general are really good at surviving tough conditions,” Boyle said. “These two salamanders specifically, they kind of just bury themselves, either in the clear running water … or they’ll bury themselves in the leaf litter in the soil and avoid the frost line.”

If people see a salamander out and about, Boyle said, they don’t need to worry about spooking it ,but he said don’t pick it up and avoid it if possible. 

“If you do have to pick them up, just make sure there’s absolutely nothing on your hands. So that’s no no bug spray, no sunscreen, no moisturizer, anything like that, because it can be very toxic to them.”

Salamanders, like all amphibians, breathe through their skin and their skin can take in chemicals can hinder their ability to breathe, Boyle said. However, he said if people see salamanders, it’s most likely wild and not a pet. 

“For the most part, if people have pet salamanders, they’re not the species that we would have in Canada,” Boyle said. “And so the salamanders that you see in the wild would look different than ones that were escaped pets.”

A blue spotted salamander at Kouchibouguac National Park. Blue spotted salamanders can also be found in Labrador. (Parks Canada)

Ernst said she was surprised to read on social media that people didn’t know salamanders were in Labrador, but she said she did grow up seeing them out and about. If people do find them, she said please leave them be. 

“Don’t squish them. Put them back. Leave them alone. Let them grow. So some people are afraid of them and they’ll like ‘uh step on that,’ especially when they’re small, but that’s a sin. Leave them alone, let them grow. Let them make a home here.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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