Facebook has removed an ad targeting category for users it has identified as interested in “pseudoscience” after a report in the Markup highlighting how it was being used to market to conspiracy theorists.
The company removed the category after the Markup found the Facebook ad portal listed 78 million users in the category, per Reuters. The pseudoscience category is an especially bad look for Facebook, which has long failed in its efforts to prevent its platform from becoming a vehicle for conspiracy theories and has claimed to be cracking down on advertisers seeking to profit off of misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic. A report earlier this month by Consumer Reports found it was trivial to get Facebook to approve fake ads with coronavirus-related misinformation, including one advising viewers to drink “SMALL daily doses” of bleach.
According to the Markup, it’s not clear how many ads were placed under the “pseudoscience” category, but reporter Aaron Sankin found that he was flagged as “interested in ‘pseudoscience’” after he was shown an ad promoting a “radiation-blocking” beanie.
Sankin told Gizmodo via Twitter DM that while it was obvious why the ad for the supposedly radiation-blocking hat showed up in his feed after Facebook proclaimed him a fan of pseudoscience, what’s less clear is how the company made that determination in the first place.
“It may be because, earlier this month, I had gotten interested in understanding how COVID-19 conspiracy theories were being spread on Facebook and joined a handful of groups dedicated very explicitly to spreading conspiracy COVID-19 theories,” Sankin told Gizmodo. “Or it could be a holdover from a few years ago when I spent a couple months researching the PizzaGate conspiracy theory for a story I did at the Center for Investigative Reporting. Or maybe it was because I had gone to some pseudoscientific website at some point in the past where Facebook had a tracker active and that slipped ‘pseudoscience’ into my profile.”
“Honestly, I have no idea because Facebook doesn’t make the information public about why a user is attached to an interest or at what point in time that linkage occurred,” Sankin added.
One meritless but widespread conspiracy theory making the rounds during the coronavirus pandemic is that the disease is not the result of a virus, but radiation from cell towers built as part of 5G rollouts. Police in the UK have tied dozens of arsons at cell phone towers across the country to the conspiracy theory, saying it was the likeliest motivation for the perpetrators. Photos and videos of the attacks circulating online were often accompanied by text claiming the towers are making people around them sick.
Art Menard de Calenge, the CEO of the beanie’s manufacturer, Lambs, told the Markup his company’s official position is that 5G is not the cause of the pandemic and they have never claimed such. But the pseudoscience category is vague enough to loop in anything that might be of potential interest to conspiracy theorists—including radiation-blocking hats. And Facebook determined that the hat was pseudoscientific and added the tag itself, the CEO told the Markup: “This is Facebook thinking that this particular ad set would be interesting for this demographic, not our doing.”
The mainstream scientific opinion, backed by the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), is cell phone towers and smartphones do not emit levels of 5G radiation deemed hazardous to human health. A large body of research has found little evidence to be concerned, and any theory associating 5G and the coronavirus is patently false.
“There have been people worrying about 5G for years,” Sankin told Gizmodo. “So it makes sense that people who are scared and confused and just trying to make sense of the pandemic-ravaged world they’ve been suddenly forced to inhabit would be grasping around frantically for an explanation.”
“In some cases, that explanation is 5G,” he added. “In other cases, it’s ‘Bill Gates did it’… The other explanation, the mainstream one with scientific backing, is just that a fatal virus evolved so that it does a really good job of spreading around the world. For a lot of people, that last explanation is probably a lot scarier and harder to accept than a secretive cabal operating somewhere in the shadows because a secretive cabal can theoretically be stopped.”
ProPublica discovered a number of similar categories in late 2016, including ones for users Facebook had identified as interested in “New World Order (conspiracy theory),” “Chemtrail conspiracy theory,” and “Vaccine controversies.” While those have since been removed, the pseudoscience category remained the whole time. Additionally, the Markup identified at least 67 user groups whose names “directly indicate they are specifically devoted to propagating coronavirus conspiracy theories.”
University of Washington conspiracy theory expert Kate Starbird told the Markup that people who believe in one conspiracy theory are particularly prone to believing in others. (That phenomenon is sometimes known by the pejorative term “crank magnetism.”) Starbird told the site that Facebook’s marketing to conspiracy theorists takes “advantage of this sort of vulnerability that a person has once they’re going down these rabbit holes, both to pull them further down and to monetize that.”
OnePlus explains OnePlus Nord design in interview – Android Authority
- OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has officially revealed the Nord’s design in an interview with Marques Brownlee.
- The design was changed late — OnePlus originally had a more experimental phone in mind.
- Pei also described the true costs of features like NFC and IP-rated water resistance.
The OnePlus Nord’s design is a poorly kept secret at this stage, but that didn’t stop company co-founder and director Carl Pei from revealing a few more tidbits about the more affordable phone ahead of its July 21 debut.
In an interview with YouTube creator Marques Brownlee, Pei (who was conspicuously wearing true wireless OnePlus Buds) officially revealed the Nord’s design, which unsurprisingly matches earlier teases. However, he added that the final look was introduced relatively late into the design process — before then, it had an unusual back with three square camera lenses in an L-shaped layout.
OnePlus switched to the more conservative styling out of practicality. The earlier approach worked if OnePlus wanted to be “daring” and treat the Nord as an “experiment,” according to Pei, but the company felt that a familiar design language from other models would help sell more phones. The switch delayed development by about a month, but Pei believed it was worthwhile.
The executive also discussed one of the more elusive aspects of phone design: the true manufacturing costs. He stressed that the bill of materials (that is, the raw component cost) was only one part of the price and didn’t include various operational expenses, but was willing to share key figures.
The interview doesn’t leave many surprises for the Nord’s formal introduction.
NFC, for instance, costs OnePlus about $4 to add. An IP resistance rating costs roughly $15, mostly for the testing equipment and staff. The Nord won’t be IP-rated despite dust- and water-resistant elements, but that’s partly because it’s not designed for “extreme use cases,” Pei said.
An AMOLED screen is approximately twice as expensive as a comparable LCD, the director added, although the expenses for a 90Hz display have come down thanks to sheer volume. And while headphone jacks don’t cost that much by themselves, there is a “mechanical” cost in terms of the space they occupy.
The interview doesn’t leave many surprises for the Nord’s formal introduction. The exact pricing (besides the sub-$500 target) is still unknown, though, and it’s unclear just how that “highly limited” North American beta program will work. Nonetheless, the chat makes clear that a lot is riding on the Nord’s success. This is OnePlus’ chance to get back to its low-cost roots and expand its audience.
These Pixel 4a vs Pixel 5G size renders aim to bring order into the Google Pixel 2020 chaos – PhoneArena
If you thought the Google Pixel 2020 series is getting more like a soap opera, what with the numerous Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 models bandied about, you are not alone. First we were going to have two Pixel 5 models, then one, then two again with a 5G on top, or three Pixel 4a versions, then two, now one again, what gives?
To pour some order into the Pixel 2020 rumor mill chaos, the leakster with the most stellar track record Steve Hemmerstoffer aka @onleaks, has used his infamous CAD darwing sources to render all four new Pixel models expected this year.
Because it seems the latest (and still unconfirmed) #Pixel5 leaks sowed huge confusion, these actually are the three devices floating around (with their respective dimensions and alleged moniker), compared with the (confirmed) #Pixel4a… Not sure it will help but there you go… pic.twitter.com/tzsZFRIAb9
— Steve H.McFly (@OnLeaks) July 11, 2020
If that still seems confusing, it’s because it is, and only Google knows what and when it will finally release. Or does it? In any case, we are looking at low- to mid-range models this year, with potential Snapdragon 768G for the Pixel 5G and a lowly Snapdragon 730 for the Pixel 4a that will allegedly be a 4G/LTE device only.
This also jibes with the leaked code names of Google’s upcoming Pixels, as found in its own Camera app code. In version 7.3 of the Google Camera app, code parsing found references to “sunfish,” “redfin,” and “bramble,” referring to upcoming Pixel models. The chipsets that will power Google’s 2020 generation of Pixels were listed there as well. “Sunfish” is built around the lowly “sm7150” platform, or Snapdragon 730, referring to the Pixel 4a model.
“Redfin” and “bramble” will be based on “sm7250,” or the new Snapdragon 765 midrange chipset that has Qualcomm’s first built-in 5G modem, so the two Pixel 5 models running on the much cheaper alternative to Snapdragon 865 would have a 5G modem, while the 4a won’t. This is tangentially confirmed now by the IMDA listing that shows the G025A device to have 3G/4G connectivity only.
Now, where does that leave the eventual non-5G Pixel 5 models depicted here? Remains to be heard, but if the rumors flying around are any indication, Google might be shooting for market share this time around, hence releasing versions with midrange processors, rather than the top-shelf 8-series by Qualcomm.
OnePlus says its new 'Buds' can last up to 30 hours with charging case – MobileSyrup
After OnePlus officially confirmed plans to launch the OnePlus Nord — an affordable phone that sadly won’t come to Canada — and OnePlus Buds, the company has shared some more details about its upcoming true wireless earbuds.
CEO Pete Lau took to OnePlus’ community forums to share information about the upcoming earbuds, including highlighting the product’s impressive battery life. According to Lau, the OnePlus Buds will offer up to 30 hours of battery life with the charging case.
Each earbud is “good for over seven hours of continuous use,” Lau wrote in the forum post. Additionally, he said users could fully top up the buds more than three times from the charging case, giving up to 30 hours before recharging the case.
When you consider the competition, 30 hours of battery is impressive. Apple’s AirPods, Google’s Pixel Buds and Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds are all rated for 24 hours of use with the case. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ are good for 22 hours.
An extra six to eight hours is nothing to sneeze at. If OnePlus gets other factors like comfort and sound quality right, the OnePlus Buds could be a real contender in the heated earbud market.
Speaking of comfort, Lau also writes about how the company designed the OnePlus Buds to wear for long periods. And for those concerned all the battery will make them heavy, Lau says the buds weigh in at just 4.6 grams while the charging case is 36 grams.
You can read everything Lau has to say about the OnePlus Buds over on the community forum. Further, the OnePlus Buds will launch on July 21st alongside the Nord.
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