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Facebook fails, new Kindles, and other top tech news

The Lounge guide to the week in tech

YouTube said this week that it would remove videos that falsely claim approved vaccines are dangerous (AFP)

Catch up on news, reviews, gadget reveals, book and podcast reccos and more in our weekly tech roundup. 

Leaked Facebook research shows it knows it sucks

Facebook knows its social media platforms have a harmful effect on the mental health and self-image of users, especially younger users, but does it care? Its own internal research showed that major social media stars such as Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Charli D'Amelio are among celebrities whose Instagram followers experience more negative feelings about their self-image, but apparently this research was suppressed in time-tested Facebook fashion, as revealed by an investigation by the Wall Street Journal this week. 

The Journal released the leaked research slide decks on Wednesday, which served as the basis of articles it published earlier this month saying that Facebook knew its apps harmed the mental health of some teenage girls and young users. The research, titled "Social comparison on Instagram," surveyed 100,000 people in March and April 2020 in nine countries, including the United States, Australia and Brazil.

Facebook spokesperson Kevin McAlister said the survey respondents were not asked to name specific accounts, but researchers found the celebrity accounts were "some of the most frequently seen accounts for people who told us they experienced either higher or lower levels of negative social comparison on Instagram," based on the company's internal data.

Wear it smart


The Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch
The Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch

The Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch is now available in India. Launched globally at the same time, the Gen 6 will be the first smartwatch powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon Wear 4100+ Platform, which promises faster app load times and battery charging speed. The Gen 6 will also be compatible with Google’s new system update, Wear OS 3, scheduled to arrive in 2022.

Grumpy old geeks at it again

Grumpy Old Geeks is available on most podcast platforms
Grumpy Old Geeks is available on most podcast platforms

In the latest episode of the Grumpy Old Geeks podcast, one of the smartest tech podcasts out there, hosts Jason DeFillippo and Brian Schulmeister take listeners through the top tech and internet news of the week. Over one hour, they discuss Satoshis (the smallest unit of bitcoin), the recent investigation by The Wall Street Journal into Facebook, TikTok limiting the time children can spend on it to 40 minutes a day in China, and Korean AI-generated social media influencer Rozy, while throwing in snippy reviews of TV shows like the second season of Into The Night. Tune in to Grumpy Old Geeks on your chosen podcast service for tech news with cool commentary.

YouTube does the right thing 

In an attempt to stem the flow of anti-vaccine misinformation, YouTube said that it will not allow videos that claim vaccines approved by health authorities are dangerous or don't work. The Verge reported that the Google-owned platform is also banning prominent anti-vaccine accounts, including Joseph Mercola's channel and the Robert F. Kennedy Jr.-linked Children's Defense Fund. YouTube pulled ads from anti-vaccination content in 2019 and said in October 2020 that it would remove videos that pushed misinformation around COVID-19 vaccines.

The new policy expands to block misinformation around other vaccines, including the flu shot, the HPV vaccine, and the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Videos that inaccurately claim that the MMR vaccine causes autism or that the flu shot causes infertility, for example, will not be allowed under the new policy.

AI with empathy

Scary Smart: The Future Of Artificial Intelligence And How You Can Save Our World
Scary Smart: The Future Of Artificial Intelligence And How You Can Save Our World

Scary Smart: The Future Of Artificial Intelligence And How You Can Save Our World is the latest book by Mo Gawdat, podcaster, serial entrepreneur and former chief business officer of Google X, Google’s “moonshot factory”. In this provocative book, Gawdat takes Artificial Intelligence apart to see why it frequently goes wrong. The answer, in short, is that humans design the algorithms that define the way AI works, and the processed information reflects an imperfect world. Gawdat places the onus of creating better AI—and a better world—on ordinary people like us, offering a blueprint for shaping the AI of the future to do better.

Re-Kindle your love of reading 

The new Kindle Paperwhite 
The new Kindle Paperwhite 

Amazon recently announced the next-generation Kindle Paperwhite, an upgrade from its 2018 Paperwhite e-reader. The new device comes with a larger, 6.8-inch glare-free display, up to 10 weeks of battery life, adjustable warm light (the 300 ppi Paperwhite display is glare-free and resembles real paper for easy reading in all conditions, even direct sunlight), USB-C charging (a change from the current micro USB charging port) and 8 GB of storage, for 13,999. Amazon simultaneously announced the first-ever luxe Kindle—the Paperwhite Signature Edition, which has an auto-adjusting light sensor, 32 GB of storage and wireless charging, for 17,999—and a Kindle Paperwhite Kids, the first Paperwhite device made with young readers in mind, with advanced waterproofing and parental controls. All the devices are currently on pre-order and will be shipped from 27 October, says Amazon.

ABB launches world's fastest car charger 

Digital visualization of ABB's new Terra 360 electric vehicle charger 
Digital visualization of ABB's new Terra 360 electric vehicle charger  (via REUTERS)

ABB has launched the world's fastest electric car charger, the Swiss engineering company said on Thursday, to plug into the booming demand for electric cars made by Tesla, Hyundai and other automakers.

The company is launching the new Terra 360 modular charger as it presses ahead with plans to float its electric vehicle (EV) charging business.  The device can charge up to four vehicles at once, and can fully charge any electric car within 15 minutes, ABB said, making it attractive to customers worried about charging times which can run to several hours.

Compiled by Shrabonti Bagchi and Nitin Sreedhar

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