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CDC Gave Facebook Misinformation About COVID Vaccines, Emails Show

The Epoch Times reported:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) passed misinformation to Facebook as the partners worked to combat misinformation, according to newly released emails, in the most recent example of CDC officials making false or misleading claims.

In a June 3 message, a Facebook official said the CDC had helped the company “debunk claims about COVID vaccines and children,” and asked for assistance addressing claims about the vaccines for babies and toddlers, including the claim that the vaccines were not effective.

“COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are effective at protecting people, including children ages 6 months to 4 years, from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized and even dying,” the CDC official wrote.

There’s no evidence that the vaccines are effective against severe illness and death in young children.

Ireland Fines Instagram 405 Million Euros for Failing to Protect Children’s Data

Ars Technica reported:

Ireland’s data regulator has fined Instagram 405 million euros for violating the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and failing to safeguard children’s information.

The fine from the Data Protection Commission followed a two-year investigation into the Meta-owned social media platform. The investigation covered complaints that Instagram defaulted the accounts of all users, including those under the age of 18, to public settings. It also related to how the contact information of children using business accounts on the platform was publicly available.

Instagram, which allows users over the age of 13, said the fine related to old settings that were updated more than a year ago. It said it had released features to keep teenagers’ information private, including automatically setting children’s accounts to private when they sign up since July last year.

Meta was fined 17 million euros in March by the Irish regulator following an investigation into data breach notifications on Facebook. Last year, it was fined 225 million euros for violating privacy laws on WhatsApp. Meta is appealing against the WhatsApp ruling but has accepted the Facebook decision.

Amazon’s Latest Robotics, Healthcare Buys Have the FTC Asking More Questions

The Verge reported:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating Amazon’s plans to acquire robot vacuum maker iRobot and the 1Life healthcare company behind One Medical, according to reports from Politico and The Wall Street Journal. Amazon announced a $3.9 billion deal to buy One Medical in July and said it would acquire iRobot for $1.7 billion just weeks later.

One Medical serves as a sort of Netflix-for-healthcare subscription service that gives customers access to in-person and virtual appointments at 125 clinics across the U.S. for $199 per year. Meanwhile, iRobot’s known for its line of Roomba robot vacuums that have only grown more adept at understanding users’ homes and their habits with the rollout of iRobot OS.

The acquisitions of both companies align with Amazon’s long-term goals of carving out its own lane in the healthcare industry, as well as collecting more data about its customers, something Amazon could do with Roomba’s home-mapping capabilities.

The FTC’s investigations could slow — or potentially stop — Amazon’s acquisition of both companies. FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan has been a vocal critic of Amazon and its practices.

Outcry as Chinese Lockdown Traps Residents During Earthquake

BBC News reported:

Footage showing that some residents in the earthquake-hit Chinese city of Chengdu were stopped from fleeing their compounds due to a COVID lockdown has sparked anger and disbelief online.

Some in Chengdu say they were told to stay inside through a 6.6-magnitude earthquake on Monday that has killed at least 65 people.

Those that ran out say they found the exits shut due to COVID restrictions.  Chengdu, home to 21 million people, is currently under strict lockdown rules.

Germany to Drop COVID Mask Requirement on Flights

Reuters reported:

Germany will soon drop mask requirements on commercial flights introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Tuesday, after flagship airline Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) complained that the rule was no longer enforceable.

Authorities will focus instead on making sure people wear face-and-mouth coverings on public transport in Germany, Lauterbach said in Berlin, after the coalition government agreed to axe the measure.

CVS Beats Amazon and Rivals for Signify Health With Winning $8 Billion Bid

Forbes reported:

CVS Health will acquire home care company Signify Health for $8 billion as retail drugstores add more primary care and in-home medical services.

CVS apparently beat out other healthcare and retail companies including Amazon and UnitedHealth Group’s Optum medical care provider business that had reportedly been interested in Signify Health or at least looked into the potential of adding the home care company.

But CVS announced on Monday afternoon that the drugstore giant has “entered into a definitive agreement under which CVS Health will acquire Signify Health for $30.50 per share in cash, representing a total transaction value of approximately $8 billion.”

In buying Signify Health, CVS Health will add to its growing menu of healthcare services that includes more than 9,000 retail drugstores, 1,100 MinuteClinics staffed by nurse practitioners and the nation’s third-largest health insurer, Aetna.

Iranian Authorities Plan to Use Facial Recognition to Enforce New Hijab Law

The Guardian reported:

The Iranian government is planning to use facial recognition technology on public transport to identify women who are not complying with a strict new law on wearing the hijab, as the regime continues its increasingly punitive crackdown on women’s dress.

The secretary of Iran’s Headquarters for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice, Mohammad Saleh Hashemi Golpayegani, announced in a recent interview that the government was planning to use surveillance technology against women in public places following a new decree signed by the country’s hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, on restricting women’s clothing.

AI Is Making It Easier Than Ever for Students to Cheat

Slate reported:

Look out, educators. You’re about to confront a pernicious new challenge that is spreading, kudzu-like, into your student writing assignments: papers augmented with artificial intelligence.

The first online article generator debuted in 2005. Now, AI-generated text can now be found in novels, fake news articles and real news articles, marketing campaigns and dozens of other written products. The tech is either free or cheap to use, which places it in the hands of anyone. And it’s probably already burrowing into America’s classrooms right now.

Using an AI program is not “plagiarism” in the traditional sense — there’s no previous work for the student to copy, and thus no original for teachers’ plagiarism detectors to catch. Instead, a student first feeds text from either a single or multiple sources into the program to begin the process.

The program then generates content by using a set of parameters on a topic, which then can be personalized to the writer’s specifications. With a little bit of practice, a student can use AI to write his or her paper in a fraction of the time that it would normally take to write an essay.

Doomscrolling Linked to Poor Physical and Mental Health, Study Finds

The Guardian reported:

There’s no shortage of bad news in the media to “doomscroll”, from a global pandemic to the war in Ukraine and an impending climate crisis, but new research suggests the compulsive urge to surf the web can lead to poor mental and physical health outcomes.

Doomscrolling is the tendency to “continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening or depressing”, a practice researchers found has boomed since the onset of the pandemic.

The study, published in the journal Health Communication, found that 16.5% of about 1,100 people surveyed showed signs of “severely problematic” news consumption, leading to greater levels of stress, anxiety and poor health.

Metaversity Is in Session as Meta and Iowa’s VictoryXR Open 10 Virtual Campuses

Forbes reported:

“Teaching in the metaverse is like being able to leave your physical reality and immerse yourself in a complete, digitally simulated environment. It can be anywhere in the world, in any timeline,” said Muhsinah Morris, principal investigator of the Morehouse in the Metaverse project. The historically Black college in Atlanta is one of 10 so-called metaversities that offers classes via VR headsets in a virtual classroom.

Colleges and universities have flirted with using virtual reality as a teaching tool for years, but until recently, few institutions invested in the technology. The headsets were bulky and expensive, and even with the hardware in hand, creating engaging, effective virtual teaching spaces is costly and requires skilled engineers.

This fall, 10 universities get a free ticket for entry; as part of its $150 million Meta Immersive Learning project, Meta — Facebook’s parent company — is bringing colleges into their metaverse.

Amazon’s Next Healthcare Venture May Be in Japan

The Verge reported:

Amazon is considering partnering with pharmacies in Japan to deliver medications starting in 2023, according to a report from Nikkei.

The plan is for Amazon to build a platform where patients can get information about the drugs they’ve been prescribed and also sign up to get those drugs delivered, Nikkei reported, based on interviews with unnamed sources involved with the project. Amazon would not operate pharmacies itself — just provide the online system.

Amazon has been involved in the pharmacy business in the U.S. since 2018 when it acquired prescription delivery company PillPack. It launched its own pharmacy, Amazon Pharmacy, in 2020.