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Meta Hit With 8 Suits Claiming Its Algorithms Hook Youth and Ruin Their Lives

Bloomberg reported:

Meta Platforms Inc. is now a leader in another social media trend — lawsuits claiming the company built algorithms in its platforms that lure young people into a destructive addiction.

Eight complaints filed in courthouses across the U.S. over the last week allege that excessive exposure to platforms including Facebook and Instagram has led to attempted or actual suicides, eating disorders and sleeplessness, among other issues.

“These applications could have been designed to minimize potential harm, but instead, a decision was made to aggressively addict adolescents in the name of corporate profits,” attorney Andy Birchfield, a principal at Beasley Allen, the law firm that drafted the suits, said in a statement Wednesday.

The complaints add to a spurt of recent cases against Meta and Snap Inc., including some filed by parents whose children took their own lives. The litigation follows a former Facebook employee’s high-profile testimony in Congress that the company refused to take responsibility for harming the mental health of its youngest users.

NYC Lifts Mask Mandate for Kids Between 2 and 4 Years Old

New York Daily News reported:

New York City kids between 2 and 4 years old will no longer be required to wear masks in daycare and preschool starting Monday, Mayor Adams announced Thursday.

The so-called “toddler mask mandate” remained in place even after mask requirements were lifted for older city public school students in March, with city health officials arguing it was premature to lift it for young kids with cases on the rise citywide and children under five still ineligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

But now that cases are starting to decline once again across the city, Adams said he’s ready to lift the mandate.

New Vaccine May Be Option for Troops With Religious Concerns

Associated Press reported:

A COVID-19 vaccine that could soon win federal approval may offer a boost for the U.S. military: an opportunity to get shots into some of the thousands of service members who have refused other coronavirus vaccines for religious reasons.

The Novavax vaccine may be an acceptable option for some of the 27,000 service members who have sought religious exemptions from the mandatory vaccine. Military officials say many troops who refuse the shots cite certain COVID-19 vaccines’ remote connection to abortions.

One group involved in lawsuits targeting the military’s vaccine requirement said it’s possible some shot opponents may see Novavax as an amenable option.

“I definitely think it is for some, but certainly not for all,” said Mike Berry, director of military affairs for First Liberty Institute. “There are some for whom abortion is really the ultimate issue, and once that issue is resolved for them spiritually, then they’re willing.”

Airline Officials Press Biden to End COVID Testing for International Travelers

The Hill reported:

Airline industry officials and lawmakers are pressing the Biden administration to drop pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirements for vaccinated international travelers, arguing the mandate is costing the sector billions of dollars in revenue each month.

Many other countries have dropped such requirements, and industry leaders argue the policy does not match the threat posed by the virus. Lawmakers are also pushing the Biden administration to drop the testing requirement, which has been in place since January 2021.

Even as domestic travel has rebounded from pandemic-era lows, international travel to the U.S. has lagged behind. Industry officials told lawmakers Tuesday that the greatest inhibitor of international travel is the testing requirement.

CDC Sparks Backlash After Ditching Monkeypox Mask Advice

Newsweek reported:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sparked a backlash for scrapping advice for travelers to wear face masks to prevent the spread of monkeypox.

Last week, the CDC updated its monkeypox travel guidance to read: “Wear a mask. Wearing a mask can help protect you from many diseases, including monkeypox.” It also raised the monkeypox alert level to Level 2, indicating that people should “practice enhanced precautions.”

On the evening of June 6, however, the mask recommendation was deleted from the monkeypox travel notice on the CDC website. The CDC’s decision to delete the mask advice for travelers prompted anger from some Twitter users.

Boston Public Schools Ending Mask Mandate

CBS Boston reported:

Students in Boston will no longer be required to wear masks in school starting on Monday. Boston Public Schools will encourage masks but not require them.

The city cited sustained downward trends in COVID cases and hospitalizations as the reason for changing the policy.

Masks will still be required in certain instances, including when a student tests positive and returns to class before 10 days of isolation.

Virus Testing the New Normal as China Sticks to ‘Zero-COVID’

Associated Press reported:

Thousands of coronavirus testing sites have popped up on sidewalks across Beijing and other Chinese cities in the latest development in the country’s “zero-COVID” strategy.

Lines form every day, rain or shine, even where the spread of the virus has largely stopped. Some people need to go to work. Others want to shop. All are effectively compelled to get tested by a requirement to show a negative test result to enter office buildings, malls and other public places.

Regular testing of residents is becoming the new normal in many parts of China as the ruling Communist Party sticks steadfastly to a “zero-COVID” approach that is increasingly at odds with the rest of the world.

Many cities including Beijing are requiring a negative test result within the last three days to enter a public place or take the bus or subway. Some have made it a week or 10 days. The tests are free, with the result reflected on the person’s smartphone health app roughly 12 hours later.

Shanghai to Lock Down 2.7 Million, a Week After Easing COVID Restrictions

The Guardian reported:

Shanghai will lock down a district of 2.7 million people on Saturday to conduct mass coronavirus testing, city authorities said, as the Chinese metropolis struggles to fully emerge from punishing curbs.

The city eased many restrictions last week, after confining most of its 25 million residents to their homes since March as China battled its worst COVID outbreak in two years.

But the lockdown was never fully lifted, with hundreds of thousands in China’s biggest city still restricted to their homes and multiple residential compounds put under fresh stay-home orders.

The south-western district of Minhang, home to 2.7 million people, will be placed under “closed management” on Saturday morning and all residents will be tested, district authorities said in a social media post on Thursday.

Everyone Sees Something Different on Delta’s New Face Recognition Airport Display

Gizmodo reported:

Finding your flight information on those giant densely packed airport screens can often feel as daunting as trying to interpret a wall of hieroglyphics without the Rosetta Stone. But Delta passengers traveling through Detroit will have a much easier time as a new display being installed there tailors the on-screen information to whoever’s looking at it: up to 100 travelers at once.

The displays, developed by a company called Misapplied Sciences, will be ready to greet passengers at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport starting on June 29 as part of a beta program with Delta Air Lines.

So instead of spending several minutes studying a giant screen to confirm which gate a flight is departing from, passengers traveling with Delta will see only the details for their specific flight on the screen, even when several of them are crowded around it at once.

It sounds like a privacy nightmare, but assuming it works as promised, the information is only visible to the passenger while gazing at the display, and to no one else. But how does it confirm who’s specifically looking at the Parallel Reality display and where they’re standing? Facial recognition.

Dems and GOP Unite in Fight Against Big Tech: ‘It’s Common Sense’

Newsweek reported:

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers made it known on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that if Congress does not pass their bill aimed at cracking down on the power of internet behemoths like Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google, the U.S. could face serious national security challenges.

According to a report released in December by Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, China has emerged as a serious competitor in “foundational technologies of the 21st century,” with current trajectories predicting it could overtake the U.S. in the next decade.

To inspire greater innovation in the sector, Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island has joined Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado in authoring the American Innovation and Choice Online Act.

The bill would require large online platforms, like those mentioned above, to cease the practice of preferencing their own products and services to users over those offered by smaller companies that conduct business on their sites.

Democrat Senators Call ID.me’s Handling of User Data ‘Careless, Irresponsible and Improper’ After Insider Report

Insider reported:

Three Democratic senators this week criticized identity verification contractor ID.me’s privacy and security standards after an Insider investigation found user data was left unsecured on internal dashboards. The senators, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, called the company’s handling of personal information “reckless” and “irresponsible” in statements to Insider.

Data for any ID.me user, which included veterans and people seeking unemployment benefits, was easily accessible with a company laptop for most customer service workers, sometimes before background checks were complete, Insider previously reported.

Some customer service workers were instructed to screenshot and upload users’ personal documents (including passports, driver’s licenses and Social Security cards) to an internal Slack channel if they needed help verifying whether they were fake or real.

ID.me has won contracts with the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and dozens of state unemployment agencies for its identity verification product. Most of those deals were closed in the last two years, during which time the company grew rapidly, hiring nearly 1,500 people and setting up new offices in Tampa, Florida, Insider previously reported.