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By Usman Khan Lodhi
Twitter cracks down on QAnon conspiracy group, bans 7,000 accounts
by Usman Khan Lodhi
Twitter announced that it would permanently ban accounts that violate the platform's policies while tweeting about QAnon, the conspiracy theory movement that asserts "deep state" actors are plotting against Donald Trump. In the last several weeks, about 7,000 accounts, which violated the firm's rules against spam, platform manipulation, and ban evasion, have been banned. In a suspension later rolled out this week, the circulation of roughly 150,000 additional accounts will be limited, as they'll stop appearing in recommendations, trends, and search.
Per online conspiracies, the term "deep state" refers to a combination of elites from intelligence, political, business, and entertainment sectors, and QAnon's theories assert that the "deep state" is a secret war with Trump.
Twitter stated that QAnon-related links will be blocked from being shared on the platform, and accounts associated with the conspiracy movement will no longer be promoted in search, conversations, or trending topics. The firm didn't elaborate on which forums or sites might be impacted.
Last year, QAnon was designated as a potential domestic extremist threat by the FBI when it issued a warning about "conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists."
Alleged anti-5G USB stick that sells for £339 costs just £5 to make
by Paul Hill
An investigation by BBC News and Pen Test Partners has revealed that a £339 “anti-5G USB stick” is actually just a £5 USB device with a cheap sticker affixed. The report came after a member of Glastonbury Town Council’s 5G Advisory Committee, Toby Hall, suggested that the 5GBioShield could be used to tackle the alleged negative side effects of 5G.
The 5GBioShield retails for £339.60 including VAT and you can even get a discount if you buy three. According to the retailer, the device uses “proprietary holographic nano-layer technology” to ward off 5G’s “non-natural magneto-electric waves”. The town’s council committee member, Toby Hall, said in a report by the 5G Advisory Committee that “We use this device and find it helpful.”
In order to learn more about the device, Pen Test Partners got hold of the product and performed a tear down after plugging it into their computer. It found that the device comes with 128MB of storage and that the device properties were set to default values, which it said, is an indication of a cheap, unbranded device.
In terms of the hardware, Pen Test Partners found nothing unique about the hardware, explaining that the crystal holder housed an LED and that the circle near the front of the USB stick was just a regular sticker. Pen Test Partners came to the conclusion that the device was nothing more than a £5 USB key that you can find online and said that it believes a trading standards body should investigate the product.
Following the product's tear down, Toby Hall said that his remarks should not be taken as a recommendation by the council to buy the product. What he did say, however, was that since plugging it in he felt calmer, had better sleep, and noticed "a 'calmer' feel to the home."
Ofcom reiterates that 5G is safe after arson attacks
by Paul Hill
Following several arson attacks against 5G masts in the UK last week, Ofcom, the communications regulator, has reiterated that 5G is not dangerous to human health. It said that it has carried out tests over a number of years in different parts of the country. It found that, in ten cities where mobile use is likely highest, 5G mobile signals were at a small fraction of what’s recommended by international guidelines.
Relaying what advice it gave to the government on the back of these tests, Ofcom said:
Due to the on-going lockdown, which the government ordered to stem the spread of coronavirus, communications services are vital for people wanting to stay connected to friends and family. Ofcom pointed out that by destroying 5G masts, arsonists were also affecting 3G and 4G reception. It said this damage may also impede emergency services which rely on the hardware.
In response to the arson attacks, the UK government is holding meetings this week with representatives of technology firms in order to address 5G conspiracy theories being circulated online. Anticipating the changes that are going to be needed, Google announced yesterday that it would remove any videos on YouTube that suggest 5G is in some related to the spread of lethality of COVID-19.
UK: Social networks need to fight 5G conspiracies
by Paul Hill
Following a spate of attacks on 5G masts, the UK government is calling on social media companies to be more aggressive when it comes to tackling 5G-related conspiracy theories. The government is planning meetings with tech company leaders this week after several 5G masts were set on fire by arsonists and engineers received abuse.
For a while, proponents of the conspiracies have been saying that 5G can cause cancer; now they allege that the technology helps facilitate the spread and severity of COVID-19. According to one theory, 5G suppresses the immune system leading to more COVID-19 deaths while another theory says network radio waves are used by the virus to communicate and pick victims, accelerating the spread of the virus. It’s worth noting that the virus is spreading just as fast in the UK as in countries that have yet to deploy 5G.
Commenting on the issue, the Department for Digital, Media and Sport told the BBC that:
Due to the virus, the meetings will be held virtually to protects participants. It’s not clear which firms will be attending but the list likely includes Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Facebook already removes posts that encourage attacks on masts and Pinterest limits coronavirus search results, but not 5G searches. Google also uses an algorithm on YouTube but doesn’t ban videos outright.
Source: BBC News
By Abhay V
Google is developing a 'media history' feature for Chrome
by Abhay Venkatesh
Google has added a few new media-related features to its Chrome browser in the recent past, such as the global media controls feature that even made its way to Edge. The search giant is also testing a picture-in-picture button in the control center, which unsurprisingly is also being tested in Microsoft’s Edge Canary version. Now, XDA Developers have spotted a few commits to the Chromium Gerrit that hint at a new media history feature.
As the name suggests, the feature will be tasked with providing a list of all media content that has been played on the browser. While it is not clear how the feature will be placed, there currently are references to a ‘basic Web UI’ commit for ‘media history data’. It is possible that the feature could be part of browsing history or may have its own section in the History section.
As with browser history, media history too can be deleted. The commit suggests that the recorded media URLs will be deleted along with the browser history when cleared from the browser. There are many more commits under the ‘Media History’ tag, including commits for features that can store ‘watchtime in seconds’, ‘support incognito’, and more. Chrome Canary currently has a flag termed ‘#media-history’ that can be enabled, but there are no user-facing changes that can be currently spotted.
The feature should be an interesting addition to the browser. It would not be surprising to see the feature make its way to Edge as well, considering that the Redmond giant is constantly contributing to Chromium and is actively developing more features for its browser.