Mozilla News Beat, March 5, 2021
Welcome to the Mozilla News Beat, a glance at the internet news of the week in order of best-to-worst. Enjoy!
Never Gonna Give! Never Gonna Give!
When Rick Astley recorded the song ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ back in ‘87, he had no idea he’d be bequeathing the internet with an anthem. Now you can watch the internet’s favorite trolling song in 4K. We hope you get to indulge in the UHD Rick Roll-y goodness.
WTF Is NFT?
When you heard Grimes sold some NFTs for $6 million you probably wondered, “What the bleep are NFTs?” Well, we’re right bleeping there with you on that one. The Verge comes to the rescue. The site offers an explainer of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, and a look into some of the price tags on these things at the intersection of blockchain and art.
AI And “AI”
Here’s another explainer for you, this time about a term we all know, yet is used in different ways. The phrase “AI” is thrown around so freely that not all uses are the same. MIT Tech Review lays out the different uses, from the simple “set of instructions a computer executes to learn from data,” as the publication puts it, to human beings simply coding their biases into software that can make decisions. Either way, the human beings that design algorithms are accountable for the choices their creations make.
By now you likely know what deepfakes are — AI-powered software used to change the face of someone on video. Most often, people use deepfakes to make one person look like another, but the new Deep Nostalgia tool by MyHeritage brings faces in still photos to life. The service is meant to animate photos of deceased relatives and the results are creepy!
Tom Goes Deep
Have you seen a video going around TikTok of Tom Cruise in a white polo talking about playing some sports? Yeah….that’s not Tom Cruise. Daily Beast points out that the video is a deepfake. The account @deeptomcruise has since scrapped the video, but not before amassing hundreds of thousands of followers. The article offers advice to any celebs reading: grab a TikTok account and get it verified before someone impersonates you!
Last year Facebook instituted a ban on political ads around the time of the U.S. presidential election. That ban has now been lifted: as of March 4, advertisers can now serve political ads to users on Facebook. The company said, “We plan to use the coming months to take a closer look at how these ads work on our service to see where further changes may be merited.” The announcement came hours after politicians criticized the company for not having an end date for the ban.
There’s something about the phrase “the robot can see in the dark” that never fails to get our robot apocalypse senses tingling. Anyway, law enforcement in New York City last month made use of a new bot — Digidog. The 70-pound robot built by Boston Dynamics walks on all fours, can communicate with officers and, yes, even see in the dark to tell officers if there’s a threat within. Some worry the tech will become yet another tool in law enforcement’s ever-growing toolbelt of surveillance options.
Digital Divide Turned Vaccination Divide
What’s it take to get a COVID-19 vaccine? Being “an internet genius with broadband” connectivity, says Cnet. Last month in the News Beat, we shared a story about a developer who designed a tool to make finding vaccines easier. This month we learn he’s not alone. States all across the U.S. are seeing folks set up groups on Facebook, offer Google forms and more to help folks get vaccinated who may not have email addresses or even reliable broadband.
Anti-vaccine misinformation is spreading like wildfire on the new social app Clubhouse and doctors on the platform are doing their best to curb it. A new report notes how one anti-vaccine influencer used a combination of Clubhouse and Twitter to attempt to convince followers that the COVID-19 vaccine was “European poison.” The situation calls into question Clubhouse’s ability to moderate the platform as well as the great power and responsibility of being able to target Clubhouse’s current core demographic: Black people.
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