Welcome to the Mozilla News Beat, a glance at the internet news of the week in order of best-to-worst. Enjoy!
SpaceX just launched four regular people into space. The non-astronaut crew are part of the Inspiration4 mission, and rode the company’s Falcon 9 rocket after 6 months of intensive training. SpaceX’s launch site hasn’t been great for the environment, and space tourism feels like the latest way billionaires like Bezos and Branson flex their bank accounts on each other, but for these four people, they received a once in a lifetime experience.
Misinformation comes in all forms. When rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted about how COVID vaccines may cause impotency, many responded to the contrary with facts and figures. Minaj’s skepticism toward the vaccine points to a larger trend within the Black community, some of which derives from government-sanctioned experiments in 1932 that saw the US intentionally not treating syphilis in the Black community when it said it was doing so. (AP News uncovered this four decades later, in 1972.) When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, both the U.S.’s infectious disease director Anthony Fauci and Trinidad and Tobago’s health minister Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh debunked Minaj’s claims.
Attack Of The Clones
Deepfake audio is becoming increasingly sophisticated and easy to access, according to an analysis by The Verge, which looks into voice clone tech offered by companies like Resemble. AI, Respeecher and Veritone. On the one hand, it allows those with damaged voices like actor Val Kilmer to sound like they previously did. On the other it raises ethical questions: when a person is deceased is it okay to make use of their voice?
Certain Facebook accounts get special treatment. That’s the gist of a new report out of the Wall Street Journal. The social network giant may feign equal treatment for all its users on the surface, but secretly, whitelisted accounts are allowed to operate under different rules. These accounts are able to share information deemed false, share revenge porn and more. As New York Times points out, just because a company is big and wealthy doesn’t mean it can’t fall prey to poor decision making.
Should this exist? A new web app lets anyone upload a photo of a person and, using deepfake technology, superimpose their face into an adult video. (MIT Tech Review reports on the site without naming it or linking out to it.) Right now the site’s number of users is low, but it doesn’t change the fact that the precedent is chilling.
The News Beat
Anil Kanji, Anna Jay, Xavier Harding
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