Facebook implements "one strike" policy to protect Live from abuse

What just happened? Facebook is implementing a “one strike” policy that will ban users who commit various offenses from broadcasting over Facebook Live for a set period of time, even if the offense isn’t related to the use of the livestreaming service.

Facebook VP of Integrity Guy Rosen said that up to this point, those who posted content that violated their community standards would simply have their post taken down. Repeat offenders would be blocked from using Facebook for a certain period of time and in extreme cases, they were banned from using the social network indefinitely.

Now, anyone that violates Facebook’s most serious policies will be barred from using Live for a set period of time starting with their first offense. Specific infractions and penalty periods weren’t mentioned in Rosen’s post.

Facebook aims to extend the restrictions to other areas over the coming weeks – for example, barring people who share links to statements from terrorist groups from creating ads on the social network.

The changes are in response to the recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand. Facebook realized after those attacks that it had to do more to prevent people from sharing disturbing video on its platform. Algorithms were able to automatically remove many offending videos but those that were intentionally manipulated to be slightly different than the original were able to skirt past the safeguards.

The social network is partnering with Cornell University, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Maryland, investing $7.5 million to research techniques to detect manipulated media and to distinguish between unwitting posters and those who intentionally manipulate media.

The work, Rosen said, will be critical for their broader effort against manipulated media.

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San Francisco becomes first US city to ban facial recognition technology

What just happened? On Tuesday, legislators in San Francisco voted to ban the use of facial recognition by government agencies, making it the first US city to do so. This plan will forbid local agencies such as the city’s transport authority and law enforcement to make use of the technology.

The proposal, called the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance, was lead by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who regarded it as “an ordinance about having accountability around surveillance technology.” The development marks a stark contrast to the swift deployment of this key technology by law enforcement agencies nationwide.

“This is not an anti-technology policy,” said Aaron, acknowledging that many tools used by law enforcement are vital for the city’s security but facial recognition technology is “uniquely dangerous and oppressive.” The ordinance will require city agencies to get board approval prior to buying and the use of any new surveillance technology, while also setting up audits for existing surveillance equipment used in cases such as body cameras and ShotSpotter.

Civil rights and privacy advocates like the ACLU and those in favor of this move have pushed the notion that facial recognition technology is unreliable and can be misused for mass surveillance, infringe on people’s privacy and liberty, and possibly lead to more false arrests, while opponents of the bill claim it will create hurdles in fighting crime and put people’s safety at risk.

Once the new rule goes into effect, expected in about a month’s time, the city’s 53 departments would be banned from using this technology. “We all support good policing but none of us want to live in a police state,” remarked Aaron Peskin.

The bill does not forbid residents and businesses in the city from using this technology for private use like home surveillance systems. “I think San Francisco has a responsibility to speak up on things that are affecting the entire globe, that are happening in our front yard.”

The city’s airport and seaport also remain unaffected by this bill as they are run by federal, not local, agencies.

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Check out the first trailer for Black Mirror season five

Something to look forward to: Black Mirror, the anthology series that examines the dark side of technology, is returning to Netflix next month for its fifth season, and you can watch the new trailer right now.

“Netflix invites you to experience three new stories from the award-winning series that changed how you see technology, the future, the world, each other, love, privacy, connection, sex, family, work, afterlife,” reads the text in the clip.

The fifth season will see actor Andrew Scott playing someone who appears to have been pushed over the edge by today’s obsessive smartphone culture.

Another story stars singer Miley Cyrus as a performer who has “undergone a transformation in order to rise to a higher level of fame,” seemingly encouraged by an Alexa-style AI-powered doll that will doubtlessly turn out to be evil.

Anthony Mackie, best known for playing Falcon in the Avengers movie franchise, appears in the third story. He’s joined by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who portrayed Black Manta in DC’s Aquaman, prompting Brooker to tell Entertainment Weekly that “It’s the Marvel-DC crossover no one saw coming.”

Three stories are fewer than what we’ve seen in most previous seasons, but they may have longer run times. We’ll find out for certain when the latest episodes of Black Mirror hit Netflix on June 5.

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HP unveils the Omen X 2S, a dual-screen gaming laptop

Something to look forward to: HP has released a gaming laptop that’s a little different from its rivals. The new Omen X 2S features two screens: a main 15-inch display and a 6-inch 1080p touchscreen just below that offers a variety of functions.

We’ve already seen similar dual-screen laptops in the past, most notably Asus’ ZenBook Pros, which place a 5.5-inch ScreenPad beneath the keyboard. But as we pointed out in our review, that implementation was slightly limited, with Microsoft Office applications making the best use of the feature.

With the Omen X 2S, the 1080p secondary screen can be used to run a variety of apps, watch YouTube, show system stats, view a Twitch stream, act as a second browser, double as a keypad, and more. But its most useful ability could be the way it mirrors specific parts of the main screen. The example showed by HP involved mirroring an FPS game’s mini map onto the smaller display.

The second screen is powered by HP’s Omen Command Center UI and HP Mobile View software suites, meaning there’s less work for developers when it comes to creating programs specifically for the smaller display.

The Omen boasts an RGB keyboard, N-key rollover, and 1.5mm fast action key travel. It also uses Thermal Grizzly liquid metal instead of thermal paste on the CPU, which HP says can improve performance by 28 percent in games such as Apex Legends.

The main screen comes with a 144Hz 1080p panel as standard and can be upgraded to 240Hz or the 4K HDR option. As it’s a gaming machine, it features an Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q, Core i7-9750H, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD for $2,099. In addition to the upgraded screen, buyers can configure the laptop up to an i9-9880H, 32GB of RAM, and a 2TB SSD.

The Omen X 2S will be available in June, while the models with a 240Hz display will be available in July.

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Uber adds Quiet Mode for passengers who don't want to talk to drivers

In brief: Everyone has moments when they’re feeling less than sociable, especially while being driven around by a ride-hailing firm after a hard day’s work or a night of drinking. But many drivers feel obligated to make small talk, fearing a bad rating if they stay silent. To avoid this social awkwardness, Uber has introduced Quiet Mode.

The mode is one of several preferences Uber introduced yesterday for its luxury Uber Black and UberSUV services, which use premium cars and professional drivers who must maintain a rating of 4.85 or higher. Uber says the preferences have to be set up before hailing a ride, and that they offer “an increasing number of ways for riders to personalize their experiences.”

Quiet mode lets users select from ‘quiet preferred’, ‘happy to chat’ or ‘no preference,’ meaning you won’t have to tell the driver you don’t wish to talk—something most people are unlikely to feel comfortable with. Riders can also set their preferred temperature and request help with luggage. Premium rides have also received extended pickup times and live phone support.

Even if you do select the ‘quiet preferred’ option, the driver isn’t under any obligation to keep silent during the trip. “It’s not mandatory,” Uber product manager Aydin Ghajar told TechCrunch. “The driver is an independent contractor. We’re just communicating the rider’s preference. The driver can have that information and do with it what they want.” Ignoring the request will likely result in poor rating for the driver, of course.

Given that Uber Black and UberSUV can cost double or treble the price of a standard ride, it’s not surprising to see the company trying to tempt people into using the expensive services by introducing these preferences.

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