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TikTok joins the EU’s Code of Practice on disinformation

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TikTok is the latest platform to sign up the European Union’s Code of Practice on disinformation, agreeing to a set of voluntary steps aimed at combating the spread of damaging fakes and falsehoods online.

The short video sharing platform, which is developed by Beijing based ByteDance and topped 2BN downloads earlier this year, is hugely popular with teens — so you’re a lot more likely to see dancing and lipsyncing videos circulating than AI-generated high tech ‘deepfakes’. Though, of course, online disinformation has no single medium: The crux of the problem is something false passing off as true, with potentially very damaging impacts (such as when it’s targeted at elections; or bogus health information spreading during a pandemic).

The EDiMA trade association, which counts TikTok as one of a number of tech giant members — and acts as a spokesperson for those signed up to the EU’s Code — announced today that the popular video sharing platform had formally signed up.

“TikTok signing up to the Code of Practice on Disinformation is great news as it widens the breadth of online platforms stepping up the fight against disinformation online. It shows that the Code of Practice on Disinformation is an effective means to ensure that companies do more to effectively fight disinformation online,” said Siada El Ramly, EDiMA’s director general, in a statement.

She further claimed the announcement “shows once again that internet companies take their responsibility seriously and are ready to play their part”.

In another statement, TikTok’s Theo Bertram, director of its government relations & public policy team in Europe, added: “To prevent the spread of disinformation online, industry co-operation and transparency are vital, and we’re proud to sign up to the Code of Practice on Disinformation to play our part.”

That’s the top-line PR from the platforms’ side.

However earlier this month the Commission warned that a coronavirus ‘infodemic’ had led to a flood of false and/or misleading information related to the COVID-19 pandemic in recent months — telling tech giants they must do more.

Platforms signed up to the Code of Practice must now provide monthly reports with greater detail about the counter measures they’re taking to tackle coronavirus fakes, it added — warning they need to back up their claims of action with more robust evidence that the steps they’re taking are actually working. 

The Commission said then that TikTok was on the point of signing up. It also said negotiations remain ongoing with Facebook-owned WhatsApp to join the code.  We’ve reached out to the Commission for any update.

In the almost two years since the code came into existence EU lawmakers have made repeat warnings that tech giants are not doing enough to tackle disinformation being spread on their platforms.

Commissioners are now consulting on major reforms to foundational ecommerce rules which wrap digital services, including looking at the hot button issue of content liability and asking — more broadly — how much responsibility platforms should have for the content they amplify and monetize? A draft proposal of the Digital Services Act is slated for the end of the year.

All of which incentivizes platforms to show willingness to work with the EU’s current (voluntary) anti-disinformation program — or risk more stringent and legally binding rules coming down the pipe in future. (TikTok has the additional risk of being a China-based platform, and earlier this month the Commission went so far as to name China as one of the state entities it has identified spreading disinformation in the region.)

Although the chance of hard and fast regulations to tackle fuzzy falsehoods seems unlikely.

Earlier this month the Commission’s VP for values and transparency, Věra Jourová, suggested illegal content will be the focus for the Digital Services Act. On the altogether harder-to-define problem of ‘disinformation’ she said: “I do not foresee that we will come with hard regulation on that.” Instead, she suggested lawmakers will look for an “efficient” way of decreasing the harmful impacts associated with the problem — saying they could, for example, focus on pre-election periods; suggesting there may be temporary controls on platform content ahead of major votes.

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Mozilla were among the first clutch of tech platforms and online advertisers to sign up to the Commission’s code back in 2018 — when signatories committed to take actions aimed at disrupting ad revenues for entities which spread fakes and actively support research into disinformation.

They also agreed to do more to tackle fake accounts and bots; and said they’d make political and issue ads more transparent. Empowering consumers to report disinformation and access different news sources, and improving the visibility of authoritative content were other commitments.

Since then a few more platforms and trade associations have signed up to the EU code — with TikTok the latest.

Reviews of the EU’s initiative remain mixed — including the Commission’s own regular ‘must do better’ report card for platforms. Clearly, online disinformation remains hugely problematic. Nor is there ever going to be a simply fix for such a complex human phenomenon. Although there is far less excuse for platforms’ ongoing transparency failures.

Which may in turn offer the best route forward for regulators to tackle such a thorny issue: Via enforced transparency and access to platform data.

TechCrunch

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5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week

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Apex Legends Mobile Cinematic Scene 7

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Welcome to the 470th edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the big headlines from the last week.

  • YouTube Music has an annoying censorship bug on Nest Hubs. It doesn’t let you play music with sensitive album art. You get the same warning on the phone app, but you can usually bypass it. Unfortunately, there are limited ways to bypass it on your Nest Hub. Hit the link to learn more.
  • A former Facebook employee says Facebook can intentionally kill your battery. It does so through a process termed negative testing, where the app acts out, tanks your battery, and Facebook collects the data with it. It doesn’t happen to a ton of people, but it can happen to anyone.
  • Samsung updated Good Lock this week, just in time for its Samsung Galaxy S23 launch. The update added an option to update every installed plugin at once. Previously, you had to update each one individually. It’s a minor quality-of-life improvement, but it’s a welcome one.
  • ChatGPT is getting more serious. You can now spend $20 per month for a more powerful version of OpenAI’s bot. It’s only available to US customers right now, but it may expand later. The bot is also causing waves at Google, causing the company to ramp up its own AI work.
  • Apex Legends Mobile is shutting down after less than one year. EA made the announcement just a month after half of the Internet, including us, dubbed it the best new game of 2022. EA cites challenges with the content pipeline. It makes sense, since many of the newer updates have included a host of bugs that the developers just can’t seem to squash. Oh well, it was a nice run.

Pompom: The Great Space Rescue

Price: Free / $5.49

Pompom: The Great Space Rescue is a platformer. You play as Pompom and you progress through the game by jumping through and around obstacles, avoiding enemies, and solve puzzles to progress. It pays ode to the 16-bit era of gaming, so you’ll see a lot of elements, including graphics, from that era. There are also a bunch of weapons and tools you’ll get to help you on your way. The actual gameplay has some runner elements where you run forward automatically, and that’s not a 16-bit era style, but the game is still fun.

Memori Note

Price: Free / $2.49

Memori Note screenshot 2023

Memori Note is a note-taking app with an emphasis on reminding you of things. You write down what you want in the app, ask it to remind you about it at a random time, and it’ll do just that. The app also has color coding, a tags and filters system, and we think it looks pretty nice with its muted colors. There are also some backup settings if you want to transfer notes to a new device. We’re not sure how well it’ll do long term, but it definitely has the potential.

Devil Hunter Idle

Price: Free to play

Devil Hunter Idle is an action idle game. Your character hacks and slashes its way to level-ups, loot, and resources. You use those resources to strengthen your character so they can go back out and hack and slash more bad guys. That’s the primary gameplay loop, and it plays similarly to classic games like Buff Knight. The game’s over-the-top art style makes it feel like a lot more is happening, and the player does get to control some aspects of combat. The advertising is annoying, but you can pay to remove all of them. Other than that and some early bugs, the game is decent for its genre.

Rewind: Music Time Travel

Price: Free

Rewind Music Time Travel screenshot 2023

Rewind: Music Time Travel is an app for music rediscovery. It’s basically a big timeline that you scroll through to see what the music world looked like in any given year. It’s a neat way to rediscover old hits, and remind yourself of stuff you used to listen to. When I tested this one, I used it to help fill out my YouTube Music library a little bit since I had forgotten some of the songs I used to listen to. This isn’t something you’ll use long-term, but it’s a neat little app anyway.

Checkers Clash

Price: Free to play

Checkers Clash is an online competitive game where you play checkers. It’s not a complicated experience. You get into a game with an opponent. The two of you take turns until one of you runs out of pieces or concedes the match. You can also invite your friends and play against them as well. Some other game features include 8×8 and 10×10 board options, bots to play against to improve your skill, and a rewards system where you collect various things. The matchmaking system is imperfect, as it is in almost all online games, but it’s one of the few competitive checkers apps on mobile.


If we missed any big Android apps or games releases, tell us about it in the comments.
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Family and friends question police theory that Nicola Bulley fell in river

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Family and friends question police theory that Nicola Bulley fell in river
N

icola Bulley’s family and friends have questioned a police theory that the missing dog walker fell in a river.

In a Facebook post, Ms Bulley’s sister, Louise Cunningham, urged people to “keep an open mind” as there is “no evidence whatsoever” that the dog walker fell in the river.

“Off the back of the latest Police media update, please can I add there is no evidence whatsoever that she has gone into the river, it’s just a theory,” she said.

“Everyone needs to keep an open mind as not all CCTV and leads have been investigated fully, the police confirmed the case is far from over.”

Search teams from Lancashire Constabulary are continuing to trawl the River Wyre near St Michael’s, working on the hypothesis that the missing mother-of-two, from nearby Inskip, could have fallen in when she disappeared on January 27.

Ms Bulley’s friend, Emma White, also cast doubt on the police theory, telling Sky News it was based on “limited information”.

“When we are talking about a life we can’t base it on a hypothesis – surely we need this factual evidence,” she said.

“That’s what the family and all of us are holding on to – that we are sadly no further on than last Friday.

“We still have no evidence, and that’s why we’re out together in force.

“You don’t base life on a hypothesis.”

Police believe the 45-year-old mortgage adviser went missing in just “a 10-minute window” while she was walking her dog, Willow, close to the River Wyre, after dropping off her daughters – aged six and nine – at school.

Ms Bulley had logged in to a Microsoft Teams call at 9.01am, which ended at 9.30am with her phone still connected to the call.

She was seen by another dog walker at 9.10am – the last known sighting – and police traced telephony records of her mobile phone as it remained on a bench overlooking the river at 9.20am.

The device was found by a dog walker at around 9.35am, with Willow nearby.

The police search has been aided by specialists and divers from HM Coastguard, mountain rescue, and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service – with sniffer dogs, drones and police helicopters deployed.

Detectives are also working behind the scenes to analyse CCTV and dashcam videos, and members of the public with footage which could be useful have been urged to come forward.

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The Strange Reason I Facebook-Stalk My Ex’s New Girlfriend

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YourTango

I think we can all agree that the internet has made it much, much harder to get over a breakup.

Sure, you may have successfully erased his number from your phone, used his junior high football T-shirt as a rag, put away all your couple photos, ordered him never to call again, and cursed him to hell, but all of that effort is almost a waste considering he’s just a click of the mouse away. 

After a while, though, watching how he’s growing in the midriff via Facebook photos loses its luster. You already know almost everything about him anyway, after all that time you spent/wasted. But what about his new girlfriend? She’s someone to be curious about. 

RELATED: I Hired A Private Investigator To Spy On My Ex’s New Girlfriend

I’m not proud of this—as I am not proud of oh-so-many things I’ve admitted to but I am kind of obsessed with my ex’s new girlfriend.

Not in an Alicia Silverstone in The Crush sort of way—I am not going to trap the chick in a shed and set a hive of bees on her to attack. That would be crazy!

No, I just like to look at her Facebook page sometimes. It’s been set to private ever since the day I told my ex that I suspected he was lying to me about his relationship with her. He must have told her I was onto them because suddenly I didn’t have as much access to this mysterious girl I’d only ever met twice, who slipped in and changed my life without me noticing. 

I don’t blame her entirely, or even mostly. I blame him and, to a certain degree, I blame myself. But, I mean, I kind of blame her. We met! Twice! My ex made a point of telling me I would like her! (Red flag, FYI, ladies!) She seemed enthused to meet me! She seemed nice.

Two weeks before my ex pulled the plug on our relationship—and coincidentally the day before the two of them went on a business trip together—she even had drinks with us and his mom. It never occurred to me that something was amiss. 

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