Leaked Documents Outline DHS's Plans To Police Disinformation

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: The Department of Homeland Security is quietly broadening its efforts to curb speech it considers dangerous, an investigation by The Intercept has found. Years of internal DHS memos, emails, and documents — obtained via leaks and an ongoing lawsuit, as well as public documents — illustrate an expansive effort by the agency to influence tech platforms. The work, much of which remains unknown to the American public, came into clearer view earlier this year when DHS announced a new “Disinformation Governance Board”: a panel designed to police misinformation (false information spread unintentionally), disinformation (false information spread intentionally), and malinformation (factual information shared, typically out of context, with harmful intent) that allegedly threatens U.S. interests. While the board was widely ridiculed, immediately scaled back, and then shut down within a few months, other initiatives are underway as DHS pivots to monitoring social media now that its original mandate — the war on terror — has been wound down.

Behind closed doors, and through pressure on private platforms, the U.S. government has used its power to try to shape online discourse. According to meeting minutes and other records appended to a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican who is also running for Senate, discussions have ranged from the scale and scope of government intervention in online discourse to the mechanics of streamlining takedown requests for false or intentionally misleading information. […] There is also a formalized process for government officials to directly flag content on Facebook or Instagram and request that it be throttled or suppressed through a special Facebook portal that requires a government or law enforcement email to use. At the time of writing, the “content request system” at facebook.com/xtakedowns/login is still live.
These are the key takeaways from the report:
– Though DHS shuttered its controversial Disinformation Governance Board, a strategic document reveals the underlying work is ongoing.
– DHS plans to target inaccurate information on ‘the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”
– Facebook created a special portal for DHS and government partners to report disinformation directly.
– The work is primarily done by CISA, a DHS sub-agency tasked with protecting critical national infrastructure.
– DHS, the FBI, and several media entities are having biweekly meetings as recently as August.

– DHS considered countering disinformation relating to content that undermines trust in financial systems and courts.
– The FBI agent who primed social media platforms to take down the Hunter Biden laptop story continued to have a role in DHS policy discussions.

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Source: Slashdot – Leaked Documents Outline DHS’s Plans To Police Disinformation

Open source's totally non-secret weapon big tech dares not use: Staying relevant

Detachment from users’ lived reality is how corporates shoot themselves in the foot. Opinion Last week, one fundamental problem for IT cropped up in three very different stories. One story was Google’s parent Alphabet doing an internal audit of all its products on the back of falling profits. One was a highly critical look at Meta’s efforts to put business into VR. And one was Linus Torvalds getting cranky that the i486 architecture was still in Linux’s first-class lounge when it should be packed off to the Old Codes’ Home.…

Source: LXer – Open source’s totally non-secret weapon big tech dares not use: Staying relevant

Electric Scooter Ban Increased Congestion In Atlanta By 10%, Study Finds

A study published last week in the scientific journal Nature Energy studied the effects of traffic and travel time in a city when micromobility options like electric scooters and e-bikes are banned. The results documented exactly how much traffic increased as a result of people switching back to personal cars instead of smaller, more urban-appropriate vehicles. Electrek reports: The study, titled “Impacts of micromobility on car displacement with evidence from a natural experiment and geofencing policy,” was performed using data collected in Atlanta. The study was made possible due to the city’s sudden ban on shared micromobility devices at night. That ban provided a unique opportunity to compare traffic levels and travel times before and after the policy change. The ban occurred on August 9, 2019, and restricted use of shared e-bikes and e-scooters in the city between the hours of 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. The study’s authors used high-resolution data from June 25, 2019, to September 22, 2019, from Uber Movement to measure changes in evening travel times before and after the policy implementation. That created a window of analysis of 45 days with and without shared e-bike and e-scooter use at night.

The study found that on average, travel times for car trips in Atlanta during evening hours increased between 9.9-10.7% immediately following the ban on shared micromobility. For an average commuter in Atlanta, that translated to an extra 2-5 minutes per evening trip. The authors also concluded that the impact on commute times would likely be higher in other cities across the country. According the study, “based on the estimated US average commute time of 27.6 minutes in 2019, the results from our natural experiment imply a 17.4% increase in travel time nationally.”

The study went on to consider the economic impact of that added congestion and increased travel time. […] The economic impact on the city of Atlanta was calculated at US $4.9 million. The study estimated this impact on the national level could be in the range of US $408M to $573 million. Interestingly, the entirety of the study’s data comes from before the COVID-19 pandemic, which played a major role in promoting the use of shared micromobility. A similar study performed today could find an even greater impact on congestion, travel times, and economic impact on cities.

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Source: Slashdot – Electric Scooter Ban Increased Congestion In Atlanta By 10%, Study Finds

Mei And Lebron James Have Been Disabled Until Further Notice

It is my sad duty to report to you that Mei, the young ice-wielding hero of the Overwatch series, and Lebron James, the second highest-scoring player in NBA history, have both been deemed to be too buggy to remain in active service and have been disabled.

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Source: Kotaku – Mei And Lebron James Have Been Disabled Until Further Notice

Why Google Is Removing JPEG-XL Support From Chrome

Following yesterday’s article about Google Chrome preparing to deprecate the JPEG-XL image format, a Google engineer has now provided their reasons for dropping this next-generation image format. Phoronix reports: As noted yesterday, a patch is pending for the Google Chrome/Chromium browser to deprecate the still-experimental (behind a feature flag) JPEG-XL image format support from their web browser. The patch marks Chrome 110 and later as deprecating JPEG-XL image support. No reasoning was provided for this deprecation, which is odd considering JPEG-XL is still very young in its lifecycle and has been receiving growing industry interest and support.

Now this evening is a comment from a Google engineer on the Chromium JPEG-XL issue tracker with their expressed reasons: “Thank you everyone for your comments and feedback regarding JPEG XL. We will be removing the JPEG XL code and flag from Chromium for the following reasons:

– Experimental flags and code should not remain indefinitely
– There is not enough interest from the entire ecosystem to continue experimenting with JPEG XL
– The new image format does not bring sufficient incremental benefits over existing formats to warrant enabling it by default
– By removing the flag and the code in M110, it reduces the maintenance burden and allows us to focus on improving existing formats in Chrome”

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Source: Slashdot – Why Google Is Removing JPEG-XL Support From Chrome

Crypto Lender Hodlnaut Lost Nearly $190 Million in TerraUSD Drop

Embattled cryptocurrency lender Hodlnaut downplayed its exposure to the collapsed digital-token ecosystem created by fugitive Do Kwon yet suffered a near $190 million loss from the wipeout. Bloomberg reports:
The loss is among the findings of an interim judicial managers’ report seen by Bloomberg News. It is the first such report since a Singapore court in August granted Hodlnaut protection from creditors to come up with a recovery plan. “It appears that the directors had downplayed the extent of the group’s exposure to Terra/Luna both during the period leading up to and following the Terra/Luna collapse in May 2022,” the report said.

Kwon’s TerraUSD algorithmic stablecoin and sister token Luna suffered a $60 billion wipeout in May as confidence in the project evaporated, exacerbating this year’s crypto meltdown. Hodlnaut’s Hong Kong arm made the near $190 million loss when it offloaded the stablecoin as its claimed dollar peg frayed. In a letter dated July 21, Hodlnaut’s directors “made an about-turn” about the impact and informed a Singapore police department that digital assets had been converted to TerraUSD, according to the report. Much of the latter was lent out on the Anchor Protocol, the report said, a decentralized finance platform developed on the Terra blockchain.

Hodlnaut, which operates out of Singapore and Hong Kong, halted withdrawals in August. The judicial report said more than 1,000 deleted documents from Hodlnaut’s Google workspace could have helped shed light on the business. The judicial managers haven’t been able to obtain several “key documents” in relation to Hodlnaut’s Hong Kong arm, which owes $58.3 million to Hodlnaut Pte in Singapore. About S$776,292 appeared to have been withdrawn by some employees between July and when withdrawals were halted in August, the report stated. Most of the company’s investments into DeFi were made via the Hong Kong division, it added.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Crypto Lender Hodlnaut Lost Nearly 0 Million in TerraUSD Drop

Sega's Lost 'Erotic Thriller' Has Been Found

In the mid-90s, with the Saturn bombing and the video game landscape changing rapidly, Sega rolled the dice and made a few risky bets. One of those was, uh, sinking $3 million into the creation of an adult-oriented FMV game called Sacred Pools that was so bad it ended up being binned before it was ever released.

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Source: Kotaku – Sega’s Lost ‘Erotic Thriller’ Has Been Found

Interventions that reduce partisan vitriol don’t help democracy

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Source: Ars Technica – Interventions that reduce partisan vitriol don’t help democracy

'QR Code Menus Are the Restaurant Industry's Worst Idea'

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from an article written by The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf: Thinking of my earliest trips to restaurants, in the 1980s, I faintly remember waiters taking my grandfather’s credit card and using a manual flatbed imprinter to make an impression of its raised numbers. My nephew, born early in the coronavirus pandemic, may come of age with similar memories of physical menus as a childhood relic. Recalling them dimly when a dining scene in an old movie jogs his memory, he might ask, “Why did they stop using those?” If that happens, I’ll recount the pestilence that raged as he entered the world; the shutdown of bars and restaurants; the push to reopen in the summer of 2020; the persistent if mistaken belief that high-touch surfaces, like restaurant menus, would be a meaningful vector of infection; the counsel of the CDC that July. “Avoid using or sharing items that are reusable, such as menus,” the federal agency advised (PDF). “Use disposable or digital menus.”

The QR-code menu — which you access by scanning a black-and-white square with your smartphone — has taken off ever since. It may dominate going forward. But I hope not, because I detest those digital menus. Never mind dying peacefully in my sleep; I want to go out while sitting in a restaurant on my 100th birthday, an aperitif in my left hand and a paper menu in my right. And as eager as I’ll be for heaven if I’m lucky enough to stand on its threshold, I want one last downward glance at a paramedic prying the menu from my fist. In that better future, where old-school menus endure, I’ll go to my urn happy that coming generations will still begin meals meeting one another’s eyes across a table instead of staring at a screen. QR-code menus are not really an advance. Even when everything goes just right — when everyone’s phone battery is charged, when the Wi-Fi is strong enough to connect, when the link works — they force a distraction that lingers through dessert and digestifs. “You may just be checking to see what you want your next drink to be,” Jaya Saxena observed in Eater late last year, “but from there it’s easy to start checking texts and emails.” And wasn’t it already too easy? Friedersdorf cites the 2018 study “Smartphone Use Undermines Enjoyment of Face-to-Face Social Interactions,” where social-psychology researcher Ryan Dwyer and his colleagues randomly assigned some people to keep their phone out when dining with friends and others to put it away. What they found was that groups assigned to use their phones “enjoyed the experience less than groups that did not use their phones, primarily due to the fact that participants with phones were more distracted.”

He also notes the privacy concerns related to QR-code menus. Many of the codes “are actually generated by a different company that collects, uses, and then often shares your personal information, ” the ACLU has warned. “In fact, companies that provide QR codes to restaurants like to brag about all the personal information you are sharing along with that food order: your location, your demographics such as gender and age group, and other information about you and your behavior.”

In closing, Friedersdorf writes: “[…] I hope that, rather than remembering the pandemic as a tipping point in the digitization of restaurants and bars, we instead look back on its aftermath as the moment when an ever more atomized society better understood the high costs of social isolation, felt new urgency to counteract it, and settled on analog mealtime norms as an especially vital place to focus.”

“What if three times every day society was oriented toward replenishing what is growing more absent from the rest of our waking hours: undistracted human interactions unmediated by technology?”

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Source: Slashdot – ‘QR Code Menus Are the Restaurant Industry’s Worst Idea’

Netflix Adds 6th Gaming Studio With Acquisition of Spy Fox

Amir Rahimi, vice president of game studios at Netflix, said in a blog post that, close to the first anniversary of launching games a year ago, Netflix is announcing that Spry Fox is joining as its sixth in-house games studio. VentureBeat reports: Spry Fox is an award-winning independent studio focused on cozy, original games. Their unique approach to game development and success with titles like Triple Town, Alphabear and Cozy Grove will help accelerate Netflix’s creative development in another beloved genre and add to the growing variety of Netflix’s games catalog that will have something for everyone, Rahimi said.

Rahimi said Netflix looks forward to creating games with a studio whose values — a relentless focus on employee and player joy — align closely with its own. “Our games journey has only just begun, but I’m proud of the foundational work we’ve been doing to build out our in-house creative capacity so that we can deliver the best possible games experience — including no ads and no in-app purchases — to our members as part of their membership,” Rahimi said.

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Source: Slashdot – Netflix Adds 6th Gaming Studio With Acquisition of Spy Fox

You'll Love Tatiana Maslany Even More After Seeing What She Had to Put Up With on the She-Hulk Set

Even those who don’t work in Hollywood understand the challenges of being in a visual effects-heavy movie or series, like reacting to characters or scenery that aren’t actually seen on set. But Marvel Entertainment recently shared a behind the scenes look at the making of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and what Tatiana…

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Source: Gizmodo – You’ll Love Tatiana Maslany Even More After Seeing What She Had to Put Up With on the She-Hulk Set

Systemd 252 released

Systemd version 252 has been released. As usual, the list of changes is
long. It includes a new systemd-measure tool for the calculation of PCR
values and a bunch of infrastructure to use the result for disk encryption:

Net effect: if you boot a properly prepared kernel, TPM-bound disk
encryption now defaults to be locked to kernels which carry PCR
signatures from the same key pair. Example: if a hypothetical distro
FooOS prepares its UKIs like this, TPM-based disk encryption is now –
by default – bound to only FooOS kernels, and encrypted volumes bound
to the TPM cannot be unlocked on kernels from other sources.

There’s a lot more; see the announcement for all of the details.

Source: LWN.net – Systemd 252 released

NASCAR Driver Pulls Some Video Game Crap, Thanks GameCube In Interview After

Video games can teach you many things. For example, jumping off a very tall cliff is deadly, or people will stop looking for you if you just hide in a closet for a bit. But I never thought I’d see a video game teach someone how to pull off a buck-wild racing maneuver involving a wall, high speed, and some courage…and…

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Source: Kotaku – NASCAR Driver Pulls Some Video Game Crap, Thanks GameCube In Interview After

Former World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov Hospitalized In Serious Condition

According to Russian telegram channels, the former World Chess Champion, Antoly Karpov, was “rushed to the hospital with multiple head injuries in which he was placed in an induced coma,” reports ChessBase. “Karpov was put on a ventilator now, and has been diagnosed with cerebral edema, fractures of the right parietal and right temporal bones, multiple head hematomas, and traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage.” From the report: On a few things none of the reports still in circulation disagree: the 12th World Champion and current member of Duma, Anatoly Karpov, 71, was found on the ground outside of the Duma, and unresponsive. His blood alcohol levels were very elevated, and he was rushed to the hospital into intensive care. Some early reports claimed he was the victim of an assault and in induced coma. This was later reiterated by other outlets such as Marca from Spain.

The source of this, according to Tass, Andrei Kovalev, chairman of the All-Russian Movement of Entrepreneurs, announced in his Telegram channel that Karpov was in intensive care after an attack by unknown people and put into an artificial coma. However Karpov’s assistant denied this and said he was fine, had no injuries and was in stable condition. Which begs the question, how fine can he be if there is a need to reassure others he is in ‘stable condition’. Since Russian media is under very tight control by the Russian State, it is impossible to know where the truth really lies. Developing…

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Source: Slashdot – Former World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov Hospitalized In Serious Condition

Yu-Gi-Oh! Comes To Life Like That Star Wars 3D Chess Game

After 7 months of testing, work and tinkering, French Yu-Gi-Oh! fan SuperZouloux has built one of the coolest card game tricks I have ever seen: a game mat and camera setup that, thanks to augmented reality tech, is able to broadcast 3D versions of his monsters as he plays his cards.

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Source: Kotaku – Yu-Gi-Oh! Comes To Life Like That Star Wars 3D Chess Game