Start Up No.1,124: Facebook and Aussie fake news, the motion smoothing problem (redux), America’s phone farmers, and more


He’s thinking that Van Diesel got an extra punch into the last scene. And that makes him mad! CC-licensed photo by Automotive Rhythms on Flickr.

You can sign up to receive each day’s Start Up post by email. You’ll need to click a confirmation link, so no spam.

A selection of 10 links for you. Friday, innit. I’m @charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Facebook says it was ‘not our role’ to remove fake news during Australian election • The Guardian

Katharine Murphy:

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“We do not agree that is is our role to remove content that one side of a political debate considers to be false,” [Facebook VP for Asia, Simon] Milner says in the letter sent a month after election day.

The Facebook executive says the company invested significantly in an effort to support “the Australian government’s work to safeguard the 2019 election” and said the requirement for the social media giant was to “respect applicable law” and work with the Australian Electoral Commission by responding to queries or concerns.

The backwards and forwards between Labor and the social media behemoth comes as Facebook is firmly in the sights of Australia’s competition and consumer regulator as a consequence of its landmark review of digital platforms.

One of the recommendations of the ACCC review, released last week, was digital platforms be required to implement a code of conduct to govern how they handled complaints about the spread of inaccurate information, which would be registered and enforced by an independent regulator such as the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

While Milner makes a rhetorical distinction in his letter to Carroll about content that one side of a political debate “considers to be false”, the Facebook executive also acknowledges in the same correspondence that the death tax material circulated on the social media platform during the campaign was, in fact, found to be false by the platform’s independent fact-checking procedures.

Milner says once the claims were found to be false on April 30, “we demoted the original posts and thousands of similar posts”. Posts were demoted in Facebook’s News Feed but not removed from the platform. Milner said that, on average, this practice reduces distribution by 80%.

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Sky, Netflix and software • Benedict Evans

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Netflix isn’t using TV to leverage some other business – TV is the business. It’s a TV company. Amazon is using content as a way to leverage its subscription service, Prime, in much the same way to telcos buying cable companies or doing IPTV – it’s a way to stop churn. Amazon is using Lord of the Rings as leverage to get you to buy toilet paper through Prime. But Facebook and Google are not device businesses or subscription businesses. Facebook or Google won’t say ‘don’t cancel your subscription because you’ll lose this TV show’ – there is no subscription. That means the strategic value of TV or music is marginal: it’s marketing, not a lock-in.

Apple’s position in TV today is ambivalent. You can argue that the iPhone is a subscription business (spend $30 a month and get a phone every two years), and it certainly thinks about retention and renewals. The service subscriptions that it’s created recently (news, music, games) are all both incremental revenue leveraging a base of 1bn users and ways to lock those users in. But the only important question for the upcoming ‘TV Plus’ is whether Apple plans to spend $1bn a year buying content from people in LA, and produce another nice incremental service with some marketing and retention value, or spend $15bn buying content from people in LA, to take on Netflix. But of course, that’s a TV question, not a tech question.

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Apple seems to be aiming at somewhere between the $1bn and $15bn, but closer to the $1bn.
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Motion smoothing is ruining cinema • Vulture

Bilge Ebiri:

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even if motion smoothing worked perfectly, it would still present problems. Higher frame rates have a curious effect on how we process cinematic images. At the 2016 New York Film Festival, I attended the much-hyped world premiere of Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a supposedly revolutionary picture that had been shot at a frame rate of 120 fps, about a young soldier who relives the trauma of his Iraq deployment over the course of an NFL playoff halftime show during which his platoon’s feats are celebrated. The action was as smooth as it could be, and the 120 fps images did look hyperreal, as advertised — like we were in a limo with the characters as they joked around, or in combat as bullets whizzed past them. But the movie was in no way immersive. It was the exact opposite: The acting felt stiff, the story bogus, and the filmmaking amateurish.

A couple of months later, as it neared theatrical release, I saw Billy Lynn again, this time projected at a typical 24 fps. It’s not a great picture by any stretch of the imagination, but to my bewilderment, the performances were now engaging; the drama that had felt so unwieldy was now occasionally moving. No major cuts or additions had been made. I was watching the same movie, but this time, I was watching it at the frame rate at which movies are supposed to be experienced. And suddenly, it all kind of worked.

In part, there’s a scientific explanation for this: It’s possible that watching movies one way for so long has conditioned our brains. NYU psychology and neuroscience professor Pascal Wallisch, who studies cognition and perception, cites the phenomenon of “entrainment,” which posits that certain external stimuli, such as beats per minute in music or subtly flickering movie images, can actually affect the nervous system.

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The weird thing is that we seem to be so used to 24fps.
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Smartphone shipments decline 2.3% in the second quarter on continued challenges across most major regions • IDC

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IDC analyst Ryan Reith said: “When you look at the top of the market – Samsung, Huawei, and Apple – each vendor lost a bit of share from last quarter, and when you look down the list the next three – Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo – all gained. Part of this is related to the timing of product launches, but it is hard not to assume this trend could continue.”

The vendor landscape at the top of the market continues to get stronger while the struggles for local OEMs and old school industry names got worse. In 2Q19, the top five vendors accounted for 69% of the total market volume, and the top 10 vendors accounted for 87%. This trend is making the vendor playing field for smartphones look more and more like the PC market. With 5G beginning to unfold in many markets around the world, the challenges are sure to increase for any vendors without strong consumer mindshare.

“Although the overall market remains in decline, the performance in the second quarter indicates that demand is starting to pick up as the market begins to stabilize again,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “A key driver in the second quarter was the availability of vastly improved mid-tier devices that offer premium designs and features while significantly undercutting the ultra-high-end in price. Combine this with intensified and generous trade-in programs across major markets and channels and upgrading now makes more sense to consumers.”

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Google is quietly testing ‘Play Pass’ app and game subscription, taking on Apple Arcade • Android Police

Corbin Davenport:

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Earlier this year, Apple announced Apple Arcade, a monthly subscription service that gives you access to a library of mobile games (including some exclusive titles) on iOS devices. Apple Arcade isn’t live yet, but Google is already testing its own competing service, named Play Pass.

XDA Developers found evidence last year that Google was working on the Play Pass service, but now the company is starting to test it. We received screenshots from a reader [shown in the story], which show the signup page for Play Pass and the $4.99 monthly cost. Of course, the price could change before the final rollout.

An info page reads, “Explore a curated catalog spanning puzzle games to premium music apps and everything in between. From action hits to puzzles and fitness trackers, with Google Play Pass you unlock access to hundreds of premium apps and games without ads, download fees or in-app purchases.” Another screen shows Stardew Valley and Marvel Pinball as some of the included games.

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Our reader stormyparis reckons that if it could target 1 billion users, and get 5% of them, it could generate $3bn, but then you have to look at what people wouldn’t spend as a result of their subscription, so..

It’s probably only going to appeal to the whales who spend way more than $5 per month, though. And it doesn’t “take on” Apple Arcade. It’s entirely parallel and separate, and won’t mean Android gets the games sooner than iOS.
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How to pay for Medicare-for-all • The Week

Ryan Cooper:

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the economist argument that fee-for-service must be juicing spending has not held up either. Maryland undertook a major reform to many of its hospitals, moving to a “global budget program” in which several hospitals were paid a lump sum for the whole year instead of per procedure. A study released this year found it “did not reduce hospital use or price-standardized spending as policymakers had anticipated.” Moreover, many other countries have used fee-for-service billing (both today and in the past) and have not experienced anything like America’s turbo-charged cost increases.

So what is going on? Returning to the Papanicolas study, two big, obvious things jump out: drug prices and administrative costs. America paid roughly twice the rich country median for drugs in 2015, at $1,443 per person, with $1,023 of that in the form of retail pharmaceuticals. France paid $697, while the Netherlands paid just $466. Secondly, fully 8% of American health-care spending goes to administration — as compared to Germany at 5%, Canada at 3%, or Sweden at 2%.

Thus the first priority for a Medicare-for-all bill must be to cut administration spending to the bone. Given that this is largely down to providers having to navigate the hellishly complex and fragmented status quo system, this should be quite easy…

…Across virtually all medical services, Americans are being radically overcharged.

Indeed, many hospitals don’t have the slightest idea of what their treatments really cost. As this Wall Street Journal report explains, when a Wisconsin hospital tried to figure out what it was clearing for a $50,000 knee replacement, after an 18-month investigation it found a mere $10,550 at most in overhead — and that’s including steep US doctor salaries. A roughly 80% profit margin on the most common non-childbirth surgical procedure is the kind of thing that could begin to explain the howling excess of US medical spending.

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Democrats are ignoring the power of the hospital industry • Prospect Magazine

David Dayen:

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The [American] public interacts with [American] health care in two ways. Their doctor heals them, and their insurance company hassles them. They visit their doctor and pay their insurer. Their doctor wants to make them well, and their insurance company wants to restrict the care they receive. “Why is the spotlight on the intermediary in this industry when they’re a small fraction in terms of the revenues?” asks Leemore Dafny of Harvard Business School, referring to the insurance industry. “And it’s what you think it is. It’s really easy to hate the intermediary.”

But in the absence of political leaders telling the truth about who charges the prices and who gouges patients, the public has no alternative story. They’ll keep loving their doctor, and seek out other villains. That cuts against this truth: nobody has resisted changes to the broken health-care system more than the hospital industry.

Take “surprise billing,” as mentioned before one of the most outrageous scams in health care. Unknown to them, patients get out-of-network services from ambulance companies or radiologists or anesthesiologists, and are on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in charges. You won’t be, well, surprised to learn that surprise billing is being driven by the private equity industry, which has recently upped its investments in hospitals.

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It seems that there are lots of perverse incentives. Doctors don’t have any disincentive to order more and more expensive treatments; it just gets passed on to the insurer. But hospitals in the US do go bust, or close because they don’t get income. Certainly, there’s plenty of blame to go around the US healthcare “system”.
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‘Fast + Furious’ stars’ complicated demand: I never want to lose a fight • WSJ

Erich Schwartzel:

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Vin Diesel didn’t want to look like a wimp.

The actor was in rehearsal for yet another fight in his seventh “Fast & Furious” movie when he started to sense his co-star and on-screen opponent, Jason Statham, was landing more blows than he was.

Mr. Diesel had an idea: Why not assign numerical values to every move—head butt, roundhouse kick, body slam—so he could calculate a total and determine if the two men were getting pummeled evenly?

In Hollywood, where sheltering the tender egos of action stars is increasingly a cost of doing business, no leading man is willing to look less macho than any other. Nowhere is that more apparent than the “Fast & Furious” franchise, where an arms race of machismo can break out between Mr. Diesel, Mr. Statham and their third beefy co-star, Dwayne Johnson…

…The “Fast & Furious” movies also star actresses like Michelle Rodriguez as ensemble players who are as tough as the men. People associated with the franchise said there are fewer concerns about scorekeeping in the women’s fights.

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Diesel is 52, Statham is 51, Johnson is 47. Who says ego is only for kids?
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America’s DIY phone farmers • Motherboard

Joseph Cox:

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Last year, NBCUniversal launched an app called WatchBack, which gives users a chance to win $100 in exchange for watching TV shows, in hopes of creating new fans for its programming. Other apps like Perk give viewers points for watching trailers and shows which can be exchanged for more valuable goods. Roy Rosenfeld, Head of DoubleVerify’s Fraud Lab, a company which focuses on ad fraud, said DoubleVerify estimates in total these incentivized traffic “apps generate 100-300 [million] ad requests a month,” with the vast majority working with video.

The phone farmers Motherboard talked to aren’t responsible for many of those ad requests, but they still take advantage of this ecosystem. Rather than actually watch ads, these phone farmers use as many as a hundred phones and sometimes automate the process to make it seem like someone is watching the ads in order to generate income.

Joseph D’Alesandro, 20, made nearly $2,000 a month from phone farming back in 2017, he told Motherboard in a phone call. In eighth or ninth grade, D’Alesandro found one of the apps popular with farmers and started running it on his main phone. Slowly over a few years, he built up his farm, expanding to more and more devices. On his YouTube channel TheTechSlugs, D’Alesandro made videos explaining his progress along the way.

“You really can’t compare it to a job,” D’Alesandro said, because of how little he needed to interact with the phones.

Other phone farmers said they’ve made hundreds of dollars a month from passively running apps on their phones. Goat_City said they pulled in $700-800 a month recently; another farmer with the username CallMeDonCheadle said their farm made $7 a day, working out to more than $200 a month.

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I have to admit that I repeatedly thought the people he was referring to in this story are actual farmers who were trying to supplement their income.
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Apple Maps in iOS 13: sights set on Google • MacStories

Ryan Christoffel:

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Favorited locations are represented by an icon and color corresponding to their location type. Home and Work have house and briefcase icons in blue and brown, respectively, while restaurants will show a fork and knife on an orange background, bars a martini glass in purple, parks a tree in brown, and so on. Another important visual detail about favorites is that they each display your distance from them, or the time it would take to navigate to them. This further reinforces favorites’ design purpose: Apple intends that you use them for commonly visited locations. If you simply want to mark a spot to remember for later, that’s where collections shine.

Collections [new in iOS 13] are groups of locations you can save for accessing later. Like favorites, they have the benefit of being displayed more prominently on the map, so they’re easy to spot at a glance, but they also offer a lot of flexibility you won’t find with favorites. A collection is ultimately just a list of locations, so it can serve any purpose you need it to. You can use collections to plan upcoming vacations, keeping track of all the places you want to visit on your trip; you can also have collections dedicated to intriguing coffee shops, prospective date night spots, or restaurants that have been recommended to you. Every collection can have a name and even custom photo set by you, so you can truly make it your own.

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The “ooh” feature for demos is Apple’s equivalent to Street View, which it calls Look Around. However, I can only find it for San Francisco at present, so the above features – which might be better for real usability – are what people will really use.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified

Start Up No.1,123: Greenland’s dangerous melt, wanting a WhatsApp black door, Chrome breaks the paywalls, Samsung stays big, and more


Fitbit’s smartwatch isn’t helping the company out of its pit. CC-licensed photo by Kārlis Dambrāns on Flickr

»You can sign up to receive each day’s Start Up post by email (arriving at about 0700GMT each weekday). You’ll need to click a confirmation link, so no spam.«

A selection of 9 links for you. 👋🥂👍🏻. I’m @charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Greenland is melting away before our eyes • Rolling Stone

Eric Holthaus:

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Even just a few decades ago, an event like this would have been unthinkable. Now, island-wide meltdown days like this are becoming increasingly routine. The ongoing melt event is the second time in seven years that virtually the entire ice sheet simultaneously experienced at least some melt. The last was in July 2012, where 97% of the ice sheet simultaneously melted.

In the 1980s, wintertime snows in Greenland roughly balanced summertime melt from the ice sheet, and the conventional wisdom among scientists was that it might take thousands of years for the ice to completely melt under pressure from global warming.

That’s all changed now.

With a decade or two of hindsight, scientists now believe Greenland passed an important tipping point around 2003, and since then its melt rate has more than quadrupled.

This week alone, Greenland will lose about 50 billion tons of ice, enough for a permanent rise in global sea levels by about 0.1mm. So far in July, the Greenland ice sheet has lost 160 billion tons of ice — enough to cover Florida in about six feet of water. According to IPCC estimates, that’s roughly the level of melt a typical summer will have in 2050 under the worst-case warming scenario if we don’t take meaningful action to address climate change. Under that same scenario, this week’s brutal, deadly heat wave would be normal weather in the 2070s.

Xavier Fettweis, a polar scientist at the University of Liège in Belgium who tracks meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet, told Rolling Stone in an email that the recent acceleration of these melt events means the IPCC scenarios “clearly underestimate what we currently observe over the Greenland ice sheet” and should revisit their projections for the future.

“This melt event is a good alarm signal that we urgently need change our way of
living,” said Fettweis. “It is more and more likely that the IPCC projections are too optimistic in the Arctic.”

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Apple and Fitbit numbers show smartwatches turning into a winner-take-all market • CNBC

Ari Levy:

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At the end of 2018, Apple controlled 50% of the global smartwatch market in terms of units shipped, according to Strategy Analytics. Fitbit was second at 12.2%, followed by Samsung, which sells Android-powered devices, at 11.8%.

In its effort to stay competitive, Fitbit has been slashing prices, which resulted in a shrinking of its gross margin, or the profit left after subtracting costs of goods sold, to 34.5% from 39.8%.

Fitbit cited weaker-than-expected sales of its Versa Lite device, a lightweight smartwatch that it introduced earlier this year, for its disappointing numbers and lowered the midpoint of its revenue guidance for 2019 to $1.46bn from $1.56bn.

Following its after-hours plunge, Fitbit is now worth less than $1bn. It has lost 82% of its value since its IPO in 2015.

Park is trying to reduce his company’s reliance on device sales and focus more on premium services, which will create a “longer lasting relationship with users while changing perception of products and services from a nice to have to need to have,” the Fitbit CEO said on Wednesday’s earnings call.

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Fitbit’s full-year revenue is about what Apple sells in wearables in a month. Now imagine that Samsung sells even less, and that other Android Wear companies sell less than that. Who’s really making profit in wearables?
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Calls for backdoor access to WhatsApp as Five Eyes nations meet • The Guardian

Dan Sabbagh:

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The meeting of the “Five Eyes” nations – the UK, US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – was hosted by new home secretary, Priti Patel, in an effort to coordinate efforts to combat terrorism and child abuse.

Dealing with the challenge faced by increasingly effective encryption was one of the main topics at the summit, officials said, at a time when technology companies want to make their services more secure after a range of security breaches.

The meetings, however, were held in private with no agenda being made public, making it difficult to conclude exactly what had been discussed by the ministers, officials and intelligence agencies from the countries involved.

However, British ministers have privately voiced particular concerns about WhatsApp, the widely used Facebook-owned messenger service, which was used by, among others, the three plotters in the London Bridge terror attack.

“We need to ensure that our law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies are able to gain lawful and exceptional access to the information they need,” the Home Office said in a statement.

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In a discussion last night with some technology journalists, we wondered why GCHQ and the rest haven’t stockpiled exploits to be used for targeting people whose messages they want to read. But maybe they have, and this is just noise.

Meanwhile on Patel, treat her like Trump: ignore everything she says, and wait for what someone better-informed and in power says or does.
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Google unlocks 33% of publisher paywalls on July 30. This is what happens next • What’s New In Publishing

Monojoy Bhattacharjee:

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A number of major publishers like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Medium, The Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and The Dallas Morning News have safeguards in place to stop users from accessing paywalled content using Incognito Mode.

We tested the beta version of Chrome’s next update to gauge the extent of damage that will be inflicted on publisher paywalls. To cut a long story short, things aren’t looking good.

We tried to breach the paywalls of the publishers listed using Chrome’s current browser (v. 75), in Incognito Mode. Without fail, the websites detected the intrusion attempt and prevented access to the content. 

Using v.76 (beta), each and every one of the paywalls got unlocked without any difficulty whatsoever. 

Take a look at the screenshots below [in the story]. In each case, we tried opening the exact same page using the current version and the upcoming one. [The upcoming one gets past the paywall.]

No further explanations necessary.

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Maybe leaky paywalls have had their day.
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Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 is its latest volley against the iPad Pro • The Verge

Dan Seifert:

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For software, the Tab S6 runs Android 9 Pie with version 1.5 of Samsung’s OneUI interface. It also has support for Samsung’s DeX interface, which provides a more desktop-like experience when using the tablet with a keyboard. The new keyboard attachment has a function key to launch DeX quickly. DeX can also be outputted to an external display using the Tab S6’s USB Type-C port.

In terms of size and features, the Tab S6 compares closer to Apple’s most recent iPad Air than the more expensive iPad Pro. But the Air starts at a lower price and has a much more developed operating system and app ecosystem than the Tab S6. As with most of Samsung’s high-end tablet efforts for the past few years, it’s hard to see why anyone would choose the Tab S6 over Apple’s options. We’ll have a better idea of how well the Tab S6 stacks up against Apple and Microsoft’s tablets once we’ve had a chance to put it through a full review, so stay tuned for that.

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External display likely coming to the iPad Pro in September with iOS 13, and filesystem access certainly, so not an advantage for long.
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Chinese vlogger who used filter to look younger caught in live-stream glitch • BBC

Dhruti Shah and Kerry Allen:

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The blogger, who initially boasted a follower count of more than 100,000 on Douyu, is believed to have used a filter on her face during her appearances, and had been renowned for her “sweet and healing voice”.

China’s Global Times said she had been “worshipped” as a “cute goddess” by some members of her loyal audience with some fans even giving her more than 100,000 yuan ($14,533, £11,950).

However, live-streaming platform Lychee News says the incident happened on 25 July, during a joint live-stream with another user, Qingzi on the Douyu platform.

The Global Times reports that all was as normal and that her fans urged her to show her face and remove her filter but she refused, instead apparently saying: “I can’t show my face until I receive gifts worth 100,000 yuan ($11,950). After all, I’m a good-looking host.”

Followers began to send her donations with the largest reported to be 40,000 yuan ($5,813, £4,780) during the session.

However, at some point, it seems the filter being used by the vlogger stopped working and her real face became visible to her viewers.

She is reported to have noticed only when people who had signed up to her VIP access room started exiting en masse.

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This is quite a “beauty filter”, though – it makes her look like an entirely different person. That’s some real-time deepfakery there.
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Millions in crypto is crossing the Russia-China border daily – and Tether is king • Coindesk

Anna Baydakova:

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“Hear that sound?” asked the head of an over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency trading desk — let’s call him ‘Oleg’ — who requested his real name and company be withheld. “You can hear it 24/7 in here.”

Business is brisk thanks to a constant flow of Chinese merchants who come in daily with heavy bags of cash. Oleg said his OTC desk sells about $3m worth of crypto every day. Most of it usually goes to China. But what’s perhaps most surprising is which crypto.

Only 20% of Oleg’s sales are in bitcoin, the oldest cryptocurrency with the largest market capitalization. The other 80% is in the dollar-pegged token known as tether, or USDT.

Tether’s best-known application is allowing crypto traders to move money between exchanges quickly to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities. But according to several Moscow OTC traders, it has at least one real-world use case – as the go-to remittance service for local Chinese importers.

The total volume of USDT purchased by Chinese businesses can reach $10m to $30m daily, these traders said.

“They accumulate a lot of cash in Moscow and need tether to transfer it to China,” said Maya Shakhnazarova, head of OTC trading at Huobi Russia, the Moscow office serving high-roller clients of Singapore-based exchange Huobi Global.

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Gambling? Something.. else? Though the use of Tether completely makes sense: bitcoin can take ages and transactions can be super-expensive. Tether doesn’t have the same problem and huge amounts are washing around.
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Trueface raises $3.7m to recognise that gun, as it’s being pulled, in real time • Techcrunch

Mike Butcher:

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Trueface is a US-based computer vision company that turns camera data into so-called ‘actionable data’ using machine learning and AI by employing partners who can perform facial recognition, threat detection, age and ethnicity detection, license plate recognition, emotion analysis as well as object detection. That means, for instance, recognising a gun, as it’s pulled in a dime store. Yes folks, welcome to your brave new world.

The company has now raised $3.7m from Lavrock Ventures, Scout Ventures, and Advantage Ventures to scale the team growing partnerships and market share.

Trueface claims it can identify enterprises’ employees for access to a building, detect a weapon as it’s being wielded, or stop fraudulent spoofing attempts. Quite some claims.

However, it’s good enough for the US Air Force as it recently partnered with them to enhance base security.

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These could be famous last words which folk will laugh at in 20 years, but I think this is not going to go well.
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Report: Samsung extends shipments lead as Realme enters top ten • Android Authority

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According to the tracking firm, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 series and rejuvenated mid-range smartphones have resulted in a 7.1% year-on-year boost. The Korean manufacturer hit 76.6m smartphones shipped in the quarter, compared to 71.5m devices a year ago. In fact, the firm reportedly accounted for roughly a fifth of all smartphone shipments in this quarter.

Second-placed Huawei didn’t see quite the same level of growth, but it still managed to achieve a 4.6% boost over last year. The Chinese colossus reportedly shipped 56.7m smartphones in Q2 2019, compared to 54.2m in Q2 2018. Counterpoint notes that the effects of the U.S. trade ban weren’t fully experienced in this quarter, but that it expects a steep drop in performance come Q3.


Source: Counterpoint Research

Apple may have been in third place, but it saw a rather big 11.9% drop in shipments compared to Q2 2018. The firm shipped 36.4m phones in this quarter, as opposed to 41.3m a year ago. This performance means Xiaomi is roughly one percentage point away from passing Apple in terms of market-share, according to Counterpoint. Then again, Q2 isn’t traditionally Apple’s best quarter, as it launches its iPhone series in Q3 or Q4 anyway.

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Samsung’s financials show its mobile revenue grew by 7%, but profits dropped by 11%; it blamed this on sluggish demand in the premium market and “intensifying competition in the low- to mid-range market”, plus the expense of clearing inventory of old models. Not seen it blame the latter before. Huawei’s problems lie ahead, though.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified.