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Big tech giants could be held to account for vaccine misinformation

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Social media giants are about to be held to account for vaccine misinformation

As COVID-19 cases see a rise in the US, Democratic senators are planning to introduce a new bill that would hold social media giants accountable for public health misinformation.

The new bill would strip away Facebook and other social media platforms’ Section 230 liability shield if they promote harmful public health misinformation.

The Health Misinformation Act, introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar and Ben Ray Luján would create a carveout in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and make social media platforms like Facebook accountable for hosting some dangerous health misinformation.

The bill directs the Health and Human Services secretary to issue clear guidlines on what exactly is “health misinformation.”

Basically, the new rules would only apply in situations where online misinformation is related to an existing public health emergency like the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

How does it work? – It would only open a platform up to liability if the content is being algorithmically amplified, not through “a neutral mechanism, such as through the use of “chronological functionality.”

“For far too long, online platforms have not done enough to protect the health of Americans.”

Senator Klobuchar in a statement said “The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how lethal misinformation can be and it is our responsibility to take action.”

Section 230 protects platforms from liability for illegal content hosted on their platforms — but misinformation is not illegal in itself.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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EU plans to force USB-C chargers for all phones

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EU plans to make USB-C connectors the standard port for all smartphones and tablets, angering Apple

The European Commission rules to force manufacturers to create a universal charging solution for phones and small electronic devices. The European Commission is aiming to have a common charging port for all mobile phones, tablets, cameras, headphones, and handheld videogame consoles.

The ruling has been in the making for a decade, with environmental concerns the main driving force behind the historic move.

Reducing waste

The rule will reduce waste by encouraging consumers to re-use existing chargers when buying a new device. Politicians have been pushing for this uni9versal charging rule for over a decade.

Disposed and unused charging cables generate approximately 11,000 tonnes of waste per year.  Research shows the average person owns around three mobile phone chargers.

A decade ago there were about 30 different types of chargers, now, phones use either USB-C, lightning, and USB micro-B.

Rotten Apple

The move would see all smartphones in the EU sold with the same charger, a motion Apple is not happy about. The tech giant says this move would damage ongoing innovation.

The tech giant is the main manufacturer of smartphones using a custom charging port, as its iPhone series uses an Apple-made “Lightning” connector. Apple argues its Lightning connector is used by one billion active iPhone users.

“We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,”

Apple spokesperson

The proposed changes would apply to the charging port on the device body and will also standardise charging speeds. It may be a number of years before the proposals come into effect.

It will be thoroughly debated by the European Parliament and national Governments.

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Tech

Facebook CTO resigns as Zuckerburg announces replacement

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Facebook is about to close an important chapter in its history

In some major news, the social network’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer is stepping down from his role after a total 13 years at the company.

He’ll move to a part-time position as Facebook’s first Senior Fellow at some point in 2022.

CEO Mark Zuckerburg has now appointed hardware lead Andrew Bosworth to be the new CTO.

Schroepfer first joined Facebook in 2008 as a vice president of engineering. He took the CTO position in 2013.

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American plane maker to open major factory in Australia

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Major US-based aircraft maker, Boeing is heading for Australia’s sunshine state

The new Boeing manufacturing facility is planned to be built at Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport in an Australian first.

The facility would be involved in manufacturing the Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft for the Royal Australia Air Force.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stated that the Boeing project would bring more than 300 jobs to the area, and was ‘very welcome’

The Queensland Government also confirmed that the interior of the aircraft manufactured at the new site would be painted maroon and stamped with “Made In Queensland”.

The Loyal Wingman is an unmanned aircraft but works alongside crewed aircraft, with Defence currently examining how it will be deployed once it’s put into use.

The new facility isn’t the first to be opened and operated by Boeing, with the plane maker also operating sites across Australia’s east coast, including in major cities; Melbourne and Sydney.

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