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Updated: 1 hour 33 min ago

How Lax Oversight Of Electronic Health Records Puts Patients At Risk

1 hour 48 min ago
Plans to ensure patient safety as the nation transitioned to electronic health records have yet to come to fruition a decade later, according to a new report. From an investigation: In fall 2009, several dozen of the best minds in health information technology huddled at a hotel outside Washington, D.C., to discuss potential dangers of an Obama White House plan to spend billions of tax dollars computerizing medical records. The health data geeks trusted that transitioning from paper to electronic records would cut down on medical errors, help identify new cures for disease and give patients an easy way to track their health care histories. But after two days of discussions, the group warned that few safeguards existed to protect the public from possible consequences of rolling out the new technology so quickly. Because this software tracks the medicines people take and their vital signs, even a tiny error or omission, or a doctor's inability to access the file quickly, can be a matter of life or death. The experts at that September 2009 meeting, mainly members of the American Medical Informatics Association, or AMIA, agreed that safety should be a top priority as federal officials poured more than $30 billion into subsidies to wire up medical offices and hospitals nationwide. The group envisioned creating a national databank to track reports of deaths, injuries and near misses linked to issues with the new technology. It never happened. Instead, plans for putting patient safety first -- and for building a comprehensive injury reporting and reviewing system -- have stalled for nearly a decade, because manufacturers of electronic health records (EHRs), health care providers, federal health care policy wonks, academics and Congress have either blocked the effort or fought over how to do it properly, an ongoing investigation by Fortune and Kaiser Health News shows. Over the past 10 years, the parties have squabbled over how best to collect injury data, over who has the power to require it, over who should pay for it, and over whether to make public damning findings and the names of those responsible for safety problems. In 2015, members of Congress derailed a long-planned EHR safety center, first by challenging the government's authority to create it and later by declining to fund it. A year later, Congress stripped the Food and Drug Administration of its power to regulate the industry or even to track malfunctions and injuries.

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Twitter Will Finally Let Users Disable SMS as Default 2FA Method

2 hours 27 min ago
Twitter says users will finally be able to disable SMS-based two-factor authentication (2FA) for their accounts, and use an alternative method only, such as a mobile one-time code (OTP) authenticator app or a hardware security key. Until this week, this was impossible. From a report: If users wanted to use 2FA for their Twitter account, they had to register a phone number and enable the SMS-based 2FA method, even if they wished it or not. Users who wanted to use an OTP mobile authenticator app or a hardware security key, had to enable the SMS-based 2FA first, and they couldn't disable it. Even if the user chose to use a security key, the SMS-based 2FA method was still active, and exposed the account to attacks known as SIM swaps. Hackers who knew a user's password would perform a SIM swap to temporarily hijack a user's phone number, bypass SMS-based 2FA, and then take over that user's account.

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'The Ducks Have Won': French Court Says They May Keep on Quacking

3 hours 7 min ago
The ducks on a small French smallholding may carry on quacking, a French court ruled this week, rejecting a neighbor's complaint that the birds' racket was making their life a misery. From a report: The court in the town of Dax ruled that the noise from the flock of around 60 ducks and geese kept by retired farmer Dominique Douthe in the foothills of the Pyrenees, southwestern France, was within acceptable limits, broadcaster France 3 said. "The ducks have won," Douthe told Reuters after the court decision. "I'm very happy because I didn't want to slaughter my ducks." The complaint was brought by Douthe's neighbor who moved from the city around a year ago into a property about 50 meters (yards) away from the enclosure in the Soustons district where Douthe keeps her flock. The dispute is the latest in a series of court cases that have pitted the traditional way of life in rural France against modern values which, country-dwellers say, are creeping in from the city.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: China Really Hasn't Pressured Us.

3 hours 48 min ago
hackingbear writes: In a talk with ABC News, Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed Apple's investment in the United States, his relationship with President Trump, China and more. When asked if there was a line Apple would not cross if China pressured the company [to violate user's privacy and rights], Cook said they have never been asked in China by authorities to unlock an iPhone, but added, referring to the U.S., "I have here. And we stood up against that, and said we can't do it," he added. "Our privacy commitment is a worldwide one." When asked why Apple still builds the iPhone in China, Cook said that he actually thinks "the iPhone is made everywhere." "If you look at the glass of the iPhone, which everybody touches all day long, that glass is made in Kentucky. If you were to take apart the iPhone you would see many of the silicone components that are made in the United States as well," he added. "The iPhone is the product of a global supply chain." John Gruber of DaringFireball adds: If China hasn't pressured Apple, why was the Taiwanese flag emoji removed from iOS devices in Hong Kong? It's far from the biggest issue surrounding China. I get that. It's just a flag emoji, and we're talking about a regime that has put over a million people into concentration camps. But it is bullshit. Under the one-country-two-systems arrangement China itself agreed to regarding Hong Kong, there is nothing illegal about the Taiwanese flag. It's flat-out wrong that Apple removed the Taiwanese flag emoji in Hong Kong. But if they did so at the behest of China at least we'd have a reason why. If China hasn't pressured Apple on this point, small though it may be, why in the world did Apple remove the flag? It reeks of cowardice. Further reading: Apple Has No Backbone.

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One-Third of Tropical African Plant Species at Risk of Extinction

4 hours 28 min ago
A third of plant species in tropical Africa are threatened with extinction, a new study suggests. Plants are crucial to many ecosystems and life in general, providing food and oxygen, as well as being the source of myriad materials and medicines. However, human activities including logging, mining and agriculture pose a major threat. From a report: While the extinction risk of animals around the world has been well studied, the risk facing many plants remains unclear: 86% of mammal species have been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its Red List, compared with only 8% of plant species. Now experts say they have come up with a rapid approach to give a preliminary classification. "Our approach can help to prioritise either species or regions on which proper IUCN Red Listing should focus," said Dr Gilles Dauby of the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development and a co-author of the research. He said the list was recognised as an authoritative source, and was crucial to planning projects that could affect the environment. The new study is the latest to throw the plight of plants into the spotlight. Earlier this year, scientists completed the most thorough analysis to date of plant extinctions, finding that 571 species had been wiped out since the start of the industrial revolution -- a figure they say is likely to be an underestimate. Writing in the journal Science Advances, Dauby and colleagues report how they focused on two IUCN Red List criteria -- one relating to population size reduction and the other to habitat decline -- to develop a computer algorithm to automatically classify the conservation status of plants.

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Oxford Dictionaries Declares 'Climate Emergency' the Word of 2019

5 hours 8 min ago
Oxford Dictionaries has declared "climate emergency" the word of the year for 2019, following a hundred-fold increase in usage that it says demonstrated a "greater immediacy" in the way we talk about the climate. From a report: Defined as "a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it," Oxford said the words soared from "relative obscurity" to "one of the most prominent -- and prominently debated -- terms of 2019." According to the dictionary's data, usage of "climate emergency" soared 10,796%. Oxford said the choice was reflective, not just of the rise in climate awareness, but the focus specifically on the language we use to discuss it. The rise of "climate emergency" reflected a conscious push towards language of immediacy and urgency, the dictionary said. In 2019, "climate" became the most common word associated with "emergency," three times more than "health emergency" in second.

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Apple's Hour of Code Plans Include 'Coding Labs' For 3-Year-Olds

6 hours 9 min ago
theodp writes: This week, Apple unveiled its Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week plans which, predictably, call for the nation's kids to learn coding the Apple way (vs. the Google, Microsoft or Amazon way!). "The new [Swift-focused] Everyone Can Code curriculum," explains the Apple Newsroom, "integrates Apple's Everyone Can Create project guides to help students express what they learn through drawing, music, video and photos." And it appears that Tim Cook may no longer be content with waiting until kids are in 4th grade before requiring them to start coding. From the press release: "Preschool-age kids can try creative pre-coding activities in the new Coding Lab with the Helpsters, a team of vibrant monsters who love to solve problems and are featured in the new live-action preschool series, available now on Apple TV+, from the makers of Sesame Street." Today at Apple adds: "Kids aged 3 to 5 will get hands-on with iPad and Apple Pencil to learn fun precoding activities that teach them how to solve everyday problems like finding a shoe or helping their parents."

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Bold Space Mission To Bring Back Rocks From Mars Takes Shape

10 hours 9 min ago
sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine: In just over 1 decade, a small capsule shaped like a flying saucer could blaze in from space and smash into an empty Utah desert. Its payload would be momentous: less than 1 kilogram of rocks gathered on Mars. After years as a dream, Mars sample return is now a $7 billion plan, devised jointly by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). It is a complicated plan, involving three heavy rocket launches from Earth, two rovers, the first ever rocket launch from another planet, and a daring space rendezvous between a sample container and a spacecraft that would ferry it back to Earth. The first element, NASA's Mars 2020 rover, is nearly built and ready for launch next summer. And now, NASA and the Europeans are close to finalizing the plans to bring the samples collected by Mars 2020 home, with ESA likely to commit funding to the work at a meeting later this month.

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Elon Musk Unveils 'Cybertruck' Electric Pickup Truck

14 hours 9 min ago
At an event in Los Angeles, California, Elon Musk unveiled the company's first electric pickup truck, called the Cybertruck. The design is unlike any other vehicle on the road today, consisting of a stainless steel alloy body that is dent-resistant, scratch-resistant, and sledgehammer proof, as evident by the onstage demo. (The glass is stronger than standard car glass, but sadly it didn't survive the sledgehammer test.) The truck will come in three versions with 250-500 miles of range, depending on the model. It will start at $39,900 for the Single Motor RWD configuration and can be pre-ordered today for $100. According to Musk, the Cybertruck has pretty much the same dimensions as every other pickup on the market today. It's 231.7 inches long, 79.8 inches wide, 75.0 inches tall and can seat six people. Where it differs is in the performance. Musk claims the Cybertruck can reach 60 mph in 2.9 seconds before continuing through the quarter-mile marker in under 11 seconds. It can also tow up to 14,000 pounds and carry 3,500-pound cargo in its industry-standard 6.5-foot bed. We covered the Cybertruck unveiling live in LA. Check our Twitter for updates, videos, and photos. Here are some close-up shots of the Cybertruck (via our Twitter page):

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Finland Has an App Showing Shopping's True Carbon Footprint

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Unlike other carbon-footprint calculators already on the market, the application developed by Enfuce Financial Services Oy, a Finnish payment services provider, does not rely on users inputting the data manually. Instead, it combines data from credit cards and banks with purchase data from retailers to provide real-time calculations of how a given product affects the climate. With an estimated 70% of carbon emissions globally attributed to end users, Enfuce chairman and co-founder Monika Liikamaa says the app will help people adapt their lifestyles and make them compatible with the goal of keeping global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius. After the initial set up and opt-in, the app will calculate a carbon footprint based on the user's purchases -- to the level of individual steaks or tomatoes. It will then propose actions to reduce their carbon impact. Typical suggestions may include taking a shorter shower, hopping on the bus instead of the car, turning down the thermostat and going vegan for a week. The app is a side project for Enfuce, which already handles sensitive payments data securely. Its core business is to run credit card systems for clients that do not require owning expensive computer servers. Enfuce is in talks with three major banks and is already working with Mastercard Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.'s cloud-server unit. No vendor will have exclusive rights to the system, which should be available by March, the company said.

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Scientists Can Now Identify Someone From a Single Strand of Hair

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 21:02
sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine: A new forensic technique could have criminals -- and some prosecutors -- tearing their hair out: Researchers have developed a method they say can identify a person from as little as 1 centimeter of a single strand of hair -- and that is eight times more sensitive than similar protein analysis techniques. If the new method ever makes it into the courtroom, it could greatly expand the ability to identify the people at the scene of a crime. To get reliable data from hair, forensic scientists previously needed DNA from skin still attached to hair follicles. But recent technologies have instead analyzed proteins in the hair itself, like keratin. Because the sequences of amino acids in proteins vary slightly from person to person based on their genetic code, this information can be used to identify people with a high degree of accuracy without DNA. The catch? Most methods require several steps of grinding and heating the hair, which destroys much of the protein. And scientists might not always detect enough variation in the remaining proteins to make a confident identification. To get more proteins for analysis, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) did away with the grinding and developed a method with only one step: heating the hair in detergent solution. When the researchers used mass spectrometry analysis to find out what they had extracted from the dissolved hair, they found they recovered more proteins -- and their subunits, peptides -- than with other extraction techniques. They also identified a dozen new protein building blocks called genetically variant peptides (GVPs) that differ among individuals. These new GVPs join thousands of others in NIST's library of peptide sequences. GPVs aren't yet used to identify people in criminal cases -- but could be in the future. There are still some drawbacks with this new method. "To get enough material to build a profile, scientists need 1 day or more, as well as extensive experience with sophisticated protein analysis techniques," the report says. "In addition, no identification method based on genetically variant peptides in hair proteins has been used in court. There are still a lot of questions to be answered before that's a reality."

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Police Can't Force You To Tell Them Your Password

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 20:25
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a forceful opinion today holding that the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from being forced to disclose the passcode to their devices to the police. In a 4-3 decision in Commonwealth v. Davis, the court found that disclosing a password is "testimony" protected by the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination. EFF filed an amicus brief in Davis, and we were gratified that the court's opinion closely parallels our arguments. The Fifth Amendment privilege prohibits the government from coercing a confession or forcing a suspect to lead police to incriminating evidence. We argue that unlocking and decrypting a smartphone or computer is the modern equivalent of these forms of self-incrimination. Crucially, the court held that the narrow "foregone conclusion exception" to the Fifth Amendment does not apply to disclosing passcodes. As described in our brief, this exception applies only when an individual is forced to comply with a subpoena for business records and only when complying with the subpoena does not reveal the "contents of his mind," as the U.S. Supreme Court put it. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with EFF. It wrote: "Requiring the Commonwealth to do the heavy lifting, indeed, to shoulder the entire load, in building and bringing a criminal case without a defendant's assistance may be inconvenient and even difficult; yet, to apply the foregone conclusion rationale in these circumstances would allow the exception to swallow the constitutional privilege. Nevertheless, this constitutional right is firmly grounded in the "realization that the privilege, while sometimes a shelter to the guilty, is often a protection to the innocent."

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Russia Bans Sale of Gadgets Without Russian-Made Software

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 19:45
Russia has passed a law banning the sale of certain devices that are not pre-installed with Russian software. The BBC reports: The law will come into force in July 2020 and cover smartphones, computers and smart televisions. Proponents of the legislation say it is aimed at promoting Russian technology and making it easier for people in the country to use the gadgets they buy. But there are concerns about surveillance and fears that firms could pull out of the Russian market. The law will not mean devices from other countries cannot be sold with their normal software - but Russian "alternatives" will also have to be installed. The legislation was passed by Russia's lower house of parliament on Thursday. A complete list of the gadgets affected and the Russian-made software that needs to be pre-installed will be determined by the government.

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Google Is Terminating Google Cloud Print

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 19:20
Google has announced that Cloud Print, its cloud-based printing solution, is being retired at the end of next year. 9to5Google reports: The announcement comes in the form of a support document for Cloud Print that popped up recently, which is kind enough to remind us that Cloud Print has technically been in beta since it launched a decade ago: "Cloud Print, Google's cloud-based printing solution that has been in beta since 2010, will no longer be supported as of December 31, 2020. Beginning January 1, 2021, devices across all operating systems will no longer be able to print using Google Cloud Print. We recommend that over the next year, you identify an alternative solution and execute a migration strategy." Google notes that Chrome OS' native printing solutions have been vastly improved since Cloud Print launched in 2010, and also promises that native printing in Chrome OS will continue to get more features over time: "Google has improved the native printing experience for Chrome OS, and will continue adding features to native printing. For environments besides Chrome OS, or in multi-OS scenarios, we encourage you to use the respective platform's native printing infrastructure and/or partner with a print solutions provider."

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Apple Pulls All Customer Reviews From Online Apple Store

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 19:02
Apple has removed the "Ratings & Reviews" section from all product pages on its website. The changes were apparently made between November 16 and 17, and it's "currently unclear what has prompted this decision, nor when Apple will bring back the option to read the opinions of other customers at the time of purchase," reports AppleInsider. From the report: AppleInsider received a tip from a reader who had noted the buyer review section was missing on Apple's online retail store page. The user also pointed out that the pages have been removed from U.S., U.K., and Australian Apple online stores, which suggests this is not simply a mistake, but rather an intentional move on Apple's behalf. The reviews were pulled over the weekend, though it's not clear as to why this has happened. Apple had been known for leaving up even especially negative reviews, which demonstrated both transparency and integrity to their customers. By removing the reviews, it's possible that Apple will be seen as less credible to potential buyers.

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T-Mobile Reveals Data Breach Affecting Prepaid Customers

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 18:40
T-Mobile says it has suffered a data breach affecting some prepaid customers. No financial data, social security numbers, or passwords were accessed, but information associated with users' prepaid wireless accounts was obtained, including names, billing addresses, phone numbers, account numbers, rate plans, and features that users have added to their accounts. TmoNews reports: T-Mobile is in the process of notifying all customers that've been affected by this data breach. If you got a notification, you should update the PIN on your T-Mobile account. T-Mo does say that it's possible that some affected customers may not be notified because their contact info isn't up-to-date, so if that's the case with you, you can contact T-Mobile support for more info by dialing 611 from your T-Mo phone or 1-800-TMOBILE from any phone. There's no word yet on exactly how many customers were affected by this security issue, but some Reddit users have chimed in to say that they've been alerted to the breach by T-Mobile. "We take the security of your information very seriously and have a number of safeguards in place to protect your personal information from unauthorized access," T-Mobile says. "We truly regret that this incident occurred and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you."

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UK Gambling Machines Loaded With AI 'Cool Off' System

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 18:20
Every gambling machine in the UK's betting shops is being updated with software designed to detect and prevent problematic behaviour in players. From a report: The system locks gamblers out of machines for 30 seconds if erratic or excessive play is detected. While the brief lockdown is in effect, warnings about safe gambling are displayed on the machines' screens. One expert said the enforced break was "probably not long enough to have a positive effect." The artificial intelligence (AI) Anonymous Player Awareness System was launched this month by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), an industry group representing 90% of the UK betting and gaming market. Among the behaviour patterns it tries to detect are chasing losses, spending too long on a single machine and playing a succession of games rapidly. "It was rolled out to all our machines in our 1,600 shops in early November," a spokesman for Betfred told the BBC. "These alerts are now operational on machines in all 3,200 Ladbrokes and Coral shops," a Ladbrokes Coral spokesman added.

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Half Life Alyx Hits PC VR Headsets In March 2020

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 17:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: After a tease earlier this week, Valve has revealed more details and a new trailer for the first new Half-Life content in over a decade. The "full-length" Half Life: Alyx will hit Steam in March 2020, Valve says, with support for "all PC-based VR headsets." Pre-orders are already available for $59.99, though the game will be free if you own a Valve Index headset. The game, which Valve says is "set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2," has been "designed from the ground up for Virtual Reality" (i.e. you can stop hoping for a 2D monitor release). "Everyone at Valve is excited to be returning to the world of Half-Life," Valve founder Gabe Newell said in a statement. "VR has energized us." Today's video trailer shows that next year's Alyx-ization of Half-Life is equal parts abstract and concrete. The VR perspective from today's trailer doesn't include any floating body parts or feet; the only part of your virtual self you'll see, at least in today's trailer, is your hands, covered in a pair of gloves. Yet we also hear Alyx's voice, which indicates that this game's protagonist won't be nearly as silent as Freeman in his own mainline adventures. Today's announcement includes video footage that confirms a data-leak examination by Valve News Network earlier this year: a new manipulation system dubbed the Gravity Gloves. And boy do these things look cool. Need to grab or pick something up? Point at whatever that object is (whether it's close or far away) with an open hand until it glows orange, then close your hand and flick your wrist toward yourself to fling the item in your direction. At this point, you get a moment to physically "catch" the object in question. Point, clench, flick, catch. Today's trailer also confirms bits and pieces of the exciting HLA details I've previously heard about from multiple sources. For instance, the trailer includes teases of the game's approach to VR-exclusive puzzles, particularly those that require moving hands around a three-dimensional space. Some of these puzzles will require scanning and finding clues hidden inside of the virtual world's walls (and moving or knocking down anything hindering your ability to see or touch said walls). Other puzzles will require arranging what look like constellations or grids of stars around a 3D space in order to match certain patterns. And then there's the matter of familiar Half-Life creatures coming to life for the first time in over 12 years, which means they're that much more detailed and gruesome as rendered in the Source 2 engine. The Half-Life website specifies that this game can be played sitting, standing, or with "roomscale" movement. Players can use finger-tracking or trigger-based VR controllers and move around the VR environments by "teleporting" from point A to point B, "shifting" smoothly to a new position, or just walking continuously with an analog stick.

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Google Shakes Up Its 'TGIF' -- and Ends Its Culture of Openness

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 17:00
"It's not working in its current form," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said of what was once the hallmark of Google culture. In 2020, he declared, the meetings would be limited to once a month, and they would be more constrained affairs, sticking to "product and business strategy." Don't Be Evil has changed to Don't Ask Me Anything. From a report: With that, Pichai not only ended an era at Google, he symbolically closed the shutters on a dream held widely in the tech world -- that one can scale a company to global ubiquity while maintaining the camaraderie of an idealistic clan. Pichai cited decreased attendance rates, the difficulty of running a real-time gathering across time zones, and an uptick in meetings among big product groups like Cloud or YouTube. His most resonant reason, however, was that Google employees could no longer be trusted to keep matters confidential. He cited "a coordinated effort to share our conversations outside of the company after every TGIF ... it has affected our ability to use TGIF as a forum for candid conversations on important topics." He also noted that while many want to hear about product launches and business strategies, some attend to "hear answers on other topics." It seems obvious he was referring to recent moments when aggrieved employees registered objections to Google's policies and missteps -- on developing a search engine for China, bestowing millions of dollars to executives charged with sexual misconduct, or hiring a former Homeland Security apparatchik. Pichai says Google may address such issues in specific town-hall meetings when warranted.

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Twitter Says It Will Let All Users Hide Replies To Tweets

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 16:20
Twitter said it will start letting all users hide replies to the tweets they send, an effort to improve the health of discussions and interactions on the service. From a report: The company has been testing the feature since summer in different markets, including the U.S. and Japan, but is now rolling it out globally. The tool lets users hide specific comments made on their posts, meaning those comments won't be visible to other users unless they click a button to reveal them. The change provides a degree of control that could be used to keep spammers away, or to hide hateful or inappropriate replies.

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