Daily Archives: March 30, 2020

Test and trace with Apple and Google – TechCrunch

Posted: March 30, 2020 at 7:55 am

After the shutdown, the testing and tracing. Trace, test and treat is the mantra no lockdowns, no roadblocks and no restriction on movement in South Korea. To suppress and control the epidemic, countries must isolate, test, treat and trace, say WHO.

But what does tracing look like exactly? In Singapore, they use a TraceTogether app, which uses Bluetooth to track nearby phones (without location tracking), keeps local logs of those contacts, and only uploads them to the Ministry of Health when the user chooses/consents, presumably after a diagnosis, so those contacts can be alerted. Singapore plans to open-source the app.

In South Korea, the government texts people to let them know if they were in the vicinity of a diagnosed individual. The information conveyed can include the persons age, gender, and detailed location history. Subsequently, even more details may be made available:

In China, as you might expect, the surveillance is even more pervasive and draconian. Here, the pervasive apps Alipay and WeChat now include health codes green, yellow, or red set by the Chinese government, using opaque criteria. This health status is then used in hundreds of cities (and soon nationwide) to determine whether people are allowed to e.g. ride the subway, take a train, enter a building, or even exit a highway.

What about us, in the rich democratic world? Are we OK with the Chinese model? Of course not. The South Korean model? Probably not. The Singaporean model? Maybe. (I suspect it would fly in my homeland of Canada, for instance.) But the need to install a separate app, with TraceTogether or the directionally similar MIT project Safe Paths, is a problem. It works in a city-state like Singapore but will be much more problematic in a huge, politically divided nation like America. This will lead to inferior data blinded by both noncompliance and selection bias.

More generally, at what point does the urgent need for better data collide with the need to protect individual privacy and avoid enabling the tools for an aspiring, or existing, police state? And lets not kid ourselves; the pandemic increases, rather than diminishes, the authoritarian threat.

Maybe, like the UKs NHS, creators of new pandemic data infrastructures will promise Once the public health emergency situation has ended, data will either be destroyed or returned but not all organizations instill the required level of trust in their populace. This tension has provoked heated discussion around whether we should create new surveillance systems to help mitigate and control the pandemic.

This surprises me greatly. Wherever you may be on that spectrum, there is no sense whatsoever in creating a new surveillance system seeing as how multiple options already exist. We dont like to think about it, much, but the cold fact is that two groups of entities already collectively have essentially unfettered access to all our proximity (and location) data, as and when they choose to do so.

I refer of course to the major cell providers, and to Apple & Google. This was vividly illustrated by data company Tectonix in a viral visualization of the spread of Spring Break partygoers:

Needless to say, Apple and Google, purveyors of the OSes on all those phones, have essentially the same capability as and when they choose to exercise it. An open letter from technologists, epidemiologists & medical professionals calls on Apple, Google, and other mobile operating system vendors (the notion that any other vendors are remotely relevant is adorable) to provide an opt-in, privacy preserving OS feature to support contact tracing.

Theyre right. Android and iOS could, and should, add and roll out privacy-preserving, interoperable, TraceTogether-like functionality at the OS level (or Google Play Services level, to split fine technical hairs.) Granted, this means relying on corporate surveillance, which makes all of us feel uneasy. But at least it doesnt mean creating a whole new surveillance infrastructure. Furthermore, Apple and Google, especially compared to cellular providers, have a strong institutional history and focus on protecting privacy and limiting the remit of their surveillance.

(Dont believe me? Apples commitment to privacy has long been a competitive advantage. Google offers a thorough set of tools to let you control your data and privacy settings. I ask you: where is your cell service providers equivalent? Ah. Do you expect it to ever create one? I see. Would you also be interested in this fine, very lightly used Brooklyn Bridge I have on sale?)

Apple and Google are also much better suited to the task of preserving privacy by anonymizing data sets (I know, I know, but see below), or, better yet, preserving privacy via some form(s) of differential privacy and/or homomorphic encryption or even some kind of zero-knowledge cryptography, he handwaved wildly. And, on a practical level, theyre more able than a third-party app developer to ensure a background service like that stays active.

Obviously this should all be well and firmly regulated. But at the same time, we should remain cognizant of the fact that not every nation believes in such regulation. Building privacy deep into a contact-tracing system, to the maximum extent consonant with its efficacy, is especially important when we consider its potential usage in authoritarian nations who might demand the raw data. Anonymized location datasets admittedly tend to be something of an oxymoron, but authoritarians may still be technically stymied by the difficulty of deanonymization; and if individual privacy can be preserved even more securely than that via some elegant encryption scheme, so much the better.

Compared to the other alternatives government surveillance; the phone companies; or some new app, with all the concomitant friction and barriers to usage Apple and Google are by some distance the least objectionable option. Whats more, in the face of this global pandemic they could roll out their part of the test-and-trace solution to three billion users relatively quickly. If we need a pervasive pandemic surveillance system, then lets use one which (though we dont like to talk about it) already exists, in the least dangerous, most privacy-preserving way.

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Facebook, Google and Twitter Struggle to Handle Novembers Election – The New York Times

Posted: at 7:55 am

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebooks chief executive, ordered a lockdown for hundreds of employees late last year.

A lockdown is Facebook-speak for a period of intense, focused effort on a high-priority project. The workers, who included engineers and policy employees, were ordered to drop other projects and build tools to prevent interference in the 2020 election, said two people with knowledge of the instructions.

For Mr. Zuckerberg, who once delegated the messy business of politics to his lieutenants, Novembers election has become a personal fixation. In 2017, after the extent of Russias manipulation of the social network became clear, he vowed to prevent it from happening again.

We wont catch everyone immediately, but we can make it harder to try to interfere, he said.

Facebook has since required anyone running U.S. political ads to submit proof of an American mailing address, and included their ads in a publicly searchable database. It has invested billions to moderate content, drawn up new policies against misinformation and manipulated media, and hired tens of thousands of safety and security workers.

In the 2018 midterm elections, those efforts resulted in a relatively scandal-free Election Day. But 2020 is presenting different challenges.

Last year, lawmakers blasted Mr. Zuckerberg for refusing to fact-check Facebook posts or take down false ads placed by political candidates; he said it would be an affront to free speech. The laissez-faire approach has been embraced by some Republicans, including President Trump, but has made Facebook unpopular among Democrats and civil rights groups.

Still, Facebooks rank-and-file workers are cautiously optimistic. In late January, just before the Iowa caucuses, a group of employees gathered at the companys headquarters for a party to celebrate the end of the lockdown.

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Google Unveiled a Massive Stimulus Program of Its Own – Inc.

Posted: at 7:55 am

Google is one of the few companies that has an impact on almost all of our lives on a daily basis. It's where we go to find the best restaurants when we're traveling. It's where we search for local plumbers, or the closest hardware store, or where to buy vegetables to plant in a garden. That, of course, explains why more than half of all internet traffic originates with Google.

It also explains why Google is such a valuable place for small businesses to find new customers. The combination of organic searchand the paid ads associated with those searches has made it easy for businesses to target their audience based on meeting the exact things they're searching for. It's also made Google a massively profitable trillion-dollar company.

Now, in a blog post by Sundar Pichai, thecompany's CEO, Google says it will pitchin to help small businessesand other organizationsmake their way through the current health and economic challenge facing us all. That help comes in the form of an $800 million program that includes both direct financial assistance, as well as grants.

For small businesses, that means $340 million in credits for Google Ads that the company says can be used throughout 2020 across any of Google's advertising platforms. According to the company, the goal is "to alleviate some of the cost of staying in touch with their customers."

There's no signup or application process. Instead, credits will automatically be added to active Google Ads accounts.

In addition, Google says it is providing $250 million in ad credits to the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as other government health agencies that provide information about slowing the spread of Covid-19. Google had already said it would provide $25 million, but has significantly increased that amount with this announcement.

An additional $200 million will be provided to both NGOs and financial institutions "to help provide small businesses with access to capital." The company says it is focused on "people and communities underserved by mainstream financial institutions."

Lastly, Google is providing $20 million in Google Cloud services to researchers who are studying vaccines and treatment for Covid-19.

It's worth mentioning that Google is reportedly already seeing declines in advertising spending as businesses are forced to temporarily close down in communities across America. There's a chance that many of those businesses will struggle to reopen without help, which gives Google an incentive to help since those businesses are its customers. In addition, a credit is often an effective way to drive additional spending, which helps Google's bottom line at a time when it too could use a boost.

That's not to say that Google shouldn't get credit for these efforts. Google is in a unique position to actually help in a way that matters. Providing small businesses with the combination of advertising help as well as direct financial assistance in some cases could easily mean the difference between some businesses taking a short term hit or getting knocked out.

Preventing that is something we should all get on board with.

Published on: Mar 30, 2020

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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My top 3 Google Home pet peeves and how to fix them – CNET

Posted: at 7:55 am

Google Home is great, but it's not perfect -- some tasks require a workaround.

In the land of digital voice assistants, I love my Google Home ($99 at Walmart),I really do, but that doesn't mean our relationship is perfect. In fact, you could even say the honeymoon phase is pretty much over by now. I'm not saying we need counseling just yet, but my list of pet peeves has grown frustratingly long and it's starting to come across in my attitude when I talk to Google Assistant.

I know they say you should never expect anyone to change just for you, but that's one of the things I love most about Google Assistant --Google is constantly evolving the technology. So maybe I can hold out some hope that things will eventually get better.

Until then, here are my top three Google Home pet peeves what I do to work around them.

"Hey, Google" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue as easily as, say, "Alexa."

The problem: "OK, Google" just feels awkward and clumsy to me, and "Hey, Google" is no better. Don't even get me started on my frustration with Google being the name of the device (Google Home Mini), the AI (Google Assistant), the technology that powers the AI (Google search and services) and the company that owns it all (Google).

The fix: Even though Google won't let you choose a different wake word, you can manipulate Google Home's imperfect ear by using similar-sounding words to summon Google Assistant. "Hey, Boo Boo" remains my go-to, but I've also used "OK, Frugal," "Egg Noodle," "Go Lay Doo-Doo" and my all-time favorite "Cocaine Poodle."

The problem: You canset up a Google Home Routine to do just about anything, but the only way to trigger it is with a voice command. Alexa, on the other hand, lets youcraft location-based triggers, so when you leave the house, for example, Alexa can turn off all the lights, set the thermostat to "away" mode and play Mozart for your cats.

Google Assistant still cannot trigger a routine based on your location, even though Google always knows where you are if you're using Google Maps.

The fix: A good assistant should know whether I'm home or not and behave accordingly, so until Google implements location-based triggers I'm furtively using the Alexa app on my iPhone ($699 at Apple). Whether you have any Amazon Echo ($52 at Amazon) devices or not you candownload the Alexa app and set up location triggers on your Android phone or iPhone.

The problem: Even though phone-makers have all but eliminated the humble 3.5mm headphone jack from smartphones, Amazon Echo devices still have an audio output port for delivering audio to a more capable stereo system. Google Home devices have no such ports, which means the only way to connect them with an external audio source is with Bluetooth.

The fix: I hate to lean on Alexa again, but this works about as well (and for as little money) as anything: I picked up a couple of older second-genEcho Dots ($55 at Walmart) from Amazon Warehouse Deals, which I plugged into two sets of high-quality speakers. From there it's a breeze to connect your Google Home to the Echo Dot with Bluetooth.

Unlike any Google Home speakers, Amazon Echo has an AUX out port.

Just open the Google Home app and tap Settings > Device settings > Default music player > Enable pairing mode. From there, pair your Google speaker with your Amazon speaker to enjoy hi-fidelity sound from your stereo speakers.

Enough with the negativity -- Google Home is still my favorite smart home ecosystem because of the things it does well, likehelping you avoid touching surfaces in your house to slow the spread of germs andproviding accurate up-to-the-minute weather forecasts. And even though you can't connect them to an external stereo, you canpair multiple Google Home smart speakers into a stereo array, which improves their sound tremendously.

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Google has banned the Infowars Android app over false coronavirus claims – The Verge

Posted: at 7:55 am

Google has banned the Infowars Android app from the Google Play store, the company confirmed to Wired on Friday. Google also confirmed the apps removal to The Verge, and we couldnt find the Infowars app in a search on the Play Store this evening.

The app was apparently removed because of a video posted by radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that, according to Wired, disputed the need for social distancing, shelter in place, and quarantine efforts meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Before it was removed, the app had more than 100,000 downloads, Wired reports.

Now more than ever, combating misinformation on the Play Store is a top priority for the team, a Google spokesperson said in a statement given to The Verge. When we find apps that violate Play policy by distributing misleading or harmful information, we remove them from the store. Infowars was not immediately available for comment.

Last week, Alex Jones was ordered by New York Attorney General Letitia James to stop selling Infowars products that were marketed as a treatment or cure for the coronavirus. [Alex Jones] latest mistruths are incredibly dangerous and pose a serious threat to the public health of New Yorkers and individuals across the nation, James said in a statement.

Tech companies have also publicly committed to cracking down on coronavirus misinformation. Google has an SOS Alert in place for searches for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, that points to resources from the CDC and local governments at the top of search results. And a group of companies that includes Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube said theyre jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus in a statement issued on March 16th.

Apple permanently banned the Infowars app from the App Store in September 2018, citing App Store guidelines that forbid content thats offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust, or in exceptionally poor taste.

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Outside China, Android isnt Android without Google – The Verge

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The tech story that made the biggest impact on me yesterday was Sam Byfords Living a Google-free life with a Huawei phone. In the run up to the launch of Huaweis new flagship P40 line, he got himself a Mate 30 Pro and used it to see what Android is like sans Google. This is, of course, something untold millions of people in China do every day, but outside China Huawei falls in a weird zone where it doesnt have its local China services nor Google services.

The result, as Sam writes, is weird. But what struck me the most is how essential Google Mobile Services (GMS) are to the functioning of every modern Android phone outside of China. You might already expect that not having Gmail, Chrome, and the Play Store would be annoying but the fact that so many non-Google apps dont work was a bit of a shock.

GMS and Google Play Services have slowly grown to become essential parts of how an Android phone works. Theyre how the web engine gets updated, theyre increasingly how the operating system itself gets updated (via Project Mainline), and they protect against malware even for apps you dont load from the official Google Play Store.

They also offer lots of services to developers, and thats the part thats easy to forget. Googles services offer push notifications, location, casting, ad support, and much more. Huawei has been building out its own services and store to deal with life away from Google, but the situation right now is that the Mate 30 Pro doesnt even ship with a viable maps app. Android may be open source, but an Android phone doesnt really operate without Google at least outside of China.

None of this is especially shocking or even nefarious, its just something that isnt in your face every day. Other operating systems like Windows and iOS are equally tied up with the company that makes them, which is a point so obvious that pointing it out in the first place seems silly. But with Android, its worth remembering.

Well have lots of coverage of Huaweis new P40 series today, so look forward to that. For what its worth, Huawei has said it would come back to the US if it could, but that seems unlikely in the near future. Also, thanks to everybody who emailed me today with their thoughts on the iPad Ill try to reply personally to everybody but itll take a bit.

Google Podcasts rolls out new design, launches on iOS. Looks like a huge upgrade, and availability on iOS makes it more appealing to people who need to be on multiple platforms. But the cross-platform king of podcast apps remains Pocket Casts, in my opinion. Its also the rare app that is excellent on every platform I use it on, from CarPlay to the web to Android to smart displays. Plus, its not owned and operated by a giant tech company! (Though to be fair NPR aint small.)

Royole claims the FlexPai 2 fixes the problems of its rough first foldable. I love that Royole is just going for it with another foldable phone and promising this one wont be a cringey mess like the first. I do wonder why the display is branded Cicada Wing, though. Apparently theyre good at repelling water and self-cleaning? The wings I mean, not this screen.

Samsungs new Galaxy Tab A offers LTE connectivity. Im not sure Id recommend this over an iPad to anybody, but its inexpensive and gives you an LTE option if you want that.

Samsungs S10 and Note 10 are getting updated with the S20s best camera features.

Dell now lets you control iPhones from its PCs. Its legit amazing that Dell does this and the Mac does not. Im sure people will turn their nose up at it, but using the Your Phone app on Windows 10 has me convinced that its a good idea. There are still going to be bugs and such, but I hope theres continued investment in this kind of software from multiple companies.

Qualcomms latest chips could make noise cancellation standard on new wireless earbuds.

SpaceX is making its own hand sanitizer and building face shields to donate to fight coronavirus.

Apple says customers must wait to pick up repairs locked inside its retail stores. Heres an idea that sounds easy and is easy to recommend because Im not Apple: why not offer loaner devices to these people? I am guessing Apple could afford to! Like I said, probably harder and more expensive than I would guess, but it would suck to be stuck in a lurch without a computer. Maybe I just feel this particularly pointedly because the N key on my MacBook Pro is about to die.

I, like seemingly everybody else I follow, am playing a bunch of Animal Crossing. If you are too, we have a lovely set of stories that are both useful and entertaining. If you want a full-on guide, Polygons is quite comprehensive. Im also playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider and its kind of an overloaded, overwhelming collect-the-map game.

If youre looking for something to play, my advice is to check out our best games of 2020. Our team is keeping this page updated throughout the year. Bookmark it!

How to watch movies with friends online. Aliya Chaudhry goes over all the major options. There are a bunch, and some of them work with multiple video services.

Fox will broadcast NASCARs substitute sim racing season on television. Sean OKane is going to get me into NASCAR, isnt he? I have gone to one NASCAR race and I deeply loved it, but there are only so many things I can afford to keep track of. But this looks joyful and fun.

One reason it was possible for the motorsports world to quickly flip this switch to sim racing is that theres been a thriving community competing on these platforms for years. Sim racing has grown so prevalent that many pro drivers are already deeply familiar with the likes of iRacing. Most have sim racing rigs a seat, steering wheel, pedals, and giant, often wraparound monitors set up in their homes, or at the very least, at their teams headquarters.

CBS All Access is offering a free one-month trial, just in time to binge Star Trek: Picard.

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Google ups Duo group calling limit from eight to twelve – The Verge

Posted: at 7:55 am

Google is increasing the maximum number of people who can participate in a Duo call from eight to twelve, the companys senior director of product management announced on Twitter. We recognize group calling is particularly critical right now, Sanaz Ahari Lemelson wrote. We have increased group calling from 8 participants to 12 effective today. The announcement did not mention whether the increase was permanent.

Duo has supported eight-person video calls since May of last year when Google doubled the maximum amount of participants from four to eight. The new 12-person limit compares to eight for Houseparty, 32 for Apples FaceTime, 50 for Skype and Messenger, and 100 for Zooms free tier.

If you need to chat with a larger number of people and you definitely need to use a Google service to do so, then youll need to use Googles enterprise-focused Hangouts Meet service. Although its exclusive to G Suite business users, Google also recently increased the maximum number of participants to 250 for G Suite and G Suite for Education subscribers. Previously, Google charged $13 extra per user for this increased limit as part of its enterprise tier.

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Cruising Through South Central Los Angeles With Google Street View : The Picture Show – NPR

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The sun shines as Felix Quintana cruises through South Central Los Angeles. He's always been inspired by what he sees out of his car window, from the strip malls to the street vendors. "I love the hustle," he says. "The hand-painted signs, the swap meets, the people making money washing windshields."

But those moments can fly by. And his ongoing series of cyanotypes make us pause on the often overlooked Angelenos who work and live in the less glitzy, more gritty neighborhoods of LA County.

A multidisciplinary artist using his photographer's eye, Quintana samples from the Google Maps Street View archive, turns a screenshot into a digital negative and prints it using digital inkjet film. In the darkroom, he coats the paper with a solution and "scratches" it with symbols of the city "to reveal what's beneath the surface," he explained.

His images together re-create the act of cruising through his hometown. "Cruising is all about driving slow, hella slow, like 25 miles per hour, and bumping music and looking fresh," Quintana says. Cruising can be a political act there are "No Cruising" signs posted in the area. "It's all about taking up space," he adds. "People are scared of all these Chicanos and black folks coming together."

The work invites you to slow down, to see black and brown people exist and resist, and to celebrate the vernacular of South Central LA in all its ungentrified glory.

"It's a very objective point of view that Google gives, but the images are still really grimy," Quintana says. "I'm able to appropriate them and reclaim them, without permission, to find the beautiful and the poetic, to frame it in a way that shows resilience."

Quintana chose the cyanotype, an alternative photographic printing process, for his love letter to his city. He makes them by exposing the cyanotype-coated paper to ultraviolet light and sunshine the pride and joy of Los Angeles. That light develops a melancholic but brilliant blue that harkens back to architectural blueprints.

"These are the emotional and cultural blueprints of the city," Quintana says. "It's an archive of the city that's changing. When gentrification comes in, this is what you're pushing out."

In the era of pervasive horizontal wooden-slatted "flipper fences" or "gentrifences," we see chain-link fences and iron gates. Plants also persevere in this concrete jungle. Quintana draws them sprouting from the sidewalks and depicts the ubiquitous palm tree iconic to Los Angeles even though only a single species is native to California. The motifs recall a line from rapper Tupac Shakur's poetry: "The rose that grew from the concrete."

"It's a good symbol for the people," Quintana says. "We're rooted, we're planted, we're growing."

He made these markings instinctively, he says. They feel at home in South Central LA, fluent in the local slang. "It's a very cholo, gang graffiti style marking territories," he says.

One of his most frequently recurring drawings is a sly coyote, which has become Quintana's signature. It's a nod to artist Keith Haring's famous dog figure. "A coyote in Spanish is the person who smuggles people. That's how a lot of my family got here," Quintana says. "It's this idea of someone within the landscape, but you don't see him."

Like the coyote, the people at the center of Quintana's photographs often go unnoticed. They're working in the street, commuting without cars and shopping at the dollar store. But these images are also documentation of an inequity that affects working-class people: a lack of green space, inaccessible mass transit, food deserts.

At times, these everyday images, now extra visible, surprise even Quintana. Like the time he found his father who died three years ago preserved in a Google Street View image, sitting in the driver seat of his truck.

"Photography is so much about this present moment," Quintana says. "But Google has archives that date back to 2007. Now, I can make images of the past."

These images of the past preserve not just the people from Quintana's life, but the places, too. The Compton Fashion Center was an indoor flea market and West Coast hip-hop landmark with connections to Tupac, N.W.A and Kendrick Lamar. The center closed in 2015 but it's the subject of the next entry in his continuing Los Angeles blueprints series.

"You went for CDs, white tees, vintage Nikes and Icees," Quintana said. "It's a Walmart now, which is just sad."

Felix Quintana is an artist, photographer and educator who is now based in San Jose, Calif. His Instagram is @felixquintana.

Samantha Clark is a writer and photo editor based in Washington. Follow her on Instagram @samanthabrandyclark.

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Google Removes Infowars Android App From Online Store Over Coronavirus Misinformation – Variety

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Google on Friday removed the Android version of the Infowars app from the Google Play online store, after comments made by Infowars founder Alex Jones about the COVID-19 pandemic were deemed false and harmful.

Google Play was that last major internet platform that provided an outlet for Infowars, which trades in right-wing conspiracy theories and fear mongering. In September 2018, Apple banned the Infowars app from the App Store, citing its violation of the policy prohibiting offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust or in exceptionally poor taste. Jones and Infowars also have been banned by Googles YouTube,Twitter, Facebook, Apple PodcastsandSpotify for violating policies on hate speech and harassment.

The news of Googles ban on the Infowars Android app was first reported by Wired, which said the removal came in response to a video in which Jones disputed the need for social distancing, shelter in place, and quarantine efforts meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Now more than ever, combating misinformation on the Play Store is a top priority for the team, a Google spokesperson said in a statement. When we find apps that violate Play policy by distributing misleading or harmful information, we remove them from the store.

Jones, in a video response on Infowars website about Googles removal of the app, said, It doesnt make me mad that theyre doing this to me. Its that theyre doing it to all of us Modern book burning is now the default position. Jones also said, Even if Im wrong about something, I have a right, you have a right to judge it, and tune in or tune out.

As noted in Wireds report, New York Attorney General Letitia James on March 12 sent Jones a cease-and-desist notice, ordering Infowars to stop and marketing products as a treatment or cure for the coronavirus. As the coronavirus continues to pose serious risks to public health, Alex Jones has spewed outright lies and has profited off of New Yorkers anxieties, James said in a statement. Per the New York AG, Jones fraudulently claimed that Superblue Toothpaste kills the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range. The CDC says there currently are no FDA-approved drugs specifically for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

According to a post Friday on the Infowars site, Jones said the ban came after he discussed the use of hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and strong antibiotics to treat coronavirus. Jones pointed out that the treatments he promoted have been popularized by President Donald Trump, and also discussed by [Fox News hosts] Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham, according to the post.

The U.S. now has the most confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the world, with 104,837 as of Saturday morning, and 1,711 total deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineeringscoronavirus tracker.

Jones final deplatforming from all major internet services comes after years of controversial and false statements. His most notorious claim has been that the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in which 20 children and six adults were killed was a giant hoax perpetrated by crisis actors. Jones has been sued for defamation by several family members of the Sandy Hook victims, and to date a judge has ordered Jones and Infowars to pay $150,000 to families in legal fees. In a court deposition last year, Jones said it was a form of psychosis that caused him to believe events like the Sandy Hook massacre were staged.

The Infowars host, among other comments, also has has alleged the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks and said that NFL players protesting during the national anthem were kneeling to white genocide.

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Googles new Pixel Buds could hit spring release date, as they may have just hit the FCC – The Verge

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Googles second-generation Pixel Buds may have just appeared in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filings, indicating that the companys new true wireless earbuds could hit their spring release window (via 9to5Google).

Two new FCC filings from Google for wireless earphones appeared yesterday. The filings have two different model numbers, G1007 and G1008, possibly correlating to one filing for each earbud. The filings dont specifically state that these are the new Pixel Buds, and a product appearing on the FCC isnt always a confirmation that it will launch imminently. But given that Google has said the new Pixel Buds will come out sometime in spring, it seems likely that yesterdays filings are indeed for the new earbuds.

Google says the new Pixel Buds will have hands-free access to Google Assistant, passive noise cancellation, five hours of battery life on one charge, 24 hours of battery life with the case, and long-range Bluetooth that can apparently stay connected to your phone from up to three rooms away. Theyll cost $179.

My colleague Nilay Patel got to hold and wear the new Pixel Buds shortly after they were announced, but the ones he tried werent actually working yet, so its unclear how good they will sound or if theyll live up to Googles promises.

Were also still waiting on Microsofts $249 Surface Earbuds, which were also first announced last October but were later delayed to this spring. Both Google and Microsoft will face fierce competition from Apples popular AirPods and AirPods Pro, Samsungs new Galaxy Buds Plus, and other true wireless earbuds.

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Googles new Pixel Buds could hit spring release date, as they may have just hit the FCC - The Verge

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