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Man launches GoFundMe to send flat-Earther into space



Man launches GoFundMe to send flat-Earther into space

A man fed up with flat-Earthers is crowdfunding a barmy attempt to prove once and for all that our planet is round.

Marc Gauld, who describes himself as an “annoyed Scot”, set up a GoFundMe to send one of the deluded conspiracy theorists into orbit.

Despite overwhelming evidence that our planet is spherical, some corners of the web still believe that if you travel to the edge, you’ll fall off.

Marc reckons that sending a flat-Earther into space would show them otherwise.

He told the Daily Record last month that he hoped whoever returned would convince their fellow believers that the theory’s a load of nonsense.

“I have a couple of friends that are flat-Earthers and it drives me crazy, their total nonsense that they speak,” Marc said.

“They call astronauts actors who are paid to lie and that boils my blood because these are guys who barely hold down jobs and do nothing so to talk about astronauts like that I don’t know where they get off.”

Marc has a long way to go before reaching his ambitious £250,000 ($345,191) funding goal for the project.

In a bid to hit his target, Marc told the Daily Record that he was attempting to rope in some of the biggest names in space exploration.

“I decided to give [flat-Earthers] the chance to put their money where their mouth is for once and the only way I could do it is by sending a high ranking flat-Earther into space,” he said.

“I have contacted Elon Musk and Richard Branson’s teams trying to get their support on it waiting for a reply.”

According to his crowdfunding page, Marc plans on launching his first conspiracy-busting flight later this year.

He acknowledges, however, that this may not be possible due to complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Please get onboard with this as it is in the name of science and it will finally disprove or prove the flat earth theory and we can finally put this to rest,” Marc wrote.

“I am 100 percent serious about this and your donations will be highly appreciated and will be helping to stop a completely unsupported scientific view getting in the way of real progress!”

Flat Earth theories have been widely discredited for centuries.

They say that otherwise undisputed theories about its shape are part of a “round Earth conspiracy” orchestrated by Nasa and other government agencies.

There’s even a barmy annual flat-Earther conference held in Texas that’s attended by hundreds of deluded luddites.

The rise of the internet and social media has allowed false conspiracies like the flat-Earth theory to flourish.

Tech firms are now trying to crack down on the spread of Flat Earth misinformation by blocking popular groups and posts.

But plenty of YouTube videos and social media posts slip through the filters, allowing online communities to continue to grow.

Las year, a man died after launching himself in the air using a homemade rocket in a big to prove the Earth was flat.

Daredevil “Mad” Mike Hughes, 64, crash-landed his steam-powered rocket shortly after take-off near Barstow, California.

The American flat Earth conspiracy theorist was captured on video as his craft flew up into the air and abruptly dropped to the ground.

Footage from the scene showed Mike’s parachute deploy shortly after take-off before his body is seen falling to the ground seconds later.

He was reportedly trying to reach an altitude of 5,000 feet.

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Facebook weighs adding facial recognition to smart glasses




Facebook weighs adding facial recognition to smart glasses

Facebook is weighing whether to add facial recognition technology to the smart glasses it’s developing, one top executive says.

The tech titan plans to have a public discussion about the feature’s “pros and cons” in light of the ethical concerns it raises, according to Andrew Bosworth, the head of the company’s virtual and augmented reality division.

“It’s really a debate we need to have with the public,” Bosworth said during a Thursday Q&A on his Instagram page. “If people don’t want this technology, we don’t have to supply it. The product’s going to be fine either way.”

Bosworth spoke up publicly after BuzzFeed News reported that Facebook was examining whether it could legally build facial recognition features into the high-tech glasses it’s planning to roll out later this year.

During a company meeting on Thursday, one Facebook employee asked whether people could “mark their faces as unsearchable” when smart glasses become widely used given fears about the technology leading to “real-world harm,” according to the outlet.

In addition to those concerns, current state laws may prevent Facebook from allowing people who use its glasses to look up others based on images of their faces, Bosworth reportedly said in the meeting.

He noted on Twitter that facial recognition is a “hugely controversial topic and for good reason,” but said the technology has some good practical uses “if it could be done in a way the public and regulators were comfortable with.”

For instance, he said, it could help people who have prosopagnosia, a neurological condition that prevents them from recognizing others’ faces.

“More general is the party use case where you see someone you recognize but can’t place their name,” Bosworth tweeted. “Is it a huge deal? Of course not. But might be nice if you could have your memory jogged.”

Facebook is reportedly developing its smart glasses to rival similar wearable gadgets made by Snapchat and Amazon. They’re being built in partnership with the Ray-Ban specs brand and its parent company, Luxottica.

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Bots hyped GameStop on major social media platforms: analysis




Bots hyped GameStop on major social media platforms: analysis

Bots on major social media platforms have been hyping up GameStop and other “meme” stocks, according to an analysis by Massachusetts-based cybersecurity company PiiQ Media, suggesting organized economic or foreign actors may have played a role in the Reddit-driven trading frenzy.

Shares in GameStop soared last month after Reddit users banded together to squeeze hedge funds that had bet against the video game retailer and other companies. Reddit Chief Executive Steve Huffman told Congress this month that bots, artificial or fake accounts with automated content, had not played a “significant role” in GameStop Reddit message traffic.

PiiQ Media’s analysis of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube posts, however, found that bots used the platforms to push GameStop and other “meme” stocks, although it is unclear how influential they were in the overall saga.

A startup that focuses on social media risks, PiiQ said it examined patterns of keywords such as “Hold the Line” and GameStop’s stock symbol, “GME” across conversations and profiles prior to the Jan. 28 frenzy, through Feb. 18. For comparison, it also assessed posts on an unrelated set of stocks.

PiiQ said that it identified very similar daily “start and stop patterns” in the GameStop-related posts, with activity starting at the beginning of the trading day, followed by a large spike at the end of the trading day. Such patterns are indicative of bots, said Aaron Barr, co-founder and chief technology officer of PiiQ.

“We saw clear patterns of artificial behavior across the other four social media platforms. When you think of organic content, it’s variable in the day, variable day-to-day. It doesn’t have the exact same pattern every day for a month,” he said.

Based on its authenticity scoring system, PiiQ estimates there are tens of thousands of bot accounts hyping GameStop, the meme stocks, and Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency swept up in the frenzy. Thousands of fake accounts can be purchased for as little as $200, it said.

The company did not analyze Reddit data, but Barr said he would expect to see a similar pattern of activity on Reddit, indicating bot-like or coordinated management of conversations.

A representative for Reddit did not comment beyond Huffman’s testimony. Representatives for YouTube, Facebook and its Instagram subsidiary did not respond to requests for comment. The social media platforms generally try to weed out harmful bots, said Barr.

A spokesperson for Twitter said that “bots” had become a catch-all term that can often mischaracterize the nature of the account. The company notes bots can be used on its platform for creative or innovative purposes.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing the GameStop saga, and this month suspended trading in a handful of companies because some “social media accounts may be engaged in a coordinated attempt to artificially influence” their stocks.

In addition to traders, organized criminals may use social media to stoke asset prices, and undermining the integrity of U.S. markets is a known goal of hostile state actors, said Barr. But it is unclear how successful, if at all, these types of influence efforts are, he said.

“Measuring the effect of those campaigns is often illusive.”

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Bitcoin heads for biggest weekly loss since March




Bitcoin heads for biggest weekly loss since March

Bitcoin’s price tumbled Friday, putting it on pace for its deepest weekly loss in nearly a year — on the heels of its equally staggering rally.

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency was trading down 9.2 percent at $46,477.67 as of 8:55 a.m. after falling as low as $44,180.99 in the early morning, according to CoinDesk data.

At that overnight low, bitcoin was down about 20 percent from its closing price on Sunday, the day it reached its all-time record above $58,000, the data show.

If the losses hold through the weekend, the coin would post its worst weekly performance since the 33 percent plunge it suffered in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic roiled global markets, CoinDesk says.

The dip came amid a selloff in the stock and bond markets that sent bond yields surging as share prices of tech giants like Amazon, Google and Tesla fell on Thursday.

Bitcoin also took a hit earlier this week after Tesla CEO Elon Musk — whose company just bought $1.5 billion of the cryptocurrency last month — said the coin’s price looked “high.”

“I’m sure Elon Musk is getting a few funny looks from Tesla shareholders after his admission that [bitcoin is] looking a little expensive,” OANDA senior market analyst Craig Erlam said. “It is a market that was ridiculously overbought and will probably be so once again in the not-too-distant future.”

Bitcoin’s value has still climbed about 58 percent since the start of the year, CoinDesk data show. The price has risen as big companies such as Mastercard and BNY Mellon joined the likes of Tesla in embracing cryptocurrency.

Digital payments firm Square and business intelligence company MicroStrategy also revealed this week that they had added more bitcoin to their balance sheets.

With Post wires

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