Google updated the release announcement for the Chrome web browser version 72.0.3626.121 with a warning that the 0day patched in the release is being actively exploited in the wild.
After initially publishing the 72.0.3626.121 update on March 1 with no mentions of the security flaw being abused, the Chrome team modified the announcement with exploitation information for the vulnerability stating that “Google is aware of reports that an exploit for CVE-2019-5786 exists in the wild.”
The security issue tracked as CVE-2019-5786 and rated by the Google Chrome team as high severity is a use-after-free flaw in the browser’s FileReader API, an API designed to allow the browser to access and read locally stored files.
Potential attackers can employ maliciously crafted web pages designed to allow them to use previously-freed memory on a visitor’s computer via the Chrome FileReader API to execute arbitrary code and take over the device or trigger a denial of service condition.
While possible exploitation of a vulnerable Chrome installation can lead to very serious consequences from data deletion and malware infections, it’s also important to understand that the attackers will only be able to run code under the context of the user browser.
Seeing this, users logged on under accounts with limited rights could be less affected because attackers would have fewer and more limited tools at their disposal to abuse the machine they successfully compromised.
Either way, the word of the day is “update”. Update your Google Chrome web browser to the latest 72.0.3626.121 version since all previous versions are vulnerable to attacks exploiting the CVE-2019-5786 vulnerability.
Hexbyte – Science and Tech Damage control and prevention
Luckily, Google Chrome should be configured by default to auto-update to the latest stable release, so most users should only need to restart their web browsers to be protected.
To limit the damage zero-day vulnerabilities such as the just patched Chrome FileReader use-after-free could lead to if successfully exploited, users should always keep their apps up to date, run software or log on using a limited account, and think twice before visiting websites they don’t trust or click on links from unknown sources.
Just Cause 4 is available today on Xbox Game Pass. The over-the-top sandbox adventure launched barely three months ago (Dec. 4, 2018, to be precise). It’s joined by 2012’s Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, also available today.
On March 14, F1 2018 arrives on Game Pass, three days before Formula One racing’s 2019 championship begins in Melbourne. F1 2018 launched in August but it involves last year’s series and teams, so this game will lack a handful of renamed or new teams. Several drivers have also changed affiliations.
Fallout 4 joined the Game Pass library during E3 2018, and left back in November when Fallout 76launched. It’s back on March 14, probably to keep the Fallout flag waving after Fallout 76’s chilly reception. “After all, there will always be another settlement that needs your help,” Major Nelson wrote in today’s announcement. Yeah, no shit about that.
Xbox Game Pass’ library spans more than 200 titles, with games added in and rotated out every month. Check back next week, when Microsoft announces what will be leaving the service soon. Xbox Game Pass costs $9.99 a month.
Multiple outlets report that Apple has changed its policy regarding repairs to iPhones with third-party battery replacements. These reports say that Apple will now fix iPhones even if the device has a non-Apple battery inside. And since batteries are perhaps the most essential repair for a mobile device, this is a big deal not only for iPhone owners but also for the broader right-to-repair movement.
Earlier this week, French tech site iGeneration was the first to identify changes to Apple’s repair policy, which it says went into effect on February 28. Citing “an internal document obtained… from three reliable sources,” MacRumors corroborated that report as well as the details therein. Both outlets say that Apple has instituted a new policy whereby iPhone owners with third-party batteries will be eligible for repairs at Apple Stores as well as Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs). Previously, technicians were told to refuse service on iPhones with non-Apple batteries.
If the reports are correct, iPhone owners with third-party batteries can now take their devices to the Genius Bar or an AASP and get other components (like the display, logic board, microphone, or camera) repaired. If it’s a battery-related repair, Apple or the authorized technician will reportedly replace the third party battery with an Apple one. The technician would also have the discretion to replace the entire phone in the event of broken or missing battery tabs are broken or missing or if there’s excessive adhesive. In other words, it looks like Apple will still repair your device if you got a sloppy repair job from a third party.
It’s hard to know exactly what Apple’s reportedly improved repair policy means because we still don’t know all of the details. We reached out to Apple for confirmation on the earlier reports and will update when we hear back.
In the meantime, a conversation with Apple Support did suggest that some changes had been made. The representative said that Apple did recently change a policy that would allow the Genius Bar or an AASP to replace third-party batteries for out-of-warranty devices. The rep also said that a screen repair on an iPhone with a third-party battery “would be up to the technician inspecting it.” Presumably, a technician would not want to work on a phone that contained a battery that looked like it might explode. Some have suggested that safety and security are reasons why Apple doesn’t want to repair iPhones with third-party batteries.
There is a bigger picture involved here, though. Even a little bit of movement on the Apple repair front must be pretty exciting for folks right-to-repair activists who have been fighting for years for little policy changes like the reported third-party battery thing. First of all, if this battery news is true, it would represent yet another major concession made by Apple in the broader fight to give consumers more control over their devices. It was two years ago that the company said third-party screen replacements would no longer void iPhone warranties, which was a huge deal for the clumsy cracked-screen crowd.
But batteries are almost a bigger deal, since they’re inherently prone to degradation and, eventually, failure over time. Apple, rather embarrassingly, made this fact glaringly clear, when it secretly throttled older iPhones to prevent their aging batteries from causing unexpected shutdowns. Following weeks of controversy, the company eventually decided to slash the price of out-of-warranty battery replacements from $79 to $29 for certain iPhones, though some customers were forced to pay for more expensive repairs before getting the cheap battery replacement. All of this very public drama drew attention to the fact that iPhone batteries don’t last forever, and it’s safe to assume that this got more people thinking about battery replacements.
This begs the question of whether or not Apple wants people to replace their batteries. Apple has admitted that these cheap battery replacements put a dent in iPhone sales, so you’d think the company would want to keep a policy that discouraged battery replacements that did not put money in Apple’s pocket. However, the new repair policy—if the reports are true—would give iPhone users more options for cheaper replacements with fewer consequences, which would, in turn, discourage people from buying iPhones even more. What’s that all about?
Here’s an absurd hypothesis: maybe Apple is actually listening to its customers. The explosion of third-party options is proof that people want choice when it comes to repairing their devices. So maybe Apple is trying to provide iPhone users with a better overall experience, one that doesn’t trap them into repair options so unappealing that they might consider ditching iPhones altogether and getting one of those sick new triple-camera Samsung phones. Maybe Apple is looking down the barrel of an uncertain future and doing what it can to stay as rich as possible.
A little over a month ago, Meizu announced that its portless “concept” phone, the Zero, would be available to actually buy via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. At a price of $1300, it was certainly expensive, but not obscenely so – after all, mass produced devices from Samsung and Apple now easily exceed such a price. And for that $1300, you’d get a low-volume production handset that arguably was the first of its kind – just the sort of thing you’d think would get the attention of enough smartphone enthusiasts to justify what was pretty clearly a marketing campaign first, R&D effort second.
Meizu set itself an eminently reasonably bar for the campaign, too, at $100,000. That may sound like a fair bit of cash, but Meizu would only have had to sell 77 phones in order to meet this goal. It managed just 29. It’s unclear how many of those were Meizu employees, other than to say “not enough.”
Meizu isn’t a particularly well-known brand in western markets, having only expanded to Eastern Europe recently. It was only in 2018 the company had apparently received a renewal of its Google Mobile Services certification, which it lost years ago for building phones with the Android fork Yun OS in China. Given Indiegogo is largely popular in places like North America and Europe, I guess it’s not terribly surprising no one wanted to sign up to buy a $1300 phone from a company they knew nothing about, especially one that appeared to just be taking away things people want.
While I do believe portless phones are our inevitable future, we’re years, possibly even a decade, from that being truly feasible in a mass market device. Any phone lacking a USB port in 2019 is best called what it is: sheer jackassery. There’s no good excuse for ditching the USB port when it remains the ubiquitous channel through which power, audio, and data can be routed (even if USB-C headphones kind of suck). Until wireless charging is so common and so fast as to relegate wired chargers to the dustbin, portless phones belong in the imaginations and sketchbooks of industrial designers, not crowdfunding campaigns.
Some adventures need more than one lens to capture it all — Black Eye Pro Kit G4 is a new smartphone lens kit designed for versatility and portability. Including three lenses and a carrying case, the new kit uses a clip-style mount that allows the lenses to be used with most smartphones, including both iOS and Android, along with dual-lens options and the front and rear-facing camera on many devices.
The kit includes the Pro Cinema Wide G4, the Pro Portrait Tele G4, and the Pro Fisheye G4. The Pro Cinema Wide G4 extends the camera’s angle of view to 120 degrees. Black Eye says that, despite the wide angle, the lens still allows for straight lines and distortion-free images. Made for capturing wider scenes, the company says the lens is ideal for travel, landscapes, video, and more.
With a 2.5x optical boost, the Pro Portrait Tele G4 both helps mobile photographers get up close to the subject while creating the softer background telephotos are known for. Early users say the lens is similar to shooting with a 50mm on a full-frame camera. The lens covers a 40-degree angle of view.
“The Pro Tele G4 feels like shooting with a 50mm lens on a full-frame DSLR camera,” photographer Damon Beckford said in a press release. “The lens is great for getting more depth of field in portraits, getting tighter framed landscape shots and even for some close wildlife photography.”
The Pro Fisheye G4 captures a 175-degree view. Black Eye suggests the lens is ideal for shooting sports, architecture, road trips, parties, and point-of-view video.
All three lenses use double-coated glass, a design that the company says helps keep colors natural. Anti-reflection coatings are also part of the design, along with nano-ground optics for better sharpness. While the universal clip allows the lenses to adapt to most devices, the company says the lenses are optimized for the latest smartphones, released in 2018 and later.
Black Eye is a mobile photography accessory company started by a professional snowboarder, Eero Ettala, and a photographer, Arto Ekman. The company hand assembles the lenses.
Black Eye says the Pro Kit G4 is about a tenth of both the cost and weight of a DSLR. The kit retails for $250, a $50 discount from buying individual lenses.
Exposure NY, a photography and styling agency in New York, is seeking a highly motivated, detail-oriented Assistant to the President/Agent. The Assistant will provide administrative support across all of the President’s personal and professional affairs, which include the management and career development of artists working at the top of their fields. This is a great opportunity for a recent college graduate who is eager to advance their career on the business side of the fashion and photography industries and be involved in all aspects of an experienced agent’s professional responsibilities. www.exposureny.com
The duties of this position include, but are not limited to:
High volume of written correspondence on behalf of the President and monitoring all emails
Management of the President’s personal and professional calendar
Scheduling meetings, appointments, and multi-time zone conference calls
Coordinating the President’s travel arrangements (personal and professional)
Researching potential clients and drafting sales outreach emails
Tracking and reporting the President’s expenses and reporting to office controller
Answering and rolling high volume of calls, taking messages, helping with general phone inquiries
General office administration (ordering supplies, liaising with building management, etc.)
Receiving packages, deliveries, visitors
Handling personal requests as needed
Handling special projects as they arise
The ideal candidate:
Punctual, responsible, and reliable
1-3 years relevant experience (including internships)
Bachelor’s degree (required)
MUST be a self-starter and demonstrate an eagerness to learn about the industry
Demonstrated interest in fashion and photography
Exceptional written, verbal, and interpersonal skills
Advanced proficiency in Microsoft Office Outlook, Word, Excel; knowledge of Adobe Photoshop a plus
A positive, mature, and personable demeanor
A proven ability to respect confidential and sensitive information
Desire to work in a small office environment with a collaborative “team” attitude
Back in the day, a compelling photograph could be taken in a fraction of a second and considered for years, even decades. The small world of street photography was dominated by photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, who said, “Photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.”
But today, while we may spend collectively a great deal of time taking shots, the time we take to consider their significance has been steadily whittled down, creating a vicious cycle of sorts not only in how photography is evaluated these days, but what kind of photography is made available for evaluation.
In the past, work that made it into the public consciousness came about due to the intent of a small, admittedly highly biased pool of individuals who had the opportunity and/or luck to gain access to a few select media. That state of affairs did change with the advent of the Internet, but rather than leveling the playing field as promised, it changed the channels through which this process could occur.
Instead of a select few, mainly straight white men of means in Western countries who were able to forego other employment and afford the expensive equipment necessary at the time, the promise was that anyone with any camera could play, and after the wide adoption of mobile phone cameras, that future seemed to be in sight.
Except that hasn’t quite happened. To be sure, more people have access to photographic tools and the ability to make it widely viewable than ever before. The floodgates opened, but we still can only view so many images in a day. Someone, or something, had to assume the task of filtering the flood.
And someone did; you could say everyone did, in the form of pressing the “Like” or “Fav” button on their phones. But in order to translate those billions of touches into a semblance of hierarchy, something more was needed: algorithms were employed to tell media outlets what kind of photos attracted the attention of the most people.
But the way we have been viewing these photos has resulted in a fundamental change in our tastes.
Viewing photographic prints has traditionally been seen as the best way to appreciate the full impact of a work. Then computers came into common usage, and though the first computer screens were woefully inadequate to the task, due to poor resolution, etc., they did get a great deal better. Looking at photos on a modern high-resolution, color-profiled screen became a joy, like a big, glowing print. As early as the mid-2000s, when people mostly viewed images on large computer screens, sites like Flickr were the place to view photography.
Theoretically, this should have been the pinnacle of photographic viewing experience to this point: large, highly detailed photographs with sumptuous colors and tones available at the touch of a button for our enjoyment. But even though it is possible to carry around a good-sized screen in the form of a tablet these days, that’s not what we’re doing.
Mobile phones have instead become the default media consumption tool; mobile sites like Instagram dominated the scene, trammeling website-based photography. As a result, most photos are viewed on small mobile phone screens in public settings. In this scenario, the details of a photo vanish into insignificance. You look down at your tiny phone screen in your hand, quickly sum up the general composition, the broad strokes of color, the heavy leading lines, and general contrast, because that’s all you can see.
It’s like squinting at a print hung on a wall from across the room. There’s no real way to get close; intimacy evaporates. Phone screen resolution has become exquisitely detailed in recent years, but the size is limited to one that can fit comfortably in one hand, and after having exceeded the human eye’s capabilities, resolution becomes meaningless. Likewise, strong, contrasting colors beckon from such screens far more than they do at larger sizes.
What we see is supposedly the general gestalt of an image, but what happens when something that aims to be more than the sum of its parts sacrifices those parts to emphasize the whole? Is it worth the time, effort, and thought to make a photograph today that rewards the unlikely possibility of extended consideration beyond the mere facts of its geometry and colors, removing the end purpose of those factors in favor of their simple existence?
I can’t say which came first, the chicken of small-screen viewing or the egg of shorter attention spans. In any case, the audience of these tiny images is for the most part people with a bit of spare time, perhaps on our way to work or at lunch, spending a few seconds amid our other distractions glancing at photos on our phones, making a quick judgement before perhaps pressing the “Like” button, and then scrolling to the next one.
If we’re deeply impressed (or, more likely, if we want to impress the photographer), we might type a series of exclamation marks, or perhaps even a real comment. I am confident by this point that, if a user with thousands or more followers follows me, it is done, possibly by a bot, in the hope that I will automatically follow them back. The bot will then unfollow me the next day.
This explains why the parts are sacrificed for the benefit of the whole; the “whole” here is not the photography, but rather getting people to pay attention to us. Consideration and appreciation have largely been jettisoned because not only do we not have the time, they, along with their goal, i.e. deciphering the meaning of a photograph, have both become extraneous to the more desirable process of gathering attention. This is not a coincidence, for although one depends on the other, once one is removed, the other will follow.
The inevitable dismantling of the old structures of photographic appreciation left space open to whatever primal impulses drive the public narrative of the day, even if the veneer of the old structures persists in an attempt to retain their aura of legitimacy. Many photography competitions these days feature social media prizes, and even the ones that don’t are inordinately influenced by such factors. Thousands upon thousands of photographers hustle to get their shots onto various popular online platforms, in anticipation of a deluge of likes, but no thought is given to time spent considering the images in question or the results of such theoretical evaluation.
The shots we see are all pleasant to look at… strong leading lines, heavy contrast, enticing colors, perhaps a funny juxtaposition, and… not much else. They’re meant to impress, but only briefly. Once the button is clicked, their job is done.
This state of affairs is not Instagram’s doing, nor Facebook’s. In fact, not much has really changed in the grand scheme of things. Photography has never truly been the mass media phenomenon its use in service of social media made it seem. We are not drowning in a “photographic flood” because “everyone is a photographer now.” It is true that everyone has a camera now. Everyone looks at photos on their phone. Everyone has a shorter attention span. Everyone likes attention. Exposure is our currency.
Is that not the norm, however? And isn’t meaning a subject for each viewer to decide themselves? Photographs, even at their best, have never themselves told stories… rather, they inspire us to conjure up our own realizations of their meaning. But what happens to our thought processes when the majority of the images jostling for our attention have done away with need for meaning beyond well-placed arrays of elements? Like lines of well-separated people in the frame, like funny shadows, like random hands, feet, or heads in isolation from their owners, like pleasing combinations of primary colors, like, scroll, like, scroll.
How many of us even bother zooming in, if the app allows it, to take in the details of a shot, the expressions of the people, the relationships and connections within that reveal a deeper context? And does that even help us appreciate the details as part of the frame seen as a whole?
“Thinking too much” (AKA thinking) is looked down on more and more this era of snap judgement. Amid national and global emergencies real and imagined, cascades of memes rising and falling each second at speeds previously unimaginable, few have time for reasoned analysis, the benefits of which are falling by the wayside in the rush to dominate the lofty peaks of comments sections. Just as social media gave a false impression of vitality to photography, so has it also created a disingenuous impression of what “good” photography is, and the flying buttresses of this construction can be seen in the contests, promotions, Internet listicles, and features of the day.
Is it not possible, even preferable, for photographs to be arranged in a pleasant geometric fashion with lovely colors AND hold deeper levels of meaning? Absolutely, as long as the former is utilized in service of the latter. But are such compositions being noticed under the current state of affairs? And if not, where is the motivation for the majority of photographers to strive for such meaning in their work?
Cartier-Bresson once said, presciently:
The intensive use of photographs by mass media lays ever fresh responsibilities upon the photographer. We have to acknowledge the existence of a chasm between the economic needs of our consumer society and the requirements of those who bear witness to this epoch. This affects us all, particularly the younger generations of photographers. We must take greater care than ever not to allow ourselves to be separated from the real world and from humanity.
Interesting work is still being done, if you look for it. It is often found in the modern equivalent of a closet shelf or desk drawer, languishing on the individual websites nobody visits anymore, or perhaps in a smattering of zines nobody paid much attention to, or a project we didn’t bother with because the shots didn’t take advantage of the incredible color gamut of our iPhone screen.
The good stuff is out there, as it always has been, languishing in the musty back stacks of libraries’ photobook sections or in our grandparents’ old shoeboxes. Occasionally, even now, some of it comes to light.
For about three seconds.
About the author: TC Lin is a photographer based just outside Taipei, Taiwan, at the edge of the mountains. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Lin is an original member of the Burn My Eye photography collective (which can also be found on Instagram). You can find more of Lin’s work on his website, Flickr, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
Among the best-selling books in Amazon’s Epidemiology category are several anti-vaccine tomes. One has a confident-looking doctor on the cover, but the author doesn’t have an MD—a quick Google search reveals that he’s a medical journalist with the “ThinkTwice Global Vaccine Institute.” Scrolling through a simple keyword search for “vaccine” in Amazon’s top-level Books section reveals anti-vax literature prominently marked as “#1 Best Seller” in categories ranging from Emergency Pediatrics to History of Medicine to Chemistry. The first pro-vaccine book appears 12th in the list. Bluntly named “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism,” it’s the only pro-vaccine book on the first page of search results. Its author, the pediatrician Peter Hotez, a professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at the Baylor College of Medicine , has tweetednumeroustimes about the amount of abuse and Amazon review brigading that he’s had to fight since it was released.
Renee DiResta (@noUpside) is an Ideas contributor for WIRED, the director of research at New Knowledge, and a Mozilla fellow on media, misinformation, and trust. She is affiliated with the Berkman-Klein Center at Harvard and the Data Science Institute at Columbia University.
Over in Amazon’s Oncology category, a book with a Best Seller label suggests juice as an alternative to chemotherapy. For the term “cancer” overall, coordinated review brigading appears to have ensured that “The Truth About Cancer,” a hodgepodge of claims about, among other things, government conspiracies, enjoys 1,684 reviews and front-page placement. A whopping 96 percent of the reviews are 5 stars—a measure that many Amazon customers use as a proxy for quality. However, a glance at Reviewmeta, a site that aims to help customers assess whether reviews are legitimate, suggests that over 1,000 may be suspicious in terms of time frame, language, and reviewer behavior.
Once relegated to tabloids and web forums, health misinformation and conspiracies have found a new megaphone in the curation engines that power massive platforms like Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Search, trending, and recommendation algorithms can be gamed to make fringe ideas appear mainstream. This is compounded by an asymmetry of passion that leads truther communities to create prolific amounts of content, resulting in a greater amount available for algorithms to serve up … and, it seems, resulting in real-world consequences.
A recent resurgence of measles outbreaks has the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Congress questioning the impact of anti-vaccine misinformation on public health. Investigative journalists and academics have been examining one facet of this problem: what curation algorithms are doing to tamp down—or spread— health misinformation online. What they’re finding isn’t encouraging.
Over the past decade or so, we’ve become increasingly reliant on algorithmic curation. In an era of content glut, search results and ranked feeds shape everything from the articles we read and products we buy to the doctors or restaurants we choose. Recommendation engines influence new interests and social group formation. Trending algorithms show us what other people are paying attention to; they have the power to drive social conversations and, occasionally, social movements.
Curation algorithms are largely amoral. They’re engineered to show us things we are statistically likely to want to see, content that people similar to us have found engaging—even if it’s stuff that’s factually unreliable or potentially harmful. On social networks, these algorithms are optimized primarily to drive engagement. On Amazon, they’re intended to drive purchases. Amazon has several varieties of recommendation engine on each product page: “Customers also shopped for” suggestions are distinct from “customers who bought this item also bought”. There are “sponsored” products, which are essentially ads. And there’s “frequently bought together,” a feature that links products across categories (often very useful, occasionally somewhat disturbing). If you manage to leave the platform without purchasing anything, an email may follow a day later suggesting even more products.
Amazon shapes many of our consumption habits. It influences what millions of people buy, watch, read, and listen to each day. It’s the internet’s de facto product search engine—and because of the hundreds of millions of dollars that flow through the site daily, the incentive to game that search engine is high. Making it to the first page of results for a given product can be incredibly lucrative.
Unfortunately, many curation algorithms can be gamed in predictable ways, particularly when popularity is a key input. On Amazon, this often takes the form of dubious accounts coordinating to leave convincing positive (or negative) reviews. Sometimes sellers outright buy or otherwise incentivize review fraud; that’s a violation of Amazon’s terms of service, but enforcement is lax. Sometimes, as with the anti-vax movement and some alternative-health communities, large groups of true believers coordinate to catapult their preferred content into the first page of search results.
Amazon reviews appear to figure prominently in the company’s ranking algorithms. (The company will not confirm this.) Customers consider the number of stars and volume of reviews when deciding which products to buy; they’re seen as a proxy for quality. High ratings can lead to inadvertent free promotion: Amazon’s Prime Streaming video platform launched with a splash page that prominently featured Vaxxed, Andrew Wakefield’s movie devoted to the conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism.
Perhaps compounding the problem, Amazon allows content creators to select their own categories and keywords. While writing this article, I experimented with the listing tool for Kindle books; the keywords and categories are entirely self-selected.
With a product base as large as Amazon’s, it’s probably a challenge for the company to undertake any kind of review process. This is likely why quackery shows up in classified as “Oncology” or “Chemistry.” It’s a small reminder that Amazon isn’t exactly a bookstore or library.
There’s no silver bullet for solving health misinformation online. Guardian journalist Julia Carrie Wong recently summarized the anti-vax social media situation in a tweet: “We have a data void, an enthusiasm gap, bad recommendation algorithms, targeted advertising, coordinated harassment, and echo chambers. It’s a giant messy stew of every problem with social media, with very real consequences.”
It’s a complex and thorny problem, and Amazon is suffering from it as well. There are concerns that tackling this problem could lead to censorship. But there’s a big gulf between outright removing the content, or refusing to sell books, and rethinking amplification and categorization. Amazon can start by doing better when it comes to recommending and categorizing pseudoscience that may have a significant impact on a person’s life (or on public health). In recent months, YouTube and Facebook have begun to shift their policies to address health misinformation and conspiratorial communities: YouTube has both demonetized and downranked the anti-vax content, and Facebook has made a statement implying that it’s likely to follow suit. Google, to its credit, has long had a policy for Search called “Your Money or Your Life,” which recognizes that when people are searching for information about highly impactful topics, it has a responsibility to hold those results to a higher standard of care. Users looking to buy health books on Amazon should be afforded the same standard.
No major platform is immune to problems with gameable algorithms. But Amazon in particular—with its massive audience and extraordinary revenue—is remarkable for how little it has changed despite numerous investigations of quackery and review manipulation over the years. It simply ignores the problem and waits for the next press cycle.
Amazon has recently taken incremental steps toward curbing health misinformation, but primarily only when under significant pressure. The company responded to a letter from US Representative Adam Schiff (D–California) by pulling a few anti-vaccine documentaries from Prime Streaming. That’s a good start, but it’s not enough. The real-world impact of health misinformation makes the stakes too high and too important to ignore. Amazon needs to recognize that its ranking and recommendation engines have far-reaching influence—and that a misinformation pandemic can induce a different kind of virality.
It’s here, it’s here! It’s finally here! The trailer for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones dropped this morning and hoo boy is it a doozy. So many fights, so many stare-downs, so much talk of death!
Opening on a terrified-looking Arya Stark, the whole 100-second clip is a dark-hued montage setting up the final battle between the living and the dead Beyond the Wall. There are dragons, swords, Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow leading an army together like they’re not related, and even a brief shot of Grey Worm and Missandei kissing. (Glad those two are still going strong.) Then, what we’ve all been waiting for: a giant army staring down the White Walkers and their army of wights. Technically all we see is the hoof of a reanimated horse, but close enough.
Pretty exciting, huh? Yes, and HBO knows it. Rather than just post the trailer on YouTube and letting fans devour it like crazed zombies, the cable network put it on Twitter with a very specific request: “Describe your emotions in a single GIF.” Yes, HBO know the fanbase is fueled by memes, and this one plays right into their hands. As soon as the trailer went up, the mentions were full of images from The Office, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Titanic, and so on. The base responded in kind.
Watch the trailer below, and feel free to drop HBO a GIF, if you are so moved. Game of Thrones is back April 14 for its final season.