Connect with us

World

Facebook to verify ads with postcards after Russian meddling

Published

on

Facebook will soon rely on centuries-old technology to try to prevent foreign meddling in U.S. elections: the post office.

Baffled in 2016 by Russian agents who bought ads to sway the U.S. presidential campaign, Facebook’s global politics and government outreach director, Katie Harbath, told a meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State in Washington on Saturday that the company would send postcards to potential buyers of political ads to confirm they reside in the U.S.

The recipient would then have to enter a code in Facebook to continue buying the ad. The method will first apply to ads that name candidates ahead of the midterm elections in November, said Facebook spokesman Andy Stone.

The plan was unveiled a day after special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians with interfering in the presidential election. Mueller’s indictment described how Russian agents stole social security numbers and other information from real Americans and used them to create bank and PayPal accounts in order to buy online ads. Agents also recruited Americans to do things such as hold up signs at rallies organized to create content for Russian-created social media posts.

Facebook uncovered some 3,000 Russian-linked ads on Facebook and Instagram bought before and after the November 2016 election that it says may have been seen by as many as 150 million users. But ads were only part of the problem, as the Mueller indictments say that Russian agents also set up fake pages with names such as “Secured Borders,” ″Blacktivist” and “United Muslims of America” that had hundreds of thousands of followers.

Facebook did not say how the new postcard method of verification would prevent foreign agents from setting up local mailing addresses and hiring people in the U.S. to check them. But Stone said the method was “one piece of a much larger effort to address foreign electoral influence on our platform.”

Facebook’s efforts largely center around verifying people on the platform are who they say they are. To catch duplicitous ad-buyers, for instance, it is now testing out in Canada a system that allows people to see which ads are being bought by a Facebook page — say, a candidate’s — even if the person checking the ad is not in the group to whom the ad was intended to be shown.

Stone said Facebook was also able to detect and remove “tens of thousands” of fake Facebook pages in advance of French, German and British elections last year using improved machine learning techniques.

The company has said it would double the number of people working on its safety and security team to 20,000 this year and add 1,000 people to review advertising content.

Source link

World

SpaceX lands Starship SN10 rocket after a high-altitude flight test

Published

on

Starship prototype SN9 launches from the company’s development facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

SpaceX

SpaceX’s Starship prototype exploded shortly after landing for the first time following a high-altitude flight test on Wednesday.

The cause of the explosion, or whether it was intentional, was not immediately clear.

The company test flew Starship rocket Serial Number 10, or SN10. SpaceX aimed to launch the prototype as high as 10 kilometers, or about 32,800 feet altitude.

The Starship prototype stands at about 150 feet tall, or about the size of a 15-story building, and is powered by three Raptor rocket engines The rocket is built of stainless steel, representing the early versions of the rocket unveiled in 2019. 

Musk’s company is developing Starship with the goal of launching cargo and people on missions to the moon and Mars.

The SN10 flight was similar to the ones SpaceX conducted in December and February, when it test flew prototypes SN8 and SN9, respectively. Both prior rockets completed several development objectives – including testing aerodynamics, shutting down the engines in succession, and flipping to orient for landing –but both prototypes exploded on impact as they attempted to land, unable to slow down enough.

Like SN8 and SN9, the goal of the SN10 flight was not necessarily to reach the maximum altitude, but rather to test several key parts of the Starship system. SpaceX fired all three engines for liftoff and then shut them down one at a time in sequence as the rocket neared the top of the flight’s intended altitude.

SN10 then transfered propellant from the main tanks to the header tanks, before fliping itself for the “belly flop” reentry maneuver – which gives it a controlled descent through the air with the rocket’s four flaps. Then, in the final moments of descent, SpaceX flipped the rocket and returned it to a vertical orientation, firing the Raptor engines to slow itself down for the landing.

Starship is one of two “Manhattan Projects” that SpaceX is simultaneously developing, with the other being its Starlink satellite internet program. Musk has previously estimated that it will cost about $5 billion to fully develop Starship, although SpaceX has not disclosed how much it has spent on the program to date.

The company last month brought in $850 million in its latest capital fundraise at a $74 billion valuation.

Musk remains “highly confident” that Starship “will be safe enough for human transport by 2023” – an ambitious goal given the company began the rocket’s development and testing in earnest in early 2019.

But Musk’s timeline is key, as Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has paid for a Starship flight around the moon by 2023. Maezawa on Tuesday announced that he is inviting eight members of the public to join his dearMoon mission, which will be a six-day journey to the moon and back.

Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.

Source link

Continue Reading

World

Stock futures lower after major averages dip amid rising bond yields

Published

on

U.S. stock index futures slid during overnight trading on Wednesday, accelerating losses from the regular trading session which saw the major averages finish in the red across the board.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 62 points. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures declined 0.3% and 0.5%, respectively.

Stocks posted heavy losses during regular trading as rising bond yields spooked investors. The S&P 500 dipped 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 119 points, or 0.38%, lower. The Nasdaq Composite was the relative underperformer, falling 2.7% as tech names declined. The index is on track to post its third straight negative week — the longest weekly losing streak since September.

The weakness came as the 10-year Treasury yield extended gains. The benchmark rate climbed to a high of 1.49% on Wednesday before retreating slightly. Last week, the yield surged to a high of 1.6% in a move that some described as a “flash” spike.

“Our current strategy work suggests robust economic growth this year with a modest increase in inflation,” noted Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “In attempting to read the tea leaves, the steepening of the yield curve, in our opinion, reflects the market’s belief that growth and inflation should continue to move back toward appropriate levels as the pandemic eases. We view this as a positive for stocks and other risk assets, like commodities,” he added.

During Wednesday’s session, one bright spot was companies tied to the economy’s reopening. Shares of airline and cruise line operators advanced after President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. will have enough Covid-19 vaccines for all adults by the end of May.

Additional stimulus measures could also inject optimism into the market. The Senate is currently debating the $1.9 trillion relief package passed by the House on Saturday.

“Our macro team sees the economy as spring loaded given the vaccinations and additional stimulus,” Keith Lerner, Truist chief market strategist, wrote in a note to clients. “The ability and desire of the consumer to spend on services and experiences should lead to the best economic growth we have seen in over 35 years.”

On Thursday investors will get another look at the ongoing economic recovery when first-time jobless claims data for the week ending Feb. 27 is released. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones are forecasting 750,000 first-time filers.

On the earnings front, BJ’s Wholesale and Kroger are among the names reporting before the open, while Broadcom, Costco and Gap are on deck to provide quarterly updates after the closing bell.

Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.

Source link

Continue Reading

World

WHO warns of uptick in Covid cases globally after weeks of decline

Published

on

Medical workers move a patient at the intensive care unit (ICU) of the Sotiria hospital, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Athens, Greece, March 1, 2021.

Giorgos Moutafis | Reuters

World Health Organization officials said Wednesday that scientists are trying to understand why Covid-19 cases are suddenly ticking up across much of the world after weeks of falling numbers.

There were 2.6 million new cases reported across the world last week, up 7% from the prior week, the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update that reflects data received as of Sunday morning. That follows six consecutive weeks of declining new cases all over the world.

The reversal could be caused by the emergence of several new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus, relaxing public measures and so-called pandemic fatigue, in which people become tired of following precautions, the WHO said in its weekly report. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said during a Q&A event at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday that the global health agency is trying to better understand what’s causing the reversal in trends in each region and country.

“I can tell you what we’re worried about is with the introduction of vaccines and vaccination in a number of countries, we still need people to carry out their individual-level measures,” she said, urging people to practice physical distancing and continue to wear masks when around others.

“By seeing this one week of increase in trends, it’s a pretty stern warning to all of us that we need to stay the course,” Van Kerkhove said. “We need to keep adhering to these measures at hand.”

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, suggested that the uptick could be because “we may be relaxing a little before we’ve got the full impact of vaccination.” He added that he understands the temptation to socialize more and to revert to more normal behavior, but “the problem is every time we’ve done that before the virus has exploited that.”

Ryan reiterated that the cause of the uptick in cases remains unclear, but added that the tried-and-true public health measures that have been emphasized throughout the pandemic are still effective.

“When cases are decreasing it’s never everything we do and when they’re increasing it’s never all out fault,” he said.

Ryan noted that deaths have not yet risen with cases, but that could change in the coming weeks. Hopefully, he said, a rise in deaths can be avoided due to the vaccination of those most vulnerable to the disease.

While the rollout of vaccines is cause for optimism in some countries, Ryan noted that many nations across the world have not yet received doses. He said that 80% of doses have been administered in just 10 countries.

The WHO remarks echo those made recently by federal officials in the United States. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been warning for days that the decline in daily new cases in the U.S. has stalled out and ticked upward.

Over the past seven days, the U.S. reported an average of more than 65,400 daily new cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That’s far below the peak of about 250,000 new cases every day that the country was reporting in early January, but it’s still well above the rate of infection the U.S. saw over the summer when the virus swept across the Sun Belt.

“At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Walensky said Monday. “With these statistics, I am really worried about more states rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19.”

“Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” she said.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending