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Today’s cache | WhatsApp limits forwards, Mindfulness app and more

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A healthy body and an unwavering mind are important to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Mindfulness and meditation app Headspace is offering that help for free during these hard times.

WHO has said that the world is fighting a pandemic and an infodemic at the same time. To help reduce the spread of misinformation, WhatsApp has made changes to its forwarding rules.

In China, face-swapping technology is used in a web TV series.

Facebook join hands with Carnegie Mellon University to launch a new survey that can help researchers address COVID-19 crisis better.

And finally, check-out what netizens are searching for on Google.

A leading mindfulness app offers free access

Headspace is a meditation and mindfulness app. It has over ten million downloads, with a 3.5 rating from an average of 126,453 users.

The app has put out a new landing page titled ‘A NY state of Mind’ to make some of its exercises available for free.

The page is designed keeping residents of New York in mind as the state has been worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company says that this offering is teh result of a partnership between Headspace and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The NY page includes guided ten-minute meditation exercises to reduce stress and to restore mental health.

It also has longer 45-minute audio clips for a peaceful sleep experience.

And finally, it lists short and simple meditation exercises for kids.

Last month, Headspace offered its premium version for free to healthcare workerss in the US through the end of the year. The premium plan usually costs between ₹120 – ₹8,300 per item listed in its app.

First appearance of Deepfake AI face-swapping in Chinese web series

Chinese actor Liu Lu was recently involved in a clash with China’s public transport authorities over the allowable limit of flammable compressed gas cans.

That clash led to her name going up on the ‘bad artists list’ in China. The actor’s contract with Mango TV for a web TV series was terminated following this incident.

But the filming of the series was over before the actor’s dispute with Chinese authorities.

So, the producer swapped the Ms. Lu’s face with that of another actor in a Chinese web series “Love of Thousand Years,” ChinAI reported.

This is the first reported incident of face-swapping in a Chinese TV show.

The deepfake video has been widely ridiculed by viewers for its poor quality.

While the actor played only a small part in the series, the quality of the faceswap was poor as the image was distorted and expressions were mapped poorly.

Last year, China woke up to the problem of deepfakes when a Chinese actor’s image was swapped with another’s in an old movie.

But that was a very short video, unlike the one attempted by the TV series producer.

WhatsApp sets new limit on forwarded messages to fight misinformation

Facebook-owned private messaging app WhatsApp has set a new limit on a type of forward to reduce the spread of misinformation.

Messages marked with double arrows can now be passed on to only one chat at a time, down from five.

The company introduced the idea of marking messages with double arrows last year to reduce ‘virality’.

That move has helped it bring down the number of forwards by 25% globally.

The recent move to limit forwards with double arrows shows that the platform is working on changing user behaviour to move back to private conversations, and reduce circulation of forwards that begin from unknown sources.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation,” the company said in a statement.

“We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”

To ensure that people receive credible information, WhatsApp is working with governments and international agencies to provide accurate communication.

These trusted authorities have sent several million messages directly to people requesting information and advice, the company said.

WhatsApp also encourages its users to report any suspicious or inaccurate information to the International Fact-Checking Network to verify the message’s claim.

Facebook partners with Carnegie Mellon University to support COVID-19 research

Social media giant Facebook has been sharing population movement data with researchers and non-for-profits to understand the coronavirus crisis. It uses aggregate data to protect user’s privacy.

Now, the company is launching new tools, in partnership with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, to help inform disease forecasting efforts and protective measures.

Starting from Monday, some users in the US will see a link at the top of their News Feed. The link leads to a survey to help health researchers monitor and forecast COVID-19 spread.

The survey is run by Carnegie Mellon University Delphi Research Center, and the data picked up from it will be used to generate new insights on how to respond to the crisis. It will also include heat maps of self-reported symptoms.

The idea behind this survey is to help health systems plan where resources are needed, and identify parts of the region that can be reopened.

“If the results are helpful, we’ll make similar surveys available in other parts of the world,” Facebook said in a statement.

CMU will not be sharing individual survey data with Facebook, and the social network will not share information on who the survey respondents are. This helps in protecting users’ privacy.

The data will also be aggregated to understand city- or state-level changes.

Facebook has created three tools that will do the job for health system professionals. It co-location maps will show the probability that people in one area will come in contact with people in another. This will show where the possible next COVID-19 case might be.

With movement range trends, it tracks data at the regional-level on whether people are staying near their homes or visiting many parts of the town.

Finally, the social connectedness index maps friendship across states and countries to help epidemiologists forecast the likelihood of disease spread.

What’s everyone searching on Google these days

While the COVID-19 has completely changed our daily lives, there’s one thing that it hasn’t touched. And, that is ‘searching on Google.’

So, what was trending last week? Would you believe if I told you that ‘removing gel manicures at home’ searches jumped 1400% last week?

Yes, it did! Closed nail salons mean people are turning to home-based beauty tips, and what other place to find a solution than to search on Google.

“Living room concert” searches surged 1300% after the Elton John hosted ‘iHeart Living Room Concert for America’ drew netizens to a star-studded home performance by Demi Lovato, Shawn Mendes and many more artistes.

For trending movie searches, Baaghi 3 and Contagion topped worldwide searches for March.

In countries, Italy was the most searched country after Spain, Ireland and United Kingdom.

Two other activity-based search that saw a spike were ‘recreating famous paintings’ and ‘cleaning your groceries.’


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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 8:55:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/todays-cache-whatsapp-limits-forwards-mindfulness-app-and-more/article31282046.ece

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