Fresh off the IT Block on 17th August 2020
Hey all, here's today news fresh on our radar!
Today our stories focus on how Facebook is planning to counter fake COVID news, Android unveils its new "earthquake detection app", and why you should start watching Formula E, the future of Motorsport racing.
How Facebook is planning to counter fake COVID news
You may have seen it all over your news feed, and some of it might seem genuine. The biggest problem with seeing news on Facebook is that it's as easy to spread misinformation, as it is to believe it.
Facebook has been one of the main culprits facing backlash due to the sheer volume of fake news spread across the platform. There are reports that hundreds of people may have already died as a result of reading and acting upon fake news in relation to COVID-19. The most common examples include people ingesting cleaning and sanitary products in the attempt to reduce or eliminate symptoms.
Hospitals have reported hundreds of cases where people have ingested hand sanitiser or hand gel, in the belief that the alcohol content in them is able to kill the virus. Obviously this is not the case, and the ingestion of hand sanitiser is very dangerous, it may lead to death.
The problem that has arisen is that up to 90% of all fake news and fake information is still out there, so clearly social media companies like Facebook have not done enough to counter this ongoing issue. More recently, Facebook did announce an important new feature where users will be able to see the date a post was first shared, and the original source (Such as a link to the editor's website, if they are real).
A lot of fake news surrounding COVID-19 is based from old posts which don't align with current knowledge. A good example is that COVID-19 was originally thought to have a death rate of 2-3%, but since experts have learnt more about the virus, they have realised that asymptomatic transmission (Without symptoms) is much more common than first thought. Due to this, the death rate is closer to seasonal flu, but still slightly more lethal. The problem arises where old news is shared again, causing the fear factor that COVID-19 is very deadly.
Fake news can involve COVID deaths, where the virus came from, & the commonly used "plandemic" term, which relates to planned vaccines containing microchips. We can confirm based off trusted sources that coronavirus isn't caused by 5G masts, nor was it a planned attempt from every government around the world to enforce microchip vaccinations. The government already knows a lot about you, so a microchip vaccine wouldn't really provide more info about you than they already know.
The point is, you shouldn't believe news on social media sites shared by your friends, as the news can spread so easily - It is driven by fear, confusion and panic. You should always learn the source of the news first, that way, you can confirm how credible the story or information is.
New "earthquake detection app" coming to an Android phone near you...
Before this news came about, there was an app developed called "MyShake", where users would be sent notifications and warnings whenever an earthquake or tremor was on the way. Since the development of that app, Google has been working on something huge - A built-in feature on any Android phone which can detect seismic activity, without installing any apps or software.
The feature will form as part of a huge global network of earthquake detection locations - As Android phones already come with tiny accelerometers, they can detect what is known as a "P wave".
The P wave is the tremor that signals an earthquake could hit. It isn't a destructive form of wave, and it is usually followed by the S wave. An S wave will usually follow up around a minute or so after a P wave is detected. Even though this only gives Android users a minute to react, if they notice the notification straight away, they still have just enough time to either crouch under a table inside, or back away from buildings and structures if they are outside.
As Google manages the Google Play Store directly, the update (Once it does arrive), will be rolled out automatically to every user. Well, we say every user, it's more like 94% of users, as the feature will be added to devices running Android version 5.0 or later. As most people's devices roll out updates automatically for the software itself, it'll mean billions of people could benefit from having free and instant earthquake detection built into their phone. This simple, yet effective addition could help save many lives, as well as prevent people being trapped indoors during an S wave.
This feature might be deemed a bit intrusive if it is simply added to every new Android phone moving forward, but really, it is part of the setup anyway. Whenever you choose your location settings on a Google powered phone, it will bring up this message, “Google may collect location data periodically and use this data in an anonymous way to improve location accuracy and location-based services.”
This basically means that once you turn on location settings, you'll be given the seismic tracking software, if you want to call it that. The feature won't actually be able to detect your physical location exactly, but it can detect which city or town you are in, or if you are within a certain radius. This is close enough to be able to warn people in time for if an earthquake is about to hit.
Before this feature begins to roll-out across the world, Google intends to collect some important data first. The research will be carried out in California, where the proactive alerts will continue for the time being. Google has announced that a roll-out to more cities and countries would be expected over the next year or so.
Why you should start following Formula E - The future of Motorsport
If you've ever watched or heard of Formula 1 (Which is highly likely for the majority of people), you might want to get to know its eventual replacement, Formula E.
Formula E is a Motorsport whereby drivers race in fully electric cars, these cars run via an electric motor which spins at speeds of up to 20,000 rpm. In comparison, an F1 car's engine rotates at an average speed of 15,000 - 18,000 rpm. The developers of these electric racing cars have managed to bring down both the environmental impact, as well as the cost of racing and maintaining such powerful vehicles.
Up until a $145 million (USD) spending cap was announced for the F1 2021 season, F1 teams had been spending up to half a billion dollars each per year, to keep their cars in the sport over the last decade. The shocking difference in Formula E is that the cost of running a team works out to be less than one tenth of the cost for F1 teams.
Take the Formula E Jaguar team for example - Last year, they spent less than $12 million (USD) to manage and race their 2 cars for the full 2018/19 racing calendar.
Formula E is notably different in the sense that the electric motors are made equal. This could lead us to believe that the sport is much more competitive, and will rely more on driver skill, as opposed to the car's specifications. We have seen how Mercedes have dominated the last 6 seasons of Formula 1, and this is due to them having huge funds to invest in the best engine builds, hence giving them a notable, yet legal advantage of around half a second per lap.
In Formula E races, the cars are much less likely to disperse due to having almost identical setups - This makes for great racing entertainment. What's even more interesting is that every race on the calendar is actually a street circuit. Although you might expect a lot of overtaking, it is actually a lot less common to see overtaking in a Formula E race. There's no 2 km long straight, and there isn't the typical DRS (Drag reduction system) in place, this is because Formula E cars have less downforce than the typical Formula 1 car.
Even though overtaking is rarer than in F1, the race itself is pretty entertaining. Professional drivers have come from Formula 1 to Formula E, which makes for high calibre competition, and the cars aren't easy to drive either. There's plenty of action to see during a race, including crashes, safety cars and wheel-to-wheel action when an overtake is about to happen.
They might not be as quick, or as loud, but Formula E cars cost a fraction of what F1 cars cost, and they make a strong case for the transition to fully electric Motorsport.