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Facebook removes Trump post falsely saying COVID-19 is less deadly than the flu

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Facebook has removed a post where President Donald Trump falsely claimed the novel coronavirus was less deadly than an ordinary flu. Earlier today, Trump wrote on Facebook and Twitter that America had “learned to live with” the upcoming flu season, “just like we are learning to live with” COVID-19 — which, Trump incorrectly asserted, is “in most populations far less lethal!!!” Facebook confirmed to CNN that the post was removed for breaking its rules against COVID-19 misinformation.

Twitter did not remove a tweet with the same message, but it added a warning label and restricted interactions with the post.

As CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan tweeted, Facebook has pledged to remove COVID-19 misinformation that can “contribute to imminent physical harm.” That includes false claims about “the location and severity” of COVID-19 outbreaks. We don’t know the exact mortality rate of the novel coronavirus, but there’s substantial evidence that it’s more deadly than the flu, and it’s almost certainly not “far less lethal” even for lower-risk populations. Trump also claimed that “sometimes over 100,000” people die from the flu each year, while the real number is between 24,000 and 62,000 American deaths in recent years. COVID-19 has killed over 210,000 Americans since March.

Trump tweet: “Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” Topped with label reading: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”

Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week and spent the weekend at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before being discharged yesterday. He announced his departure by downplaying the severity of the virus. More generally, a recent study suggests that Trump has been a major driver of what misinformation experts have called the COVID-19 “infodemic” — a collection of false claims about the effects of the virus and the effectiveness of vaccines, mask-wearing, social distancing, and other measures.

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T-Mobile expands into live internet TV with new TVision streaming service

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After years of anticipation, T-Mobile is finally getting into the live TV business with the launch of a new internet-based streaming service called TVision, launching on November 1st.

To be clear: TVision isn’t using the fiber-optic-based IPTV technology that it acquired alongside Layer3 back in 2017. It’s a traditional over-the-top streaming service that simply streams live television over the internet, just like YouTube TV, Hulu’s live TV service, Fubo TV, Sling TV, or (in perhaps the closest analogy) AT&T TV. But what sets TVision apart is its pricing, which aims to offer lower costs and more flexibility than its competitors.

To that end, TVision is broken up into a few different products. There’s the $40-per-month TVision Live, which offers the most traditional cable TV line. It’s focused largely on providing news and sports, including channels like ABC, NBC, and Fox (although notably, not CBS), news networks like CNBC, CNN, ABC News, and Fox News, along with sports-focused channels like FS1, FS2, ESPN, and NBC Sports. Additionally, TVision Live includes general cable fare like the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, SyFy, TBS, TNT, USA, and Bravo.

There are also two additional tiers of TVision Live: the $50 Live TV Plus, which adds additional sports channels (including the Big Ten Network, ESPNU, NFL Network, and regional NBC sports channels), and the $60 Live Zone, which adds a few additional channels but whose main draw is NFL RedZone.

All three TVision Live plans also include a cloud-based DVR, which stores up to 100 hours of recordings (and, unlike some streaming services, those recordings are direct from the live TV feed — not on-demand content). TVision Live supports up to three concurrent streams, which means that you’ll be able to share an account with family members, too.

But TVision Live is just a part of TVision. There’s also TVision Vibe — which, at $10 per month for over 30 live channels from AMC, Discovery, and Viacom — might be the most interesting part of T-Mobile’s TV strategy. Channels here include AMC, BBC America, BET, Food Network, HGTV, the Hallmark Channel, MTV, TLC, Comedy Central, and Discovery.

There are a few more limitations here: TVision Vibe only supports up to two concurrent streams, and DVR access costs an extra $5 per month on top of the initial $10 subscription. But if you’re interested in the channels it offers, it’s among the cheapest live TV packages around.

Lastly, there’s TVision Channels, which offers standalone subscriptions to Starz ($8.99 per month), Showtime ($10.99 per month), and Epix ($5.99 per month).

T-Mobile’s TVision services can also be combined. For example, you can subscribe to both TVision Live for a basic set of channels and then add TVision Vibe on top for those additional entertainment-focused channels — just like regular cable.

Those prices certainly impressive, but other TV services, like Fubo or YouTube TV, have offered similarly low prices at their launches, too, only to raise prices considerably as content licensing costs have gone up. It’s not clear yet whether TVision’s various services will manage to avoid a similar fate in the future, despite T-Mobile’s usual rhetoric about offering a different sort of service than its competitors.

TVision will be available on a variety of platforms, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire, and Google TV. (Notably absent on that list is Roku, which won’t be available, at least at launch, or any way to watch on a computer.) T-Mobile is also offering the $50 TVision Hub, a 4K Android TV dongle that’s been customized to offer a more integrated TVision experience.

To start, TVision will be available just to T-Mobile postpaid wireless customers starting on November 1st. Sprint customers will get access later in November, with the service opening up to all customers sometime in 2021.

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Facebook India’s controversial policy chief has resigned

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India’s ET Now is reporting that Ankhi Das, the Facebook policy chief for India, has resigned her position after months of escalating pressure from activists. Das told ET she was leaving the company to pursue public service.

Facebook India has struggled to respond to the growing threat of hate speech against Muslims, often preceding horrific acts of mob violence. Facebook had been slow to take action against many of the Hindu nationalist groups responsible for the violence, leading to concerns that the company was repeating the mistakes that preceded similar violence in Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

In September, a coalition of human rights groups sent an open letter calling for Das’ resignation in response to the growing threat of violence. “Facebook should not be complicit in more offline violence, much less another genocide, but the pattern of inaction displayed by the company is reckless to the point of complicity,” the letter read. “[We] write to urge you to take decisive action to address Facebook India’s bias and failure to address dangerous content in India.” The groups also called for Facebook’s internal review of the issue to be conducted out of the company’s California offices, rather than in India where Das might have more influence.

Das also courted criticism in her personal behavior, aligning herself with the ruling BJP party and openly confronting critics. In August, she filed a criminal complaint against a string of critics, alleging that their posts constituted criminal intimidation. The complaint was extreme enough to draw criticism from the international Committee to Protect Journalists, which saw the charges as a potential threat to the free press.

In a farewell note to employees, obtained by TechCrunch, Das praised Facebook and its founder. “Thank you, Mark for creating something beautiful for the world,” Das wrote. “I hope I have served you and the company well.”

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iPhone 12 vs. 12 Pro: The Vergecast discussion

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Every Tuesday this month, Vergecast co-host Dieter Bohn will host a series of discussions diving deep into tech review season, each focusing on a specific product.

This week, Dieter brings back Vergecast co-host Nilay Patel and Joanna Stern, a senior personal technology columnist at The Wall Street Journal, to discuss their reviews of Apple’s iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.

The reviews for the latest iteration of Apple’s flagship phone have been out for about a week now. Dieter reviewed the iPhone 12, Nilay reviewed the iPhone 12 Pro, and Joanna reviewed them both side by side.

Dieter walks through what features Joanna and Nilay focused on in their reviews — Joanna’s 5G at a football stadium, Nilay’s Dolby Vision videos — and how significant the upgrades are for this year’s devices.

The crew also gets into the effectiveness of MagSafe, the future of ports on the iPhone, and whether it’s worth waiting to see the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, both of which come out next month.

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