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Apple Banishes Facebook Data Reaper From iPhones

first_imgApple on Tuesday blocked a Facebook app that paid users for total access to all network data passing through their mobile phones.The controversy over use of the Facebook Research app first was reported by TechCrunch, which revealed that Facebook was paying users US$20 a month for root network access to their phones.Facebook was on-boarding users of the program, which included teenagers, through Apple’s Enterprise system, which Apple said was a violation of its policy.The Enterprise system is supposed to be used only for the distribution of internal corporate apps to employees, not to paid external testers, TechCrunch explained.”Facebook was collecting data on virtually anything they did on their mobile device,” said Shane Green, U.S. CEO in the Washington, D.C. offices of Digi.me, a personal data management service.”The VPN they used for this tracks all data coming in or out of the device at a raw, unencrypted level, so there was virtually nothing a user was doing on a mobile device that Facebook couldn’t get access to if it chose,” he told TechNewsWorld.”I haven’t personally seen a program that invasive before,” Green added. “Coming from a company like Facebook, it’s even more worrisome.” John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reportersince 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, theBoston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and GovernmentSecurity News. Email John. Spying on Competitors Despite explosive stories in recent months about abuse of its members’ data, Facebook seems unable to learn from its mistakes. That may be because of its business model, said Green.”Their business model has an insatiable appetite for data about people, so they’re constantly pushing the boundaries of how they can collect more data and get permission to use it however they want to,” he explained.”There’s a whole history before Cambridge Analytica, where Facebook was accused of confusing users to get them to not mark posts private,” Green recalled. “The model is fundamentally corrupt at this point. They just can’t stop collecting as much data as they want. That’s how they’re rewarded internally. That’s how their stock is valued.”Facebook’s days of pushing the norms for data collection may be in their twilight, though.”Facebook was so huge for so long that they were able to violate social norms and make mistakes in a brazen way, because no one was going to walk away from Facebook,” said Karen North, director of the Annenberg Online Communities program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.”They were arrogant about that. They would do things and say, ‘People will like it once they get used to it,’ and people got used to things because they didn’t want to walk away from Facebook,” she told TechNewsWorld.”The reality now is there isn’t the same kind of loyalty to Facebook,” North added. “They’re headed toward a time when people aren’t willing to adapt and forgive.” Since 2016, Facebook has been paying users in the 13 to 35 year-old age bracket $20 a month, plus referral fees, to install the Facebook Research app, TechCrunch reported.Facebook even asked users for screenshots of their Amazon ordering pages.The program is administered through testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest to cloak Facebook’s involvement, according to the TechCrunch story.”Facebook is trying to spy on its competitors,” said Matt Stoller, a spokesperson for Freedom From Facebook, a group of organizations advocating the break-up of the social network.”They want to make sure they can spy on anybody that might be creating competitive products,” he told TechNewsWorld.”What they were looking for when they bought Onavo, which is where Research came from, was a surveillance application so they could see what their competitors were doing and which competitors were gaining traction.” Facebook spokesperson Arielle Argyres told TechNewsWorld that key facts about the market research program were being ignored.”There was nothing ‘secret’ about this,” she said. “It was literally called the ‘Facebook Research App.'””It wasn’t spying, as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process, asking for their permission and were paid to participate,” Argyres continued.”Finally,” she added, “less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens — all of them with signed parental consent forms.” Innocent Research?center_img Corrupt Business Model Feeding Addiction Onavo Gets Boot Spying on competitors isn’t Facebook’s only goal with Research, maintained Stoller, who is also a fellow at the Open Markets Institute.”They’re also trying to figure out how to potentially encourage children, teenagers and adults to be more addicted to their services,” he said.”To subject children to addictive services like the ones Facebook delivers is wrong,” Stoller added, “and to have Facebook spying on them so they can improve the addictiveness of their product is also wrong.”Apple also revoked Facebook’s Enterprise Certificate, which, according to the TechCrunch article, is proving to be problematic.The revocation has broken all of Facebook’s legitimate employee-apps, it explained, including pre-launch internal-testing versions of Facebook and Instagram, as well as the employee apps for coordinating office collaboration, commutes, seeing the day’s lunch schedule, and more.”Apple knew they would be disrupting Facebook’s internal operations. They didn’t care,” Digi.me’s Green said.”They felt that this was a grievous enough breach of faith and responsibility by Facebook to warrant pulling the plug on the whole thing,” he added. “And this is just the beginning. I think we’re going to see a much bigger escalation now that Apple has positioned itself as a more privacy-centric company.” Facebook last summer removed Onavo Protect from the Apple App store after Apple determined the software violated its data collection policies for apps.Onavo, an Israeli company acquired by Facebook in 2013, makes a program that gives its users security alerts and access to a Virtual Private Network.However, the software also monitors apps, sending user data back to Facebook, which has been known to use it to identify competitors and even spur acquisitions.Under Apple’s rules, apps are forbidden from collecting information about other apps on a device for the purpose of analytics, advertising or marketing.What’s more, apps must make clear to a user which data they’re collecting and how it will be used.Onavo Protect is still available on Google Play, which is the Android counterpart to Apple’s App Store.last_img read more

Researchers explore why common antibiotic prescribed for diarrhea is failing

first_img Source:http://www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2019/february-2019/2-26-19.php Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Feb 27 2019In the world of superbugs (bacteria that has grown resistant to antibiotics) Clostridioides difficile, a bacterium that causes diarrhea and colitis, is among the most stubborn. In 2013 the Centers for Disease Control called C. diff an “urgent threat” after causing 30,000 deaths in 2011. It is often picked up by patients over 65 who are hospitalized and receive broad spectrum antibiotics.C. diff doesn’t go down easily. After 30 years, the most commonly prescribed antibiotic used to fight it, metronidazole, known commonly by the brand name Flagyl, is no longer as effective as it used to be. Now researchers want to know why and what genetic changes are occurring to cause this resistance in efforts to identify new drug targets to stop the bacteria.Related StoriesAntibiotic susceptibility pattern of Enterobacteriaceae found in GhanaPlant foods may transmit antibiotic-resistant superbugs to humansMultifaceted intervention for acute respiratory infection improves antibiotic-prescribing”C. diff has a billion different ways to figure out how to become resistant to metronidazole,” said Kevin Garey, professor of pharmacy practice and translational research and chair of the department. “We say bugs are smart, but really they’re just good at playing poker.”It’s true, if you are playing the odds, you’d probably bet on C-diff to win. Within an infection, about one-billion organisms thrive, and if a single one of those is resistant to an antibiotic, and the immune system cannot overcome that one, it can regrow.Thus is the case with the antibiotic metronidazole.At $406,000, Garey’s portion of the National Institutes of Health grant will be used to examine a biobank of patient stools for metronidazole-resistant strains, heme levels and patient metadata for clinical outcomes.”Heme levels are likely an important component of why we see this resistance,” said Garey. Each hemoglobin molecule is made of four heme groups of iron atoms that bind with oxygen. Other research on the project is being done at Texas A&M University and elsewhere.In April 2018, the Infectious Disease Society of America and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America published new guidelines for the treatment of C. diff after discovery of treatment failures related to metronidazole. Garey was one of the guidelines’ authors.”Between 2010 and 2017 there was an epidemic of C. diff, making these new guidelines some of the more highly anticipated in recent memory,” said Garey. The revised guidelines de-emphasized metronidazole in favor of two other drugs that performed better: vancomycin and fidaxomicin, but those drugs can be expensive or hard to come by.However, the guideline recommendations have been questioned because they didn’t answer one really big question.”No one really understands why metronidazole has failed. Because of that lack of good scientific understanding, the 2018 guideline treatment recommendations are considered controversial,” said Garey. “Once you know what’s causing it you can build strategies to build a new, better drug or overcome that resistance.”last_img read more

Study Many pet owners interested in feeding their pets with plantbased diet

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 19 2019A surprising number of pet owners, particularly those who are vegan, are interested in feeding their pets a plant-based diet, according to new University of Guelph research.Researchers with U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College along with colleagues in New Zealand conducted an online survey of 3,673 dog and cat owners from around the world to learn about what kinds of foods they fed their pets and themselves.Published in the journal PLoS One, the survey found that 35 per cent of pet owners whose pets ate conventional diets were interested in switching their animals to a vegan diet.The research was featured in The National Post and several other publications.More than half of them (55 per cent) added, though, that they had certain stipulations that had to be met first before they would make the switch. Those stipulations included needing further evidence that a plant-based diet would meet their pets’ nutritional needs; wanting approval from their veterinarians; and wanting plant-based pet foods to be easily available.Just under six per cent of the survey respondents were vegan — meaning they ate no meat, dairy or fish – and more than a quarter (27 per cent) of them reported they already fed their pets plant-based diets.Among the rest of the vegans, a full 78 per cent were interested in helping their pets to switch to a plant-based diet if one were available that met their needs.Lead author Dr. Sarah Dodd, currently a PhD candidate at the OVC’s Department of Population Medicine, said even she was surprised by how many vegans had already chosen to eliminate meat from their pets’ diets.”That percentage, 27 per cent, might sound like a small number, but when you think of the actual numbers of pets involved, that’s huge, and much higher than we expected.”In total, 1.6 per cent of the 2,940 dogs in the survey and 0.7 per cent of the 1,545 cats were being fed a strictly plant-based diet; only vegans and one vegetarian chose to exclusively feed plant-based diets.Related StoriesIt is okay for women with lupus to get pregnant with proper care, says new studyHealthy high-fiber diet could reduce preeclampsia riskStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskAnother 10.4 per cent of the dogs and 3.3 per cent of cats were intermittently fed vegetarian diets or plant-based foods.Of the 3,673 pet owners surveyed, 6 per cent were vegetarian (meaning they ate no meat but did eat dairy, eggs or honey), 4 per cent were pescatarian (meaning they ate no meat but fish, and may eat dairy, eggs or honey), and nearly 6 per cent were vegan (meaning they ate no animal products).Dodd performed this study in fulfillment of her MSc degree in Clinical Studies under the supervision of Dr. Adronie Verbrugghe, associate professor of Canine and Feline Clinical Nutrition at the OVC’s Department of Clinical StudiesDodd said while her team’s research was not designed to assess whether vegan pet diets are a growing trend, she expects interest in the diets to increase.”People have been hearing about how vegan diets are linked to lowered risks of cancer and other health benefits in humans. There is also growing concern about the environmental impact of animal agriculture.”Previous studies have also shown that pet owners tend to offer the same kind of diets to their dogs and cats that they adopt for themselves.”So, while only a small proportion of pet owners are currently feeding plant-based diets to their pets, it is safe to say that interest in the diets is likely to grow.”However, there has not been much research on the nutritional suitability of vegan diets for dogs and cats, nor on the health benefits and risks of plant-based diets in these animals, said Dodd.”This study shows there is a clear need for further research in this area.”Source: https://news.uoguelph.ca/2019/03/kibbles-and-kale-many-pet-owners-keen-to-have-vegan-pets-u-of-g-study-finds/last_img read more

Newly developed tool helps train clinicians to optimally care for older people

first_img Source:https://www.americangeriatrics.org/media-center/news/we-need-all-health-providers-be-proficient-geriatrics-informed-care-new-online Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 8 2019Among many breakthroughs that have made living longer possible, better health care–and more experts to make that care possible–loom large. Given that all of us are aging, we need more clinicians, researchers, and advocates to keep that momentum going. Ideally, for example, we’d already have more than 22,000 geriatricians in the U.S. (though at present less than 7,000 certified clinicians are practicing nationwide). With a limited number of geriatricians, how are we to train the next generation of clinicians to optimally care for older people? A new tool from the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) and Aquifer (the non-profit leader in developing clinical learning tools for health professions education) holds promise for bridging that gap. Aquifer Geriatrics (available at Aquifer.org/Courses/Aquifer-Geriatrics/), the AGS national online curriculum in geriatrics, is leveraging e-learning and geriatrics’ thought-leadership to advance much-needed training to care for older adults.”Almost every health professional in the U.S. will care for older patients at some point in their training or careers,” explains Amit Shah, MD, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, “yet learning about what makes that care unique has varied in duration and even content in the past, often due to a limited number of geriatrics educators at our health professions schools. Developed initially with funding from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the cases that make up Aquifer Geriatrics provide up-to-date, evidence-based content in geriatrics education. They teach healthcare professionals how to appropriately care for older adults, and they make it easy to do so even if a geriatrician is not immediately available to teach some of the basics.”The idea behind Aquifer Geriatrics is simple: Learners at subscribing institutions have instantaneous access to each of 26 evidence-based, peer-reviewed cases addressing the fundamentals of caring for older adults. The Aquifer Geriatrics curriculum was developed by experts from the AGS and Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs (ADGAP) using the framework of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)/John A. Hartford Foundation Minimum Geriatrics Competencies for Graduating Medical Students. Cases meet the needs of today’s learner as they can be completed at their own pace, without being bound to a traditional “classroom.” Subscriptions ensure that the course will be sustainable, providing consistent funding for operations such as content updates from a dedicated board of top educators, maintenance, and support.Related StoriesStudy examines effect of sleep quality on peptic ulcer recurrence in older adultsMount Sinai receives highest quality rating for adult cardiac valve surgeryResearchers find lower opioid prescriptions rates in states that implemented medical cannabis laws”Each of the 26 cases delivers knowledge and skills, but also models a geriatrics health professional’s approach to care,” Mandi Sehgal, MD, Associate Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Florida Atlantic University Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, explains. “Rather than focusing on the myth of ‘one right answer,’ each of the cases teaches clinical reasoning and reflects the nuances of what it takes to do what geriatrics does best: Deliver high quality, person-centered care with a focus on function and quality of life.”An article published today in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS; DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15813) introduces the Aquifer Geriatrics curriculum and walks through several of its early successes, as well as strategies to help clinicians and institutions adopt the platform. In a related editorial also published in JAGS (DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15901), independent educational experts noted that the program holds promise for “helping to fill the gap that is left by the shortage of geriatrics educators” in preparing the field to “play the long game,” thanks to innovative solutions to education.Aquifer Geriatrics cases can be completed on smartphones, tablets, or computers, and can be used independently or by schools with curricular time available to students. The cases also are appropriate for a host of health professionals, from internal and family medicine residents to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and geriatrics fellows.last_img read more

Researchers examine effects of prediabetes on cardiac risk of patients with CAD

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 20 2019Prediabetes, the precursor stage before type 2 diabetes, does not increase the cardiac risk of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). An extensive study led by the University of Oulu, Finland, examined the effects of prediabetes on the cardiac risk of patients with CAD by monitoring the health of approximately 2,000 patients with CAD for six years. It is the first extensive follow-up study on this topic. We were able to demonstrate for the first time that prediabetes does not increase the risk of cardiac death and adverse cardiac events among patients with coronary artery disease.”Antti Kiviniemi, Postdoctoral Researcher, Research Unit of Internal Medicine, University of Oulu Earlier studies that focused on the normal population have found that myocardiac infarctions and cardiac deaths are more common among people with prediabetes. Studies on the significance of prediabetes for the prognosis of CAD are limited, however.”The results are promising and encourage both good care of coronary artery disease and prevention of diabetes”, says Kiviniemi.Treatment of CAD and Prevention of Prediabetes ImportantGood care of CAD and prevention of type 2 diabetes are especially important among patients with CAD who already exhibit signs of prediabetes, meaning that they have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Development of diabetes nearly triples the risk of sudden cardiac death in coronary artery disease.Many Finns are not aware that they have diabetes. For example, approximately one third of patients with CAD have prediabetes and one third have developed type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that one in five Finns have prediabetes.Related StoriesUTHealth researchers investigate how to reduce stress-driven alcohol useTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTSchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchPrediabetes develops in the body over years and decades. Sufficient exercise, healthy food, weigh management and no smoking are the cornerstones of prevention of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.A total of 1,946 patients with CAD participated in the study called ARTEMIS. 834 had type 2 diabetes, 417 prediabetes and 695 had normal glucose homeostasis, defined by a glucose tolerance test. Before the study, the participants underwent coronary angiography to determine coronary artery disease and its treatment. Coronary artery disease was treated with balloon angioplasty or cardiac bypass surgery and medication.The study was published in the esteemed Diabetes Care journal and carried out in the Research Unit of Internal Medicine of the University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, led by Heikki Huikuri, Professor at the University of Oulu.Source:University of OuluJournal reference:Kiviniemi, A.M. et al. (2019) Prediabetes and risk for cardiac death among patients with coronary artery disease: the ARTEMIS study. Diabetes Care. doi.org/10.2337/dc18-2549.last_img read more

Saunas induce as much physical strain as moderate exercise

first_img Source: The blood pressure and heart rate during sauna bath correspond to cardiac responses during submaximal dynamic exercise, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, S. Ketelhut, R.G. Ketelhut, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2019.05.002, The blood pressure and heart rate during sauna bath correspond to cardiac responses during submaximal dynamic exercise By Dr. Liji Thomas, MDJun 13 2019Most people assume that their blood pressure falls after a sauna, which is why this is often thought of as relaxing. This may be true in the long-term, but during the sauna session itself, surprisingly, the blood pressure rises just as if you were having a short moderately strenuous workout, according to a new study. This increases the workload on the heart.In new research, at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) in collaboration with the Medical Center Berlin (MCB), 19 participants were sent first to a sauna for a 25-minute session. Their blood pressure and heart rate was measured both before and after the sauna bath, and during the 30-minute rest period that followed. Both parameters showed a steady rise above the baseline.   Research shows saunas induce as much physical strain as moderate exercise. Image Credit: Robert Kneschkecenter_img The second part of the study saw the volunteers completing a short session on an exercise bicycle while the blood pressure and heart rate measurements were repeated. This session was carried out on a separate day from the sauna visit. The exercise was estimated to put a load of about 100 watts on the body. The researchers observed the same level of increase in blood pressure and heart rate during both the sauna session and the bicycle exercise test. In effect, therefore, a sauna is also a short-term physical stressor for the body.Conventional medical wisdom assumes that the heat experienced during a sauna visit causes the blood vessels to dilate, leading to a continuous reduction of blood pressure. For this reason, doctors advise those with cardiovascular problems or with already low blood pressure to keep away, to avoid the risk of fainting because of further decreases in the blood pressure.This may not have been based on actual research, concludes the study. Dr Sascha Ketelhut, lead author, says, “it is important to distinguish between the acute effects of a sauna session and the effects that were noted during the rest period after the sauna session. Many previous assumptions have been made about the acute effects of sauna use, but so far little research has been done.”Related StoriesExercise program improves anxiety, mood in older adults who received chemotherapySupervised fun, exercise both improve psychosocial health of children with obesityLiver fat biomarker levels linked with metabolic health benefits of exercise, study findsThe actual measurements showed that both systolic and diastolic blood pressure went up progressively and significantly, but then decreased to below the baseline after the sauna. The heart rate also showed a continuous rise during the sauna phase, resulting in higher oxygen consumption by the heart muscle. However, this also went down steadily following the sauna. The changes during the sauna bath were equivalent to the demands placed on the body by moderate exercise, of about 60-100 watts.On the other hand, the short-term physical strain of a sauna visit, caused by heat exposure, is unlikely to do any harm, according to Ketelhut, if due caution is observed. She says, “Saunas can actually be used by anyone who can tolerate moderate physical stress without discomfort. However, people with low blood pressure should be cautious afterwards, as their blood pressure may then fall below the levels registered before the sauna visit.”Earlier studies showed cardiovascular benefits with sauna use, but their measurements focused on the long-term physical changes. Indeed, following the sauna, the study participants had a lower heart rate and blood pressure than at baseline. The current study shows that these positive effects are equivalent to those induced by moderate exercise, and are indeed attributable to the physical effects produced during the sauna.However, the profuse sweating that occurs during a sauna session is not an important cause of weight loss, as only fluids are removed from the body. In fact, these need to be replaced as early as possible. Ketelhut comments on the sweating: “The effect is too low as there is no muscle activity. Although we lose weight in the sauna, but these are just the fluids that we sweat out. One should rehydrate after a sauna session, though.”The study was recently published in the international journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine.last_img read more

Schwann cells induce selfrepair of damaged nerves

first_imgThe study was led by Prof. Claire Jacob at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) who said in a statement, “An injury in the peripheral nervous system quickly triggers the activation of a fascinating repair process that allows the injured nerve to regenerate and regain its function. There is no such repair process in the central nervous system, thus injuries often lead to permanent damage such as paraplegia.” Prof. Jacob is the Head of Cellular Neurobiology at JGU. She explained that more such strategies could be developed to heal nerve injuries effectively. By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDJul 11 2019After an injury, there is often damage to the nerves. These nerves usually regenerate using innate processes. Researchers from Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and at the Swiss University of Fribourg have now found that the Schwann cells and axons may be behind this regeneration process. The results of the study titled, “Injured axons instruct Schwann cells to build constricting actin spheres to accelerate axon disintegration,” were published in the latest issue of the journal Cell Reports. The team of researchers explain that each of the axons of the nerves is sheathed in myelin. Formation of the damaged myelin forms the key to regeneration of the axon. This myelin around the axon helps the nerve signals pass fast. Jacob said, “Myelin is extremely important for the function of the entire nervous system, however it also hinders the repair process in case of an injury.” The team added that in the peripheral nervous system, this myelin is produced by the Schwann cells and in the central nervous system its produced by the oligodendrocytes. Both of these types of cells have a different response to injury, the team wrote. This can may a difference in regeneration and healing of injured nerves, the team explained.Related StoriesAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyNew study reveals ‘clutch’ proteins responsible for putting T cell activation ‘into gear’Abcam Acquire Off-The-Shelf Diploid Library of Over 2,800 Knockout Cell LinesJacob explained that the Schwann cells induce the rapid disintegration of the axons that have been damaged by the injury to the peripheral nervous system. They break the axon cells into smaller fragments that could be gobbled up either by the Schwann cells themselves or by the scavenging macrophages. The researchers explain that this removal of the debris of the damaged axon forms the first step of the repair and regeneration process. Claire Jacob said, “Schwann cells can do everything. We discovered that they not only digest myelin following injury, but they also induce the disintegration of the long axon segments that are separated from their cell bodies due to the injury.”The team writes that the Schwann cells break down the broken and segmented axons by making small spheres of proteins called actin spheres. These spheres go on to exert pressure on the isolated segments of axon and breaks them down into smaller pieces, the team wrote. The actual need for this process is to remove the damaged part so that the healthy remaining stub of the axon could grow back and join with the other side of the broken axon to complete the neural circuitry and restore nerve function.What was novel in this study was the find that when the axons are broken, they sent signals to the Schwann cells so that they begin making the actin spheres and start the degeneration process of the damaged axons regions. The researchers were impressed with the smoothly coordinated function of the two types of cells in nerve repair. They wrote that if there a disruption in this communication between the two types of cells, there was a slowing of axon and nerve repair process.Next the team went on to look at the central nervous system and how the regenerating cells oligodendrocytes work there. Jacob said, “After an injury, oligodendrocytes either die or remain apparently unresponsive.” This meant that unlike Schwann cells, the oligodendrocytes do not spring into action to disintegrate the damaged axons in the central nervous system. The team investigated and found that the oligodendrocytes do not express VEGFR1 like the Schwann cells. His receptor was responsible for triggering the production of actin spheres in Schwann cells, they noted.To take the experiment further, the team now tweaked the oligodendrocytes genetically so that these cells could express VEGFR1. They now noted that the oligodendrocytes could now produce actin structures and disintegrate the broken axon fragments just like Schwann cells.  The team concludes, “These results thus identify controllable molecular cues of a neuron-glia crosstalk essential for timely clearing of damaged axons.”At present they are working on the processes at the molecular level that could be responsible for the removal of myelin at the injury sites in the hope of reversing it. Jacob said, “We have discovered a pathway that accelerates myelin degradation in the peripheral nervous system and are now trying to determine whether this can also trigger myelin removal in the central nervous system.” Journal reference:Adrien Vaquié, Alizée Sauvain, Mert Duman, Noo Li Jeon, Sophie Ruff, Claire Jacob, ‘Injured Axons Instruct Schwann Cells to Build Constricting Actin Spheres to Accelerate Axonal Disintegration’, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2019.05.060, https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(19)30689-8 Actin spheres (green) wrapped around a severed axon (red). Image Credit: Adrien Vaquie (Cell Reports) Schwann cell (in the center) containing many unmyelinated axons (blue). Image Credit: Jose Luis Calvo / Shutterstocklast_img read more

Germanys Bayer completes purchase of Monsanto

first_img Explore further Citation: Germany’s Bayer completes purchase of Monsanto (2018, June 7) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-06-germany-bayer-monsanto.html Monsanto CEO and others to leave after Bayer takeover © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Bayer said Thursday that it is now the sole owner of the company and Monsanto shares will no longer trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Bayer has put the cost of the deal at some $63 billion including debt.To obtain regulatory approval, Bayer has committed to divest some businesses, agreeing among other things to the U.S. government’s demand that it sell about $9 billion in agriculture activities. It says the process of integrating Monsanto is expected to start in about two months. German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG says it has completed its purchase of U.S. seed and weed-killer maker Monsanto Co. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Secret messages for Alexa and Co

first_img More information: Adversarial Attacks Against Automatic Speech Recognition Systems via Psychoacoustic Hiding. arxiv.org/abs/1808.05665 Researchers explore inaudible voice command attack “A virtual assistant that can carry out online orders is one of many examples where such an attack could be exploited,” says Thorsten Holz. “We could manipulate an audio file, such as a song played on the radio, to contain a command to purchase a particular product.”Similar attacks, known as adversarial examples in technical jargon, were already described a few years ago for image recognition software. They are more complicated to implement for speech signals as the meaning of an audio signal only emerges over time and becomes a sentence.MP3 principle usedIn order to incorporate the commands into the audio signals, the researchers use the psychoacoustic model of hearing, or, more precisely, the masking effect, which is dependent on volume and frequency. “When the auditory system is busy processing a loud sound of a certain frequency, we are no longer able to perceive other, quieter sounds at this frequency for a few milliseconds,” explains Dorothea Kolossa.This fact is also used in the MP3 format, which omits inaudible areas to minimise file size. It was in these areas that the researchers hid the commands for the voice assistant. For humans, the added components sound like random noise that is not or hardly noticeable in the overall signal. For the machine, however, it changes the meaning. While the human hears statement A, the machine understands statement B. Examples of the manipulated files and the sentences recognised by Kaldi can be found on the researchers’ website (adversarial-attacks.net/).The calculations for adding hidden information to ten seconds of an audio file take less than two minutes and are thus much faster than previously described attacks on speech recognition systems.Not yet working with airborne transmissionThe researchers from Bochum have not yet carried out the attacks over the air; they have passed the manipulated audio files directly to Kaldi as input data. In future studies, they want to show that the attack also works when the signal is played through a loudspeaker and reaches the voice assistant through the air. “Due to the background noise, the attack will no longer be quite as efficient,” Lea Schönherr suspects. “But we assume that it will still work.”Modern speech recognition assistants are based on so-called deep neural networks, for which there are currently few attempts to develop provably secure systems. The networks consist of several layers; the input, i.e. the audio file, reaches the first layer and is processed in the deeper layers. The last layer generates the output, in this case the recognised sentence. “The function of the hidden layers between input and output, which can be exploited by an attacker, is not sufficiently specified in many applications,” says Dorothea Kolossa.No effective protection so farThe aim of the research is to make speech recognition assistants more robust against attacks over the long term. For the attack presented here, it is conceivable that the systems could calculate which parts of an audio signal are inaudible to humans and remove them. “However, there are certainly other ways to hide the secret commands in the files besides the MP3 principle,” explains Kolossa. And these would again require other protection mechanisms.However, Holz does not believe there is cause for concern regarding the current potential for danger: “Our attack does not yet work via the air interface. In addition, speech recognition assistants are not currently used in safety-relevant areas, but are only for convenience.” The consequences of possible attacks are therefore manageable. “Nevertheless, we must continue to work on the protection mechanisms as the systems become more sophisticated and popular,” adds the IT security expert. Project team from Bochum: Thorsten Holz, Lea Schönherr, Steffen Zeiler, and Dorothea Kolossa (from the left). Credit: RUB, Kramer Citation: Secret messages for Alexa and Co (2018, September 24) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-09-secret-messages-alexa.html Provided by Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum A team from Ruhr-Universität Bochum has succeeded in integrating secret commands for the Kaldi speech recognition system – which is believed to be contained in Amazon’s Alexa and many other systems – into audio files. These are not audible to the human ear, but Kaldi reacts to them. The researchers showed that they could hide any sentence they liked in different types of audio signals, such as speech, birds’ twittering, or music, and that Kaldi understood them. The results were published on the Internet by the group involving Lea Schönherr, Professor Dorothea Kolossa, and Professor Thorsten Holz from the Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security (adversarial-attacks.net/). Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

AI tool automatically reveals how to write apps that drain less battery

first_img Provided by Purdue University A new tool developed by Purdue researchers would automatically identify and expose ways to make app features more energy-efficient, saving battery life. Credit: Purdue University image/Kayla Wiles To send a text message, there’s not only “an app for that,” there are dozens of apps for that. Improving battery performance for Android apps Citation: AI tool automatically reveals how to write apps that drain less battery (2018, October 9) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-10-ai-tool-automatically-reveals-apps.htmlcenter_img Explore further So why does sending a message through Skype drain over three times more battery than WhatsApp? Developers simply haven’t had a way of knowing when and how to make their apps more energy-efficient.Purdue University researchers have created a new tool, called “DiffProf,” that uses artificial intelligence to automatically decide for the developer if a feature should be improved to drain less battery and how to make that improvement.”What if a feature of an app needs to consume 70 percent of the phone’s battery? Is there room for improvement, or should that feature be left the way it is?” said Y. Charlie Hu, the Michael and Katherine Birck Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the CEO and co-founder of Mobile Enerlytics, LLC.The tool, which was announced on Oct. 8 at the 13th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation, aligns with Purdue’s Giant Leaps celebration, acknowledging the university’s global advancements made in AI, algorithms and automation as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. This is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.In 2012, Hu’s lab was the first to develop a tool for developers to identify hot spots in source code that are responsible for an app’s battery drain.”Before this point, trying to figure out how much battery an app is draining was like looking at a black box,” Hu said. “It was a big step forward, but it still isn’t enough, because developers often wouldn’t know what to do with information about the source of a battery drain.”How code runs can dramatically differ between two apps, even if the developers are implementing the same task. DiffProf catches these differences in the “call trees” of similar tasks, to show why the messaging feature of one messaging app consumes more energy than another messaging app. DiffProf then reveals how to rewrite the app to drain less battery.”Ultimately, in order for this technique to make a big difference for an entire smartphone, all developers would need to make their apps more energy-efficient,” said Abhilash Jindal, fellow co-founder of Mobile Enerlytics and a former Ph.D. student in computer science at Purdue.”The impact also depends on how intensively someone uses certain apps. Someone who uses messaging apps a lot might experience longer battery life, but someone who doesn’t use their messaging apps at all might not,” he said.So far, the DiffProf prototype has only been tested for the Android mobile operating system. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Apples stock sours Microsofts soars Say what

first_imgWall Street investors are enamored with a newly emergent tech company. President Donald Trump amplified those tariff concerns when he told The Wall Street Journal in a story published late Monday that new tariffs could affect iPhones and laptops imported from China.The iPhone maker had already seen its stock fall after reporting a mixed bag of quarterly results earlier this month amid fears about how the technology industry will fare in the face of such threats as rising interest rates, increased government regulation and Trump’s escalating trade war with China.Apple also spooked investors with an unexpected decision to stop disclosing how many iPhones it sells each quarter. That move has been widely interpreted as a sign that Apple foresees further declines in iPhone sales and is trying to mask that.While smartphones caused the downturn in personal computers years ago, sales of smartphones themselves have now stalled. That’s partly because with fewer innovations from previous models, more people choose to hold on to the devices for longer periods before upgrading.Morgan said Microsoft is outperforming its tech rivals in part because of what it’s not. It doesn’t face as much regulatory scrutiny as advertising-hungry Google and Facebook, which have attracted controversy over their data-harvesting practices. Unlike Netflix, it’s not on a hunt for a diminishing number of international subscribers. And while Amazon also has a strong cloud business, it’s still more dependent on online retail. A brief period of trading Monday was the first time in more than eight years that Microsoft was worth more than Apple. Microsoft surpassed Apple again briefly Tuesday, before Apple closed on top with a market value of $827 billion, just 0.5 percent ahead of Microsoft’s $822 billion.Apple has been the world’s most prosperous firm since claiming the top spot from Exxon Mobil earlier this decade. Microsoft hasn’t been at the top since the height of the dot-com boom in 2000.Microsoft became a contender again in large part because Apple’s stock has fallen 25 percent since early October, while Microsoft hasn’t done any worse than the rest of the stock market. But the fact that it hasn’t done poorly is a reflection of its steady focus on business customers in recent years.Just a few years ago, Microsoft’s prospects looked bleak. The company was dependent on licensing fees from the Windows operating system used in personal computers, but people were spending money instead on the latest smartphones. In 2013, PC sales plunged 10 percent to about 315 million, the worst year-to-year drop ever, according to research firms Gartner and IDC. It didn’t help that Microsoft’s effort to make PCs more like phones, Windows 8, was widely panned. But a turnaround began when the Redmond, Washington, company promoted Nadella as CEO in 2014. He succeeded Microsoft’s longtime CEO, Steve Ballmer, who initially scoffed at the notion that people would be willing to pay $500 or more for Apple’s iPhones.That bet paid off. Windows is now a dwindling fraction of Microsoft’s business. While the company still runs consumer-focused businesses such as Bing search and Xbox gaming, it has prioritized business-oriented services such as its Office line of email and other workplace software, as well as newer additions such as LinkedIn and Skype. But its biggest growth has happened in the cloud, particularly the cloud platform it calls Azure. Cloud computing now accounts for more than a quarter of Microsoft’s revenue, and Microsoft rivals Amazon as a leading provider of such services.Being less reliant on consumer demand helped shield Microsoft from holiday season turbulence and U.S.-China trade war jitters affecting Apple and other tech companies. © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Citation: Apple’s stock sours, Microsoft’s soars. Say what?! (2018, November 27) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-11-apple-stock-sours-microsoft-soars.html It has nothing to do with posting selfies or finding a soul mate. The company is instead making billions of dollars selling cloud-computing and other technical services to offices around the world.Say hello to Microsoft, the 1990s home-computing powerhouse that is having a renaissance moment – eclipsing Facebook, Google, Amazon and the other tech darlings of the late decade.And now it is close to surpassing Apple as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company.Yes, that Microsoft. As other tech giants stumble, its steady resilience is paying off.That Microsoft is even close to eclipsing Apple—and did so briefly a few times this week—would have been unheard of just a few years ago.But under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has found stability by moving away from its flagship Windows operating system and focusing on cloud-computing services with long-term business contracts.”They’ve finally turned the corner and have become a viable cloud player,” said Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager for Synovus Trust. “They’ve made a very strong transition away from the desktop.” In this Aug. 2, 2018, file photo an electronic screen displays Apple stock at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York. Microsoft is threatening to overtake Apple as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company. The market closed Tuesday, Nov. 27, with Microsoft just behind Apple. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. In this May 7, 2018, file photo Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella looks on during a video as he delivers the keynote address at Build, the company’s annual conference for software developers in Seattle. Microsoft is threatening to overtake Apple as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company. The market closed Tuesday, Nov. 27, with Microsoft just behind Apple. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) In this May 11, 2017, file photo, members of a design team at Cirque du Soleil demonstrate use of Microsoft’s HoloLens device in helping to virtually design a set at the Microsoft Build 2017 developers conference in Seattle. Microsoft is threatening to overtake Apple as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company. The market closed Tuesday, Nov. 27, with Microsoft just behind Apple. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) Microsoft briefly tops Apple as most valuable companylast_img read more

Dont worry about screen time – focus on how you use technology

first_imgNew turns with familiar devices This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Through creative off-label uses of technology, some people have improved close relationships and their health. Credit: KristinaZ/Shutterstock.com Another woman I spoke with took smart lights – the ones that can change color at the tap of a button in a smartphone app – far beyond their intended functions of improving decor and energy efficiency. When she changed the color of the lights in the home she shared with her partner from white to red, it was a signal that she was upset and that they needed to talk. The light color became an external symbol of the conflict between them and provided a new way to begin a difficult conversation. Similarly creative thinking helped strengthen the relationships between patients and a physician I interviewed. She practiced primarily through telemedicine, meeting with patients via a secure medical videoconferencing system. She was aware that physical and emotional distance could weaken a relationship already fraught with sensitivity and an imbalance of power between an expert and a patient.So she experimented with the view her camera provided of her and her surroundings. First, she showed patients a view of just her face, in front of an unadorned white wall that revealed nothing about her. Then she shifted the camera to show more of her home, which of course revealed more of herself. Patients could now see some of the art that she liked as well as elements of her home, which said something about her habits, values and personality. This sharing leveled the playing field in some ways. As patients were opening up themselves to her by describing symptoms and the details of their lifestyle, they could see that she was not a lab-coat-clad expert issuing directives from an intimidating medical office – she was a real person living in an ordinary apartment. This step toward reciprocity made it easier for patients to relate to her. She believes this is part of why her patients have expressed feeling close to her and so much trust in her treatment. It was a small adaptation that brought greater rapport and connection to a technology often viewed as a poor replacement for in-person meetings.With increasing attention to the effects of technologies, we should not only be concerned with their potential harms. As I’ve observed, experimenting with how – not just how much – we use technology might uncover unexpected ways to make life better. Controlling the lights can send a message. Credit: LDprod/Shutterstock.com Your smartphone apps are tracking your every move: four essential reads Many Americans find themselves bombarded by expert advice to limit their screen time and break their addictions to digital devices – including enforcing and modeling this restraint for the children in their lives. However, over 15 years of closely observing people and talking with them about how they use technological tools, I’ve developed a more nuanced view: Whether a technology helps or hurts someone depends not just on the amount of time they spend with it but on how they use it.center_img I’ve found many people who have found impressively creative ways to tailor the technologies they have to serve their values and personal objectives, improving their relationships and even their health.In my forthcoming book, “Left to Our Own Devices,” I introduce readers to people who pushed products beyond their intended purpose, creating their own off-label uses. Some of them turned self-help products, like smart scales and mood apps, into mechanisms for deepening relationships; others used apps like Tinder, designed to spark interpersonal connection, as an emotional pickup – gathering data to feel better about themselves without the hookup. And still others have pieced together different tools and technologies to suit their own needs.Looking beyond the rulesA few years ago, for instance, my colleagues and I created an app to help people manage stress as part of a health technology research project. Psychotherapy and other mental health services have traditionally been offered as individual treatments, and so we expected people would use our app on their own, when they were alone. We put a great deal of effort into assuring privacy and instructed people who participated in our research that the app was for their use only.But many of the participants ended up bringing the app into their conversations with others. One woman used it with her son to process a heated argument they had earlier in the day. She sat down with him and together explored the visuals in the app that represented stages of anger. They followed the app’s cognitive therapy cues for thinking about feelings and reactions – their own and each other’s. She shared it with him not as a flashy distraction, but as a bridge to help each understand the other’s perspectives and feelings.The app was intended to help her change the way she thought about stress, but she also used it to address the source of her stress – making the app more effective by, in a certain sense, misusing it. Citation: Don’t worry about screen time – focus on how you use technology (2018, December 12) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-dont-screen-focus-technology.html Provided by The Conversation Explore further This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.last_img read more

The development of a hybrid micro mixer for biological and chemical experiments

first_img Citation: The development of a hybrid micro mixer for biological and chemical experiments (2018, December 28) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-hybrid-micro-mixer-biological-chemical.html Components of the mixing system (scaled). All measurements are in mm. Credit: Majid Warkiani More information: Sajad Razavi Bazaz et al, A hybrid micromixer with planar mixing units, RSC Advances (2018). DOI: 10.1039/C8RA05763J Explore further Microfluidics: Creating chaos Provided by Sechenov University An international team of scientists including an employee of I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (MSMU) has developed a device for mixing chemical and biological reaction feeds. The team managed to increase the mixing efficiency up to 90 percent. The new device will be used in biological and chemical experiments. The article was published in the RSC Advances journal. Small mixing devices are used in biological and chemical research in the course of experiments. For example, in biology, such mixers are used for analysis, purification, and synthesis of DNA, as well as for the delivery of medicinal drugs. In chemistry they are necessary for carrying out reactions.There are two types of mixing devices—active and passive ones. In the first group, the principle of operation is based on the use of external forces, such as magnetic fields, heat, acoustic fluctuations, and so on, which accelerate the mixing process. However, due to complicated construction, they have reduced reliability and service life. Therefore, the second type of mixing device, using only the energy of flow movement, is considered more prospective. Passive mixers create a turbulent flow—the flow of liquid that causes it to exchange substance between its layers. The efficiency of this method directly depends on a mixer’s geometry. As a rule, it consists of one or several metal plates placed one after another in a small tube. Each plate has a considerable number of holes of different shapes and sizes. They direct the flows of liquid and secure their efficient mixing.A team of scientists from Iran, Australia and Russia used existing mathematical models of liquid mixing and developed five variants of passive mixers. Each has its own unique geometry and mixing characteristics. After that, the scientists combined them into one hybrid micro-mixer.The new mixing device consists of six consequent metal plates with holes of different shapes. By changing the combinations of elements, the researchers created a micro-mixer that secures almost 100 percent mixing of two liquids with low viscosity and 90 percent with high viscosity.”Micro-mixers can be used in medical, chemical, and biological research. We’ve created a hybrid micro-mixer and compared it with other mixing devices by mixing efficiency. Our device turned out to be applicable to a wide range of biological studies. The suggested micro-mixer has different construction elements that helped us combine the mixing methods. It secures high process efficiency and is designed to replace the existing models of passive micro-mixers,” said Majid Warkiani, a co-author of the work and a research associate of the laboratory of nanotheranostics at MSMU and of the Institute of Biomedical Materials and Devices, University of Technology Sydney. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

White House gets report that could trigger auto tariffs

first_img Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: White House gets report that could trigger auto tariffs (2019, February 18) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-02-white-house-trigger-auto-tariffs.html © 2019 AFP US President Donald Trump has 90 days to consider whether or not to impose tariffs on BMW and other European car importscenter_img German Chancellor Angela Merkel has labeled as “frightening” the prospect that European car imports could be declared a national security threat to the United States.Two people familiar with the matter earlier told AFP that the Commerce Department report has concluded that auto imports pose such a threat.As part of his “America First” agenda, US President Donald Trump has already imposed a range of tariffs against allies, as well as China.”Today, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross formally submitted to President Donald J. Trump the results of the Department of Commerce’s investigation into the effect of imports of automobiles and automobile parts on the national security of the United States,” a Commerce Department statement issued late Sunday said.It gave no further details. Sunday was the deadline for Ross to file his report.Trump ordered the investigation in May, and after receiving the report he now has 90 days to decide whether or not to impose tariffs.Trump has threatened 25 percent duties on European autos, especially targeting Germany, which he says has harmed the American car industry.In July, Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reached a trade truce under which they pledged no new tariffs while negotiations continued.The White House has already used the national security argument—saying that undermining the American manufacturing base impairs military readiness, among other claims—to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. His action drew instant retaliation from the EU, Canada, Mexico and China.In 2017 just under half of the 17 million cars sold in the United States were imported, most of them produced in Canada and Mexico. Those two countries have reached a new free trade pact with Washington and are expected to be exempt from any new automobile duties.German automobile groups last year exported 470,000 cars from Germany to the United States, according to the VDA manufacturers’ federation.Aside from economic matters, US-European ties are already upended over Trump’s approach towards Iran and Syria, as well as other issues. The White House received Monday a Commerce Department report on the auto industry that could trigger tariffs against imported cars and intensify tensions with Europe. US tariffs on car imports are a double-edged swordlast_img read more

Extreme far right picknmix ideologies and direct messaging online make for deadly

first_imgWhile it is difficult to look beyond the atrocities committed in New Zealand, that they were perpetrated by someone inspired by the extreme right reminds us of the very real threat such ideologies and those committed to them pose to our ongoing safety and security. Described by the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, as an “extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”, the Australian national arrested after the two attacks on Christchurch mosques that killed at least 50 people confirmed much the same in a manifesto uploaded to the internet shortly before the shooting spree. US right-wing activist Candace Owen’s name was used in a manifesto without her knowledge that aimed to send mainstream attention her way. Credit: Carrington Tatum/Shutterstock Facebook scrubs 1.5mn Christchurch attack videos but criticism goes viral The manifesto also clearly speaks to another group of like-minded people: those that frequent the darker realms of the internet. Referred to as “shiposting” – described by journalist Robert Evans as the posting of ironic content online with the purpose of provoking an emotional reaction among the “less internet savvy” – the manifesto contains a lot of “in-jokes” designed to send up or create the moral outrages that have blamed child killing on “video nasties” or high school shootings on the music of Marilyn Manson.Examples of this include the claim that the video game Spyro the Dragon 3 taught the attacker all he needed to know about ethno-nationalism while Fortnite taught him how to kill. Another good, but less obvious, example of this is the claim that Candace Owens – an American conservative activist – was the person whose position had radicalised the attacker the most, with the aim of sparking others, especially those within the mainstream media, to point an accusatory finger at Owens and blame her for the attacks. This is exactly what happened. In a tweet, Owens said “it should go without saying but neither myself … or Spyro the Dragon had anything to do with the tragedy in New Zealand”. While much has been made of the Islamophobic nature of the attacks, a deeper look at the suspect and his manifesto afford an insight into how the extreme right wing is not only increasingly dependent upon social media but would also seem to be moving away from rather more fixed and traditional ideologies.Social media as a message generatorThe attacks on the two Christchurch mosques are sadly, of their time. This is readily apparent from the sharing of photos of weapons by the suspected attacker via Twitter days before the attacks and the livestreaming of the attacks as they happened. Neither were by chance. In today’s social media age, the attacker knew that doing so would ensure his actions had the greatest possible impact. By bypassing traditional media outlets – which would report the story albeit after everything had gone viral – social media enabled the opportunity to ensure a pure and unadulterated message reached as large an audience as possible. And it was initially shared, copied and reposted far quicker than governments, security services and social media providers themselves could remove it. All acts of terrorism function as “message generators” but in our social media age, messages can be generated more immediately and directly than would have been possible even a decade ago.While the use of social media to speak directly to others who share the same beliefs is a more recent phenomenon, the outline of the suspected attacker’s motivation, inspiration and justification in a manifesto – unequivocally motivated by Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment – are recurrent themes found in traditional far-right nationalism and the established ideologies of the extreme right wing. Citing mass migration, high birth rates and the “replacement” of “European people—those he refers to as ethnically and culturally white—the Christchurch attacker claimed his actions were ultimately necessary to stop, what he referred to as “white genocide”. Anders Behring Breivik who did something similar shortly before detonating a bomb in Oslo killing eight and then shooting 69 on the island of Utøya back in 2011. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Explore furthercenter_img Britain First in 2014. But far right activity is very active online. Credit: Ian Francis/Shutterstock How the extreme right has changedWhat is clear about the extreme right wing today is that it is far removed from the stereotypical “football hooligan”, and “feet on the street” image of the far right in the 1970s and 1980s. While street protests by groups such as Britain First continue to reinforce this image, the reality of the extreme right wing is that it thrives online. The right is creating and constructing content-specific platforms from which their chosen ideologies can be shared. Take for instance Rebel Media, a Canadian-based website that has been accused of having become a global platform for those espousing Islamophobic and right-wing ideologies. While no one on the platform espouses content justifying the Christchurch massacre, much of what is said has some resonance with parts of the content contained in the manifesto released before the attack.Individuals on the right are also increasingly functioning akin to social media influencers. Instead of promoting brands or products to large numbers of followers (consumers) across the world, charismatic figures such as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) are promoting ideas and ideologies to transnational, right-wing consumers. The similarities are real. And of course, one cannot overlook the role and function of 4chan, 8chan and others and the outer recesses of the web –– and the dark web – where the most extreme and vile forms of extreme right-wing ideologies and thinking not only find form but also find affirmation. It is maybe a little premature to cast the removal of Generation Identity from Facebook as a major win despite the racist group sharing aspects of an “identitarian” ideology with the attacker, one that includes the need to defend Europe and its culture in the face of mass migration.Traditional ideologies are increasingly informed and shaped by a much wider range of sources that cut and paste large tracts from traditional nationalist and right-wing sources. Breivik’s manifesto, for example, was supplemented with references to America’s Unabomber, as well as the British journalist Melanie Phillips, Dutch politician Geert Wilders, Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson and the Belgian orientalist Koenraad Elst, among others. The Christchurch attacker did similar, citing Brexit, British fascist Oswald Mosley, Donald Trump, American white supremacist Dylann Roof, and the perpetrator of the terror attack on London’s Finsbury Park Mosque, Darren Osborne. Today, an outspoken television presenter can clearly be as influential to those on the extreme right wing as historical figures such as Adolf Hitler.Today’s extreme right wing is therefore rather more “pick’n’mix” than traditionally loyal. Akin to how sociologist Grace Davie used the phrase to describe how people were increasingly “consuming” religion as they were other “markets” – pulling together different things from different religious traditions to explain their own beliefs – so the same would appear to be true of the extreme right wing in regards to understanding, informing and justifying their own personal ideologies. Combine this with the ever-changing landscape of the internet and social media and the likelihood is that extreme right-wing ideologies will not only become ever more diversified and difficult to understand but will so too find an increasingly diversified and complex way through which they are shared, engaged and worryingly, enacted on also. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Extreme far right: ‘pick’n’mix’ ideologies and direct messaging online make for deadly new combination (2019, March 19) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-extreme-picknmix-ideologies-messaging-online.html Provided by The Conversationlast_img read more