UK Government launches WhatsApp Coronavirus information service
In an attempt to reduce the spread of coronavirus misinformation in the UK, the government have launched an automated ‘chatbot’ service on WhatsApp to provide users quick answers to coronavirus questions – ‘directly from the government’.
The service can be accessed by adding 07860 064422 as a contact and then messaging ‘hi’ on WhatsApp. The chatbot provides answers on subjects such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases in the UK, advice on staying at home, travel advice, myth busting and more.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director, Public Health England, has said, “This service will help us ensure the public has a trusted source for the right information about coronavirus, updated with the latest public health guidance and providing assurance that they are not misled by any of the false information circulating.”
Find out more about the service here.
UK Ministers to be banned from using WhatsApp
Just as the government introduces a WhatsApp-based service, calls to ban ministers from using the platform have been made (ouch!).
‘Transparency campaigners’ Foxglove claim that politicians could avoid accountability by using self-destructing messaging services such as WhatsApp. They argue the ability to remove or delete messages poses serious risks to transparency and democratic accountability.
Cori Crider, a director of Foxglove has said, “The basic point is that privacy is for the citizen and transparency is for the government. This government is amassing more and more data on all of us and we have less and less information on them. That has the democratic bargain exactly backwards.”
Read more about this story here.
New battery design could last twice as long as standard batteries
Researchers at MIT have designed a new battery that almost doubles the output without sacrificing cycle life. The discovery was made during an experiment undertaken by placing metal electrodes in place of the conventional graphite ones found in lithium-ion batteries.
Professor Johnson of MIT has said the battery will be great for consumer electronics, and commercialization of them will come within a couple of years.
Until then, I guess we’ll have to rely on the trusty portable charger!
Find out more on the story here.
Instagram for kids
Facebook this month announced they’re working on developing a version of their Instagram app specifically for children.
Currently, children under the age of 13 are prohibited from using the popular photo-sharing app. But with kids increasingly asking their parents to join apps that help them keep up with their friends, the pressure has been put on to develop a child-appropriate version of the app.
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, has said the app will be for young people or kids - but parents will have transparency and control. Exactly how they plan on doing this is unclear.
Past attempts at ‘kid friendly’ versions of apps haven’t worked well, with the likes of YouTube Kids not correctly filtering inappropriate videos. So, the importance of getting this app right is pretty high!
Find out more about the developments here.
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