Top Stories

August 06, 2020

Digital Ethics

Facebook and Twitter punish Trump over video where he says children ‘almost immune’ to Covid-19

Facebook has removed a video interview posted on the account of U.S. President Donald Trump in which he said that children are “almost immune” from Covid-19. Twitter later followed suit, blocking the president’s official re-election campaign account, @TeamTrump, from tweeting until it removed a link to the video. Twitter did not, however, restrict Trump’s other accounts, including his popular personal account. The video segment comes from an interview with Fox News in which he advocated that schools should open, saying that in his view children are “almost definitely” immune from the coronavirus. “This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” a Facebook spokesman told NBC News. The removal is one of the few times Facebook has taken steps to moderate content posted by Trump. (CNBC)


Microsoft vows to become a ‘zero-waste’ business by 2030

Tech giant Microsoft has pledged to bring its direct waste footprint to zero within a decade, as part of a new resources strategy which will boost the recyclability of its devices and see plastic packaging phased out entirely. The 2030 zero-waste goal covers Microsoft’s direct operations, products and packaging. Across these areas, Microsoft will “reduce nearly as much waste as it generates” through reuse, repurposing and recycling initiatives, before offsetting the residual waste through investment in external circular economy initiatives. Some 90 percent of the materials that are currently wasted from Microsoft’s direct operations will be diverted from landfill and incineration within a decade, the company said in a statement. It will install ‘Circular Centres’ – facilities which use machine learning to process decommissioned servers and hardware – at its data centres and R&D and office campuses to achieve this aim. (edie)


Almost half of UK charities for world’s poorest set to close in a year

Nearly half of the UK’s small charities working with the world’s poorest people expect to close within the next 12 months due to lack of financial support, a survey from the Small International Development Charities Network (SIDCN) has found. Despite most of them seeing a spike in demand for their services during Covid-19, 15 percent of the charities will be forced to shut their doors within the next six months, and 45 percent within a year, according to data. The pandemic – predicted to force one in 10 UK charities into bankruptcy by the end of 2020 – has delivered a triple whammy to smaller overseas charities, according to SIDCN. British charities working abroad have not been eligible to apply for the UK government coronavirus community support fund, and many British funders have amended their giving criteria to donate to projects based solely in the UK. (The Guardian)

Climate Change

Japan’s climate change efforts hindered by biased business lobby, research shows

Japan’s powerful business lobby Keidanren is dominated by energy-intensive sectors that represent less than 10 percent of the economy, resulting in national policies that favour coal and hindering attempts to combat climate change, according to a new study by data analysis company InfluenceMap. The influence of the country’s electricity, steel, cement, car and fossil fuel sectors undermines Japan’s attempts to meet its Paris Agreement commitments, according to the report. The Keidanren, which has close ties with the trade and industry ministry as well as other government bodies, sits on expert panels and other forums where government policies are debated. It has acted as a ‘central negotiating point’ on climate policy for two decades, the report said. While it claims to represent all of Japanese business, the claim “clearly should be questioned on climate/energy policy,” InfluenceMap said. It added the most powerful industries within Keidanren only employ about 2.7 million, while those with little influence employ 10 times that number. (Reuters)


Helping the poor can protect forests too, Indonesian welfare programme finds

Lifting people out of poverty in Indonesia has also helped slow the country’s rate of deforestation, a new study, published in Science Advances, finds. The study looked for links between deforestation data and a government poverty-alleviation programme launched in 2007 and known as PKH — at the time the biggest of its kind in the world. Under the PKH programme, eligible households receive cash by taking specific health- or education-related actions, a concept known as conditional cash transfers. Rhita Simorangkir, a researcher at the National University of Singapore and her co-author, Paul Ferraro from Johns Hopkins University, analysed 7,468 rural forested villages across 15 provinces that participated in the PKH programme between 2008 and 2012. They found that the programme, despite not being designed to benefit the environment, resulted in the reduction of forest cover loss in those participating villages by an average of 30 per cent. (Eco-Business)