Threads, Meta's recent competitor to Twitter, is facing harsh criticism for blocking search results for terms related to the pandemic, including vaccines.
The new text platform, which is linked to Instagram, rolled out its new search function last week, a major step towards giving it more parity with X, formerly known as Twitter.
After Threads' July release, Meta has been rolling out several much needed updates in recent weeks, including a requested desktop version and user search functionality.
However, within 24 hours of the recent update, the social media giant was hit with controversy, as the new search function proved useless for those wanting to look for posts related to the COVID-19, reported The Washington Post.
Threads Users Shocked to Find Search Results Blocked
Many users were upset when their search on Threads for content related to “COVID” and “vaccines” was met with a blank screen and a pop-up redirecting them to the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Zuck treats users like children. He gets to decide what they will see and talk about. This is reason alone enough to reject Threads and embrace X," said Michael Robertson, a tech CEO, in a post on X.
Meta confirmed its search policy restrictions in a press statement, saying that the text platform is blocking users from searching for words that could bring up “sensitive” posts, for now.
“The search functionality temporarily doesn’t provide results for keywords that may show potentially sensitive content,” it said.
“People will be able to search for keywords such as ‘COVID’ in future updates once we are confident in the quality of the results.”
Meta acknowledged that Threads was intentionally blocking other terms but declined to provide a list of them.
A search by The Washington Post discovered that the words “sex,” “nude,” “gore,” “porn,” “coronavirus,” “vaccines,” and “vaccination” were also among blocked terms.
Health Experts Decry Censorship
Public health experts and workers also were critical of the company’s decision, telling The Post that its timing was poor, especially amid reports of a recent virus uptick.
"Censorship doesn't work. Misinfo still gets circulated by code names & other platforms. Tech companies should invest in real solutions like moderation/education," Lucky Tran, director of science communication at Columbia University, said in a post on X.
Mr. Tran previously told The Post that the decision to censor searches about COVID will make it harder for public health experts and people who work in public health to get out important info to the public about how they can protect themselves.
Hospitalizations in the United States rose nearly 16 percent last week, and have been rising steadily since July, but less than for the same week a year ago, according to the CDC.
CDC statistics show that deaths from the virus are less than a quarter of what they were during the same period in 2022.
The agency said cases of the virus are likely to continue into the winter.
Former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC’s “This Week” over the weekend that given the current level of immunity in the population, “the chances of this being an overwhelming rush of cases and hospitalizations is probably low.”
Meanwhile, the FDA approved another round of COVID boosters on Sept. 11 that are expected be available in the coming days.
New Meta Platform Sees Decrease in Users Since Launch
Meta's decision to block certain search terms illustrates its desire to avoid encouraging any topics that could be deemed “hard news” on its platform.
“Politics and hard news are inevitably going to show up on Threads—they have on Instagram as well to some extent—but we’re not going to do anything to encourage those verticals,” Adam Mosseri, Instagram's chief who was instrumental in the launch of Threads, wrote this summer.
However, Twitter's ability to share real-time news and information was crucial to its rise to prominance and remains one of its core features.
A 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center showed that about 4 in 10 Americans said that social media was an important source for news about the COVID-19 vaccine and virus.
Ever since Threads launched over the summer in an effort to take advantage of some users' disappointment with X after its take over by Elon Musk, the platform has since failed to maintain its momentum.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg boasted after the launch that he was able to get 100 million new sign-ups within five days of it going live.
"Threads reached 100 million sign ups over the weekend. That's mostly organic demand and we haven't even turned on many promotions yet. Can't believe it's only been 5 days!," Mr. Zuckerberg said in a post at the time.
Time spent on the app service has since fallen by 85 percent last month, according to tech blog Similarweb.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Meta for comment.
Guerilla gardening: how you can make your local area greener without getting into trouble
Many people are gardening on land that is not theirs – here are some things to consider to avoid getting into trouble.
When Richard Reynolds first started gardening around London’s streets, he was so worried he might be arrested that he worked under the cover of darkness. Reynolds was one of the UK’s first modern guerrilla gardeners, a movement that encourages people to nurture and revive land they do not have the legal rights to cultivate.
This issue is particularly pronounced among city dwellers, ethnic minorities and young people. A 2021 survey conducted in England revealed that those aged 16-24 were more than twice as likely to lack access to a garden or allotment compared to those aged over 65.
This article is part of Quarter Life, a series about issues affecting those of us in our twenties and thirties. From the challenges of beginning a career and taking care of our mental health, to the excitement of starting a family, adopting a pet or just making friends as an adult. The articles in this series explore the questions and bring answers as we navigate this turbulent period of life.
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Guerrilla gardening is a particularly good option for these groups of people. It can involve planting herbs or vegetables for a whole community to enjoy, spreading seeds or plants, tidying weeds, or even something as simple as picking up litter.
But if you’re considering becoming a guerilla gardener, it’s important to understand your rights. Could you be arrested for it? And should you wait until after dark?
Can you be prosecuted?
It’s important to remember that much of the unused or abandoned land that is potentially suitable for guerilla gardening in towns and cities throughout the UK is owned by local councils. Common examples of such locations include broken pavements with missing slabs, wasteland and the central areas of roundabouts.
Although much of this land is already open for the public to walk over, actively gardening on it would become an act of trespass.
The law of trespass sounds scary. However, gardening on this land would be a breach of civil law rather than a crime. This means that most guerrilla gardeners are unlikely to receive a fine or a criminal record.
Landowners do have the legal right to use “reasonable force” to remove trespassers from their land. But, fortunately, it seems most councils have ignored guerrilla gardeners, having neither the time, money or inclination to bring legal action against them.
Colchester Council, for example, were unable to track down the identity of the “human shrub”, a mysterious eco-activist who restored the flowers in the city’s abandoned plant containers in 2009. The shrub returned again in 2015 and sent a gift of seeds to a local councillor.
In other areas of the UK, the work of guerilla gardeners has been cautiously welcomed by local councils. In Salford, a city in Greater Manchester, there is a formal requirement to submit an application and obtain permission to grow on vacant spots in the city. But the local authority tends not to interfere with illegal grow sites.
There seems to be an unwritten acceptance that people can garden wherever they want, given the abundance of available space and the lack of active maintenance. This also offers the additional advantage of saving both time and money for the local council.
You should still be careful about where you trespass though. In some areas, guerrilla gardening can lead to unwelcome attention. During the May Day riots of 2000, for example, guerrilla gardeners were accused of planting cannabis seeds in central London’s Parliament Square.
Gardening at night may draw the wrong attention too, particularly if you are carrying gardening tools that might be misunderstood by the police as threatening weapons.
How can you start?
There are many different types of guerrilla gardening that you could get involved in, from planting native plant species that benefit pollinators and other wildlife to tidying derelict land to create safer places for the local community.
One of the simplest forms of guerilla gardening is planting seeds. Some environmental projects circulate “seed bombs” and others use biodegradable “seed balloons” that are filled with helium and deflate after a day, distributing seeds by air.
Whatever you try, as a guerrilla gardener you shouldn’t harm the environment or spoil other people’s enjoyment of the space around you. Remember that weeds and wilderness have an environmental value too. And think carefully about the species you are going to plant so that you can protect local plants and wildlife.
The most attractive species to humans might not provide the best home or food for wildlife. Some can even outcompete native plants and drive them towards extinction. Planting certain harmful, invasive or poisonous species like ragwort, knotweed or Himalayan balsam is even prohibited by law.
That said, some guerrilla gardeners have used social media to organise “balsam bashing” events, where people come together to pull up this harmful invasive plant.
Guerrilla gardening takes many forms and can bring great benefits for people and the environment. You’re unlikely to be arrested for planting and growing trees and other greenery in public spaces. But remember that these spaces should be shared with everyone, including your local wildlife.
Ben Mayfield does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.uk
Fractyl Health’s GLP-1 gene therapy spurs 25% weight loss in obese mice, clinical trials slated for 2024
One of the biggest problems facing the burgeoning class of weight loss drugs is that people must take them day after day, week after week. When the injections…
One of the biggest problems facing the burgeoning class of weight loss drugs is that people must take them day after day, week after week. When the injections of semaglutide — the ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy — stop coming, so do the benefits. Lost weight is regained.
But researchers at Fractyl Health, a Lexington, MA-based biotech, believe they have a solution to that problem: a one-time gene therapy injected into the pancreas that lets the body make its own GLP-1 agonists in perpetuity.
New data slated to be presented today at a diabetes conference in Germany suggest that obese mice injected with the therapy lost nearly 25% of their body weight after just two weeks, according to a copy of the company’s presentation obtained by Endpoints News.
The results leave many questions unanswered, including how safe and effective the approach will be beyond the first two weeks, although the presentation indicated that such studies are ongoing. Fractyl declined requests for an interview.
The company previously announced plans to begin testing the treatment in people with diabetes and obesity in 2024. It’s a bold step towards moving gene therapy beyond the rare diseases typically pursued by biotech companies.
“It’s hard to get people to take injections once a week, and if we can figure out how to do something closer to one and done, that would be a big step for patients,” Randy Seeley, who directs an obesity research center at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, told Endpoints in an interview.
“But how permanent this will be can’t really be answered in a mouse,” he added. Seeley is a consultant to Fractyl, and the company supports research in his lab.
Fractyl was originally just developing the GLP-1 gene therapy for type 2 diabetes. In a diabetic mouse model, human pancreatic islets and human beta cell lines, the treatment significantly enhanced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, improving blood sugar levels.
GLP-1 needs to act on receptors in the brain for its weight loss effects, and since the therapy is injected directly into the pancreas, the company didn’t expect the diabetic mice would lose weight, Seeley said. But surprisingly, they did, shedding 23% of their mass after four weeks compared to a control group.
Those results spurred the company to test its gene therapy in a diet-induced obesity mouse model. Twenty mice were fed a high fat diet for 25 weeks before half of them got a single injection of the gene therapy while the other half received daily injections of semaglutide.
Both groups of mice began losing weight a day after the injections. Within five days, the mice who got the gene therapy were losing weight faster and shed 24.8% of their body weight after just two weeks, even as they maintained their high fat diet. The mice on semaglutide lost 18.4% of their weight, according to the data presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes Scientific Congress.
“The most surprising part of the data is how much weight these animals lose,” Seeley said. “it’s better than semaglutide, and it’s not exactly clear how that occurs.”
Given the uncertain long-term effects of taking GLP-1 drugs for weight loss, a potentially permanent gene therapy approach is sure to raise many questions.
“If you’re taking your once-a-week version, if something goes wrong, we can turn it off and we just take it away,” Seeley said. “But with gene therapy, there’s no way to turn it off. It’s unknown what happens, and so it is going to take both some careful thought.”fed congress treatment testing clinical trials therapy european germany
Trans To Be Banned From Female Hospital Wards In UK
Trans To Be Banned From Female Hospital Wards In UK
Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,
The UK Health Secretary is to issue a proposal…
The UK Health Secretary is to issue a proposal to ban trans patients from female hospital wards in the UK, as well as reinstating ‘sex specific’ language in National Health Service materials, according to reports.
The Daily Mail reports that “Steve Barclay will unveil the plans to push back against ‘wokery’ in the health service amid concerns that women’s rights are being sidelined.”
Daily Mail: "Trans women patients 'to be banned from female wards' under plans to be announced by Health Secretary Steve Barclay today"https://t.co/dPU9wbKEZL— Emily Wilding Davison (@Wommando) October 3, 2023
The proposal would see only people of the same biological sex sharing wards, with care coming from doctors and nurses of the same sex, when it comes to intimate health matters.
“We need a common-sense approach to sex and equality issues in the NHS. That is why I am announcing proposals for clearer rights for patients,” Barlcay stated, adding “It is vital that women’s voices are heard in the NHS and the privacy, dignity and safety of all patients are protected.”
He added “And I can confirm that sex-specific language has now been fully restored to online health advice pages about cervical and ovarian cancer and the menopause.”
As we previously highlighted, the word ‘women’ was removed from such materials and replaced with non-gendered terms to be “more inclusive”:
A source close to the Health Secretary told the Telegraph that “The Secretary of State is fed up with this agenda and the damage it’s causing, language like “chestfeeding”, talking about pregnant “people” rather than women. It exasperates the majority of people, and he is determined to take action.”
“He is concerned that women’s voices should be heard on healthcare and that too often wokery and ideological dogma is getting in the way of this,” the source added.
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