Why mobile phones are NOT a health hazard

An article we published last week about links between mobiles and cancer proved highly controversial. Here a cancer expert and physicist argues that it misrepresented the research and that fears are ill-founded

• Last week’s article: The inconvenient truth about cancer and mobile phones

Last week the Observer published an article by Mark Hertsgaard and Mark Dowie on a disturbing topic – the idea that telecoms giants might collude to suppress evidence that wireless technology causes cancer. The feature was well written, ostensibly well researched, and deeply concerning. Its powerful narrative tapped into rich themes; our deep-seated fears about cancer, corporate greed, and technology’s potentially noxious influence on our health. It spread rapidly across social media – facilitated by the very object on which it cast doubt.

Yet as enthralling as Hertsgaard and Dowie’s narrative might be, it is strewn with rudimentary errors and dubious inferences. As a physicist working in cancer research, I found the authors’ penchant for amplifying claims far beyond that which the evidence allows troubling. And as a scientist deeply invested in public understanding of science, I’ve seen first-hand the damage that scaremongering can do to societal health. While it is tempting to rage into the void, perhaps this episode can serve as a case study in how public understanding of science can be mangled, and what warning signs we might look out for.

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from Technology | The Guardian http://bit.ly/2O7CUpB


Farting unicorn row: artist reaches settlement with Elon Musk

Tom Edwards from Colorado, who challenged Musk’s use of motif without attribution, reaches agreement with Tesla tycoon

A Colorado artist says he has reached a settlement with Elon Musk after challenging the Tesla tycoon’s use of a farting unicorn motif that he had drawn as an ironic tribute to electric cars.

Musk used the cartoon image on Twitter, without attribution, to promote his Tesla electric car range, and ignored Tom Edwards’ attempts to come to a licensing arrangement, telling the artist’s daughter it would be “kinda lame” to sue.

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from Technology | The Guardian http://bit.ly/2uU8m1J

Facebook halts firm’s data access amid questions of government surveillance

Crimson Hexagon suspended as concerns surface over company’s federal contracts and ties to Russia and Turkey

Facebook has suspended a social media analytics firm from accessing user data while it investigates potential violations of its policy barring surveillance.

The firm, Crimson Hexagon, boasts an impressive list of blue chip clients and claims to have collected more than 1tn public social media posts from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sources. It uses artificial intelligence and image analysis to monitor social media and provide customers with insights into public sentiment about their brands.

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from Technology | The Guardian http://bit.ly/2L8Yw73

YouTube’s biggest stars trade insults in London ahead of boxing match

KSI and Logan Paul have been verbally sparring for months – in August they will have their turn in the ring at the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena

York Hall, in London’s Bethnal Green, is one of Britain’s oldest boxing venues. Opened in the 1920s, it still hosts professional bouts to audiences of 1,200 people. But in its near-century, it’s never seen anything like the event that took place on Wednesday, as more than 1,000 teenagers queued to watch two of YouTube’s biggest stars – and rivals – trade insults ahead of their highly publicised boxing match next month.

KSI, a one-time Fifa gamer turned internet personality, and Logan Paul, who found fame posting skits on Vine and is best known for mocking the dead body of a suicide victim in one of his videos, are big names on YouTube, with almost 20 million subscribers each. They’ve been sparring verbally for months, and after KSI defeated fellow YouTube star Joe Weller in a boxing match in February, fans began piling on the pressure for KSI and Paul to have their turn in the ring.

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from Technology | The Guardian http://bit.ly/2L9tHit

WhatsApp to limit message forwarding after India mob lynchings

Facebook-owned messaging service wants to crack down on viral spread of hateful misinformation

WhatsApps users will only be able to forward messages to 20 people, as the Facebook-owned messaging service attempts to crack down on the viral spread of hateful misinformation.

In India, where false rumours about child abduction spread virally over WhatsApp, leading to several vigilante murders over the past year, the new limit will be even stricter: each message can be forwarded just five times. In that country, where according to Facebook “people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world”, WhatsApp is also removing the “quick forward” feature, a button that appears next to photos, videos and links. The previous forwarding cap, rarely hit by users, was more than 250.

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from Technology | The Guardian http://bit.ly/2Lyz2fA

NHS to receive £487m technology boost

Matt Hancock says funding package will create ‘world’s most advanced health system’

The health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, has pledged almost half a billion pounds to transform technology in the NHS.

In his first speech since being appointed to the post, Hancock will announce a £487m funding package to create “the most advanced health system in the world”. He will vow to drive cultural change within the NHS and social care sector, working with staff to embrace the latest technology in order to reduce their workload and improve patient care.

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from Technology | The Guardian http://bit.ly/2myA4Nv

Facebook to publish data on Irish abortion referendum ads

Social media company to provide details of spending on ads targeting Irish voters

Facebook is to publish comprehensive data on political advertising during Ireland’s abortion referendum campaign, giving an unprecedented insight into targeting of voters on social media, and setting a powerful precedent for election transparency.

The US company has told Irish politicians it will provide anonymised details of the amount spent on targeting Irish voters on its platform between 1 March and 25 May, and the number of referendum-linked ads that had been purchased.

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from Technology | The Guardian http://bit.ly/2O4eHjZ