Facebook Has Been Paying Contractors to Transcribe Users’ Facebook Messenger Voice Chats

The third-party workers do not know why Facebook needs the audio files transcribed
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Norwegian cruise ship sees coronavirus cases rise to 53, officials say
At least 53 people who recently traveled on a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials said Wednesday.
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Trump singles out Texas and Florida for help with coronavirus response
President Donald Trump agreed to continue paying for the full cost of National Guard troops deployed to help with the coronavirus response in just two states -- Texas and Florida -- after their Republican governors appealed directly to him.
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Companies That Stand in Solidarity Are Licensing Themselves to Discriminate
Change is afoot in corporate America. For the past two months, everyone from Chevron to Comcast and Hershey's to Harvard Business School has put out statements containing the phrase “We stand in solidarity with the Black community,” or some very close variant. The sudden outpourings of corporate sentiment were widely dismissed as meaningless, hypocritical, opportunistic, or all three. But there’s reason to believe that such vocal calls for change from corporations could actually be worse than meaningless—and in fact damage the chances that corporations will follow through on meaningful change in the months and years ahead.Why? Less than a year ago, nearly 200 CEOs signed a solemn pledge, issued by the Business Roundtable, to stop caring primarily about their shareholders and to serve the needs of their workers, communities, and country too. The Wharton management professor Tyler Wry has been compiling data on the signatories’ behavior since. “We were interested in whether these statements were worth the paper they were printed on, or just symbolic,” he told me recently. “When COVID hit, it was a natural experiment and a chance to see if companies were living up to their word.”[Read: Brands have nothing real to say about racism]The results have startled him. As COVID-19 spread in March and April, did signers give less of their capital to shareholders (via dividends and stock buybacks)? No. On average, signers actually paid out 20 percent more of their capital than similar companies that did not sign the statement. Then, as the coronavirus swept the country, did they lay off fewer workers? On the contrary, in the first four weeks of the crisis, Wry found, signers were almost 20 percent more prone to announce layoffs or furloughs. Signers were less likely to donate to relief efforts, less likely to offer customer discounts, and less likely to shift production to pandemic-related goods. “Signing this statement had zero positive effect,” said Wry. Why, though, would it produce a negative effect?Wry told me he has yet to nail down a causal explanation. (His first theory—that signing the statement drew counterpressure from institutional investors—found no supporting evidence.) But he said his findings are not inconsistent with psychological explanations. Behavioral psychologists have observed an effect they call “moral self-licensing”: If people are allowed to make a token gesture of moral behavior—or simply imagine they’ve done something good—they then feel freer to do something morally dubious, because they’ve reassured themselves that they’re on the side of the angels.[Read: How capitalism drives cancel culture]One of the starker examples happens to involve police and racial prejudice. In a 2001 study, the Princeton and Stanford psychologists Benoît Monin and Dale Miller asked subjects to imagine themselves as the police chief of a small town that has historically been exclusively white. Police officers in the department harbor racist attitudes and—a few years earlier—an African American officer had quit, citing the hostile environment. Now they need to hire a new officer. Should ethnicity be a factor? Is the job better suited for a Black candidate? Or a white one?It didn’t matter, participants said.But a second group was allowed to rubber-stamp the hiring of a Black candidate for an unrelated consulting job prior to being presented with this scenario. It was the most perfunctory of decisions—the three white consulting candidates were less qualified—but apparently enough to establish the participants’ moral bona fides such that they could then comfortably veer into prejudice. This second group was measurably more likely than the first to say that the policing job was better suited for a white person.Was this all about avoiding the appearance of racism? Interestingly, no. The effect persisted in a similar experiment, even when no one else could see the subjects’ choices. So they weren’t protecting solely their reputation. It was also, at least partially, about their self-image. Maintaining a consistently good view of one’s self is very important to people—and very easily accomplished. In a 2008 version of the police-chief study, merely indicating that they would vote for Barack Obama in the upcoming election licensed participants to favor a white applicant for the position. In another setup in the 2001 study, the chance to disagree with brazenly sexist statements enabled people to favor male candidates over identically qualified women.[Read: The risky business of branding Black pain]And therein lies the danger of tokenistic statements. They carry little risk of fooling the public—and a lot of risk of fooling the people who issue them. Which may partly explain why a decade of corporate commitments to “expanding diversity” has yielded so little palpable progress. In 2002, there were four Black CEOs atop Fortune 500 companies. Today there are … four. As Wes Moore, the CEO of the antipoverty nonprofit Robin Hood told The New York Times, “We’ve been satisfied by putting John Rogers on every board,” referencing the Black investor who has served as a director at Exelon, McDonald’s, Nike, and the New York Times Company.A few companies may have begun to grasp this. “Because we’re in brand building, our initial instinct is to say something, to post something,” the Procter & Gamble marketing chief, Marc Pritchard, said at a June business summit. But, he continued, “the days of ‘My thoughts and prayers are with you’ are over.”Companies raise their odds of getting it right by asking questions instead of making statements. “Is this who we are?” “Are we getting this right?” And they realize that the real audience they’re trying to reach is themselves. This might require throwing the PR people out of the room. Ideally, too, firms will implement concrete changes while saying little about “change” in the abstract. Research is firm on this point: If you view initial steps as evidence of real progress toward a goal, you’re much more likely to drift away from it.
The Pandemic Is Getting Worse in the Developing World
Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. While much of Europe and Asia has relaxed lockdown measures after overcoming the pandemic’s first wave, the United States has moved firmly into its second surge. With more than 4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and upwards of 150,000 deaths, the country that was supposed to be the most prepared to handle a public-health crisis is proving itself to be among the worst at it.To focus solely on the U.S., however, would be to miss the even more alarming situation occurring in much of the developing world. Brazil, second only to the U.S. in confirmed cases and deaths, has recorded more than 2 million infections. India, the world’s second-most populous country with the third-highest number of cases, is approaching the same grim milestone. Similar increases are occurring in South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Colombia. Taken collectively, these countries account for more than a third of the world’s confirmed infections. And such figures only reflect the cases we know about.While the U.S. can look to the experience of its fellow rich nations to help guide it out of this pandemic, and has relatively more resources to do so, many low-to-middle-income countries do not. The remedies that have proved effective in wealthy nations haven’t necessarily been possible in poorer ones—particularly those with inadequate testing capacity, strained health-care systems, and limited social safety nets.[Read: How the pandemic defeated America]Perhaps the most worrisome picture is currently in Latin America, which despite being home to less than 10 percent of the global population, claims more than a quarter of known worldwide cases and nearly half of all recently recorded coronavirus deaths. The region’s failure to contain the spread hasn’t been for a lack of trying: While some Latin American leaders, including Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador, opted to downplay the severity of the coronavirus, Peru’s and Argentina’s presidents were lauded for their early efforts to contain it. But the lockdowns and social-distancing measures that worked to curb cases across East Asia and Western Europe haven’t succeeded in the region. In Latin America, “social-distancing measures were effective to reduce the transmission, but they were not effective to bend the curve,” Jarbas Barbosa, the assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization in Washington, D.C., told me. To put it more visually: Rather than seeing its rate of infection fall, as have other regions whose countries imposed lockdowns, Barbosa said Latin America saw its line “plateau.”Of course, no country’s context is exactly the same—each nation’s response was affected by a number of underlying factors, including the strength of its health-care system, the age and relative health of its population, and the resilience of its economy. Just as individuals with preexisting conditions are more vulnerable to the virus, so too, it would seem, are countries with underlying instabilities.Experts I spoke with highlighted two main reasons tried-and-true coronavirus responses that worked in richer nations have failed poorer ones. The first has to do with the fact that lockdowns are more difficult to enforce in developing countries—particularly those with largely informal economies. Nearly 90 percent of India’s workforce is employed informally (in roles as disparate as street vendors, domestic workers, and construction laborers). Informal workers also make up as much as 86 percent of the employed population in sub-Saharan Africa and half of the employed population in Latin America (though the percentage varies from country to country). These jobs are low-paid, and many lack benefits such as sick leave or redundancy pay. Telecommuting isn’t an option: A day’s wage is almost always contingent on leaving one’s house. Enforced lockdowns of the kind declared in India and Peru left most workers jobless and, in the former country, stranded.Though larger economies such as Britain and the U.S. were able to cushion the financial blow of their shutdowns with hefty stimulus packages, low-and-middle-income countries have been able to offer only relatively modest support. As a result, informal laborers are often faced with the impossible choice of abiding by lockdown rules or feeding their families. “When you ask them to stay home, in many cases you’re asking them to starve,” Benjamin Gedan, the deputy director of the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program and a former South America director on the White House National Security Council, told me.[Annie Lowrey: The pandemic proved that cash payments work]The second factor has to do with the fact that many of the worst-affected countries in the developing world are also some of the most densely populated. In cities such as São Paulo and Delhi, where swathes of the population reside in multigenerational households within crowded and often unsanitary informal neighborhoods, social distancing is virtually impossible. For some, access to clean water and other basics isn’t a given. Even with the rollout of mass testing and contact tracing seen in some countries, Gedan noted, “if you cannot physically distance, then you cannot contain the spread of this virus.”Shoppers visit the Saara commercial center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 27, 2020. (Andre Coelho / Getty)If there has been one silver lining, Barbosa said, it’s that the late arrival of the coronavirus to regions such as Latin America meant that many countries had time to shore up their health sectors. With some exceptions, he said, “we didn’t have in Latin America the situation that we saw in the north of Italy or in New York, where the services were totally overrun.” But a head start hasn’t made up for the fact that many health-care systems in the region lack sufficient resources, including life-saving medical equipment—a global issue that is perhaps most acute in Africa, where some countries have only a handful of ICU beds and ventilators. Some have none at all.These issues weren’t a surprise to Matthew Richmond, a Brazil-based research fellow at the London School of Economics’ Latin America and Caribbean Centre. In mid-April, when Brazil had about 20,000 cases and just over 1,300 deaths, he warned that social and economic inequalities there would only exacerbate the situation. Speaking months later from his home in the southeast of the country, he told me his predictions have largely held up: Efforts to lock down have lapsed, and Brazil regularly records more than 1,000 deaths each day. Meanwhile, the government is pushing to reopen the country even as some of its most senior leaders, including Bolsonaro, have contracted the virus.In countries and cities around the world, the pandemic has had an outsize impact on people of minority backgrounds and those from poorer communities elsewhere, and Richmond has observed the same dynamic play out in São Paulo. “Even though the cases were quite high in the wealthier areas, the deaths were much lower than in the poor areas,” he said. “And that’s not even taking into account the very high level of undercounting of cases and deaths.”“There is certainly no sign that the situation is improving,” Richmond told me. “We get so used to seeing these terrible numbers and stories that [we’ve] become a bit desensitized to it.”
Help! My Brother’s New Girlfriend Got Drunk at My Birthday and Stole My Cake.
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Wilkerson: America has a caste system
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Fauci says coronavirus vaccine doses could arrive in early 2021; claims no WH speed-up pressure
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Wednesday drugmakers will likely have tens of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses ready by early next year and at least 1 billion by the end of 2021.
Ask a Teacher: Zoom Brought Out the Best in Our Daughter. Should We Stick with It?
She was more curious, more independent, and more social online.
Coronavirus live updates: Dr. Deborah Birx warns of 'different' outbreak; Navajo Nation nears 500 deaths
The Department of Labor releases its latest jobless claims figures Thursday. Congress anticipates relief package by week's end. Latest COVID-19 news.
Bank of England sees smaller hit to UK economy but slower recovery
The UK economy will take longer than expected to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the Bank of England said Thursday, as it warned of rising unemployment and other risks to its forecast, such as a second wave of infections and Brexit.
Bank of England sees smaller hit to UK economy but slower recovery
The UK economy will take longer than expected to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the Bank of England said Thursday, as it warned of rising unemployment and other risks to its forecast, such as a second wave of infections and Brexit.
America Stands Alone
And what else you need to know today.
Big Friendship Is Canny Self-Branding Disguised as Real Talk. It’s Still Pretty Irresistible.
It’s easy to understand why Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman would want to smooth the rougher edges of some of their stories.
50 Cent slammed over Instagram post about Beirut explosion: 'Have some respect'
Rapper and actor 50 Cent is taking some heat after posting about the Beirut explosion on Instagram.
The Decision to Bomb Hiroshima Wasn’t a Decision at All
How America sleepwalked into the atomic age.
Teens arrested after jumping Mar-a-Lago wall with loaded AK-47
Mar-a-Lago has been the scene of several intrusions since Trump became president in 2017.
Trump's mail-in voting falsehoods are part of a wide campaign to discredit the election
President Donald Trump's barrage of challenges to the reputation, structures and traditions of elections is conjuring up a contentious and potentially constitutionally critical three-month period for America's democracy.
How a yellow jersey is dividing Bolsonaro's Brazil
Brazil's bright yellow jersey is a symbol that unites the country through a love of football and national pride, but over the past two years the shirt's adoption by right wing supporters of Jair Bolsonaro, who wear it at protests and rallies to show their political allegiance to the Brazilian president, is causing controversy.
Coronavirus updates: US records over 52,000 new cases in a single day
A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 707,000 people worldwide.
Trump says Sally Yates 'lying or grossly incompetent' on Comey testimony
President Trump said former deputy attorney general Sally Yates was either “lying or grossly incompetent” hours after she testified in front of the Senate over the FBI’s Russia investigation.
LeBron James responds to Trump's protest criticism
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Brazil divided on iconic yellow shirts
The most recognizable symbol of Brazilian identity: the iconic yellow jersey in which giants such as Pelé and Ronaldo have won a record five World Cups. But the world-famous shirt has also become the emblem of President Jair Bolsonaro's radical right, and a group of sport lovers are now demanding it be replaced.
Trump campaign draws Facebook, Twitter pushback over coronavirus video
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Drive-Through Voting? Texas Gets Creative In Its Scramble For Polling Places
The coronavirus pandemic has made some past polling locations, like grocery stores and nursing homes, less appealing this year. So state officials are searching elsewhere.
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Olympic rings in Tokyo Bay removed for 'maintenance'
The five Olympic rings floating on a barge in Tokyo Bay were towed away Thursday for what is being called “maintenance," but officials say the iconic Olympic symbol will return to greet next year's Games.
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NBCUniversal begins layoffs, cuts expected to be kept under 10%
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How to make video meetings more like in-person experience? Add social hours, games, trivia and fun
Work meetings via webcam can make it harder to maintain a human connection but games can help coworkers get to know other beyond cameras and screens.       
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Judge, Shielding Cop Via 'Qualified Immunity,' Asks Whether It Belongs In 'Dustbin'
Federal Judge Carlton Reeves applied the controversial doctrine in a case in which he ruled that an officer merited it — but in an outspoken opinion asked for the doctrine itself to be reevaluated.
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Hiroshima Atomic Bombing Raising Questions 75 Years Later
The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were said at the time to be justified as the only way to end World War II. Seventy five years later, legal experts say they would now be war crimes.
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Trump to sign order in Ohio requiring government to buy 'essential' drugs from U.S. companies
Donald Trump will use trip to Ohio to sign executive order requiring the federal government to buy 'essential' medicines from U.S. companies        
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TikTok user stuffs his air fryer with random foods, becomes viral sensation
Just admit it: You need to know what happens to a Subway sandwich in the air fryer.
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Arnon Mishkin: Biden could benefit by skipping Democratic Convention — he avoids sticking foot in his mouth
The announcement Wednesday that former Vice President Joe Biden will not travel to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee to accept his party’s presidential nomination because of the coronavirus pandemic could be a plus for his presidential campaign.
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U.S. Economy On High Alert Over Shaky Future of Extra Jobless Benefits
As Congress debates whether to renew supplemental unemployment benefits for people thrown out of work by the pandemic, new research shows those benefits offer a critical boost for the U.S. economy.
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Philippine Journalist Maria Ressa: 'Journalism Is Activism'
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As More Lawmakers Test Positive, Congress Gets A Tough Reminder Of Coronavirus Risk
Congress still doesn't have a widespread testing program for the coronavirus illness. And they were reminded of that risk when three members tested positive in one week.
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For Colorado 4-H Kids The Livestock Show Goes On Despite The Pandemic
Even as county fairs are being canceled across the country, some are allowing a core element to continue: 4-H club livestock shows. It preserves some normalcy and is a chance to earn college money.
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Most Teachers Concerned About In-Person School; 2 In 3 Want To Start The Year Online
A new national poll of teachers from NPR/Ipsos finds broad trepidation about returning to the classroom, with 77% of those surveyed worried about risking their own health.
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How Safe Is Your School's Reopening Plan? Here's What To Look For
As schools weigh the risks of reopening, many are making plans to lower the risks of coronavirus transmission. Here's how to vet your school's proposals.
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