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Month: February 2019

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Momo hoax: schools, police and media told to stop promoting viral challenge



Children’s charities say warnings about online suicide challenge have done more harm than good

Britain’s media, schools and police forces were told on Thursday to stop promoting an online hoax about the so-called Momo challenge, amid fears that unjustified warnings about the supposed phenomenon risked doing more harm than good.

The Momo challenge centres on false claims that a mysterious character is using WhatsApp messages to encourage children to kill themselves. After it moved from the fringes of the internet to the mass media, interventions from authority figures were blamed for creating a full-blown moral panic – and genuine fear among children.

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Tom Watson calls for crackdown on in-game gambling



Features such as loot boxes need tighter regulation, says deputy Labour leader

Gambling-style features in computer games, which encourage players to pay for items such as loot boxes that may be worth very little, warrant stricter oversight by the Gambling Commission to prevent them becoming a “gateway” to betting addiction, Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, said.

Speaking as he proposed much tighter controls on online gambling, including caps on the amount that consumers can gamble, Watson said not enough was being done to deal with gambling through games.

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Video game industry insiders launch POC in Play diversity initiative



Organisation to give support to and encourage greater representation of people of colour in UK game development A group of games industry insiders has launched a new initiative to tackle the problem of poor diversity in the UK video game development se…

TikTok video-sharing app fined for collection of children’s data



App to set up ‘age-appropiate’ rules for under-13s to comply with US data protection laws

TikTok, the popular video-sharing app formerly known as Musical.ly, has agreed to a record $5.7m (£4.2m) fine with the US Federal Trade Commission after being accused of illegally collecting personal information from children under 13.

The app, which is owned by the Chinese giant Bytedance, a private startup with a $75bn valuation, admitted to improper data collection in a statement following the settlement and said that it would begin keeping younger users in “age-appropriate TikTok environments”, where those under 13 would be pushed into a more passive role, able to watch videos, but not post or comment on the platform.

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Fortnite Season 8 brings a volcano, pirates, cannons – and a banana suit



Radical map changes and fun pirate-themed skins give a fresh look to counter strong competition from Apex Legends The latest season of Fortnite is now live, introducing a major new volcano area, as well as a host of pirate-themed locations and features…

‘Geek philanthropy’: the gamers raising millions through marathon live streams



Charities are reaping the benefits of these modern-day telethons as video game players fundraise live on the internet

There has been a quiet revolution in the world of philanthropy over recent years, driven by the fact that sitting down to play a video game until you fall over from sleep deprivation can raise thousands or even millions of dollars for charity – as long as you do it live on the internet.

“The impact is big and getting bigger,” says Jeremy Wells, fundraising events manager for Médecins Sans Frontières, a popular partner for charity streams. “Summer Games Done Quick is our biggest fundraiser of the year – it brought in $2.1m last year out of $4.7m for our whole events program.”

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Trials Rising review – a global adrenaline rush



PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch; RedLynx/Ubisoft Kiev
Pure two-wheeled thrills drive this motorbike racing game, as you hurtle over spectacularly wild tracks around the world. Just avoid the acorns

After playing Trials Rising’s first few tracks, which send you careening wildly down huge ramps, backflipping through the air and revving enthusiastically on an agile motorbike, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a high-thrills racing game. In fact, it’s as much a puzzle game as a racer, requiring careful, precise control of the throttle, your rider’s weight and your own temper to bunny-hop through tricksy obstacle courses without flipping the bike over or touching an explosive barrel.

It is an adrenaline-heavy experience either way, whether you’re zipping through an easy course or wrestling the bike around a tougher one with your heart in your mouth. It can be intensely frustrating, but even if you never develop total mastery of motocross physics, it’s still great fun.

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How can I set up a small website for a local group?



Robin wants to find a way to create a site that doesn’t require coding experience

As chair of our local allotment association, I’m wondering about setting up a website to provide information and news to new and existing allotmenteers. Can this be done with basic tech knowledge and zero experience of web design or coding? There’s a bewildering number of services offering to host websites, sell domain names, provide easy-to-use templates and so on at a range of prices. What are the catches with the free or cheap services on offer?

We have a Facebook group but nobody in the association is very keen to keep this active. Robin

It’s a pity you don’t like the idea of using Facebook because this is generally the quickest and easiest way for a small group to get online. In fact, if an organisation has a physical manifestation – a school, park or church, allotments, a restaurant or so on – then it may already have a Facebook page. If so, you can apply to take it over. If that fails, you can start your own page and compete with it.

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Anti-vaxx ‘mobs’: doctors face harassment campaigns on Facebook



Medical experts who counter misinformation are weathering coordinated attacks. Now some are fighting backWhen the naturopath Elias Kass testified before a Washington state senate committee on 20 February with a baby on his chest and a pacifier in his h…

Viral ‘Momo challenge’ is a malicious hoax, say charities



Groups say no evidence yet of self-harm from craze, but resulting hysteria poses a risk

It is the most talked about viral scare story of the year so far, blamed for child suicides and violent attacks – but experts and charities have warned that the “Momo challenge” is nothing but a “moral panic” spread by adults.

Warnings about the supposed Momo challenge suggest that children are being encouraged to kill themselves or commit violent acts after receiving messages on messaging service WhatsApp from users with a profile picture of a distorted image of woman with bulging eyes.

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