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Author: Elle Hunt

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Deepfake danger: what a viral clip of Bill Hader morphing into Tom Cruise tells us



Are deepfakes a threat to democracy? The creator of a series of viral clips says he is raising awareness of their subversive potentialYou’ve heard of deepfakes – doctored videos fabricating apparently real footage of people – and their potential to dis…

The house painted with ‘spiteful’ smileys, and other emoji rows



A California woman has insisted that painting huge emojis on her house was not an attempt to get back at her neighbours – but it’s not the first time the Unicode characters have caused controversyA neighbourly dispute in the laid-back Californian commi…

Grumpy Cat dies aged seven: ‘Some days are grumpier than others’



Internet’s most famous cat, with a face that launched a thousand gifs, has died in ArizonaGrumpy Cat – the most famous cat on the internet, whose downturned mouth and unimpressed expression was the universal digital shorthand for displeasure – has died…

Will Facebook’s Secret Crush end the unbearable pain of unrequited love?



The social media giant’s latest plan is to use its huge user base to help us find love – and it just might work

Mark Zuckerberg seems to have landed on a solution to turn around his untrustworthy and “not quite human” public image: playing Cupid.

Harking back to its humble beginnings as a tool for ranking strangers’ attractiveness, Facebook has announced a new feature called Secret Crush, wherein users select the friends for whom they carry a torch. If your crush adds you to their list – and with up to nine picks allowed, your odds aren’t bad – Facebook will reveal you to each other and love will assuredly bloom. But if the feeling is not reciprocated, they need never know your identity – just that one of their friends has added them as “a secret crush”.

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Did you make it through the Facebook outage without calling the police?



Instagram and WhatsApp were also hit. It wasn’t the apocalypse, but for some people, it felt like it

When your grandchildren ask you how you made it through the Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp outage of March 2019, what will you tell them? Did you Google “Facebook down” to ascertain whether Facebook was, indeed, down? Did you call the emergency services?

Amid the breakdown of digital society, the Australian breakfast television program Sunrise publicised apparently official advice not to contact police over the mass outage.

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Kim Jong-un all fingers and thumbs in bid for Instagram diplomacy



North Korean leader struggled to make ‘finger hearts’ gesture popular on social media

Doing something “for the ‘gram” is not typically associated with international diplomacy, but this did not stop Kim Jong-un making a heartfelt attempt at a South Korean Instagram trend during a summit this week.

“Finger hearts”, a popular social media pose in South Korea, involves people crossing the tips of their forefingers and thumbs, as though about to click their fingers or make a money-grubbing gesture. Also known as “baby hearts”, it is so called because the crossed fingertips are subtly reminiscent of a heart shape.

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‘It’s like a robot playground’: the cities welcoming self-driving delivery droids



Delivering food and parcels for up to two miles, a small fleet of robots – with human handlers – are quietly testing a gamechanger in ‘last-mile logistics’

The big Japanese akita dog is stopped in his tracks by the box on wheels, unsure whether it is an equal to be greeted or another south London surface to be marked. His owner, hot on his heels, is just as surprised when he rounds the corner.

“STOP, in the name of love!” a man sings at the machine, palm outstretched, jumping back in mock alarm. “What the hell is that?”

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Poppy is a disturbing internet meme seen by millions. Can she become a pop sensation?



The character played by 22-year-old Moriah Pereira is a childlike, robotic-sounding woman with friends who include a basil plant. Now she’s trying to become the first pop megastar to be born on YouTube

I’m Poppy,” says Poppy, often. In one of her hundreds of videos on YouTube, she repeats those two words in her childlike monotone for 10 minutes. This has been viewed more than 12.6m times.

Poppy has about 300 videos on her channel, which have received a combined 235m views, increasing by 250,000 a day; YouTube says her subscribers have grown 260% in the past year. Her videos are the sort you stumble upon while following links blindly down an online rabbit hole: portals to a pastel-washed parallel universe populated by platinum-blond Poppy and her fellow characters – a basil plant and a mannequin called Charlotte.

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Social media stars face crackdown over money from brands



Instagram ‘influencers’ told to clarify paid-for ads, while health claims are taken down after advertising breaches

Consumer protection bodies in the UK and US are increasing their crackdown on Instagram “influencers”, in an attempt to rein in the big business being done covertly on social media.

Instagram’s popularity with young people, and women in particular – in April it reported 700 million members – has led to a roaring trade between marketers and so-called influencers with large and engaged followings. Members of the Kardashian family, who promote a range of products from “detox” tea to waist-training corsets to their tens of millions of followers, can reportedly command as much as $500,000 (£370,000) per post.

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Apparently my smartphone is telling everyone exactly where I am right now. Should I care?



Snapchat’s new virtual map, showing us each others’ locations in unnerving detail, has prompted concerns about privacy. But didn’t we give that up long ago?

So, er – can you tell where I am right now?

You don’t have to be on image-sharing app Snapchat to have heard about its controversial new “Snap Map”, which shows users their friends’ locations in near-real time, and disconcerting detail. Picture cheery cartoon avatars identified in not just suburbs, not even just streets, but at specific addresses.

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