WUHAN Update and Twitter

Grind for January 29th
“It’s a funny thing that when a man hasn’t anything on earth to worry about, he goes off and gets married.”

– Robert Frost

Too Little Too Late

The Headline

Wuhan coronavirus continues to spread

The Grind

Health experts around the globe are worried that it may be impossible to stop the spread of a pneumonia-causing coronavirus that was first detected in China’s Wuhan province in December.

As I noted two days ago, at least one case of the illness was detected in the United States this month. The virus has also spread to Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Macao, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

China has reported 560 cases of the disease and 17 deaths, but analysts believe the actual number of cases is closer to 4,000.

Several countries have implemented screening procedures at airports, but the chances of identifying sick passengers amid the Lunar New Year travel rush is like finding a needle in a haystack.

“It is generally considered that entry screening offers little benefit, while requiring considerable resources,” stated the World Health Organization.

“Airport screenings have been historically poor methods to identify new cases,” adds Josh Michaud, an expert in global health policy.

The Details

In the meantime, authorities in Wuhan have quarantined the entire city and are using wartime emergency measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Public transported is closed, highways into the city are blocked, and soldiers are keeping a close watch on train stations. Residents, who were given less than eight hours to prepare for the quarantine, have been told to watch their neighbors for signs of illness.

Doctors from all over China have been asked to come to Wuhan to help treat patients (hundreds of which have been turned away due to lack of space), and the city recently announced the addition of 3,400 hospital beds.

Critics have noted that the virus reached other parts of China before the quarantine, but no other cities are sealed off. Wuhan has a population of more than 11 million.

This Stops Now

The Headline

AI company that works with the FBI criticized for stealing photos from Twitter and Facebook

The Grind

Artificial intelligence company Clearview has taken more than three billion photos from Facebook and Twitter.

These photos are shared with hundreds of law enforcement agencies throughout the world, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, to help them identify suspects.

The Details

In a cease-and-desist letter, Twitter accused Clearview of violating its policies and asked the company to delete all data collected from Twitter and Facebook.

As stated in Twitter’s developer agreement policy:

“Information derived from Twitter content may not be used by, or knowingly displayed, distributed, or otherwise made available to any public-sector entity for surveillance purposes.”

Clearview’s behavior is “extremely troubling,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). “Americans have a right to know whether their personal photos are secretly being sucked into a private facial-recognition database.”

In the meantime, the European Commission is considering a five-year ban on the use of facial recognition in public areas, apparently to give lawmakers time to draft desperately-needed privacy laws.

Did you know… Staying awake for 17 hours is the same for your body as drinking 2 glasses of wine.