International stories and articles from our Flipboard mag.

MAY
31

With a Worm Looming, the BlueKeep Bug Isn’t Getting Patched Fast Enough

Two weeks have passed since Microsoft warned users about a critical vulnerability in a common Windows protocol that could enable a hacker to remotely take over machines without even a click from their owners, potentially allowing an infectious worm to rip through millions of PCs. That bug might be fading from the headlines, but it still lingers in at least 900,000 computers. And that vulnerable herd is getting Microsoft's patch at a glacial pace—as a wave of contagion that will likely soon hit all of them looms.

BlueKeep, as the bug has come to be known, is a hackable vulnerability in Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol, or RDP, that affects Windows 7 and earlier as well as older versions of Windows Server. The insecure code was spotted and reported by the UK's National Cybersecurity Center, and Microsoft released a patch on May 14. BlueKeep is so serious—rating 9.8 out of 10 in severity, according to Microsoft—that the company even pushed out a rare patch for Windows XP, which it doesn't otherwise support. Microsoft's director of security incident response compared the potential fallout to WannaCry, the North Korean ransomware worm that caused up to $8 billion in damage when it rampaged across the internet in 2017.

And yet the digital world has been slow to defend itself. When security researcher Rob Graham scanned the entire public internet for BlueKeep-vulnerable machines on Monday, using a tool he built, he found that 923,671 machines hadn't been patched, and were thus still exposed to any potential worm. When he ran the same scan on Wednesday evening at WIRED's request, he found that the number of vulnerable machines had dropped only slightly, to 922,225.

In other words, just one thousand machines appear to have been patched in 48 hours. If that very roughly estimated rate were to continue—and it’s just as likely to slow further over time as the initial alarm around BlueKeep wanes—it would take ten years for all the remaining vulnerable machines to be patched.

Countdown to Exploitation

Graham and other security industry observers expect a public BlueKeep hacking tool and a resulting worm to appear much, much sooner, potentially within days or weeks. "A worm will happen before these systems get patched," says Graham, the CEO of consulting firm Errata Security. In fact, he expects that only the appearance of that worm will substantially change the patching rate for the computers he's scanning. "Once there's a worm, it will cleanse the internet of these vulnerable machines. It will just burn like fire."

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MAY
25

Best dating sites 2019: Free apps and website memberships to help you find love this summer

It’s true what they say – there is someone out there for everyone.

With over eight million people in London alone, trying to find a prospective partner online can help to minimise the dating noise.

Nowadays, dating apps cater to pretty much every niche under the sun, so there’s no reason why you can’t find “the one” all from the comfort of your mobile phone. But for those just getting into the game of swiping left and right, how do you know where to start?

Here’s how the confusing virtual landscape of modern love looks today:

Badoo: to meet anyone

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Video dating app Badoo could help you to filter out misleading singles

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MAY
24

Quantum computing will change the digital world beyond recognition

Quantum computing may sound far off and futuristic it already exists and is slowly changing the way that information is processed.

At its most basic level, a quantum computer is able to process information as more than just one of two states.

At it’s most sexy level, a quantum computer could redefine everything we know about transferring data around the planet. It could hit unimaginable speeds that, when coupled with something like 5G, could deliver whatever you wanted instantly to your device.

Waiting for a decent signal or hoping you’ve got some storage space left on your phone wouldn’t matter – everything would be processed at light speed in the cloud and then delivered to your screen in an instant. No waiting, no buffering and no incompatibility.

For a regular, non-quantum computer, everything boils down to ‘bits’ – or a binary option of either 1 or 0. A quantum computer, on the other hand, boils down to something called ‘qubits’. These are smaller than bits because they themselves can store two pieces of information.

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MAY
23

Facebook, YouTube the Most Widely Used Platforms for US Adults

A new Pew survey shows the trends for which online platforms and messaging app get the most and least usage, but it also indicates growth is stagnant. And teens don't like Facebook much at all.

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Looking at data from an annual telephone poll conducted by Pew Research Center and quantified in tables here by our partners at Statista, it's easy to see that YouTube and Facebook far outpace the rest of the competition when it comes to daily use on both PCs and phones. Seventy-three percent of US adults claim they're checking YouTube daily; 69 percent have a daily date with Facebook.

While there's no data to show YouTube's growth (nor that of WhatsApp or SnapChat) prior to 2018, daily usage isn't really growing by leaps and bounds, especially since 2016. Facebook had 54 percent of people checking daily in 2012, took 4 years to gain 15 percent more, and has been relatively flat ever since. Instagram—owned by Facebook since 2012—had the best growth, going from 9 percent in 2012 to 37 percent this year. YouTube hasn't gained in usage in a year.

At least the trend is typically upward—except for Pinterest, SnapChat and WhatsApp, which all have dipped since 2018. Least used of the lot is the newest service to get asked about in the poll this year: Reddit, at 11 percent. The poll was conducted from January 9 to February 7, 2019.

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MAY
22

10 LinkedIn Tips (You've Probably Never Heard Of) From 10 Different Experts (Part 2)

Adrian Dayton

I had such great contributions as I was writing part 1 of this series, that I wanted to do an additional article with uncommon LinkedIn tips from various experts. Here are ten more things you can do to set yourself apart on LinkedIn:

(11) Don't Speak at Your Audience

"Don’t speak directly at your audience with posts and content. It’s more important to contribute to an already existing discussion and provide your thoughts. Sharing meaningful insight on existing commentary showcases that you are tuned into what’s going on in the world and passionate about the news and issues facing your target audience(s). One of the best things you can do on LinkedIn is provide value to your network, and by doing this, you will do just that."

-Kevin Dinino

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MAY
16

10 LinkedIn Tips (You've Probably Never Heard Of) From 10 Different Experts

Golf has Tiger Woods, basketball has Lebron James, and tennis has Roger Federer, but when it comes to the master of LinkedIn, there is not one single superstar that stands out. So instead of choosing just one expert to highlight, I've worked with my team to collect tips from ten LinkedIn experts from all across the interwebs. Here are some of the best LinkedIn tips we found, in no particular order:

(1) Beat the LinkedIn Algorithm

"By adding a photo and post text to your post, publishing, then clicking on the edit button to edit the post and add in the relevant external link to your post, this seems to be a way of getting good interaction on your posts as it confuses the Linkedin algorithm into thinking the link is an internal platform one."

- Sue Thompson

(2) Change Your "Connect" Button to "Follow"

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MAY
13

WhatsApp discloses vulnerability that allowed Israeli spyware to be installed on iPhones

A report from The Financial Times this afternoon details a vulnerability in WhatsApp that allowed attackers to inject Israeli spyware onto phones. The malicious code was developed by Israeli company NSO Group and transmitted by calling users via WhatsApp on iOS and Android.

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The malicious code could be transmitted even if a user did not answer the WhatsApp call, the report explains. In many cases, the call would disappear from call logs, so it’s possible that users could have been targeted and not even realize it.

Many details about the vulnerability remain unclear, but the report suggests that the loophole was open for several weeks. In a statement, WhatsApp said:

“This attack has all the hallmarks of a private company known to work with governments to deliver spyware that reportedly takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems,” the company said. “We have briefed a number of human rights organizations to share the information we can, and to work with them to notify civil society.”

According to the report, WhatsApp is too early into its own investigations of the attack to “estimate how many phones were targeted.” WhatsApp is used by over 1.5 billion worldwide and is owned by Facebook.

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MAY
12

Facebook defends itself against op-ed calling for its breakup

On Thursday, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes wrote an op-ed in The New York Times calling for the company to be broken up, saying that CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s “focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks,” and that he should be held accountable for his company’s mistakes. Now, Facebook has responded an op-ed of its own, saying that its size isn’t the real problem, and that its success as a platform shouldn’t be punished.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs and communications wrote the piece, and in it, he agrees with Hughs that “companies should be held accountable for their actions,” and that tech companies such as Facebook shouldn’t be the ones handling all of the “important social, political and ethical questions” for the internet.

The challenges ‘won’t evaporate by breaking up Facebook or any other big tech company’

But he notes that breaking Facebook up — as Hughes calls for — would be the wrong way to go. “The challenges he alludes to,” Clegg writes, “including election interference and privacy safeguards, won’t evaporate by breaking up Facebook or any other big tech company.” He goes on to reiterate many of Facebook’s regular talking points: that it’s been a net-positive for the world by connecting everyone, allowing businesses thrive and for people to raise lots of money for important causes around the world.

Zuckerberg also responded to the op-ed while in France, saying that “my main reaction was that what [Hughes is] proposing that we do isn’t going to do anything to help solve those issues.”

Notably, Clegg sidesteps what’s probably the op-ed’s main focus: Zuckerberg himself. Hughes notes that while the CEO is a good person, he holds far too much power at Facebook, and can’t be held accountable there — he calls the shots. “The government must hold Mark accountable,” Hughes wrotes.

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MAY
11

Microsoft Confirms Intent To Replace Windows 10 Passwords For 800 Million Users

24,594 viewsMay 11, 2019, 09:09am

Microsoft has very quietly confirmed the death of Windows 10 passwords this week. Microsoft's crypto, identity and authentication team group manager, Yogesh Mehta, has made an announcement that he says puts "the 800 million people who use Windows 10 one step closer to a world without passwords." Whether you love Microsoft or are a Windows 10 hater, I think most people will agree that passwords have long since reached their expiry date. By which I don't just mean in the sense of security policy baseline recommendations either, although Microsoft did also recently announce a change to Windows 10 passwords in that regard as well. Rather I am referring to the whole concept of the password as a secure authentication method.

Mehta confirmed that with the release of the forthcoming Windows 10 May update, Windows Hello becomes a fully FIDO2 certified authenticator. What does that mean, do I hear you ask? The FIDO Alliance, which stands for Fast Identity Online, is an industry body on a mission to solve the problem of passwords through the use of open standards to drive technologies that can securely replace them. FIDO2 is a set of such standards that enable logins backed by strong cryptographic security, and the certification in question applies to the use of Windows Hello for Windows 10 users.

Andrew Shikiar, the CMO of the FIDO Alliance, says that "Microsoft has been a preeminent advocate of FIDO Alliance's mission to move the world beyond passwords." Indeed, it has been making great strides to get rid of passwords since the introduction of Windows Hello, which enables Windows 10 users to sign into devices, back in 2015. So does the arrival of FIDO2 certification for Windows 10 mean that passwords are now dead? Not quite. The death of the password for Window 10 could yet be a lingering and painful one. "We encourage companies and software developers to adopt a strategy for achieving a passwordless future and start today by supporting password alternatives such as Windows Hello," Mehta says, before admitting that to arrive in this future requires "interoperable solutions that work across all industry platforms and browsers." I say painful, by the way, as there will no doubt be no shortage of stories about password security fails until the final nail is hammered into this authentication coffin.

Jake Moore, a security specialist at ESET, is welcoming of the news. "Considering the number of data breaches we have witnessed in the past few months," he says, "it is great to see companies taking the steps required to protect their users." However, he warns that passwords will "still be a feature in the background," and so users must be pushed to "adopt better password management and multi-factor authentication to protect their data in case their information gets into the wrong hands."

Original author: Winder
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MAY
06

How to compress images: A web designer's guide

The average speed of a modern internet connection would sound very futuristic to web masters of the past. Back in the early days of the web, the amount of transferred data was crucial, both in terms of time and cost, therefore everyone involved in hosting something online tried to make images smaller. 

Ironically, the problem has not gone away nowadays. Each time you visit a script-heavy web site (such as mainstream world news), it often pulls a dozen megabytes of JavaScript code, images, videos and whatnot. It may still be painfully slow and even cost a pretty penny for some mobile data users.

In this tutorial, we will find out the ways you can slim down bitmap files for the web. As long as it utilises the good old PNG and JPEG formats, we'll see how we can make them smaller without compromising quality, using some hot open source projects. In the end, we'll have substantially smaller files that will still look good but require less time and data to get rendered in users' web browsers. 

Read on to dive into the details. First, a quick note on software. All the tools mentioned here are open source – jump to the bottom for a guide to how to get the software you need.

Choose the right format

It may sound trivial to still be harking on about file size, yet there are enough examples where an image is either too massive without any purpose or looks terrible despite being small. To avoid such mistakes, choose a format to save or convert an image wisely. Using JPEG implies breaking an image into tiles of 8x8 pixels, where each tile gets compressed. The level of compression depends on the user (it's that slider when you save an image) but typically JPEG allows for 10:1 file size gain with an acceptable loss in quality. 

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MAY
05

Meet the 10-year-old coder grabbing the attention of Google, Microsoft and Michelle Obama

Scroll through Samaira Mehta's Instagram and you'll see that she is a lot like other kids her age. She posts about having a lemonade stand, going swimming and doing the "In My Feelings" dance challenge.

But she also stands out from other 10-year-olds — Mehta is CEO, founder and inventor of CoderBunnyz, a board game that teaches players as young as 4 basic coding concepts. Players draw and move their bunny piece along the board with the goal of eating carrots and hopping to their final destination.

"CoderBunnyz will basically teach you all the concepts you ever need in computer programming," Mehta tells CNBC Make It. "There's the very basic concepts like sequencing and conditionals to more advanced concepts like loops, functions, stack, queue, lists, parallelism, inheritance and many others."

Mehta says she first conceptualized the board game when she was "about 6½, maybe 7," after her father, an engineer who serves as an official advisor for the company, started teaching her how to code. As she researched learning materials for first-time coders, Mehta noticed there was an opening in the market for a product that helped young people pick up programming.

Samaira Mehta

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MAY
02

A 21-year-old YouTuber faked an 8-day vacation all over Europe and found 'it is so easy to be deceitful online'

Instagram pranks are becoming a popular trend on social media. One YouTuber to take on the trend earlier this year was 21-year-old George Mason.

The London-based vlogger used his photo editing skills to trick his Instagram followers into thinking he went on an eight-day vacation across five European countries. He eventually revealed the prank in a YouTube video titled: "I FAKED going on HOLIDAY for a whole WEEK *PHOTOSHOPPING MY INSTAGRAM* PRANK."

The video has racked up over seven million views at the time of writing (it was uploaded in January), and is an earlier example of the photo-editing trend that's started taking over social media.

Mason told INSIDER that the idea was born out of his love/hate relationship with social media

"Social media is great in the fact that you can connect with so many people that you wouldn't have the chance to without it," he told INSIDER. "But there's this bad side of it where it is so easy to be deceitful online."

He says he noticed articles about influencers faking their lavish lifestyles and models Photoshopping their photos, and he decided to see how far he could take it.

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MAY
02

How to steer clear of scam influencers

A few days ago the NZH reported that Facebook was suing a New Zealand company for allegedly selling likes, engagements and followers to the tune of $14million.

The business in question has since taken down its website. Add to this all the major global advertisers who have publicly demanded transparency over the past year, and the fact that that the global influencer industry has been busy sharpening its pencils with increased professionalism and, well, things have changed.

Read more:
Facebook sues Upper Hutt company for $14m over 'fake' likes

Plenty of people have called out 'fake following' in influencer marketing. It certainly was an issue, in the early days with rapid, raw unregulated growth. But the tide has turned, so much that the term 'influencer' is already out of date for some; preferring 'digital-first
talent' or 'content creators'.

And the whole issue of follower transparency is not nearly as bad as some might think. Consider this; would a business buy advertising in a media channel, say in a magazine or on TV, without knowing exactly who will see it? Well, plenty of marketers do every day,
the way readership and audience ratings are devised is a swiss cheese scenario, not due to any intent to mislead, I might add. There's just no precise data available, it is mostly extrapolated out of survey or 'representative' samples.

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MAY
01

4 things you should never buy refurbished (and 4 things you should)

Everyone likes to save money—it’s one of the biggest reasons why we spend so much time researching the best deals here at Reviewed. But sometimes that amazing product you’ve had your eye on—like a new Macbook or a massive flat-screen television—just never goes on sale. Or worse, when it does the savings are so minor, your dream device is still completely out of your price range. What then?

For many shoppers, buying items refurbished seems like the perfect solution. Products that are labeled “refurbished” are fully functional but they can’t technically be sold as “new” anymore, for reasons that vary by manufacturer. Because of this, they’re typically cheaper and you could save hundreds of dollars depending on your purchase.

Sounds good, right? Except if you’ve never shopped for refurbished items before, just the term itself might leave you feeling a bit squeamish. Some might wonder, since this product isn’t new and is being sold at a discount, does that mean it’s defective or something? Aside from questions about the integrity of a refurbished product, shoppers may also be used to buying things new and get weirded out at the thought of anything that might seem to be in less-than-stellar condition.

Worried that refurbished items seem like a deal that’s too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know before you start looking for refurbished items, including what the term itself really means and which products are worth the risk—plus which ones to avoid at all costs.

What does “refurbished” mean?

Credit: Filipovic018 / Getty Images

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APR
30

Why You Should Delete Your LinkedIn Account

A few years ago I was coaching a very successful young attorney about how to better use her LinkedIn account. As she scanned her LinkedIn inbox, she noticed that a message from a New York Times reporter. This reporter was looking for a comment on a major story about international trade, her specialty. The problem? The message was months old, and she was just now seeing it. My advice to her was this: delete your account.

Should everyone have a strong presence on social media? The answer is no. Of course, there are powerful reasons to have and maintain an online profile, but I've noticed some areas where social media usage becomes a detriment instead of a value for professionals. No matter how you choose to use your account, it's a good idea to take a look in the mirror and decide if you have the bandwidth to keep up with your account. If not, your LinkedIn account could be doing more harm than good for your business. If you fall into any of the following three categories, it may be time to consider whether to delete your account:

 (1) You Won't Commit to Maintaining Your Account

In the first example I shared, the successful young attorney created an account, but had turned off email notifications and never checked the account. It was as if she built a brand new beautiful mailbox, with a tube connected that dropped all the letters she received right into the ocean. If you don't have the time to and check it on a regular basis, it's not worth having the account. It's difficult to maintain real relationships unless you make it a priority to interact regularly with them.

Katrina Najm, Senior Manager, External Communications at PwC recommends cultivating a relationship-based approach with LinkedIn connections. She says: "executives I've worked with have said they've seen success when they simply share an article with a client or prospective client saying "thought you'd enjoy this". It's worked wonders for relationship-building and has helped with their brand." Adding value while checking in every once in a while is a great way to maintain relationships.

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APR
28

How to hide from the AI surveillance state with a color printout

AI-powered video technology is becoming ubiquitous, tracking our faces and bodies through stores, offices, and public spaces. In some countries the technology constitutes a powerful new layer of policing and government surveillance.

Fortunately, as some researchers from the Belgian university KU Leuven  have just shown, you can often hide from an AI video system with the aid of a simple color printout.

Who said that? The researchers showed that the image they designed can hide a whole person from an AI-powered computer-vision system. They demonstrated it on a popular open-source object recognition system called YoLo(v2).

Hide and seek: The trick could conceivably let crooks hide from security cameras, or offer dissidents a way to dodge government scrutiny. “What our work proves is that it is possible to bypass camera surveillance systems using adversarial patches,” says Wiebe Van Ranst, one of the authors.

Get lost: Van Ranst says it shouldn’t be too hard to adapt the approach to off-the-shelf video surveillance systems. “At the moment we also need to know which detector is in use. What we’d like to do in the future is generate a patch that works on multiple detectors at the same time,” he told MIT Technology Review. “If this works, chances are high that the patch will also work on the detector that is in use in the surveillance system.”

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APR
28

Inside the room where Facebook decides what 2.3bn people can and can't say

It’s around 9:30am at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, and things are getting heated. Or at least as heated as they ever seem to get in this land of free snacks and bright posters. The subject is nudity, and specifically female nipples: who should be allowed to show them? Should they be hidden from children? And what kind of backlash could these decisions provoke? 

One employee, dialing in from Dublin, proposes making an exception to Facebook’s no-nipples policy for indigenous peoples whose traditional clothing leaves their chests uncovered. But colleagues immediately raise doubts, objecting that this could single out non-white people and questioning the wisdom of Facebook deciding...

Original author: Laurence
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APR
20

Social media influencer plotted to take internet domain at gunpoint. It didn't end well

The intruder entered a victim's home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, carrying a cell phone, a stolen gun and a Taser. He was wearing pantyhose on his head, a hat and dark sunglasses, court documents show.

But things did not go as planned.

Adams, 26, founded a social media company called "State Snaps" four years ago. The company operates on various social media platforms, including Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, court documents said.

"At one time, Adams had over a million followers on his social media sites, which mostly contained images and videos of young adults engaged in crude behavior, drunkenness and nudity," court documents said.

His followers often used the slogan "Do it for state" when posting videos and images. So, Adams tried to purchase the internet domain "doitforstate.com" from a Cedar Rapids resident who owned it, court records said. But the owner did not want to part with it.

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MAR
12

Google Quietly Releases Its Hotel Booking Destination With Potentially Huge Implications

In a span of just a few months, Google’s threat in booking travel is looming even larger. Indeed, Skift said last October Google’s new hotel search is presenting a greater threat to booking rivals. Now the tech giant has added a full-fledged destination site for hotels, without any major fanfare, and has potential implications for booking sites, as well as Airbnb, on the lines of what it has done with its already very-popular Google Flights.

Richard Holden, Google’s vice president of product management, travel, wrote about the new features in Google Flights and Hotels in a blog published late last week, and quietly slipped in a development we have been waiting for a year or so now, the full-fledged site for hotel meta search site and booking engine.

Once the users goes to Google’s hotel site and selects a hotel, a “Book a room” button is very prominent. When the user selects one of the online travel agency or other metasearch advertisers, the traveler navigates to the third-party site for booking. But there is often an option to book right on Google for Travelocity or Agoda, for example.

In an earlier blog, Eric Zimmerman, Google’s director of travel product management said, “We’re evolving the way our hotel search works on smartphones to help users explore options and make decisions on their smallest screens. The new hotel search experience includes better price filtering, easier-to-find amenity information and the ability to book right from Google.”

Thus, if you’re going to Miami at the end of March, and there are over 300 hotel results for your search, you can now find the right hotel for your trip by applying a new “Deals” filter. This filter, said Holden, “uses machine learning to highlight hotels where one or more of our partners offer rates that are significantly lower than the usual price for that hotel or similar hotels nearby.”

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MAR
11

China's authorities propose to keep minors out of live streaming

China is getting serious about the way live streaming videos affect tens of millions of youngsters, so much so a top authority has proposed to tighten restrictions on underage use.

According to a report from the China Youth Daily, the Communist Party-controlled All Youth Federation recently submitted a proposal during the once-a-year parliamentary session, urging the country to introduce rules for protecting minors online and considers banning those under the age of 18 from hosting live videos.

The suggestion came months after China’s official media slammed video apps for letting content featuring teen moms to run rampant. Kuaishou and ByteDance’s Huoshan, the two video services ensnarled, subsequently apologized and pulled what the paper called “vulgar” and “harmful” videos promoting teen pregnancies.

But authorities concede verbal warnings aren’t enough, for the stakes have grown high for young users and society. For one, the live video format may allow illegal content to more easily fall through the cracks. Young individuals are also more susceptible to scams and may be duped into rewarding streaming hosts big bucks by stealing from their parents.

Aside from blocking minors from being live hosts, the youth union also called for clearer rules around minors’ use of live streaming apps, which can feature everything from esports competitions and makeup tutorials to seductive dances and violent acts. It added that these platforms should allow parents to monitor children’s activity, and any in-app monetary transactions, such as virtual gifting, must require real-name checks. Apps should also get better at sterilizing content, suggested the youth federation.

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