Mobility data shows Britons are flocking to parks to socialise in the warm weather as lockdown eases


New mobility data shows that Britons are flocking to parks to socialise in the scorching weather as lockdown restrictions are eased.

More Britons are socialising in parks and other public spaces now than across the whole of lockdown, new mobility data shows.

There has been an 136% increase in the amount of people gathering in parks when compared to a baseline figure from before lockdown, according to Google’s mobility data.

There has been an 136% increase of the amount of people socialising in parks this month, according to Google’s mobility data 

More Britons are socialising in parks and other public spaces now than across the whole of lockdown, the data shows. Pictured, people in Victoria Park in east London on May 30

More Britons are socialising in parks and other public spaces now than across the whole of lockdown, the data shows. Pictured, people in Victoria Park in east London on May 30

Police chiefs have attempted to stamp out mass flouting before the easing of lockdown measures by threatening to impose fines. Pictured, men playing with a football in Victoria Park, east London

Police chiefs have attempted to stamp out mass flouting before the easing of lockdown measures by threatening to impose fines. Pictured, men playing with a football in Victoria Park, east London

This includes people gathering in other public spaces, including marinas, public beaches and public gardens.

This month has seen temperatures reaching almost 86F (30C) with only an average of 1.25in (31.8mm) of rain falling across the UK so far month, setting it up to be the driest May in 124 years.

Places of residence have also seen a 26% increase in mobility during lockdown, but most people are socialising in parks as scorching weather hits the UK this month.

This is when compared to a baseline figure over a five-week period from January 3 until February 6. 

But there has been a huge decline in people visiting transport hubs, shops and workplaces since the Government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 23.  

This comes after Boris Johnson announced that from Monday, groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet in public spaces, including parks.

Britons will even be allowed to meet for barbecues under the new lockdown easing measures, meaning parks will remain one of the only spaces for safe gatherings.

An Apple mobility tracker has also shown a huge rise in the amount of travel since the beginning of lockdown.   

Apple mobility tracker also shows a surge in the amount of travel across the UK as the lockdown begins to be eased

Apple mobility tracker also shows a surge in the amount of travel across the UK as the lockdown begins to be eased 

Masses of people are gathering in parks (pictured, Victoria Park, east London) after Boris Johnson announced that, from Monday, groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet in public spaces, including parks

Masses of people are gathering in parks (pictured, Victoria Park, east London) after Boris Johnson announced that, from Monday, groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet in public spaces, including parks

But sun-seekers have been warned not to take advantage of the easing of lockdown, as Britons have been photographed out in masses this weekend. Pictured, people enjoy the warm weather on bikes in Fields park, London.

But sun-seekers have been warned not to take advantage of the easing of lockdown, as Britons have been photographed out in masses this weekend. Pictured, people enjoy the warm weather on bikes in Fields park, London.

The figures remain around 20% below the baseline average, as Britons were urged to avoid public transport amid lockdown, but the number of people driving has hugely increased as lockdown easing measures are announced. 

The number of people walking is still 29% below the baseline but has hugely increased across the last month, as Britons are given more freedom amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Restless Britons were photographed gathering in parks as the baking temperatures climbed to highs of 82F (28C).

Scorching temperatures hit highs of 81.5F (27.5C) in Kinlochewe in the Scottish Highlands, which basked in warmer weather than Morocco. 

London’s Heathrow recorded highs of 78F (25.7C) and Bude in Cornwall saw the mercury climb to 77F (25.3C). 

But sun-seekers have been warned not to take advantage of the gradual easing of lockdown, as Britons have been photographed out in masses this weekend. 

The current lockdown allows the public to travel to beauty spots to sunbathe with members of their household, or to meet one person from another household at a two-metre distance. 

Police chiefs were braced for mass flouting and warned their officers faced an impossible situation of trying to force the public to comply with existing rules while knowing many of these curbs are set to be dropped on Monday. 

Merseyside Police warned that people would be fined if they turned up to parks and beaches in large groups across the city.

Superintendent Jonathan Davies said: ‘I know people will be tempted to get outside. This is a reminder that the rules on spending time with only one other person from another household remains in place this weekend.’  

The message from police to stick to the current rules was bolstered by the interventions from the Sage scientists, who were squeamish about the lockdown being lifted too fast.

Prof Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and a Sage member, said Britain could not afford to lose control of the virus.

He told BBC Radio 4 this morning: ‘We really can’t go back to a situation where we’ve got the numbers of cases and deaths we’ve had in the past.’

Mobility data shows Britons are flocking to parks to socialise in the warm weather as lockdown eases


New mobility data shows that Britons are flocking to parks to socialise in the scorching weather as lockdown restrictions are eased.

More Britons are socialising in parks and other public spaces now than across the whole of lockdown, new mobility data shows.

There has been an 136% increase in the amount of people gathering in parks when compared to a baseline figure from before lockdown, according to Google’s mobility data.

There has been an 136% increase of the amount of people socialising in parks this month, according to Google’s mobility data 

More Britons are socialising in parks and other public spaces now than across the whole of lockdown, the data shows. Pictured, people in Victoria Park in east London on May 30

More Britons are socialising in parks and other public spaces now than across the whole of lockdown, the data shows. Pictured, people in Victoria Park in east London on May 30

Police chiefs have attempted to stamp out mass flouting before the easing of lockdown measures by threatening to impose fines. Pictured, men playing with a football in Victoria Park, east London

Police chiefs have attempted to stamp out mass flouting before the easing of lockdown measures by threatening to impose fines. Pictured, men playing with a football in Victoria Park, east London

This includes people gathering in other public spaces, including marinas, public beaches and public gardens.

This month has seen temperatures reaching almost 86F (30C) with only an average of 1.25in (31.8mm) of rain falling across the UK so far month, setting it up to be the driest May in 124 years.

Places of residence have also seen a 26% increase in mobility during lockdown, but most people are socialising in parks as scorching weather hits the UK this month.

This is when compared to a baseline figure over a five-week period from January 3 until February 6. 

But there has been a huge decline in people visiting transport hubs, shops and workplaces since the Government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 23.  

This comes after Boris Johnson announced that from Monday, groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet in public spaces, including parks.

Britons will even be allowed to meet for barbecues under the new lockdown easing measures, meaning parks will remain one of the only spaces for safe gatherings.

An Apple mobility tracker has also shown a huge rise in the amount of travel since the beginning of lockdown.   

Apple mobility tracker also shows a surge in the amount of travel across the UK as the lockdown begins to be eased

Apple mobility tracker also shows a surge in the amount of travel across the UK as the lockdown begins to be eased 

Masses of people are gathering in parks (pictured, Victoria Park, east London) after Boris Johnson announced that, from Monday, groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet in public spaces, including parks

Masses of people are gathering in parks (pictured, Victoria Park, east London) after Boris Johnson announced that, from Monday, groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet in public spaces, including parks

But sun-seekers have been warned not to take advantage of the easing of lockdown, as Britons have been photographed out in masses this weekend. Pictured, people enjoy the warm weather on bikes in Fields park, London.

But sun-seekers have been warned not to take advantage of the easing of lockdown, as Britons have been photographed out in masses this weekend. Pictured, people enjoy the warm weather on bikes in Fields park, London.

The figures remain around 20% below the baseline average, as Britons were urged to avoid public transport amid lockdown, but the number of people driving has hugely increased as lockdown easing measures are announced. 

The number of people walking is still 29% below the baseline but has hugely increased across the last month, as Britons are given more freedom amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Restless Britons were photographed gathering in parks as the baking temperatures climbed to highs of 82F (28C).

Scorching temperatures hit highs of 81.5F (27.5C) in Kinlochewe in the Scottish Highlands, which basked in warmer weather than Morocco. 

London’s Heathrow recorded highs of 78F (25.7C) and Bude in Cornwall saw the mercury climb to 77F (25.3C). 

But sun-seekers have been warned not to take advantage of the gradual easing of lockdown, as Britons have been photographed out in masses this weekend. 

The current lockdown allows the public to travel to beauty spots to sunbathe with members of their household, or to meet one person from another household at a two-metre distance. 

Police chiefs were braced for mass flouting and warned their officers faced an impossible situation of trying to force the public to comply with existing rules while knowing many of these curbs are set to be dropped on Monday. 

Merseyside Police warned that people would be fined if they turned up to parks and beaches in large groups across the city.

Superintendent Jonathan Davies said: ‘I know people will be tempted to get outside. This is a reminder that the rules on spending time with only one other person from another household remains in place this weekend.’  

The message from police to stick to the current rules was bolstered by the interventions from the Sage scientists, who were squeamish about the lockdown being lifted too fast.

Prof Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and a Sage member, said Britain could not afford to lose control of the virus.

He told BBC Radio 4 this morning: ‘We really can’t go back to a situation where we’ve got the numbers of cases and deaths we’ve had in the past.’

Mark Zuckerberg explains why Facebook left up Trump’s controversial ‘looting and shooting’ post


Mark Zuckerberg has revealed why Facebook chose to keep President Trump’s controversial ‘looting leads to shooting’ post up on its site despite Twitter hiding the same update because it ‘glorified violence’. 

In a status update shared Friday night, Zuckerberg said that the Commander-in-chief’s post included a reference to the National Guard and Facebook users therefore had a right to know ‘if the government was planning to deploy force’.  

Trump initially shared the post to both Twitter and Facebook shortly before 1am Friday, following a third night of violent protests in Minnesota over the death of black man George Floyd. 

The post read in full: ‘I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right. 

‘These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!’

Trump shared a controversial post to Twitter and Facebook Friday taking aim at 'THUGS' violently demonstrating the death of black man George Floyd. 'When the looting starts, the shooting starts,' the Commander-in-chief wrote

Mark Zuckerberg has revealed why Facebook chose to keep President Trump’s controversial ‘looting leads to shooting’ post up on its site despite Twitter hiding the same update because it ‘glorified violence’

In a status update shared Friday night, Zuckerberg said that the Commander-in-chief's post included a reference to the National Guard and Facebook users therefore had a right to know 'if the government was planning to deploy force'

 In a status update shared Friday night, Zuckerberg said that the Commander-in-chief’s post included a reference to the National Guard and Facebook users therefore had a right to know ‘if the government was planning to deploy force’

Trump initially posted this message to Twitter and Facebook just before 1am on Friday

Trump initially posted this message to Twitter and Facebook just before 1am on Friday

Within hours, Twitter had hidden the post behind a warning which accused the tweet of 'violating rules about glorifying violence'. Facebook, meanwhile, left the post up without any disclaimers

Within hours, Twitter had hidden the post behind a warning which accused the tweet of ‘violating rules about glorifying violence’. Facebook, meanwhile, left the post up without any disclaimers  

Within hours Twitter had hidden the post behind a warning to users, which stated: ‘This Tweet violated Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to be accessible’. 

However, Facebook left Trump’s post up without any disclaimers, generating controversy. 

Zuckerberg finally spoke out late Friday evening, stating: ‘I’ve been struggling with how to respond to the President’s tweets and posts all day. Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric… But I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression.’

He continued: ‘I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies. We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to evaluate whether it violated our policies.’

‘We decided to leave it up because the National Guard references meant we read it as a warning about state action, and we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.’

The Facebook CEO then explained that Trump later shared a follow-up which ‘explicitly discouraged violence’.

That post, shared by the Commander-in-chief on Friday afternoon, read: ‘Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot.

‘I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means. It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!’

Trump defended his 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' posts during a press conference on Friday

 Trump defended his ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ posts during a press conference on Friday

Trump's comment on the Minneapolis protests (pictured  Thursday night) that 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' is now hidden by a warning that it violated Twitter's rules - but the message can be bypassed and the tweet remains live

Trump’s comment on the Minneapolis protests (pictured  Thursday night) that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ is now hidden by a warning that it violated Twitter’s rules – but the message can be bypassed and the tweet remains live

Meanwhile, Trump defended his ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ posts during a press conference on Friday. 

Many had complained that the post not only glorified violence, but that it was grounded in racist origins. 

‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts’ is a phrase that was first uttered in 1967 Miami’s then-police chief, who was accused of using racist tactics to patrol black neighborhoods.

But Trump said he was unaware of that claim.   

‘But I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know where it originated,’ he stated Friday.  

‘It’s very important that we have peaceful protesters and support the rights for peaceful protesters,’ he added. 

‘We can’t allow a situation like what happened in Minneapolis to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos and we understand that very well.’  

Protesters set fires at the 3rd Precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department Thursday night. President Trump reacted to the protests with a controversial tweet at 1 a.m. Friday

Protesters set fires at the 3rd Precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department Thursday night. President Trump reacted to the protests with a controversial tweet at 1 a.m. Friday  

Law enforcement officers were photographed in the early hours Friday as fires burned in Minneapolis after a night of protests over the death of George Floyd

Law enforcement officers were photographed in the early hours Friday as fires burned in Minneapolis after a night of protests over the death of George Floyd 

What is Donald Trump’s executive order targeting social media sites? 

Donald Trump signed an order on Thursday seeking to make social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook liable for the content posted by their users. 

If enforced, the order would overturn decades of precedent by treating the websites as ‘publishers’ which could be sued for user-generated content. 

It could open them up to a flood of lawsuits from anyone who claims to be harmed by content posted online. 

Currently, the sites are protected by a law known as Section 230 which shields them from liability.  

Section 230 also allows social platforms to moderate their services by removing posts that, for instance, are obscene or violate the services’ own standards, so long as they are acting in ‘good faith.’

The author of a book about Section 230 said social media firms have ‘based their business models on being large platforms for user content’, saying they would not ‘exist in their current forms’ without the legislation.   

However, critics argue that Section 230 gives internet companies a free pass on things like hate speech and content that supports terror organizations.  

Trump signed the order after Twitter placed fact-check warnings on two of his tweets about mail-in voting on Tuesday. 

Republican senator Josh Hawley said the ‘censorship’ was relevant to Trump’s proposal, because websites which ‘editorialize and censor’ as Twitter allegedly did should be ‘treated like traditional publishers’ in law.  

However, critics saw Trump’s order as an act of political revenge against websites which he has long accused of political bias. 

The American Civil Liberties Union called Trump’s order ‘a blatant and unconstitutional threat to punish social media companies that displease the president.’  

Twitter said the order was a political move which attacked free speech, while Facebook said the measure would ‘encourage platforms to censor anything that might offend anyone’. 

The controversy came after Trump signed an Executive Order on Thursday ‘Preventing Online Censorship’ – with the Commander-in-chief accusing social media giants of holding ‘anti-conservative bias’.

The Order could open Twitter, Facebook and Google up to lawsuits by diluting the legal protection which stops them from being liable for posts on their platforms, and which also allows them to moderate content. 

Trump’s Executive Order said websites such as Twitter and Facebook ‘wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events’. Twitter said the order was a political move which attacked free speech.  

However, Trump also praised Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for his criticism of Twitter’s decision to fact-check the tweets. ‘CEO Mark Zuckerberg is today criticizing Twitter,’ Trump wrote before sharing Zuckerberg’s statement.  

‘We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this,’ Zuckerberg said in an interview with Fox News.

‘I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,’ he added.

‘Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.’   

Zuckerberg has been accused by Democrats of pandering to the President with his comments about censorship so that Facebook will not be targeted. 

‘Zuckerberg went on Fox News—a hate-for-profit machine that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracy theorists—to talk about how social media platforms should essentially allow politicians to lie without consequences. This is eroding our democracy,’ said Senator Elizabeth Warren. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hit harder saying that Trump was using the feud as a distraction from the coronavirus outbreak. 

‘It’s outrageous, but it’s an outrageous situation,’ Pelosi said at a Thursday press conference. ‘While Twitter is putting up its fact-check under what the president says about voting, it still won’t take off the misrepresentations the president’s putting out there.’

‘Facebook, all of them, they’re all about making money,’ she said. ‘Their business model is to make money at the expense of the truth and the facts that they know. And they defend, they defend that.’     

President Trump shared a comment from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday as he hit out at Twitter

President Trump shared a comment from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday as he hit out at Twitter

Mark Zuckerberg explains why Facebook left up Trump’s controversial ‘looting and shooting’ post


Mark Zuckerberg has revealed why Facebook chose to keep President Trump’s controversial ‘looting leads to shooting’ post up on its site despite Twitter hiding the same update because it ‘glorified violence’. 

In a status update shared Friday night, Zuckerberg said that the Commander-in-chief’s post included a reference to the National Guard and Facebook users therefore had a right to know ‘if the government was planning to deploy force’.  

Trump initially shared the post to both Twitter and Facebook shortly before 1am Friday, following a third night of violent protests in Minnesota over the death of black man George Floyd. 

The post read in full: ‘I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right. 

‘These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!’

Trump shared a controversial post to Twitter and Facebook Friday taking aim at 'THUGS' violently demonstrating the death of black man George Floyd. 'When the looting starts, the shooting starts,' the Commander-in-chief wrote

Mark Zuckerberg has revealed why Facebook chose to keep President Trump’s controversial ‘looting leads to shooting’ post up on its site despite Twitter hiding the same update because it ‘glorified violence’

In a status update shared Friday night, Zuckerberg said that the Commander-in-chief's post included a reference to the National Guard and Facebook users therefore had a right to know 'if the government was planning to deploy force'

 In a status update shared Friday night, Zuckerberg said that the Commander-in-chief’s post included a reference to the National Guard and Facebook users therefore had a right to know ‘if the government was planning to deploy force’

Trump initially posted this message to Twitter and Facebook just before 1am on Friday

Trump initially posted this message to Twitter and Facebook just before 1am on Friday

Within hours, Twitter had hidden the post behind a warning which accused the tweet of 'violating rules about glorifying violence'. Facebook, meanwhile, left the post up without any disclaimers

Within hours, Twitter had hidden the post behind a warning which accused the tweet of ‘violating rules about glorifying violence’. Facebook, meanwhile, left the post up without any disclaimers  

Within hours Twitter had hidden the post behind a warning to users, which stated: ‘This Tweet violated Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to be accessible’. 

However, Facebook left Trump’s post up without any disclaimers, generating controversy. 

Zuckerberg finally spoke out late Friday evening, stating: ‘I’ve been struggling with how to respond to the President’s tweets and posts all day. Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric… But I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression.’

He continued: ‘I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies. We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to evaluate whether it violated our policies.’

‘We decided to leave it up because the National Guard references meant we read it as a warning about state action, and we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.’

The Facebook CEO then explained that Trump later shared a follow-up which ‘explicitly discouraged violence’.

That post, shared by the Commander-in-chief on Friday afternoon, read: ‘Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot.

‘I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means. It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!’

Trump defended his 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' posts during a press conference on Friday

 Trump defended his ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ posts during a press conference on Friday

Trump's comment on the Minneapolis protests (pictured  Thursday night) that 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' is now hidden by a warning that it violated Twitter's rules - but the message can be bypassed and the tweet remains live

Trump’s comment on the Minneapolis protests (pictured  Thursday night) that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ is now hidden by a warning that it violated Twitter’s rules – but the message can be bypassed and the tweet remains live

Meanwhile, Trump defended his ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ posts during a press conference on Friday. 

Many had complained that the post not only glorified violence, but that it was grounded in racist origins. 

‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts’ is a phrase that was first uttered in 1967 Miami’s then-police chief, who was accused of using racist tactics to patrol black neighborhoods.

But Trump said he was unaware of that claim.   

‘But I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know where it originated,’ he stated Friday.  

‘It’s very important that we have peaceful protesters and support the rights for peaceful protesters,’ he added. 

‘We can’t allow a situation like what happened in Minneapolis to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos and we understand that very well.’  

Protesters set fires at the 3rd Precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department Thursday night. President Trump reacted to the protests with a controversial tweet at 1 a.m. Friday

Protesters set fires at the 3rd Precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department Thursday night. President Trump reacted to the protests with a controversial tweet at 1 a.m. Friday  

Law enforcement officers were photographed in the early hours Friday as fires burned in Minneapolis after a night of protests over the death of George Floyd

Law enforcement officers were photographed in the early hours Friday as fires burned in Minneapolis after a night of protests over the death of George Floyd 

What is Donald Trump’s executive order targeting social media sites? 

Donald Trump signed an order on Thursday seeking to make social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook liable for the content posted by their users. 

If enforced, the order would overturn decades of precedent by treating the websites as ‘publishers’ which could be sued for user-generated content. 

It could open them up to a flood of lawsuits from anyone who claims to be harmed by content posted online. 

Currently, the sites are protected by a law known as Section 230 which shields them from liability.  

Section 230 also allows social platforms to moderate their services by removing posts that, for instance, are obscene or violate the services’ own standards, so long as they are acting in ‘good faith.’

The author of a book about Section 230 said social media firms have ‘based their business models on being large platforms for user content’, saying they would not ‘exist in their current forms’ without the legislation.   

However, critics argue that Section 230 gives internet companies a free pass on things like hate speech and content that supports terror organizations.  

Trump signed the order after Twitter placed fact-check warnings on two of his tweets about mail-in voting on Tuesday. 

Republican senator Josh Hawley said the ‘censorship’ was relevant to Trump’s proposal, because websites which ‘editorialize and censor’ as Twitter allegedly did should be ‘treated like traditional publishers’ in law.  

However, critics saw Trump’s order as an act of political revenge against websites which he has long accused of political bias. 

The American Civil Liberties Union called Trump’s order ‘a blatant and unconstitutional threat to punish social media companies that displease the president.’  

Twitter said the order was a political move which attacked free speech, while Facebook said the measure would ‘encourage platforms to censor anything that might offend anyone’. 

The controversy came after Trump signed an Executive Order on Thursday ‘Preventing Online Censorship’ – with the Commander-in-chief accusing social media giants of holding ‘anti-conservative bias’.

The Order could open Twitter, Facebook and Google up to lawsuits by diluting the legal protection which stops them from being liable for posts on their platforms, and which also allows them to moderate content. 

Trump’s Executive Order said websites such as Twitter and Facebook ‘wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events’. Twitter said the order was a political move which attacked free speech.  

However, Trump also praised Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for his criticism of Twitter’s decision to fact-check the tweets. ‘CEO Mark Zuckerberg is today criticizing Twitter,’ Trump wrote before sharing Zuckerberg’s statement.  

‘We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this,’ Zuckerberg said in an interview with Fox News.

‘I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,’ he added.

‘Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.’   

Zuckerberg has been accused by Democrats of pandering to the President with his comments about censorship so that Facebook will not be targeted. 

‘Zuckerberg went on Fox News—a hate-for-profit machine that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracy theorists—to talk about how social media platforms should essentially allow politicians to lie without consequences. This is eroding our democracy,’ said Senator Elizabeth Warren. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hit harder saying that Trump was using the feud as a distraction from the coronavirus outbreak. 

‘It’s outrageous, but it’s an outrageous situation,’ Pelosi said at a Thursday press conference. ‘While Twitter is putting up its fact-check under what the president says about voting, it still won’t take off the misrepresentations the president’s putting out there.’

‘Facebook, all of them, they’re all about making money,’ she said. ‘Their business model is to make money at the expense of the truth and the facts that they know. And they defend, they defend that.’     

President Trump shared a comment from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday as he hit out at Twitter

President Trump shared a comment from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday as he hit out at Twitter

How ‘Zoom fatigue’ can lead to burnout and depression


If a day of video conferences is leaving you feeling more drained than when you actually went to work, you’re not alone. More and more people in the coronavirus era are suffering from a phenomenon known as ‘Zoom fatigue.’ 

Named after the popular video chatting platform, the term is used to describe the exhaustion that comes with participating in video conferences, whether it be on Zoom, Google Meet, or another application. 

Psychologists agree there are certain aspects of video chats that make them more difficult to handle than in-person conversations, and even if you are just catching up with loved ones on FaceTime, they can still be a stressor.  

Feeling drained: People are suffering from ‘Zoom fatigue’ — a type of mental exhaustion from video chats — while working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic 

The rising phenomenon has caught the attention of Gwyneth Paltrow, who has been relying on video conferencing amid the pandemic. In addition to having virtual meetings with her Goop staffers, she has been hosting a series of video interviews with wellness experts for her lifestyle website. 

Whether or not she is actually suffering from Zoom fatigue is unclear, but it’s certainly on her mind. Goop recently featured an interview with psychiatrist and INSEAD professor Gianpiero Petriglieri about the mental exhaustion that comes along with video chats.  

‘There is an aspect to communicating remotely—with video on—which has long been known to be more mentally taxing,’  he said. 

 Our brain has to make an extra effort to compensate for all those aspects of communication we lack

‘We see another person, and so we have the experience of presence, yet we lack all the body language, all the signals we are used to processing unconsciously. 

‘Our brain has to make an extra effort to compensate for all those aspects of communication we lack, and that’s tiring.’

Petriglieri explained being in the physical presence of another person can be reenergizing in a way that can’t really be replicated on a Zoom call. 

‘Another reason we find Zoom calls draining is because often our own video is on, and we can’t stop looking at it,’ he added. 

‘It makes us hyperaware of how we’re coming across. “Is that what I really look like?” The look of my neck. “Do I move my head like that all the time?” That’s a layer of self-consciousness that we don’t have when we’re in a conversation face-to-face.’ 

Celebrities aren't immune! Gwyneth Paltrow (top right) had Zoom fatigue on her mind after her lifestyle site Goop interviewed psychiatrist Gianpiero Petriglieri about the phenomenon

Celebrities aren’t immune! Gwyneth Paltrow (top right) had Zoom fatigue on her mind after her lifestyle site Goop interviewed psychiatrist Gianpiero Petriglieri about the phenomenon

The issue is only exacerbated when taking back-to-back Zoom calls with no reprieve in between.

And then there is the stress of the pandemic general. 

Whether recognized or not, there is a sense of loss that comes with only being able to see your family and friends during video chats. 

Zoom calls have become the only outlet for most of our relationships 

‘We are not just exhausted from Zoom calls or other video calls,’ Petriglieri said. ‘We’re exhausted from Zoom calls now, because those calls have become the only outlet for most of our relationships.’

In recent weeks, people have been taking to Twitter to share how Zoom fatigue has been affecting them.

‘I had back to back zoom calls today, and I’d just like to say Zoom fatigue is real. Holy smokes,’ one person wrote, while another asked: ‘Do I have to laugh when everyone else laughs in a Zoom meeting? #ZoomFatigue.’ 

‘Being an extrovert with zoom fatigue is weeeiiirrrrd,’ someone else tweeted, prompting agreement from another Twitter user. 

‘100000%. Like I love seeing my friends, but all I do for work is through Zoom and I’m EXHAUSTED,’ the person admitted. 

Hard to handle: People have been complaining about Zoom fatigue on Twitter in recent weeks

Hard to handle: People have been complaining about Zoom fatigue on Twitter in recent weeks 

Marissa Shuffler, a psychology professor at Clemson University who’s studied virtual work, told CBC News in Canada that Zoom fatigue is not addressed, it could lead to longterm health consequences, including burnout and depression.  

‘There’s decades of research on virtual work and some of the biggest issues really come up whenever we’re not doing a good job of matching our virtual tools…to our actual work demands, and that creates more stress,’ she said. 

Experts recommend combatting Zoom fatigue by being mindful of the goal of the conference. Does there have to be a video meeting? And how many people actually need to be involved? The less the better. 

HOW DO YOU COMBAT ZOOM FATIGUE? 

Laura Dudley, a behavior analyst at Northeastern University, has shared her tips for staving off Zoom fatigue:

  • Disconnect when you need to 
  • Schedule time in between virtual meetings 
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Have compassion for yourself and for others
  • Establish daily routines  

Source: [email protected]

If the conversation could be done over text or email, do that instead, and try to avoid scheduling video conferences back to back. 

‘If you really miss someone, give them a good old-fashioned phone call,’ Petriglieri. said. ‘Write them a letter. Because it’s so rare these days, a letter registers as a gesture of attention, of affection, and of intimacy in a way that jumping on Zoom or Skype or Hangouts is never going to register.’

Laura Dudley, a behavior analyst at Northeastern University, recently shared her top tips for combatting Zoom fatigue, saying people should disconnect when they need to.   

‘If you can, schedule time in between virtual meetings. Figure out what you need in that moment and do that,’ she advised. ‘If you need time alone, take it. If you need time with a real, live person, seek out the opportunity while keeping safe. If you just need to move around a bit, do that.’

She also recommends practicing mindfulness through meditation or yoga, having compassion for yourself and others during this difficult time, and establishing daily routines.     

‘Your day should be different from your evening, and your weekday should be different from your weekend,’ she said. 

Google releases new AR tool for social distancing


Google unveils new Sodar augmented reality tool that creates a six-foot ring around you on your phone screen to help you follow social distancing rules

  • The ‘Sodar’ tool superimposes a white ring around the user with a 6.5-foot radius
  • This will allow users to more accurately judge who is entering their person space
  • The six-foot zone between people is vital to stop the coronavirus from spreading 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Google has released a new augmented reality (AR) feature that helps its users follow social distancing rules during the coronavirus pandemic.

The free ‘Sodar’ tool superimposes an AR ring with a two metre radius around the user to let them know other people in public places are keeping their distance.

As the ring is AR, it moves whenever the user moves their phone to keep a constant protective barrier from other people and help reduce the coronavirus infection rate.

Two metres, or about 6.5 foot, is the UK government’s recommended distance between two people out in public to help curb rates of COVID-19. 

Google hopes Sodar – an abbreviation of ‘social’ and ‘radar’ – will provide a more accurate way for users to maintain distancing guidelines.

Scroll down for video 

The new tool visualises a two metre radius around the user and their phone to help people comply with governments’ social distancing guidelines

The new app, which is only available on Chrome for Google’s Android operating system, uses ‘WebXR’ – Google’s software blueprint for immersive experiences.

‘The “X” in XR stands for anything in the spectrum of immersive experiences, according to tech giant, said Brandon Jones, developer at Google and WebXR specification editor.

‘WebXR is a web standard, developed in collaboration with Mozilla and Microsoft, among others.

Two metres, or around six foot, is the recommended distance between  two people to help reduce the infection rate

Two metres, or around six foot, is the recommended distance between  two people to help reduce the infection rate 

‘It’s also a fairly recent one, so some browsers have implemented it on various devices earlier than others.’

Sodar isn’t an app, meaning it can’t be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

Instead, Android users have to visit the dedicated Sodar website in a browser and click the green ‘launch’ button to start the AR experience. 

Alternatively, Android users can start using the free tool by scanning a QR code on the desktop version of the Sodar site.

‘With a supported device, scan the QR code with your phone camera to take you to the mobile site,’ the site says.  

Google is yet to confirm to MailOnline which versions of its Android software support the tool. 

Some Android phones also won’t have a QR code scanner built into their camera and will have to download one from the app store. 

To launch Sodar, Android users need to visit the dedicated webpage - sodar.withgoogle.com - using Chrome web browser

To launch Sodar, Android users need to visit the dedicated webpage – sodar.withgoogle.com – using Chrome web browser

One of Google’s rivals in augmented reality is iPhone maker Apple, which is reportedly working on a pair of AR glasses, rumoured to be released next year. 

The hardware, called ‘Apple Glass’, will allegedly support 5G networks, according to leaker and tech analyst Jon Prosser.

The AR glasses, simply called ‘Apple Glasses’, are not sunglasses but normal prescription glasses that display an interface on the inside of the lens.

Anyone facing an Apple Glasses-wearing user will not be able to see the AR display, which will overlay digital images over the user’s real-life surroundings.  

According to Prosser, the glasses will also be released as a limited ‘Steve Jobs’ edition, featuring circular frames that resemble those worn by the late Apple co-founder.   

Outside of immersive reality, Apple and Google have been working together on a new API to enable new coronavirus contact tracing apps.

The first app to use the API, SwissCovid for people in Switzerland, warns users who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Apple and Google software follows a ‘decentralised’ approach, where the contact data collected stays on a user’s device and can be analysed there. 

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AR AND VR? 

Augmented reality describes the hugely successful mobile game Pokemon Go from US developers Niantic

Augmented reality describes the hugely successful mobile game Pokemon Go from US developers Niantic

Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of an environment or situation

  • It immerses the user by making them feel like they are in the simulated reality through images and sounds
  • For example, in VR, you could feel like you’re climbing a mountain while you’re at home

In contrast, augmented reality layers computer-generated images on top of an existing reality

  • AR is developed into apps to bring digital components into the real world
  • For example, in the Pokemon Go app, the characters seem to appear in real world scenarios

 



YouTube launches new ‘bedtime’ feature that lets you set reminders to go to sleep


YouTube launches new ‘bedtime’ feature that lets you set reminders to stop watching videos and go to sleep

  • YouTube has made the bedtime feature available on Android and iPhone
  • Users can set the reminder to go off at a specific time every night in order to rest
  • Social media company will make feature available to all app users in three days 

YouTube launches new ‘bedtime’ feature that lets you set reminders to stop watching videos and go to sleep 

Available on Android and iPhone, the reminder can be set to flash across a user’s screen at a specific time every night.

They can then either take the hint and log off for the night, or hit either snooze or dismiss. 

The Google-owned giant began rolling the new feature out yesterday. 

It is expected to be available for all app users within three days, but not to those that use the desktop version.

YouTube has launched the feature for users on its Android and iPhone apps (stock image)

Announcing the new feature, YouTube said: ‘With many of us at home, it can be especially hard to stick to your routine.

‘And it’s more important than ever to set boundaries to help manage how much time you’re spending online.’ 

YouTube has sent more than three billion reminders since it launched the ‘take a break’ feature two years ago. 

The app already allows users to check how long they have been online, through their time watched profile, and change settings for how they receive notifications.

It will be available to all users by May 25 and can be accessed in the settings section of the app

It will be available to all users by May 25 and can be accessed in the settings section of the app

The feature stops short of what’s on offer on many smartphones and tablets already, which have settings that block applications after a specific period of time.

Androids have a feature called Digital Wellbeing, located in settings, which tells users how long they’ve spent looking at their phone and can be set to restrict time on specific apps.

Warnings flash up as time on the app for the day is nearing the end, before it is ‘locked’ completely once all the time is used up.

How to find bedtime reminders

YouTube started rolling out the feature to Android and iPhone users yesterday. However, it will not be available to all users until May 25.

It is also a mobile-only feature, and will not be available on desktop. 

To find bedtime reminders, open the YouTube app and go to settings.

Then turn on the ‘Remind Me When It’s Time For Bed’ setting and choose a start and end time for the reminder.

When they flash up you can remove them from the screen by hitting snooze or dismiss. Snooze will shut it down for 10 minutes, before it is re-activated.

If you want to finish your video before seeing the reminder, choose wait until I finish my video when creating the setting.

Google is pulling its AI tools and software from projects dedicated to fossil fuel extraction 


Google says it will stop providing custom AI and machine learning tools to help fossil fuel companies operate their extraction operations

  • Goole will stop building custom AI tools to help fossil fuel companies 
  • The announcement came in response to a Greenpeace report that criticized the close relationship between cloud service providers and the gas and oil industry
  • Google will honor its current contracts but not start any new AI partnerships

Google has announced it will no longer build custom AI or machine learning tools for oil and gas companies.

The move comes in response to a report from Greenpeace called ‘Oil in the Cloud,’ which identified the tech giant as one of three main tech companies helping fossil fuel companies expand their extraction projects.

While Google still has a number of current contracts it says it will honor, a company spokesperson said that moving forward it will no longer build custom AI or machine learning algorithms ‘to facilitate upstream extraction in the oil and gas industry.’

Google will no longer develop custom AI or machine learning algorithms to help fossil fuel companies with their extraction operations, after being named in a Greenpeace report on the relationship between the tech industry and oil and gas companies

The spokesperson pointed out that the company receives just $65million in annual revenue through Google Cloud from oil and gas companies, less than one percent of the total revenue from cloud services.

Greenpeace was encouraged by Google’s response and called on other major tech companies to follow suit, saying it has already had ‘productive conversations’ with many.

‘We hope Microsoft and Amazon will quickly follow with commitments to end AI partnerships with oil and gas firms, as these contracts contradict their stated climate goals and accelerate the climate crisis,’ Greenpeace’s Elizabeth Jardim told OneZero.

In recent years, Google has initiated a number of new policies to try and make its businesses less environmentally impactful.

In 2018, the company announced it had reached an internal goal of matching 100 percent of its own annual energy usage with renewable energy purchases in the hopes of supporting the industry.

The Greenpeace report also singled out Microsoft and Amazon Web Services for their support of the fossil fuel industry. 'For us, it’s pretty simple, accelerating oil extraction is not an application tech companies should be using AI for at all,' Greenpeace's Elizabeth Jardim said

The Greenpeace report also singled out Microsoft and Amazon Web Services for their support of the fossil fuel industry. ‘For us, it’s pretty simple, accelerating oil extraction is not an application tech companies should be using AI for at all,’ Greenpeace’s Elizabeth Jardim said

Google says it will honor all of its existing contracts, but won't sign any new partnerships to develop AI programs that contribute to oil or gas extraction

Google says it will honor all of its existing contracts, but won’t sign any new partnerships to develop AI programs that contribute to oil or gas extraction

Google also emphasized its cloud computing contracts for renewable energy projects with companies like AES Corporation, a Virigina-based electricity firm, Veolia, a French utility company, and Simple Energy, a software company that gives customers breakdowns of their energy usage.

The Greenpeace report singled out Microsoft as the most heavily entangled with fossil fuel companies, specifically pointing to a recent contract with ExxonMobil to help expand its extraction activities in the Permian Basin, which stretches across New Mexico and west Texas.

‘For us, it’s pretty simple,’ Jardim said. ‘Accelerating oil extraction is not an application tech companies should be using AI for at all.’

Coronavirus: Apple and Google launch contact-tracing software


Apple and Google have today announced the launch of their coronavirus contact-tracing app software. 

The API — a software blueprint — will be used by a nation’s health authority to build their own apps and has so far been given to 22 countries who requested access to the technology.   

Apple and Google did not reveal which countries are set to use the software but it is believed the API will be adopted by several US states, Latvia, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. 

The system is a rival approach to the NHS contact-tracing app currently being tested in the UK. 

The Apple and Google software follows a ‘decentralised’ approach – where the contact data collected stays on a user’s device and can be analysed there. 

Security experts say this method increases privacy and reduces the risk of identifying users by de-anonymising data. 

Health experts will use the core software developed by the tech giants, add their own refinements and create their own unique app.  

Although different countries will create an app based on the software, Apple and Google executives today promised there will be no issues connecting to another country’s app which uses the same API. 

However, there will likely be difficulties in getting the Apple-Google model to interact flawlessly with contact-tracing apps developed separately, such as the NHS contact tracing app currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight.  

Governments that use the Apple-Google API for their COVID-19 contact-tracing app are prohibited from using the data for targeted advertising or accessing location services. 

Users that opt to download an app based on the Apple/Google blueprint will have to give explicit permission allowing the Bluetooth-based system to work and also have to give the rubber stamp for the app to share a positive test result with the relevant public health authority.  

Apple and Google representatives said on a conference call today that the API will allow for seamless interactions between iOS and Android handsets. 

They also claim the app will have only a trivial impact on device battery life and the US-based tech giants say they have the ability to disable the software on a region-by-region basis after the pandemic. 

Scroll down for video  

 Apple and Google have today announced the launch of their coronavirus contact-tracing app software. The API — a software blueprint — will be used by a nation’s health authority to build their own apps and has so far been given to 22 countries

What counties are using the Google-Apple API? 

Their API – a software blueprint for individual apps built by each country’s health authority – will be available in 22 countries around the world. 

Apple and Google did not reveal which countries are set to use the API but it is believed the API will be adopted by several US states, Latvia, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands.

The UK is not using the system and has instead built its own app via NHSX- the digital arm of its health service. 

It leaves the UK at odds with Switzerland, Austria, a pan-European group called DP3T and the tech-savvy Estonians who are all backing a decentralised app, as advocated by Google and Apple. 

In Europe, only France, and now Britain, have come out as supporters of a centralised system. Australia, it is believed, is also running a centralised app.

Early reports from the NHSX trial of the app reveal it is battery intensive and temperamental.   

Paola Pisano, Minister for innovation, technology and digitisation of the Italian government, said: ‘The contact tracing application takes advantage of the operating systems of Apple and Google; such a choice increases its efficiency while preserving users’ privacy. 

‘The solution enhances the interoperability potential with other apps that bordering countries may adopt. 

‘Also, it facilitates the sharing of foreign citizens’ codes that are transmitted through privacy preserving techniques.’

The release of the API comes amid widespread debate on whether or not countries should use the Apple-Google system or create their own.    

Sang-Il Kim, director for digital transformation at the federal office of public health in Switzerland said his country will be using the API built by the world’s foremost smartphone experts. 

‘We welcome the general availability of the Exposure Notification API, which provides the base for the SwissCovid app,’ he said in a statement. 

‘As soon as the final measurements currently under way at EPFL and ETH Zurich complete, we will start the pilot of the app, in line with the Ordinance of the Federal Council of 5/13/2020.’ 

Ms Ieva Ilves, adviser to the Latvian President for Information and Digital Policy, called using the Apple and Google app ‘the right thing to do’. 

‘To save lives, we need to strike the right balance between trust, ease of use, value and user privacy,’ she said. 

‘Through our close work together with Apple and Google, we have a good start to launch the app in Latvia.’ 

Apple and Google have devised a decentralised method. No movement or tracking information will be stored on a central server, meaning it is invisible to Google, Apple and the relevant health authorities.

In a centralised system, such as is being used in the UK, when a user develops symptoms and chooses to declare it, they consent to sending their data to a central server.

This server is controlled by the health authorities, in the UK that is the NHS, and the data is analysed there. 

The British Government has argued this approach allows for deeper analysis of the spread of COVID-19, enabling the health service to gain a better understanding of the virus while critics say it sacrifices user privacy.

Apple and Google’s decentralised approach works by exchanging a digital ‘token’ with every phone a person come within Bluetooth range of. 

Each device will randomly create a unique identifying  ‘key’ which will change regularly.

This will be processed by a smartphone and then,if a person inputs that they are COVID-19 positive, the handset pings out a notification to all people who may have been infected by this person.  

This is all done without any information being sent back to a server operated by either Google, Apple or a nations’s the health authority.  

Health authorities will be able to customise their app based on the API provided, for free, by Google and Apple. 

They will be able to decide what sort of distance and time is considered to be an infection event as well as being able to decide how many people a single person may have infected, based on their own calculations and science. 

Public heath bodies will be able to contact a user using information supplied by the person who downloaded the app and entered it voluntarily.     

Health organisations developing the app will also be able to implement their own next steps via the app, such as recommending self-isolation.  

Apple and Google first announced they were working on the API on April 10 and has since been in contact with healthcare authorities, healthcare professionals and privacy experts.      

The API has today been made available to government health authorities around the world and 22 countries have so far requested access to the software, which has been granted by the tech firms.   

This app-based system will be deployed in conjunction with traditional contract tracing methods and is not intended to be a silver bullet, Apple and Google representatives said

 This app-based system will be deployed in conjunction with traditional contract tracing methods and is not intended to be a silver bullet, Apple and Google representatives said

There will likely be difficulties in getting the Apple-Google model to interact flawlessly with contact-tracing apps developed separately, such as the NHS contact tracing app currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight (pictured)

 There will likely be difficulties in getting the Apple-Google model to interact flawlessly with contact-tracing apps developed separately, such as the NHS contact tracing app currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight (pictured)

Apple and Google said in a statement: ‘One of the most effective techniques that public health officials have used during outbreaks is called contact tracing. 

‘Through this approach, public health officials contact, test, treat and advise people who may have been exposed to an affected person. 

‘One new element of contact tracing is Exposure Notifications: using privacy-preserving digital technology to tell someone they may have been exposed to the virus. 

‘Exposure Notification has the specific goal of rapid notification, which is especially important to slowing the spread of the disease with a virus that can be spread asymptomatically.

‘To help, Apple and Google cooperated to build Exposure Notifications technology that will enable apps created by public health agencies to work more accurately, reliably and effectively across both Android phones and iPhones.

‘Over the last several weeks, our two companies have worked together, reaching out to public health officials scientists, privacy groups and government leaders all over the world to get their input and guidance.

‘Starting today, our Exposure Notifications technology is available to public health agencies on both iOS and Android. 

‘What we’ve built is not an app — rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their own apps that people install. 

‘Our technology is designed to make these apps work better. Each user gets to decide whether or not to opt-in to Exposure Notifications; the system does not collect or use location from the device; and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app. 

‘User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps.

‘Today, this technology is in the hands of public health agencies across the world who will take the lead and we will continue to support their efforts.’

To ensure maximum uptake of the apps which utilise the API, Apple and Google is restricting each nation to just one app each.  

This app-based system will be deployed in conjunction with traditional contract tracing methods and is not intended to be a silver bullet, Apple and Google representatives said. 

It will use Bluetooth to send out non-contact, low-energy signals and detect other phones with the app nearby. The API will be able to gauge how far away people are based on Bluetooth alone and the app will not use location services or GPS. 

Google and Apple decided to get involved with the fight against COVID-19 and develop their own API in an unprecedented partnership between the two smartphone rivals. 

They were aware that neither iOS or Android would work efficiently as part of a Bluetooth-orientated form of contact tracing due to their inherent security and privacy measures.

Apple and Google representatives said they were also aware that independent apps would have difficulties due to this and the fact Apple phones will struggle to detect Android handsets, and vice versa. 

Specific issues singled out by the company representatives include:apps being unstable, draining of battery life, incompatibility with apps made by different countries using a separate API, and a limited uptake of the app.  

Experts say 60 per cent of users need to download the app for it to be effective and Apple and Google hope that by using their system, this is more likely than if nations go it alone. 

Germany initially decided to create its own app and use a centralised approach, but has now made a U-turn and is believed to be planning on using the Apple/Google model. 

The UK’s contact-tracing app however is built by the NHS and will not use the Apple-Google API. 

It leaves the UK at odds with Switzerland, Austria, a pan-European group called DP3T and the tech-savvy Estonians who are all backing a decentralised app, as advocated by Google and Apple. 

In Europe, only France, and now Britain, have come out as supporters of a centralised system. Australia, it is believed, is also running a centralised app.

Earlier this week, Michael Gove revealed more than 21,000 coronavirus contact tracers have now been recruited in the UK. 

Professor Keith Neal, Emeritus Professor in the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, University of Nottingham, said:  ‘We need to contact trace everyone who tests positive. With 21,000 contact tracers each working two days a week you will have 6,000 contact tracers working per day. 

‘Assuming they work 8 hours a day and they each are able to contact trace an average of 4 new cases a day then it would be easy to trace 24,000 new cases per day. 

‘The app’s importance is identifying possible contacts you don’t know the name of or contact details for e.g. that person you followed round when shopping.’

Apple and Google launch their coronavirus contact-tracing software


Apple and Google have today announced the launch of their coronavirus contact-tracing app software. 

The API — a software blueprint — will be used by a nation’s health authority to build their own apps and has so far been given to 22 countries who requested access to the technology.   

Apple and Google did not reveal which countries are set to use the software but it is believed the API will be adopted by several US states, Latvia, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. 

Health experts can take the core software developed by the tech giants and add their own restrictions to refine the app for their own purposes. 

Although different countries will create their own unique app based on the software, Apple and Google executives today promised there will be no issues connecting to another country’s app which uses the same API. 

However, there will likely be difficulties in getting the Apple-Google model to interact flawlessly with contact-tracing apps developed separately, such as the NHS contact tracing app currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight.  

Governments that use the API for their COVID-19 contact-tracing app are prohibited from using the data for targeted advertising or access to location services. 

Users that opt to download an app based on the Apple/Google blueprint will have to give explicit permission allowing the Bluetooth-based system to work and also have to give the rubber stamp for the app to share a positive test result with the relevant public health authority.  

Apple and Google representatives said on a conference call today that the API will allow for seamless interactions between iOS and Android handsets. 

They also claim the app will have only a trivial impact on device battery life and the US-based tech giants say they have the ability to disable the software on a region-by-region basis after the pandemic. 

Scroll down for video  

Germany had previously sided with Britain and hoped to create its own centralised app. But on Sunday the German government performed a dramatic U-turn and is now heading towards a decentralised version 

What counties are using the Google-Apple API? 

Their API – a software blueprint for individual apps built by each country’s health authority – will be available in 22 countries around the world. 

Apple and Google did not reveal which countries are set to use the API but it is believed the API will be adopted by several US states, Latvia, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands.

The UK is not using the system and has instead built its own app via NHSX- the digital arm of its health service. 

It leaves the UK at odds with Switzerland, Austria, a pan-European group called DP3T and the tech-savvy Estonians who are all backing a decentralised app, as advocated by Google and Apple. 

In Europe, only France, and now Britain, have come out as supporters of a centralised system. Australia, it is believed, is also running a centralised app.

Early reports from the NHSX trial of the app reveal it is battery intensive and temperamental.   

Paola Pisano, Minister for innovation, technology and digitisation of the Italian government, said: ‘The contact tracing application takes advantage of the operating systems of Apple and Google; such a choice increases its efficiency while preserving users’ privacy. 

‘The solution enhances the interoperability potential with other apps that bordering countries may adopt. 

‘Also, it facilitates the sharing of foreign citizens’ codes that are transmitted through privacy preserving techniques.’

The release of the API comes amid widespread debate on whether or not countries should use the Apple-Google system or create their own.   

Sang-Il Kim, director for digital transformation at the federal office of public health in Switzerland said they will be using the API built by the world’s foremost smartphone experts. 

“We welcome the general availability of the Exposure Notification API, which provides the base for the SwissCovid ap, he said in a statement. 

‘As soon as the final measurements currently under way at EPFL and ETH Zurich complete, we will start the pilot of the app, in line with the Ordinance of the Federal Council of 5/13/2020.’ 

Apple and Google have devised a decentralised method. No movement or tracking information will be stored on a central server, meaning it is invisible to Google, Apple and the NHS.   

It works by keeping a exchanging a digital ‘token’ with every phone you come within Bluetooth range of over a fixed period, called a key.  

Each device will randomly create a unique ‘key’ which will change regularly and neither Google or Apple know what phone a key has come from, they claim. 

If a person receives a COVID-19 positive diagnosis, they can input this into the app and this will trigger a series of ‘exposure notifications’ to be sent to people who may have caught the virus from this infected individual. 

Health authorities will be able to customise their app based on the API provided, for free, by Google and Apple. 

They will be able to decide what sort of distance and time is considered to be an infection event as well as being able to decide how many people a single person may have infected, based on their own calculations and science. 

Public heath bodies will be able to contact a user using information supplied by the person who downloaded the app and entered it voluntarily.     

These health organisations developing the app will also be able to implement their own next steps via the app, such as recommending self-isolation etc.  

Apple and Google first announced they were working on the API on April 10 and has since been in contact with healthcare authorities, healthcare professionals and privacy experts.      

The API has today been made available to government health authorities around the world and 22 countries have so far requested access to the software, which has been granted by the tech firms.   

The Government will launch a widespread contact tracing scheme to track down people who have been in touch with infected patients

The Government will launch a widespread contact tracing scheme to track down people who have been in touch with infected patients

Apple and Google said in a statement: ‘One of the most effective techniques that public health officials have used during outbreaks is called contact tracing. 

‘Through this approach, public health officials contact, test, treat and advise people who may have been exposed to an affected person. 

‘One new element of contact tracing is Exposure Notifications: using privacy-preserving digital technology to tell someone they may have been exposed to the virus. 

‘Exposure Notification has the specific goal of rapid notification, which is especially important to slowing the spread of the disease with a virus that can be spread asymptomatically.

‘To help, Apple and Google cooperated to build Exposure Notifications technology that will enable apps created by public health agencies to work more accurately, reliably and effectively across both Android phones and iPhones.

‘Over the last several weeks, our two companies have worked together, reaching out to public health officials scientists, privacy groups and government leaders all over the world to get their input and guidance.

‘Starting today, our Exposure Notifications technology is available to public health agencies on both iOS and Android. 

‘What we’ve built is not an app — rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their own apps that people install. 

‘Our technology is designed to make these apps work better. Each user gets to decide whether or not to opt-in to Exposure Notifications; the system does not collect or use location from the device; and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app. 

‘User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps.

‘Today, this technology is in the hands of public health agencies across the world who will take the lead and we will continue to support their efforts.’

To ensure maximum uptake of the apps which utilise the API, Apple and Google is restricting each nation to just one app each.  

This app-based system will be deployed in conjunction with traditional contract tracing methods. 

It will use Bluetooth to send out non-contact, low-energy signals and detect other phones with the app nearby. The API will be able to gauge how far away people are based on Bluetooth alone and the app will not use location services or GPS. 

Google and Apple decided to get involved with the fight against COVID-19 and develop their own API in an unprecedented partnership of the rivals. 

They were aware that neither iOS or Android would work efficiently as part of a Bluetooth-orientated form of contact tracing due to their inherent security and privacy measures.

Apple and Google representatives said they were aware that independent apps would have difficulties due to this.

Specific issues singled out by the company representatives include issues with Android phones identifying Apple phones, and vice versa; apps being unstable; draining of battery life; incompatibility with apps made by different countries using a separate API; and a limited uptake of the app.  

Experts say 60 per cent of users need to download the app for it to be effective and Apple and Google hope that by using their system, this is more likely than if nations go it alone. 

Germany initially decided to create its own app and use a centralised approach, but has now made a U-turn and is believed to be planning on using the Apple/Google model. 

The UK’s contact-tracing app however is built by the NHS and will not use the Apple-Google API. 

It leaves the UK at odds with Switzerland, Austria, a pan-European group called DP3T and the tech-savvy Estonians who are all backing a decentralised app, as advocated by Google and Apple. 

In Europe, only France, and now Britain, have come out as supporters of a centralised system. Australia, it is believed, is also running a centralised app.

Earlier this week, Michael Gove revealed more than 17,000 coronavirus contact tracers have now been recruited. 

Professor Keith Neal, Emeritus Professor in the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, University of Nottingham, said:  ‘We need to contact trace everyone who tests positive. With 21,000 contact tracers each working two days a week you will have 6,000 contact tracers working per day. 

‘Assuming they work 8 hours a day and they each are able to contact trace an average of 4 new cases a day then it would be easy to trace 24,000 new cases per day. 

‘The app’s importance is identifying possible contacts you don’t know the name of or contact details for e.g. that person you followed round when shopping.’