Trump focuses on social media regulation as US coronavirus death toll passes milestone – live | US news- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Good Morning, US live blog readers, there’s a busy day ahead in coronavirus and politics news, so please stay tuned for all the developments in the US.
Here’s where things are this hour:

Donald Trump has not yet spoken out about the US reaching yesterday the grim milestone of 100,000 Covid-19 deaths across the nation. And in many states the incidence of new cases is still rising, especially in the south and midwest.
Washington DC, plans to begin tentative reopening for business tomorrow, although the mayor of America’s capital has warned there will likely be more cases of coronavirus.
We are awaiting a possible executive order from the president today that attempts an aggressive regulatory move against social media platforms, after Trump erupted in outrage when Twitter included some fact-checks, for the first time, in two of his tweets related to voting, earlier this week.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany will hold a briefing at 2pm ET.

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ACCC sets consumer data right ‘IT backbone’ live – Finance – Strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Australia’s competition regulator has flicked the switch on the register and accreditation application platform (RAAP) for the consumer data right ahead of its planned start in July.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched the platform, which it has described as the “IT backbone” of the scheme, on Tuesday.
The platform will serve as the “trusted data environment” for the CDR “where encrypted data is shared between approved participants”, the ACCC said.
An accompanying “CDR participant portal” has also ben launched that will allow businesses to apply to become accredited data recipients for the scheme.
ACCC said the release of the two “marks a significant development in the CDR because the RAAP is the IT backbone of the CDR”.
“This … platform and portal means businesses of all sizes can take the first steps towards being part of this crucial economic reform,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.
“As more businesses become accredited over time, consumers will benefit from an increasing number of innovative services and a vastly improved experience that puts them in control of their data.
“We are encouraging businesses wanting to participate in the consumer data right regime to apply for accreditation and take part in reshaping banking competition in Australia.”
The sharing of banking data between major banks and initial accredited data recipients will begin in July.
Last month, the ACCC committed to forging ahead with the planned introduction of the CDR, despite the impacts of COVID-19 on both data recipients and data holders (banks).
“Some data recipients have had to pause their work on the consumer data right for the time being, while others have expressed a wish to press ahead without delay,” it said at the time.
The ACCC said some recipients were facing funding challenges and an “inability to progress technology development” due to the effects of COVID-19 on IT resources.
A loss of clients, difficulty obtaining information security control audit certificates due to travel restrictions in Australia or overseas, and competing business priorities were also cited.

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AI-powered Recruitment Platform Skillate is Now Live on SAP® App Center- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Skillate today announced that its AI-powered Recruitment Platform is now available on SAP® App Center, the digital marketplace for SAP partner offerings. Skillate integrates with the SAP® SuccessFactors® Recruiting and Onboarding solutions and empowers the decision-making process in hiring.
Bipul Vaibhav, CEO and Co-Founder of Skillate, commented, ‘‘We are happy for our recruitment platform to integrate with SAP SuccessFactors solutions to save time and recruitment costs while offering a more transparent process for enterprises across sectors.”
This successful integration complements existing SAP SuccessFactors solutions on a global scale. Skillate’s proven services and solutions play an important role in supporting businesses that use SAP solutions so that they can focus on the business. This integration will also provide Skillate solutions with greater exposure to global companies and will play a critical role in its strategy of international expansion.
Skillate helps customers to reduce the cost of hiring, and the time it takes to hire, leading to more qualified candidates. Skillate’s recruitment platform is now available on SAP App Center with features like AI-based matching, state-of-the-art resume parser, intelligent chatbot, in-depth reports, and analytics. The company already boasts a client list of some of the biggest names in the market including Sopra Steria, Saint-Gobain, OYO Rooms, L&T Construction, L&T Financial Services and SoftwareAG.
At SAP App Center, businesses can discover approximately 1,500 innovative partner solutions that integrate with and extend SAP solutions. There, customers can find the SAP-validated partner apps they need to grow their business. Find, try, buy, manage, and deploy SAP partner solutions digitally at www.sapappcenter.com.
Skillate is a partner in the SAP PartnerEdge® program. As such, it is empowered to build, market, and sell software applications on top of SAP Cloud Platform, the market-leading platform-as-a-service offering from SAP. The SAP PartnerEdge program provides the enablement tools, benefits, and support to facilitate building high-quality, disruptive applications focused on specific business needs – quickly and cost-effectively. The program provides access to all relevant SAP technologies in one simple framework under a single, global contract.
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‘It’s a way to live out fantasies’: how Animal Crossing became fashion’s new catwalk | Fashion – Blog – 10 minute

N
intendo’s Animal Crossing, the best-selling game of the coronavirus pandemic, has become an unlikely outlet for fashion fans in lockdown. Avatars have been wearing bootleg creations inspired by Prada, Gucci, Chanel and Thierry Mugler catwalk looks or created specifically for the virtual world by designers including Marc Jacobs, who has created a six-strong collection for the game, and Valentino.
There are various ways to attain new clothes in this soothing cyber society in which players can pick fruit and make friends with anthropomorphised animals. The Able Sisters, a tailor shop in the game that is run by two hedgehogs, has become as talked about in some quarters as Harvey Nichols. Here players can “buy” anything from pleather masks to neon tights using the game’s currency of bells.
But players are not limited to preset Nintendo designs – the ability to create custom designs has led to a host of riffs on high fashion and streetwear looks. There are hoodies by the cult streetwear brand Bathing Ape and Virgil Abloh’s Off-White; outfits nodding to well-loved names in the fashion industry such as Sacai and Jacquemus; and even signature wet-look tops inspired by the cult designer of sexy menswear, Ludovic de Saint Sernin, and the now infamous “Fuck Boris” design the Tottenham-based bootleg label Sports Banger.
A number of experienced creators are fuelling the game’s high-fashion credentials. Richmond Young is a web developer who has been giving players the chance to wear cutting-edge looks from Bottega Veneta, Dries Van Noten, Louis Vuitton and Gucci via Crossing the Runway, an Instagram account dedicated to the fashion of Animal Crossing. “People plug a serial number into their game, the garment arrives in their closet, and they can wear it immediately,” he explains
It isn’t the first time fashion has crossed over into video games – Moschino’s Jeremy Scott designed clothes for EA’s simulation game The Sims, while Nike has collaborated with Fortnite on a digital version of the brand’s iconic Air Jordan trainer. But it plays a unique role in Animal Crossing because, says the Guardian’s video games editor, Keza MacDonald, “it’s a game about self-expression”,
“Plenty of games let you pick an outfit, but Animal Crossing lets you pick all the elements of an outfit, from socks and hats and shoes to dresses, turn-ups, shorts, parkas … that makes an Animal Crossing outfit feel unique,” she says. The looks range “from cute to traditional, or madcap to understated, so you can walk about in a frog hat and a pair of orange leggings or put together a blazer-and-chinos smart-casual combo.”
Shel Orock, an industrial designer and co-founder of Crossing the Runway, thinks the appeal is similar to Instagram’s #OOTD: “A lot of people can’t go outside and flex their outfit and show it off, and this has been our way of playing into that.”
In this world, unlike the real one, designer threads come free. “It’s a way to live out fashion fantasies without having to pay the steep price,” says Michele Yue, one of the founders of Nook Street Market (NSM) on Instagram, a play on the famous Dover Street Market, whose 23k+ followers are treated to looks from Molly Goddard to YSL.
While some brands may be unhappy about having their designs riffed on, in the experience of Vivian Loh, another NSM founder, “designers and their teams are often very receptive.” Orock has had similar reactions: “JW Anderson’s social media recently featured our work in their Instagram story.”
According to the New York City-based label Barragán, whose clothes have appeared in the game: “We were absolutely thrilled when gamers started to tag and DM us showing off their creations. We like to take it as a form of honour and flattery.” Fellow New York brand Vaquera, whose designs also show up on avatars from time to time, sees it similarly: “It’s been really inspiring to see how people are using Animal Crossing to live out fantasies, whether it be with clothes, gardening or a dream home.” While none of them has a Nintendo Switch and so haven’t been able to play, “we’re dying to create our own Vaquera Island”.
Despite no real-life money changing hands, there are non-digital rewards for brands, and many seem to enjoy the exposure. Plus, as Dominic Lopezone, co-founder of the streetwear brand Happy99, told industry website Business of Fashion off the back of a 30% increase after releasing a collection on the game: “I think there’s a pretty good attachment between owning a hoodie in a game and then later deciding to buy the hoodie so that you match your avatar.”
This peak in interest for digital fashion comes at a time when the pandemic has increasingly been forcing the industry, from fashion weeks to photoshoots, online. The world’s first entirely virtual fashion week took place in Shanghai in March, with Russia fashion week following suit and London fashion week men’s showcase in June being planned as a digital event.
In this context, Animal Crossing is helping open up the conversations around the shape of fashion in the future, thinks Young. “We as consumers need to see this as adapting to a new way to shop, a new way to dress up – and the fashion companies can see this as a new way that people can get into fashion.”

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LIVE NOW: CIO Roundtable on Cloud enabled work from home- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to make their employees work from home (WFH). The IT infrastructure has to be sized accordingly for a large scale WFH environment. The enterprises and corporates weren’t ready for the massive shift witnessed over the past few months and hence companies have accelerated their exploration for the right cloud models.To begin with, companies have started scouting for cloud models to move their non-critical workloads to cloud. A massive technology trend has triggered on the back of COVID19. “Large organisations are now seriously considering newer SaaS players to rip and replace monolithic applications that are expensive to maintain and hard to upgrade,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst, Founder & CEO, Greyhound Research.But, every cloud is not the same, and the current business environment reflects a world where organisations need to quickly determine the right type of cloud for their different workloads, so that they can focus on innovating and delivering critical services, rather than administrating and monitoring. 
However, this is easier said than done. How do you know what’s the best cloud for the specific workload? How do you decide which application is a fit for a public cloud environment? How do you plan for a specific cloud (hybrid, private or public) in times of unpredictable load? How do you plan for maximizing utilization?
As with every other technology, CIOs will have to evolve their thinking on selecting the right approach to cloud. Every company has their own requirements and to get to the best fit cloud approach, the IT decision makers will have to ponder over the below points:– Where does your organization stand with respect to cloud adoption? – Type of cloud you have chosen for different applications? – From a cloud perspective, what are some of the key challenges for you? (Migration, scalability, preventing cost overruns) – How do you decide and plan to choose what’s the best cloud for the specific workload or application? – What are some of the best practices you recommend from your cloud experience? Will be looking forward to your participation.These points will be discussed at the Express Computer – HPE CIO roundtable. We have a stellar lineup of CIOs participating in the panel:– Japesh Jain, Head IT, IndiaInx – V V Balaji Head – Business Technology Group, ICICI Bank – Amit Saxena, Global Deputy Chief Technology Officer, SBI – Rajendra Mhalsekar, Head – Wholesale Banking Technology- Innovation & Architecture, IDFC FIRST Bank – Sarita Garg, ED – IT / BPR, Life Insurance Corporation – G M Shenoy, CTO, NSE – Jitendra Panchal, Vice President – Information Technology, Central Depository Services – India – Rajesh Ram, GM – IT, Bank of India – Kirti Patil, senior EVP& CTO, Kotal Life insurance Babu Thomas, Head – IT, Federal Bank – – Atul Kumar, Chief Information Officer, Syndicate BankThe digital roundtable will be hosted virtually on 20th May 2020 from 3.30 pm – 4.30 pm.

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CIOs are taking these top two technology initiatives to learn to live with COVID-19- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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The first phase of enabling employees to work from home is over. In terms of enabling secured access, making the collaboration and conferencing tools available. The focus now has moved towards further orienting the technology landscape to work in sync with the change in the work culture, read scaling up the work from home culture and virtual interaction between customers and companies. The work culture is undergoing change.The availability of excellent collaboration tools and connectivity provides the users the opportunity to schedule their work in a much smarter and efficient way, combining the advantages of being in office (collaborating with other colleagues, discussing details) with the opportunity to do focussed and uninterrupted work by ‘turning off’ disturbances in a way currently not supported in an office environment. “Saving commute time and being able to take breaks when required are also big positives for users and allow for more focussed work when people are actually working. Work culture is likely to move towards self-directed teams and outcome-based measurements as opposed to time-in-office and activity-based measurements,” says Vinod Sivarama Krishnan, Chief Information Officer, Indus Towers.Employees adopting BYOD will minimize capital expenditure of many organisations and it will add more flexibility in working hours. Simultaneously organizations will be forced to strengthen their IT Security and move completely into end-to-end Digitization. COVID-19 is really instrumental now for forceful adoption of Digital work culture. “We at Shriram General Insurance (SGI) will also adopt this new normal in totality,” states Malaya kanta Barik, General Manager, (IT) & CISO, Shriram General Insurance.Further strengthening of BCP / DR and backups Now, the focus is on further reviewing of the business continuity planning. “The pandemic conditions werent considered under the current BCP model. It was designed more for scenarios like earthquake, fire, etc. Mahindra Finance is reworking on the BCP to suit it to the pandemic environment,” informs Gururaj Rao, CIO, Mahindra Finance.  Secondly, the business processes are getting revamped, moving from face to face interactions towards becoming digital. “Earlier, right from customer onboarding to customer servicing, physical interaction between the customers and the company was predominant. Now, the focus will be on video based interactions and contact centre communication,” says Rao. Mahindra Finance is putting the necessary technology tools in place to support these processes.     Overall, the budgets will be under pressure because the business is also under distress. “It is the duty of IT to contribute to the cost consciousness,” says Rao. CIOs will have to do more with less by finding ways to squeeze costs. They will also have to find ways to get the best out of the existing investments. Indus Towers, India’s largest telecom tower installation company, which will soon merge with Bharti Infratel is also in the process of taking significant capacity building steps, to support the new work culture. The initiatives being taken now have a strong focus on user experience, security and data controllership. “The process is underway for the identification and implementation of a VDI platform to support the company’s extended ecosystem of partners and associates to be able to work from home securely and without interruption or loss of data,” informs Vinod Sivarama Krishnan, Chief Information Officer, Indus Towers. The equipment and connectivity at key management personnel’s home offices is also being upgraded to ensure a better and more consistent user experience for them during work from home. Indus towers have a sizeable part of their application landscape on Cloud already.
A PoC is under way for a Unified Network Monitoring System to be able to better identify and proactively address user issues since the underlying load patterns have shifted considerably with work from home. A complete visibility of load in real time is a key determinant to driving performance and stability. “We are substantially revamping our Backup Technology infrastructure to eliminate legacy infrastructure and processes and permit remote backups and restores with significantly lower recovery time for critical data,” says Krishnan. This is to avoid any dependency on people or location completely. POCs in this are successfully completed and we’re awaiting the end of the lockdown to implement these solutions.Shriram General Insurance has identified a few gaps, which the company intends to arrest post COVID-19. IT infrastructure plays an important role in business continuity of any organisation. “Although we have maintained our Business Continuity on DC/DR in its entirety, the same thing cannot be achieved fully at the end user level. Our maximum prerogative now is to transform business completely from the traditional approach to a digital only business. We have almost achieved the same on sourcing of business before the the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic but the end-to-end digitalization of all the business processes is yet to achieved,” SGI is certainly moving to a customer-centric, end-to-end Mobile platform from sourcing of business to Claim settlement. We are also bringing in BYOD (Bring in Your Own Device) concept into our organisation,” informs Malaya kanta Barik, General Manager, (IT) & CISO, Shriram General Insurance.The focus will also be on automating the processes to alleviate manual processes. The field force including intermediaries will be technologically empowered post COVID-19. The adoption of Cloud is still under consideration. “We are exploring now to move a few non-critical applications in the near future. Apart from this we are working on Data/Cyber Security to strengthen our Digital platform. We have done recent PoCs on Mobile Device Management solutions,” concludes Barik.

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Coronavirus: what a time to be live- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, lockdowns around the world have forced influencers to get creative from the safety of their own homes. So how are they adjusting to the limitations?
We’ve seen several changes to how creators are interacting with their audiences. While in the past, a polished post and a feed that has been thoroughly curated have been popular, Covid-19 has accelerated a shift towards creators and their followers favouring more authentic, raw content.
In turn, this has meant that instead of focusing on less authentic mediums of content creation – polished posts, amazing locations, product pushes and the like – we’re seeing creators returning to their roots and producing highly authentic and genuine content that allows them to build meaningful connections with their communities. And what feature could be better for this than Instagram Live?
As such, Instagram Live has become more popular with creators who are using this Instagram feature to connect with their audience, streaming their thoughts and feelings directly to their audiences. We love this shift and are behind creators sharing more ‘real’ content of their lives during lockdown, and going forward. Take a look at some of the changes we’ve noticed and the ways that brands are getting involved.
Across the board, Instagram Live usage has jumped by 70% last month. There are a few reasons for that:
People want to feel connected
Human Beings are fundamentally social creators; people are not designed to be in isolation, and most of us don’t like it. By sharing our live-action, and watching other people’s Lives, we feel connected and part of something. Many creators receive comments on their Instagram Lives and will interact with their followers as they record their Live video, creating that sense of connection we all crave.
It’s real
During this period, people are crying out for genuine content that feels authentic and showcases a creator’s day to day life. It’s suddenly become very easy to see if someone is presenting a perfect life that’s not authentic because no one can go out and create the kind of content that perpetuates it. Covid-19 has created an even playing field and a sense that we are all in this together and this sense of realness is what makes Instagram Live so popular at the moment.
Live content is more interesting
Let’s face it, during a period where we’re all stuck inside, if done incorrectly creator content could be at threat of becoming boring. However, Live content provides that exciting ‘anything can happen’ feeling that keeps audiences on their toes. Whilst in some cases the content being produced on feeds might not be as sparkly and exciting as normal, Instagram Live offers creators the chance to produce highly engaging content from the comfort of their own home.
How are creators and brands making the most of Instagram live?
There are so many ways that creators and brands are using Instagram Live to engage their audience during this period. These include Q&As, a day in the life, workouts, and cooking tutorials to name a few. There are some really authentic ways for brands to get involved in these kinds of activities.
Instead of pushing products directly, brands have moved to subtle product placement within creator’s live videos, for example, working with a creator to wear their brand’s clothing during a Live workout, or using a brand’s ingredients to cook with. We’ve also seen creators doing ‘takeovers’ on brand pages, which have had great success with engagement and offered both parties the opportunity to expose themselves to a new audience.
When brands partner with creators using Instagram Live, it means that the content is more authentic to both of them and feels natural to the audience. For this reason, we predict that Instagram Live will continue to be a very successful way of communicating for creators and brands, even after this pandemic is over.
Why is Instagram Live important?
On a broader scale, Instagram Live has a social function beyond just keeping your audience engaged. It is also playing a very significant role in keeping people at home and enforcing positive social messages too. During this time people are looking to creators for guidance and inspiration with things to do to keep them busy at home.
Instagram Live has people hooked and engaged and subsequently has an extraordinary power to keep people at home and reinforce the messages that are keeping us all safe – stay home and entertain yourself inside.
During this period, brand purpose is becoming super important as brands are being noticed for the good they are doing. Those brands that are able to help spread positive messaging and to align with the stay home, stay safe message are building a positive brand image and creating authentic bonds with their audience that will extend way beyond the pandemic.
For more information on how your brand can build a relationship with their audience through Instagram live and creator collaborations, get in touch! Plus, if you want more info on when to use influencer marketing, head over to our blog.
Ben Jeffries is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Influencer.

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Facebook rolls out whitelists and better live stream controls in brand safety tweak- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Facebook is retooling its brand safety features, rolling out whitelists that better allow brands to control the content their ads are seen next to.
The expanded toolkit will see the implementation of two types of whitelist.
To let brands create whitelists of publishers for in-stream video and the off-Facebook, app-based Audience Network, it has introduced publisher whitelists.
And a content-level whitelisting tool will be available to advertisers that are clients of ad-vertification partners Integral Ad Science, OpenSlate and Zefr.
Allowing advertisers to work with partners to create ‘dynamic content sets’ through this tool, partners will be able to update and adjust video content placement ‘routinely’.
The retooling of brand safety features follows on from tests on a select group of advertisers last November, which were largely welcomed by brands.
While advertisers were already able to see where their ads might appear, Facebook decided to make the controls more sophisticated in ordr to dial back advertisers’ brand safety concerns.
Overzealous blocklists
While the introduction of whitelists to Facebook’s platform has been widely welcomed, the roll out comes amid a fight against blocklisting.
In their quest for protection from ad misplacement, advertisers around the globe are doubling down on automation and, in particular, blocklists.
One side-effect of blunt blocklisting has seen top media owners penalised to the tune of $3.2bn a year across the US, UK, Japan and Australia according to research from real-time brand safety business Cheq.
LGBT+ publishers have been particularly hurt by the application of blocklists. A further study from Cheq found 73% of LGBT+ stories are flagged as ‘brand unsafe’ with terms like ‘lesbian’, ‘bisexual and ‘drag queens’ making it onto advertisers keyword exclusion lists.
Beyond the introduction of whitelisting, Facebook will now let advertisers opt out of its in-stream ad testing from pre-vetted entertainment, news and sports partners.
While this was already available at campaign level, this option will now be provided at the ad account level.
Cracking down on Covid-19 misinformation
Facebook’s decision to offer advertisers more control over their ad placement follows mounting pressure to better moderate the content within its walls.
Amid the coronavirus crisis, fake news has re-emerged as a sore spot for Facebook.
To counter growing issues emerging from the spread of fake news, the platform stopped advertisers from targeting people interested in ‘pseudoscience’ as it attempted to crack down on coronavirus misinformation.
And over in India, the platform introduced a chatbot and news hub – designed to debunk coronavirus falsehoods after the Indian government issued an advisory to social media companies to clamp down on the circulation of false information.
Facebook is not alone in facing brand-safety criticism, with the behemoth’s key rival Google experiencing some brand safety issues of its own in recent weeks.
To close loopholes exploited by bad actors in pursuit of ad fraud, as of April Google now requires advertisers running ads across its platform to verify their identity.
Prior to the pandemic, one in four advertising dollars went to the Facebook-Google duopoly. However, both members are expected to post a downturn in advertising revenues as brands tighten their belts amid Covid-19.
Other major platforms are also fighting against downward ad spend. While Apple experienced an ‘uptick’ in product sales towards the end of Q2 2020, it has admitted its advertising business has taken a hit, as companies pause search spend on platforms such as the App Store.
On the broadcasting side, ITV revealed last week (6 May) that demand for advertising in April fell by 42% year-on-year, with total revenue down 7% at £694m.

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Vodacom Launches Africa’s First Live 5G Mobile Network | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Vodacom has switched on Africa’s first live 5G mobile network in three cities – Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town – with further rollouts planned to other parts of South Africa.
This network will support both mobile and fixed wireless services and is currently available on twenty-live 5G sites, 18 of which are in Gauteng and 2 in Cape Town. With immediate effect, Vodacom customers with 5G enabled devices, and within a 5G coverage area, are now able to access one of the fastest and most sophisticated network connections in Africa.
To support this, Vodacom was recently assigned temporary spectrum by ICASA for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, including 1 x 50 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band, which has been used to fast-track its 5G launch.
It also makes Vodacom the first operator to activate temporary spectrum in the country. Vodacom and Liquid Telecom also concluded managed network services and national roaming agreements for a national 5G network in December 2019.

As a more efficient technology than its predecessors (such as 3G and 4G), the deployment of 5G will help Vodacom manage the 40% increase in mobile network traffic and the 250% increase in fixed traffic experienced during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“Vodacom’s 5G launch in South Africa comes at an important time as it will help us improve our network efficiency during the COVID-19 national state of disaster. During this difficult and unprecedented period, we are proud to offer world-class network technology to South Africa, and all of its associated benefits, as we provide an essential service to keep the country connected,” says Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group CEO.
Vodacom is currently offering the following 5G enabled devices, which customers can use to experience the 5G network within the coverage area of the 20 live sites:

Smartphones: LG V50 5G smartphone
Fixed Wireless Access Routers: Huawei 5G CPE PRO

Customers can check if they are in a 5G coverage area by clicking here.

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We live in stressful times, a perfect moment to try to turn off and tune out | Opinion- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Mindlessness v mindfulness
I tried to watch Apocalypse Now three times last week. I’ve never seen it and apocalypse does feel very now so why not use all this time – so much time! – to get through all the films and books I promised myself if life allowed? Except life is very much allowing it and my brain is very much not.
The zapping of our concentration and attention spans may seem anecdotal, but there is substantial neuroscience to explain it. Living through a pandemic plugged with sadness, fear and uncertainty is a mind soup designed to tip us off balance. Rationally, I know this. Studies have shown time and again that the impact of stress on the brain robs it of its ability to process information, retain it and focus. Be it big-picture worries or everyday life adjustments, stress accumulates.
My attention span is shot at the best of times. Getting frustrated because I can’t find comfort in fiction is wildly wasted energy and yet it didn’t stop me from spending a whole day taking all my books off the shelves and re-ordering them, hoping I’d trick myself into reading again. (I edited them into “themes”. Honestly, how did I resist?)
Katie Ann McLaughlin, a clinical psychologist and Harvard professor, smiled when I told her about my unrelaxing methods to try to relax. The only way to regain focus, she said, is to actually relax: breathing exercises and mindfulness are mentioned as scientifically proved ways to buffer stress. Doing good for others also ranks high.
“We have a limited capacity system; we don’t have enormous bandwidth to cope with all the channels competing for attentional resources,” she told me. “Stress saps you. An increase in stress can age your working memory by a decade.” Terrifying, but not necessarily permanent. McLaughlin described what plenty of us are going through as ego depletion – ego in the psychological, not everyday sense – where the resources needed for willpower and self-control to concentrate on anything but, say, all nine seasons of the US version of The Office, are severely limited. Her key tips to mitigate it? Download a mindfulness app, commit to breathing exercises and give others emotional support.
Fasting and feasting alone

‘Ramadan is best done communally’: an iftar in Long Beach, New Jersey. Photograph: Amr Alfiky/Reuters
It’s an irony not lost on me that Ramadan, done properly, advocates all of McLaughlin’s advice. We’re three fasts into the month and I have zero excuse not to keep every single one this year. I don’t have to be anywhere but home. At the moment, it feels like the most isolating experience to endure in isolation. Ramadan is best done communally, surrounded by family, attending and hosting iftars – the meal to break the fast – together. This whole period is supposed to be meditative, about slowing down, being kinder and reconnecting to some sense of peace.
Arguably, lockdown conditions are ideal. No distractions, no office to be in, no fun to be missing out on. I haven’t got to the point where it becomes easier and legitimately feels good. That comes, godspeed, maybe next week? For now, I’m content to just enjoy all the corny memes, the aunty Whatsapp forwards and the sweet energy of #RamadanTogether online.
Showering with Ansel

Ansel Elgort: cleaning up for charity. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock
Because celebrities are desperate for attention and civilians are bored out of their brains, the “thirst trap” – posting an unapologetically hot photo of oneself on social media – seems to have peaked. In a charitable twist, actor Ansel Elgort raised more than $200,000 for a Brooklyn Covid-19 fundraiser with a shot of him in the shower. Pose nude, do good, mission completed.
•Nosheen Iqbal is an Observer columnist

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