Fact from fiction: Finland’s new lessons in combating fake news | World news- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

You can start when children are very young, said Kari Kivinen. In fact, you should: “Fairytales work well. Take the wily fox who always cheats the other animals with his sly words. That’s not a bad metaphor for a certain kind of politician, is it?”
With democracies around the world threatened by the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of false information, Finland – recently rated Europe’s most resistant nation to fake news – takes the fight seriously enough to teach it in primary school.

In secondary schools, such as the state-run college in Helsinki where Kivinen is head teacher, multi-platform information literacy and strong critical thinking have become a core, cross-subject component of a national curriculum that was introduced in 2016.
In maths lessons, Kivinen’s pupils learn how easy it is to lie with statistics. In art, they see how an image’s meaning can be manipulated. In history, they analyse notable propaganda campaigns, while Finnish language teachers work with them on the many ways in which words can be used to confuse, mislead and deceive.
“The goal is active, responsible citizens and voters,” Kivinen said. “Thinking critically, factchecking, interpreting and evaluating all the information you receive, wherever it appears, is crucial. We’ve made it a core part of what we teach, across all subjects.”
The curriculum is part of a unique, broad strategy devised by the Finnish government after 2014, when the country was first targeted with fake news stories by its Russian neighbour, and the government realised it had moved into the post-fact age.

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Successful enough for Finland to top, by some margin, an annual index measuring resistance to fake news in 35 European countries, the programme aims to ensure that everyone, from pupil to politician, can detect – and do their bit to fight – false information.
“This affects all of us,” said Jussi Toivanen, chief communications officer for the prime minister’s office. “It targets the whole of Finnish society. It aims to erode our values and norms, the trust in our institutions that hold society together.”
Finland, which declared independence from Russia in 1917, is on the frontline of an online information war that has accelerated markedly since Moscow annexed Crimea and backed rebels in eastern Ukraine five years ago, Toivanen said.
Most campaigns, amplified by sympathetic far-right, nation-first and “alternative” Finnish news sites and social media accounts, focus on attacking the EU, highlighting immigration issues and trying to influence debate over Finland’s full Nato membership.
Resistance is seen almost as a civil defence question, a key component in Finland’s comprehensive security policy. Toivanen said: “We are a small country, without many resources, and we rely on everyone contributing to the collective defence of society.”
The programme, piloted by a 30-member, high-level committee representing 20 different bodies from government ministries to welfare organisations and the police, intelligence and security services, has trained thousands of civil servants, journalists, teachers and librarians over the past three years.
“It’s a broad-based, coordinated effort to raise awareness,” said Saara Juntunen, a senior researcher from the defence ministry who has been seconded to the prime minister’s office. “Like virus protection on your computer: the government’s responsible for a certain amount, of course, but ultimately it’s up to the individual to install the software.”
For Kivinen, who returned to Finland after a career in international education to head the French-Finnish school in Helsinki and pioneer the information literacy programme in schools, no one is too young to start thinking about the reliability of the information they encounter.
“Kids today don’t read papers or watch TV news, which here are OK,” he said. “They don’t look for news, they stumble across it, on WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat … Or more precisely, an algorithm selects it, just for them. They must be able to approach it critically. Not cynically – we don’t want them to think everyone lies – but critically.”

Finnish pupils vote on whether 16-year-olds ought to have voting rights. Photograph: c/o Kari Kivinen
Fake news, Kivinen said, is not a great term, especially for children. Far more useful are three distinct categories: misinformation, or “mistakes”; disinformation, or “lies” and “hoaxes”, which are false and spread deliberately to deceive; and malinformation, or “gossip”, which may perhaps be correct but is intended to harm.
“Even quite young children can grasp this,” he said. “They love being detectives. If you also get them questioning real-life journalists and politicians about what matters to them, run mock debates and real school elections, ask them to write accurate and fake reports on them … democracy, and the threats to it, start to mean something.”
He wants his pupils to ask questions such as: who produced this information, and why? Where was it published? What does it really say? Who is it aimed at? What is it based on? Is there evidence for it, or is this just someone’s opinion? Is it verifiable elsewhere?

Even quite young children can grasp this. They love being detectives. Democracy, and the threats to it, start to mean something

On the evidence of half a dozen pupils gathered in a classroom before lunchtime, it is an approach that is paying off. “You must always factcheck. The number one rule: no Wikipedia, and always three or four different and reliable sources,” said Mathilda, 18. “We learn that basically in every subject.”
Lila, 16, said she had grilled local politicians for a live panel discussion on the local radio station. Alexander, 17, said he had learned a lot from devising a fake news campaign. Asked why fake news mattered, he said: “Because you end up with wrong numbers on the side of a bus, and voters who believe them.”
Priya, 16, said education was “the best way to fight it. The problem is, anyone can publish anything. There’s not much a government can do when they’re faced with big multinationals like Google or Facebook, and if it does too much it’s censorship. So yes, education is what’s most effective.”
Part of that continuing education is also provided by NGOs. Besides operating an effective factchecking service, Faktabaari (Fact Bar), launched for the 2014 European elections and run by a volunteer staff of journalists and researchers, produces popular voter literacy kits for schools and the wider public.

“Essentially, we aim to give people their own tools,” said its founder, Mikko Salo, a member of the EU’s independent high-level expert group on fake news. “It’s about trying to vaccinate against problems, rather than telling people what’s right and wrong. That can easily lead to polarisation.”
In the run-up to Finland’s parliamentary elections last April, the government went so far as to produce an advertising campaign alerting voters to the possibility of fake news, with the slogan “Finland has the best elections in the world. Think about why”.
Similarly, Mediametka has been developing and working with media literacy tools since the more innocent days of the early 1950s, when its founders were motivated mainly by fear of the irreparable damage that comic books might do to the minds of Finnish children.
These days, the NGO, part-funded by the culture ministry, organises ed-tech hackathons with inventive Finnish startups in a bid to develop “meaningful materials” for schools and youth groups, said its executive director, Meri Seistola.
“We work with pictures, videos, text, digital content; get our students to produce their own; ask them to identify all the various kinds of misleading news,” said Seistola: from propaganda to clickbait, satire to conspiracy theory, pseudoscience to partisan reporting; from stories describing events that simply never happened to unintentional errors of fact.
Finland has something of a head start on information literacy, ranking consistently at or near the top of international indices for press freedom, transparency, education and social justice. Its school pupils have the EU’s highest PISA score for reading.
“The level of trust in national institutions, in the media, in society as a whole, does tend to be higher in the Nordic countries than in many others,” said Faktabaari’s Salo. “But that means we really need even greater vigilance now, to prepare ourselves for the next phase. Because we have more to lose.”
This article is part of a series on possible solutions to some of the world’s most stubborn problems. What else should we cover? Tempemail us at [email protected]

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Annette King: Making sense of my first World Economic Forum- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

I just got home from my first trip to Davos.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Davos is a ski town in Switzerland, about two hours from Zurich and every year for the last 50 years politicians, business leaders, academics, the media, celebrities and people who generally want to do good in the world descend upon the town for five days in January for the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The theme for WEF 2020 was ‘Stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable world’ and that was delivered in many different ways over the course of the week. There were formal presentations and panel discussions in the enormous conference centre, including all sorts of people, from Trump to Greta and Prince Charles to Mark Carney. Then there were the slightly less formal meetings and sessions, like Facebook (having taken over a shop and made it their own) talking about how it is going to do a better job of monitoring and managing content and Google (also having taken over a shop) introducing their top seven YouTubers, all well under 25 and all able to accidentally make you feel like you haven’t done enough with your life in comparison. Then there were the thousands of no less important but much less formal meetings in the strategic partner’s lounge, the hundreds of restaurants and bars and, no doubt, on the slopes.
All this against a very unique backdrop of beautiful mountains, extreme wealth and status, an overt hierarchy and frighteningly high security. I guess the latter was necessary given that of the 3,000 people who attended, 53 of them were heads of state and 114 were billionaires. Snipers on the roof seemed a bit extreme as did the airport type security to get in and out of the congress centre area (and my hotel!) and the hundreds of police and security men all over the town. However, it was so pervasive that it started to feel ‘normal’ pretty quickly, though it got increasingly annoying to have to keep taking all your warm outer clothes off and chuck your water away every time you wanted to go anywhere.
The hierarchy was blatant. You need a badge to go anywhere and I lost count of how many tiers there were and which bits you could and couldn’t go into with which badge. I was lucky enough to have a white one, which I think was a goodie but I’m pretty certain that there are still parts of Davos that I will never know about and certainly never get access to.
Then there’s the wealth and status. It was everywhere. One example is that I walked the 2km home to my hotel every night (distance being part of being a newbie and that hierarchy thing, I assumed) and there were easily a couple of hundred blacked-out cars waiting (with their engines running) for their important passengers along the way. Don’t even get me started on the helicopters and private jets.
The town itself and the way it accommodated the event was impressive. It all felt incredibly well run (check out which company helps make that happen). Literally every shop and building had been taken over by a company, a brand or a country. Google did a lovely job with the law firm it took over for the week, SAP turned a cheese shop into a delightful space, CBNC turned the church into a media centre and I don’t know what Facebook’s space was the other 51 weeks of the year but it was a very cool place to hang out last week.
The last cue I’ll give you to help you get a sense of it all: the outfits. Business dress with snow boots. It’s not a great look, especially with suits. Some people carried changes of shoes in bags (not the blacked-out car lot, of course) but many of us couldn’t be bothered as you stop caring about what you look like quite as much once the temperature reaches -10.
The main point of Davos, though, is that people are there mostly because they care about important global issues (and only partly for the networking, schmoozing, and partying). This year the main topics of focus were:
Climate change and the Paris agreement, with a particular focus on the ‘energy transition’ that we all need to make from fossil fuels to sustainable energy, both literally and in terms of institutional investment. Greta reminded us that ‘our house is on fire’ and that we should be trying to get to zero emissions now. Others were taking a longer view and sharing their plans for 2050. Prince Charles was somewhere in the middle.
The global economy, with wide-ranging views from Trump who declared that the US economy is absolutely fine, thanks, and all because of him, to a long term (10 year) risk outlook from one report I heard that listed climate action failure, weapons of mass destruction, extreme weather, information infrastructure breakdown, natural disasters, human-made environmental disasters, water crises and infectious diseases as the things we should watch out for in successfully navigating our global economy. Not terrifying. At all.
Gender equality, with posters everywhere declaring that brand X or Y was making this a priority but sadly little actual evidence of it at the conference. Apparently 24% of the delegates were female (down from 27% last year), almost all of those blacked out cars were waiting for men and there were a lot of all-male panels. There was even ‘buy four get one free promotion’ if two of the four delegates were female. Bit crass but at least they tried.
The highlights for me were:
1) Seeing many of our clients make commitments that will make a real difference. 2) Hearing Greta Thunberg speak. What she has to say is clearly important but it was also the confidence, almost defiance, with which she did it that most impressed me.
3) The Google lunch where Sundar Pichai laid out the future in a more positive and optimistic way than I heard anywhere else.
4) The young and very successful YouTubers I met from all over the world – including a physicist, a comedian and a very young financial advisor.
5) The horse-drawn carriage that my friends at CNBC arranged for me to get home in after a wonderful dinner from chef, Alyn Williams, at their fantastic apartment. No 2km walk home through blacked-out cars that night.
My advice to everyone is that if the opportunity ever presents itself for you to go is to grab it. It’s an eye-opener on many different levels; it gives you a great sense of the challenges and opportunities facing the world at large and sends you home with a lot to think about – thrilling and terrifying at the same time — and an inescapable desire to make more of a difference yourself.
Annette King is the chief executive officer of Publicis Groupe UK.

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Australian government secretly releasing sensitive medical records to police | World news – Blog – 10 minute

The Australian government is releasing highly sensitive medical records to police through a secret regime that experts say contains fundamentally flawed privacy protections.
The Department of Human Services fields large volumes of requests for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) data from state and federal policing agencies each year.
The records can paint a detailed picture of a person’s medical history, including, for example, any history of mental health issues, HIV, abortion or sexually transmitted diseases.

But, unlike the controversial My Health Record, no warrant or court order is needed for the department to release the information to police.
The department instead uses a set of internal guidelines to decide how and when it will acquiesce to a police request. It has never made the guidelines public and has actively fought to keep them secret.
The Medical Republic, a specialist medical news publication, recently won a year-long freedom of information battle with the department to secure the release of the guidelines and has shared the document with experts and Guardian Australia.
Lawyers and health privacy advocates were almost universally critical of the laxness of the privacy provisions in the guidelines, which have not been updated since 2003.
“If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, with this process the government has created a four-lane highway,” said Peter Clarke, a barrister at Isaacs Chambers in Melbourne. “The process is the antithesis of proper privacy protections.”
Dr Bernard Robertson-Dunn, the chairman of the health committee at the Australian Privacy Foundation, pointed out that the department’s guidelines had not been updated in 16 years. “So much for taking privacy seriously,” he said.
The department confirmed it has granted 2,677 requests from police for PBS and MBS data in the 12 months from September 2017. It said the information was released for a range of reasons, including for “the identification of deceased persons”.
The internal document released by the department – titled “Guidelines for the release of information where necessary in the public interest” – was heavily redacted. The key paragraphs that were not redacted said releasing private health information was not a decision to be taken lightly.
According to the guidelines, department officials would have to consider whether the disclosure of private health data was necessary and not merely convenient or helpful. They would also have to check whether the information was available through other channels.
Department officials were required to consider whether releasing the private health information was in the public interest as distinct from any private interests of the person seeking the information.
In the guidelines, the “public interest” is broadly defined as anything relating to national security, major crime, the administration of criminal law, or public safety.
The guidelines gave some concrete examples of serious situations where disclosing private health data to police would be in the public interest, such as to assist with investigations into murder, abduction, sexual assault, child molestation, serious drug offences and major fraud.
However, the document also stated that “these examples are not to be read as in any way limiting the circumstances in which the release of information may be regarded as necessary in the public interest”.
Jonathan Crowe, a professor of law at Bond University, said the “broad and vague nature of the guidelines for releasing confidential medical data to police is highly concerning”.
“The definition of ‘public interest’ is particularly open-ended and leaves significant and unchecked discretion to department officials,” he said.
Hank Jongen, a departmental spokesman, said the government took its privacy responsibilities “very seriously” and complied with all the relevant legislation.
He said information on MBS and PBS claims “may be significantly less detailed than the type of information found on a person’s MyHealthRecord” because it did not contain clinical notes made by health services providers.
MBS and PBS data are generally used as administrative records to keep track of government rebates to doctors and patients.
The department is required to report to the privacy watchdog, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, when it releases linked MBS and PBS data. But the Medical Republic has previously obtained a copy of several of these annual reports and the department recorded only five disclosures of linked MBS and PBS data to the police in 2016-17.

Privacy experts have called for the department’s privacy provisions to be brought in line with the My Health Record legislation.
The law was changed in 2018 so that police could no longer access My Health Record data without a court order.
“I would have thought the law relating to access to MBS and PBS data should be updated to reflect the decision by the parliament on the My Health Record,” said Malcolm Crompton, a former privacy commissioner of Australia and founder and lead privacy adviser at Information Integrity Solutions.
Dr Chris Moy, chair of the ethics and medicolegal committee at the Australian Medical Association, said the department’s data privacy laws should probably be put to the “pub test” to see if they still met community standards.

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Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore review – an enchanting world of wannabe idols | Games – Blog – 10 minute

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is an unlikely candidate for mainstream success in the western market. The convoluted name alludes to the fact that it was conceived as a crossover between two obscure Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) and was originally released for that most unloved of consoles, the Wii U. But it is so endearing and well constructed that, once you start playing, you may well develop a mild obsession.
The narrative plays out just like an anime, via beautifully designed cut-scenes and quirky dialogue sequences that offer countless insights into Tokyo street culture. It follows the development of a band of youngsters bidding to become idols, who have signed up to a showbiz agency called Fortuna.

Ripe for obsession … Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. Photograph: Nintendo
The protagonists are 18-year-old Tsubasa, working to overcome her gaucheness as she bids to become a J-pop star and actor, and her childhood friend Itsuki, a heroic type who isn’t quite sure where his talents lie. During the game, they are joined by a large cast of nicely defined and interestingly written characters, including agency boss Maiko (an ex-model partial to a drink or two), Kiria, a pop idol with a hidden soft centre, and Mamori, a kid with a hilarious, popular microwave-cookery show.
All of them turn out to be Mirage Masters: able to battle demon-like Mirages that keep appearing from another dimension to cause enormous disruption in the game’s (recognisable) version of Tokyo. The bulk of the gameplay resides in epic traverses through labyrinthine dungeons battling ever more powerful Mirages and a string of bosses and mini-bosses.
Although turn-based and saddled with bizarre terminology (as is de rigueur for any JRPG), Tokyo Mirage Sessions’ battle system is exemplary. It’s easy to understand, hugely tactical and incredibly satisfying. Its key element is the so-called Sessions: pick the right element-based magic attack for specific enemies, and the other participants of your three-strong team will jump in with a chain of attacks.
As you work through each character’s side-story, they develop the ability to jump into Sessions even if they aren’t in the main battle team, rendering the beautifully depicted battles even more epic, and providing the means to overcome seemingly impregnable enemies.
The characters’ side-stories are great, often playing out like mini-soap operas and cleverly reusing game areas that you have already negotiated. And the character development, while convoluted, is also compelling, enabling you to power up characters you find yourself really caring about. The game cleverly encourages you to keep swapping between them, although Itsuki, as the leader, is ever-present.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions may be the meatiest Switch game since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: it has well over 30 hours of gameplay, and considerably more if you take your time and really look around – which you’re likely to do, since it immerses you in an utterly enchanting world. The chance vicariously to live the lives of a bunch of Tokyo teens and twentysomethings – depicted in a fantasy style but surprisingly believable, thanks to snappy writing – proves incredibly moreish. One design decision taken by the game helped that aspect: the dialogue is spoken in the original Japanese, rather than the customary brattish American voiceovers.
Graphical quality is variable: the cut-scenes and battles look superb, but the story element rather betrays its Wii U origins, with questionable texture work and a lack of resolution. But that barely detracts from the overall experience.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions is one of those rare games that appears unappealing on paper yet turns out to be a triumph. It operates as a sort of digital ambassador for the entire JRPG genre – which often suffers from a perception that it is old-fashioned, saddled with obscure gameplay and of interest only to those obsessed with Japanese culture. Plus, it shines an irresistible light on the eccentric, cute but endlessly beguiling nature of Japanese pop culture.
If you have a Switch, Tokyo Mirage Sessions is an essential purchase – and if you harbour a fondness for anime and its aesthetic, it is worth buying a Switch for. This is, simply, the first cult-classic game of 2020.

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From Communist-era roots to cash cows: Poland’s gaming industry takes on the world – Benchmarking Change- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The drab exteriors of a pair of 1970s buildings in an industrial Warsaw neighbourhood belie the hive of high-tech activity inside where developers, screenplay writers and others at leading video game maker CD Projekt hustle to create the next global hit.
Poland – Eastern Europe’s biggest economy – has quietly developed into a leading video game exporter thanks to low labour costs, a young educated workforce and a thriving gaming tradition rooted in the Communist era.
After CD Projekt’s top-selling Witcher series put the country on the map, foreign investors are keenly searching for promising game developers in a fast-growing market.
“People are starting to take notice of Poland,” said Borys Musielak, founding partner at US-Polish venture capital firm SMOK Ventures, which is in talks with two Asian investors to fund local gaming companies and in January made its first such investment alongside a Finnish partner.
“There have been mainly angel investors and some private equity but now global venture capital groups are looking into the region.”
Poland’s booming video game and esports market was worth US$664 million in 2019 – up from $400 million in 2014 – and is projected to climb to nearly $850 million over the next four years, according to data from PwC.
Witcher
The success of CD Projekt’s medieval fantasy world Witcher has been a key driver. Based on a series of best-selling Polish books and the basis for a Netflix show that premiered in December, the games have sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.
The release later this year of the company’s first person futuristic adventure game “Cyberpunk 2077” is likely to sharpen focus on a sector in which eight companies listed on the main market of the Polish stock exchange between 2015 and 2019.
On the NewConnect market – the bourse’s exchange for smaller companies – 21 debuted during the same period.
“Historically, a lot of those companies chose the stock exchange to finance themselves because there were not many ways to raise capital,” said Mariusz Gasiewski, head of mobile gaming and apps at Google in Poland. “Now it is getting easier as more interest comes from abroad.”
The combined value of the listed gaming companies leapt 82 percent to more than 32 billion zloty (A$12.7 billion) last year, led by CD Projekt, 11 bit studios, PlayWay and Ten Square Games, according to exchange data.
Moreover, CD Projekt’s roughly 27 billion zloty (A$10.3 billion) valuation is rapidly catching up with that of Poland’s biggest company, refiner PKN Orlen, at 36 billion zloty (A$13.7 billion).
Know-how
At CD Projekt — whose headquarters feature Silicon Valley perks such as a gym, film studio and open plan offices — the company has parlayed Poles’ love of video games into a global brand.
“We have been working intensively on increasing the knowledge of CD Projekt among foreign investors,” the company’s president and one of its founders Adam Kicinski told Reuters.
“We are meeting with funds from around the world focusing on western markets, especially in the United States.”
Bigger funding rounds and the tapping of international investors will help Polish companies compete with industry leaders from countries such as China, Japan and the US.
“Due to their know-how and appropriate budgets, foreign investors help those companies go from the stage where they create very good games to the absolute top,” said Stanislaw Just, a former board member of the Polish Games Association who recently started his own company.
Flying Wild Hog, a smaller developer known for the Shadow Warrior series, was acquired by London-based Supernova Capital in 2019, while Artificer, which is working on its debut game, was bought by Dutch-based Good Shepherd Entertainment.
A world we all dreamed of
Poland’s love of video games stems from the Communist era when students flocked to street markets to swap pirated games, building up a flourishing community.
“For the previous generation, Rock & Roll was a ticket to the world we all dreamed of, then came the games and we all played to touch what was happening in the West,” said Grzegorz Miechowski, president of 11 bit studios, whose most popular title “Frostpunk” depicts a dystopian 19th Century England.
Nearly half of Poland’s 38 million population identify as gamers, while there are around 400 active gaming companies — dwarfing an estimated dozen in Germany — with some 100 Polish titles hitting the global market each year.
The country hosts a popular international video game festival as well as one of the largest esports events in the world – the Intel Extreme Masters, which last year drew a record 232 million viewers worldwide.
Miechowski also pointed to Poland’s education system which churns out computer science savvy graduates eager to work in game development.
The government has taken notice too, doling out around 300 million zloty (A$114 million) through a European Union funded program – the fourth round of which is underway – to award developers early stage grants to help gaming projects get off the ground.

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Snickers teases its Super Bowl ads claiming it will fix ‘out of sorts’ world on game day- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Snickers is digging a big hole to tackle the world’s annoying problems, and it claims it will solve those them during the Super Bowl.
The teasers, created by BBDO New York and AMV BBDO, feature people in hard hats digging at a construction site with shovels and heavy equipment, talking about the modern world’s everyday annoyances that brought them there.
Those featured in the teasers state what brought them to help dig the giant hole, things like people talking on speakerphone in public, underachieving grown children still living at home, selfie sticks, robocalls and social media trolls. Text states that “The world is out of sorts. We’ll fix it Super Bowl Sunday.” It’s supported by the hashtag #SnickersFixTheWorld.
“We live in a world today that feels out of sorts and we have a big idea to do something about it,” said Josh Olken, brand director, Snickers. “Will it work? Who knows! But I think fans will enjoy our approach to fix it all that will be revealed in the full Super Bowl LIV commercial.”
The candy bar is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its irreverent ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ campaign with this twist that the world is not quite itself.
Fans will also be able to see the Snickers plan in action when the brand releases a special long-form version of its Super Bowl ad on its YouTube page later in the week. Its Super Bowl ad will debut during the third commercial break of the first quarter of the game.

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No mob bosses in cybercrime world yet: Study- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

There is no ‘Tony Soprano mob boss type’ who is ordering cybercrime against financial institutions globally, say researchers, adding that there are no such thing as organised crime mafias to date. Cybercrime groups function and work together to cause an estimated $445-600 billion of harm globally per year.
“Certainly, there are different nation states and groups engaging in cybercrime, but the ones causing the most damage are loose groups of individuals who come together to do one thing, do it really well – for a period of time – then disappear,” explained Thomas Holt, professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University.
Holt said that organized cybercrime networks are made up of hackers coming together because of functional skills that allow them to collaborate to commit the specific crime.
“So, if someone has specific expertise in password encryption and another can code in a specific programming language, they work together because they can be more effective – and cause greater disruption – together than alone,” said Holt, the co-author of the study.
Holt and lead author ER Leukfeldt, researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, reviewed 18 cases from which individuals were prosecuted for cases related to phishing.
“We found that these cybercriminals work in organisations, but those organisations differ depending on the offense,” Holt said.
“They may have relationships with each other, but they’re not multi-year, multi-generation, sophisticated groups that you associate with other organised crime networks,” he noted in the journal International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.
As things move to the Dark Web and use cryptocurrencies and other avenues for payment, hacker behaviours change and become harder to fully identify, it’s going to become harder to understand some of these relational networks.
The research also debunked common misconceptions that sophisticated organized criminal networks – such as the Russian mafia – are the ones creating cybercrime.
“We hope to see better relationships between law enforcement and academia, better information sharing, and sourcing so we can better understand actor behaviour,” Holt observed.

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Wattam review – wacky world where, from acorns, golden poos grow | Games – Blog – 10 minute

Over a decade has passed since developer Keita Takahashi’s first major work in surrealist game design. Katamari Damacy – a glorious fever dream of the PlayStation 2 era which was recently named one of the Guardian’s 50 best video games of the 21st century – helped cement Takahashi as a connoisseur of the delightfully wacky.
Now, six games and two console generations later, the game designer has released the latest in his absurdist oeuvre. Wattam is the first project Takahashi has created with Robin Hunicke’s studio Funomena. Like the Katamari series, Wattam features a similarly eccentric universe and cast of characters. But unlike its predecessors, Wattam’s eccentricities fail to help it overcome extremely repetitive gameplay.

The toilet of transformation … Wattam Photograph: Funomena
The game’s greatest strength is its sheer abundance of playable characters. Set in the aftermath of a mysterious cosmic disaster that sent every object in the solar system scattering across the universe, Wattam begins by dropping you into the role of a lonely, cube-shaped mayor in an uninhabited 3D world. But eventually you’ll be playing up to 100 different characters – switching from humanoid flowers to bipedal trees to planet-sized plastic ducks to anthropomorphic turds, all strange, sentient creatures who are triggered into existence as you progress through a series of missions aimed at restore the universe as it once was.
Each of these characters has their own particular forte. A sentient acorn, for instance, can burrow into the ground to transform into a tree. That tree can later be used to inhale other characters and then spit them out, transformed into different fruits. In a later puzzle you’ll be introduced to a large, walking human mouth which can be used to eat these fruits, then defecate them out, transforming them again, only this time into walking turds. This triggers a toilet into existence, which forces these turds into its own mouth-like bowl, thus creating golden turds that can be used as an alternative topping on an ice-cream cone. That’s an actual objective in the game.

Watch a trailer for Wattam
The underlying philosophy is pretty clear, and you could argue that it is a precient message in our current political climate. Even the game’s title signifies cooperation. The name Wattam is actually a combination of two words – wa, the Japanese word meaning harmony, and the Tamil word vattam, which translates as circle. Wattam is less about individual heroics and more a lesson in working together. The game offers a utopian view of the world where no character is more powerful than any other, and puzzles can only be solved communally. In fact, friendships and cooperation permeate the game so deeply that you will not be able to progress on a new planet without first holding hands with another character and spinning together in a literal “friendship circle”.
But Wattam quickly settles into a monotonous pattern of activities. Plant a seed, grow a tree, eat a peer, poop a fruit, eat a fruit, poop again, repeat the cycle. Other times the game will give you tasks to carry out which you’ve previously already completed many times. You will repeatedly be asked to find and return the handset of the telephone character across a series of near identical missions, or to gather your cohorts together again and again to make them explode – this is one of the game’s most overused quest types. By the time you’ve successfully completed all the quests in the first of its four floating worlds, you’ll already be well acquainted with all Wattam has to offer.
Like Katamari Damacy, Wattam is a feast of visual gags and imagination. But Takahashi’s newest project ultimately doesn’t have the necessary depth of gameplay to transform itself into more than a silly yet loveable romp.

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Microsoft opens up its Xbox Console Streaming preview to the world – Blog – 10 minute

In context: The game streaming wars are heating up, and just about every major player in this industry has something on the table right now. Google has Stadia, Microsoft is working on Project xCloud, and Sony has its Remote Play and PlayStation Now services.
Microsoft has also quietly been working on Xbox Console Streaming, a function that allows Xbox owners to play any owned and installed Xbox One, or Game Pass title on their Android smartphone or tablet with minimal effort.
The feature has been available to select Xbox Insider program testers for a while now, but today, Microsoft is finally opening it up more broadly. Starting now, as long as you live in one of the many, many countries on this list, you’ll be able to take advantage of Xbox Console Streaming. If you want to do so, you’ll need to sign up for the Xbox Insider program and enroll in the Xbox One Update Preview ring.

Once you’ve done so, open up the Google Play Store on your Android device and snag the Xbox Game Streaming (Preview) app. The rest of the instructions will be fed to you through this app, so it should be pretty straightforward.
In terms of other requirements, the Preview will demand a Bluetooth 4.0-supported Xbox controller, an Android device running version 6.0 (or higher) of the OS, as well as a Microsoft Account. A high-speed internet connection would help, too, but that’s nothing new for this sort of service. Microsoft recommends a controller mount, but that’s not strictly necessary.

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Pantone exaggerates the world we know with its vibrant colour palette- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Pantone wants its customers to look at the world through its colour palette lens and explore its brand in all its shades and hues.
Created by TBWAParis, ‘Create your world with Pantone’ works to assert the brand’s position as a colour authority for designers and brands, and encourage them to rely on its products and services.

The sublime shots reflect our world, but it appears like a fantasy, for the colours are exaggerated by Pantone vibrant offerings.
Exploding with colour, Mexico’s green cactuses are reimagined in deep lapis lazuli blue, that stand out against a gloriously red sky. And Australia’s pinnacle desert looks more like a Stanley Kubrick Space Odyssey set than a natural wonder.

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