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Sony delays almost its entire movie lineup into next year


Sony is the latest movie studio to announce major changes to its release slate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as reported by Variety. Tentpole movies like Uncharted, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Peter Rabbit 2 are all seeing big delays, leaving Kevin Hart’s Fatherhood as one of the only major titles on Sony’s 2020 schedule — and that was itself brought forward to October from January.

The upcoming third Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man movie appears to be unaffected; the Far from Home sequel’s release date was already set as July 16, 2021. Sony’s planned July 2020 movies, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Jared Leto’s Morbius, have both been moved into next March.

  • Greyhound – TBD (from 6/12/2020)
  • Fatherhood – 10/23/2020 (from 1/15/2021)
  • Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway – 1/15/2021 (from 08/07/2020)
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife – 03/05/2021 (from 07/10/2020)
  • Morbius – 03/19/2021 (from 07/31/2020)
  • Uncharted – 10/8/2021 (from 03/05/2021)
  • Untitled Sony/Marvel – TBD (from 10/08/2021)

Sony’s drastic schedule changes suggest the company does not see movie theaters reopening until the end of summer or later. Other studios have made more cautious adjustments — Warner Bros, for example, moved Wonder Woman 1984 to August 14th from its planned June 5th release date. Disney’s Mulan has been indefinitely delayed, while new James Bond movie No Time to Die is now set for November.



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Facebook deletes Brazil President’s coronavirus misinfo post – TechCrunch


Facebook has diverted from its policy of not fact-checking politicians in order to prevent the spread of potentially harmful coronavirus misinformation from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Facebook made the decisive choice to remove a video shared by Bolsonaro on Sunday where he claimed that “hydroxychloroquine is working in all places.” That’s despite the drug still undergoing testing to determine its effectiveness for treating COVID-19, which researchers and health authorities have not confirmed.

“We remove content on Facebook and Instagram that violates our Community Standards, which do not allow misinformation that could lead to physical harm” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. Facebook specifically prohibits false claims regarding cure, treatments, the availability of essential services, and the location or intensity of contagion outbreaks.

BBC News Brazil first reported the takedown today in Portuguese. In the removed video, Bolsonaro had been speaking to a street vendor, and the President claimed “They want to work”, in contrast to the World Health Organization’s recommendation that people practice social distancing. He followed up that “That medicine there, hydroxychloroquine, is working in all places.”

If people wrongly believe there’s an widely-effective treatment for COVID-19, they may be more reckless about going out in public, attending work, or refusing to stay in isolation. That could cause the virus to spread more quickly, defeat efforts to flatten the curve, and overrun health care systems.

This why Twitter removed two of Bolsonaro’s tweets on Sunday, as well as one from Rudy Giuliani, in order to stop the distribution of misinformation. But to date, Facebook has generally avoided acting as an arbiter of truth regarding the veracity of claims by politicians. It notoriously refuses to send blatant misinformation in political ads, including those from Donald Trump, to fact-checkers.

Last week, though, Facebook laid out that COVID-19 misinformation “that could contribute to imminent physical harm” would be directly and immediately removed as it’s done about other outbreaks since 2018, while less urgent conspiracy theories that don’t lead straight to physical harm are sent to fact-checkers that can then have the Facebook reach of those posts demoted.

Now the question is whether Facebook would be willing to apply this enforcement to Trump, who’s been criticized for spreading misinformation about the severity of the outbreak, potential treatments, and the risk of sending people back to work. Facebook is known to fear backlash from conservative politicians and citizens who’ve developed a false narrative that it discriminates against or censors their posts.



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The Office’s John Krasinski launched a YouTube channel dedicated to good news


John Krasinski, best known for playing Jim Halpert on NBC’s The Office, is back behind a desk and talking into a camera — this time, in a video on his new YouTube channel dedicated to sharing good news.

The show is exactly what it sounds like: Krasinski will talk about a few heartwarming, good stories that people might be looking for right now while stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are stories about the support cities around the world have shown health care workers from their own apartments, clapping and cheering out their windows. There are stories about a homeowner making a delivery driver’s day by leaving gifts on the porch. There are even stories about a man who purchased 100 lobsters in Maine to help a local fisherman. It’s an adorable video, made all the cuter by Krasinski’s sincerity.

“I’m John Krasinski, and if it isn’t clear yet, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing,” he says.

But since this is John Krasinski, there are a few guest appearances that make it a little more than a regular vlog. Krasinski is joined halfway in by Steve Carell, who played opposite him in The Office. The show just celebrated its 15-year-anniversary, and the two spoke a little about being on the series together, the lasting success it’s had, and their favorite scenes.

Then, toward the end of the video, Krasinski talks to a teenager who went viral over the weekend. Courtney “Coco” Johnson returned home from her last chemotherapy treatment last week and was surprised by a group of her friends welcoming her back — from a safe social distance.

“I wrote to your mom and told her that I cried for a very long time after watching that, just pure joy,” Krasinski tells her. “You guys rock for sharing that with the rest of the world.”

Krasinski isn’t the first celebrity to turn to YouTube during the pandemic, but he is one of the first to do so just for fun. Late-night comedians like Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Stephen Colbert have uploaded daily “mini” versions of their shows from home. Like the late-night hosts, Krasinski’s tech setup isn’t superb by any stretch of the imagination. The artwork is drawn by his daughters, there’s no microphone for Krasinski to speak into, and it kind of looks like he’s filming with a low-grade webcam.

That only adds to the appeal of the video. This isn’t a big production designed to garner millions of subscribers and land top sponsorships. Although, at the time of this writing, Krasinski’s channel has more than 335,000 subscribers. His video also landed at the top of YouTube’s Trending page and amassed more than 3.1 million views.

Krasinski is vlogging because that’s a way for him to connect with people. Like Meyers, Fallon, Kimmel, and Colbert, creating maintains a sense of normalcy for otherwise extremely busy people, and uploading helps distract people who are stuck at home from what’s happening. In many ways, Krasinski is the quintessential YouTuber: someone with the time, audience, and desire to make videos, directly from his home and without a big production team.

It’s unclear how often Krasinski will vlog, but he ends the first episode teasing that new episodes will be uploaded to the channel. The only thing missing is a sign-off from The Office actor asking people to like and subscribe.



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The opening chunk of Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor is now available to play for free


By Emily Gera,
Monday, 30 March 2020 22:53 GMT

The upcoming chapter of The Elder Scrolls Online is still over a month away, but you can now play the opening prologue quest for free.

For the next two weeks, this “bite-sized portion” – as developer ZeniMax Online Studios calls it – of The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor will also be available to those who don’t own ESO. From April 1 at 3pm BST through to April 13, The Elder Scrolls Online is having a Free Play event.

Here’s what you need to know: “Once the Prologue is open, use the free Quest Starter, titled ‘Prologue Quest: The Coven Conspiracy’, from the in-game Crown Store. Players must then travel to the Fighter’s Guild in Daggerfall, Davon’s Watch, or Vulkhel Guard (depending on their Alliance) and speak with fan favourite Lyris Titanborn to accept the first of two quests, titled ‘The Coven Conspiracy’.”

The quest is described as a perilous journey that “takes players into the depths of Blackreach to confront the schemes of Skyrim’s nefarious Icereach Coven, and it progresses the Dark Heart of Skyrim storyline into the Greymoor Chapter,” according to the developer. “There are new collectible rewards up for grabs, too.”

The ESO Free Play event gives players access to the ESO base game, including four of the game’s original classes and 23 zones. The full Greymoor chapter will land May 18 on PC and Mac, and June 2 on PS4 and Xbox One.

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Valve will delay some Steam auto-updates to preserve bandwidth


Valve announced today that it won’t automatically update games in customers’ libraries as regularly as before to help preserve bandwidth during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Starting this week, Valve says Steam will only immediately auto-update games you’ve played in the last three days. Otherwise, Valve says Steam will be spreading out updates over several days. Steam had already been scheduling game updates for “the next off-peak local time period,” according to Valve, though if you want to update a game manually, you can still initiate that yourself. Valve already lets you schedule auto-update windows and even self-throttle your connection to Steam if you want to additionally optimize how much of your bandwidth Steam uses at any given time.

Valve joins Sony and Microsoft in adjusting video game downloads to help reduce internet traffic while many people are self-quarantining at home. Sony announced it would slow down PlayStation game downloads in Europe on March 24th, and the company extended that policy to the US on March 27th. Microsoft said on March 28th that it’s working to “deliver higher-bandwidth activities like game updates during off-peak hours” in partnership with Xbox game publishers. Streaming video providers, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, Netflix, YouTube, have also reduced streaming quality in an attempt to lower network traffic.

Steam has broken its own concurrent user records multiple times this month, most recently having more than 23 million concurrent players over the weekend.





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WeWork sells off social network Meetup to AlleyCorp and other investors – TechCrunch


Meetup, the social networking platform designed to connect people in person, is being spun out from shared office space provider WeWork, the company confirmed on Monday. The site is being sold to AlleyCorp and other private investors for an undisclosed sum, but one that’s reportedly far less than the $156 million acquisition price WeWork paid for the social network back in 2017.

Fortune (paywalled) was first to break the news of Meetup’s sale. The company has also now put out a press release with further details.

Meetup, which has operated for two-and-a-half years as a WeWork subsidiary, will divest itself from its parent company and continue to operate, it says. The site today serves 49 million registered members and more than 230,000 organizers who create an average of 15,000 in-person events per day.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Meetup had been struggling. The company in November announced a round of layoffs amid other cost-cutting measures. And these had followed earlier cuts of 10% of staff during acquisition negotiations.

With the COVID-19 pandemic now in full force, fewer people than ever are willing and able to meet in-person, leading to Meetup to position itself today as a place for groups to meet “online during times of crisis,” its release said. That remains to be seen.

The investor groups in Meetup’s latest acquisition are led by Kevin Ryan’s AlleyCorp and also include other “mission-driven private funds” and “accomplished technology executives,” the company claims.

The deal will see Ryan joining Meetup as chairman of the Board. David Siegel will remain Meetup CEO and board member, and will continue to lead the company.

Meetup groups will continue to operate, as will Meetup’s enterprise business solution, Meetup Pro, which has been used by over 1,500 clients to date, including Adobe, Google, Microsoft Azure, IBM, Twitter and Looker, among others.

“This acquisition provides the long-term capital to ensure that Meetup focuses on what is most important: the organizers who make Meetup successful, our passionate members, and our dedicated employees,” said David Siegel, CEO of Meetup, in a statement. “We are excited to continue on our mission of empowering personal growth through real human connections, and I’m happy to have brought in a team of smart investors who share and support the same values,” he said.

WeWork’s intention to sell off Meetup was previously known. Unfortunately for the longtime social network, it was one of several casualties arising from WeWork’s larger troubles.

It’s unclear, however, what the future holds for Meetup. Though the government lockdown policies may eventually end, consumers’ appetite for getting together in real-life groups with people they first met online may not be as strong as it was before. Meetup may have to shift more of its focus to supporting online-only groups — a market that’s today dominated by Facebook Groups, or niche apps catering to specific categories, like Peanut for moms or Nextdoor for neighbors, for instance.

“We are confident in the enormous potential of the business and Meetup’s mission of bringing people together in substantive ways,” said AlleyCorp’s Ryan, in a statement. “We are very excited to collectively serve and grow Meetup’s extensive and incredibly engaged user base.”



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Nintendo is remastering numerous Super Mario games for Switch this year


By Emily Gera,
Monday, 30 March 2020 17:23 GMT

Nintendo plans to re-release a number of titles in its Super Mario catalogue to Switch systems this year.

According to a report from VGC, multiple sources have confirmed the game company’s plans to remaster titles from the 35 year-old franchise. Eurogamer has additionally confirmed these remasters will include 1997’s Super Mario 64, 2002’s Super Mario Sunshine, and 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy.

A new instalment of Paper Mario and a deluxe version of 2013’s Super Mario 3D World are also allegedly in the works.

The Super Mario 35th Anniversary reveal was initially set to take place during E3 2020, prior to the event’s cancellation due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The company has said it will continue to be “flexible and redirect” efforts to “other ways” to keep people abreast of its activities and products, adding it will not likely attend industry events for the “foreseeable future.”

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Defense Distributed’s 3D-printed gun files are back online


3D-printed firearms company Defcad has released a trove of gun-making blueprints, only to approved US residents. According to The Wall Street Journal, Defcad is selling access for a $50 annual fee, which director Cody Wilson describes as a “Netflix for guns” model.

The company has temporarily released blueprints before. Under the Obama administration, the plan ran afoul of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) rules that prevent exporting weapons abroad. The Trump administration offered significantly more leeway, but its approval has been tied up in legal battles. Now, Wilson tells the Journal that he’s vetting everyone who wants to access the files, using geolocation and other technical measures to ensure they’re located in the US.

Defcad’s library (created as part of the broader Defense Distributed project) offered 3,680 files at launch and plans to add thousands more, although the Journal notes that some are already in the public domain. Its terms of use forbid prominent critics from accessing the system, including law enforcement agencies in several states as well as news outlet The Trace, which focuses on reporting gun violence.

Among other things, the files could let users 3D-print plastic guns without serial numbers — a possibility that has worried gun control advocates and some state attorneys general since it could make the guns more difficult to detect and trace. The practical effects of this new system, however, are unclear. Defcad previously evaded the ban by mailing gun files to customers, and its blueprints were downloaded thousands of times when they appeared online in 2018, so they’ve been circulating for some time.

The vetting system may not be technically airtight either, even if Wilson describes it as “impervious” to legal challenge. He acknowledges that a user could download files and share them with someone else. But he contends that “it’s not quite living in reality to assume that you can 100 percent secure information that’s online.”



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Animal Crossing New Horizons: How to create your own island tunes


Zelda theme A, stop, E, pause, pause, A, A, B, C, D, E, pause, pause, pause, stop, stop Pokemon Centre theme C, G, C, G, stop, F, stop, E, D, B, stop x 6 Mario theme E, E, stop, E, stop, C, E, pause, G, stop, stop, G, pause, stop x 3 Monster Hunter theme F, stop, C, F, G, pause, stop, stop, C, F, G, F, C, stop, C, pause Zelda Lost Woods theme F, A, B, pause, F, A, B, pause, F, A, B, E, D, pause, pause, stop Wii Shopping theme D, D, stop, C, C, stop, B, B, stop, A, A, stop x 5 Pokemon victory theme D, C, B, C, D, D, D, stop, E, E, E, stop, D, D, D, stop Do you want to build a snowman? G, G, G, D, G, B, A, pause, B, pause, stop x 6 Hedwig’s theme A, pause, D, pause, pause, F, E, pause, D, pause, pause, pause, A, pause, G, pause Hunger Games whistle A, pause, C, pause, B, pause, E, pause, pause, pause, stop x 6 The Rains of Castamere A, E, F, D, pause, pause, pause, F, pause, F, pause, F, E A, pause, pause My Neighbor Totoro G, A, B, C, D, pause, B, G, pause, D, pause, C, pause, A, pause, pause Castlevania Bloody Tears A, E, D, C, B, C, B, A, B, C, D, C, B, G, B, A Toss a coin to your Witcher A, C, E, pause, D, C, D, E, pause, E, D, C, B, C, pause, A





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Facebook invests $100M in journalism as COVID-19 makes it more vital than ever


Facebook has pledged to invest $100 million in the news industry at a time when the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means that accurate reporting is more important than ever. $25 million will be provided in grant funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project, while the remaining $75 million will come in the form of “additional marketing spend” to worldwide news organizations.

Publishers are expected to be hit hard by the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The advertising revenue that many publishers rely on is being squeezed, as companies slash marketing budgets amidst financial uncertainty. Research firm eMarketer has lowered its growth projections for worldwide media ad spend by 3 percent, SearchEngineLand reports, while Reuters has reported that the virus could cost the US advertising industry billions of dollars in lost revenue.

At the same time, high-quality and accurate reporting is more important than ever, as misinformation about the virus spreads online. “If people needed more proof that local journalism is a vital public service, they’re getting it now,” Facebook says in its press release. The company has pledged to do its bit to remove the misinformation that’s posted on its platform, but the crisis is also putting pressure on its own moderation teams. There is so much misinformation that one fact-checking organization, Snopes, has been forced to scale back its routine content production or else risk overwhelming its staff.

Facebook says that it plans to concentrate its grants on the publishers that need them the most in the hardest hit countries in the world. It announced the first series of grants last week, when it said that it would be giving $5,000 to 50 local newsrooms across the US and Canada to cover “unexpected costs” associated with covering the viral outbreak.

The $100 million comes in addition to the $300 million Facebook pledged to spend on news programs, partnerships, and content at the beginning of 2019. Facebook said it planned to invest that $300 million over the course of three years. Later that year it launched a program to help local news organizations boost digital subscriptions, and also announced plans to spend £4.5 million on training local journalists in the UK.

Facebook says that usage of its services including private messaging and video calling are surging during the pandemic, as people self-isolate and connect with distant friends and family. However, Facebook is also seeing the same reduction in ad spending as other online businesses. “Our business is being adversely affected like so many others around the world,” it said in a blog post.



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