Taika Waititi reveals Thor: Love and Thunder details in live stream with Tessa Thompson and Mark Ruffalo – CNET

Taika Waititi, the director of Thor: Ragnarok, revealed a few more details about the upcoming Thor sequel during an Instagram Live Thursday. Waititi was joined by special guest Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie in the Thor and Avengers movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The two revealed they're about four or five script drafts into Thor: Love and Thunder.

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Mark Ruffalo and Tessa Thompson joined Waititi's live stream.

Screenshot by Claire Reilly/CNET

"We've got a script," Waititi said. "I can't wait to do it, there's so many great things in it ... it's so over the top now. It makes Ragnarok seem like a very run-of-the-mill safe film."

Thompson revealed she hasn't read the latest script, while Waititi brought up the possibility of adding space sharks to the movie. We'll also get more details on Korg's back story and Kronan culture in Thor: Love and Thunder.

Waititi also showed off new design pictures of the character Meek wearing feminine costumes, with a -- fake, we're assuming -- script in the background showing Tony Stark is alive. "Yes, Meek is a girl and Tony I don't know what you're talking about," Waititi said in response to fans' questions about the pictures. On Christian Bale's role in the upcoming movie, Waititi pretended the stream was breaking up when asked about it.

The Instagram Live was intended to be a narrated viewing of Thor Ragnarok, but quickly turned into Thompson and Waititi chatting and answering questions from fans while cooking dinner at their respective homes while under lockdown in the US.

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Screenshot by Corinne Reichert/CNET

On Thor Ragnarok, the pair also gave a few more details: Thompson said she drank peppermint schnapps before a fight scene with Cate Blanchett on the advice of the stunt team to soothe her nerves; and neither of them have watched the movie since the premiere.

The live stream has so far has peaked at around 20,000 viewers as of 5:00 p.m. PT. Waititi also showed off the haircut his children gave him during quarantine last week.

Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo joined the live stream at the one-hour mark, with the two joking that Natalie Portman will be playing She-Hulk as well as Lady Thor. Ruffalo and Waititi detailed a deleted scene from Ragnarok, wherein Hulk was eating a bucket of worms and it was "the hardest scene to film."

Waititi and Ruffalo lastly discussed the coronavirus pandemic, including how they're entertaining and teaching their children and their push to help people in the acting industry who are now out of a job.

When signing off after the two-hour live stream, Waititi said he'll continue working on Love and Thunder and will "hopefully start shooting soon."

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Nurses fighting coronavirus: We should be able to do better – CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

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Battling the Coronavirus pandemic on the front lines, nurses don't have the option of sheltering at home. Instead, they work in hospitals and medical offices, caring for patients with COVID-19 while trying to avoid contracting the virus themselves and securing the masks and protective gear they need.

It's a tough fight, but as registered nurse Deborah Burger told CNET Editor in Chief Connie Guglielmo, her colleagues are in the battle for the long haul. And it's a fight that starts outside the emergency room by combating misinformation about the coronavirus that's clogging the public discourse.

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A medical worker wears protective outside a Coronavirus testing facility in Hayward, California.  

James Martin/CNET

"[Nurses] are acting to make sure we put pressure on our governments to get the protection we need," said Burger, who's also the president of National Nurses United, the country's largest nurses union and professional organization. "We know there is a lot of misinformation out there, and we are trying to provide nurses with accurate and reliable information so they can do their jobs safely and care for their patients in a safe manner and not become vectors of this disease in their hospitals."

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Examples of misinformation include promises that COVID-19 is no worse than the common flu, that existing drugs can help cure the disease in the absence of a vaccine (which isn't expected for another year) and recommendations about the kinds of masks that are safe to use.

More masks

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Masks, of course, remain a critical issue for health care workers. Burger says a shortage of N95 masks, which are the most effective protection for health care workers, remains a huge problem. "[Nurses] are being told today to reuse masks," she says. "They are even considering reprocessing and resterilizing masks, and we believe this puts nurses' health and patients' health at risk when we know this disease is extremely contagious."

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Deborah Burger

The contagious nature of the coronavirus and its rapid spread around the planet are two reasons it's different from any in history like SARS, H1N1 MERS and Ebola where getting the equipment into the right place at the right time was a challenge. "We have learned a lot from these other pandemics," she says. "So protections are in place, but they are going unused or ignored...We should be able to do better, and it is unfortunate that we are not."

Now What is a video interview and panel series with industry leaders, celebrities and influencers covering the major changes and trends impacting business and how consumers connect in the "new normal" 2020 world and beyond. There will always be change in our world, there will always be technology helping us navigate that change, and we'll always discuss surprising twists, turns, and potential solutions.

We'll post more clips from the interview shortly. Until then, check out a list of Covid-19 resources from National Nurses United.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Amazon says face masks available for staff, but workers deny it – CNET

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Amazon employees hold a protest over conditions at the company's Staten Island, New York, fulfillment center last week.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Amazon this week has continually promoted one of its latest coronavirus safety efforts, saying it's now made millions of face masks available to its employees and delivery partners throughout its logistics network.

But some of these workers said Thursday that only a potion of employees are given masks in their warehouses and inventory is already limited.

"You have to ask for a mask; they are really running low," said Jordan Flowers, an Amazon warehouse worker in Staten Island, New York. He spoke during a Thursday conference call with media that was organized by Athena, an advocacy group that has heavily criticized the e-commerce giant.

The three Amazon workers who were involved in the call also said temperature checks at warehouses -- another new health protocol added in the past week -- weren't strongly enforced and that in some cases employees were dodging the system. For instance, Mario Crippen, from a Romulus, Michigan, warehouse, said workers could easily walk past temperature check stations at the warehouse entrance, punch in their time cards and go to work. Jana Jumpp, from Jeffersonville, Indiana, said some workers were taking Tylenol to pass the checks.

"The millions of masks we ordered weeks ago have been distributed across our network," Timothy Carter, an Amazon spokesman, said Thursday night. "They are available to all Amazon associates, delivery service partners, Amazon Flex participants, seasonal employees and Whole Foods Market Store employees. And we are encouraging everyone to take and use them."

The company has staunchly defended its efforts to protect its employees during the crisis, saying it's already instituted 150 new health and safety protocols, including "tripling down on deep cleaning," staggering the starts of shifts and enforcing social distancing in warehouses. It's also said it provides paid time off for workers who are infected or quarantined, and that it's increased hourly pay by $2 and raised overtime pay.

These three employees are among a growing list of Amazon workers who've spoken out about health issues during the coronavirus crisis, with some organizing walkouts at their facilities last week. These workers have gotten more vocal as dozens of Amazon warehouses across the US have had confirmed coronavirus cases and a walkout organizer, Christian Smalls, was fired after he violated a company-mandated quarantine order.

These workers' statements on Thursday also point to the apparent difficulty Amazon faces in constantly adding new health measures to its over 500 logistics locations in the US. To ensure problems don't fall through the cracks, Amazon has said it's starting to institute safety audits at these facilities. That work adds to the complex problems its leaders have to deal with, as the company responds to a surge in customer demand for online orders while it works to keep its system running during the pandemic.

The workers on Thursday said they worry that if Amazon fails to keep its workers healthy and facilities clean, it could end up spreading the virus to customers. 

In addition to a handful of walkout demonstrations at Amazon warehouses, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating a Pennsylvania location for coronavirus safety issues, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. Also, many elected officials have called on Amazon to do more to protect its workers.

Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, is one of several major retailers facing a backlash from its workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week, workers for Target's Shipt delivery service organized a walkout. That demonstration followed similar actions from workers for Instacart, Amazon warehouses and Amazon-owned Whole Foods. Also, there've been several confirmed cases among employees at Walmart and major grocers.

Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, the world's richest person, visited Amazon locations this week to thank employees for their efforts. Also, Amazon is working on several new concepts to improve worker safety, such as a disinfecting fog, which it said is often used in hospitals. Amazon on Thursday said it's also starting to work on developing its own coronavirus testing capabilities to be able to regularly test its employees to prevent further spread of the pathogen.

While there's been significant criticism of Amazon's efforts to protect its workers, the company has said the "vast majority" of its employees have continued to come to work and haven't been involved in the ongoing protests. For example, an Amazon spokeswoman said Monday that a demonstration in Staten Island that day brought out only 10 people, half of whom weren't Amazon employees.

One New Jersey warehouse employee, who asked to remain anonymous because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media, said he was impressed by Amazon's efforts.

"Every retail company has a warehouse operation and they are all going through this," he said. "There isn't something unique about Amazon."

Crippen, the warehouse worker from Michigan, didn't share that impression.

"If I go inside Amazon, I'm fearful for my life," he said, "because we are running low on face masks, we have no hand sanitizer and we cannot keep six feet apart, away from each other in certain areas of the building."

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Uber hears drivers’ demands, ships out masks for coronavirus protection – CNET

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Uber says it's shipping millions of masks to its drivers and delivery workers.

Angela Lang/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Two weeks ago, a New York-based drivers group sent a letter to Uber with a demand: give drivers sanitizing equipment and face masks. The letter was sent after an Uber driver became the first known gig worker to die of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

"We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Queens Uber driver Anil Subba who contracted the coronavirus after transporting a sick rider home from the airport," wrote the Independent Drivers Guild, which represents 200,000 drivers in the tri-state area. "To prevent further tragedy, those drivers who continue to work transporting essential personnel are in need."

The group never got a response.

But last week, Uber announced it was beginning to ship out one-quart bottles of disinfectant spray to some drivers for cleaning their cars. And, on Thursday, the company announced it's distributing millions of face masks to its workers.

"Drivers and delivery people are providing essential services around the world, from helping essential workers get around to delivering meals to people staying home," Gus Fuldner, Uber's vice president of safety and insurance, wrote in a blog post. "As they help our communities through this crisis, helping them stay safe is our priority."

Gig workers have been on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic, which has now infected more than 1.5 million people and killed nearly 95,000 worldwide. Many drivers say they've been hit hard seeing their earnings plummet or by getting infected with the virus. While Uber has promised to give two weeks paid leave to sick workers, CNET found that the assistance has been difficult to come by.

Workers for other gig economy companies have also come up against roadblocks getting sick leave and protective gear. Some of them, like Instacart and Amazon shoppers, have staged strikes demanding more help. Part of the problem is that store shelves have emptied during the coronavirus outbreak and this safety gear is now in short supply.

The masks that Uber is distributing aren't N-95 respirators that healthcare workers need, but rather ear-loop face masks coming from manufacturers in China. An Uber spokesman told CNET that the company shipped its first order of about 500,000 masks to drivers in New York City on Tuesday and it's receiving a shipment of nearly 500,000 more to send to drivers in other hard-hit US cities shortly. 

Over the next few weeks, the company said it will deliver tens of millions of additional masks to other cities and regions around the world.

Moira Muntz, a spokeswoman from the Independent Drivers Guild, said drivers in the coalition have yet to receive any of the disinfectant sprays or masks from Uber.

"Despite early promises of providing drivers with cleaning supplies, those never materialized," Muntz said. 

The Uber spokesman told CNET that the masks destined for New York drivers are currently in the mail and in some cases will be automatically sent to drivers with the disinfectant spray.

The first batch of the disinfectant spray was limited and so Uber said it had to prioritize the spray for the most active drivers in the worst hit cities. Those selected drivers are able to place an order through the Uber app and the company said it'd send the spray to their homes for free.

For the masks, the Uber spokesman said the process will be the same.

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Watch this rare, striking footage of a snow leopard calling out in the wild – CNET

This young snow leopard is signalling his presence to the world. 

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

If you've never heard the call of a snow leopard, take a moment to imagine what that might sound like. A majestic, rumbling lion roar? The throaty snarl of a tiger? 

As it turns out, a young male snow leopard sounds a lot like the infamous "Wilhelm Scream" from Hollywood movies.

UK wildlife charity The White Lion Foundation released a rare video of a chatty snow leopard as captured by a remote camera in the mountains of northern Pakistan. "The adult male is exercising his vocal calls to establish territory and to let females know he is in the area," said John Knight, a foundation board member, in a statement on Thursday.

Knight described the footage as "extremely unusual and special." The leopards' remote ranges and solitary lifestyle make them elusive subjects in the wild. 

Snow leopards are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The foundation estimates the wild population to be  between 4,000 and 7,500 cats. The big cats are under threat from poachers and from clashes with livestock herders.

The White Lion Foundation has partnered with the Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organisation in Pakistan to monitor and protect the snow leopard population. The foundation is also working with local communities to build leopard-proof corrals for livestock. 

The foundation's video brings the world a little closer to an elusive animal, and highlights just how wild and wonderful big cats can sound when they want to be heard.

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How to watch Trae Young play in ESPN’s NBA 2K Players Tournament tonight – CNET

Trae Young

After Kevin Durant's early exit, Trae Young is the highest seed remaining in the NBA 2K Players Tournament.

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With no March Madness, can I interest you in a bit of April Absurdity? The NCAA basketball tournament is canceled and the NBA season is on hold, but hoop fans can fill the roundball void with a virtual NBA 2K20 tournament. And not just any NBA 2K tournament you might find on Twitch. For one thing, 16 current NBA players, including former MVP and recovering coronavirus patient Kevin Durant, signed on to play. For another, it's broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2.

Read more: Phoenix Suns continue season on NBA 2K20

The quarterfinals start tonight, Thursday, April 9, at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT) and a champion will be crowned on Saturday, April 11. 

NBA 2K Players Tournament matchups and results

Following the standard March Madness script, the NBA 2K Players Tourney saw its share of first-round upsets. Top seed Kevin Durant got bounced by No. 16 seed Derrick Jones Jr. while No. 14 seed Patrick Beverley upset No. 3 seed Hassan Whiteside and No. 13 seed Rui Hachimura knocked out No. 4 seed Donovan Mitchell.

In other action, Trae Young (2) coasted by Harrison Barnes (15), Devin Booker (5) topped Michael Porter Jr. (12) and Andre Drummond (6) destroyed DeMarcus Cousins by 52 points. Montrezl Harrell (8) beat Domantas Sabonis (9) and, in a slight upset, Deandre Ayton (10) beat Zach LaVine (7).

Players were seeded based on their NBA 2K20 rankings. (Ties in rankings were broken by NBA tenure.) 

Here are the quarterfinal matchups for the NBA 2K Players Tournament:

In addition to bragging rights, the winner of the tournament will receive $100,000 from the NBA, NBA2K and the National Basketball Players Association to give to a charity of his choice to support coronavirus relief efforts.

NBA 2K Players Tournament schedule

Each player has a pool of eight NBA teams from which to choose, but they can use each team only once during the tournament. Here's the broadcast schedule for the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals:

Quarterfinals

The quarterfinals will be played on Thursday, April 9 at 7-11 p.m. ET (4-8 p.m. PT) on ESPN2.

  • Rui Hachimura vs. Devin Booker, 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT)
  • Derrick Jones Jr. vs. Montrezl Harrell, 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT)
  • Trae Young vs. Deandre Ayton, 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT)
  • Patrick Beverley vs. Andre Drummond, 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT)

Semifinals and finals

The semifinals and finals will be played on Saturday, April 11 at 3-7 p.m. ET (12-4 p.m. PT) on ESPN.

How to watch the NBA 2K Players Tournament

As well as ESPN and ESPN2, you can watch the tournament on the ESPN App, NBA.com and the NBA App. Plus, you can stream the games on the @NBA and @NBA2K YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Facebook pages.

You don't need cable or satellite TV to watch the tournament on ESPN and ESPN2. Both channels are offered on four of the five major live TV streaming services.

Sling TV's $30-a-month Orange package includes ESPN and ESPN2. Sling TV's plans are currently discounted by $10 for the first month. Read our Sling TV review.

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Get smarter without leaving home: Here’s a free month of The Great Courses Plus – CNET

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The Great Courses

When's the last time you attended a class? If it's been a few years, you might appreciate The Great Courses, a sort of "Netflix for learning." The Great Courses offers a few hundred adult-level courses in categories as varied as economics, food and wine, science, literature, fine arts and travel. Every course has high video production quality, often with computer graphics and animations to help explain the lecture, delivered by an expert in the field. Usually, The Great Courses offers a 14-day trial before the subscription kicks in. But right now we've got an exclusive deal for Cheapskates readers. You can get a 30-day free trial to The Great Courses, but only if you use the button below (or, if you want to be pedantic, the link earlier in this sentence). If you go to the site any other way, you get the standard 14-day trial. 

If you like The Great Courses, you can let the clock run out on the trial, after which you'll be billed for whichever plan you chose when you signed up. You can opt to be billed $20 per month, or pay $30 once every three months. Yes, $20 per month is pretty pricey, but the quarterly billing plan is half that cost -- pretty reasonable, especially if you find yourself binging on education.

I honestly can't say enough good things about The Great Courses. It's not like watching a YouTube video of a college lecture; these are polished and highly informative, often accompanied by an (optional) PDF guidebook that's sort of like a textbook custom-made for the class you're watching. And the professors are credible public speakers with credentials in their subject matter. Randomly clicking around the science curriculum, for example, one of the first classes I ran across was an astronomy survey course taught by Neil deGrasse Tyson. And not everything is economics and rocket science; you can find classes on yoga, mindfulness, how to draw and a survey of the wines of California. 

You can watch The Great Courses in a browser, using the iOS or Android app, or using a Roku player, Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV.

If you're spending more time at home than you used to because of, you know, the global pandemic, there's probably never been a better time to give The Great Courses a shot. Watch some lectures for the simple joy of learning something new.  

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Facebook releases Quiet Mode so you can take a break from social media – CNET

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Facebook has new tools to limit your time on the social network.

Image by Pixabay; illustration by CNET

Facebook users who are spending more time on the social network as they stay at home to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus now have a new tool to limit their use of the app. On Thursday, the company released a feature called Quiet Mode, which mutes notifications and lets you schedule a social media break.

The tool showcases how Facebook is trying to tackle the potential drawbacks of social media as more people turn to the site while social distancing. Studies have shown that social media use can fuel mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, especially among teens. Even Facebook has acknowledged that social media can be bad if people are passively consuming content rather than using sites to interact with others. The company has also been testing other features, including a way to hide how many "likes" a post receives on Facebook and Instagram.

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Facebook's new Quiet Mode will show you how much time you have left before your social media break ends.

Facebook

To access Quiet Mode, you go to your settings menu on Facebook and click Your Time on Facebook. Then you go to Manage your time, where you can schedule Quiet Mode for a certain amount of time or use it immediately. If you try to access the app, it'll display how much time is left before your break ends, but the tool also gives you the option to use Facebook for 15 minutes. The social network is rolling out Quiet Mode globally, but it's currently available only on the iPhone. Facebook is also working on an Android version that's scheduled to be released in May.

The company first released a tool called Your Time on Facebook in 2018. Quiet Mode is another update. Facebook is displaying new data within the tool, including how many times you opened the app within the last week, how your usage compares to the same time last week and daytime versus nighttime usage. 

Outside of these new tools, Facebook said it's donating $2 million to support organizations such as Vibrant Emotional Health, which operates the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US; Kids Help Phone in Canada; and Centro de Valorização da Vida in Brazil.

The company is sharing World Health Organization self-care tips for relieving stress and staying active. Facebook-owned Instagram introduced a new live series from Netflix's account, called Wanna Talk About It? in which celebrities discuss mental health issues with experts from groups such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, NAMI and The Trevor Project. Instagram has a "pause all" feature in its settings that'll also mute notifications. 

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also spoke with Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University who has researched loneliness, about mental health on Thursday.

In a Facebook Live video, Holt-Lunstad said loneliness can increase the risk of dying early and it's also normal to crave socialization during a time of social distancing.

"Just like hunger is a motive to seek out food and thirst is this motive to seek water," she said, "loneliness is this motive to reconnect."

Despite the risks to mental health, the psychologist encouraged people to social distance to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. The impact of loneliness is chronic and happens over a long period of time, she said, while COVID-19 is an imminent threat. She added that she would "hate" for anyone to use her research on loneliness to justify not social distancing.

Holt-Lunstad and Sandberg also went through tips for coping with loneliness. That included talking to your neighbors from your porch at a distance of at least six feet, video chatting and expressing gratitude.

Sandberg said she considers herself a grateful person but the pandemic also makes her think about being thankful for activities such as being able to go to a restaurant or hug a friend before the shelter-in-place orders went into effect.

"When we are able to do that I think we will have that just deeper appreciation," she said.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Facebook releases Quiet Mode so you can take a break from social media – CNET

coronavirus-facebook--logo-9724

Facebook has new tools to limit your time on the social network.

Image by Pixabay; illustration by CNET

Facebook users who are spending more time on the social network as they stay at home to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus now have a new tool to limit their use of the app. On Thursday, the company released a feature called Quiet Mode, which mutes notifications and lets you schedule a social media break.

The tool showcases how Facebook is trying to tackle the potential drawbacks of social media as more people turn to the site while social distancing. Studies have shown that social media use can fuel mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, especially among teens. Even Facebook has acknowledged that social media can be bad if people are passively consuming content rather than using sites to interact with others. The company has also been testing other features, including a way to hide how many "likes" a post receives on Facebook and Instagram.

interstitial2.png

Facebook's new Quiet Mode will show you how much time you have left before your social media break ends.

Facebook

To access Quiet Mode, you go to your settings menu on Facebook and click Your Time on Facebook. Then you go to Manage your time, where you can schedule Quiet Mode for a certain amount of time or use it immediately. If you try to access the app, it'll display how much time is left before your break ends, but the tool also gives you the option to use Facebook for 15 minutes. The social network is rolling out Quiet Mode globally, but it's currently available only on the iPhone. Facebook is also working on an Android version that's scheduled to be released in May.

The company first released a tool called Your Time on Facebook in 2018. Quiet Mode is another update. Facebook is displaying new data within the tool, including how many times you opened the app within the last week, how your usage compares to the same time last week and daytime versus nighttime usage. 

Outside of these new tools, Facebook said it's donating $2 million to support organizations such as Vibrant Emotional Health, which operates the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US; Kids Help Phone in Canada; and Centro de Valorização da Vida in Brazil.

The company is sharing World Health Organization self-care tips for relieving stress and staying active. Facebook-owned Instagram introduced a new live series from Netflix's account, called Wanna Talk About It? in which celebrities discuss mental health issues with experts from groups such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, NAMI and The Trevor Project. Instagram has a "pause all" feature in its settings that'll also mute notifications. 

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also spoke with Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University who has researched loneliness, about mental health on Thursday.

In a Facebook Live video, Holt-Lunstad said loneliness can increase the risk of dying early and it's also normal to crave socialization during a time of social distancing.

"Just like hunger is a motive to seek out food and thirst is this motive to seek water," she said, "loneliness is this motive to reconnect."

Despite the risks to mental health, the psychologist encouraged people to social distance to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. The impact of loneliness is chronic and happens over a long period of time, she said, while COVID-19 is an imminent threat. She added that she would "hate" for anyone to use her research on loneliness to justify not social distancing.

Holt-Lunstad and Sandberg also went through tips for coping with loneliness. That included talking to your neighbors from your porch at a distance of at least six feet, video chatting and expressing gratitude.

Sandberg said she considers herself a grateful person but the pandemic also makes her think about being thankful for activities such as being able to go to a restaurant or hug a friend before the shelter-in-place orders went into effect.

"When we are able to do that I think we will have that just deeper appreciation," she said.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Google searches could illuminate the shadowy spread of the coronavirus – CNET

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Google searches could hold clues to the spread of the coronavirus.

i-Sense
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Thanks to limited testing and data, the pathways that the novel coronavirus uses to spread remain relatively invisible and challenging to track. Now researchers are mining Google search data for insights into the propagation of the coronavirus and the respiratory disease it causes, COVID-19, as well as its symptoms and other impacts. 

One data scientist says he's found evidence of a new symptom of the disease hidden amid countless search queries, while another team is working on models that can reveal the true extent of community spread in a population. 

Researchers from Microsoft, Harvard Medical School, Public Health England and University College London are hoping to use machine learning and Google search data to track the spread of COVID-19.

"I see this as a longer-term project that will run its course until, at least, the first, and hopefully the last, wave of the pandemic is over," the project's leader, Vasileios Lampos from University College London, told me.

Lampos says the project is ongoing -- a report on the work is being updated regularly on GitHub -- and more data is needed to validate the team's observations, but the hope is that machine learning models analyzing search data can predict the prevalence of COVID-19 in specific countries or other populations. 

The basic concept is that when community spread of COVID-19 is occurring in a population, people with the infection begin to Google the symptoms they're seeing. Of course, people who don't have the virus may also do searches about symptoms after hearing about them through news reports, so the model Lampos and colleagues are developing aims to control for this and other complicating factors. 

Previous research has shown that flu-related Google searches tracked actual rates of flu infection in the US. Lampos' project builds off a similar effort to estimate the presence of flulike illness.

While search data might be able to act as an imperfect but still helpful proxy for tracking the virus in lieu of ubiquitous testing, it can also help us learn more about the virus and how it affects us. 

Economist and data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz reported in The New York Times the results of his own ad hoc research, which seemed to reveal a new COVID-19 symptom popping up in Google searches among populations with high rates of confirmed cases. 

"Searches for 'my eyes hurt' over the previous week were highest in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana and Michigan," he writes.

Now playing: Watch this: Studies test wearables as early coronavirus detection...

5:16

Indeed, the American Academy of Opthamology is now advising eye doctors that "reports suggest the virus can cause a mild follicular conjunctivitis."

Search data can also provide other valuable trend information before official statistics can be compiled for things like unemployment. Finance giant UBS has already been keeping tabs on Google search interest in unemployment on the state and national level. 

Tracking the virus through search isn't yet a perfect science, but at this point public health leaders are hungry for any data they can get. Lampos says his team has been sending what they have to Public Health England on a weekly basis. 

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