Facebook Ad Boycott Will Go on After Zuckerberg, Sandberg Blow Off Civil Rights Groups Demands

https://gizmodo.com/facebook-ad-boycott-will-go-on-after-zuckerberg-sandbe-1844299485

Illustration for article titled Facebook Ad Boycott Will Go on After Zuckerberg, Sandberg Blow Off Civil Rights Groups Demands

Photo: Christof Stache (AP)

CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook—the social media company you may recognize from United Nations accusations of complicity in genocide and its role in recklessly flooding the web with conspiracy theories and extremism—predictably failed to placate a coalition of civil rights groups leading an ad boycott at a meeting on Tuesday, the groups said. As such, the boycott will go on.

Groups leading the #StopHateForProfit campaign include the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, Free Press, the NAACP, and Sleeping Giants, and they’ve managed to sign on over 900 advertisers. Those companies are participating to varying degrees that don’t always involve total divestment, and the boycott has yet to significantly impact Facebook’s bottom line. But it has also become a major embarrassment for Facebook, highlighting its continual shell game of promising to fight hate speech and then taking half-hearted or ineffective action.

Throughout the first half of the year, Facebook seemed increasingly poised to ally itself with the definition of “free speech” favored by right-wingers. In the most visible examples, Zuckerberg and crew twisted and baked themselves into lumpy brain pretzels to justify not removing posts by Donald Trump spreading baseless lies about voter fraud and threatening violence against protesters. The CEO even went on Fox News to proclaim Facebook wouldn’t be the “arbiter of truth.”

Then, last month, Zuckerberg abruptly flipped his public messaging on the matter in response to the boycott, staff walkouts, and mounting political pressure. But talk is cheap and Facebook is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. In private, Zuckerberg assured staff advertisers would return “soon enough,” called the situation more of a “reputational and a partner issue,” and claimed Facebook wouldn’t bow to pressure from outside parties. On Tuesday morning, Sandberg posted a lengthy letter claiming that Facebook would do more to stand “firmly against hate,” but simultaneously laid the groundwork for the company to bail on any of the recommendations in a soon-to-be released “independent civil rights audit” (commissioned, for the record, by Facebook). At the meeting later in the day, Zuckerberg and Sandberg failed to meet any of the boycott campaign’s demands, civil rights groups present said.

In a statement to Gizmodo via email, the Stop Hate for Profit campaign wrote the “only recommendation [Facebook] even attempted to address is hiring a civil rights position,” but that the company refused to commit to making it a c-suite level role. There was “no attempt” by Facebook to address any of the other recommendations, according to the campaign. Those included no longer actively recommending users join hate and extremist groups via algorithm, proactively taking down those groups, establishing a civil rights infrastructure, third-party independent auditing of its anti-hate and misinformation efforts, and refunding advertisers whose ads run alongside content that violates Facebook’s terms of service.

“Zuckerberg offered no automatic recourse for advertisers whose content runs alongside hateful content,” Stop Hate for Profit wrote. “He had no answer for why Facebook recommends hateful groups to users. He refused to agree to provide an option for victims of hate and harassment to connect with a live Facebook representative.”

“He declined to adopt common sense content moderation policies and practices like the ones put forward by the Change the Terms coalition, or develop a process to ensure that their terms of service are fairly applied and do not bend to political expediency,” the group added. “And he did not offer any tangible plans on how Facebook will address the rampant disinformation and violent conspiracies on its platform.”

Instead, the campaign said that Zuckerberg offered only the “same old defense of white supremacist, antisemitic, islamophobic and other hateful groups on Facebook” and the “same old rhetoric, repackaged as a fresh response… None of this is hard, especially for one of the world’s most innovative companies whose founder coined the term move fast and break things. Mark Zuckerberg, you aren’t breaking things, you are breaking people.”

“For over 2 years, NAACP has entered into dialogue,” NAACP president Derrick Johnson told CNN. “We’ve watched the conversation blossom into nothingness.”

“This isn’t the first time our organizations have asked Facebook to clean up its act,” Jessica González, co-CEO of Free Press, wrote to Gizmodo in a separate statement via email. “We’ve seen over and over again how it will do anything to duck accountability by firing up its powerful PR machine and trying to spin the news. We stand with truth and justice, and have been through this enough times to know when Facebook is trying to play us.”

“… This isn’t over,” González added. “We will continue to expand the boycott until Facebook takes our demands seriously.”

In a call after the meeting, the New York Times reported, Color of Change head Rashad Robinson said “They showed up to the meeting expecting an A for attendance. Attending alone is not enough.”

As for the release of Facebook’s commissioned civil rights audit, Robinson said on the call, it’s “only as good as what Facebook ends up doing with the content… [or else] it’s like going to the doctor, getting a new set of recommendations about your diet and then not doing anything about it and wondering why you’re not getting any healthier.”

In a statement to CNBC, a Facebook spokesperson said they “want Facebook to be free of hate speech and so do we. That’s why it’s so important that we work to get this right. We know we will be judged by our actions not by our words and are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement.”

Keeping Up With the Coronas—or Why the Virus Is Winning

https://www.wired.com/story/why-coronavirus-is-winning/

It’s unlikely a coincidence that countries run by women have done far better controlling corona than countries run by men. They’re less obsessed with being “right” and more focused on taking care of things (and people). That’s just basic biology: When women step out of the spotlight to assess what needs doing, they don’t have to worry about losing their masculinity.

That said, among the impossible happenings last week was Dick Cheney launching the hashtag #RealMenWearMasks to coax guys with fragile egos to cover up. A whole industry has popped up to make masks macho enough for “real men”: whiskey bottle masks, Darth Vader masks, mustache masks. Seriously, this is a real thing.

Part of what’s wrong with our vision of “right,” no doubt, is our bloated diet of advice books, columns, TV shows, videos, Instagram feeds. They school us in right way to be content, raise children, have sex, succeed, be a man. It goes without saying these generalities almost never apply to individual cases. What’s right for which man? Which kids? Succeed at what? Content with what?

What’s right is what works in any given space, time, context. Newton’s laws of gravity are “wrong” if you want to explore a black hole, but can be right enough to get spacecraft around the solar system.

What matters is finding the right way to thrive in whatever world you’re in.

Corona’s environment is us, its all-too-welcoming “hosts.” It’s found the right way to use us to get it where it wants to go.

What do we have that corona doesn’t? Well, we’ve got science, we’ve got art, we’ve got fun.

Science tells us what’s true, what’s possible. Art reminds us of what it means to be human, what matters. Play lets us fool around with crazy ideas that might turn out to be brilliant. Between them, we’ve got tools for creating a sustainable equilibrium that preserves the best and discards the worst of our ideas for vaccines, for prevention, even policing.

Meanwhile, we’ve got families and friends we care about. We’ve got orchestras playing for houseplants, ballerinas dancing at home with their dogs and cats, Zoom charades, cat videos, now even dancing “Karen” videos. We’ve got magicians. We’ve even got search tools that reveal exactly how Houdini made that elephant disappear.

Viruses mutate to survive, to take advantage of changing environments. Corona can’t live without us. So it learns all about our lungs, our hearts, our behavior, our global health system, the better to spread and grow strong. In turn, it teaches us about ourselves.

Black people, in a weirdly analogous way, have been learning about white people’s worlds for centuries—in order to survive. Most white people haven’t felt the same need to learn about Black people’s worlds. So to some, scenes of brutality seemed to come almost out of the blue (pun intended)—an elephant if there ever was one, trampling on people for real—on their freedoms, yes, but also literally on their lives. What does that teach us about ourselves?

In the end, we must co-evolve. Like the spinning Earth, we roll along together, or not at all.

Trevor Noah recently said that if mutation is corona’s secret weapon, then “we’re going to have to mutate to fight back.”

He concentrates, muttering to himself: Mutate! Mutate! Mutate!

A third eye appears on his forehead. He can’t see it, of course, because it’s a part of himself.

He shrugs his shoulders. “I guess nothing happened.”

Maybe we’re already adapting and just don’t know it.

Photographs: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty Images; Andrea Savorani Neri/Getty Images; Steve Pfost/Getty Images


More From WIRED on Covid-19

Hungry wolf shows up on bear cams, scarfs dozens of fish

https://mashable.com/article/bear-cam-wolf/

Alaska’s Brooks River, home to the livestreaming bear cams, is the dominion of big, fat bears.

Yet early Saturday morning, when the waterfall where the bears feast was quiet, a gray wolf appeared on the cams and started pouncing on 4,500-calorie sockeye salmon. Bear cam viewers — who are global, devoted, and passionate documenters of all that happens on the explore.org cameras — watched the wolf snag and scarf bounties of fish.

“The bear cam viewers counted the wolf catching about 30 fish,” Mike Fitz, the resident naturalist for explore.org and a former park ranger at Katmai, told Mashable. “Without the cams we wouldn’t have known it.” 

Wolves are spotted around Katmai National Park and Preserve, but Fitz had never seen a wolf fishing at the falls for a long time, in this case some three hours. Though a rare sighting there, a wolf exploiting a river teeming with salmon, without the immediate threat of bears, makes sense.

“Bears and wolves compete for many of the same resources,” explained Fitz.

The wolf at the Brooks River falls on July 5, 2020.

The wolf at the Brooks River falls on July 5, 2020.

Hungry wolf on July 4, 2020.

Hungry wolf on July 4, 2020.

In 2016, Katmai rangers spotted a bear sitting atop a moose carcass beside the one road in the park. When the bear eventually left, wolves appeared, apparently ravenous. 

“They just eviscerated the moose carcass,” said Fitz.

Some Alaskan gray wolves eat lots of salmon, at times making up over half of their diet. One group of wolves, observed by biologists in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, near Katmai, exploited the salmon run there each summer, but then switched to land-dwelling prey when the fish petered out.

“Katmai is a symbol of ecosystem health.”

Katmai is part of the Bristol Bay ecosystem, home to the largest run of sockeye salmon on the planet. Dense concentrations of fat bears thrive in the region, as protected lands and natural resources allow unimpeded salmon to spawn, lay eggs, and sustain enormous populations of fish. 

The Trump administration, however, is weighing the potential construction of an unprecedented copper and gold mine in the area, replete with water treatment plants to discharge mine water into streams, a 188-mile-long natural gas pipeline to power the mine, pits for mud-like mining waste (known as tailings), roadways for trucking, and a brand new port to unload mined materials onto ships.

“It’s talking about turning a large part of Alaska into an industrial mining district,” Alaskan bear-viewing guide Drew Hamilton, who is the former assistant manager of Alaska’s bear-filled McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge, told Mashable last year.

Just impacting one section of the Bristol Bay watershed may have detrimental effects to the salmon populations on which the fat bears and gray wolves depend, recent research has shown.

For now, Katmai remains one of the last pure, untrammeled wilds left on Earth. 

“Katmai is a symbol of ecosystem health,” said Fitz.

Declining eyesight can be improved by looking at red light, pilot study says

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/30/health/declining-eyesight-red-light-scn-wellness/index.html

If the results are replicated in future studies, and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the light could augur a new era in which millions of people have access to the easy home-based therapy. It would give them a new layer of protection against the natural aging processes that steal our eyes’ sensitivity to light and ability to distinguish colors.

“You don’t need to use it for very long to start getting a strong result,” said lead author Glen Jeffery, a professor of neuroscience at University College London’s Institute of Ophthalmology.

The science works, Jeffery said, because the light stimulates the health of mitochondria, which are like batteries in our cells.

And because mitochondria are implicated in a broad range of diseases, insights like these could help lead to new treatments for diseases including Parkinson’s and diabetes.

All it takes is a few minutes

The study was small, a pilot study to test the concept. Researchers recruited 12 men and 12 women, whose ages ranged from 28 to 72. Each participant was given a small handheld flashlight that emitted a red light with a wavelength of 670 nanometers. That wavelength is toward the long end of the visible spectrum, and just short of an infrared wavelength, which tends to be invisible to the human eye.

They spent three minutes each day looking into the light over a period of two weeks.

The lights work on both cones and rods in the eye. Cones are photo receptor cells that detect color and work best in well-lit situations. Rods, which are much more plentiful, are retina cells that specialize in helping us see in dim light,
according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Researchers measured the cone function in subjects’ eyes by having them identify colored letters with low contrast. And they measured their eyes’ rod sensitivity by asking them to detect light signals in the dark.

Hummingbirds can see an array of colors invisible to humansHummingbirds can see an array of colors invisible to humans

There was a 14% improvement in the ability to see colors, or cone color contrast sensitivity, for the entire two dozen participants.

Improvement, however, was most significant in study participants over age 40. For those ages, cone color contrast sensitivity rose by 20% over the course of the study.

That age bracket also saw significant increases in rod threshold, which corresponds to the ability to see in low light. Study participants under 40 also experienced some improvement, but didn’t see the same jump as older subjects. Younger eyes haven’t declined as much as older eyes.

“The retina ages faster than any other organ in your body,” Jeffery said. “From an evolutionary perspective, we fundamentally have never lived past 40.”

Now, of course, we regularly live well beyond that age, and need ways to nurture the organs that for millennia have been the most likely to wear out earliest in life.

Researchers from University College London used small red lights like this one to stimulate retina mitochondria with the goal of stoppying eyesight loss.Researchers from University College London used small red lights like this one to stimulate retina mitochondria with the goal of stoppying eyesight loss.

Adults ages 40 and higher are are at the highest risk for eye diseases such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration,
according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These diseases can occur in young people but their prevalence increases with age. At the beginning stages, these conditions are treatable, although they can start creeping in before symptoms appear.

That’s why the AAO
recommends increasing regular eye exams to every two to four years for people once they cross age 40, and to increase exams to every one to two years at age 65.
The CDC notes that the progression of these diseases
can also be slowed by eating a diet rich in antioxidants and maintaining normal levels of blood sugar, body weight and blood pressure. If those indicators get out of normal range, they can further degeneration by breaking down blood vessels in the eyes, the American Heart Associations
says.

It’s easy and safe to use

This new study in humans builds on results in fruit flies and in mice, which also showed that red light could improve the functioning of mitochondria.

For instance, a 2015 study
showed that near-infrared light could spur energy production, improve mobility and extend the lifespan of fruit flies. And a 2017 study of visible red light at the edge of infrared
reported a 25% improvement in the functioning of retinas in mice.

Longer-term independent safety studies of red lights in humans would have to garner similar benefits for this method of eyesight protection to be approved by the FDA. If so, you’d still need to use a properly vetted product under a doctor’s supervision.

For example, while the laser pointers approved by the FDA for sale in the US don’t cause eye damage, a 2018 case study in the New England Journal of Medicine
outlined how a boy in Greece permanently injured an eye by pointing a green laser pointer into it.

One of the best assets of the red lights they used is that they are safe, Jeffery said. The researchers all tested the red lights on their own eyes before beginning the study and have found no ill effects. The research subjects in the study also reported no ill effects.

“If you use this every day, we have no evidence to say it’s detrimental,” Jeffery said.

That fits with prior research, in which the safety of red lights has long been established, explained Dr. Raj Maturi, an associate professor at Indiana University School of Medicine.

“It would be a very easy pathway to FDA approval,” he said.

But more studies are needed to prove it helps

Although these lights aren’t harmful, Maturi wasn’t ready to embrace the idea that they’re incredibly helpful either.

This pilot study lacked a control group of patients who could have been exposed to a dummy light that emitted, he noted. The results found in this small study of 24 participants might not bear out in the larger population. Of the subjects over 40 in this study, individual characteristics of a few of them would be enough to make the eyesight improvements look stronger than they actually are.

Outdoor playtime might help kids' eyesightOutdoor playtime might help kids' eyesight

“The data set could be brought down by three or four subjects,” he said.

And while participants improved in how they saw the blue color axis, Maturi pointed out that they didn’t have statistically significant gains in how they saw the red color axis.

To really test these insights, it’ll take a double-blind controlled study with a larger group of subjects and longer monitoring over time.

LED lights could help with many diseases

LED lights work in this arena because of what scientists call the
mitochondrial theory of aging, in that humans and animals age as damage accumulates in mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA.

Therefore stimulating mitochondria to reduce damage is a way of slowing aging in general. Our retinas are chock-full of mitochondria — the highest concentration of mitochondria of any part of the body.

That’s a main reason why Jeffery and his colleagues sought to test out the red lights in a specific area of aging such as eyesight decline. Mitochondria absorb longer wavelengths of light, making the near-infrared light their preferred choice to test.

Red lights can improve function in a range of diseases, particularly in the mitochondria in those undergoing aging with conditions such as Parkinson’s, he noted.

“Every disease could have a mitochondrial angle,” Jeffery said. “In diabetes, for instance, your mitochondria are very upset.”

Each application carries that same human desire to fend off processes that are both natural and universal.

“We’re all going to suffer from aging. So let’s try to go gently if we can,” he said.

Get a lifetime supply of on-demand fitness classes for under £100

https://mashable.com/uk/shopping/july-4-live-streaming-fitness/

Products featured here are selected by our partners at StackCommerce.If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

A lifetime subscription to Live Streaming Fitness is on sale for £63.39 as of July 4.
A lifetime subscription to Live Streaming Fitness is on sale for £63.39 as of July 4.

Image: pexels

TL;DR: A lifetime subscription to Live Streaming Fitness is on sale for £63.39 as of July 4, saving you 84% on list price.


How many times have you made a resolution to workout more often? And how many times have you abandoned that resolution just a few weeks later?

We get it: exercising sucks. Thankfully, there are lots of fun options for becoming healthier – and we’re not just talking about Peloton. Live Streaming Fitness, for instance, is a great option that will only cost you £63.39 for a lifetime pass.

Featuring on-demand fitness courses led by top industry trainers and meal plan inspiration from certified nutritionists, Live Streaming Fitness is an easy path to living a healthier life. Classes are available around the clock, so you can log in to your account whenever and wherever you have an internet connection, then choose from yoga, cardio, strength training, or other specialised workout classes of various difficulty levels.

Need advice on healthy food or meal plans? Access to certified nutritionists, cooking shows, and recipe inspiration will get you started off on the right foot. You can fine-tune your diet and exercise regimens based on your specific needs, plus set goals and challenges to keep you on track and motivated.

Live Streaming Fitness ultimately saves you time and money. Usually £400, you can get a lifetime subscription for just £63.39. That’s a one-time payment for lifetime access.

Beyond Burger arrives in Alibaba’s grocery stores in China

http://techcrunch.com/2020/07/01/beyond-meat-china-alibaba/

Beyond Meat is starting to hit supermarket shelves in China after it first entered the country in April by supplying Starbucks’ plant-based menu. Within weeks, it had also forayed into select KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut outlets — all under the Yum China empire.

China, the world’s biggest market for meat consumption, has seen a growing demand for plant-based protein. Euromonitor predicted that the country’s “free from meat” market, including plant-based meat substitutes, would be worth almost $12 billion by 2023, up from just under $10 billion in 2018.

The Nasdaq-listed food giant is now bringing its signature Beyond Burgers into Freshippo (“Hema” in Chinese), Alibaba’s supermarket chain with a 30-minute delivery service that recorded a spike in orders during the pandemic as people avoided in-person shopping.

The tie-up will potentially promote the animal-free burgers to customers of Freshippo’s more than 200 stores across China’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. They will first be available in 50 stores in Shanghai and arrive in more locations in September.

“We know that retail will be a critical part of our success in China, and we’re pleased to mark this early milestone within a few months of our market entry,” Ethan Brown, founder and chief executive officer of Beyond Meat, said in a statement.

Plant-based meat has a long history in China, serving the country’s Buddhist communities before the diet emerged as a broader urban lifestyle in more recent times. Amid health concerns, the Chinese government told citizens to cut back on meat consumption in 2016. The middle-class urban dwellers have also been embracing fake meat products as they respond to climate change.

“Regardless of international or local brands, Chinese consumers are now only seeing the first generation of plant-based offerings. Purchases today are mostly limited to forward-thinking experimenters,” Matilda Ho, founder and managing director of Bits x Bites, a venture capital firm targeting the Chinese food-tech industry, told TechCrunch. “The good news is China’s per capita consumption of plant-based protein is amongst the highest in the world.”

“For these offerings to scale to mass consumers or attract repeat purchases from early adopters, there is tremendous opportunity to improve on the mouthfeel, flavor, and how these products fit into the Chinese palate. To appeal to health-conscious flexitarians or vegetarians, there is also plenty of room to improve the nutritional profile in comparison to the conventional tofu or Buddhist mimic meat,” Ho added.

The fake meat market is already rife with competition. Domestic incumbent Qishan Foods has been around since 1993. Hong Kong’s OmniPork and Alpha Foods were quick to capture the new appetite across the border. Nascent startup Zhenmeat is actively seeking funding and touting its understanding of the “Chinese taste.”

Meanwhile, Beyond Meat’s rival back home Impossible Foods may be having a harder time cracking the market, as its genetically-modified soy ingredient could cause concerns among health-conscious Chinese.

Coronavirus: The human cost of fake news in India

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-53165436

Phone screen with Covid-19 symbol showingImage copyright
Getty Images

Fake or misleading news can have a real impact on those who find themselves the targets. This has been a particular problem in India during the coronavirus pandemic, where reliable sources of news are frequently drowned out by unverified information online.

False information has had serious consequences for minority communities as well as some business sectors such as the meat industry.

The Reality Check team has looked at the extent of this misinformation and some of those directly affected.

Religious tensions exposed

India’s religious fault lines are an important theme across false stories spreading online, something that has been further highlighted by the coronavirus outbreak.

We’ve looked back at claims debunked by five Indian fact-checking websites between January and June this year.

They fall under four broad headings:

  • Coronavirus outbreak
  • February’s Delhi riots
  • Citizenship Amendment Act
  • Claims about the Muslim minority

Of the 1,447 fact-checks on five Indian websites, claims around coronavirus dominated, making up 58% of them.

This was largely related to false cures, lockdown rumours and conspiracy theories about the origins of the virus.

In the period between January and early March (before the coronavirus outbreak took hold), fake news was dominated by the Citizenship Amendment Act, a new law that offers citizenship to people from three neighbouring countries, but only if they are not Muslim.

The law led to protests across the country by those who said it would marginalise Muslims.

Riots in mainly Muslim neighbourhoods in north-east Delhi in February also fuelled a lot of misleading claims around that time.

This included doctored videos, fake images, the reusing of old videos and images in a different context, fake messages, and messages with fake attributions.

What happened when coronavirus hit India?

Our analysis found that misinformation targeting Muslims spiked in the first week of April.

This was after several members of an Islamic group called the Tablighi Jamaat, who had attended a religious gathering in Delhi, tested positive.

As more members of the group tested positive, false claims about Muslims deliberately spreading the virus became viral.

In several parts of the country, there were calls for an economic boycott of Muslim businesses.

Vegetable seller Imran – who didn’t want to use his real name – told the BBC that when a fake video on WhatsApp said to show a Muslim man spitting on bread went viral, calls for a boycott of Muslims grew.

“We were scared to enter villages where we would usually go to sell vegetables,” said Imran, who lives in Uttar Pradesh state.

Imran and other vegetable vendors from his community now only sell their produce at a city market.

In the capital Delhi, the Minorities Commission, which works to safeguard the rights of minority communities, formally notified the police of the need to act against people stopping Muslims from entering residential areas or carrying on with their business.

“Not only people who were associated with the Tablighi Jamaat [were attacked], there were attacks on Muslims in all parts of India,” Zafarul Islam, the chairman of the commission, told the BBC.

Meat traders targeted

False claims were also widely spread in India that eating vegetarian food and eliminating meat from your diet could prevent you getting coronavirus.

The government launched campaigns to stop the spread of such misinformation.

These false WhatsApp messages and social media posts had an impact on both Muslim and non-Muslim groups alike who were involved in the meat industry.

The Indian authorities made an assessment that by April, misinformation about meat-eating generally had contributed to losses of up to 130bn rupees (£1.43bn) in the poultry industry.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Sales of chicken have fallen after misleading claims were made about eating meat

Poultry is one of the main forms of meat consumed in India.

“We were giving away chicken for free because we didn’t know what to do with the stock,” said Sujit Prabhavle, a meat trader in the western state of Maharashtra.

“Our sales fell by 80%,” he said.

“I saw a message on WhatsApp that said eating chicken would spread coronavirus, so people stopped buying meat,” said Touhid Baraskar, another meat seller from Maharashtra.

Some of the most viral false information has included fake claims that former top Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar had asked for meat shops to be shut.

“When misinformation comes from sources they trust, people will believe whatever comes their way without fact-checking it,” said Pratik Sinha, founder of Alt-News, a fact-checking website.

The meat industry was not the only victim of fake news.

The fall in sales in the poultry industry had a major knock-on effect on the sale of eggs, and of maize – which goes into much of the feed for chickens.

The sale of eggs fell by 30% in Delhi, 21% in Mumbai and by 52% in Hyderabad in Telangana state between January and June, according to official data.

Maize farmers are now selling their produce up to 35% lower than the minimum support price offered by the Indian government as a result of the fall in demand.

Additional research by Shadab Nazmi in Delhi

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