#BlueLivesMatter and Beyoncé: Russian Facebook ads hit hot-button US issues

Congress releases 3,500 Russian-made advertisements focused on race, gun control, LGBT rights and immigration

The US Congress has published 3,500 Facebook ads that were created by Russia’s Internet Research Agency in an effort to divide Americans ahead of the 2016 presidential election and beyond.

The ads cover a range of issues, including racial injustice, gun control, LGBT rights, immigration and patriotism. Included with each ad is information about how many people saw or engaged with the ad, the price paid in rubles and the target audience.

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Fake terror attacks: why are the frightening pranks going viral?

A fake Isis attack in an Iranian mall is the latest example of extreme YouTube pranks, a trend driven by American teens

It sounds like another terrifying story of insurgent terrorism in the Middle East: on Tuesday, men dressed in the black garb of Islamic State stormed through a mall in Iran, brandishing swords and guns, shouting “Allahu Akbar”. Shoppers reportedly fled the scene in fear.

It was reminiscent of the 2017 Tehran Isis attacks in which 17 people were killed. Except that the mall “attack” was actually a Punk’d style prank. The weapons were fake, and the presumed terrorists were actually actors. The whole incident was a piece of viral marketing for a film called Damascus Time about an Iranian father and son that are kidnapped by Isis. Some shoppers worked out what was going in and filmed the stunt on camera phones, but others can be heard screaming in terror.

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Fitness apps found to make almost no difference to users’ health

Researchers studied a range of apps and found only one was effective, while others failed to spark improvements or made the problem worse

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An app developed by the Swedish government to curb drinking among university students actually led to them drink more, while a globally popular fitness app made almost no difference to the weight of those who used it, a review of the effectiveness of health apps has found.

Researchers from Bond University in Queensland decided to examine which health and wellness apps, of the quarter of a million available, had been proven to actually work, in the hope that they could provide doctors with a list of evidence-based apps to suggest to patients.

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