The Download: LinkedIn scammers, and annual covid shots

If you just looked at his LinkedIn page, Mai Linzheng would be a top-notch engineer. With a bachelor’s degree from Tsinghua, China’s top university, and a master’s degree in semiconductor manufacturing from UCLA, Mai began his career at Intel and KBR, a space tech company, before ending up at SpaceX in 2013. But all is not what it seems.

Mai Linzheng’s LinkedIn profile is one of many fraudulent pages created to lure users into falling for scams. Mai Linzheng is a scammer who claims to be affiliated with prestigious schools or companies in order to increase their credibility. Then they connect with other users and build a relationship and fall for financial traps.

Victims have lost millions of dollars to scams that originated from the platform and the problem is only getting worse. Read the complete story .

–Zeyi Yang

Podcast: How retail is using AI to prevent fraud

We’ve all been frustrated by a blocked credit card that was triggered by suspicious transactions that were actually quite common. This is the most obvious way that fraud-fighting systems fail, but it’s not the only one.

In the latest episode In machines we trust ,, we discuss how it’s a technological arms race among scammers and companies, with us caught in between. AI is playing a growing role in this fight. You can listen to it on Apple podcasts ,, or wherever you normally listen.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The US is planning an annual covid vaccine
Like the annual flu shot, a covid booster should offer a high degree of protection for a full year, according to the White House. (WP $)

2 The Merge is crypto’s greatest test to date
If it’s successful, it could solve many of the industry’s problems. (Economist $)
The Ethereum upgrade will greatly improve its security. (Protocol)

3 Doomscrolling is bad for your health
Partially avoiding the news made the study participants feel less distracted. (The Guardian)
How to mend your broken pandemic brain. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Apple’s relationship with China is long and complicated
The company’s plans to shift some iPhone production to India may not go as smoothly as hoped. (NYT $)
Apple is planning to appeal Brazil’s decision to ban iPhones sold without chargers. (Bloomberg $)

5 Twitter and Elon Musk’s lawyers met at a pre-trial hearing
Whistleblower Peiter Zatko’s claims loomed large over the meeting. (WSJ $)
Musk cited the war in Ukraine as a reason to delay the takeover. (FT $)
Twitter’s new edit button will be able to change tweets up to five times. (TechCrunch)

6 No, the shift to clean energy isn’t raising the risk of grid failures
It’s a common argument that’s fundamentally flawed. (Vox)
India’s answer to Silicon Valley is largely underwater thanks to intense flooding. (FT $)
These plastic batteries could help store renewable energy on the grid. (MIT Technology Review)

7 Mobile gambling is birthing a new generation of addicts
Heightened by the constant accessibility of the devices. (Motherboard)

8 How Minecraft turned its back on the blockchain
Causing its players to lose thousands of dollars’ worth of crypto in the process. (Rest of World)

9 How the internet solved a six-year mystery
Starring a mysterious pointy-eared man. (New Yorker $)

10 TikTok’s teachers tread a fine line
Between shining a light on their profession and respecting student privacy. (Wired $)

Quote of the day

“One of the claims is, ‘This is digital blackface.'”

–James O. Young, a professor of philosophy at the University of Victoria, explains the backlash surrounding virtual rapper FN Meka, which critics claim perpetuated Black stereotypes, to the New York Times.

The big story

Technology exposed Syrian war crimes over and over. Did it work?

October 2019

Syria was one of the first major conflicts of the social media era, with many Syrians had cell phones with cameras and access to high-speed internet.

The material collected by Syrians allowed people far away from the actual fighting to take part in the investigative efforts too. In 2012 Eliot Higgins, then an unemployed British blogger, began sifting through videos and photos posted from Syria, trying to identify the weapons being used; later he started a website, Bellingcat, and assembled a team of volunteer analysts.

These efforts led to the most detailed documentation of the conflict in human history, spurred by optimism about the potential for social media and digital connectivity. You only needed to act on the information from the ground. Read the full story.

–Eric Reidy

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. Have any other ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me. )

There’s a whole website dedicated to bread tags, because of course there is.
Sao Paulo’s barbers sure are a creative bunch.
Balloon jousting will only end in tears.
The only good tattoo is a bad tattoo, apparently.
For the science-minded among you, here’s an intriguing reading list for fall.

Read More