The Download: the mortality issue, and America’s new favorite shopping app

The must-reads

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

1 Conspiracy theorists have seized upon Russia’s “dirty bomb” claims
Despite there being no evidence for its existence. (NYT $)
+ Russia’s presentation on the so-called dirty bomb contained 9/11 footage. (Motherboard)
+ The war in Ukraine is dragging us back to a bloodier age. (Economist $)

2 Celebrity deepfakes are advertising’s next frontier
The companies behind them think the guaranteed attention is worth the potential legal repercussions. (WSJ $)
+ Inside the strange new world of being a deepfake actor. (MIT Technology Review)

3 Twitter’s most active users are turning their back on it
And its staff aren’t entirely sure why. (Reuters)
+ Twitter has been ever madder than usual over the past week. (Motherboard)
+ Elon Musk is optimistic he can close his deal by Friday. (Reuters)
+ Why Twitter still has those terrible Trends. (MIT Technology Review)

4 US election officials are swamped with public records requests 
It’s all thanks to one man in Florida. (Bloomberg $)

5 Climate activists are suing governments
They claim that authorities’ inaction to protect nature has harmed their constitutional rights. (Hakai Magazine)
+ Nature-based solutions can help to mitigate the climate crisis’ effects. (CNET)
+ Climate action is gaining momentum. So are the disasters. (MIT Technology Review)

6 Tech’s unicorns are becoming rarer again 🦄
Investors aren’t giving up hope, though. (WP $)
+ Some venture capital funds are going after narwhals instead. (Bloomberg $)

7 Sexually transmitted infections are rising in the US
Doctors are holding off prescribing a pill specifically designed to combat them, though. (Vox)

8 The pandemic proved it was possible to conduct good science quickly
Greater transparency around research could help to carry it on. (Wired $)
+ Is a covid and flu “twindemic” on the horizon? (MIT Technology Review)

9 NASA’s major UFO investigation has begun 🛸
Maybe the truth really is out there. (Motherboard)
+ Radiation-resistant bacteria could survive on Mars for millions of years. (New Scientist $)

10 Singapore’s politicians are TikTok superstars
Their clips are met with almost unprecedented positivity. (Rest of World)

Quote of the day

“It’s not good, it’s not fun.”

—Palmer Luckey, who founded Oculus VR, is not a fan of Meta’s VR social app Horizon Worlds, Insider reports.

The big story