Newley's Notes

NN214: Coronavirus Misinformation; Puppies Unleashed in an Aquarium

Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, April 12, 2020.

👋 Hi, friends, and happy Easter.

Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

New Story

💬 My newest story, out Tuesday: Facebook’s WhatsApp Battles Coronavirus Misinformation. It begins:

Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp is limiting users’ ability to forward content on its encrypted messaging platform, as misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic proliferates on the service in its biggest market, India.

In one of the biggest changes WhatsApp has made to a core feature, the company said Tuesday that its more than two billion users globally can now send along frequently forwarded messages they receive to only one person or group at a time, down from five.


Among the messages on WhatsApp that have circulated in India in recent weeks, according to fact-checking groups, is a claim that a treatment has been developed that cures Covid–19 within three hours. Others say a disinfectant will be sprayed in cities at night to kill the virus and that NASA satellite images show the coronavirus has been abating in India. All were identified by fact checkers as false.

The story was linked to in Harvard’s Nieman Lab daily email and in Shira Ovide’s new (and excellent) New York Times newsletter, On Tech.

New Book Notes Post

🛒 Meanwhile, I shared on some notes from a 2016 book I recently read called “Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built,” by Duncan Clark. Click here to read the post.

TLDR: This is a well researched, in-depth book about Ma and the e-commerce giant he built.

Pandemic Reading List Addendum

📚 And finally, an addendum: In last week’s NN, I listed a few nonfiction books about pandemics.

Thanks to reader James B., who wrote in to share a much-heralded title I missed, and which he says is worth checking out: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, by John M. Barry.

Thanks, James!

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

😷 1) A Shift on the Front Line [New England Journal of Medicine]

“I have just finished the night shift on the Covid–19 ward. I look at myself in the mirror: I have a C on my nose from the FFP2 (N95) mask I wear all the time, deep marks on my face left by the elastic bands; my eyes look tired, my hair is damp with sweat. I am not a doctor and a woman any longer – now I am just a doctor, a soldier in the war against the virus.”

📱 2) Apple, Google to Turn Smartphones Into Coronavirus Tracking Devices [WSJ]

“Apple Inc. and Google will build software together that would alert people if they were in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus, an unprecedented collaboration between two Silicon Valley giants and rivals.”

⛰️ 3) Tips From Someone With Nearly 50 Years Of Social Distancing Experience [NPR]

“We’re all social distancing these days, and it’s unclear when exactly that will end. But Billy Barr has been doing this for almost 50 years. He’s the only full-time resident of Gothic, Colo.

📍 4) Spreading pathogen maps [SciFi Interfaces]

“So while the world is in the grip of the novel COVID–19 coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been thinking about those fictional user interfaces that appear in pandemic movies that project how quickly the infectious-agent-in-question will spread.”

🖥️ 5) A Mini-Office, Delivered to Your Door [Dwellito]

“Give yourself a quiet place to work with a mini office next to your home. In 6 to 8 weeks, you could have a pre-built office delivered to your front door, starting at $9,000.”

🧭 6) The 18 Best TV Shows for Vicarious Travel Thrills [New York Times]

“One of the genuine delights of the streaming era is the degree to which it has made international television available, and readily too – with scores of shows streaming on Amazon, Hulu, HBO and (especially) Netflix.”

🎧 7) Dave Grohl’s Pandemic Playlist [The Atlantic]

“The Foo Fighters front man picks a song for your every quarantine mood.”

🎹 8) The Weirdly Enduring Appeal of Weird Al Yankovic [New York Times Magazine]

“After 40 years, Yankovic is now no longer a novelty, but an institution – a garish bright patch in the middle of America’s pop-cultural wallpaper, a completely ridiculous national treasure, an absurd living legend.”

✝️ 9) Easter’s Healing Touch [WSJ essay]

“In a grim time, the holiday reminds us that the cornerstone of Christian faith is God’s love for a wounded world.”

🐾 10) Dog related video of the week: “Our puppies just had the best. day. ever. They got to explore the @GeorgiaAquarium while it is closed to the public.” [Twitter: @AtlantaHumane]

💡 Quote of the week:

“Let go or be dragged.” – Zen proverb

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,


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