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Sports

Instagram Tries Clamping Down on Misinformation

Instagram on Thursday took aim at the spread of misinformation on its platform, announcing that it would temporarily eliminate users’ ability to view some recent posts ahead of Election Day.In two tweets, Instagram said it would remove the “recent” tab from hashtag pages. Previously, users could view the most recent posts tagged with a particular hashtag. Now, only “top” posts under a specific hashtag that have been reviewed by the platform will be viewable.Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said the change was made to “reduce the real-time spread of potentially harmful content that could pop up around the election.”The change took effect Thursday night and the “recent” tab will return sometime after the election, an Instagram spokeswoman said. The platform said it hopes the change ...

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Technology

The Digital Divide Starts With a Laptop Shortage

When the Guilford County Schools in North Carolina spent more than $27 million to buy 66,000 computers and tablets for students over the summer, the district ran into a problem: There was a shortage of cheap laptops, and the devices wouldn’t arrive until late October or November.More than 4,000 students in the district had to start the school year without the computers they needed for remote learning.“It’s heartbreaking,” said Angie Henry, the district’s chief operations officer. “Kids are excited about school. They want to learn.”Millions of children are encountering all sorts of inconveniences that come with digital instruction during the coronavirus pandemic. But many students are facing a more basic challenge: They don’t have computers and can’t attend classes held online.A surge in...

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Sports

Chess (Yes, Chess) Is Now a Streaming Obsession

Though Mr. Nakamura began streaming chess consistently on his Twitch channel, GMHikaru, in 2018, nearly all of his 528,000 followers have come aboard since the pandemic began. And as his popularity has skyrocketed, media attention has increased — including a cameo as himself on the television drama “Billions” in May.“It’s just amazing to see the level of support and the love that I’ve seen from the Twitch community,” Mr. Nakamura said. He added that the most appealing part of playing and streaming chess was simply “the fact that I’m so good at it.”It helps that he has an unimpeachable chess pedigree. In 1998, at age 10, he became the youngest player in the United States to be named a master, a title earned through strong performances. Five years later, he became the youngest U.S. player...

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Sports

You May Not Know This Pandemic Winner, but Your Tween Probably Does

But after the pandemic hit, Ms. Shoemaker saw a surge of interest in her two Roblox games, Mermaid Life, a fashion-focused role-playing game, and My Droplets, a pet simulation game. Players have paid for extra content in those games, and for the hats she made for users’ avatars that she sells across the site.Ms. Shoemaker said she has now made about $500,000 through Roblox, most of that since March. Before the pandemic, she could afford to pay just one or two people to help her. Now her game studio, Fullflower Studio, employs 14 contractors and she is plotting new games.“It feels incredible,” Ms. Shoemaker said. “People used to tell my mom, ‘Stop letting her play this video game; it’s not going to get her anywhere.’ And it’s getting me somewhere.”Roblox said it has more than 2 million d...

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Technology

After a Flop, Amazon Makes Another Foray Into Video Games

BERKELEY, Calif. — Amazon stumbled as it worked to break into the lucrative video game industry. Now it’s trying again.On Monday, Amazon announced Prime Gaming, which is essentially a rebranding of its Twitch Prime service that provides exclusive game content. The move comes just over a month after the company pulled its original big-budget game, Crucible, from digital store shelves after it was panned as a “hollow and forgettable experience.”With Twitch Prime, people got a free subscription to Twitch, the Amazon-owned livestreaming site, with free games from small studios and unique, in-game equipment and discounts for larger titles like Grand Theft Auto and League of Legends. Prime Gaming will expand those benefits and offer more titles and content, but will no longer require a Twitch...

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Business

Distilleries rushed into the hand sanitizer market. Now some are trying to get out.

More than 800 craft distillers across the United States leapt into action to help in the first wave of the pandemic by producing hand sanitizer, urged on by federal agencies. But with demand for sanitizer fluctuating, distillers have faced unforeseen costs and excess supplies that they could not get rid of.Their conundrum shows how life has become more complicated as the pandemic has persisted. What had been a no-brainer good Samaritan decision to help local communities and nurture a new business has instead devolved into a messy financial calculus as the hardships of the crisis continue piling up.“It feels a little bit like no good deed is going unpunished right now,” said Spencer Whelan, the director of the Texas Whiskey Association, a trade group representing some of the state’s dist...

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Sports

Distilleries Raced to Make Hand Sanitizer for the Pandemic. No Longer.

As the coronavirus pandemic shuttered bars and restaurants in March, Phil McDaniel’s craft distillery in St. Augustine, Fla., stopped producing bourbon. Then he realized there was one alcohol-based product he could make that people would still clamor for: hand sanitizer.His St. Augustine Distillery soon churned out the first of what became 10,000 gallons of the disinfectant. With sanitizer in short supply nationwide, he quickly sold and donated most of the supplies to hospitals and emergency responders along Florida’s northeastern coast.“In the beginning, it was just unbelievable, the sort of frenetic demand that was out there,” said Mr. McDaniel, 62. “It was so gratifying to us to be able to come in and help.”But as virus cases have spiked again in Florida and other states, Mr. McDanie...

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