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Fidget Spinners Are Catching Fire, Choking Children

It's always the simplest ideas that end up being the most popular, and that's exactly the case with fidget spinners. They are a "skill toy" designed to spin in the hand and advertised as a gadget to aid with focus and relieving stress. But it turns out they can also be quite dangerous.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is issuing safety tips due to the risk they pose. More specifically, some fidget spinners form a choking hazard, while others are a fire hazard.

The spinners are especially popular with teenagers, and what teenagers find cool, younger children want to play with. However, the spinners contain small plastic and metal parts, which form a choking hazard in the wrong hands. Incidents of choking have been reported for children up to the age of 14.

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The fire risk is due to some fidget spinners using a rechargeable battery, which makes the spinner light up when in use, for example. Some even contain a speaker and use Bluetooth to transmit audio to it. The CPSC advises that these batteries are never left charging unsupervised, should be unplugged as soon as the battery is charged, and that charging cable choice is very important (if the spinner shipped with a cable, use it!). The advise even includes having working smoke alarms in your home to help avoid a fire.

If a fidget spinner is aimed at children aged 12 or younger, then it needs to adhere to US Toy Standard ASTM F963-16. So if you are out shopping for one, be sure to look for this on the packaging. As for the battery precautions, the safest option is simply to pick a fidget spinner without a battery.

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Twitter is holding off on fixing verification policy to focus on election integrity

Twitter is pausing its work on overhauling its verification process, which provides a blue checkmark to public figures, in favor of election integrity, Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour tweeted today. That’s because, as we approach another election season, “updating our verification program isn’t a top priority for us right now (election integrity is),” he wrote on Twitter this afternoon. Last November, Twitter paused its account verifications as it tried to figure out a way to address confusion around what it means to be verified. That decision came shortly after people criticized Twitter for having verified the account of Jason Keller, the person who organized the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fast forward to today, and Twitter still verifies accounts “ad hoc when we think it serves the public conversation & is in line with our policy,” Beykpour wrote. “But this has led to frustration b/c our process remains opaque & inconsistent with our intented [sic] pause.” While Twitter recognizes its job isn’t done, the company is not prioritizing the work at this time — at least for the next few weeks, he said. In an email addressed to Twitter’s health leadership team last week, Beykpour said his team simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to focus on verification “without coming at the cost of other priorities and distracting the team.” The highest priority, Beykpour said, is election integrity. Specifically, Twitter’s team will be looking at the product “with a specific lens towards the upcoming elections and some of the ‘election integrity’ workstreams we’ve discussed.” Once that’s done “after ~4 weeks,” he said, the product team will be in a better place to address verification. We've heard some questions recently about the status of Verification on Twitter, so wanted to address directly. Updating our verification program isn’t a top priority for us right now (election integrity is). Here’s some history & context, and how we plan to put it on our roadmap — Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) July 17, 2018

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