Today’s Hashtag Trending script was prepared by Jori Negin-Shecter.

El Salvador makes a big Bitcoin purchase, Facebook’s fake news epidemic rages on, and Zoom’s prominence continues to have unexpected side effects on our mental health.

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It’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Wednesday, September 8, and I’m your host, Tom Li.

Ahead of plans to make Bitcoin an officially legal tender, El Salvador has purchased 400 Bitcoins, equivalent to almost $19m USD, with plans to buy more in the future. El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele announced the purchase via Tweet on Monday Afternoon. El Salvador’s plan to make Bitcoin legal tender has been divisive amongst Salvadorians, who have expressed concerns about the cryptocurrency’s volatility. Other concerns include a lack of communication from the Salvadoran government and concerns about the broader economic implications of the move, particularly in relation to the International Monetary Fund. As the law comes into place, entities from across the country will be required to allow purchases to be made using Bitcoin, while Salvadorians will also be able to use the coin to pay their taxes.

A study from The Washington Post has found that fake news on Facebook had nearly six times higher engagement than real news during the 2020 Election. The study looked at news between August 2020 and January 2021 and, according to the research team, “adds to the growing body of evidence that…misinformation has found a comfortable home on Facebook.” Facebook has disputed this claim, stating that the research does not show the full picture. Specifically, Facebook has argued that the data displayed only showed engagement instead of showing impressions data, which Facebook notably does not make publicly available. The perpetuation of fake news has been a significant issue during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, with conspiracy theories and misinformation campaigns on the virus and vaccine running rampant across social media.

Finally, Zoom calls appear to be having a bigger impact on our self-image than initially thought. A phenomenon coined as “Zoom Dysmorphia” has been noted by some including one Harvard Medical School professor and dermatologist. Overall, there has reportedly been an increasingly prominent trend in appointments for appearance-related issues during the pandemic, notably related to nose jobs and wrinkled foreheads. The Harvard professor noted that due to cameras distorting appearance due to the lenses, an increasing demand for cosmetic surgery has emerged, particularly amongst men. The epidemic of “Zoom Dysmorphia” follows previous concerns about related “Snapchat Dysmorphia”, which had similar effects on plastic surgery demand during the 2010s. Experts generally believe that the constant effects of staring into a camera and the isolation of the last 18 plus months make the emergence of “Zoom Dysmorphia” just a fraction of a large mental health crisis many are facing across the globe.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire Newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Also, catch the next episode of Hashtag Tendances, our weekly Hashtag Trending episode in French, which drops every Friday at 3 pm. If you have a suggestion or tip, please drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thanks for listening, I’m Tom Li.

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