The Download: Facebook’s misleading cancer ads, and hacking’s next era

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

Facebook is bombarding cancer patients with ads for unproven treatments

The ad reads like an offer of salvation: Cancer kills many people. But there is hope in Apatone, a proprietary vitamin C–based mixture, that is “KILLING cancer.” The substance, an unproven treatment that is not approved by the FDA, is not available in the United States. If you want Apatone, the ad suggests, you need to travel to a clinic in Mexico.

If you’re on …

Facebook is bombarding cancer patients with ads for unproven treatments

The ad reads like an offer of salvation: Cancer kills many people. But there is hope in Apatone, a proprietary vitamin C–based mixture, that is “KILLING cancer.” The substance, an unproven treatment that is not approved by the FDA, is not available in the United States. If you want Apatone, the ad suggests, you need to travel to a clinic in Mexico.

If you’re on Facebook or Instagram and Meta has determined you may be interested in cancer treatments, it’s possible you’ve seen this ad, or one of the 20 or so others recently running from the CHIPSA hospital in …

Metaverse: Open for business?

Ever since Facebook’s rebrand to Meta, the metaverse—loosely defined as an extensive online world where interactions happen via digital avatars—has gone mainstream as part of “web3,” the internet’s third act in which users move from consumers to creators to residents in online worlds.

The entertainment and gaming industries are at the forefront of today’s metaverse buzz, but all enterprises are realizing the need to move early and not cede competitive ground. “Every company needs to find a place in the metaverse,” says Julie Smithson, cofounder of MetaVRse, which helps businesses build extended reality capabilities. “If companies are not ready …

We need smarter cities, not “smart cities”

The term “smart cities” originated as a marketing strategy for large IT vendors. It has now become synonymous with urban uses of technology, particularly advanced and emerging technologies. But cities are more than 5G, big data, driverless vehicles, and AI. They are crucial drivers of opportunity, prosperity, and progress. They support those displaced by war and crisis and generate 80% of global GDP. More than 68% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050—2.5 billion more people than do now. And with over 90% of urban areas located on coasts, cities are on the front lines of climate …

The hacking industry faces the end of an era

NSO Group, the world’s most notorious hacking company, could soon cease to exist. The Israeli firm, still reeling from US sanctions, has been in talks about a possible acquisition by the American military contractor L3 Harris. 

The deal is far from certain—there is considerable opposition from both the White House and US intelligence—but if it goes through, it’s likely to involve the dismantling of NSO Group and the end of an era. The company and its technology would likely be folded into a unit within L3 Harris. The American firm already has its own offensive cyber division, known as Trenchant, …