Mandatory Credit: Photo by PETER DASILVA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9971492bw)
Flames continues to burn through the Paradise Pines neighborhood of Magalia as the Camp Fire burns out of control through the region, fueled by high winds in Butte County, California, USA, 09 November 2018. The nearby communities of Pulga, Paradise and Concow, have been ordered to evacuate the area.
Butte County wildfire and evacuations, USA - 08 Nov 2018

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The noxious atmosphere in San Francisco this past week has been impossible for anyone living there to ignore.

Nearly 1,000 people are missing and 77 people have died after the Camp Fire, and millions more in the region's economic centre, the Bay Area, are now feeling the side effects. Smoke from the huge fires, more than 100 miles to the north, has been gathering over the City by the Bay for a week now. 

Air quality in San Francisco on Thursday turned worse than anywhere else in the world, including the world's most polluted cities such as Delhi and Lahore. Public health authorities warned people to stay inside. Schools and cable car rides have shut down.

Meanwhile, a few miles south in Menlo Park, Facebook has been fighting some fires of its own. The cloud of toxicity that has surrounded the social network for more than a year shows no sign of dissipating (and the metaphor is proving irresistible to Silicon Valley commentators). 

New York Times investigation into Facebook's “delay, deny, deflect” response to privacy and misinformation scandals has put the spotlight on operating chief Sheryl Sandberg. 

Facebook’s share price dropped to its lowest level in 20 months on Friday, despite Ms Sandberg's assurances that she felt a “tremendous responsibility” to prevent bad behaviour, such as fake news and Russian interference, on the platform. 

“To suggest that we weren’t interested in knowing the truth, or we wanted to hide what we knew, or that we tried to prevent investigations, is simply untrue,” Ms Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post. 

But one former Facebook executive tells Hannah Kuchler that Ms Sandberg has only become more “robotic” over time, while founder Mark Zuckerberg “never really had any empathy”. “You have two leaders of a company desensitised to all the problems they were creating in the world,” he said.

Read Hannah's full profile of Sheryl Sandberg in this week's FT Person in the News

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Tech tools you can use — air quality apps

San Franciscans are frantically checking just how terrible the air quality is. I have found the most reliable (if not particularly reassuring) app is AirVisual, which provides real-time AQI stats for anywhere in the world. 

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