YouTube Found the Pettiest Loophole in Its Battle Against Roku

Illustration for article titled YouTube Found the Pettiest Loophole in Its Battle Against Roku

Photo: Chris McGrath (Getty Images)

Just a week after Roku yanked YouTube TV from its app store thanks to an ongoing feud with Google, it looks like YouTube found a clever (if not extremely petty) workaround. On Friday, YouTube announced it would just cram YouTube TV access into the main YouTube app, which is still available.

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While the company plans to expand YouTube TV access via the YouTube app to “as many devices” as it can “over time,” it’s going to be arriving on Roku devices “over the next few days,” according to YouTube’s announcement. Folks that already had the YouTube TV app on their Roku devices before it was unceremoniously pulled can still use it as they normally would—but YouTube’s hammering out a contingency plan if that stops being the case.

“We’re still working to come to an agreement with Roku to ensure continued access to YouTube TV for our mutual customers,” YouTube said. “We’re also in discussions with other partners to secure free streaming devices in case YouTube TV members face any access issues on Roku.”

Roku initially accused Google of demanding that Roku block search results from other third-party streaming apps—like Netflix or Hulu—when the YouTube app is open. Roku also claimed that Google was demanding the ability to dictate some hardware used in Roku devices, along with privileged access to Roku’s user data. Google denied those claims, saying that Roku terminated their preexisting deal out of bad faith because it was trying to renegotiate its contract regarding the main YouTube app in addition to YouTube TV, despite that contract not expiring until December. YouTube’s Friday blog post is just the latest punch thrown between the two companies.

Roku said in an emailed statement that Google was acting like nothing short of an “unchecked monopolist.”

“The bundling announcement by YouTube highlights the kind of predatory business practices used by Google that Congress, Attorney Generals and regulatory bodies around the world are investigating,” Roku said.

“We have simply asked Google to stop their anticompetitive behavior of manipulating user search results to their unique financial benefit and to stop demanding access to sensitive data that no other partner on our platform receives today,” the company went on. “In response, Google has continued its practice of blatantly leveraging its YouTube monopoly to force an independent company into an agreement that is both bad for consumers and bad for fair competition.”

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Anyway, get excited to plug yet another dongle into your TV when this whole relationship inevitably falls apart.

Telecoms Paid Henchmen to Flood FCC With Anti-Net Neutrality Comments From Stolen Identities

Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai testifies before the Senate Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee about his FY2020 budget requests in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 07, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai testifies before the Senate Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee about his FY2020 budget requests in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 07, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

A group backed by the largest internet service providers in the U.S. secretly funded the submission of millions of fraudulent comments opposing federal net neutrality rules, according to a report published Thursday by the New York Office of the Attorney General that surprises absolutely no one. The campaigns were, the OAG said, part of an effort to provide cover for former Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to kill the widely popular FCC net neutrality protections.

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Of the 22 million public comments submitted to the FCC in 2017 ahead of its decision to overturn net neutrality protections, 18 million were fake, the NY OAG found. Nearly half of those fake comments, more than 8.5 million, supported overturning federal net neutrality rules and were submitted by firms paid by the nonprofit Broadband for America (BFA), investigators found. The astroturfing campaign was also behind half a million fraudulent letters to Congress. OAG investigators say BFA paid $4.2 million to three lead generation firms—Fluent, Opt-Intelligence, and React2Media—to submit the fraudulent comments.

Another 9.3 million fake comments in support of strong net neutrality rules were submitted by a single, unnamed 19-year-old California college student, the OAG report says. (LOL.)

Unlike the fake pro-net neutrality comments, which were submitted under entirely fabricated names and addresses, many of the BFA-funded comments used the names and addresses of real people, some of whom were dead. In some cases, the firms “used prizeslike gift cards and sweepstakes entries — to lure consumers to their websites and join the campaign,” according to the OAG. Rather than enlist these people to write their own comments opposing FCC net neutrality rules, the report says, the firms generated their own comments, which were submitted as part of the agency’s rulemaking process to create the appearance of opposition to FCC net neutrality protections.

According to the OAG report, “the vast majority of the funding [for the BFA’s campaigns] came from three of the nation’s largest broadband companies.” The OAG report does not name the companies responsible, and instead only names BFA.

Launched in 2009, BFA lists several of the largest ISPs in the U.S. among its members, including AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Cox, and CenturyLink. The other members are telecommunications lobbying groups including, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, CTIA – The Wireless Association, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), and USTelecom – The Broadband Association. Despite claiming that it “supports net neutrality,” BFA was a vocal opponent of the FCC reclassification of broadband services as “utilities” under Title II of the Communications Act, which gave the FCC authority to forbid ISPs from throttling internet traffic, blocking websites or online services, or prioritizing one site or service over another.

We’ve reached out to all the companies and organizations listed as BFA members and will update this post when we hear back. An attempt to contact BFA through its website would not send. (LOL.)

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The BFA-funded comment campaigns included a web of intermediaries and subcontractors. Fluent, which is based in New York and is said to have submitted roughly 4.8 million fraudulent comments as part of the BFA campaign, “never obtained consent from any individuals to submit a comment on their behalf,” the report says. “In fact, it never asked a single person for their consent.” Opt-Intelligence, meanwhile, served as an intermediary and subcontracted the fake-comment work to Fluent and another intermediary, which in turn subcontracted that work to other companies, including React2Media, according to investigators. The OAG said Opt-Intelligence was “responsible” for 250,000 of the fake comments, while it pinned 329,000 fake comments on React2Media. In total, nine firms were involved in the BFA-backed campaigns, several of which are unnamed in the OAG report.

Beyond the fake comments submitted to the FCC, investigators say, BFA’s lobbying firm hired Fluent for two additional campaigns targeting members of Congress. In total, Fluent was responsible for 360,000 of the more than half a million fraudulent letters sent to U.S. lawmakers, according to the report.

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In an agreement with the OAG, Fluent, Opt-Intelligence, and React2Media must pay $4.4 million in penalties and disgorgement and “adopt comprehensive reforms in future advocacy campaigns,” according to the OAG’s office.

The flood of fake comments was part of BFA’s plan to “manufacture” the appearance of support for overturning the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality protections, according to the OAG. “The broadband group believed this support—in conjunction with press outreach, social media campaigns, and coordinated filings from the broadband industry and free-market economists—would ‘give [FCC Chairman Ajit] Pai volume and intellectual cover’ for repeal,” the report says, quoting a March 2017 email between BFA executives and BFA’s lobbying arm. “Indeed, one broadband industry executive—himself a former chairman of the FCC—advised members of BFA’s executive committee, in an email, that ‘we want to make sure Pai can get those comments in so he can talk about the large number of comments supporting his position.’

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Rather than provide cover, however, the flood of fake comments became a scandal. In response, Pai, a two-time Courage Award winner, later blamed the fake comments on Russian accounts—despite the fact that the FCC denied in court filings that it had evidence to support this “fact,” as Pai called it.

Ultimately, the fake comment scandal—and the fact that Americans overwhelmingly support net neutrality protections—did nothing to dissuade the Pai-led FCC from overturning its net neutrality rules in December 2017. And since leaving office, Pai’s already received the cushy corporate position that goes to all government officials who bend the knee to corporate interests long enough.

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A New Stranger Things 4 Teaser Reminds Us Eleven Isn’t the Only Powerful Being

Curiouser and curiouser.

Curiouser and curiouser.
Screenshot: Netflix

Hard to believe it’s been almost two years since we spent time with the kids from Hawkins, Indiana on Netflix’s Stranger Things. Harder to believe still that it was over a year ago Netflix released the first teaser for the upcoming fourth season, which saw Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour) in Russia, just where we assumed he was at the end of last season.

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A lot has happened in the world since that, of course, but it seems the streamer is ready to give us some more. Wednesday we saw this cryptic video flashing a few, weird images with the message “Due to technical difficulties, Hawkins National Laboratory will be closed until further notice. We will be back in service tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. ET.” That time has come and here’s what the Hawkins National Laboratory has in store.

We always knew there were more test subjects, one appeared in the series and a few have been explored in the Dark Horse comics, but this is a curious look at what may be to come to be sure. Will the others want to help our Stranger Things gang or will they be working against them. Right now everyone thinks Hopper is dead, but now that we know he’d been captured and brought to Russia, we’re sure they’ll be some rescue attempt made. The Byers were leaving Hawkins at the end of last season, with a powerless Eleven in tow, opening up the show to a much wider world. Oh, and something like the Demogorgon was back despite the kids saving the world yet again. There’s going to be plenty of ground to cover when Stranger Things 4 is back in the coming months.


For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.

Anker’s R2-D2 Mini Projector Is Adorable but Flawed

Illustration for article titled Anker’s R2-D2 Mini Projector Is Adorable but Flawed

Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

They say if you build a better mouse trap, the world will beat a path to your door, but you can probably be just as successful by slapping some Star Wars graphics on it instead. That’s what Anker’s done with its Nebula Capsule II mini projector, which now looks like a legless version of R2-D2. The facelift doesn’t add much in terms of functionality aside from making a solid portable projector more appealing to Star Wars fans and X-wing pilots.

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As flat-screen TVs have become larger and lighter, they’re minimizing the need for an expensive video projector as a way to get a movie theater-sized screen inside a home. But mini projectors have remained an appealing alternative, making it easy to set up a movie theater almost anywhere, be it a backyard or a campsite. And that’s probably the biggest appeal of the Anker Nebula Capsule II: It’s small, but still manages to squeeze in everything you need to bring the movie theater experience anywhere. All you need to provide is the screen.

There are a few disappointments with the new Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 edition, but the most obvious is that its Artoo facelift really doesn’t add much beyond a bit of novelty. The projector has the same cylindrical shape as the original, which just barely matches R2-D2’s shape. It would have been more fun to see Anker upgrade this version with a rounded dome top and a swivelling projector eye like Haier did back in 2015 just before we realized how awful those last three Star Wars films would be. In addition to the Artoo graphics, the projector does play a couple of droid-like “beep-bloops” every time it boots up, but that’s about as much enjoyment Star Wars fans are going to get out of it—aside from actually watching Star Wars with it.

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Anywhere you can carry a soda can or a water bottle you can carry the Nebula Capsule II.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

As mini projectors go, I’ve come to quite like the can-shaped design of the Nebula Capsule II over the boxy uninspired rectangle that most projector makers opt for. It’s easy to slip into a water bottle pocket on a backpack thanks in part to it being only just a tiny bit larger than an actual soda can or water bottle.

Even more impressive is that Anker has managed to include a solid sounding speaker in there too, with more than enough volume to fill a room with decent levels of bass. It obviously can’t compare to what you’d get from a dedicated surround-sound setup with a big woofer on the floor, and while you can connect a larger wireless Bluetooth speaker to the projector for better sound if you prefer, having decent sound built right in just adds to the convenience and portability of this thing.

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Also hidden away inside the Nebula Capsule II is a rechargeable battery that in my tests usually hit the 3-hour mark before completely dying, but you might see a little less than that depending on how loud the speaker is cranked. It’s more than enough to get through an entire movie in the backyard without having to run an extension cord from the house, and is easily the best reason to choose the Nebula Capsule II over the competition.

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The projector’s tall design occasionally makes it a little top heavy, but a tripod mount on the underside provides a secure place to easily mount it.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

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The taller design of the projector does occasionally make it a little top heavy and a challenge to stand on a surface that’s not completely flat and level. But on the bottom is a standard tripod mount so if you bring along a flexible legged tripod that can stand on its own or wrap around another solid object, you’ll never have to worry about this thing ever toppling over.

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Media files can be accessed directly through a USB port, while consoles and streaming sticks can be easily connected using an HDMI port.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

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On R2-D2’s butt you’ll find an AUX connector for those who only want to use the projector as a speaker, an HDMI port for connecting consoles or a streaming device like a Chromecast, a data-only USB port for connecting an external drive full of media files, and a USB-C port that’s only used for power and charging the battery.

Unlike most projectors that are dependent on an external video source, the Anker Nebula Capsule II is actually a full-on Android TV device that, when paired with a solid wifi connection, can stream content from services like Disney+, HBO, and YouTube, all on its own. After using it for a few weeks it makes you wonder why every projector doesn’t run Android TV, but there are some challenges. The projector unfortunately doesn’t meet Netflix’s stringent certification process, so you can’t install it natively from the Google Play Store. You can jump through hoops and sideload Netflix yourself, or install a special app that Anker has created that provides access to the streaming service. While it technically works, navigating the Netflix interface a bit of a challenge unless you want to also connect your smartphone and use it as a wireless mouse. It’s unfortunately far from ideal.

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If Netflix support is critical for you, you’re better off buying and connecting an HDMI streaming stick device like a $50 Chromecast, even if that does diminish the all-in-one benefits of the Nebula Capsule II.

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The included Android TV remote is basic and a little disappointing, because it lacks the convenient playback controls that the latest Nvidia Shield remote includes, but it works. On top of the projector you’ll also find most of the remote’s functionality replicated through a series of touch-sensitive buttons, which is nice should the remote itself go MIA. One thing that I found extremely frustrating was quickly accessing the projector’s auto-focus functionality. Simply holding down the ‘input’ button on the remote for a couple of seconds is supposed to be a shortcut to quickly trigger it, but it doesn’t work, as apparently a recent update broke that functionality. Manually activating autofocus has to be done by jumping back to the Android TV home screen and activating it through the settings, which is a pain, or holding down the middle button on top of the projector itself. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed through a future update.

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The projector can autofocus and make keystone adjustments all on its own, but occasionally the focus will soften, and manually triggering a refocus isn’t as easy as it should be.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

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I haven’t dabbled with small projectors for a few years, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy they are to set up now. Once fully booted the Nebula Capsule II automatically corrected for keystone issues, although its ability to do so is limited to vertical adjustments, so when setting up a makeshift movie theater you’ll want to ensure the projector is horizontally centered in front of your screen. The projector was also good at focusing itself using a reference marker it temporarily projects, but focus does tend to drift as it slowly heats up during use. Sometimes the projector will realize it and refocus itself automatically (a built-in motion sensor also detects when it’s been moved or repositioned, triggering a refocus) but more often than not you need to manually trigger an autofocus, which as I mentioned before isn’t as easy as it should be.

As for image quality? Well that’s probably the biggest drawback to the Nebula Capsule II. It only projects at 720p, so you’re definitely going to see jaggies on fine details, particularly with text and on-screen menus. And in order to max out that rechargeable battery so you can get through a whole movie on a single charge, its brightness levels top out at around just 200 ANSI lumens. In a very dark room that’s bright enough to create a 100-inch image and even larger if you really push it, but even at shorter distances the Nebula Capsule II is all but unusable in the daytime, even when it’s cloudy or overcast outside.

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The included remote has a dedicated power button, but you can’t actually completely turn off the projector using it. It can only be completely powered down using a physical button on the back, so you’ll want to make sure you never permanently mount it somewhere out of reach.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

If portability is a priority, the Anker Nebula Capsule II is one of the best options around, especially for those looking for an easy way to enjoy a backyard movie on a warm summer night or while ‘roughing it’ at a campsite. It’s easy to use, and the built-in battery and speaker mean you don’t need much else besides a makeshift screen and a reliable wireless data connection to build a temporary movie theater. But for $700 it’s a tough sell for anyone also hoping to use it to replace a big screen TV. Unless you’re only planning to watch TV at night, you could be disappointed.

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We all love R2-D2, but for $300 more, a projector like the 1080p, 1,000-lumen Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 seems like a better all around option. It lacks the portability and convenience of the Anker Nebula Capsule II, but you can use it all day long and just use your imagination to pretend it’s a loyal droid.

CEO of Turkish Crypto Platform Flees Country as Users Say They’re Locked Out

A Bitcoin sign is seen at the entrance of a cryptocurrency exchange office on April 16, 2021 in Istanbul, Turkey.

A Bitcoin sign is seen at the entrance of a cryptocurrency exchange office on April 16, 2021 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Photo: Chris McGrath (Getty Images)

Federal police in Turkey are investigating Thodex, a cryptocurrency trading platform that handles hundred of millions of dollars in trades every day, after users complained they’d been locked out of their accounts, according to new reports from Reuters and Turkey’s TRT World news service. CEO Faruk Fatih Ozer reportedly fled Turkey on Tuesday and 62 people connected to Thodex have reportedly been detained.

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Investigators raided Thodex’s headquarters in Istanbul on Thursday after
“thousands” of people in Turkey filed criminal complaints, according to TRT World. Users have been unable to access money in their accounts over the past three days and federal authorities have issued at least 78 arrest warrants, according to Reuters.

The Thodex website is currently down, but an archived version of the site saved by the Wayback Machine includes a denial from the company that anything sketchy was happening. The statement even suggests that banks want to invest in Thodex, hinting that the outage was due to this development.

“For this process to be completed, transactions need to be halted and the sale process needs to be completed,” the company wrote.

From Reuters:

Istanbul police told Reuters that officers were at the company’s building carrying out the “necessary processes”.

Lawyer Oguz Evren Kilic said he was contacted by users on Wednesday and that they had filed a criminal complaint on behalf of several people in Ankara. He said thousands of others had also filed complaints across the country.

“It is not clear where this is headed. There have been thousands of criminal complaints made in many places around Turkey,” he told Reuters, adding that the platform had 400,000 users, 391,000 of whom were active.

While Reuters reports the CEO had fled to the city of Tirana, Albanian, apparently people at Thodex insist he will be returning to Turkey soon. He’s going to be returning to a lot of pissed off people.

Turkey banned using cryptocurrencies for payments just last week, though it’s not yet clear if the problems with Thodex have anything to do with that.

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Twitch and Facebook Gaming Are Having One Hell of a Year. YouTube Gaming? Eh, Not so Much

Illustration for article titled Twitch and Facebook Gaming Are Having One Hell of a Year. YouTube Gaming? Eh, Not so Much

Photo: Martin Bureau (Getty Images)

As the world descended into lockdown last year, people overwhelming tuned into livestreams to connect with others and stave off boredom while stuck in their homes. And that pandemic-fueled growth shows no signs of slowing down even as the world attempts to return to business as usual, with both Twitch and Facebook Gaming seeing record viewership in the first quarter of 2021, according to the latest numbers.

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The popular livestreaming software provider StreamLabs released its first streaming industry quarterly report for 2021 on Friday. Using data compiled by streaming analytics firm Stream Hatchet from the beginning of January to the end of March, it offers some interesting insights, most notably that Facebook Gaming is closing in on YouTube Gaming’s spot for the #2 most popular streaming service. In first place is long-time leader Twitch, which still easily commands the largest chunk of the market with more than 72% of the total hours of content watched this year.

If you (like me) never really got that into livestreaming, you may be surprised to learn just how massive the industry’s become in such a short time. At Amazon-owned Twitch, viewership, hours streamed, average concurrent viewership, and the number of channels have all roughly doubled since this time last year, StreamLabs said. Twitch broke its viewership record for the second quarter in a row with users watching 6.3 billion hours of content, an increase of almost 1 billion hours compared to last quarter. The platform also saw its single largest quarterly increase in hours streamed since the early days of the pandemic, jumping from roughly 230 million hours to 265 million.

While Twitch is most well known for streaming video games, its most popular category continues to be “Just Chatting”. This category—considered the successor to Twitch’s ill-defined “IRL” section, which was reconfigured into 13 distinct non-gaming categories in 2018—involves exactly what the name implies: Content where streamers simply hang out and chat with viewers or engage in real-world shenanigans.

“Just Chatting” racked up a whopping 754 million hours watched in Q1 this year. To put that figure into perspective, Grand Theft Auto V, the most-watched game on Twitch in 2021, had 536.3 million hours, with League of Legends not far behind at 534 million.

Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming, which is owned by Google, continue to lag far behind Twitch, but the gap between them is quickly narrowing. Facebook hit an impressive milestone this past quarter, surpassing one billion hours watched for the first time, almost double the total viewership the platform garnered around this time last year.

“For the first time, we are seeing Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming closely compete against each other in terms of viewership,” said StreamLabs head of product Ashray Urs in the report. “While the difference in viewership was approximately 1 billion hours last quarter, that gap has shrunk to about 300 million in Q1. There is a chance we could see Facebook Gaming overtake YouTube Gaming in viewership next quarter. ”

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StreamLabs attributes a lot of that success to PUBG Mobile, Facebook Gaming’s most-watched gaming category for at least the past two years. Users watched 254 million hours of PUBG Mobile livestreams in Q1, an impressive year-over-year increase of 76%. Facebook Gaming absorbing Microsoft’s failed livestreaming platform Mixer last summer no doubt attracted plenty of new talent and viewers that migrated over.

YouTube Gaming was the only platform of the big three that experienced a dip in viewership this quarter, down 28.6% from 1.92 billion hours to 1.37 billion hours. Both its total number of hours streamed and unique channels also fell, though not as much (6.7% and 9.9% respectively). However, taking into account its year-over-year growth, YouTube Gaming doesn’t seem to be doing half bad, as its total viewership and average concurrent viewership both increased by roughly 28%. The platform is also home to the most popular female streamer across all platforms: Valkyrae, whose content viewers watched for 12.2 million hours during Q1 this year.

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We’ve reached out to Twitch, Google, and Facebook for comment, and will be sure to update this blog when we hear back.

All told, it seems the attention livestreaming platforms attracted during the pandemic isn’t dying down anytime soon even as lockdowns lift, vaccines roll out, and people start to journey outside their homes more regularly again. But whether Facebook and YouTube’s gaming livestreaming services will ever pose any real threat to Twitch’s industry dominance remains to be seen.

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Movies on Your Favorite Streaming Services Could Be Headed for Peacock Instead

Illustration for article titled Movies on Your Favorite Streaming Services Could Be Headed for Peacock Instead

Photo: Catie Keck/Gizmodo

The battle between streaming services for your binge-watching hours continues.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Peacock parent NBCUniversal has been mulling pulling its movies from services like Netflix and HBO Max to boost its own content offering. The outlet additionally reported that contracts that HBO Max and Netflix have respectively with Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment will expire at the end of 2021.

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Bloomberg reported that no final decision has been made as to whether it will pull its films from rival services where they appear less than a year after releasing in theaters. A spokesperson declined to comment on negotiations but did confirm that pay 1 rights agreements are coming up at the end of the year and that negotiations with interested parties are currently underway.

It doesn’t come as any surprise that Peacock would be weighing such a decision, though. While those licensing deals are likely lucrative for NBCUniversal, Peacock entered the streaming wars alongside a number of other platform launches. Everyone is competing for viewers, and nobody is quite pulling off the numbers of Netflix or Disney+, which have 200 million and 100 million subscriptions, respectively. Peacock, which launched last year, reported having 33 million subscriptions in January.

Peacock does offer a lot of content that other services do not, and its WWE hub will likely be a draw for some subscribers. That said, Netflix and HBO Max are dumping a ton of money into producing high-quality originals, which will help them continue to scale and draw in new subscribers.

Even if NBCUniversal proceeds with yanking its films from rival services to instead offer them on its own, it is questionable whether that will carry the service—particularly for films that have already been released in theaters. This is especially true as the promise of vaccines for covid-19 reaches a greater percentage of the population and consumers begin to return to public spaces to go to the movies.

Will this potentially suck for subscribers? Well, yes. But I wonder if many HBO Max and Netflix users would even know the difference if Peacock does pull this lever.

Weird Tweet From U.S. Strategic Command Actually Sent by Small Child

H-bomb test; radioactive clouds at the Bikini Atoll on May 21, 1956.

H-bomb test; radioactive clouds at the Bikini Atoll on May 21, 1956.
Photo: Associated Press (AP)

U.S. Strategic Command, the people tasked with overseeing the nation’s nuclear weapons, sent out a weird tweet on Monday of complete gibberish, writing “;l;;gmlxzssaw.” What could it mean? Twitter users joked about the possibility of nuclear war, but no one knew for sure.

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It turns out Stratcom wasn’t hacked and the U.S. wasn’t dangerously close to accidentally launching nuclear weapons at North Korea. The tweet was sent by a small child. And no, not just a figurative child, like so many obnoxious Twitter users on the platform these days. It was a literal child.

Illustration for article titled Weird Tweet From U.S. Strategic Command Actually Sent by Small Child

Screenshot: Twitter/Daily Dot

Journalist Mikael Thalen of the Daily Dot filed a Freedom of Information Act request on Monday, and while there weren’t any records of the incident—at least according to Stratcom—the FOIA officer helpfully explained how the bizarre tweet was sent out.

“The Command’s Twitter manager, while in a telework status, momentarily left the Command’s Twitter account open and unattended,” the FOIA response explained, according to records obtained by the Daily Dot. “His very young child took advantage of the situation and started playing with the keys and unfortunately, and unknowingly, posted the tweet.”

The letter goes on to explain that there aren’t any records to hand over through the Freedom of Information Act because the entire matter was handled over the phone.

“Absolutely nothing nefarious occurred, i.e., no hacking of our Twitter account,” Stratcom wrote. “The post was discovered and notice to delete it occurred telephonically.”

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This isn’t the first time that U.S. Strategic Command has made some mistakes online. Back in September of 2017, Stratcom sent out a premature tweet about new satellites, cutting off not just the sentence, but sending the tweet mid-word.

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Stratcom also received some criticism over its Twitter account back in April of 2017 when it sent out an article by the far-right propaganda outlet Breitbart. In that case, Gizmodo submitted its own FOIA request and received dozens of pages of emails about the blowback it received for spreading “news” from a website that used to feature a section called “black crime.”

Twitter may not be real life, but it’s an important platform for communicating with the public here in the 2020s. And while the social media person for U.S. Strategic Command made a simple mistake, it definitely gives people less confidence in the institution. Let’s just hope the people tasked with actually launching nukes aren’t working from home with small children around. What’s this button do, Daddy?

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T-Mobile Is Already Pulling the Plug on Its Live TV Services

Illustration for article titled T-Mobile Is Already Pulling the Plug on Its Live TV Services

Photo: ALASTAIR PIKE / Contributor (Getty Images)

Just five months after announcing its TVision streaming bundle, T-Mobile confirmed on Monday that the service will go belly up at the end of April in order to make way for live TV solutions from YouTube TV.

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In a blog post, T-Mobile — which recently announced a partnership with YouTube and Google — was careful to characterize the move as a “major upgrade” for customers, and said that in addition to making YouTube TV its official premium live TV service by April 29th, it also plans to slot in Philo as its new base live TV service.

In the release, T-Mobile sought to further clarify that the decision had been made in part because of YouTube’s familiarity with the streaming landscape: “YouTube TV is a leader in this space,” the company said. “It offers the same great flexibility, robust content and convenience that TVision customers love.”

But despite going to lengths to paint the decision to fold early as a savvy pivot, it’s clear that T-Mobile was in way over its head from the beginning. Starting rates for TVision Live had begun at $40/month, with Live Plus and Live Zone each increasing by another $10 — a rate far lower than those offered by other providers, and one that would have made it difficult for T-Mobile to compete seriously in the live TV arena for long.

In the blog post, CEO Mike Sievert is careful to tap dance away from previous claims he’d made back in October, in which he’d touted T-Mobile’s entry into the world of live streaming as a move that would “change TV for good“…just like we changed wireless for good.

“Innovation seldom follows a straight line,” Sievert wrote on Monday.Since launching the TVision initiative, we’ve learned a lot about the TV industry, about streaming products, and of course, about TV customers. We also saw trends that made us take a fresh look at how to best do in video what we always do: put customers first. With our TV software provider encountering some financial challenges and with our broader, strategic partnerships with Google and Philo, we saw an opportunity to deliver unique value to our customers and strengthen the TVision initiative with the best partners.”

In addition to phasing out the TVision streaming bundle, T-Mobile will also reportedly be nixing its $10/month TVision Vibe service, as well as TVision Channels. The TVision Hub 4K streaming dongle

Pillow Goblin Mike Lindell’s New Social Media Site Is Just Named Frank and It’s a Platform for Americans Who Want to Defend Life, Liberty, and All the Freedoms That Have Marked America as the Longest Running Constitutional Republic in the History of the World

Illustration for article titled Pillow Goblin Mike Lindell’s New Social Media Site Is Just Named Frank and It’s a Platform for Americans Who Want to Defend Life, Liberty, and All the Freedoms That Have Marked America as the Longest Running Constitutional Republic in the History of the World

Screenshot: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia / FX / Edit by Gizmodo

The MyPillow weirdo’s new censorship-free social media network is here and… it’s a website named Frank. Like, it’s actually just named Frank.

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Mike Lindell is probably best known as the pillow magnate who somehow managed to worm his way into the inner sanctum of Donald Trump’s administration and has subsequently spent most of his time promoting various hoaxes and conspiracy theories trying to prove Trump won the 2020 elections. In the process, he’s earned himself a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from election tech manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems (he claims to love it), gotten both himself and the MyPillow corporate account banned from Twitter, and released the most unintentionally funny movie of the year, a depraved rant called Absolute Proof.

However, Lindell is also preparing to launch his own damn social media site where anything goes and which will be better than Twitter and YouTube. It was originally called “Vocl,” but now it’s named Frank. Per Business Insider, on Tuesday, Lindell told something called The Eric Metaxas Radio Show that Frank will be ready for launch in just 10 to 14 days, and a preview in the form of a rambling introduction on “cancel culture” that defines “the very definition of Frank” (bold and italics are Lindell’s, but we’re doing that too from this point forward) is available at FrankSpeech.com.

We’re just copy-pasting this in full so readers can really soak their consciousnesses in the pillow man’s pickle brine:

Necessity is the mother of invention. The free speech platform, Frank, is just that.

Political correctness has caused many people to be shamed, marginalized, and characterized for speaking forth truth. In part, the very definition of Frank is to be forthright and sincere in your expression. What could be more American than that? It is from this perspective that this platform was named Frank.

The world watched as perhaps the most visible and vocal CEO in America, Mike Lindell, became the victim of the “cancel culture” when he began to express his views on matters that the liberal media and big tech deemed to be politically incorrect.

Lindell goes on to write some nonsense about “the radical worldview of today’s liberal media intelligentsia, or deep state actors” (why can’t we be both, Mike?) and how Frank is essentially part of the Constitution. Frank will also be the home of “major influencers, to micro-influencers, to average Americans wanting to share in the constitutional right of freedom of speech and freedom of expression”:

Free speech is one of the hallmarks of our Constitutional Republic, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights. It is no coincidence that nations that have free speech also have a free enterprise system and freedom of religion. Inversely, nations that deny free speech tread upon the free enterprise system and freedom of religion. Americans want to remain free. Americans are craving news and information that is not filtered through the radical worldview of today’s liberal media intelligentsia, or deep state actors.

Frank, the voice of free speech, will be the platform for Americans who want to defend life, liberty, and all the freedoms that have marked America as the longest running Constitutional Republic in the history of the world. On this platform you will find a home where you can post videos, livestream television, distribute news and information, and find community and fellowship with likeminded Americans. Frank will be a home for major influencers, to micro influencers, to average Americans wanting to share in the constitutional right of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. We hope you will join our community and let freedom ring.

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While Frank is “Coming Soon,” we have nothing but various hints dropped by Lindell as to what it will actually be. According to Business Insider, Lindell told the radio show, “There’s nothing like it out there. Your YouTube channel is your Twitter. It’s amazing.”

Frank will also somehow force every user to consume every other user’s content. In an interview clip flagged on Twitter by Right Wing Watch, the marquis du sommeil added, “So when this launches, millions are gonna come over. What I’m doing is when the influencers come over, um, they will now have a platform where all the people down here follow them instantly. If someone joins Frank, it’s reverse-engineered. They don’t have to earn their followers. So someone such as yourself, [The Eric Metaxas Radio Show host Eric Metaxas], you’ll have millions right away because they need to see your show. They need to see, hear the word. They need to hear, uh, free speech.”

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Also, Frank will give some type of “bonus” to users banned on YouTube and will somehow result in the CEOs of every other social media site going to prison by launch day.

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“Well when that happens now, what I’m gonna do to my influence, I’m gonna say, as soon as you get kicked off a YouTube, you’re getting a bonus,” Lindell added. “Because why? Because then you’re actually speaking out free speech, and you’re not worrying about what Mr. Alphabet and Mr. Google say about us, or Suckabuck, or Dorky, and all these people that try and control us here, and they’re all going to prison. They’re all going to prison, I’m telling ya, by the time this is done.”

Also, check out Frank’s logo:

Illustration for article titled Pillow Goblin Mike Lindell’s New Social Media Site Is Just Named Frank and It’s a Platform for Americans Who Want to Defend Life, Liberty, and All the Freedoms That Have Marked America as the Longest Running Constitutional Republic in the History of the World

Screenshot: frankspeech.com

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Frank, which is definitely not just a clever diversion from that $1.3 billion lawsuit or anything, will Frank Frank Frank Frank Frank.

Frank Frank Frank. Frank Frank. Frank.

Fraaaank? Frank. Frank Frank. Franks.

[Franks begin kissing]

Frank.

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