The audio-based social network announced on Sunday in a town hall it would be rolling out to Android users worldwide by Friday afternoon, May 21. In a Twitter post, Clubhouse said that it would start its expansion with Japan, Brazil, and Russia on Tuesday. The company said it would add availability in other countries throughout the week, specifying that it would launch in Nigeria and India on Friday morning.
Clubhouse told Gizmodo on Sunday that it had begun its first wave of the Android beta rollout in the U.S. last week. In the end, the company also ended up launching its app in New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and the UK. Clubhouse said the app is still invitation-only, but that people can download the app on the Play Store, and friends on the app may invite them in.
Besides announcing its worldwide expansion on Android, Clubhouse said it was working on feature parity in Android and iOS. TechCrunch points out that Clubhouse’s Android app still lacks several features offered on iOS. During last week’s Android launch, the outlet stated, users couldn’t follow a topic, create or manage a club, link their social profiles, make payments, or change their profile name.
While Clubhouse’s expansion on Android was expected, and some might say overdue, the app might be hoping that rolling out to more devices will allow it to recover its lost steam. Since its iOS launch last year, the app has seen explosive growth, attracting tech billionaires like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
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The shininess around Clubhouse recently began to taper off, though. According to the analytics firm SensorTower, Clubhouse had 2 million downloads in January and then jumped to more than 9.5 million in February. Downloads dipped in March to 2.7 million and then again in April, when they dropped to below a million.
The reasons for Clubhouse’s rollercoaster of growth over these past few months are still up in the air. Some say that the app became a success because it launched at the beginning of the pandemic, a time when so many of us were stuck inside and starved for human connection. Today, the world is different. Things are opening back up again. Vaccinated people are taking off their masks and going outside, so the idea of chatting on an audio-only platform may just not hold the same appeal.
The social app landscape is different as well because users have more options. Big Tech’s social apps are all copying Clubhouse’s format. Instagram, for instance, has given users the option to turn off their audio or video when using Instagram Live. Twitter has launched Spaces, which allows users to join virtual rooms and have real-time audio conversations with others. Facebook is also working on its own version of Clubhouse, as are LinkedIn, Spotify, and Slack, just to name a few.
It’s unclear whether Clubhouse’s global rollout to Android will save it from becoming a passing fad, but we’ll find out soon.
Twitter hasn’t released many details about the paid subscription model it’s cooking up, but thanks to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong we may have some clues about what it will cost and be called. On Saturday, Wong tweeted that the subscription service Twitter Blue will cost $2.99 per month and allow users to undo their tweets and create bookmark collections, among other features.
Twitter also appears to be working on a tiered subscription model, she added. She speculated that higher-priced tiers may unlock additional paid features and give users a more clutter-free, premium experience, similar to what you might find on a news aggregation service.
Wong has made a name for herself reverse engineering popular apps to discover what features Big Tech may be experimenting with or planning to add next. Rumors about Twitter incorporating more ways for users to monetize their content are not new. Earlier this month, Twitter soft-launched a “Tip Jar” feature that, as its name implies, lets users send and receive money from strangers on the internet using their choice of third-party services. However, while Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed to Insider in July 2020 that it’s in the “very, very early phases” of exploring a subscription model, the company has remained quiet about its plans since.
But it’s becoming increasingly clearer that there’s plenty of work going on behind the scenes. Last week, Twitter acquired Scroll, a paid subscription service that gets rid of ads on participating websites. Between the acquisition and Twitter’s announcement that it’s winding down Nuzzel, a news aggregator acquired by Scroll in 2019 that became popular for sending users a daily newsletter of the top stories in their Twitter feed, it certainly seems that Twitter is prepping to roll out its own subscription service. When we asked about Wong’s tweets on Saturday, a Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.
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A subscription service would be the latest in a slew of new features Twitter has been testing in recent weeks, including an improved image cropping algorithm and an updated warning system for potentially offensive tweets. It remains unclear when Twitter’s paid version would launch or who would be eligible, but if all these rumors and clues making the rounds are any indication, we may have an announcement on that front sooner rather than later.
Former Apple employee Antonio García Martínez has refuted the company’s portrayal of his high-profile ouster this week and claims Apple knew about his past writings demeaning women and people of color, which came under fire from employees this week, before it made a job offer.
“Apple was well aware of my writing before hiring me. My references were questioned extensively about my bestselling book and my real professional persona (rather than literary one),” he wrote in a Twitter thread Friday. “I did not ‘part ways’ with Apple. I was fired by Apple in a snap decision,”
“Apple has issued a statement that clearly implies there was some negative behavior by me during my time at Apple. That is defamatory and categorically false,” Martínez continued. He argued that Apple “actively recruited” him for the role on its ads team, even roping in one of his former colleagues to “convince” him to take the job.
On Wednesday, the Verge reported that Apple employees circulated a petition objecting to his hiring and asking for an investigation. At issue is Martínez’s autobiography Chaos Monkeys, which chronicles his journey from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. The petition, which you can read in full here, cites several “overtly racist and sexist remarks” from his writing, such as when he refers to Bay Area women as “soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit.”
In another damning passage, the former Facebook product manager writes: “There were few women one would call conventionally attractive at Facebook. The few there were rarely if ever dressed for work with their femininity on display in the form of dresses and heels.”
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Apple employees argued that Martínez’s “misogynistic statements” didn’t align with Apple’s stated values concerning diversity and inclusion. They also called for Apple to explain how its recruitment team either missed or ignored his published views before offering him the position.
Hours after the Verge’s report, Apple told Bloomberg that it cut ties with Martínez.
“At Apple, we have always strived to create an inclusive, welcoming workplace where everyone is respected and accepted,” an Apple spokesperson told the outlet. “Behavior that demeans or discriminates against people for who they are has no place here.”
Apple declined to comment on details of his departure and has not confirmed what job title Martínez held, but sources say he was hired as a product engineer on Apple’s advertising platform team, according to Bloomberg. Apple did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, but we’ll update this blog once they do.
Google canceled last year’s annual Google I/O developers conference due to the pandemic, but this year, it’s back—virtually.
The event kicks off Tuesday, May 18 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT with a keynote speech from Google CEO Sundar Pichai. And while we don’t know exactly what Google has in store this year, we’re hoping to hear more about Android 12, Google Assistant, and Google’s vision for the smart home.
Android 12’s New Look
It’s been a while since we’ve had a major shakeup of Android’s UI, but three developer previews and a plethora of leaks suggest that Android 12 is getting a big overhaul. Leaked screenshots show a new colorized interface, matching widgets, and menu schematics based on the dominant coloring of your chosen wallpaper. There’s also a reprised Quick Settings panel, with larger buttons and more contextual information. Even the Assistant shows off a little color once summoned.
XDA Developers has been uncovering some of the more significant interface changes we might see finalized in Android 12. Expect the always-on display and lock screen to be a part of the revamp, along with other subtle UI effects like screen transitions and typography.
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Other improvements in Android 12 will likely center around audio and video playback and under-the-hood privacy and security changes. Reports point to specific features, like Android automatically shelving unused apps and offering better support for scrolling screenshots, as well as updated notification permissions.
There’s also a rumored gaming dashboard coming, though it’s not clear if it’d be exclusive to Pixel devices. The gaming mode would effectively add proper controls and helpful information like a frames-per-second counter. It could be akin to the gaming launcher that OnePlus bundles with its smartphones, which blocks out notifications and other interruptions so you can focus on the game.
Finally, Some Traction for Wear OS
Wear OS takes a lot of (well-deserved) heat for falling behind other smartwatch platforms, but we may finally see some updates. There are two sessions on the I/O schedule to go over what’s new and how to develop Tiles for Wear OS. Google’s even sending out surveys, asking for guidance on what to do next.
And just when you thought that the Pixel Watch rumor was dead in the water, it resurfaces with a vengeance. YouTuber Jon Prosser recently showed off a convincing render of a circular watch that looks exactly like what we’ve all envisioned a Pixel Watch would look like.
This is also the first big event since Google’s acquisition of Fitbit was a done deal. We likely won’t see anything new on the Fitbit front (after all, they just announced the Fitbit Luxe last month), but maybe we’ll see closer integration between your Fitbit and Google accounts.
The last bit of Wear OS rumbling is from Korean news outlet MT, which points to a supposed Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 running Wear OS instead of Samsung’s Tizen OS. Speaking as a person wearing a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active because there was no comfortable Wear OS equivalent, having this come true could be all Wear OS needs to emerge from its current rut.
Don’t Bet on the Pixel 6
With the event being virtual and the lack of live audience to “ooh” and “ahh” over the announcements, it’s unlikely Google will show even an outlined render of the Pixel 6 during the developer keynote—though it’s teased smartphones this way at past developer conferences. There’s still so much we need to learn about Whitechapel, Google’s turn at making a mobile processor. And it would be such a major play against Apple’s silicon parade that it would warrant a separate event along with the official launch of a new flagship device.
It’s no guarantee that they’ll be introduced during the Google I/O keynote, but the Pixel Buds A were already inadvertently leaked on Twitter. They’re a cheaper alternative to the regular Pixel Buds, which cost $180. According to the leak, they promise to deliver quality sound and one-tap pairing with Google Fast Pair.
Don’t count too hard on Google revealing the budget-inclined Pixel 5a, either. With the global chip shortage and delays in nearly every nook and cranny of tech manufacturing, there’s only a slim chance the Pixel 5a is ready to launch this soon. At least we know it’s coming, as Google refuted reports it’d canceled the model, confirming instead it would be available later this year in the U.S. and Japan.
The Google Assistant in Your House
Google’s vision for the smart home will undoubtedly see some air time during the opening keynote. There’s even a session devoted to what’s new in Google Assistant the following day. According to the description, we can expect to hear a state of the union of sorts for the Assistant, plus new product announcements, feature updates, and tooling changes. We might even potentially hear about BERT and how Google uses it to make the Assistant understand us when we’re mouthing off gibberish, though that’s the kind of tech demo that plays during the opening keynote.
There’s a session later on that same day about what’s new in the smart home, with a mention of new product announcements and a showcase of Assistant experiences built by the developer community. Anything new introduced during these two sessions will likely be software updates or abilities made available to the Assistant since there’s already a new batch of Nest Hub smart speakers and displays.
There is also some expectation that Google will announce new products for its home security system, including better security cameras and a second-gen security system. Last year, Google discontinued the Nest Secure DIY security kit, then revealed to 9to5Google that it was planning a “new lineup for security cameras for 2021.” It’s also plausible it will partner up with security veterans ADT, considering the company’s CEO told CNBC it would be rolling out “Google products in the third quarter of 2021.”
Android in Your TV
The Chromecast with Google TV came storming in last holiday season to set the standard for Google TV devices going forward. There are no specific Google TV sessions on the calendar. However, there is already a developer preview available for Android 12 for TVs, and Google I/O is precisely the venue to walk developers through that sort of thing. Any major Google TV news will likely be more subtle through code reveals and other features announced for Android 12.
Chromebooks in All Forms
There’s no way we can forget Chromebooks, especially not after the platform’s phenomenal growth through the pandemic. Google offers a session on what’s new in Chrome OS the day after the keynote. The session will cover updates to Chrome OS’s Linux environment and new APIs. Hopefully, we’ll also learn how many people have adopted Android apps on Chromebook laptops since they debuted nearly three years ago.
Whatever Google plans to reveal, join us for our coverage of the virtual I/O 2021 developers conference beginning May 18 at 10 am PT/1 pm ET.
The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro is being positioned as a professional-level computing device, with features like the M1 chip, the super-bright Liquid Retina XDR display and the P3 wide color gamut likely to make the tablet an appealing option for movie makers. But with no Final Cut Pro for iPad available (yet), what’s the best video editing app for the iPad Pro? Here are a few alternatives.
1. Adobe Premiere Rush
Adobe Premiere Rush (free or from $5 a month) is as polished and intuitive as you’d expect an Adobe app to be. It does a smart job of distilling the bigger Premiere Pro application to its most essential parts and transplanting them to your iPad, even if there are some compromises in terms of precision editing and customization controls along the way.
The simple drag-and-drop interface makes moving videos, photos and audio into position very easy, and clips can be quickly trimmed, cropped, and panned as required. Most of the titles, graphics, transitions and audio effects require a monthly subscription, but you can try the app out for free to see if it suits you before parting with any money.
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LumaFusion ($30) costs a significant amount up front, with the option of more purchases to add on top of that, but it’s perhaps the best app for getting a desktop-like video-editing interface on your iPad. You can stack up a maximum of 12 audio and video tracks, access advanced titles and transitions, and get your footage looking exactly the way you want.
From aspect ratios to frame rates, you get full control over every aspect of your projects. Throw in support for fast- and slow-motion sequencing, external displays, and 4K resolutions, and this has just about everything power users are going to need. There’s also a quick start interface to help beginners get to grips with the software.
iMovie (free) clearly isn’t going to compete with the most powerful video-editing apps on this list, but it has enough going for it to keep casual movie-makers happy. If you want to quickly throw together some pictures and video clips and get a finished product as quickly as possible, the more straightforward interface can actually be an advantage.
Basic support for cutting and combining clips is included, and you can drop in titles and background music as well as a variety of filters and effects—you just don’t get a whole lot of choice about what can be added and how it’s customized. As iMovie is available for free, it’s certainly worth starting here first to see if it has all of the functionality you need.
Quik (free or from $5 a month) is developed by GoPro, and as the name suggests, the emphasis is on getting something uploaded and shared quickly using an interface that mostly sticks to the basics. It’s the perfect video editor if you’re looking to add some flair and a professional touch to your footage without actually having to do much work.
The app can put together an automatic pick of cuts and music if you tell it which photos and videos you want to include, or you can take a more hands-on approach and pick elements like filters and audio yourself. There aren’t many advanced features here, but you can speed up and slow down segments of your footage to create a variety of effects.
5. Filmmaker Pro
Filmmaker Pro (free or from $7 a month) goes all the way from the basics like scene-trimming to more advanced features like chroma key support (layering videos on top of each other using techniques like green screen). If you want something that is easy to get started with but that can grow as your requirements do, then this might be the app for you.
You’ve got dozens of transitions and filters to pick from for enhancing your movie projects, and there’s also support for picture-in-picture effects and all kinds of video-grading adjustments too. It’s one of the best video-editing apps there is in terms of how many features you get, and they’re all cleverly optimized to be used on a touchscreen interface.
KineMaster (free or from $3.50 a month) tries to make video-editing as fun as possible, and mostly succeeds. This is an app to try if you really want your clips to stand out on social media, rather than something to use for your next serious short film. That said, it does have some advanced features to its name, like multi-layer and multi-track editing support.
The interface isn’t the most subtle or elegant that you’re ever going to come across, but we like the way that it keeps all the main tools you’re going to need within easy reach. You can speed up and slow down footage, trim and rearrange the scenes in your project, adjust volume levels, enhance photos and videos in multiple ways, and more.
PowerDirector (free or from $6 a month) is one of the most popular video editors on the App Store, and it’s not difficult to see why. It manages to blend advanced tools with a clean and approachable interface, so it’s suitable for a wide range of video projects, whether it’s a quick job combining a few clips or a more sophisticated and longer movie.
There are video templates you can make use of for your intros and outros, you’ve got a bunch of titles, overlays, and transitions to choose from and tweak, and you can export projects in 4K resolution, too. The app also offers chroma key (green screen) and advanced audio-editing features as well, if you really want to take your videos to the next level.
When I first heard the rumors that Samsung might ditch its proprietary Tizen OS for wearables in favor of Google’s Wear OS, I was flummoxed. Tizen is snappy and free of the many problems plaguing Google’s wearables softeware. In fact, I’d say Tizen has played a large role in making Samsung’s smartwatches the best option for Android users—even if it isn’t perfect. The most logical explanation was that Wear OS offered a better third-party app ecosystem. However, even that didn’t make complete sense given how neglected the platform is and that Tizen OS has been in Samsung watches for seven years now. But now, a report from the Korean news outlet Money Today makes things crystal clear: KakaoTalk refuses to make a dedicated Tizen app.
If you’ve spent a significant time in Korea or are familiar with the Korean or Korean-American community, you know how big KakaoTalk is. Here in the west, the most accurate comparison would probably be WhatsApp, but if WhatsApp was also a pseudo-social network that absolutely everyone in your life used. I mean your grandma, your parents, your significant other, your friends, your coworkers, the CEO of your company, your third-grade teacher—absolutely everyone. According to Statista, the app has more than 50 million monthly active users, of which 46 million are located in South Korea. For context, the population of South Korea in 2020 was about 51 million. And like WeChat in China, KakaoTalk has expanded beyond just being a free chat and voice calling app. It hosts mobile games, an online bank, online shopping, a taxi service, and gift exchanges. And while it’s not officially designed to be, KakaoTalk has also morphed into a pseudo dating app. It’s so ubiquitous, “Ka-talk”, an abbreviated name for the app, has become part of the language. Listen, even my 72-year-old, technology-hating mother who has no idea how to use her smartphone will say things like, “I’ll Ka-talk you later.”
According to the MT report, KakaoTalk refuses to develop a Tizen app for Samsung’s Galaxy Watch because “there is no reason to,” as the market is small and “development is rather difficult.” The best KakaoTalk integration you can get on a Samsung watch is a notification when you receive a KakaoTalk message and the ability to reply with a smart response from the notification screen. The Apple Watch already has a KakaoTalk app where you can view all your chats, send special KakaoTalk-specific emojis, send voice messages, and also reply using smart responses. There’s also already an Android version of the app, so extending that to Wear OS would be less of a headache.
But is this really a compelling reason for Samsung to throw Tizen under the bus? Yes. I don’t know how to accurately convey the power of the extreme national pride Koreans have for home-grown tech, brands, and talent. The best I can say is from the moment you land in Seoul’s Incheon Airport, everything is Samsung. My relatives in Korea are Samsung phone evangelists, and many of them are perplexed why some of us in the American branch of our family use iPhones at all. Do we have no pride? I’m not joking when I say it’s a legitimate point of contention that’s made for awkward moments at family reunions. When Gangnam Style and K-pop landed in America, it was worn as a badge of honor that even the Americans finally recognized Korea’s cultural capital. Most of my conversations with my mom start with a factoid about some Korean accomplishment, such as, “Do you know that Incheon Airport is rated the best airport in the world?” Do not even get me started on when Parasite won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Samsung looms large within the Korean consciousness and so does KakaoTalk. Even though the majority of smartwatch users in Korea use a Samsung, lacking a dedicated KakaoTalk app is a colossal omission for Korea’s most powerful company in its home market.
Broadly speaking, Samsung likely wants more apps to work with its smartwatches and hasn’t made much headway. It’s the one thing that’s stopping it from being the best smartwatch for all Android users outright. Right now its main victory on the third-party app front is that Spotify’s Tizen app is way better than its Wear OS app. Switching back to Wear OS is most definitely a long-term strategic move that may have always been inevitable. But if KakaoTalk was willing to make a dedicated Tizen app, I’m not sure Samsung would throw in the towel just yet.
Apple employees circulated a petition on Wednesday to express concern over a new hire and his apparently problematic views on women and people of color.
In the petition — which is available to read in full over at The Verge — employees object to the hiring of former Facebook product manager and Chaos Monkeys author Antonio García Martínez. In his book, García Martínez details his journey from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, and according to employees, his characterization of that journey — and the role that women in particular played in it — is among their primary causes for concern.
In most of the objectionable excerpts, García Martínez repeatedly casts women as sex objects who are either shabbily dressed or dead weight in Silicon Valley’s corporate environments.
“There were few women one would call conventionally attractive at Facebook,” García Martínez writes. “The few there were rarely if ever dressed for work with their femininity on display in the form of dresses and heels.
In another passage currently making the rounds on Twitter, García Martínez refers to Bay Area women in particular as “soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit … they become precisely the sort of useless baggage you trade for a box of shotgun shells or a jerrycan of diesel.”
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“It’s so exhausting being a woman in tech; sitting opposite men who think because of my gender, I am soft and weak and generally full of shit,” one Apple employee wrote on Twitter alongside a screenshot of the passage in question. “It’s not even worth it to say I have worked relentlessly for every accomplishment I have.”
García Martínez’s hiring “calls into question parts of our system of inclusion at Apple, including hiring panels, background checks, and our process to ensure our existing culture of inclusion is strong enough to withstand individuals who don’t share our inclusive values,” the employees write.
Women in tech have long been dogged by pompous and persistent claims by men that they are inherently inferior or less suited to perform jobs in STEM fields, so you can imagine it feeling like sort of a slap in the face when your company hires the guy who wrote the literal book on those stereotypes to sit at the desk next to you.
Although Apple has yet to comment on the blowback directly, the company has come under frequent criticism for its lack of workplace diversity in recent years. As of this writing, Apple’s global workforce is currently 66 percent male, and 47 percent of its employees are white.
Surely there are easier ways to pad your following on Instagram than trespassing on high school grounds while disguised as a teenager. That apparently did not occur to a 28-year-old Florida woman who was arrested after infiltrating a school in Miami-Dade County for the Gram on Monday.
Really? That was your plan? Really?
The grown-ass woman in question, Audrey Francisquini, allegedly snuck into American Senior High School with a backpack, a “painting under one arm and a skateboard under the other,” according to the Washington Post. Police say she walked the halls of the school handing out fliers advertising her Instagram account before her cover was blown. Police reports state she was confronted by school security and gave the excuse that she was looking for the registration office, but continued to prowl the halls with fliers before being again confronted by security, CBS Miami reported. Francisquini fled but was subsequently arrested and charged with felony trespassing, misdemeanor interfering with a school, and nonviolently resisting arrest. One imagines handing out fliers with her social media handle on it didn’t exactly help her evade the authorities.
Francisquini is a former police officer who was fired from her job in DeKalb County, Georgia when she was arrested for allegedly accessing a female colleague’s social media accounts to post revenge porn. As of the time of the incident, she worked for Carnival Cruise lines.
According to the Post, her trip to the school somehow managed to be almost as creepy as Never Been Kissed, a 1999 movie where Drew Barrymore infiltrates a high school as an undercover reporter and is later joined in the ruse by her brother, played by David Arquette, who attends prom in his underwear:
A student told the station that Francisquini was showing off her Instagram feed, which featured videos and several images of her wearing a “devil’s mask.”
“It’s crazy. It’s very creepy,” the student said. The station showed videos from her account, in which Francisquini wore a sinister red mask with pointy ears and black horns.
The UK’s conservative government will ban technology companies from “discriminating” against particular political viewpoints, according to a press release about the country’s new proposed Online Safety Bill. The anti-censorship clause is just a minor part of a much larger draft bill, but will likely get attention from conservatives around the globe who believe their viewpoints are being censored by large tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
“Ministers have added new and specific duties to the Bill for Category 1 services to protect content defined as ‘democratically important’,” the press release, published early Wednesday, said. “This will include content promoting or opposing government policy or a political party ahead of a vote in Parliament, election or referendum, or campaigning on a live political issue.”
“Companies will also be forbidden from discriminating against particular political viewpoints and will need to apply protections equally to a range of political opinions, no matter their affiliation,” the press release continued. “Policies to protect such content will need to be set out in clear and accessible terms and conditions and firms will need to stick to them or face enforcement action from Ofcom.”
“When moderating content, companies will need to take into account the political context around why the content is being shared and give it a high level of protection if it is democratically important.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conservative government seems to be the latest to take up the martyr pose with Facebook and Twitter, feeding into the idea that right-wing opinions are being censored unfairly on social media. But quite to the contrary, we’ve learned that Big Tech financially rewards extremist speech on the right. In fact, Twitter acknowledged internally that if it censored white nationalists on the platform, its robots would have to censor Republicans who spout identical rhetoric.
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The UK’s new bill will bring in new reporting requirements for child abuse and other horrendous material, along with outlawing any racial abuse online that may already be illegal offline in the United Kingdom. The bill also has provisions to cut back on online fraud, something that many countries have grappled with in recent years.
“This is a landmark moment here in the UK. The problem of online abuse has escalated into a real epidemic which is affecting people physically as well as psychologically and it is time that something is done,” Dr. Alex George, The UK Government’s Youth Mental Health Ambassador said in a statement.
“That’s why I welcome today’s announcement about the Online Safety Bill and the protection it will provide people. Social media companies must play their part in protecting those who consume and engage with their content.”
Twitter said Tuesday night that the abrupt suspension of a Palestinian journalist’s account had been in error, but refused to clarify what content its system flagged as a violation of its policies.
“We took enforcement action on the account you referenced in error,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an email. “That has since been reversed.”
At around 5 p.m. ET Tuesday night, tweets and the bio from journalist Mariam Barghouti’s account began displaying the message “@MariamBarghouti’s account is temporarily unavailable because it violates the Twitter Media Policy.” As tensions continue to escalate between Israelis and Palestinians amid the court-ordered eviction of several Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, Barghouti has been covering the violence on the ground, tweeting frequent dispatches from the fracas.
“I feel like I’m in a war zone in Beit El,” Barghouti tweeted in the moments leading up to her account being restricted. “Israeli keeps just went full forces with hundreds of teargas canisters shot.”
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Twitter does have a policy preventing users from posting sensitive content or gratuitous violence to their accounts, but none of Barghouti’s tweets immediately appeared to run afoul of the rules. Known as the “sensitive media policy,” the 2019-era rule specifically prevents users from posting “… media that is excessively gory or shar[ing] violent or adult content within live video or in profile header, or List banner images. Media depicting sexual violence and/or assault is also not permitted.” The policy further states that “very limited exceptions may be made for gory media associated with newsworthy events.”
Barghouti said via Twitter DM that she wasn’t sure what had prompted the censorship and was still trying to get answers herself as of press time. A message from Twitter to Barghouti shared with Gizmodo said the company “made a mistake” in censoring her account, which was restored without a detailed explanation. “I didn’t change anything,” she said. “I was at a demonstration, didn’t know my tweets weren’t being shown until someone phoned me to tell me.”
At least 32 other Palestinians have so far died in the conflict between militants in Gaza and the Israeli military, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Ten of those reported killed were children. Some 200 more have reportedly been injured in Gaza, where Israel’s military on Tuesday attacked a high-rise building, killing several Hamas militants, according to the AP. It is currently unclear how many, if any, other people were killed or injured in the attack. Rockets fired by Hamas militants, which are reportedly falling “nonstop,” also killed three women in Israel and wounded “dozens” of other people, AP reports.
As the violence in Gaza and Israel threatens to further escalate, the role that the media—and social media—plays in covering what unfolds will continue to have outsized significance. There’s no way to interpret the censorship of a Palestinian journalist’s account at this point that’s not inherently political—Twitter, meanwhile, is apparently arbitrating reporting about the deadly conflict entirely by accident.