Twitter Launches Pro-Democracy Emoji for ‘Milk Tea Alliance’ in Asia

 Smoke rises from tires set alight by anti-coup protesters on April 03, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar.

Smoke rises from tires set alight by anti-coup protesters on April 03, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar.
Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)

Twitter launched a new emoji early Thursday that will appear anytime a user tweets the hashtag #MilkTeaAlliance. The so-called Milk Tea Alliance refers to the pro-democracy movement in Asia that has been organized, at least in part, through actions online.

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“To celebrate the first anniversary of the #MilkTeaAlliance we designed an emoji featuring 3 different types of milk tea colors from regions where the Alliance first formed online,” the social media company tweeted from its account dedicated to public policy.

The Milk Tea Alliance includes Hong Kong, where activists are fighting for the preservation of some autonomy from the Chinese Communist Party; Myanmar, where a military coup in February ousted the democratically elected government; Taiwan, a country whose sovereignty comes under constant threat from Beijing; and Thailand, where the monarchy is further restricting civil rights.

“We have seen more than 11 million Tweets featuring the #MilkTeaAlliance hashtag over the past year. Conversations peaked when it first appeared in April 2020, and again in February 2021 when the coup took place in Myanmar,” Twitter continued.

Security forces in Myanmar have killed over 600 civilians since the military coup earlier this year, including 11 people on Wednesday alone, according to the latest reports. At least 40 children have been killed by the junta, based on reporting by the New York Times, with one child as young as 10 slain by the brutal regime.

In its announcement, Twitter also pointed to other emojis developed to support social change, including emojis for the hashtags #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. Halfway through its tweet thread about the new emoji, Twitter more explicitly called for internet access to be maintained in places experiencing civil unrest and brutal government crackdowns.

“During times of civil unrests or violent crackdowns, it is more important than ever for the public to have access to the #OpenInternet for real-time updates, credible information, and essential services. #KeepitOn,” Twitter tweeted.

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One of the first things the military regime did after taking control of Myanmar in February was shut off Facebook in the country. And social media access has been highly disrupted ever since.

“Twitter recognizes that the #OpenInternet is increasingly under threat around the world. We strongly believe that having access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential right and remain a staunch defender and advocate of free expression and condemn #InternetShutdowns,” Twitter continued.

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Can’t Decide on a Controller Layout? This Gamepad Lets You Flip the D-Pad and Joystick as Often as You Want

The world can be broken down into essentially two groups: those who prefer a symmetrical layout on a video game controller (with the analog joysticks side-by-side like the PlayStation uses) and those who don’t. The opposing layouts have surely destroyed friendships, families, and even torn nations apart, but Cyber Gadget’s new transforming controller may finally bring peace to gamers the world over.

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The Cyber Gadget Gyro Controller Pro is another gamepad that wants to be everything to every gamer, even though its wireless compatibility appears to be limited to just PCs and the Nintendo Switch. It can be configured with an asymmetrical layout to match the official Nintendo Switch Pro Controller where the two analog joysticks are offset. Or the left-side d-pad and analog joystick can also be popped out and reversed so the layout instead has the left and right analog joysticks sitting side-by-side.

As the name implies, the Gyro Controller Pro also offers motion-sensing controls through an accelerometer for Switch games that support it, and a bunch of other customizability options like the ability to choose between cross-type or circle-type buttons for the d-pads and three heights of sticks for the analog joysticks.

One the back of the controller you’ll also find four additional expansion buttons (that can be made easier to reach with optional trigger extensions) that can be programmed to replicate the functionality of other buttons on the gamepad or be used to trigger custom macros, triggering a series of button presses with just a single click—perfect for anyone who struggles to memorize Mortal Kombat finishing moves.

According to Tiny Cartridge, pricing for the controller will be around $70, which is about $10 more than what Nintendo wants for its Switch Pro Controller. The Gyro Controller Pro definitely seems to include more than $10 worth of added functionality, but as with most third-party gamepads, it’s hard to know if offers the same level of build quality and performance.