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Twitter suspends more than 500 accounts in India amid stand-off with the government
by Anmol Mehrotra
Twitter has announced that it is suspending more than 500 accounts after receiving a notice from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). This comes just a week after Twitter was forced to withhold accounts from the Indian audience.
In a new blog post, Twitter has clarified its stance on the government's request to suspend various accounts. The company notes that it plans to work in compliance with the Indian law as well as its own Terms of Service. Moreover, Twitter noted that since 26th January 2021, the company has blocked several hashtags and tweets that were in violation of the Twitter Rules. It also took action against misinformation surrounding the farmers' protest "and prioritized labeling of Tweets that were in violation of our synthetic and manipulated media policy."
Furthermore, Twitter revealed that it has received several notices from the MeitY in the last 10 days including the ones sent on 2nd February. The company said it temporarily complied with the orders to withhold accounts but later restored access in accordance with the Indian law and notified the government. Following this, Twitter received a non-compliance notice from the government. The Indian Government noted that Twitter cannot “assume the role of a court and justify non-compliance” in India.
Twitter has also disclosed several actions it took to stop the spread of misinformation and harmful content. These actions were taken in accordance with Twitter's rules and included reducing the visibility of harmful content, taking actions against 500 accounts that violated Twitter's policies, and withholding several accounts in the country. However, the withheld accounts will still be accessible to users outside of India.
Twitter also noted that the actions they are asked to take by the government are not in accordance with the Indian law and as such, Twitter will not comply or take any action against accounts belonging to news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians. The company further said that it has notified MeitY today and will continue to respectfully engage with them. Twitter ended the blog post by saying it "will continue to advocate for the right of free expression on behalf of the people we serve."
Tensions between Twitter and the Indian Government are high after the company restored access to the withheld accounts, prompting the government to threaten Twitter employees in India with jail time and fines. Yesterday, Twitter issued a statement confirming that it had reached out to the Indian government for formal dialogue. The company further added that the safely of its staff is the top priority.
By Ather Fawaz
Twitter suspends accounts tweeting #dcblackout to curb misinformation
by Ather Fawaz
Image via Al Jazeera Continuing its fight against misinformation, Twitter has suspended hundreds of accounts associated with spreading false claims about a communications failure in Washington D.C.
The firm investigated #dcblackout, a trending hashtag, which falsely claimed that authorities had blocked communications in Washington D.C. to hinder protesters. It was first tweeted by an account that had only three followers. But soon after, the hashtag gained traction and was tweeted around 500,000 times within a period of nine hours, according to the Washington Post. A representative of the firm stated that the suspension of accounts follows from Twitter's policy of prohibiting spam and platform manipulation, Bloomberg wrote.
The suspension of accounts comes at a time when protests have spread outside of Minnesota into other states as well. Thousands have come out onto the streets after the death of an African-American man George Floyd in police custody. Protestors are calling for ending racism and are pushing for equality. Severe criticism about the police force has emerged as well.
In addition, Twitter also blocked a hashtag enticing protestors to kneel on people's necks, mimicking the action of the officer who has charged with third-degree murder in George Floyd’s death.
By Namerah S
Drivers for ride hailing apps including Uber and Lyft on strike in the U.S.
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
Just ahead of Uber's initial public offering, employees of ride-hailing services in the U.S. have decided to go on strike. Lyft, Juno, Via, and Uber drivers have requested members of the public to boycott these services for the day, and have turned off their apps. They have several demands, including improved working conditions, better wages, and job security. Drivers who work in Los Angeles specifically are demanding that Uber abolish its 25% wage policy that was introduced recently and that both Uber and Lyft implement a minimum pay rate of $28 per hour or $17 per hour (minus costs) - a rule already in place in New York.
The strike is planned to last for 24 hours today, May 8, 2019, and will go on in 10 cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, San Diego, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, San Francisco and Stamford. In L.A., the movement is headed by Rideshare Drivers United (RDU-LA), a Los Angeles-based association. The organization is asking the authorities to reform the ride-sharing industry by introducing a fair Drivers Bill of Rights which contains the following conditions:
a 10% commission cap transparency around deactivations the right for drivers to organize and negotiate with the companies, and community standards around traffic and emissions to ensure that the ride-hailing industry benefits the cities where it operates Similarly, the workers on strike in New York also have a set of demands. Led by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA), ride-hailing app drivers aim to achieve the following goals:
To stop poverty and debt in support of their national demands To secure a livable income by ending upfront pricing where passengers pay more but drivers earn less To win job security for app drivers by ending unfair deactivations in NYC To put drivers' lives before company profits Uber responded to the strike in a statement issued to The Washington Post:
This isn't the first time that Uber drivers have gone on strike to take a stand against unfair work practices. Just last year drivers in the U.K. organized a 24-hour strike calling on Uber to put an end to its deactivations, raise the fares, reduce the commissions they pay to Uber and grant them employee status. Back in 2016, Uber settled class action lawsuits in the U.S. by paying up to $100 million to its drivers and agreeing to implement a formal driver deactivation policy, among other concessions.
Source: Rideshare Drivers United, NYTWA via Engadget | Image credit: Los Angeles Times
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft employees protest company's HoloLens deal with U.S. military
by Usama Jawad
Back in November 2018, Microsoft was awarded a $480 million contract by the U.S. military to supply it with augmented reality technology, notably the HoloLens, for training purposes. Now, a group of Microsoft employees have penned a letter to CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith, to protest the deal.
As reported by NBC, the letter (which can be read here) has been signed by 50 employees who have voiced concern over Microsoft's contract with the U.S. military. The petitioners say that even though the company has worked with the army before, it has never participated in the development of weapons before. However, with the recent Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) deal, the Redmond tech giant is aiding in building systems that are designed to make it easier for soldiers to kill in actual combat.
The letter went on to state that:
As a result, the signatories have urged Microsoft to cancel the deal, stop developing weapons technology, draft an "acceptable use policy", and to instate an ethics review board that enforces it. Furthermore, they have also cautioned the company to be careful about "who we're empowering and what we're empowering them to do", and not to become war profiteers in the process.
This is not the first time that Microsoft employees have protested the company's involvement with law enforcement. Last year, many employees urged Microsoft to stop working with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). With HoloLens 2 just around the corner, it will be interesting to see if the tech firm responds to the concerns of some of its workers.
By Usama Jawad96
With Metro Exodus skipping Steam, gamers are review-bombing other Metro games
by Usama Jawad
Loyal Steam users were in for quite a shocker a couple of days ago, when they were treated to the news that publisher Deep Silver is not releasing Metro Exodus on the platform, and has instead signed an exclusivity deal with the new Epic Games Store, just a few days from the title's launch. Needless to say, gamers have not responded to this information well and have begun review-bombing other Metro games on Steam.
Metro 2033 Redux review summary Following Deep Silver's controversial decision, hordes of angry gamers have taken to the store pages of other Metro games. Steam's review bombing filters have detected negative reviews on all other Metro titles recently, with almost all of them nosediving to "Mostly Negative Recent Reviews".
For example, only 32% of the nearly 2,000 recent Metro 2033 Redux reviews have been positive, with Metro Last Light Redux facing similar treatment at 30%. This is in stark contrast to previous reviews where the game has been lauded for its mechanics and story. Since the language in most reviews would violate Neowin's profanity guidelines, an example of a relatively toned down review can be viewed below:
This is not the first time gamers have united against a publisher in this manner. A few months ago, Shadow of the Tomb Raider was review-bombed on Steam for going on sale too soon after launch. It is this writer's own humble opinion as well that Deep Silver skipping Steam like this is highly despicable, as the publisher essentially used the platform as a free storefront and then jumped ship when it got an exclusivity deal, without any prior indication.
What are your thoughts on this debacle? Let us know in the comments section below!