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By Usman Khan Lodhi
Twitter cracks down on QAnon conspiracy group, bans 7,000 accounts
by Usman Khan Lodhi
Twitter announced that it would permanently ban accounts that violate the platform's policies while tweeting about QAnon, the conspiracy theory movement that asserts "deep state" actors are plotting against Donald Trump. In the last several weeks, about 7,000 accounts, which violated the firm's rules against spam, platform manipulation, and ban evasion, have been banned. In a suspension later rolled out this week, the circulation of roughly 150,000 additional accounts will be limited, as they'll stop appearing in recommendations, trends, and search.
Per online conspiracies, the term "deep state" refers to a combination of elites from intelligence, political, business, and entertainment sectors, and QAnon's theories assert that the "deep state" is a secret war with Trump.
Twitter stated that QAnon-related links will be blocked from being shared on the platform, and accounts associated with the conspiracy movement will no longer be promoted in search, conversations, or trending topics. The firm didn't elaborate on which forums or sites might be impacted.
Last year, QAnon was designated as a potential domestic extremist threat by the FBI when it issued a warning about "conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists."
Russia completes successful test of national internet alternative
by Paul Hill
Russia has announced the successful test of its national internet alternative – Runet. According to Tass, the exercises were held on December 23 and aimed to ensure the stability of the network. The head of Russia’s Ministry of Communications, Alexey Sokolov, said that it showed the country was ready to maintain the integrity of the network “in the event of threats.”
Commenting on the news, Sokolov is quoted as saying:
A range of tests were carried out on the network, they included tests to ensure the integrity and security of the network from external forces, another test focused on ensuring the protection of personal data being shared across cellular networks. With the Internet of Things (IoT) expected to become increasingly important, the government investigated the risks to IoT devices in order to find ways to mitigate any problems.
Critics of the initiative have said that the Russian government would have a lot more control over the content being distributed and would be able to block content from the rest of the world from coming onto Runet. In the long term, Russia may seek to follow China’s lead in developing indigenous alternatives to already popular web services.
Source: Tass via BBC News
By Jonathan Nolan
YouTube takes on conspiracy videos, offering fact-check links while watching
by Jonathan Nolan
YouTube announced this week that it is partnering with information site Wikipedia to offer users "additional information" when viewing videos that might be considered controversial or related to a conspiracy theory.
The measure was revealed by the company's CEO Susan Wojcicki at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. The festival is a major event for 'creating and discovering' for professionals in the video, music, and interactive industries. The plan is that in the near future, should you be watching a video that falls into such a category, a text box called an "information cue" will pop up below the video suggesting you to look further into the matter rather than taking what is said in the video as the full story.
With respect to the viewing experience, Wojcicki said:
Conspiracy theories have become an issue for the Google-owned company who previously made changes to search engine results to promote more "authoritative results". It's unclear how many videos may be labeled as such or exactly which ones, with an example mentioned during the presentation concerning the 1969 Moon landing. As it stands, the effectiveness of this change remains to be seen.
Saying the purpose was "to conduct musculoskeletal reaseach" covers pretty much everything, doesn't it?
By Usama Jawad96
Telltale removes real image of dead Russian ambassador following backlash
by Usama Jawad
Warning: This article contains potentially disturbing and graphic content.
We recently reviewed Telltale Games' Batman: The Enemy Within's second episode, The Pact, claiming it to be a relatively uneventful episode compared to the season premiere. However, one minor detail that went unnoticed by many (including ourselves) has caused a lot of public backlash among gamers.
During one dialog-based sequence of The Pact, an image is shown on the Batcomputer, depicting the aftermath of Harley Quinn's assault on Gotham Brokerage. The controversial image in question illustrated two guards lying dead in front of an open vault, as can be seen below:
Image via @BroTeamPill (Twitter)As some eagle-eyed gamers on Twitter noticed, the "guard" prominently featured in the forefront of the image is actually from a cropped screenshot of the deceased Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, who was assassinated by an off-duty Turkish policeman at an art gallery in the city of Ankara back in 2016. The original image can be seen below (Warning: Potentially graphic image):
Image via mid-day.com Following public backlash and criticism from several media outlets, Telltale Games finally provided a statement, saying that:
Now it appears that the developer has pushed out a patch for the game on various platforms, which removes Karlov's body from the scene by cropping it out. The new image can be viewed below:
Image via AChicken (Telltale forums) Although Telltale Games' prompt response must be appreciated, it certainly raises questions regarding the QA testing of games, and as to how such a public and disturbing image made it to the final version of the game. It's possible that an artist wasn't aware of the context of the image and decided to use it, but Telltale understandably hasn't provided an explanation concerning the matter.
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