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The statement came during a hearing held Thursday by the United Kingdom’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, which grilled Elizabeth Kanter, the company’s director of government relations and public policy for UK, Ireland and Israel, over TikTok’s links to China. TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, and has faced accusations from Western lawmakers that its ownership puts it at risk of being influenced by the Chinese government.
TikTok has said in the past that it doesn’t remove content based on sensitivities related to China.
In a statement to CNN Business on Friday, Kanter said she misspoke during the hearing.
«TikTok has previously acknowledged that in our very early days, we took a blunt approach to moderating content that promoted conflict, but we’ve also said we recognized this was the wrong approach and eliminated it,» she said. «However, we want to be absolutely clear that even in those early policies, there was never a policy around the Uighur community, which is where I misspoke.»
According to the UK Parliament website, the session was held to determine whether businesses in the United Kingdom are exploiting forced labor camps in Xinjiang for their own gain.
Kanter initially told the committee that TikTok does not censor content. She also said that if the ruling Chinese Communist Party asked the app to remove content or provide user details, such requests would be denied.
«We do not moderate content based on political sensitivities or affiliation. There’s no influence of the Chinese government on TikTok,» she said.
But when asked by Conservative lawmaker Nusrat Ghani about previous incidents of censorship on TikTok, Kanter said that videos related to Xinjiang had been removed «in the early days of TikTok,» when content was governed by different guidelines.
«The people who wrote the content guidelines took a decision to not allow conflict on the platform and so there were some incidents where content was not allowed on the platform, specifically with regard to the Uyghur situation,» she said.
The previous content policy, which TikTok retired over a year ago, did not make reference to the Uyghurs, according to TikTok. Last November, the company blamed a «human moderation error» for the brief removal of a viral Xinjiang video posted by Feroza Aziz, a 17-year old Afghan American woman.
Western governments and human rights groups are scrutinizing companies they suspect may be complicit in the Chinese government’s sweeping detentions of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far western region of Xinjiang.
The US State Department estimates that as many as two million people may have been taken to detention centers, where former detainees claim they are indoctrinated and abused. While Beijing insists that the camps are voluntary «vocational training centers,» many Western nations have condemned them as mass detention centers designed to eradicate Uyghur culture and Islamic practices.
In July, several major clothing brands — including PVH, the owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger — said they were working on «reducing [their] supply chain footprint in China» after activists pressured them to respond to reports alleging that some of their goods came from forced labor camps in Xinjiang.
Less than two months later, Disney provoked an international backlash after thanking Xinjiang authorities in the credits of its blockbuster film «Mulan.»
Some testimonies from former detainees describe over-crowded cells, torture and even the death of fellow detainees.
Kanter did not provide the exact date when the content moderation policy was changed, but she said it had been «at least over a year.»
«I just want to emphasize that we do not censor content [now]. I would encourage you to open the app and search for Tiananmen Square, search for Uyghurs, search for Tibet, you will find that content on TikTok,» she said, listing some topics considered out of bounds by the Chinese government.
And the Indian government banned TikTok and other Chinese apps earlier this summer amid rising tensions between New Delhi and Beijing. The decision cut the app off from one of its largest growth markets.
During the hearing, Kanter invited UK officials to come to TikTok’s Transparency and Accountability Center to inspect the app’s algorithm and observe the company’s approach to content moderation, claiming they could see for themselves that there is no censorship anymore.
«We’re the only platform that has announced an open approach to our algorithm and the code that drives our algorithm,» she said.
A Fox spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. It is possible that Fox could change the guidance either before or after it calls the race.
The guidance was issued as Trump and his aides express fury at Fox News for projecting Biden will win Arizona.
In the aftermath of Fox calling Arizona for Biden, Trump advisers launched a full-court press to pressure the network to retract its projection.
Top advisers phoned Fox talent to complain and Jared Kushner went as far as to get into contact with Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire owner of the channel.
Fox’s decision desk, however, has repeatedly said it stands by its call of Arizona. But some of its top talent have questioned the call.
Sean Hannity, a pro-Trump propagandist employed by the network, said on his Fox show Thursday night that «any call of Arizona was premature.» A network spokesperson did not respond when asked earlier whether the network had any comment on Hannity’s assertion.
Another financial aid package is clearly needed given that the unemployment rate, despite dropping dramatically last month, still remains at an elevated level of 6.9%. That’s down from 7.9% in September — but sharply elevated from the 3.5% level in February before Covid-19 ground the US economy to a virtual standstill.
The government reported the latest jobs figures Friday morning and said 638,000 jobs were added last month — more than expected.
But investors also appear to be cheering the likelihood that the Senate will remain in Republican control. That could mean some of the more progressive policies pushed by more liberal Democrats may not make it through Congress, even if Biden is the next president.
In other words, the old «gridlock is good for Wall Street» narrative is alive and well.
«The market had made a half-hearted attempt of pricing in a blue wave,» said Timothy Chubb, chief investment officer with Girard.
«But if we have a split Congress and a potential President-elect Biden is not able to move forward with more substantial health care and tax reform, the market will ultimately see that as a positive,» Chubb added.
Beginning Friday, customers will have their drinks served in one of four new festive cups. The annual celebration is designed to drum up excitement for the coffee chain. Starbucks said this year’s theme, «Carry the Merry,» will be written on two of the cups.
«Our thought behind the cups this year was about people carrying them out in the world as messengers of joy,» Jeff Wilkson, creative director for Starbucks, said in a press release. He added that he wants customers’ orders to be a «brief moment that they can look forward to.»
Starbucks(SBUX) is giving away a free reusable version of the holiday cup on Friday to customers who order a seasonal drink at its US restaurants or through delivery. Baristas will also begin wearing red aprons.
This year’s seasonal drinks include peppermint mocha, toasted white chocolate mocha, caramel brulee latte, chestnut praline latte and eggnog latte in addition to its Christmas blend coffee. It will also offer a number of seasonal foods, including a new cranberry orange scone, sugar plum cheese danish and a snowman cookie and cake pop.
New or seasonal menu items help drive sales because customers often buy them in addition to their regular orders instead of swapping items out. This year, Starbucks said the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, which launched in 2019, outsold its signature Pumpkin Spice Latte in the third quarter.
Starbucks first rolled out seasonal cups in 1997. The company stirred up controversy in 2015 when it removed «symbols of the season,» i.e. reindeer and ornaments, and went with a simple two-toned red cup. Since then, it has added more festive flourishes, such as ornaments and mistletoe, to its cups.
Meanwhile, Dunkin’(DNKN) rolled out its own holiday menu, cup and packaging Wednesday. New this year is a sourdough breakfast sandwich and a chai latte with oatmilk, its newest non-dairy option.
The chain has made up a word for its cups and boxes: Cheersin’, which it describes as a «playful combination of cheers and Dunkin’, symbolizing coming together in both celebration and appreciation.»
Last week, Dunkin’ announced it was going private in a $11.3 billion deal with Inspire Brands.
The petition to parliament was launched by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a little over three weeks ago and closed on Wednesday. It calls for a Royal Commission — Australia’s highest form of public inquiry — to «investigate threats to media diversity.» It also accused media businesses of encouraging «deliberately polarizing and politically manipulated news.»
While the petition raised several points of concern, including Google(GOOGL) and Facebook’s(FB)relationship with the news media, it singled out Murdoch’s News Corp(NWS) as a potential threat to free speech and public debate.
«We are especially concerned that Australia’s print media is overwhelmingly controlled by News Corporation, founded by Fox News billionaire Rupert Murdoch, with around two-thirds of daily newspaper readership,» the petition said. «This power is routinely used to attack opponents in business and politics by blending editorial opinion with news reporting.»
News Corp Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The publisher is one of the largest in the country and owns major national newspaper The Australian and tabloids such as The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun.
Rudd used social media to tout the response to the petition.
«Half-a-million Australians have spoken. They’ve smashed the records to make their voice heard: Australia needs a #MurdochRoyalCommission to protect the lifeblood of our democracy,» he said in a tweet.
The petition will likely be presented to Australia’s House of Representatives, but lawmakers are not obligated to act on it.
Rudd has been outspoken about what he considers the toxic influence of Murdoch’s media properties. He has called the billionaire’s news empire a «cancer on democracy» in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, and likened the organization to the mafia in an interview with CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter in May.
«To call the Murdoch media empire a journalistic organization committed to bringing you fair and balanced news coverage around the world these days has become a joke,» Rudd said.
Murdoch’s media empire spans the globe, and its role has also faced scrutiny in the United Kingdom, where News Corp owns newspapers including The Sun and The Times.
In 2017, UK regulators spent months investigating 21st Century Fox’s proposed $15 billion takeover of the broadcaster Sky and how it would impact the media market. The government also probed whether Fox would uphold UK broadcasting standards.
That deal never materialized. Fox eventually lost the battle for Sky to Comcast(CCZ), while Disney(DIS) spent tens of billions of dollars to pick up most of Fox’s assets — excluding Fox News Channel, Fox Sports and the Fox broadcast network.
Like many other news organizations, News Corp Australia is also dealing with disruptions to its business caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company announced earlier this year that it would be shutting down dozens of local newspapers in Australia and ending print production for most of its smaller publications as part of a major shakeup of its business in the country.
The global media industry has been slammed as the coronavirus pandemic reduces demand for advertising.
The Kyoto-based firm said that operating profit for the first half of the fiscal year, which ended in September, soared 209% to 291.4 billion Japanese yen ($2.8 billion) compared to the same period the year before. Sales climbed 73% to 769.5 billion yen ($7.4 billion).
The success shows that months into the pandemic, people are still turning to the Switch game console in droves. Nintendo sold about 12.5 million of the devices from April through September, an 81% increase over the previous year.
«Strong sell-through momentum continues even after the summer sales season,» Nintendo noted in a presentation to investors.
The firm on Thursday hiked sales projections for the Switch, predicting a jump through the financial year ending in March. It now expects to sell 24 million units, up from the 19 million previously forecast. The company’s profits are expected to surge by as much as 50%.
One notable success was the continued popularity of «Animal Crossing: New Horizons.» The best-selling game, which is set on a relaxing virtual island utopia and allows users to fish, catch bugs and play with friends on the beach, runs on the Switch and has been in high demand since people worldwide started staying home because of the coronavirus crisis.
Nintendo sold 14.3 million copies of the game over the six-month period, bringing total sales to about 26 million units, it said. For comparison, Nintendo’s best-selling Switch game of all time, «Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,» has racked up almost 29 million sales.
Other titles also helped boost the company’s software sales through September.
According to Nintendo, more than 5.2 million copies of «Super Mario 3D All-Stars,» a special game released in September to celebrate the titular Mario’s 35th birthday, have been sold so far. «Paper Mario: The Origami King,» a recently launched role-playing game that is based on the Nintendo 64 classic, has picked up more than 2.8 million sales.
Demand for Switch games made by other video game developers «also continued to grow steadily,» the company said. This financial year has been so strong, there are now 20 different Switch titles that have sold at least than a million copies, it added.
July 23 (Reuters) – The Washington Nationals and New York Yankees launched the COVID-19-delayed Major League Baseball season on Thursday, but reminders of the pandemic were everywhere, from a stadium devoid of fans to Dr. Anthony Fauci throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
From players wearing face masks to mandatory testing, the new reality thrust on baseball by the coronavirus was unavoidable despite high-tech efforts to provide a comforting facade with the soothing sounds of a packed ballpark piped into the television broadcast.
The coronavirus has claimed over 143,000 U.S. lives, with the country surpassing more than 4 million cases.
FOX Sports said on Thursday it would use “virtual fans” to provide the illusion of a full stadium during its broadcasts, with thousands of avatars cheering or booing at the push of a button.
Even one of Opening Day’s great traditions, the ceremonial opening pitch, was linked to the pandemic, with Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease specialist and diehard Nationals fan, performing the honors at the team’s park in Washington.
Fauci, who is often seen in public sporting the team’s logo on his face mask, donned a Nationals jersey and cap and unleashed a wild pitch, throwing up his arms as if to say: “What did you expect?”
Hours before Fauci took the mound, Washington learned it would start the abbreviated 60-game regular season without star slugger Juan Soto. The defending World Series champions said he had tested positive for the coronavirus and it placed him on the injured list, where he will stay until he has two negative tests.
The Nationals were already without veteran infielder Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross, who both opted to sit out the season because of health concerns related to COVID-19. (Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Peter Cooney)
(Reuters) – When Major League Baseball opens its coronavirus-delayed 2020 season on Thursday, things will look a lot different than fans of America’s favorite pastime are used to seeing as COVID-19 has led to a number of significant changes.
While players will be tested on a regular basis and must quarantine in their hotel rooms when on the road this season, there are many other changes in place that will be hard to miss when the first pitch is thrown.
The traditional singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch will be missing the backup vocals of fans as ballparks will be eerily empty for at least the start of the season.
The decision to potentially allow fans this season will be made based on local government approval in each market and MLB’s approval after consultation with all appropriate parties.
The sight of baseball players spitting while on the field is as old as the game itself. But MLB has said the practice, which includes saliva, sunflower seeds, peanut shells and tobacco, is prohibited at all times in club facilities and on the field.
MLB has also said pitchers may no longer lick their fingers while on the mound in a bid to get a better grip on the ball but may instead carry a wet rag in their back pocket.
MLB had originally planned to open its gruelling 162-game regular season in March but after staring at an ever-shrinking calendar opted instead for a condensed 60-game schedule in a bid to salvage the 2020 campaign.
The virus-abbreviated season, which was only agreed to after testy negotiations between MLB and the players union, will be baseball’s shortest since 1878.
In a bid to bring a quicker end to games given a jam-packed schedule that has turned the season into a sprint rather than a marathon, after the ninth inning, teams will get to start each half-inning with a runner on second base.
While also potentially ending games quicker, the change is expected to protect a team’s bullpen health and would also limit the time players spend in the relatively close quarters of a dugout or bullpen.
The schedule for the season will put increased emphasis on geographical proximity as MLB wants to limit travel.
Rather than have clubs travel across North America, this year’s schedule will be regionally based, meaning teams will play 40 games within their division and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographical division.
One of the most notable differences between MLB’s American League and National League has been the AL’s use of a designated hitter (DH) — a player who bats in place of a pitcher — since 1973. That difference will not exist this year.
All NL games will include the use of the designated hitter for the first time in history as part of an emphasis on pitcher health during the truncated season.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama