Silicon Valley Tech News Roundup – August 20th

Twitter users will no longer be able to block unwanted followers – 8/18

On Friday, Elon Musk announced X (formerly known as Twitter) would remove the block feature, and users would no longer be able to block unwanted followers. In his tweet, Musk said: “Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature’, except for DMs.” He did not specify when the new feature would become active.

The block feature is considered one of the primary safety features on the platform. Once a user blocked an account, it prevented the blocked account from sending DMs, and their posts did not show up on the blocker’s timeline. Meanwhile, the mute feature means the muted account can still view the muter’s posts, and reply to them.

The new feature also brings into question if X is violating the terms and conditions of stores like Google Play and Apple Store. Both stipulate social media apps need to allow users the ability to filter bullying and harassment.

Checkout.com cuts short its contract with Binance – 8/18

According to a report published by Forbes, Checkout.com, a UK-based credit card processing company, terminated its contract with Binance this week. Binance was Checkout.com’s largest client, and they serviced billions in crypto transactions for Binance clients. The spokesperson for Checkout.com confirmed they terminated their contract with Binance.

Guillaume Pousaz (the CEO of Checkout.com) sent two letters to Binance this week. On August 9th, Pousaz informed Binance it was terminating its contract because of “reports of regulators actions and orders in relevant jurisdictions” and “inquiries from partners.”

On August 11th, Pousaz sent another letter to Binance saying the termination would be effective from August 17th. Further, he expressed concern over Binance’s compliance, sanctions, and anti-money laundering policies.

Dewi Mustajab (the spokesperson for Binance) released a statement to Forbes: “We have come a long way to building an industry-leading compliance program and we hope to build more trust with regulators and partners.” She also stated Binance is considering legal action, and Checkout.com’s termination will have “no impact on our service.”

The termination comes after Binance shuttered Binance Connect, the buy-and-sell crypto arm, that enabled businesses to accept crypto payments. Checkout.com supported those transactions. The company claims the service “had a small number of users and transactions.”

A report reveals that pro-Wagner accounts keep showing up on Facebook and Instagram despite the ban – 8/18

A report published by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) on Thursday reveals dozens of accounts on Facebook and Instagram promoting the mercenary Wagner group.

The development comes months after Meta stated it would remove content promoting the group from its platforms. Meta banned the Wagner group from its platforms under the company’s dangerous organizations policy in May. It falls under “Tier 1” entities – organizations that advocate “violence against civilians, repeatedly dehumanizing or advocating for harm against people based on protected characteristics, or engaging in systematic criminal operations.” The decision came after reports Wagner used Meta’s platforms for recruitment.

The report found over 110 pro-Wagner accounts on Meta’s platforms. The accounts operate in dozens of languages, express praise for the group, share graphic images of violence and call for recruits. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue claims several accounts posed as the organizations but cannot credibly be linked to the group. Furthermore, even if not directly affiliated with the Wagner group, their content still violates Meta’s terms and conditions. Three accounts found shared pro-Wagner content with more than 136,000 users in Arabic.

In a statement released on Thursday, Meta stated it is evaluating the accounts and its content. Further, the company added Wagner group “is not permitted to have a presence on our platforms, and we regularly remove assets when we identify those with clear ties to the organization.”

New York City bans TikTok on government devices – 8/17

On Wednesday, New York City banned TikTok from all government-owned devices for security reasons. The city’s agencies must remove the app from their devices within 30 days.

The spokesperson for the City Hall stated Cyber Command for the city concluded TikTok “posed a security threat to the city’s technical networks,” and that is why they are implementing the ban. Congress voted to ban TikTok on all federal devices. The security concerns are down to the ownership of the app. Since ByteDance is a Chinese-owned company, legislators fear U. S. users’ data is vulnerable and Chinese government may access it. Under Chinese law, Chinese companies have to hand the data over to the government if forced to do so.

Representatives for TikTok declined to comment on the ban.


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