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Monthly Archives: May 2020

Our grimdark meathook cyberpunk now



Ten years ago, the joke was: “It’s weird how, once everyone started carrying phones with cameras all the time, UFOs stopped visiting, and the cops started beating everyone up.” It was darkly funny, then. Now it feels something more like despairing.

Imagine pitching today as a setting for science fiction, back then:

The year is 2020. A pandemic that will kill millions ravages the planet. America is masked: some because of the new virus, others as a ward against police surveillance. A global wave of implicit & explicit xenophobia and white supremacy has carried the UK out of Europe, and a narcissistic reality TV star to the presidency, where he fans the flames of America’s rampant police violence, and spars incoherently with the billionaires who control the tech megacorps that dominate the Internet and the economy. Meanwhile, America’s techno-militarized law enforcement agencies use drones, networked cameras, AI-powered facial recognition, and other police-state innovations to aid them in their running battles against an insurgent population which increasingly no longer sees them as legitimate.

If you had pitched today only ten years ago, you would have been asked with genuine confusion whether it was intended as satire–and then, very possibly, more gently, if everything was OK at home. Yet here we are.

Six years ago I wrote a piece, “The techno-militarization of America” which concluded that “in juicing [the police] with the steroids of military technologies, rules, and attitudes, we have transformed them into a cure almost worse than the disease.” Looking back now, that ‘almost’ seems embarrassingly naïve.

I’ve seen multiple independent sources refer to the events of this week as a ‘legitimacy crisis,’ triggered by a common-knowledge collapse: a moment when everyone realizes that a belief they did not speak about, thinking it fringe and wild, is in fact also held by an enormous number of their peers. Nine years ago, when it was still possible to be optimistic about the effect Facebook would have on society, that sort of collapse is believed to have triggered the Arab Spring.

Here, the cultural collapse appears to be precipitating around the concept “all cops are bastards.” Once that catchphrase was something I only heard from my furthest of far-left punk and anticapitalist acquaintances. Let’s just say that the line of demarcation has moved in towards the mainstream a lot. As in the Arab Spring, this apparent common-knowledge collapse was catalyzed by a single awful death, then spread with remarkable speed, fueled in large part by social media.

Of course America is a huge and diverse place which includes many communities who have long–understandably–viewed the police as an illegitimate occupying army. (Often literally: “In about two-thirds of the U.S. cities with the largest police forces, the majority of police officers commute to work from another town.”)

What’s different is that this attitude seems to be accelerating nationwide. A few random examples from my own social media of late include — all white, since it matters — a battery researcher, a rocket technologist, and a middle-aged Minnesotan mother of teenagers describing the Minneapolis police as “a suburban occupying force.”

Those are anecdotes, so here’s some data: in 2007, Pew Research reported that 37% of black Americans, and a whopping 74% of white Americans, had “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence in police to “treat races equally.” If you add those who indicated “just some” confidence, those numbers go up to 51% and 82%.

Twelve years later, the numbers who said that Americans of all races are generally treated fairly equally by police had fallen by more than half, to 16% and 37% respectively. In 2017, a sizable majority of all Americans agreed that “the deaths of blacks during encounters with police during recent years are signs of a broader problem”–while 72% of white police officers disagreed.

What do you think those numbers would be today? Given the scale of the disagreement, and the rapid loss of faith, is the prospect of a sudden legitimacy collapse really so surprising?

You’ll note that the Arab Spring didn’t last long, and was ultimately followed by bitter winter (except arguably in Tunisia where it began.) I’m not especially optimistic that this will be a profound national turning point in America. But I am hopeful it may shake the attitude among county and city governments that police and police unions should be treated as a local Praetorian Guard, to whom is owed unquestioning gratitude, a blind eye when a body camera happens to wink off before a suspect suffers an injury or death, and zero or toothless civilian oversight.

I’ve been to a lot of countries whose police are not perceived as legitimate; where it’s widely understood, across disparate communities, that whatever the situation, you think twice before involving the cops, because they’ll very likely just make things worse. America feels increasingly like such a country. Let’s hope the de-techno-militarization, and de-white-supremacization, of law enforcement happens before the nation spins into that kind of vicious cycle … because once there, it’s terrifyingly hard to break free. After the events of last night, you have to at least wonder whether it’s already too late.

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Best drones for kids: Find a toy drone that's safe, sturdy, and easy to fly



So your kid wants a drone. That’s not surprising: They’ve been a hot holiday gift for a few years running, and more options than ever are explicitly marketed toward the younger set.

Still, there are a lot of drones out there, and it can be hard to tell not only which are actually good, but also which are safe, sturdy, and beginner-friendly enough for children. Your young pilot will probably crash this thing a few times, after all — in a lot of cases (though not all!), a low-cost toy drone is your best bet. (While we appreciate the feature-laden $1500 drones of the world, they’re probably not what your 10-year-old should start with.) When it comes right down to it, the best drones for kids are ones that will be relatively easy to fly and can take a beating.  Read more…

More about Kids, Drones, Toys, Mashable Shopping, and Tech



IMAGE: Amazon


BEST OVERALL

Ryze Tech Tello

The Ryze Tello offers all the features a beginner hobbyist could want at a relatively low price.

  • Dimensions: 3.9 x 3.6 x 1.6 inches
  • Flight time: 13 minutes
  • Charging time: 60-90 minutes
  • Range: 328 feet / 99.97 meters
  • Camera: 720p video, 2592 x 1936 photos


$99.99 from Amazon



IMAGE: Amazon


MOST EASY-TO-FLY DRONE

Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3

Learning to control a drone is often the biggest concern for beginners. Luckily, the Syma X5SW-V3 is super easy to fly.

  • Dimensions: 12.4 x 12.4 x 4.13 inches
  • Flight time: 5-7 minutes
  • Charging time: 90-120 minutes
  • Range: 164.04 feet / 50 meters
  • Camera: 480p


$44 from Amazon



IMAGE: Best Buy


BEST DRONES FOR SIBLINGS

Sky Rider Air Racers

This two-pack of toy drones is a simple and affordable way to keep multiple kids occupied.

  • Dimensions: 3.94 x 3.94 x 1.18 inches
  • Flight time: 6-7 minutes
  • Charging time: 70 minutes
  • Range: 262 feet / 79.86 meters
  • Camera: None


$49.99 from Best Buy



IMAGE: Amazon


BEST FOR LITTLE KIDS

AirHogs Supernova

The AirHogs Supernova is a super unique toy, but it’s also a solid hand-controlled drone in its own right.

  • Dimensions: 5.25 x 8 x 12 inches
  • Flight time: 5-7 minutes
  • Charging time: 50-65 minutes
  • Range: 66 feet / 20 meters
  • Camera: None


$49.99 from Amazon



IMAGE: Amazon


BEST DRONE FOR TAKING PHOTOS

DJI Mavic Mini

This little drone is the biggest splurge on our list, but it also takes a killer aerial photo. For young photogs, it may be worth it.

  • Dimensions: 5.3 x 3.2 x 2.2 inches (folded)
  • Flight time: 30 minutes
  • Charging time: 50-90 minutes
  • Range: 2.5 miles / 4 kilometers
  • Camera: 2.7K HD video / 12mp photos


$399 from Amazon



IMAGE: Amazon


BEST FOR LEARNING

Eachine E010 Nano Drone

What better to learn the ropes with than a cute, inexpensive little nano drone?

  • Dimensions: 5.51 x 4.33 x 3.39 inches
  • Flight time: 5 minutes
  • Charging time: 40-60 minutes
  • Range: 98.43 feet / 30 meters
  • Camera: None


$23.99 from Amazon



IMAGE: Best Buy


BEST NOT-QUITE-A-DRONE

Protocol Aviator RC Helicopter

For kids who just want something solid and cool-looking, a lime green helicopter fits the bill.

  • Length: 9 inches
  • Flight time: 6 minutes
  • Charging time: 60 minutes
  • Camera: None


$29.99 from Best Buy

This coyote playing golf in a backyard alone knows how to have a good time



Did you know coyotes can’t pass up a chance to play golf in a backyard?

Well, maybe some of them can, but not this playful scamp who was seen tossing a golf ball around on someone’s personal putting green.

According to the video description, on May 22, a coyote wandered into a Tarzana, California, backyard and brushed up on its golf skills. The owner of the Ring camera said that after about three minutes the coyote left, but perhaps it will return for another midnight game sometime soon.

Next time you’re bored or feeling a little lonely, remember this coyote and know that you don’t need another person to have fun. If this coyote can throw a golf ball around for like three minutes, you can entertain yourself, too. Read more…

More about Viral Video, Golf, Coyote, Culture, and Web Culture

Director Ani Acopian breaks down her drone-shot video, ’A World Artists Love’



“A drone is a camera,” Ani Acopian begins simply. “And it can fly. It’s basically a flying super-camera! I’d love to see more film and TV productions embrace the nimble and magical nature of drones and use them for more than bird’s eye view establishing shots.”

The director’s video for London-based record label AWAL (Artists Without a Label) unfolds like a minute-long homage to the narrative potential of UAVs. It lifts off from a desk, flies out a sliding-glass window, up over the room, down a stairwell and through a car. There’s a restaurant, some skaters in an empty pool, a parking lot junk yard and a backyard pool party. It’s a bright, sun-shiny picture of Southern California in a time before social distancing turned us all into nocturnal weirdos.

The sequence is stitched together to give the appearance on long shot. That’s particularly the work of some editing magic, which pulled together a still-impressive five shots to create the final product. The result comes in no small part due to the flying of Robert McIntosh. The pilot, who had previously collaborated with director Spike Jonze on the 2012 skate video “Pretty Sweet,” custom built the drone.

Weighing in at 120 grams, it was built by removing the camera from a GoPro Hero 6. That, along with the associated wires, were transferred onto the body of a racing drone. The result was palm-sized and fragile, with a dismal battery life of around three to five minutes a go. But the tiny size also allowed for an extremely nimble flying camera capable of shooting 4K video. The drone was flown at a slow speed, with McIntosh piloting through a pair of FPV racing goggles, with radio guidance from director of photography, Eric Maloney.

Acopian says the nature of the shoot required a fair bit of improvisation on the part of the crew, particularly with some scene utilizing up to 60 extras. Each were given a specific action to perform, while the director sat far away, giving directions through a bullhorn, so as to not be picked up through the camera’s wide-angle lens.

“We weren’t able to rehearse with the cast or block out a flight path with the drone ahead of time,” she explains, “so the biggest challenge was showing up at a new location each morning and figuring out what the drone path, talent blocking and VFX markers would be, then rehearsing as much we could up until around two hours before sundown, at which point we had as many takes as we could fit into that two-hour window to nail the shot. If something wasn’t working, we changed it because otherwise we put the whole scene at risk of not happening.”

Each scene naturally required multiple takes — up to 15 in some cases. And yes, that fragile little drone did crash a few times — though it was mostly no worse for wear.

“There was one crash that gave us all a scare, which happened while filming the scene where a partygoer gets caked,” Acopian adds. “The actress took a step back, directly into the path of the flying drone, and the drone got caught in their hair and turned off. Luckily, she was chill with getting a little bit of her hair snipped off so we could get the drone out, and the guys were able to patch it up in about 20 minutes. Twenty minutes later we were shooting again and she took another cake to the face. A true hero.”

After the shoot, the video was processed through ReelSteady — stabilization software created by McIntosh, which was acquired by GoPro back in March. Then it was effects company Alpha Studios’ job to help stitch things together into one continuous shot.

“We originally wanted to make every transition completely seamless and hidden, but locations and logistics meant that we had to make most of our transitions stylized. We worked closely with Alpha Studios to plot out where one shot would end and where the preceding shot would begin,” producer Jeremiah Warren says. “Kaitlyn Yang, from Alpha Studios, was the on-set VFX supervisor and was key in helping us figure out these transition points that her team blended with VFX in post-production.”

The result is a lovely little glimpse into how drones can extend beyond the customary establishing shot and take a deeper storytelling role in the process.

“I know that the future for droning is very bright, and I anticipate that we’ll start to see drones used in ways that don’t immediately give away their ‘drone-ness,’ like to feign camera movements that would otherwise be difficult to achieve,” says Acopian. “You don’t have to be high to fly! Drones, especially FPV drones, have this fluidity to them that beautifully mirrors the way memories feel to me and I’m excited to see more people play with this to recreate the inner experience so many of us have in a new, relatable way.”

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The 22 best movies now streaming on Netflix



Read more…

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Startups Weekly: Remote-first work will mean ‘globally fair compensation’



Editor’s note: Get this free weekly recap of TechCrunch news that any startup can use by email every Saturday morning (7am PT). Subscribe here.

Most tech companies base compensation on an employee’s local cost of living, in addition to their skills and responsibilities. The pandemic-era push to remote work seems to be reinforcing that — if you only skim the headlines. For example, Facebook said last week that it would be readjusting salaries for employees who have relocated away from the Bay Area.

But Connie Loizos caught up with a few well-placed people who see something else happening. First, here’s Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic (WordPress), which has been almost entirely remote for its long and successful history.

“Long term, I think market forces and the mobility of talent will force employers to stop discriminating on the basis of geography for geographically agnostic roles,” he told Connie for TechCrunch

Mullenweg went on to detail how the process was still complicated, and that his company did not yet have a universal approach. But ultimately, he thinks that for “moral and competitive reasons, companies will move toward globally fair compensation over time with roles that can be done from anywhere.”

Connie also talked to Jon Holman, a tech recruiter who is living and breathing the new world, in a separate article for Extra Crunch. The market forces will ultimately favor talent, he concurs, and companies that want talent will pay according to what they can afford. “If a good AI or machine learning engineer is working elsewhere and demand for those skills still exceeds supply,” Holman explained, “and his or her company pays less than for the same job in Palo Alto, then that person is just going to jump to another company in his or her own geography.”

Taking stock of the future of retail

Our weekly staff survey for Extra Crunch is about retail — will it exist? how? A few of our staffers who cover related topics weighed in:

  • Natasha Mascarenhas says retailers will need to find new ways to sell aspirational products — and what was once cringe-worthy might now be considered innovative.

  • Devin Coldewey sees businesses adopting a slew of creative digital services to prepare for the future and empower them without Amazon’s platform.

  • Greg Kumparak thinks the delivery and curbside pickup trends will move from pandemic-essentials to everyday occurrences. He thinks that retailers will need to find new ways to appeal to consumers in a “shopping-by-proxy” world.

  • Lucas Matney views a revitalized interest in technology around the checkout process, as retailers look for ways to make the purchasing experience more seamless (and less high-touch).

We also ran two investor surveys this week, with Matt Burns producing one on manufacturing and Megan Rose Dickey and Kirsten Korosec following up on their autonomous vehicles series.

How to think about strategic investors (in a pandemic)

Maybe you could use some more money, distribution and partnerships these days? Those are the eternal lures of corporate venture funding sources, but each strategic VC has a different mandate. Some are there to help the parent company, some are just there to make money… and some may be on thin ice themselves given the way that they get money to invest.

If you’re taking a fresh look at getting strategic funding now, check out this set of overview articles from Bill Growney, a partner at top tech law firm Goodwin, and Scott Orn of Kruze Consulting. The first, for TechCrunch, goes over how corporate funds are typically structured (and motivated). The second, for Extra Crunch, covers questions for startup founders to anticipate and other recommendations for dealing with this type of VC.

Calm chooses a more enlightened path to growth

It is high times for meditation and “mindfulness” apps, as people look for ways to adjust to pandemic life. Sarah Perez, our resident app expert, took a look at a new app store analysis on TechCrunch, shredded some of the top-ranked companies for opportunistic marketing, and came away with a positive feeling about the global market leader.

Calm, meanwhile, took a different approach. It launched a page of free resources, but instead focused on partnerships to expand free access to more users, while also growing its business. Earlier this month, nonprofit health system Kaiser Permanente announced it was making the Calm app’s Premium subscription free for its members, for example — the first health system to do so.

The company’s decision to not pursue as many free giveaways meant it may have missed the easy boost from press coverage. However, it may be a better long-term strategy as it sets up Calm for distribution partnerships that could continue beyond the immediate COVID-19 crisis.

Mindfulness pays. On that note, subscribers can read her excellent This Week In Apps report every Saturday over on Extra Crunch.

Around TechCrunch

TechCrunch’s Early Stage, Mobility and Space events will be virtual, too

Win a Wild Card to compete in Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2020

Extra Crunch Live: Join Initialized’s Alexis Ohanian and Garry Tan for a live Q&A on Tuesday at 2pm EDT/11am PDT

Join GGV’s Hans Tung and Jeff Richards for a live Q&A: June 4 at 3:30 pm EDT/12:30 pm PD

Across the week

TechCrunch

AI can battle coronavirus, but privacy shouldn’t be a casualty

Living and working in a worsening world

How to upgrade your at-home videoconference setup: Lighting edition

Equity Morning: Remote work startup fundings galore, plus a major court decision

Extra Crunch

API startups are so hot right now

Investors say emerging multiverses are the future of entertainment

Dear Sophie: Can I work in the US on a dependent spouse visa?

Fintech regulations in Latin America could fuel growth or freeze out startups

The secret to trustworthy data strategy

#EquityPod

From Natasha:

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week’s show took a break from regularly scheduled programming. Our co-host Alex Wilhelm, who usually leads us through the show, was on some much-deserved vacation, so Danny Crichton and Natasha Mascarenhas took the reigns and invited Floodgate Capital’s Iris Choi to join in on the fun. It’s Choi’s fourth time being on the podcast, which officially makes her our most tenured guest yet (in case the accomplished investor needs another bullet point on her bio page).

This week’s docket features scrappiness, a seed round and a Startup Battlefield alumnus.

Here’s what we chewed through:

  • LeverEdge raised seed funding to get you and your friends a volume discount on student loans. Fintech has been booming for years now, and startups often crop up around the painful world of student loans. Yet this startup still caught our eye, and it has a little something to do with its choice to use collective bargaining power as its modus operandi.
  • Stackin’ raised a $12.6 million Series B for a text-messaging service that connects millennials to money tips, and eventually other fintech apps. According to CEO Scott Grimes, Stackin’ wants to be the “pipes that port people around fintech.” We get into if the world needs a fintech app marketplace and how it targets younger users.
  • D-ID, a Startup Battlefield alumnus, digitally de-identifies faces in videos and still images and just raised $13.5 million. We’re all worried about our privacy concerns, so the funding news was a refreshing change of pace from the usual headlines we see around surveillance. Now the company just needs to find a successful use case beyond the goodness in people’s hearts.
  • ByteDance, the Chinese parent company that owns TikTok, hit $3 billion in net profit last year, reports Bloomberg. TikTok also recently snagged former Disney executive Kevin Mayer for its CEO. This one, as you can expect, made for an interesting conversation around privacy and bandwidth. We even asked Choi to weigh in on Donald J. Trump’s recent tweet threatening to regulate social media companies, as Floodgate was an early angel investor in Twitter.
  • We ended with a roundtable of sorts on how the future of work will look and feel in our new world, from college campuses to offices. We get into the vulnerability that comes with being on Zoom, the ever-increasing stupidity of “manels” and how tech talent might be flocking to smaller cities but investors aren’t just yet.

And that was the show! Thanks to our producer Chris Gates for helping us put this together, thanks to you all for listening in on this quirky episode and thanks to Iris Choi for always bringing a fresh, candid perspective. Talk next week.

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Killer Mike's viral speech cuts to the heart of the nationwide protests



Chaos has overtaken the streets of multiple cities in the wake of George Floyd’s death, and Killer Mike had some things to say about that on Friday night.

The Atlanta-based Run the Jewels rapper, whose real name is Michael Render, appeared alongside Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and others in a public plea aimed at ending the unrest. Atlanta became one of many cities dealing with mass protests as the week ended, days after video emerged of a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on top of Floyd, a black man, until after he died.

The horrific footage captured Floyd’s slow, agonizing death on May 25 as he pleaded for help. It wasn’t until four days later that Derek Chauvin, the now-fired police officer who is seen in the video kneeling on top of Floyd and refusing to move, was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Read more…

More about Protests, Killer Mike, George Floyd, Culture, and Celebrities

This Week in Apps: Facebook launches trio of app experiments, TikTok gets spammed, plus coronavirus impacts on app economy



Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending three hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week we’re continuing to look at how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting the world of mobile applications, with fresh data from App Annie about trends playing out across app categories benefiting from the pandemic, lockdowns and societal changes. We’re also keeping up with the COVID-19 contact-tracing apps making headlines, and delving into the week’s other news.

We saw a few notable new apps launch this week, including HBO’s new streaming service HBO Max, plus three new app experiments from Facebook’s R&D group. Android Studio 4.0 also launched this week. Instagram is getting better AR tools and IGTV is getting ads. TikTok got spammed in India.

Meanwhile, what is going on with app review? A shady app rises to the top of the iPhone App Store. Google cracks down on conspiracy theory-spreading apps. And a TikTok clone uses a pyramid scheme-powered invite system to rise up the charts.

COVID-19 contact-tracing apps in the news 

  • Latvia: Reuters this week reported that Latvia aims to become one of the first countries to launch a smartphone app, Stop Covid, using the new toolkit created by Apple and Alphabet’s Google to help trace coronavirus infections.
  • Australia: The role of the country’s Covidsafe app in the recovery appears to be marginal, The Guardian reports. In the month since its launch, only one person has been reported to have been identified using data from it. A survey even found that Australians were more supportive of using telecommunications metadata to track close contacts (79%) than they were of downloading an app (69.8%). In a second survey, their support for the app dropped to 64%. The app has been maligned by the public debate over it and technical issues.
  • France: The country’s data protection watchdog, CNIL, reviewed its contact-tracing app StopCovid, finding there were no major issues with the technical implementation and legal framework around StopCovid, with some caveats. France isn’t using Google and Apple’s contact-tracing API, but instead uses a controversial centralized contact-tracing protocol called ROBERT. This relies on a central server to assign a permanent ID and generate ephemeral IDs attached to this permanent ID. CNIL says the app will eventually be open-sourced and it will create a bug bounty. On Wednesday, the app passed its first vote in favor of its release.
  • Qatar: Serious security vulnerabilities in Qatar’s mandatory contact-tracing app were uncovered by Amnesty International. An investigation by Amnesty’s Security Lab discovered a critical weakness in the configuration of Qatar’s EHTERAZ contact-tracing app. Now fixed, the vulnerability would have allowed cyberattackers to access highly sensitive personal information, including the name, national ID, health status and location data of more than one million users.
  • India: India’s contact-tracing app, Aarogya Setu, is going open-source, according to Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney on Tuesday. The code is being published on GitHub. Nearly 98% of the app’s more than 114 million users are on Android. The government will also offer a cash bounty of $1,325 to security experts who find bugs or vulnerabilities.
  • Switzerland: Several thousand people are now testing a pilot version of Switzerland’s contact-tracing app, SwissCovid. Like Lativia, the app is one of the first to use Apple and Google’s contact-tracing API. Employees at EPFL, ETH Zurich, the Army and select hospitals and government agencies will be the first to test the Swiss app before its public launch planned for mid-June.
  • China: China’s health-tracking QR codes, embedded in popular WeChat and Alipay smartphone apps, are raising privacy concerns, Reuters reports. To walk around freely, people must have a green rating. They also now have to present their health QR codes to gain entry into restaurants, parks and other venues. These efforts have been met with little resistance. But the eastern city of Hangzhou has since proposed that users are given a color-coded health badge based on their medical records and lifestyle habits, including how much they exercised, their eating and drinking habits, whether they smoked and how much they slept the night before. This suggestion set off a storm of criticism on China’s Weibo, a Twitter-like platform.

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Original Content podcast: ‘The Lovebirds’ has charming leads and not much else



“The Lovebirds” was originally slated for a theatrical release, but with movie theaters closed, Paramount decided to release the film through Netflix instead.

But even without a global pandemic, a Netflix release was probably the right call. As we discuss latest episode of the Original Content podcast, this doesn’t feel like a movie that would have done well in theaters.

It is, to be clear, a funny and watchable, thanks in large part to the charming performances of Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae as a couple who have hit a rough patch in their relationship — right as they’re also embroiled in a murder mystery. (There seems to be a whole subgenre of movies about couples who are inadvertantly caught up in crime stuff.)

The plot, on the other hand, is pretty thin, and it becomes even more perfunctory as the movie tries to wrap everything up at the end. That’s particularly disappointing since “The Lovebirds” reunites Nanjiani with his “Big Sick” director Michael Showalter — do not expect it to be as good as “The Big Sick,” or even close.

Before our review, we also discuss the launch of WarnerMedia’s HBO-and-more streaming service HBO Max.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:25 HBO Max discussion
10:51 “The Lovebirds” review
23:41 “The Lovebirds” spoiler discussion

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Zuckerberg explains why Facebook won’t take action on Trump’s recent posts



In a statement posted to Facebook late Friday afternoon, Mark Zuckerberg offered up an explanation of why his company did not contextualize or remove posts from the accounts associated with President Donald Trump that appeared to incite violence against American citizens.

“We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to evaluate whether it violated our policies,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today’s situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be.”

Facebook’s position stands in sharp contrast to recent decisions made by Twitter, with the approval of its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, to screen a tweet from the President on Thursday night using a “public interest notice” that indicated the tweet violated its rules glorifying violence. The public interest notice replaces the substance of what Trump wrote, meaning a user has to actively click through to view the offending tweet.

Critics excoriated Facebook and its CEO for its decision to take a hands off approach to the dissemination of misinformation and potential incitements to violence published by accounts associated with the President and the White House. Some of the criticism has even come from among the company’s employees.

“I have to say I am finding the contortions we have to go through incredibly hard to stomach,” one employee, quoted by The Verge, wrote in a comment on Facebook’s internal message board. “All this points to a very high risk of a violent escalation and civil unrest in November and if we fail the test case here, history will not judge us kindly.”

Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s position saying that it would not take any action on the posts from the President because “we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.”

Facebook’s chief executive also drew a sharp contrast between Facebook’s response to the controversy and that of Twitter, which has provided a fact check for one of the President’s tweets and hidden Thursday’s tweet behind a warning label for violating its policies on violence.

“Unlike Twitter, we do not have a policy of putting a warning in front of posts that may incite violence because we believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician,” wrote Zuckerberg.

Twitter explained its decision in a statement. “This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today,” the company said.

Twitter Comms

@TwitterComms

We have placed a public interest notice on this Tweet from @realdonaldtrump. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1266231100780744704 

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Replying to @realDonaldTrump

….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!

“We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance,” the Twitter statement continued.

Perhaps, as Zuckerberg suggests, Facebook will have an opportunity to provide some answers to the questions around what the limits should be around allowing the state discussion of incitements to violence. For now, the company’s response only begs more questions.

A link to the full post from Zuckerberg follows below:

This has been an incredibly tough week after a string of tough weeks. The killing of George Floyd showed yet again that…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, May 29, 2020

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