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Twitter Users Bash Prince Harry Over Social Media and Fortnite Comments

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  • A day after breaking records with the launch of his official Instagram account, Prince Harry said that social media is more addictive than drugs and alcohol.
  • He also said that Fornite “shouldn’t be allowed,” which prompted a flood of backlash from social media users.

What Did Harry Say?

Prince Harry found himself of Twitter’s bad side this week over comments he made about the dangers of social media and the popular video game Fortnite.

The comments were made on Wednesday during Harry’s visit to the YMCA in London, where he met with mental health organizations working with teens and young adults. At the conference, he said, “Growing up in today’s world, social media is more addictive than drugs and alcohol.”

“Yet it’s more dangerous because it’s normalized and there are no restrictions to it. We are in a mind-altering time,” he added.

Along with his comments about social media, Harry also angered Fortnite fans by saying, “A game like Fortnite, for instance, may not be so good for children.”

“Parents have got their hands up—they don’t know what to do about it. It’s like waiting for the damage to be done and kids turning up on your doorsteps and families being broken. That game shouldn’t be allowed. Where is the benefit having it in your household? It’s created to addict, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible. It’s so irresponsible.”

Video Game Addiction

The topic of video game addiction is not new by any means. Just last year, the World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to the list of mental health conditions in its International Classification of Diseases. The listing was added in an effort to help clinical professionals define the point at which the hobby of playing video games becomes an issue.

The ICD defines the disorder as “pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be clear for at least one year and must be “of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning,” according to the definition.

However, the WHO did note that studies “suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities.”

Because of its massive popularity, Fornite has become the face of the conversation around gaming addiction in recent months. Earlier this month, a doctor made headlines for prescribing an 11-year-old boy a two-week ban from computer games like Fornite and Minecraft.  

According to Divorce Online, a U.K. company that offers divorce services and resources, 200 divorces in the UK from January to September 2018 mentioned addiction to Fortnite and other online games as one of the reasons behind their relationship breakdown.

However, not all researchers believe the game is addictive. Andrew Reid, a doctoral researcher of serious games at Glasgow Caledonian University, told the BBC that people found the game hard to stop playing, but he warned against using the term “addictive.”

Reid argued that using that term could stigmatize regular video game players. He also added that some research showed “positive characteristics of play.”

Twitter Responds

Social media users did not react well to Harry’s claims. Many also found the timing to be odd since Harry had just joined Instagram a day earlier.

On Tuesday, Kensington Palace announced it had launched a verified Instagram account, under the handle @sussexroyal, on behalf of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. That account went on to break a world record for grabbing 1 million followers in the fastest amount of time, five hours and 45 minutes, according to Guinness World Records.

See what others are saying: (PC Games) (BBC) (The Independent)

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The Boeing MAX 8 Scandal & Controversy Explained!

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When Boeing first introduced the 737 MAX 8, the new plane was supposed to help usher in a new generation of commercial aircraft. Then two MAX 8’s crashed within five months of each other, killing a total of 346 people.

Since then, the controversy around Boeing has kept growing and growing as numerous investigations revealed a number of highly questionable and even negligent business and regulatory practices that ultimately led to the crashes.

Even now, more than a year after the first crash, Boeing is still in the news and under the microscope as it struggles to keep up appearances.

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Facebook to Pay $550 Million to Settle Facial Recognition Suit

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  • Facebook agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit in Illinois that claimed its “Tag Suggestions” feature illegally harvested facial data from millions of users in Illinois without their permission.
  • Facebook disclosed the settlement while also announcing it made $21 billion last quarter.
  • Some championed the settlement as a victory for consumer privacy rights.
  • Others argued that no matter how much Facebook pays in lawsuits and settlements, the company has continued to grow and has not fundamentally changed its business practices.

Facebook Announces Settlement

Facebook announced Wednesday that it had agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit involving facial recognition technology.

The lawsuit was filed in Illinois in 2015 and claimed that Facebook’s “Tag Suggestions” feature violated the state’s 2008 Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

The “Tag Suggestion” tool uses facial recognition software to scan users’ faces and then suggest the names of other users who might be in the picture. 

The lawsuit alleged that Facebook used it to illegally harvest facial data from millions of users in Illinois without their permission or without telling them how the data was kept.

Illinois is one of three states that has its own biometric privacy laws, and BIPA is arguably the strongest of all three. 

Under BIPA, companies that collect biometric data, which includes data from finger, face, and iris scans, must get prior consent from consumers and detail how the data will be used and how long the company will keep it. BIPA also allows private citizens to sue.

The lawsuit accused Facebook of failing to comply with those restrictions. 

Facebook, for its part, argued that the people who it collected data from without consent could not prove that they experienced any concrete harm, like financial losses. However, the company still ultimately decided to settle.

Once the federal judge overseeing the case approves the settlement, people eligible to claim money are expected to receive a couple hundred dollars.

Other Settlements & Controversies

Many privacy experts and advocates applauded the settlement and said it was a victory for consumer privacy rights.

But others argued that the settlement does not really change anything, because it is not a big deal for Facebook. While $550 million might seem like a lot, for Facebook, its basically pocket change.

Even the way Facebook announced the settlement seemed to emphasize that point. The tech giant disclosed the settlement while announcing its financial results for 2019, reporting that revenue rose 25% to $21 billion in the last quarter alone.

Not only did that indicate how minor the Illinois settlement was for the company financially, it also showcased their incredible ability to weather scandals and controversy.

Over the last few years, Facebook has received a lot of backlash, largely over privacy concerns and the spread of misinformation on the platform.

Most recently Facebook has been under fire for its decision to essentially let politicians lie in political ads.

In July, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Facebook $5 billion over privacy violations— the largest fine the FTC has ever imposed on a tech company by far.

Facebook’s Continued Growth

But even in the face of massive financial costs and prominent controversies, Facebook still continues to grow.

In an article published by Axios, writer Sara Fischer described Facebook’s ability for continued growth despite those obstacles.

“Facebook closed out the second decade of the millennium stronger than ever,” she wrote. “Facebook’s continued ability to post double-digit revenue growth every year speaks to how well it has been able to innovate and adapt, even in the face of regulatory headwinds and increased competition.”

Fischer gave the example of North America and Europe where Facebook has gotten more money per user each year despite the fact that its user growth in those regions has stayed relatively stagnant.

Source: Axios

She also mentioned the Illinois case, FTC fine, and other growing concerns over privacy and advertizing Facebook has warned its investors about.

“So far these fines have proven moot in getting the tech giant to fundamentally change its business, which continues to grow substantially,” she said.

While Facebook did agree to be more transparent about how it uses facial recognition technology as part of the FTC settlement, many are skeptical that the Illinois case will bring about any substantive change.

However, in an investor call following the release of Facebook’s earnings report Wednesday, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said that he wanted to be more transparent about the company’s values.

“One critique of our approach for much of the last decade is that because we wanted to be liked, we didn’t want to communicate our views as clearly, because we worried about offending people,” he said.

“Our goal for the next decade isn’t to be liked, but understood. In order to be trusted, people need to know what we stand for.”

See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Verge) (The New York Times)

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New 2020 Emoji Include Transgender Flag and More Gender-Inclusive Options

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  • Over 100 new emoji were revealed on Wednesday, set to be released sometime in 2020.
  • The new additions will consist of 62 brand-new emoji as well as 55 gender and skin-tone variants. 
  • The transgender flag, a woman in a tuxedo, and a more gender-inclusive alternative to Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be among the new options.
  • Other emoji introduced include boba tea, a dodo bird, a smiley face with a tear, and an anatomical heart.

Fresh Faces

More than 100 new emoji will be available for mobile phone users this year, providing both fun new icons as well as more inclusive and diverse options.

The list was unveiled on Wednesday by the Unicode Consortium, an organization devoted to developing and maintaining software internalization standards and data.

There will be 62 brand-new emoji as well as 55 gender and skin-tone variants, reflecting a push toward a more inclusive collection. Among the new icons will be the transgender symbol as well as the transgender pride flag, an idea proposed by advocates and artists with the help of Google and Microsoft.  

Along this same vein, more gender-inclusive options will be seen with this new wave. Both a woman and a non-binary figure in a tuxedo will soon be available, as well as a man and a non-binary figure in a wedding veil. 

To complement the already-existing Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus options, a more gender-inclusive alternative will be included as well — under the name of Mx. Claus. 

There will also be new emoji depicting parents feeding a baby. 

Other new emoji include a smiley face with a tear, two figures hugging, boba tea, and an anatomical heart. The animal section is getting a boost too, as a beaver, a seal, a polar bear, and even a dodo bird will be introduced. 

The release date of the new emoji depends on each individual vendor, but Unicode Consortium noted that typically the new icons are rolled out in the fall.

Praise for New Emoji

After the new additions were revealed, many took to Twitter to express their joy about the more inclusive options.

“Incredible power in the new 2020 emojis,” one person wrote.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (USA Today) (CBS)

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