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Twitter removed a lot more abusive content in the second half of 2020 than ever before

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Twitter is getting better at moderating its platform. That’s one of the main takeaways from the company’s most recent transparency report, which it shared on Wednesday. Between July 1st and December 31st, 2020, Twitter says it took action against 964,459 accounts for abusive behavior. Compared to the first six months of 2020, that’s a 142 percent increase. Over the same timeframe, Twitter also removed more hateful content. On that front, the company says it took action against 1,126,990 accounts, a 77 percent increase from the 635,415 accounts it reprimanded in the first half of 2020.

What’s notable here is that the company attributes the latter increase to policy changes it put in place throughout 2020. Specifically, it calls out the fact that it began taking action on “content that incites fear and/or fearful stereotypes about protected categories” as a result of an uptick in harassment during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The company also calls out an expansion of its hateful conduct policy in early December that saw the company prohibit language that “dehumanizes” people based on their race, ethnicity or national origin. Not mentioned in the report — but likely still something that had a positive effect — is the ban the company put in place in July against links to content that promotes violence and hateful conduct.

In another part of the report, Twitter also attributes its recent success to better technology. As of the second half of last year, the company claims its automated moderation tools helped it take action against 65 percent of abusive tweets and other behavior before someone had to flag the content for its moderators. To put that percentage in perspective, those tools were about 50 percent effective by late 2019.

Obviously, Twitter has yet to completely stop abuse, harassment and hate speech from taking place on its platform, but today’s report shows the company is at least making progress on its 2019 promise to “increase the health of public conversation.” 

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/twitter-second-half-2020-transparency-report-184953614.html?src=rss

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Nintendo’s next SNES Switch Online games include ‘Claymates’ and ‘Jelly Boy’

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Where, oh where, are the great SNES games for Nintendo’s Switch Online service? That’s what I’m wondering after seeing the company’s next batch of titles: Claymates, Jelly Boy and Bombuzal, which are scheduled to arrive on July 28th. No offense to Interplay’s Clay series (which includes the far more memorable Clayfighter), but these aren’t titles I’m exactly hankering to dive into. While Nintendo has done a solid job of bringing some of the biggest first-party titles over to Switch Online’s SNES library, we’re still waiting for classics like Mario RPG and EarthBound to arrive. 

There’s some value in letting younger generations see the sort of titles ’90s kids had to suffer through, though. And while Jelly Boy isn’t exactly a household name, this is the first time it’s going to be available outside of Europe, which at least makes it an interesting curio for retro gamers.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/nintendo-snes-switch-online-claymates-jelly-boy-bombuzal-150021227.html?src=rss

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A single typo locked Chromebook users out of their laptops

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Google is apparently learning a hard lesson about the importance of accurate writing. Android Police reports that Google has pulled a briefly available Chrome OS update that broke logins for Chromebook users, apparently due to a simple typo. The company appears to have added a second “&” to a line of code, preventing the OS from decrypting login info and effectively locking updated users out of their systems.

The issue not only prevented some users from signing in, but started bootloops (where the system keeps restarting). At least one system required a recovery USB stick to return to a working state. While Chrome OS thrives on cloud syncing, some people still lost important files.

Google has pinpointed the problem and should deliver a fixed update today (July 21st). Still, it’s not clear how such a conspicuous flaw slipped through the testing process. If nothing else, it’s a reminder about the importance of backups — it only takes one buggy update to create chaos, whether you’re using a Chromebook or any other device.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/google-chromebook-chrome-os-login-issue-typo-142357563.html?src=rss

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John Kerry issues warning over climate, calls on China to step up on emissions cuts

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John Kerry gives a speech at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London on July 20, 2021.

TOLGA AKMEN | AFP | Getty Images

The United States’ climate envoy John Kerry issued a stark warning on Tuesday, claiming that the suffering brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic would be “magnified many times over in a world that does not grapple with, and ultimately halt, the climate crisis.” 

In a speech delivered in London, Kerry — who on Thursday is due to attend a G20 ministerial meeting in Italy focused on the environment, climate and energy — sought to emphasize the magnitude of the challenge facing the planet.

“The climate crisis, my friends, is the test of our times,” he said. “And while some may still believe it is unfolding in slow motion, no, this test is now as acute and as existential as any previous one.”

Former Secretary of State Kerry also stressed the need for geopolitical cooperation, acknowledging that “no country and no continent alone can solve the climate crisis.”

Turning to China, Kerry noted that “a foundational building block” of its growth had stemmed from “a staggering amount of fossil fuel use” and called on it to step up when it came to cutting emissions.

In a remotely delivered address to the United Nations General Assembly last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country was targeting peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by the year 2060. For his part, Kerry claimed China needed to do more.

“As a large country, an economic leader and now the largest driver of climate change, China absolutely can help lead the world to success by peaking and starting to reduce emissions early during this critical decade of 2020 to 2030,” he went on to add.  

“The truth is there’s no alternative, because without sufficient reduction by China, together with the rest of us, the goal of 1.5 degrees is essentially impossible.”

Read more about clean energy from CNBC Pro

The goal referenced by Kerry refers to 2015’s Paris Agreement, which aims to “limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.”

Later this year, world leaders are set to gather for the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland. It’s seen as a crucial event, with many hoping it will act as a catalyst for governments to step up their climate ambitions in order to meet the targets set out in the Paris accord.

“Glasgow is the place, 2021 is the time and we can, in a little more than 100 days, save the next 100 years,” Kerry said.

While there is an undoubted sense of urgency about COP26, the reality on the ground shows just how big a challenge achieving climate-related goals will be in the years ahead.

On the same day that Kerry made his speech, the International Energy Agency said only a small chunk of governments’ recovery spending in response to the Covid-19 pandemic had been allocated to clean energy measures.

The IEA’s analysis notes that, as of the second quarter of this year, the world’s governments had set aside roughly $380 billion for “energy-related sustainable recovery measures.” This represents approximately 2% of recovery spending, it said.

In a statement issued alongside its analysis, the IEA explained just how much work needed to be done in order for climate related targets to be met.

“The sums of money, both public and private, being mobilised worldwide by recovery plans fall well short of what is needed to reach international climate goals,” it said.

Indeed, the Paris-based organization is forecasting that carbon dioxide emissions will hit record levels in 2023, with “no clear peak in sight.”

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Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/21/john-kerry-calls-on-china-to-step-up-on-emissions-cuts.html

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Uber can deliver your Costco groceries (if you live in Texas)

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Uber’s grocery deliveries will soon include Costco’s bulk-sized foodstuffs, provided you live in the right state. The internet giant is launching a pilot that will deliver Costco groceries from 25 warehouses in Texas, with seven more locations available in the “coming weeks.” Uber and Uber Eats app users will initially find the option available in Austin, Dallas and Houston.

You’ll need to place at least a $35 order, and you’ll have to pay for delivery unless you’re an Uber Pass or Eats Pass member. A virtual storefront in the Uber and Uber Eats apps will focus on your “favorite” essential items.

This is Uber’s first experiment with an American food wholesaler. It’s not certain if the pilot will translate to a full-fledged expansion, but it would represent a major move if so. While Uber recently doubled the scale of its US grocery deliveries with over 400 new cities, a larger team-up with Costco would improve the depth of that service — you’d have more shopping choices, particularly if you need to make large orders.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/uber-costco-grocery-delivery-pilot-131110472.html?src=rss

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