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Snapchat Introduces Its First Parental Controls

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SAN FRANCISCO — Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging app, introduced its first parental controls on Tuesday, as social media platforms face increasing scrutiny for exposing young users to potentially harmful content.

Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, said in a blog post that its new tools would let parents see whom their teenagers were friends with on the app and whom they had communicated with in the previous seven days. Parents will also be able to report accounts that their children are friends with if they violate Snapchat’s policies. Parents will not be able to see their children’s conversations on the app.

To gain access to the controls, people have to create Snapchat accounts and be friends with their children, who have to agree to the controls. The company said it would introduce additional features later, including one that lets parents see whom their children recently became friends with. Teenagers will also be able to notify their parents if they report accounts or content.

“Our goal was to create a set of tools designed to reflect the dynamics of real-world relationships and foster collaboration and trust between parents and teens,” Snap said in the blog post.

Snap, Instagram, TikTok and other social media companies have faced questions from lawmakers, regulators and activists over toxic content on their platforms that has led some young people to say the apps have worsened eating disorders and contributed to other mental health problems. Snap has also been criticized for how its app enables teenagers to buy drugs like fentanyl.

These issues gained traction last year after a former Facebook employee released internal documents showing that some teenagers appeared to feel worse about themselves after using its products, such as Instagram. Executives from Instagram, Snap, TikTok and YouTube later testified in Congress over whether social media harms young people. In March, a group of state attorneys general asked Snap and TikTok to increase parental controls on their apps.

Other countries have also acted to protect young people from the effects of social media. In September, Britain instituted new child-safety regulations, which spurred platforms such as Instagram to introduce its first parental controls. Instagram’s parental controls let people see and limit how much time their children spend on the app.

Snap has also recently struggled with a declining business. Last month, the company reported its slowest-ever quarterly growth amid a softening economy and challenges to its advertising business.

Snapchat’s parental controls will add to existing restrictions on how teenagers can use Snapchat. Teenagers currently have to be mutual friends to message each other on the app, and their profiles and friend lists are private. The app requires users to be older than 13, and teenagers cannot change their birth year in the app until they are 18.

The parental controls are available in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They will be available in other countries starting this fall.

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ElonJet is (sort of) back on Twitter

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The college student who ran the now-banned @ElonJet Twitter account that used public information to track Elon Musk’s private jet has resumed his activities on Twitter under a new username. As noted by Insider, Jack Sweeney, 20, has created a new account called @ElonJetNextDay — which now tracks Musk’s private jet with a 24-hour delay to circumvent Twitter policy restrictions.

Sweeney’s original ElonJet account was suspended from the platform last week following accusations from Musk that it violated Twitter rules by revealing his live location. Twitter updated its policy to forbid publishing a person’s real-time location on the same day it suspended ElonJet. Sweeney said in an interview with Insider that he will be “posting manually” for now while he works on the framework to fully automate the account.

Musk tweeted on December 15th that “Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok.” Twitter also explicitly states that “sharing publicly available location information after a reasonable time has elapsed, so that the individual is no longer at risk for physical harm” is not a violation of platform rules. Elsewhere in the policy, it notes that its definition of “live” location data means someone’s real-time or same-day whereabouts.

Most commercial and private aircraft are equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast technology (ADS-B) that transmits a unique code (tied to the airplane’s tail number) containing information such as altitude and GPS location. This information is publicly available and aircraft flying in the USA and Europe are required to broadcast it in order to prevent midair collisions.

In a statement back in November, Musk said he would not ban the original ElonJet account as part of his “commitment to free speech” despite claiming it was a “direct personal safety risk.” The automated ElonJet account posted publicly available information regarding the location of Musk’s 2015 Gulfstream G650ER, and had amassed over 540,000 followers before it was permanently banned on December 14th. Musk previously offered Sweeney $5,000 to have the account taken down.



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She Worked for Twitter. Then She Tweeted at Elon Musk.

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Early in November, Twitter’s roughly 7,500 employees received a terse email from a generic address: “In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global work force.” The note was signed “Twitter.” On Nov. 3, some people at the company received emails indicating they would be laid off the next day.

That night, Ms. Solomon, her husband and a few colleagues headed to Dots Cafe Portland, a lounge on Clinton Street. Phones were on the table, face up, she said. As the work friends talked, they tapped away at their phones, taking part in chats on the Signal app with colleagues in London, Seattle and San Francisco. Messages like “I got hit” were flying across screens, Ms. Solomon recalled. “You were seeing your co-workers drop like flies,” she said.

By the next afternoon her team of about 10 engineers was reduced to four. Ms. Solomon and her husband had survived the round of layoffs. The next week, she recalled, she awaited further direction from Mr. Musk or the new executive team. Nothing came, she said, except for an email alerting employees that remote work would no longer be permitted, with few exceptions.

Many employees learned of Mr. Musk’s priorities by watching his Twitter feed, where he posted frequently about company business to his more than 100 million followers. On Nov. 5, he complained about the platform’s search function: “Search within Twitter reminds me of Infoseek in ’98! That will also get a lot better pronto,” he wrote. That same day, he tweeted: “Twitter will soon add ability to attach long-form text to tweets, ending absurdity of notepad screenshots.”

That was more than Ms. Solomon and many of her colleagues had heard internally. “Radio silence,” she said. She began to vent her frustration on Twitter.

One of her first tweets in this vein came on Nov. 6, shortly after Mr. Musk announced a new rule for Twitter users in a tweet: “Any name change at all will cause temporary loss of verified checkmark,” he wrote. He had posted that message after many people on Twitter had changed their names to variations on Mr. Musk’s name, most of them mocking.



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The new iOS 16.2 Home app architecture upgrade has disappeared

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Apple has removed the option to upgrade to the new HomeKit architecture on devices running iOS 16.2. The change follows multiple reports of issues and problems with the Home app after the upgrade was installed.

Apple spokesperson Emily Ewing confirmed the change in a statement provided to The Verge:

“We are aware of an issue that may impact the ability for users to share the Home within the Home app. A fix will be available soon. In the meantime, we’ve temporarily removed the option to upgrade to the new Home architecture. Users who have already upgraded will not be impacted.“

The new Home app architecture was one of the key features of iOS 16.2, with Apple claiming that the upgrade would be “more reliable and efficient.” MacRumors first discovered this week that the Home app in iOS 16.2 no longer offers the option to upgrade to the new architecture within the Home app settings. Several reporters at The Verge have also confirmed that the upgrade option is unavailable on their devices.

The new architecture was first introduced in the iOS 16.2 beta back in October as an optional upgrade before the iOS 16.2 public release on December 13th. Both the beta and public release required Apple devices logged into iCloud to be running the latest versions of iOS, macOS, and tvOS. The upgrade does not happen automatically when iOS 16.2 is installed on a phone, instead requiring a manual process through the Home app.

The update has caused issues with missing devices and adding multiple users for some

Reddit users who downloaded the optional upgrade prior to its removal have reported issues such as the app booting other members from a Home account and being unable to re-add them. Users on the MacRumors forum have reported being unable to invite users to share the Home, HomeKit‌ devices being stuck displaying an “updating” status, and some accessories vanishing from the Home app entirely. Users who have already upgraded are unable to revert to the previous version of the app.

Update, December 23rd, 2022, 2:15PM ET: Added confirmation and statement from Apple spokesperson. Added links to Apple’s updated support pages.

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