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Elon Musk says Twitter is developing a feature that shows if you’ve been ‘shadowbanned’

Elon Musk has announced that Twitter is currently working on a software update that will give you access to a tool that can clearly show whether you’ve been shadowbanned. The term means different things for different platforms, but being shadowbanned typically makes your posts invisible to other users or makes your profile hard to find without your knowledge. Musk says the upcoming tool will also explain the reason why you’ve been shadowbanned and will give you instructions on how to submit an appeal. 

Instagram has just launched a similar feature with its latest update, letting you know whether you’re currently blocked from recommendations. At the moment, it can only show if you’ve been blocked from recommendations in Explore, Feed and Reels, but Instagram is working on expanding the tool so that you can see if you’re also blocked from showing up in “suggested accounts.” 

Musk didn’t talk about how Twitter will be implementing the feature, but he made the announcement shortly after Bari Weiss released part two of The Twitter Files. In the thread, Weiss said that Twitter used “Visibility Filtering,” which is apparently just another term for shadowbanning, on some conservative personalities. Musk once called himself a “free speech absolutist.” After taking control of Twitter, he started lifting the bans on several controversial users, including former President Donald Trump, The Daily Stormer’sinfamous neo-Nazi creator Andrew Anglin and other white nationalists. 

Advertisers have been fleeing the platform since Musk took over due to concerns about policy changes and the reinstatement of banned accounts. In a blog post late last month, Twitter assured advertisers that “none of [its] policies have changed.” And according to a new report by Reuters, Twitter is gearing up to release a set of ad controls in an effort to lure advertisers back to the website. The controls, which could launch as soon as next week, will reportedly allow advertisers to prevent their ads from appearing above or below tweets with the specific keywords they choose.

Idris Elba is coming to ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ in 2023

The first major bit of DLC for Cyberpunk 2077 — unless you count a buttload of patches — is due out in 2023 for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X and S. Phantom Liberty is a spy thriller, and it introduces a new character, FIA agent Solomon Reed, who’s played by Idris Elba. The DLC also includes new missions and a new district in Night City, all of it culminating in “an impossible mission of espionage and survival,” according to developer CD Projekt Red.

Phantom Liberty will be the first batch of paid DLC for Cyberpunk 2077, though there’s no word on exactly how much it will cost.

Cyberpunk 2077 came out in December 2020 and was immediately lambasted as a glitchy, unpolished mess by many players and reviewers. CD Projekt Red released a series of fixes for the game and, over time, it’s stabilized and players have found the fun that was hiding there all along.

Elba joins fellow mainstream actor Keanu Reeves in the Cyberpunk universe, and this won’t be the last we’ll hear of the franchise. There’s a fabulous Netflix anime based on the game and CD Projekt Red is already building a full-on sequel, codenamed “Orion.”

FromSoftware’s next game is ‘Armored Core VI’, arriving in 2023

Although The Game Awards didn’t bring news of a major Elden Ring expansion, there was another juicy announcement for FromSoftware fans. The revered studio is bringing back the Armored Core series after a decade of dormancy. Best of all, you won’t have to wait too long to get your hands on Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon. It’s coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Steam in 2023.

From and publisher Bandai Namco announced the game with a trailer that shows mechs emerging from the embers of an apocalyptic event. The clip doesn’t offer a ton of story details, but it doesn’t have to. The footage is gorgeously detailed and richly rendered enough that the plot can easily take a back seat for now.

What we do know is that you’ll be able to assemble your own mech and freely explore the environment, seemingly with slow, steady movements. According to the Japanese version of the trailer’s YouTube description, you’ll be able to utilize more dynamic movements, fire weapons and engage in close combat when you battle enemies. 

This will be the first mainline Armored Core game since 2012’s Armored Core V (a standalone expansion followed in 2013). After the mammoth success of Elden Ring, From has set its standards extremely high. But if any studio can clear that bar, it’s probably this one.

UK regulator says it’s not to blame for Virgin Orbit mission delay

Virgin Orbit is retargeting a launch that was supposed to take place as soon as next week from Cornwall, England — and that was to be the first spaceflight to depart from British soil — due to additional technical to-dos and remaining regulatory hurdles. In a statement, Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said the company […]

UK regulator says it’s not to blame for Virgin Orbit mission delay by Aria Alamalhodaei originally published on TechCrunch

Akros Technologies, an AI-powered asset management platform, raises funding from Z Holdings

Artificial intelligence is taking over almost every industry. The investment and finance industry is no exception. In Deloitte’s 2019 report, the firm reveals that AI is transforming the financial ecosystem to reduce costs and make operations more efficient by providing automated insights and alternative data, analysis and risk management. Technology such as AI has digitized […]

Akros Technologies, an AI-powered asset management platform, raises funding from Z Holdings by Kate Park originally published on TechCrunch

Dyson’s Zone air-purifying headphones start at $949

When Dyson announced its Zone noise-canceling and air-purifying headphones earlier this year, the company kept some details close to its chest. Specifically, Dyson didn’t announce pricing or availability, nor did it say much about battery life. On Wednesday, it shared that information. Let’s begin with the detail everyone wants to know. When the wearable arrives in the US next March, it will start at an eye-watering $949, making it almost twice as expensive as the AirPods Max.

At first, Dyson will begin accepting preorders by appointment only before the headphones become available through its website and Demo stores across the country. In the US, the company will offer the wearable in two colorways: Ultra Blue/Prussian Blue and Prussian Blue/Bright Copper. The latter will only be available directly from the company, but it comes with a few extras, including a second electrostatic carbon filter, a soft pouch and an inflight adaptor kit.

Both the standard and Dyson Direct models come with the Zone’s signature vizor, as well as a dedicated sleeve and cleaning brush. According to Dyson, the electrostatic filters are rated to provide up to 12 months of use before they should be replaced. The filters feature a dual-layer design that incorporates potassium-enriched carbon to capture acidic gasses like nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone. All told, the company claims the filters will block 99 percent of particles, including ones that are as small as 0.1 microns.

On the audio front, the Zone headphones are capable of up to 38 decibels of noise cancellation and feature 40-millimeter neodymium drivers. You can use the MyDyson companion app to choose between three audio equalization modes dubbed Dyson EQ, Bass Boost and Neutral. At launch, the headphones will support SBC, AAC and LHDC audio codecs, as well as Bluetooth 5.0.

Battery life will depend on how extensively you use the Zone’s air filtration feature. If it’s not powering the Visor, the Zone’s 2,600mAh battery can provide up to 50 hours of listening time on a single charge. Using the visor at its slowest setting reduces battery life to a modest four hours. Increasing purification speed to the “Mid” and “High” flow settings further reduces battery life to two-and-a-half hours and one-and-a-half hours, respectively. Using USB-C charging, Dyson says it will take about three hours to take the battery from dead to 100 percent. All of that means you will need to be selective about when you decide to use the visor.

Democratic lawmakers want Elon Musk to explain China’s role in ‘platform manipulation’ during protests

Three Democratic lawmakers in the House are demanding answers from Elon Musk about a recent “platform manipulation campaign” related to recent protests in China. In a letter to the Twitter CEO, Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi, Adam Schiff and Jackie Speier write that they have “deep concern” about the recent spam campaign that drowned out tweets about the protests.

The lawmakers want Musk to answer questions about whether Twitter has any evidence the spam campaign was a state-backed effort by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). “To ensure that the United States is prepared to counter, thwart, and deter foreign influence threats online, it is critical that we understand the extent of the PRC’s potential manipulation of Twitter and identify how recent changes at Twitter are affecting the threat of CCP foreign influence operations on social media,” they write.

The lawmakers also address recent changes at Twitter under Musk’s leadership, with questions about what Twitter’s “emphasis on free speech” means for information access on the platform; as well as whether the company has the “capacity” to identify platform manipulation campaigns.

Since Musk took over Twitter, questions have swirled about how he will handle the platform’s dealings with Chinese officials, such as requests to remove “state affiliated” labels from their accounts. Tesla, the other company Musk runs, is highly dependent on China for manufacturing.

So far, Musk hasn’t publicly acknowledged the letter, which provides a December 31st deadline for a response. Twitter no longer has a communications team. However, Musk has shown little regard for other letters from lawmakers. He recently addressed a letter from Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey about Twitter’s failure to stop impersonation attempts with a dismissive tweet.

Twitter is reportedly raising Blue subscription’s pricing on iOS to $11

When Twitter’s Blue subscription comes back, it may cost a lot more than before if you purchase it straight from the app. According to The Information, the company informed some employees that it’s going to charge users $11 for Blue subscription if they pay through its iOS application. But if they pay through the web, it will only cost them $7 a month for the service, which includes getting the website’s blue verification badge. As the publication notes, the change in pricing likely takes Apple’s 30 percent commission for payments made through its system into account. 

In late November, Twitter owner Elon Musk spoke out against Apple’s 30 percent cut on in-app purchases. He also said that the tech giant threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store and won’t tell his company why. A few days later, though, Musk met with Apple chief Tim Cook and resolved what the former called a “misunderstanding.” Musk said the two had a “good conversation” and that Apple never truly considered dropping Twitter from the App Store.

Apple announced in late 2021 that it was going to allow developers of “reader” apps to link to external payment systems following a barrage of criticisms against its practice of taking a 30 percent commission. It’s unclear if the two executives talked about Twitter’s plan to offer Blue subscription outside of the App Store and how the social network would implement its idea.

Twitter originally launched Blue verification for iOS devices in early November for $8 a month, but the company decided to pause the service after it led to an influx of impersonators and fake accounts. When the subscription service does come back, it will come with different colored checkmarks: gold for companies, grey for government and blue for individuals, whether or not they’re a public figure. 

Pixyle AI wants to make visual search more intuitive for online retailers

When Svetlana Kordumova was studying for her doctorate in AI and computer vision, she grew frustrated by the process of looking for items to buy online. Search results were often inaccurate, and she knew the tech she was learning could improve the experience. Pixyle AI was launched in 2019 to improve product discovery on e-commerce […]

Pixyle AI wants to make visual search more intuitive for online retailers by Catherine Shu originally published on TechCrunch