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Twitter is labeling tweets from Russian state media outlets

Twitter is adding prominent labels to tweets from Russian state media outlets as it tries to limit the publications' reach on its platform.

“Today, we’re adding labels to Tweets that share links to Russian state-affiliated media websites and are taking steps to significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter,” Yoel Roth, the company’s head fo site integrity tweeted. “Our product should make it easy to understand who’s behind the content you see, and what their motivations and intentions are.”

Roth added that since the invasion, links to Russian state media outlets have been shared more than 45,000 times a day. He said Twitter was also working to “significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter.” The company announced last week that it was pausing ads and recommendation features in Ukraine and Russia.

The company has labeled state media outlets at the account level since August 2020, but those labels only appeared on the account profiles. The new labels will be displayed much more prominently, appearing alongside tweets from these accounts, much like how the company has labeled election and COVID-19 misinformation. The labels will appear on tweets from state run media in other countries in the “coming weeks.”

Twitter isn’t the only platform trying to tamp down the reach of Russian state media outlets following the invasion of Ukraine. Facebook barred Russian state media from accessing ads and other monetization features, and has blocked some outlets’ ability to post within Ukraine.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/twitter-is-labeling-tweets-from-russian-state-media-outlets-175740062.html?src=rss

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Elden Ring’s network and co-op issues are fixed on Xbox

FromSoftware’s Elden Ring launched last week to overwhelmingly positive reviews but a few issues have prevented some players from enjoying the game to its fullest. Over the weekend, one of those was resolved. If you’ve been playing through the title on Xbox, you likely saw that you couldn’t play Elden Ring online due to an error message that said “Network status check failed.” On Saturday, Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb said the issue had been resolved. 

Neither FromSoftware nor publisher Bandai Namco said what caused the problem, but it prevented people from doing things like summoning other players to help them with boss fights. At its core, Elden Ring is a single-player game, but those elements add a lot to the experience.

As for some of Elden Ring’s other issues, particularly those involving the PC version of the game, FromSoftware and Bandai are still working to resolve those. If you’re waiting to play the game on Steam Deck, the good news there is that Valve said it was working on optimizing the game for its new handheld and would update Proton this week to improve performance.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/elden-ring-xbox-co-op-fixed-181527647.html?src=rss

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Nintendo pulls Super Smash Bros. from the Evo 2022 esports tournament

Although it's one of the most important franchises for the fighting game crowd, Super Smash Bros. won't make an appearance at the community's biggest event of the year. "Since 2007, we’ve seen historic Super Smash Bros. moments created at Evo’s events," Evo, which Sony bought last year, said. "We are saddened that Nintendo has chosen not to continue that legacy with us this year.”

Evo 2022 will be the first full edition of the event since 2019, which featured a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament in place of Super Smash Bros. Melee. The 2020 event was canceled following accusations of abuse that were leveled against Evo co-founder and then-CEO Joey Cuellar. Evo 2021 took place as an online-only affair due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evo has a long history with the Super Smash Bros. series. Super Smash Bros. Melee, in particular, was a popular part of the event for several years. As Kotaku notes, Nintendo (which tries to control how other organizations use its games) failed in its attempt to prevent Evo organizers from livestreaming the 2013 Melee tournament. Melee was added to that year's event following a charity drive.

This doesn't exactly mean the end of Nintendo-backed Super Smash Bros. esports, though. In November, Nintendo and Panda Global announced plans to run their own competitive Smash series. The company also has a partnership with PlayVS, which runs Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 high school varsity esports leagues.

As for what games will actually be present at Evo 2022, we won't need to wait long to find out. Evo will host a Twitch livestream on March 8th to reveal more details about this year's event, which will take place in Las Vegas in August.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/super-smash-bros-evo-2022-nintendo-190421417.html?src=rss

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Sony’s Twisted Metal TV series is headed to Peacock

Sony’s upcoming live-action adaptation of Twisted Metal has found a home. NBCUniversal announced on Monday it will stream the series on Peacock. News that Sony’s PlayStation Productions unit was developing an adaptation of the Twisted Metal franchise came at the start of last year.

In September, we learned Altered Carbon and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier star Anthony Mackie would play the role of series protagonist John Doe, a smart-talking milkman with no memory of his past but a penchant for driving as fast as he talks. PlayStation Productions is billing the show as an action-comedy, with Cobra Kai scribe Michael Jonathan Smith serving as showrunner, writer and executive producer on the show.

NBCUniversal didn’t say when Twisted Metal would premiere on Peacock. However, the show is just one of several properties Sony is in the process of adapting for television and film. It’s also working on a Ghost of Tsushima movie that John Wick’s Chad Stahelski will direct, and then there’s The Last of Us. HBO Programming President Casey Bloys recently told The Hollywood Reporter the series wouldn’t premiere in 2022.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/twisted-metal-peacock-192004308.html?src=rss

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Microsoft is the latest to ban Russian state media from its platforms

Microsoft is joining Facebook, YouTube and others in limiting the reach of Russian state media following the invasion of Ukraine. The company is responding to the European Union's ban on RT and Sputnik by pulling those outlets from its platforms. Microsoft Start (including MSN) won't display state-sponsored RT and Sputnik content, while all ads from either publication are banned across Microsoft's ad network. The software giant is also pulling RT's news apps from the Windows app store.

Bing will still display RT and Sputnik links. However, Microsoft is "further de-ranking" their search results to make sure the links only appear when someone clearly intends to visit those sites.

The crackdown comes alongside an update on Microsoft's cybersecurity monitoring in Ukraine. The company noted that its Threat Intelligence Center spotted a wave of "offensive and destructive" cyberattacks targeting Ukranian online infrastructure just hours before Russia began its invasion on February 24th. The digital assault included new malware, nicknamed FoxBlade, and was "precisely targeted" like previous attacks. Microsoft said its Defender anti-malware tools was updated to counter FoxBlade within three hours of the discovery, and that it was advising the Ukranian government on this and other defense initiatives.

The bans on RT and Sputnik aren't surprising even without the EU's measures in place. Microsoft has fought disinformation campaigns for years, and it stressed that these attempts to manipulate the public are "commonplace" during wars when state propaganda ramps up. Simply speaking, Microsoft sees this as necessary to both present an objective view of the invasion and to avoid funding misinformation efforts.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-bans-russia-state-media-193720376.html?src=rss

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‘Forza Horizon 5’ adds American and British Sign Language support

Forza Horizon 5 is about to become more accessible for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. On March 1st, Microsoft will update the title to add support for both American and British Sign Language. Enabling the feature adds a picture-in-picture display of an ASL or BSL interpreter during cutscenes. By visiting the game’s accessibility menu, you can adjust the position of the display and decide whether to add a colored background.

Forza Horizon 5, like many other games, includes support for subtitles, but as Microsoft’s Athima Chansanchai points out, the two features serve different purposes. While subtitles are helpful to many, it turns out they’re not that useful to people who primarily depend on signing to understand a conversation. For those individuals, reading subtitles can be fatiguing since ASL and BSL feature a different structure to English. They also can’t convey tone and emotion in the same way a skilled interpreter can.

Outside of that accessibility addition, Forza Horizon 5’s Series 5 update includes bug fixes for issues related to the game’s photo mode, livery editor and more. Developer Playground Games has also added five new cars and a new festival playlist for players to check out.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/forza-horizon-five-asl-bsl-accessibility-213008235.html?src=rss

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Facebook restricts RT and Sputnik across entire EU

Facebook is “restricting access” to two Russian state media outlets across the entire European Union, a move that will prevent the publishers from sharing content to millions of people in the countries. Meta’s President of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, announced the block of RT and Sputnik, saying that it was in response to “a number” of government requests from within the EU.

“Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time,” Clegg said. The change comes after the European Commission enacted its own ban on the outlets, and after Facebook had already blocked access to ads and other monetization features. The social network had also blocked the publications’ ability to post content inside of Ukraine. 

Clegg didn't elaborate on whether "restricting access" referred simply to these accounts' ability to post and share inside of these countries, or if the accounts would be completely inaccessible in the EU. We've asked Facebook for more details.

The move comes as Russian State media outlets, some of which have vast social media followings, find their reach increasingly limited. Facebook and other platforms have taken more aggressive measures to tamp down the influence of Russia-backed publications in recent days as there has been a sharp rise in disinformation. Twitter announced Monday that it would label tweets from Russian state media accounts, and would try to curb their influence on the platform. YouTube has also blocked the outlets’ ability to monetize their channels. 

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/facebook-restricts-rt-and-sputnik-across-entire-eu-215020292.html?src=rss

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Disability organizations call on DOJ to finalize online accessibility rules

The American Council of the Blind, National Disability Rights Network, National Federation of the Blind and more than 170 other disability organizations signed a letter published today, calling for the Department of Justice to finalize rules for online accessibility. According to the letter, the rulemaking process began in 2010 "under Titles II and III of the ADA" but was withdrawn in 2017. Last year, US representative Ted Budd (R-NC) led the re-introduction of a bill proposing an Online Accessibility Act, which was initially introduced in October 2020.

In today's letter, addressed to assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke, the signees urged "the Department of Justice to maintain this rulemaking process as a priority and finalize a rule by the end of the current administration." It states that while the DoJ has held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) includes websites and other technologies critical to accessing a business' services, it has "failed to define when and how they should be accessible."

Director of advocacy and government affairs for the American Council of the Blind Clark Rachfal told Engadget that at the moment, the DoJ enforces accessibility online "on a case-by-case basis." 

"This is equivalent to enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act for the physical build environment by going door-to-door along main street," he said. The signatories of this letter want the DOJ to create enforceable accessibility standards "to ensure equal access to telehealth, distance learning, remote work, and online commerce for all people with disabilities," he added.

Efforts to come up with these rules have ebbed and flowed. The letter noted that "In 2018, the Department reconfirmed its position that the ADA applies to the internet but never completed rulemakings that were begun in 2010 under Titles II and III of the ADA and withdrawn in 2017."

The result is an online world where people with disabilities struggle to get their needs met. According to WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind), about 97 percent of the 1 million pages evaluated had WCAG 2 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) failures. These issues ranged from using low contrast text and missing form input labels to empty buttons and missing alt text for images.

"The absence of digital accessibility regulations in the intervening time period has resulted in persistent exclusion of people with disabilities from digital spaces covered by the ADA," the letter notes. It also highlights issues like "persistent barriers in telehealth accessibility," particularly for deaf users. While there haven't been quantitative studies on intersectional disabilities and how they relate to online accessibility, the letter states "anecdotal reports suggest that the vast majority of DeafBlind people are completely unable to utilize telehealth as it currently exists."

An American Foundation for the Blind study that's cited in the letter found that almost 60 percent of educators surveyed in Fall 2020 reported "their blind and low vision students could not access one or more of the digital learning tools they were expected to use in class." 

As the world increasingly lives and conducts business online, it's crucial that the digital world is accessible by design. The letter points out that "These findings are neither exhaustive of all website-related issues nor comprehensive of the entire disability community." There's a lot of work and research still to be done. 

"The disability community is large and diverse, facing access issues that continue to grow and evolve with the ever-changing landscape of websites and applications." Having a set of rules in place will help enable clearer communication and implementation of the tools that will make websites (and apps) accessible to all. 

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/disability-organizations-letter-calling-for-online-accessibility-rules-215716138.html?src=rss

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Netflix refuses to carry Russian state TV channels

Netflix isn't bowing to Russian pressure to carry state-owned TV channels. The streaming service confirmed to Variety that it wouldn't carry the 20 free state channels required under a Russian law, including Channel One, NTV and Spa. The company has "no plans" to offer the programming in light of the "current situation," a spokesperson said — that is, it's not about to support Russian state media while the country invades Ukraine.

The law, known in the country as the Vitrina TV law, requires audiovisual services with more than 100,000 subscribers to carry the channels. National regulator Roskomnadzor labeled Netflix as one of those services in December. The measure has yet to be enforced, but there have been concerns Netflix would soon have to comply.

We've asked Netflix what it might do if the law takes effect. It might not be afraid to withdraw from Russia, however. Netflix only localized its service roughly a year ago, and it doesn't have employees in the country. It only started work on its first Russian original (an adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina) in May 2021, and a source for The Wall Street Journal claims Netflix has fewer than 1 million Russian subscribers. This may be more of a symbolic move than a major sacrifice.

Nonetheless, it adds to a growing technology industry backlash to Russian state media. Companies like Meta, Microsoft and Google have heavily restricted Russian outlets like RT and Sputnik due to a European Union ban and general policies against disinformation. Western tech firms aren't willing to spread Russia's official message after the invasion of Ukraine, and they're increasingly unafraid of retaliation from Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/netflix-will-not-carry-russia-state-tv-channels-222034848.html?src=rss

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California State Bar investigates data exposure involving 260,000 confidential case records

The California State Bar is investigating a potential data breach after finding that a public website published confidential information related to approximately 260,000 attorney discipline cases. Over the weekend, the bar said it learned of the exposure after finding the files on a website that aggregates public case records. According to the organization, the website displayed information related to case numbers, file dates, case status as well as respondent and complaining witness names. As of Saturday evening, the bar said all the leaked information had been removed from the website.

State Bar officials don’t know if someone obtained the information by hacking. The organization has tasked the provider of its Odyssey case management system to investigate the incident. It has also notified law enforcement and hired a team of forensic experts to aid with the investigation. “The State Bar deeply apologizes to anyone impacted by this breach,” the organization said. “We are doing everything in our power to get to the bottom of it and prevent any future harms.”

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/california-state-bar-230404548.html?src=rss

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