Ahmed Samir became a YouTube star following the success of his channel Egychology.
Created in 2015, the educational series has amassed more than 1 million subscribers and explores the world through the lens of scientists, philosophers, and artists covering topics ranging from physics and chemistry to sociology and psychology.
Now, Samir has partnered with regional podcast network Kerning Cultures to launch “A Superbly Scientific Podcast.”
“A big part of what I keep on trying to do is create accessible science and educational content for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region,” Samir told Arab News.
“As someone who enjoys podcasts, it seemed right to further expand the content I’ve tried to make with Egychology into the world of podcasts; not only do I get a chance to learn and grow as a content creator, but also make content of a different kind that can still benefit people.”
The show aims to explore questions that puzzle and intrigue, and that keep Samir awake at night. From questioning the existence of aliens to pondering the existentialism of the human race, the series intends to both entertain and educate.
Kerning Cultures Network is one of the leading podcast companies in the region. Known for producing Apple’s 2020 show of the year, “Bhob,” the firm has worked on a myriad of other popular podcasts, including “Minnana Minnakum” with entrepreneur and designer Alaa Balkhy. It also acquired its first podcast “Faslah” earlier this year.
Bella Ibrahim, Kerning Cultures’ marketing director, said: “We partnered with Egychology to fill a gap in the podcast market by producing a popular science podcast in Arabic.
“Ahmed Samir’s proven success in making science accessible to a younger audience through his sense of humor is something we were really eager to bring into the podcasting space.”
Similar to his YouTube channel, “A Superbly Scientific Podcast” is an Arabic show. The first episode aired on June 29 with new episodes out every week until September. It is available on various streaming platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
2018 change to Facebook algorithm caused spread of ‘misinformation, toxicity, violent content’
An algorithm change made by Facebook in 2018 to prioritize reshared material instead led to the spread of “misinformation, toxicity, and violent content,” leaked internal documents have revealed.
That year, Facebook’s chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, said the alteration had been carried out in a bid to strengthen bonds between platform users, particularly family and friends, and to improve their wellbeing.
However, according to the leaked documents that were made public on Wednesday, the modification backfired, turning the social networking platform into an angrier place by rewarding outrage and sensationalism.
The new algorithm produced high levels of comments and reactions that translated into success on Facebook but had a highly negative impact.
Highlighting the issue, a team of data scientists said: “Our approach has had unhealthy side effects on important slices of public content, such as politics and news.”
They concluded that the new algorithm’s heavy weighting of reshared material in its news feed made the angry voices louder.
“Misinformation, toxicity, and violent content are inordinately prevalent among reshares,” the researchers added in internal memos.
The alteration had been intended to encourage engagement and original posting in a way that the algorithm would reward posts with more comments and emotion emojis, which were viewed as more meaningful than likes.
Zuckerberg was reportedly warned about the problem in April 2020 but kept the algorithm in place regardless.
TikTok’s lead EU regulator opens two data privacy probes
TikTok’s lead data privacy regulator in the European Union has opened two inquiries into the Chinese-owned short-video platform related to the processing of children’s personal data and transfers of personal data to China.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, which is lead EU regulator for many of the world’s top Internet firms due to the location of their regional headquarters in Ireland, is allowed to impose fines of up to 4 percent of global revenue.
TikTok in August announced stricter privacy controls for teenagers, seeking to address criticism that it has failed to protect children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content.
Owned by China’s ByteDance, TikTok has grown rapidly around the world, particularly among teenagers.
The first of the probes relates “to the processing of personal data in the context of platform settings for users under age 18 and age verification measures for persons under 13,” the Data Protection Commission said in a statement.
The second probe will focus on transfers by TikTok of personal data to China and whether the company complies with EU data law in its transfers of personal data to countries outside the bloc, the statement said.
A spokesperson for TikTok said it had implemented extensive policies and controls to safeguard user data and relies on approved methods for data being transferred from Europe, such as standard contractual clauses.
“The privacy and safety of the TikTok community, particularly our youngest members, is our highest priority,” the spokesperson said.
Ireland’s data watchdog earlier this month levied a record 225 million euro ($265.64 million) fine on Facebook’s WhatsApp under the EU’s 2018 General Data Protection Regulation law (GDPR).
But the watchdog has faced criticism from other European regulators at the speed of its inquiries and the severeness of its sanctions.
The Irish regulator had 27 international inquiries in progress at the end of last year, including 14 into Facebook and its subsidiaries.
TikTok enhances mental wellbeing features for World Suicide Prevention Month
TikTok has announced new features to safeguard the mental well-being of users on the app in honor of World Suicide Prevention Month.
TikTok, like other social media platforms, has come under fire for a perceived weak response to mental health issues.
Earlier this year, the AFP reported that a Pakistani teenager died while pretending to kill himself as his friends recorded a TikTok video. In January, another Pakistani teenager was killed after being hit by a train and last year, a security guard died while playing with his rifle while making a clip.
In September 2020, there was also a suicide video circulating on the platform that was disguised along with clips from other videos. The video originally appeared on Facebook and was shared on other platforms including Twitter and Instagram.
At the time, TikTok issued a warning stating that it is working to remove and ban accounts that repeatedly try to upload clips.
“While we don’t allow content that promotes, glorifies or normalizes suicide, self-harm or eating disorders, we do support people who choose to share their experiences to raise awareness, help others who might be struggling and find support among our community,” Tara Wadhwa, director of policy, TikTok US, said in a recent blog post.
This month, TikTok is bolstering its efforts to prevent this content on the platform as well as providing more support and guidance to users who are struggling with mental health issues.
The app will now direct users to a local helpline and provide educational content linking to resources when they search keywords related to self-harm and suicide.
TikTok has also created additional resources including well-being guides developed with mental health foundations such as the International Association for Suicide Prevention and a dedicated guide for eating disorders, which was developed alongside the National Eating Disorders Association, National Eating Disorder Information Centre, Butterfly Foundation, and Bodywhy. The guides are available on the platform’s Safety Centre.
TikTok will also issue permanent public service announcements on certain hashtags such as #whatIeatinaday to increase awareness and provide support to the community. This will be accompanied by stronger content warnings, which include updated labels for potentially upsetting content, masking search results with a warning layer.
The app has dedicated one week this month to drive conversation and activities around mental health. The platform will highlight content created by community members and experts as well as additional resources to further support users.
It will be available when users search for related terms, giving users the chance to opt-in to view the content.
“Our policies have always aimed to prioritize people who may be struggling, and we currently provide access to expert emotional help from global leaders in the field, alongside approved government resources. This is a continuously evolving process, and we will build on our existing array of wellbeing guides wherever possible, through insightful, verified information,” said Farah Tukan, a public policy manager at TikTok.
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