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Video-conferencing platform Zoom has joined a counterterrorism organization formed by major US tech companies including Meta Platforms Inc, formerly known as Facebook, and Microsoft Corp, the group said on Wednesday.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) is an independent group through which member companies share information to combat terrorism and violent extremism on their sites.

Zoom Video Communications Inc, which saw usage explode during the COVID-19 pandemic but has faced slowing growth in recent months, has come under scrutiny over how to police content and abuses on its platform.

GIFCT’s founding members were Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Alphabet’s YouTube.

Its membership has risen to 18 companies with five new platforms joining this year including home-rental firm Airbnb, social network Tumblr and online publishing platform WordPress. It said it plans for more in 2022.

Tech companies have long been criticized for failing to curb violent extremist activity on their platforms, though they also face concerns over free expression.

GIFCT was created in 2017 under pressure from US and European governments after a series of deadly attacks in Paris and Brussels.

It manages a hash-sharing database, where member companies can share “hashes,” unique numerical representations of original pieces of content that have been removed from their services. Other companies can use these hashes to identify the same content on their sites and review or remove the material.

“It is our responsibility to support our users and protect them against online threats,” Josh Parecki, Zoom’s associate general counsel for trust and safety, said in a statement.

“By collaborating with other leaders across the industry, sharing key learnings and advancing research, we aspire to make the digital world a safer place for all.”

As individuals and companies turned to video-conferencing apps during COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Zoom faced high-profile content moderation issues.

These ranged from abuses like “zoombombing,” where uninvited users crashed others’ calls to share hate speech and racist, violent or pornographic content, to decisions like its cancelation of a virtual event featuring Leila Khaled, a member of a Palestinian group on the US State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

GIFCT Executive Director Nicholas Rasmussen said in a statement it was delighted to add Zoom as its mission “requires we work with a diverse range of companies …to develop cross-platform solutions that render terrorists and violent extremists ineffective across the Internet.”

GIFCT has faced criticism from some human and digital rights advocates over centralized or over-broad censorship, and calls for greater transparency.

In July, the organization expanded the scope of its hash-sharing database to include attacker manifestos and other publications and URLs flagged by the United Nations initiative Tech Against Terrorism. It also said it would continue to broaden the database to include hashes of audio files or certain symbols.

GIFCT also said on Wednesday it has designed a new membership structure based on company revenue, with suggested annual contributions ranging from $0 to $1 million. It said membership was not contingent on a company’s revenue.

Other members include Meta’s Instagram and WhatsApp, Pinterest, Amazon.com, chat platform Discord and file-sharing service Dropbox. Other companies such as Reddit and Snapchat-owner Snap can also access the hash-sharing database.

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“Apple” amaze everyone with a “coffin” car without windows

Media sources revealed what the car that everyone is waiting for, which is the promising “Apple” electric car, might look like.
The sources pointed out that the “Apple Car” obtained a new patent due to the placement of virtual screens inside instead of clear windows.
According to the report published in the “Daily Mail”, the technology giant has filed a patent for a virtual reality (VR) vehicle system that matches “virtual views” with the physical movement of the vehicle as it travels and moves.
The patent indicates that the chairs in the car will move to match the visual images, providing an experience similar to attending a “4DX” cinema.

This means that real landscapes that may be picturesque will be completely replaced by virtual graphics.

Initial images of the waiting car were circulated, in which it appeared somewhat similar to the company’s control mouse (mouse) in terms of aerodynamics, as some mocked it and compared it to a “coffin”.

The company has been developing “Apple Car” for a decade, but there is no word on when it will be officially revealed.

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TikTok plans big push into gaming, conducting tests in Vietnam

TikTok has been conducting tests so users can play games on its video-sharing app in Vietnam, part of plans for a major push into gaming, four people familiar with the matter said.

Featuring games on its platform would boost advertising revenue as well as the amount of time users spend on the app – one of the world’s most popular with more than 1 billion monthly active users.

Boasting a tech-savvy population with 70% of its citizens under the age of 35, Vietnam is an attractive market for social media platforms such as TikTok, Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube and Google.

TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, also plans to roll out gaming more widely in Southeast Asia, the people said. That move could come as early as the third quarter, said two of them.

The sources declined to be identified as the information has yet to be publicly disclosed.

A TikTok representative said the company has tested bringing HTML5 games, a common form of minigame, to its app through tie-ups with third-party game developers and studios such as Zynga Inc. But it declined to comment on its plans for Vietnam or its broader gaming ambitions.

“We’re always looking at ways to enrich our platform and regularly test new features and integrations that bring value to our community,” the representative said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

ByteDance did not respond to a request for comment.

Reuters was not able to learn TikTok’s plans for rolling out gaming features in other markets. Although TikTok users can watch games being streamed, in most regions they are not able to play games within the TikTok app.

In the United States, only a few games appear to have been launched including Zynga’s “Disco Loco 3D”, a music and dance challenge game and “Garden of Good”, where players grow vegetables to trigger donations by TikTok to the non-profit Feeding America.

According to two sources, TikTok plans to draw primarily on ByteDance’s suite of games.

While the company will start with minigames, which tend to have simple game play mechanisms and a short playing time, its gaming ambitions extend beyond that, said one of the people who had direct knowledge of the matter.

TikTok will require a licence to feature games on its platform in Vietnam where authorities restrict games depicting gambling, violence, and sexual content. The process is expected to go smoothly as the games planned are not controversial, the person said.

Vietnam’s foreign and communications ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

Users of ByteDance’s Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, have been able to play games on the platform since 2019.

TikTok’s games are likely to carry advertisements from the start, with revenue split between ByteDance and game developers, a separate source said.

TikTok’s foray into games mirrors similar efforts made by major tech firms seeking to retain users. Facebook launched Instant Games in 2016 and streaming firm Netflix also recently added games to its platform.

It also marks the latest ByteDance effort to establish itself as a major contender in gaming. It acquired Shanghai-based gaming studio Moonton Technology last year, putting it in direct competition with Tencent, China’s biggest gaming firm.

Even without gaming, TikTok has seen advertising revenue surge. Its advertising revenue is likely to triple this year to more than $11 billion, exceeding the combined sales of Twitter Inc and Snap Inc, according to research firm Insider Intelligence.

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Germany boosts monitoring of Facebook’s Meta

Germany’s anti-cartel watchdog said Wednesday it has placed Meta, the company which owns Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, under close watch for any possible abuse.

The Federal Cartel Office said it has determined Meta to be a company of “paramount significance for competition,” a move paving the way for the authorities to clamp down “against potential competition infringements.”

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