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InLoop – Online magazine covering Design-Tech-Digital News and events! http://inloop.in Get in loop with Design, Tech and Digital world! Fri, 15 Jan 2021 21:32:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.6 http://inloop.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/cropped-InLoop-Site-Icon-Yellow-32x32.png InLoop – Online magazine covering Design-Tech-Digital News and events! http://inloop.in 32 32 WhatsApp Delays Privacy Changes Amid User Backlash http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/whatsapp-delays-privacy-changes-amid-user-backlash/ http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/whatsapp-delays-privacy-changes-amid-user-backlash/#respond Fri, 15 Jan 2021 21:32:45 +0000 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/15/technology/whatsapp-privacy-changes-delayed.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/15/technology/whatsapp-privacy-changes-delayed.html SAN FRANCISCO — WhatsApp said on Friday that it would delay a planned privacy update, as the Facebook-owned messaging service tries to stem a backlash by users worried about the…

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SAN FRANCISCO — WhatsApp said on Friday that it would delay a planned privacy update, as the Facebook-owned messaging service tries to stem a backlash by users worried about the changes.

WhatsApp said it would push back the changes[1], to May 15 from Feb. 8, to give users more time to review what it planned to do.

This month, WhatsApp notified its users that it would give them new options to message businesses using the service and was updating its privacy terms. WhatsApp’s notification said users would have to accept the new terms by February or no longer have access to their accounts. Though little was actually changing, the company still needed user approval.

Many users and some media outlets interpreted the notification as a marked shift in WhatsApp’s data-sharing practices, mistakenly believing that the company could now read people’s conversations and other personal data. Misinformation spread through the service, touching users around the world.

People flocked to other messaging services,[2] including apps like Signal — which offers so-called end-to-end encryption like WhatsApp — and Telegram, which offers some encryption options. This week, Signal became the No. 1 app in India, one of WhatsApp’s biggest markets, on Apple and Android phones.

Now, WhatsApp executives are assuring users that its changes are minor, that it cannot read users’ messages and that its services are more secure than those of some competitors.

“WhatsApp helped bring end-to-end encryption to people across the world, and we are committed to defending this security technology now and in the future,” WhatsApp said in a company blog post. “With these updates, none of that is changing.”

Some limited information from WhatsApp is shared with Facebook, WhatsApp’s parent company. But the changes to WhatsApp’s terms of service to enable that occurred in 2016, and the terms have not been substantially updated since.

The fallout reflects a rare misstep for the messaging giant, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $16 billion[3]. For years, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, let WhatsApp operate largely as an independent entity, supported by Facebook’s infrastructure and resources. Over that period, WhatsApp grew to serve more than a billion users — most of them outside the United States.

That approach has changed in recent years. Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the founders of WhatsApp, left the company in 2018 after a falling out with Mr. Zuckerberg[4]. Since then, Mr. Zuckerberg’s touch has grown heavier. He wants to stitch together the messaging services between Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp[5], which will require years of engineering work.

While Mr. Zuckerberg has positioned Facebook as doubling down on user privacy, some former employees fear the integration could make apps like WhatsApp even less secure over time. WhatsApp is not yet connected to Messenger or Instagram.

The furor over WhatsApp’s privacy changes is bitterly ironic, given the company’s struggles with misinformation on its service. WhatsApp has been used to distribute misinformation around elections in Brazil and other countries[6], which has been difficult to combat because of the closed, private nature of the service.

WhatsApp has begun sharing graphics in multiple languages detailing exactly what the privacy policy update will mean.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern, and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts,” the company said.

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TikTok Is Poised to Outlast Trump, and to Test Biden http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/tiktok-is-poised-to-outlast-trump-and-to-test-biden/ http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/tiktok-is-poised-to-outlast-trump-and-to-test-biden/#respond Fri, 15 Jan 2021 19:28:35 +0000 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/15/technology/tiktok-biden.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/15/technology/tiktok-biden.html TikTok is about to outlast President Trump. Now, the company could become an early test of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr[1].’s stance toward Chinese tech companies. Mr. Trump demanded last…

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TikTok is about to outlast President Trump. Now, the company could become an early test of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr[1].’s stance toward Chinese tech companies.

Mr. Trump demanded last year that TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, sell the viral video app. He said TikTok raised urgent national security concerns, on the grounds that the Chinese government could get access to users’ data. The dispute disrupted the app’s stratospheric rise.

ByteDance and the Trump administration are still talking, people familiar with the matter said. But it looks increasingly likely that the fate of the app will not be decided by Mr. Trump, who announced his demands with great fanfare over the summer, backed away[2] from a deal he approved a month later, and then turned his attention elsewhere.

Instead, TikTok’s future will fall into the hands of Mr. Biden, who has said little about the company or the broader, bipartisan concerns about the growing influence of Chinese technology companies.

On Tuesday, the U.S. government agreed to extend a deadline in a court battle over restrictions targeting TikTok. The new deadline is Feb. 18 — almost a month after Mr. Biden takes office.

“My gut is that they’re hoping to ride this out, and hope that this is on the back burner and they can kind of skirt by under the radar,” Samm Sacks, a fellow at the think tank New America, said about ByteDance’s approach to the final days of the Trump administration.

Mr. Biden has said America must be tougher toward Beijing, calling China’s president, Xi Jinping, a “thug.” But he has offered few details about how that approach would play out. He has said only that he will try to have a more consistent policy toward the country — in contrast to Mr. Trump’s patchwork aggression — while pressuring it on issues like its theft of American intellectual property.

A spokesman for Mr. Biden’s transition team declined to comment on the president-elect’s plans. TikTok declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department said in a statement that the risks associated with the app “have not changed, and the order requiring the divestiture stands.”

The government has been working with ByteDance and others to resolve the concerns, the spokeswoman said, adding, “That work continues, and the attorney general is authorized to take any steps necessary to enforce the order.”

TikTok is far from the only company with a stake in Mr. Biden’s approach to Chinese technology giants, which have increasingly tried to reach customers around the world. Mr. Trump’s administration spent years pressing American carriers and its allies abroad to drop Chinese telecom equipment from 5G wireless networks. It tried to keep crucial equipment from Chinese semiconductor makers. Then it turned its gaze to consumer apps, trying to ban TikTok and WeChat and forcing the sale of the dating app Grindr.

This month, Mr. Trump banned Alipay, owned by a branch of the Chinese giant Alibaba, and a collection of other apps. The bans don’t take effect for 45 days, meaning designing and putting them in place will fall to Mr. Biden’s administration.

TikTok has soared in popularity in the last year, particularly among younger users, who record lip-sync videos, comedy bits and riffs on other videos. TikTok says the national security concerns are unfounded, noting that its data is stored in the United States, with a backup in Singapore.

Mr. Trump’s efforts to pry the service from its Chinese parent company began this summer when he issued two executive orders targeting the app. One barred American firms from working with the app, effectively banning it. A second order demanded that ByteDance sell the app. The approach gave the government leverage: If the company made the sale, the administration would nix the other restrictions.

In September, ByteDance announced that it had reached a deal it hoped would satisfy the U.S. government. The software giant Oracle and Walmart would take their own stakes in TikTok, Oracle would manage the data that flows over the app, and leaders at the service would be American citizens.

Mr. Trump said on Sept. 19[3] that he approved of the deal. But then he backtracked, expressing concerns that it would not put enough of the app’s ownership in American hands. The talks to complete the deal have continued ever since.

TikTok received multiple extensions from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a group of federal officials who vet deals involving international companies. The Trump administration decided it would not extend the deadline beyond Dec. 4 but has declined to act on the time limit. Under Mr. Trump’s executive order, the Justice Department has the authority to enforce his demands.

Federal judges have also put the administration’s ban on hold, eliminating some of its leverage over the app. The government has appealed the rulings.

Walmart declined to comment. Oracle did not respond to a request for comment.

Some people on ByteDance’s side of the negotiating table believe there are advantages to getting a deal done before Mr. Trump leaves. It would give the company more certainty about the app’s future, rather than waiting to see what Mr. Biden would do.

At the moment, if ByteDance wants to delay a deal beyond the Trump administration, “they don’t have to do anything and they can outlast him,” said James Lewis, director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said that if the administration launched a legal effort to force the sale of the app, ByteDance would “just stall it in court.”

But TikTok’s fate under Mr. Biden is far from certain.

If he wanted to offer TikTok some immediate relief from the pressure, Mr. Biden could rescind the executive order that was designed to cut it off from American companies. He could also rescind the order commanding ByteDance to sell the app.

Mr. Biden’s administration could also consider a wider range of measures, short of an outright sale, to mitigate the federal panel’s concerns about TikTok, experts said.

That may take time. The new administration is still staffing important positions that would tackle the issue, meaning it could be months before ByteDance is able to resolve the government’s divestiture order. And without rescinding the policies aimed at TikTok, the Biden administration might find it hard to back down from the government’s defense of those policies in court.

Mr. Biden could also decide to pursue a harder line against the app as he looks to balance a desire for a coherent China policy with pressure from lawmakers from both parties who worry about the risks associated with the Chinese tech companies.

While the talks between ByteDance and the government continue in private, TikTok has maintained its lobbying effort to convince government officials they have nothing to fear from the app, which uses the cheery slogan “Make Your Day.”

On Dec. 18, the company sent an edition of its email newsletter for policymakers in Washington. It reported that small businesses in Austin, Texas, were using the app to reach customers, that the company was donating $10 million to academic institutions that have public health programs and that the service had updated its terms of service to better police bullying.

The footer of the newsletter ended with the same message it always does: “We hope this made your day.”


  1. ^ President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ backed away (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ said on Sept. 19 (www.nytimes.com)

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Banks need to strike the right balance for digital transformation http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/banks-need-to-strike-the-right-balance-for-digital-transformation/ http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/banks-need-to-strike-the-right-balance-for-digital-transformation/#respond Fri, 15 Jan 2021 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.technologyreview.com/?p=1016087https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/01/15/1016087/banks-need-to-strike-the-right-balance-for-digital-transformation/ Every financial institution is looking to digital transformation to meet rising customer expectations for speed and convenience, lower its operating cost, and fend off competition, including from tech companies moving…

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Every financial institution is looking to digital transformation to meet rising customer expectations for speed and convenience, lower its operating cost, and fend off competition, including from tech companies moving into financial services. Some are spending over 10% of yearly revenue on technology investments, according to Bloomberg[1]. “This is a huge investment and most financial institutions cannot support this for the long term,” says Michael Fei, SME banking CEO at OneConnect Financial Technology, an associate of Ping An Insurance.

The covid-19 pandemic has revealed how even financial institutions that considered themselves digitally advanced are, in reality, still wedded to analog processes along the chain of processing.

“For many financial institutions, this has been a wake-up call,” says Fei. “In the past, many had thought that if they have an online portal and a mobile application then that’s enough. But now they’ve realized it’s not. Some banks have online portals and mobile apps where you can apply for loans, but they still need to send items to the customer and carry out on-site inspection before they can process the loans, which hasn’t been possible during covid. Banks have had to reshape and redesign the whole process of their lending products.”

Banks have also realized their lack of truly deep customer knowledge, which is crucial to inform responsible and flexible decisions during an economic downturn as customer needs rapidly change.  

“Now that everything is digital, financial institutions are realizing how little they knew their customers,” says Tan Bin Ru, chief executive officer for Southeast Asia at OneConnect Financial Technology. “Customer hyper-personalization tools, to understand what products to offer, have been acknowledged conceptually for a long time but not implemented—now banks are moving towards it and really getting tools to do it.” Traditional banks that were not previously utilizing alternative datasets now want to integrate them more into secure lending, Tan says.

The power of partnerships

Banks have increasingly understood they need outside help to execute their digital transformation agenda. “Banks usually have very rigid systems and procedures,” says Fei. “For instance, if you want to launch a new product you have to follow the process, and it takes at least six months. In the age of digitalization, this doesn’t work, as customers want things immediately. This has put huge pressure on these financial institutions to build agile operations and systems to be able to respond to the needs of their customers.”

But the number of tech companies pushing into financial services can be overwhelming and not all of them have domain expertise, which can lead to misguided attempts to apply new technologies everywhere. Without experience of financial services, tech companies may also underestimate the trade-offs involved in deploying certain digital tools. 

OneConnect combines expertise in digital technology with deep knowledge of banking. Fei, who has past experience working at HSBC China and Bank of Langfang, a Chinese commercial bank, describes one partnership with a Chinese national bank to reimagine its customer service center as an illustration of why banking experience matters in digital reform. The lender was looking to transform a 6,000-person call center toward a more intelligent, AI-enabled approach with greater use of automation. But automating customer services must be done carefully; customers will not appreciate being handed off to a robot for certain sensitive or urgent inquiries where a human counterpart is desired.  

OneConnect built a knowledge map with the bank, to understand and anticipate what problem a customer is trying to solve with a given query, and then understanding when and where to apply automation versus human support. “This required extensive understanding of the business and the industry, which many technology companies do not have,” he says. “You need that, to know when to intervene, what should be done by robotics and what should be a human being. Many tech companies cannot offer this.”

Rather than advocating digital transformation across the board, OneConnect works to get the right balance between customization and integration, and to appreciate that banks are looking for a blend, or omnichannel approach. “Our banking customers, and their customers, want to be offline for certain things, and online for others; they want that flexibility,” says Tan.

A second partnership problem banks face is the sheer number of technology vendors and startups, which can be overwhelming and complicate their digital transformation journey. It is unclear which fintechs will survive and which will not; startups might offer an appealing technology, but if their underlying business model proves unviable, or they cannot raise sufficient funding to support their expansion, or they pivot to a new direction, a bank is exposed.

In many cases, banks take on many different fintechs because no single startup can manage the breadth of their needs, or because the bank wants to diversify its risk. “Since the digital journey is such a long process, a lot of banks feel they need to look at 15 to 20 fintechs to piece together their journey, but the more players they have, the more risk there is,” says Tan.

OneConnect solves both problems[2]an overly complicated vendor network and the risk of working with fledgling tech companies—by offering a broad sweep of turnkey solutions, with the commercial scale and security that customers can rely on. Typically, a bank will chart its desired journey and up to 80% of those solutions can be provided by OneConnect, says Tan. The company, publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, also draws on over 30 years of experience in financial services of its parent company, Ping An, described by The Economist as a window into the future of finance. “No other traditional financial-services group in the world comes close to rivaling Ping An’s ability to develop technologies and deploy them at such a scale,” the magazine recently wrote[3].

OneConnect: The journey so far

OneConnect has built a broad business in China, serving all of its major banks, 99% of its city commercial banks, and 53% of insurance companies. But its footprint is increasingly global, with over 50 international customers in more than 15 markets, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Abu Dhabi.

The company has built new technology solutions to enhance pricing accuracy, such as an alternative data, AI-based credit scoring model for a credit bureau in Indonesia, and supported Malaysian banks to develop user-friendly apps, digital portals, and onboarding. It is leveraging image recognition, a core enabler of “insur-tech” that allows insurers to quickly assess damage claims and pay out to eligible beneficiaries. OneConnect has partnered with Swiss Re, a European insurer, to develop a digital end-to-end solution for motor claims handling, based on AI-based image recognition and advanced data analytics. The tool can analyze photos of vehicle damage, identify repair needs and costs within minutes, offer cash payments, and even offer value-added services, like directing drivers to a repair garage.

OneConnect is also helping build the fintech ecosystem by working with governments, regulators, and stakeholders. It is working with Singapore’s blockchain association to build the skills, literacy, and talent pool needed to enable innovation and has partnered with Abu Dhabi Global Market, a financial center in the United Arab Emirates, to support the development of a “digital lab,” a sandbox for fintechs to collaborate and develop their innovations.   

Working closely with its partners at home and abroad, OneConnect is helping the finance industry move swiftly into the digital era by leveraging the right tools at the right time, benefiting customers and finance institutions alike by widening access to services and lowering costs.

This content was produced by Insights, the custom content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by MIT Technology Review’s editorial staff.


  1. ^ Bloomberg (www.bloomberg.com)
  2. ^ (www.technologyreview.com)
  3. ^ recently wrote (www.economist.com)

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Worried about your firm’s AI ethics? These startups are here to help. http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/worried-about-your-firms-ai-ethics-these-startups-are-here-to-help/ http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/worried-about-your-firms-ai-ethics-these-startups-are-here-to-help/#respond Fri, 15 Jan 2021 11:00:00 +0000 https://www.technologyreview.com/?p=1016183https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/01/15/1016183/ai-ethics-startups/ Parity is among a growing crop of startups promising organizations ways to develop, monitor, and fix their AI models. They offer a range of products and services from bias-mitigation tools…

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Parity is among a growing crop of startups promising organizations ways to develop, monitor, and fix their AI models. They offer a range of products and services from bias-mitigation tools to explainability platforms. Initially most of their clients came from heavily regulated industries like finance and health care. But increased research and media attention on issues of bias[1], privacy, and transparency have shifted the focus of the conversation. New clients are often simply worried about being responsible, while others want to “future proof” themselves in anticipation of regulation.

“So many companies are really facing this for the first time,” Chowdhury says. “Almost all of them are actually asking for some help.”

From risk to impact

When working with new clients, Chowdhury avoids using the term “responsibility.” The word is too squishy and ill-defined; it leaves too much room for miscommunication. She instead begins with more familiar corporate lingo: the idea of risk. Many companies have risk and compliance arms, and established processes for risk mitigation.

AI risk mitigation is no different. A company should start by considering the different things it worries about. These can include legal risk, the possibility of breaking the law; organizational risk, the possibility of losing employees; or reputational risk, the possibility of suffering a PR disaster. From there, it can work backwards to decide how to audit its AI systems. A finance company, operating under the fair lending laws in the US, would want to check its lending models for bias to mitigate legal risk. A telehealth company, whose systems train on sensitive medical data, might perform privacy audits to mitigate reputational risk.

A screenshot of Parity's library of impact assessment questions.
Parity includes a library of suggested questions to help companies evaluate the risk of their AI models.


Parity helps to organize this process. The platform first asks a company to build an internal impact assessment—in essence, a set of open-ended survey questions about how its business and AI systems operate. It can choose to write custom questions or select them from Parity’s library, which has more than 1,000 prompts adapted from AI ethics guidelines and relevant legislation from around the world. Once the assessment is built, employees across the company are encouraged to fill it out based on their job function and knowledge. The platform then runs their free-text responses through a natural-language processing model and translates them with an eye toward the company’s key areas of risk. Parity, in other words, serves as the new go-between in getting data scientists and lawyers on the same page.

Next, the platform recommends a corresponding set of risk mitigation actions. These could include creating a dashboard to continuously monitor a model’s accuracy, or implementing new documentation procedures to track how a model was trained and fine-tuned at each stage of its development. It also offers a collection of open-source frameworks and tools that might help, like IBM’s AI Fairness 360[2] for bias monitoring or Google’s Model Cards[3] for documentation.

Chowdhury hopes that if companies can reduce the time it takes to audit their models, they will become more disciplined about doing it regularly and often. Over time, she hopes, this could also open them to thinking beyond risk mitigation. “My sneaky goal is actually to get more companies thinking about impact and not just risk,” she says. “Risk is the language people understand today, and it’s a very valuable language, but risk is often reactive and responsive. Impact is more proactive, and that’s actually the better way to frame what it is that we should be doing.”

A responsibility ecosystem

While Parity focuses on risk management, another startup, Fiddler[4], focuses on explainability. CEO Krishna Gade began thinking about the need for more transparency in how AI models make decisions while serving as the engineering manager of Facebook’s News Feed team. After the 2016 presidential election, the company made a big internal push to better understand how its algorithms were ranking content. Gade’s team developed an internal tool that later became the basis of the “Why am I seeing this?” feature[5].


  1. ^ issues of bias (www.technologyreview.com)
  2. ^ AI Fairness 360 (aif360.mybluemix.net)
  3. ^ Google’s Model Cards (modelcards.withgoogle.com)
  4. ^ Fiddler (fiddler.ai)
  5. ^ “Why am I seeing this?” feature (about.fb.com)

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Distressed Halftone Textures Pack for Premium Members http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/distressed-halftone-textures-pack-for-premium-members/ http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/distressed-halftone-textures-pack-for-premium-members/#respond Fri, 15 Jan 2021 08:00:43 +0000 https://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=11226https://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/premium/distressed-halftone-textures-pack-for-premium-members Access All Areas[1] members have a useful set of textures to download this week, courtesy of Shapeshift[2]. The Distressed Halftone Textures Pack allows you to mimic the style of classic…

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Access All Areas[1] members have a useful set of textures to download this week, courtesy of Shapeshift[2]. The Distressed Halftone Textures Pack allows you to mimic the style of classic industrial printing methods by adding halftone patterns to your artwork, as seen on old comic books, newspapers and low-cost prints. This pack of distressed halftone textures contains 40 high resolution images in JPG & PNG format, each with a unique spread of dot patterns with varying density. Use them as backgrounds to your designs, or add them to layer masks to erase portions of your artwork to achieve the vintage grunge look.



Shapeshift[3] provide quality design resources for graphic designers and illustrators. You’ll find a range of tools for creating popular art styles and effects, helping you work faster, smarter and more efficiently! Check out the unique Vintage Engraving Lines[4] texture pack, which provides you with a range of detailed linework patterns to reproduce one of the popular aesthetics of the vintage design style.

Find out more about Shapeshift[5]

Distressed Halftone Textures Pack for Premium Members

Distressed Halftone Textures Pack for Premium Members

The Distressed Halftone Textures Pack includes 40 textures in JPG format (2448x3264px 300ppi) and 40 textures in PNG format with transparent backgrounds. JPG and PNG files are common formats that are widely supported in image editing applications, but these resources are best used in Adobe Photoshop or equivalent design software.

Access This Download[6]


  1. ^ Access All Areas (blog.spoongraphics.co.uk)
  2. ^ Shapeshift (creativemarket.com)
  3. ^ Shapeshift (creativemarket.com)
  4. ^ Vintage Engraving Lines (crmrkt.com)
  5. ^ Find out more about Shapeshift (creativemarket.com)
  6. ^ Access This Download (blog.spoongraphics.co.uk)

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San Francisco's Tech Workers Are Leaving the Bay Area http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/san-franciscos-tech-workers-are-leaving-the-bay-area/ http://inloop.in/2021/01/15/san-franciscos-tech-workers-are-leaving-the-bay-area/#respond Fri, 15 Jan 2021 03:10:59 +0000 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/technology/san-francisco-covid-work-moving.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/technology/san-francisco-covid-work-moving.html SAN FRANCISCO — The Bay Area struck a hard bargain with its tech workers. Rent was astronomical. Taxes were high. Your neighbors didn’t like you. If you lived in San…

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Bay Area struck a hard bargain with its tech workers.

Rent was astronomical. Taxes were high. Your neighbors didn’t like you. If you lived in San Francisco, you might have commuted an hour south to your job at Apple or Google or Facebook. Or if your office was in the city, maybe it was in a neighborhood[1] with too much street crime, open drug use and $5 coffees.

But it was worth it. Living in the epicenter of a boom that was changing the world was what mattered. The city gave its workers a choice of interesting jobs and a chance at the brass ring.

That is, until the pandemic. Remote work[2] offered a chance at residing for a few months in towns where life felt easier. Tech workers and their bosses realized they might not need all the perks and after-work schmooze events. But maybe they needed elbow room and a yard for the new puppy. A place to put the Peloton[3]. A top public school.

They fled[4]. They fled to tropical beach towns. They fled to more affordable places like Georgia. They fled to states without income taxes like Texas and Florida.

That’s where the story of the Bay Area’s latest tech era is ending for a growing crowd of tech workers and their companies. They have suddenly movable jobs and money in the bank — money that will go plenty further somewhere else.

But where? The No. 1 pick for people leaving San Francisco is Austin, Texas, with other winners including Seattle, New York and Chicago, according to moveBuddha, a site that compiles data on moving. Some cities have even set up recruiting programs to lure them to new homes. Miami’s mayor has even been inviting tech people to move there in his Twitter posts.

I talked to more than two dozen tech executives and workers who have left San Francisco for other parts of the country over the last year, like a young entrepreneur who moved home to Georgia and another who has created a community in Puerto Rico. Here are some of their stories.

“I miss San Francisco. I miss the life I had there,” said John Gardner, 35, the founder and chief executive of Kickoff, a remote personal training start-up, who packed his things into storage and left in a camper van to wander America. “But right now it’s just like: What else can God and the world and government come up with to make the place less livable?”

A couple of months later, Mr. Gardner wrote: “Greetings from sunny Miami Beach! This is about the 40th place I’ve set up a temporary headquarters for Kickoff.”

Remote personal training happens to coincide well with remote life, but he said his start-up’s growth this past year was also due to his leaving the tech bubble and immersing himself in more normal communities, a few days at a time.

The biggest tech companies aren’t going anywhere, and tech stocks are still soaring. Apple’s flying-saucer-shaped campus is not going to zoom away. Google is still absorbing ever more office space in San Jose and San Francisco. New founders are still coming to town.

But the migration from the Bay Area appears real. Residential rents in San Francisco are down 27 percent from a year ago[5], and the office vacancy rate has spiked to 16.7 percent[6], a number not seen in a decade.

Though prices had dropped only slightly, Zillow reported more homes for sale in San Francisco than a year ago. For more than a month last year, 90 percent of the searches involving San Francisco on moveBuddha were for people moving out.

Twitter, Yelp, Airbnb and Dropbox have tried to sublease some of their San Francisco office space. Pinterest, which has one of the most iconic offices in town, paid $90 million to break a lease for a site where it planned to expand. And companies like Twitter and Facebook have announced “work from home forever”[7] plans.

“Moving into a $1.3 million house that we saw only on video for 20 minutes and said yes,” wrote Mike Rothermel, a designer at Cisco who moved from the Bay Area to Boulder, Colo., with his wife last summer. “It’s a mansion compared to SF for the same money.”

The amount of room they have felt surreal after various Bay Area apartments. He told me they have so much counter space, they can keep appliances like the food processor in the kitchen itself.

And then the people around them — neighbors — started doing something strange. They brought cinnamons rolls and handwritten welcome notes.

“We’re selling our house and moving out of SF. Where should we go and why?” Justin Kan, a serial entrepreneur who co-founded Twitch, asked on Twitter in August.

Joe Lonsdale, a co-founder of the software company Palantir, which moved from Silicon Valley to Denver, wrote back: “Come to Austin with us. Growing tech ecosystem and Texas is the best place to make a stand together for a free society.”

Also: no state income taxes.

Austin, population one million and the Texas city most would say is closest in spirit to the Bay Area, has long had a healthy tech industry. The computer giant Dell is based nearby. The University of Texas is one of the top public colleges in the country. And the music scene is eclectic and creative.

Now the local tech industry is rapidly expanding. Apple is opening[8] a $1 billion, 133-acre campus. Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook have all either expanded their footprints in Austin or have plans to. Elon Musk, the Tesla founder and one of the two richest men in the world, said he had moved to Texas. Start-up investor money is arriving, too: The investors at 8VC and Breyer Capital opened Austin offices last year.

Some of the favorite gurus of tech workers are already there, like Tim Ferriss, life-hacker, who left for Austin in 2017, and Ryan Holiday, whose writing about stoicism is influential among the start-up set.

Sahin Boydas, the founder of a remote-work start-up who had lived in San Francisco and its suburbs over the last decade, saw all of that. He looked at his wife and two young children, working and learning from home while crammed into a Cupertino rental that had seen better days. Much of the late summer, the air was full of smoke from wildfires[9]. For days, electricity would go in and out at his house.

“You start to feel stupid,” said Mr. Boydas, who is 37. “I can understand the 1 percent rich people, the very top investors and entrepreneurs, they can be happy there.”

So he and his family moved to Austin. For the same price as their three-bedroom apartment in Cupertino, they have a five-bedroom home on an acre of land. For the first time, Mr. Boydas has outdoor space. He just acquired two rabbits for his children. Sure, it’s (very) hot, but he’s ready for it.

“We’re going to get a cat and a dog,” he said. “We could never do that before.”

And it’s not just the cost of rent that is lower — the water bill is lower; the trash bill is lower; the cost of a family dinner at a restaurant has fallen significantly. Mr. Boydas said he hadn’t even known about the taxes.

“I run payroll for myself, and when I saw zero, I called the accountant like there’s an error — there’s no tax line here,” he said. “And they were like, ‘Yeah there’s no tax.’”

“Ok guys hear me out, what if we move Silicon Valley to Miami,” tweeted Delian Asparouhov, a principal at Founders Fund, which invests in start-ups.

The mayor of Miami wrote back[10] last month: “How can I help?”

Now there is a very vocal Miami faction, led by a few venture capital influencers, trying to tweet the city’s start-up world into existence.

The San Francisco exodus means the talent and money of newly remote tech workers are up for grabs. And it’s not just the mayor of Miami trying to lure them in.

Topeka, Kan., started Choose Topeka, which will reimburse new workers $10,000 for the first year of rent or $15,000 if they buy a home. Tulsa, Okla. will pay you $10,000 to move there. The nation of Estonia has a new residency program just for digital nomads[11].

A program in Savannah, Ga., will reimburse remote workers $2,000 for the move there, and the city has created various social activities to introduce the newcomers to one another and to locals.

“We try to make the transition easy,” said Jennifer Bonnett, vice president of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Savannah Economic Development Authority, whose program started in June.

Keyan Karimi, 29 and a start-up investor, took Savannah’s invitation to move there (though he didn’t ask for the reimbursement).

Seeing the inequality of billionaires in San Francisco’s wealthy Pacific Heights neighborhood and the homeless camps down the hill ground on him. So Mr. Karimi went home to his parents’ house in Atlanta to ride out some of the pandemic. Then he detected something strange. The city he thought was boring had gotten pretty interesting. Or maybe he had just never noticed before.

“I had no idea how much was going on here. I was sort of myopic,” he said, pausing and correcting himself: “No, I was arrogant.”

Mr. Karimi started looking at Zillow and studying the Southern cities he had ignored. He likes old houses and wants to fix one up. Savannah has a lot of those. So just a few months after leaving his $4,000-a-month one-bedroom in San Francisco, he’s working with the local business development group to put together a maritime innovation center[12] in Savannah to invest in and guide shipping and logistics start-ups. He bought one of those old houses.

Savannah has one of the largest ports in the country. “No one knows that,” Mr. Karimi said. “I figure we can do something with that.”

The only downside is mosquitoes, he said. “I get eaten alive.”

There are 33,000 members in the Facebook group Leaving California and 51,000 in its sister group, Life After California. People post pictures of moving trucks and links to Zillow listings in new cities.

The founder of both groups, Terry Gilliam, is planning to take members on a house-hunting road trip through eastern Tennessee this spring with stops in popular post-S.F. destinations. One tour will be Chattanooga, Knoxville and Johnson City.

“When people decide to leave San Francisco, they usually don’t know where they want to go, they just want to go,” Mr. Gilliam said.

Mr. Gilliam, who met his wife when they worked at a Bay Area Chili’s restaurant, said she wouldn’t let the family move yet. And so the Pied Piper of the California-bashing Facebook community is still in Fremont, on the eastern end of Silicon Valley.

“People always get pissed at me when they hear birds in my Zoom,” said Ed Zaydelman, a longtime leader in San Francisco’s Burning Man community (and former New York City club promoter), who is forming an entrepreneur community in Costa Rica. “And I say, ‘Come join.’”

If San Francisco of the 2010s proved anything, it’s the power of proximity. Entrepreneurs could find a dozen start-up pitch competitions every week within walking distance. If they left a big tech company, there were start-ups eager to hire, and if a start-up failed, there was always another.

They could live jammed into a rambling Victorian with fellow nerds who — thanks to the popularity of polyamory — were having a lot of sex. More money was made faster in the Bay Area by fewer people than at any other time in American history.

No one leaving the city is arguing that a culture of innovation is going to spring up over Zoom. So some are trying to recreate it. They are getting into property development, building luxury tiny-home compounds and taking over big, funky houses in old resort towns.

“All these people want to do is this live-on-the-land stuff, but it’s not as easy as people think,” Mr. Zaydelman said.

He calls his new development company Nookleo, and he is building five tiny-home communities for remote workers. The little houses cost between $30,000 and 40,000. Each compound has four to six homes, a small organic farm, a yoga deck, a swimming pool and a kitchen clubhouse. Two clusters are already underway in Costa Rica, with Mexico and Portugal next.

In Puerto Rico, Gillian Morris, the founder of the travel app Hitlist, is also recruiting. Her San Francisco breaking point came after her roommate was attacked on their street, and she did a sort of gut check of herself over whether the street scenes and feeling of danger were worth the high rent. She moved to San Juan in 2019, even though it also has a crime problem. But now she lives in a huge house in the middle of the city.

“I have 12 people leaving San Francisco over the next three months to join a co-living community I set up,” she said. “It’s amazing here.”

And for the Baja-leaning, there is Bear Kittay, a co-founder of Good Money, an online banking platform. Now Mr. Kittay, another longtime fixture of the Burning Man festival turned developer, is building a property for the new digital nomads.

“The things that make this city ill are not within my control to change,” he said of San Francisco. “A lot of people are choosing to go to places where there’s opportunity, and maybe it’s a place that is more conservative and there can be an integration of dialogue. Or a place where they can live closer to nature. That’s what we’re doing.”

Nikil Viswanathan, who co-founded the blockchain start-up Alchemy, recently fled San Francisco. He said that there was no reason anymore for him or his colleagues to be there, and that he had always wanted to live on the beach. So now he does, in San Diego.

But the expats still find one another. Not long ago, he stumbled on a cluster at a party.

“I knew it was an S.F. crew because when I walked in because they had the full dual monitor with the ergonomic keyboard on a standing desk,” Mr. Viswanathan said, adding that conversation revolved around the lower cost of living. “One of the S.F. guys was like: ‘I just had a burrito for $6. It was amazing.’”

The last burrito he had in San Francisco cost $15.

Longtime Bay Area residents may well say good riddance to people like Mr. Viswanathan. People who distrusted the young newcomers from the start will say this change is a good thing. Hasn’t this steep growth in wealth and population in a tiny geography always seemed unsustainable?

These tech workers came like a whirlwind. Virtually every community from San Jose in the south to Marin County in the north has fought the rise of new housing for the arrivals of the last decade. Maybe spreading the tech talent around America is smart.

Locals have also seen this play before. Moving trucks come to take a generation of tech ambition away, and a few years later moving trucks return with new dreamers and new ambitions.

After the dot-com bust in 2001, there were fallow years before the latest, long-lasting boom — just as there were fallow years after the PC industry consolidated a decade earlier. That led to the dot-com boom. It is the circle of life in the Bay Area.

And those who are staying are digging in. “When 12 friends left, it felt like powerlessness,” said Diana Helmuth, a 32-year-old writer and marketer in Oakland. “Like these forces were too big. The forces of the world felt too big.”

Now, though, she is hardening toward those who say life is better somewhere else and were in town only for a job. “I say, ‘Great, goodbye, have a great time somewhere else.’”


  1. ^ in a neighborhood (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ Remote work (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ put the Peloton (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ They fled (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ down 27 percent from a year ago (www.sfgate.com)
  6. ^ spiked to 16.7 percent (www.bloomberg.com)
  7. ^ “work from home forever” (www.nytimes.com)
  8. ^ Apple is opening (www.statesman.com)
  9. ^ smoke from wildfires (www.nytimes.com)
  10. ^ wrote back (twitter.com)
  11. ^ just for digital nomads (www.euronews.com)
  12. ^ maritime innovation center (www.prnewswire.com)

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21 Best T-Shirt Mockup Templates http://inloop.in/2021/01/14/21-best-t-shirt-mockup-templates/ http://inloop.in/2021/01/14/21-best-t-shirt-mockup-templates/#respond Thu, 14 Jan 2021 23:55:39 +0000 http://graphicdesignjunction.com/?p=27895http://graphicdesignjunction.com/2021/01/tshirt-mockup-templates/ High resolution t-shirt mockup templates can be the best way to showcase your t-shirt design in a realistic way. These t-shirt mockups[1] allow you to showcase your apparel design with…

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High resolution t-shirt mockup templates can be the best way to showcase your t-shirt design in a realistic way. These t-shirt mockups[1] allow you to showcase your apparel design with a professional look. These PSD mockups are very easy to use, just drag and drop your apparel design on a t-shirt mockup and get an amazing presentation. In this article there are photorealistic t-shirt mockups of boys t-shirt mockups[2] and girls t-shirt mockups available in different environments. In every mockup you can adjust your own light and select an appropriate background.

You may be interested in the following articles as well.

Unlimited Downloads
Over 1,500,000+ Fonts, Mockups, Freebies & Design Assets

Fully Layered PSD files. 300 DPI High Resolution 2500 x 3500 px, easy and fast editing with smart objects, organized Layers and folders with meaningful names, You can change shirt’s solid color and gradient, You can change shirt’s artwork log or full T-shirt artwork.


  1. ^ t-shirt mockups (graphicdesignjunction.com)
  2. ^ boys t-shirt mockups (graphicdesignjunction.com)

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A guide to being an ethical online investigator http://inloop.in/2021/01/14/a-guide-to-being-an-ethical-online-investigator/ http://inloop.in/2021/01/14/a-guide-to-being-an-ethical-online-investigator/#respond Thu, 14 Jan 2021 22:34:14 +0000 https://www.technologyreview.com/?p=1015931https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/01/14/1015931/how-to-be-an-ethical-online-investigator-activist/ But this activity raises some complex ethical and practical issues. How can you, an average person, be an ethical digital activist? What counts as going too far? How can you…

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But this activity raises some complex ethical and practical issues. How can you, an average person, be an ethical digital activist? What counts as going too far? How can you keep yourself safe? How can you participate in a way that doesn’t put anyone in danger? Below are some guidelines that might help.

Remember, you are not a hacker: There’s a big difference between accessing publicly available information, like a photo from a Facebook profile page that documents illegal activity, and hacking into a person’s otherwise private account to find that photo. That’s crossing the line.In the US, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) limits the amount of access a person has to another’s information “without authorization,” which is undefined; this lack of clarity has frustrated lawyers who represent activists. “Those who do [violate CFAA] are breaking the law, and they’re criminals,” says Max Aliapoulios, a PhD student and cybersecurity researcher at New York University. It’s worth keeping in mind regional laws as well. In the European Union, “publicly identifying an individual necessarily means processing personally identifiable information; therefore individuals performing such activities need a legal basis to do so [under Article 6 of the GDPR[1]],” says Ulf Buermeyer, the founder and legal director of Freiheitsrechte, a German-based civil rights organization.

Ethical issues abound: It’s not just legal issues that would-be amateur online investigators need to be aware of. Much of the online activity carried out in the wake of the Capitol riots raises ethical questions, too. Should a person who didn’t storm the Capitol but attended the rallies leading up to the riots be identified and risk punishment[2] at work? Do those who were in and around the Capitol on January 6 automatically lose the right to privacy even if they weren’t involved in riots? It’s worth thinking through how you feel about some of these questions before you continue. Few are clear cut.

So, where does the information come from? “Our bread and butter is open source,” Fiorella says. “Open-source media” refers to information that is publicly available for use. Data archivists, or those who collect and preserve information online for historical purposes, accessed such open-source data to save posts before they disappeared as social media companies pushed President Donald Trump and many of his supporters off their platforms. “If you were at the Capitol storming and recorded video and took selfies that anyone can access, and it’s openly available on the internet, it’s fair game,” says Fiorella.

It’s your First Amendment right to access open-sourced information. Hacktivists and digital activists trawling social media alike will agree on this: they say it’s the most important aspect of their work. “Utilizing open-source intelligence isn’t a crime,” says Daly Barnett, an activist and staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group. “Archiving isn’t a crime. Freedom of information is good.”

Misidentification is a real danger. “Anyone with an internet connection and free time and willingness to do these things can be part of crowdsourcing efforts to clarify what happened,” Fiorella says. But crowdsourced efforts can be problematic, because people may zero in on the wrong individual[3]. “There’s a fundamental tension here,” says Emmi Bevensee, a researcher and founder of the Social Media Analysis Toolkit[4], an open-source tool that tracks trends across mainstream and fringe social media platforms. “The more people you have working on a problem, the more likely you are to find the needle in the haystack. There’s a risk doing things like this, though. Not everyone has the same research skills or methodological accountability”—and mistakes can be devastating for the person misidentified[5]. Misidentification carries potential legal risks, too.

You can join up with more established investigators instead of going it alone. There is, obviously, the FBI, which has collected images and is seeking the public’s help[6] in identifying domestic terrorists. Bellingcat, one of the most respected, thorough investigatory sites devoted to this purpose, has created a Google spreadsheet[7] for images of suspects that need identifying. Organizations also often have ethical standards put in place to guide new sleuths, like this one[8] Bellingcat created in light of the Black Lives Matters protests.

Don’t doxx. Doxxing—or digging up personal information and sharing it publicly—is illegal. “The majority of doxxing has occurred from open-source intelligence,” Barnett says, and data hygiene is still something many people online struggle with. If you come across passwords, addresses, phone numbers, or any other similar identifier, do not share it—it’s a crime to do so. r/Datahoarder, a Reddit archiving group, notes that its members “do NOT support witch hunting[9].” 

If you find something online that could be incriminating, ask, “Am I putting this person in danger?” Fiorella says he asks himself that question consistently, particularly in cases where a person might have few followers and is using social media just to share images with friends.

Show your methodology. Just like in middle school math class, show your work and how you got your results. Data researchers who do this work are famously diligent and exhaustive in how they record their work and triple-check their information. That sort of checking is especially important to ensure that people are properly identified and that others can learn from and retrace your steps for subsequent prosecution. (Methodology may take some technical expertise in some cases, and data researching organizations often run workshops and training sessions to help people learn how to do this.)

Do not share names online. Let’s say you see a picture of a possible suspect online and you recognize who it is. While you might be tempted to tag the person, or screenshot the image and put some commentary on your Instagram to get that addictive stream of likes, don’t. This work needs to be deliberate and slow, says Fiorella: “There’s a risk of misidentifying a person and causing harm.” Even if there’s no doubt that you have figured out who a person is, hold back and, at the most, submit your information to an organization like Bellingcat or the FBI to check your work and make sure it is correct.

You will run into situations where things are not clear. Theo shared the story of the viral video[10] in which a Black Los Angeles woman is physically attacked by Trump supporters calling her the n-word. In the video, a man is seen with his arms around the woman amid the violent, jeering crowd. In initial reports, the man was described as part of the mob and harming the woman. Video footage seemed to show him putting her in the way of pepper spray, for example. Then police said the man was actually trying to protect the woman and that she had confirmed this version of events, though she later suggested to BuzzFeed[11] that perhaps he ended up doing as much harm as good. Theo shared the image of the man in the immediate aftermath of the incident, and then he saw the account suggesting he was a good Samaritan. “I felt horrible,” he says. Theo points out that the man was also recorded using xenophobic and racist language, but “that got me to pause a little bit and think about what I’m doing that could impact people,” he says. “It’s a blurred line.” It doesn’t hurt to repeat it again: Do not share names online.

Your safety may be at risk. Theo says he has received death threats and has not felt safe in the past week, consistently looking over his shoulder if he steps out. Bevensee has received multiple death threats. Many digital activists have burner phones and backup computers, and work away from their families to protect them.

Keep your mental health in mind. This work can involve viewing violent images. Theo says he has been dealing with migraine headaches, sleep problems, paranoia, and the distress that comes with trying to keep up with his day job while handling his Instagram accounts and its sister Twitter account, @OutTerrorists[12]. “I’m only one person, and I have to handle DMs and keep everything up to date,” he says, noting that he also updates posts with verified identifications from the FBI, goes through comments, and forwards information to the FBI himself. Take time to process and realize that it’s okay to feel upset. It’s one thing to use this as motivation to right the wrongs of the world, but nearly every expert and activist told me that having a way to deal with disturbing images is important.

Share your information with law enforcement—if it’s appropriate. Bevensee and Aliapoulios said the digital activism movement was a direct response to the perceived lack of official action. Many activists have a strong distrust of US law enforcement, pointing to the difference between how the Capitol rioters and Black Lives Matter protesters were treated. But in the case of the insurrection, which carries federal charges, experts and activists agree that the right thing to do is to take information to the authorities.


  1. ^ Article 6 of the GDPR (gdpr-info.eu)
  2. ^ punishment (www.mcall.com)
  3. ^ people may zero in on the wrong individual (nymag.com)
  4. ^ Social Media Analysis Toolkit (www.smat-app.com)
  5. ^ for the person misidentified (www.npr.org)
  6. ^ seeking the public’s help (www.fbi.gov)
  7. ^ Google spreadsheet (docs.google.com)
  8. ^ this one (staging.forensic-architecture.org)
  9. ^ witch hunting (www.cnet.com)
  10. ^ viral video (abc7.com)
  11. ^ BuzzFeed (www.buzzfeednews.com)
  12. ^ @OutTerrorists (twitter.com)

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About the Pandemic Technology Project http://inloop.in/2021/01/14/about-the-pandemic-technology-project/ http://inloop.in/2021/01/14/about-the-pandemic-technology-project/#respond Thu, 14 Jan 2021 22:27:07 +0000 https://www.technologyreview.com/?p=1014876https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/01/14/1014876/about-the-pandemic-technology-project/ As covid-19 began spreading around the world, an avalanche of new digital services and data-driven approaches has emerged to aid pandemic response. From smartphone exposure notifications to vaccine allocation algorithms,…

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As covid-19 began spreading around the world, an avalanche of new digital services and data-driven approaches has emerged to aid pandemic response. From smartphone exposure notifications to vaccine allocation algorithms, these systems have been developed under the watch of politicians, public health officials, scientists and businesses. They have also faced many challenges.

The Pandemic Technology Project examines how these systems are being used in the fight against SARS-CoV-2. Over the course of 2021, it will investigate and report on the various ways that digital technologies are developed and deployed.

The project is funded by support provided by a grant to MIT Technology Review from the Rockefeller Foundation. Content is editorially independent and output is overseen by MITTR editor Bobbie Johnson. Unless otherwise stated, all material posted by the project reflect the views of the individual contributors, and not the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or the Rockefeller Foundation.

How it started

Our coverage started in March 2020[1], as we saw technologists discussing how smartphones could help detect possible exposure to the disease. This led to a flood of apps and systems, which we began monitoring developments through our Covid Tracing Tracker[2].

As the pandemic continued, we saw these technologies supplemented by other digital interventions, including expanding the use of digital health records, the prospect of immunity passports, and other data-driven ways of approaching the spread of covid-19.

How it’s going

In November 2020, we expanded the project to take in this larger landscape. The project is now funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, and alongside the core staff of Technology Review, we have dedicated reporters and editors focused on uncovering more about these important questions.

Principal investigator, project lead: Bobbie Johnson
Editor: Lindsay Muscato
Reporters: Cat Ferguson, Mia Sato[3][4][5][6]

You can see a full list of stories we’ve published on the Pandemic Technology Project page.

What they’re saying about us

The project and tracker have received coverage in news outlets around the world, from international broadcasters to local websites. If you’re a member of the press interested in talking to our team about this work or the role of technology in the pandemic, please email lindsay.muscato@technologyreview.com

Our work has also been used in public health decisions, and cited in studies and research papers. If you are referencing our work, or have an interest in our data please email ctt@technologyreview.com to let us know.

Google Scholar citations [7]


  1. ^ March 2020 (www.technologyreview.com)
  2. ^ Covid Tracing Tracker (www.technologyreview.com)
  3. ^ Bobbie Johnson (www.technologyreview.com)
  4. ^ Lindsay Muscato (www.technologyreview.com)
  5. ^ Cat Ferguson (www.technologyreview.com)
  6. ^ Mia Sato (www.technologyreview.com)
  7. ^ Google Scholar citations (scholar.google.com)

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Facebook and Twitter Face International Scrutiny After Trump Ban http://inloop.in/2021/01/14/facebook-and-twitter-face-international-scrutiny-after-trump-ban/ http://inloop.in/2021/01/14/facebook-and-twitter-face-international-scrutiny-after-trump-ban/#respond Thu, 14 Jan 2021 21:09:16 +0000 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/technology/trump-facebook-twitter.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/technology/trump-facebook-twitter.html LONDON — In Sri Lanka[1] and Myanmar[2], Facebook kept up posts that it had been warned contributed to violence. In India[3], activists have urged the company to combat posts by…

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LONDON — In Sri Lanka[1] and Myanmar[2], Facebook kept up posts that it had been warned contributed to violence. In India[3], activists have urged the company to combat posts by political figures targeting Muslims. And in Ethiopia[4], groups pleaded for the social network to block hate speech after hundreds were killed in ethnic violence inflamed by social media.

“The offline troubles that rocked the country are fully visible on the online space,” activists, civil society groups and journalists in Ethiopia wrote in an open letter[5] last year.

For years, Facebook and Twitter have largely rebuffed calls to remove hate speech or other comments made by public figures and government officials that civil society groups and activists said risked inciting violence. The companies stuck to policies, driven by American ideals of free speech, that give such figures more leeway to use their platforms to communicate.

But last week, Facebook and Twitter cut off President Trump from their platforms for inciting a crowd that attacked the U.S. Capitol. Those decisions have angered human rights groups and activists, who are now urging the companies to apply their policies evenly, particularly in smaller countries where the platforms dominate communications.

“When I saw what the platforms did with Trump, I thought, ‘You should have done this before, and you should do this consistently in other countries around the world,’” said Javier Pallero, policy director at Access Now, a human rights group involved in the Ethiopia letter. “Around the world, we are at the mercy of when they decide to act.”

“Sometimes they act very late,” he added, “and sometimes they act not at all.”

David Kaye, a law professor and former United Nations monitor for freedom of expression, said political figures in India, the Philippines, Brazil and elsewhere deserved scrutiny for their behavior online. But he said the actions against Mr. Trump raised difficult questions about how the power of American internet companies was applied, and if their actions set a new precedent to more aggressively police speech around the world.

“The question going forward is whether this is a new kind of standard they intend to apply for leaders worldwide, and do they have the resources to do it?” Mr. Kaye said. “There is going to be a real increase in demand to do this elsewhere in the world.”

Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, is the world’s largest social network, with more than 2.7 billion monthly users; more than 90 percent of them live outside the United States. The company declined to comment, but has said the actions against Mr. Trump stem from his violation of existing rules and do not represent a new global policy.

“Our policies are applied to everyone,” Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said in a recent interview with Reuters[6]. “The policy is that you can’t incite violence, you can’t be part of inciting violence.”

Twitter, which has about 190 million daily users globally, said its rules for world leaders were not new. When it reviews posts that could incite violence, Twitter said, the context of the events is crucial.

“Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all,” Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, said in a post[7] on Wednesday. Yet, he said, the decision “sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.”

There are signs that Facebook and Twitter have begun acting more assertively. After the Capitol attack, Twitter updated its policies[8] to say it would permanently suspend the accounts of repeat offenders of its rules on political content. Facebook took action against a number of accounts outside the United States, including deleting the account of a state-run media outlet in Iran and shutting down government-run accounts in Uganda, where there has been violence ahead of elections. Facebook said the takedowns were unrelated to the Trump decision.

Many activists singled out Facebook for its global influence and not applying rules uniformly. They said that in many countries it lacked the cultural understanding to identify when posts might incite violence. Too often, they said, Facebook and other social media companies do not act even when they receive warnings.

In 2019 in Slovakia, Facebook did not take down posts by a member of Parliament who was convicted by a court and stripped of his seat in government for incitement and racist comments. In Cambodia, Human Rights Watch said the company was slow to act to the involvement of government officials in a social media campaign to smear a prominent Buddhist monk championing human rights[9]. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has used Facebook to target journalists and other critics.

After a wave of violence, Ethiopian activists said[10] Facebook was being used to incite violence and encourage discrimination.

“The truth is, despite good intentions, these companies do not guarantee uniform application or enforcement of their rules,” said Agustina Del Campo, director of the center for studies on freedom of expression at University of Palermo in Buenos Aires. “And oftentimes, when they attempt it, they lack the context and understanding needed.”

In many countries, there’s a perception that Facebook bases its actions on its business interests more than on human rights. In India, home to Facebook’s most users, the company has been accused of not policing anti-Muslim content from political figures for fear of upsetting the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling party.

“Developments in our countries aren’t addressed seriously,” said Mishi Choudhary, a technology lawyer and founder of the Software Freedom Law Center, a digital rights group in India. “Any takedown of content raises the questions of free expression, but incitement of violence or using a platform for dangerous speech is not a free speech matter but a matter of democracy, law and order.”

But even as many activists urged Facebook and Twitter to be more proactive to protect human rights, they expressed anger about the power the companies have to control speech and sway public opinion.

Some also warned that the actions against Mr. Trump would cause a backlash, with political leaders in some countries taking steps to prevent social media companies from censoring speech.

Government officials in France and Germany raised alarms over banning Mr. Trump’s accounts, questioning whether private companies should be able to unilaterally silence a democratically elected leader. A draft law under consideration for the 27-nation European Union would put new rules around the content moderation policies of the biggest social networks.

Barbora Bukovská, the senior director for law and policy at Article 19, a digital rights group, said the risk was particularly pronounced in countries whose leaders have a history of using social media to stoke division. She said the events in Washington provided momentum in Poland for a draft law from the ruling right-wing nationalist party that would fine social media companies for taking down content that is not explicitly illegal, which could allow more targeting of L.G.B.T.Q. people[11].

“These decisions on Trump were the right decisions, but there are broader issues beyond Trump,” Ms. Bukovská said.


  1. ^ Sri Lanka (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ Myanmar (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ India (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ Ethiopia (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ an open letter (www.accessnow.org)
  6. ^ Reuters (www.pscp.tv)
  7. ^ post (twitter.com)
  8. ^ updated its policies (help.twitter.com)
  9. ^ Buddhist monk championing human rights (www.nytimes.com)
  10. ^ said (www.accessnow.org)
  11. ^ targeting of L.G.B.T.Q. people (www.nytimes.com)

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