Facebook bans academics who researched ad transparency and misinformation on Facebook

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Facebook has banned the personal accounts of academics who researched ad transparency and the spread of misinformation on the social network. Facebook says the group violated its term of service by scraping user data without permission. But the academics say they are being silenced for exposing problems on Facebook’s platform.
The researchers were part of NYU Ad Observatory, a project created to examine the origin and spread of political ads on Facebook. As the group explained in a blog post in May, their aim is to uncover who pays for political ads and how they are being targeted. Such work has important implications for understanding the spread of disinformation on Facebook, as the company does not fact-check political ads.
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Amazon’s drone delivery program ‘one gigantic oversell,’ says report into UK operation

Amazon’s delivery drones have gone through many iterations, including the design above. | Image: Amazon A new report from Wired into Amazon’s drone delivery program in the UK says the operation has lost over 100 employees, with insiders saying the project is “collapsing inwards.”
Citing testimony from former employees, Wired describes a culture of managerial dysfunction and overwork. In February 2020, for example, Amazon reportedly shut down a team of dozens in the UK dedicated to analyzing drone footage to identify humans and animals, only to re-open the unit months later. Other stories cited in the report include the fast turnover of senior staff, an employee drinking beer at their desk in the morning, and another “pinning down the ‘approve’ button on their computer so that all the frames of footage were being approved irrelevant of…
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YouTube ‘Premium Lite’ subscription offers ad-free viewing for less

Premium Lite offers ad-free viewing at a lower price. | Screenshot: YouTube Google is piloting a more affordable premium subscription tier for YouTube that offers ad-free viewing without YouTube Premium’s other features like offline downloads or background playback. The new “Premium Lite” plan was spotted by a user on ResetEra, and YouTube subsequently confirmed the test offering in a statement given to The Verge. Premium Lite is currently being tested in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
“In Nordics and Benelux (except for Iceland), we’re testing a new offering to give users even more choice: Premium Lite costs €6.99/month (or local equivalent per month) and it includes ad-free videos on YouTube,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement. In comparison, YouTube’s…
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Latest IDC numbers reiterate Apple’s dominance of tablet market

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge Earlier this week during Apple’s earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said that the iPad had experienced its most successful June quarter in nearly a decade. And now IDC is out with its latest worldwide shipment figures that underline Apple’s commanding lead over the tablet competition. After refreshing the iPad Air in 2020 and launching an upgraded iPad Pro earlier this year, Apple is next expected to update the iPad Mini.
IDC estimates that Apple shipped 12.9 million iPads in the second quarter. Its nearest competition is Samsung, which hit 8 million shipments. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 tablets offer fantastic hardware and punchy OLED screens, but they remain hamstrung by Android’s less-than-stellar selection of tablet apps. Lenovo, which…
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PSA: You might want to avoid the gobs of Halo Infinite spoilers Microsoft just leaked

If you’re invested in the story of Master Chief, Cortana, and the fate of the Halo universe, you might want to keep your head down and start muting some keywords on social media until Halo Infinite arrives later this year — because vast spoilers for the game’s entire story are now floating around on the internet.
Note: we’ll be keeping this post spoiler-free, though.
Halo Infinite creative director Joseph Staten confirmed on Twitter that Microsoft accidentally leaked “a small number of Halo Infinite campaign files” when it launched the game’s first multiplayer beta yesterday on July 29th, saying they “can ruin the campaign experience for everyone.”
Leaks like this are painful for the dev team and can ruin the campaign experience for…
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Here’s why Apple says it hates leaks

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Apple is a notoriously secretive company, and a cease and desist letter recently acquired by Motherboard sheds new light on exactly why, arguing that leaks harm accessory makers, consumers, and Apple itself.
The C&D order reportedly sent to a Chinese citizen by Apple’s lawyers in China, says that leaks about Apple’s iPhone dimensions could mislead case manufacturers, who might make accessories that are incompatible with the final product. As Apple puts it, “third-party accessory manufacturers may develop and sell mobile phone cases and other accessories that are not actually compatible with the unreleased products.” Motherboard notes that the market for Apple accessories is estimated to be worth almost $20 billion worldwide.
“The secret… Continue reading…

ZTE’s newest under-display selfie camera looks slightly improved

ZTE’s Axon 30. | Image: ZTE Last year’s Axon 20 5G from ZTE was the world’s first commercially-available phone to put a front-facing camera underneath its display. It was an impressive step forward for phone technology but there was one big problem: the camera sucked. It took lousy pictures and the module distorted the display in certain settings. Now, ZTE is trying again with the updated Axon 30, which seems to offer some improvements over its predecessor.
First, a little spec dump. The Axon 30 has a 6.92-inch AMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh rate and FHD+ resolution, all powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 5G chipset. There’s a four-camera array on the rear of the device, with a 64-megapixel main, 8-megapixel 120-degree wide-angle, 5-megapixel macro lens, and an…
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Android 13’s dessert codename might be Tiramisu

Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post via Getty Images; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post via Getty Images Tiramisu is a deliciously simple Italian dessert made from coffee-infused ladyfingers and whipped mascarpone and/or cream, but it could also be the internal codename for the next version of Android. That’s if a new commit reported by XDA Developers is to be believed. “Rename T to Tiramisu,” the note reads, in what XDA notes is the first public mention of a dessert-based codename for Android 13, expected to release next year.
Up until Android 10, each version of Google’s mobile OS had both a version number and a dessert-based name, which progressed alphabetically with each new release. Android 4 was Ice Cream Sandwich, 4.1 was Jelly Bean, 4.4 was KitKat, and so on. But Google dropped the dessert names with Android 10, when it was in the…
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‘Good night’ or ‘bedtime’, Alexa routines now support multiple phrases

Alexa routines now support up to seven custom phrases. | Image: Thomas Ricker / The Verge Alexa routines can now be triggered using multiple custom phrases making it easier for everyone in a household to initiate smart home automations without having to remember the exact wording (via AFTVnews).
For example, instead of having to remember to say “Alexa, good night” to kick off a nighttime routine that locks the doors and shuts off the lights, you can now assign additional phrases like “Alexa, bedtime” or “Alexa, night night.” You can even add “Alexa, bonne nuit” to the same routine thanks to Amazon’s support for multilingual households. Up to seven custom phrases can be assigned to the same routine.
It’s a small but welcome change for smart homes built around Alexa. It follows a big week for Alexa, where we saw it get a m…
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