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The alleged gunman behind the attack in Buffalo, New York that left 10 dead and three injured on Saturday used Discord to discuss and share plans ahead of the assault, according to Bloomberg.
As far back as December, the suspect is reported to have used a private server on the popular chat service to describe his intentions to carry out an attack. He later shared links to Discord logs describing his attack plan and white supremacist views, according to Bloomberg. The report says that the suspect mentioned the terrorist who attacked a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand more than 30 times and used racist slurs and extremist phrases while in the app.
“As soon as we became aware of it we took action against it and removed the server in accordance with our policies against violent extremism,” a Discord spokesperson told Bloomberg. The company did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for more information on its moderation policies.
Discord’s moderation team “splits its time” between responding to user-reported messages and “proactively finding and removing servers and users” engaged in “high-harm activity,” the company wrote in 2021. That approach to moderation was created after Discord learned that white supremacists had used its app to organize the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
“Trust & Safety has spent a lot of time since 2017 trying to ensure that another event like Charlottesville isn’t planned on our platform,” the company wrote last year.
As recently as 2019, Discord was primarily relying on user reports to moderate its platform and not actively monitoring private or public servers, according to a PC Gamer story from that year. The company’s moderation team does have the ability to read messages from private servers, the story said, but Discord typically only did so when a message was reported by a user.
Saturday’s attack is being investigated as a hate crime, Buffalo police have said. CNN reports that the suspect, identified as Payton S. Gendron, told authorities he was targeting a Black community; 11 of the people shot were Black.
The suspect is also alleged to have used Discord to plan to livestream the attack. Video of the assault was broadcast live on Twitch, which claims to have stopped the stream “less than two minutes after the violence began.” Even so, footage has continued to spread online as major platforms struggle to crack down on new uploads of the horrific footage.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, Google’s chief people officer Fiona Cicconi sent a staff-wide email to employees on Friday informing them of Google’s response to the ruling. Among other things, the email states that Googlers that they can “apply for relocation without justification,” and that people in charge of the relocation process “will be aware of the situation” in assessing their requests.
The Supreme Court’s ruling does not make abortion illegal throughout the US — instead, it leaves the decision up to individual states. A number of states have immediately restricted abortion rights, including Louisiana, Missouri and Kentucky. Other states, including California, where Google is headquartered, have vowed to protect abortion rights within their borders.
Here’s the letter in full:
This morning the US Supreme Court issued a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that rolls back Roe v. Wade.
This is a profound change for the country that deeply affects so many of us, especially women. Everyone will respond in their own way, whether that’s wanting space and time to process, speaking up, volunteering outside of work, not wanting to discuss it at all, or something else entirely. Please be mindful of what your co-workers may be feeling and, as always, treat each other with respect.
Equity is extraordinarily important to us as a company, and we share concerns about the impact this ruling will have on people’s health, lives, and careers. We will keep working to make information on reproductive healthcare accessible across our products and continue our work to protect user privacy.
To support Googlers and their dependents, our US benefits plan and health insurance covers out-of-state medical procedures that are not available where an employee lives and works. Googlers can also apply for relocation without justification, and those overseeing this process will be aware of the situation. If you need additional support, please connect 1:1 with a People Consultant via [link to internal tool redacted].
We will be arranging support sessions for Googlers in the US in the coming days. These will be posted to Googler News.
Please don’t hesitate to lean on your Google community in the days ahead and continue to take good care of yourselves and each other.
The Verge has reached out to Google to clarify whether the relocation policy is new, or if it’s be changed due to the Supreme Court’s decision. We will update this story if we hear back.
Flo, one of the most widely used period tracking apps, says it intends to launch a new in an effort to address privacy concerns in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. “We will soon be launching an ‘Anonymous Mode’ that removes your personal identity from your Flo account, so that no one can identify you,” the company said in a statement shared on Twitter.
It’s not clear how this will work or when it might launch. We’ve reached out to Flo for more details on “anonymous mode.”
Period tracking apps have come under particular ever since a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked last month. Privacy advocates and legal experts have that data collected by period tracking apps, which is often shared with other entities, could be used to fuel investigations into people seeking abortion services. News of the Supreme Court’s decision led to renewed calls on social media for people to delete period tracking apps from their phones and remove their personal details from the services.
Notably, Flo itself has a messy history when it comes to protecting users’ privacy. The app came under fire after The Wall Street Journal reported the app was sharing users’ sensitive information, including details about their menstrual cycles and if they were trying to get pregnant, with Facebook, Google and other third-parties.
The company reached with the FTC in 2021 over allegations it misled users about how their data was handled. Flo said at the time that the settlement “was not an admission of any wrongdoing.” The company said in in May that it had “successfully completed” an independent privacy audit that was a requirement of the settlement.
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T-Mobile’s advertising business is offering a new way for marketers to pry into your app-using habits. Ad Exchanger reports that the un-carrier’s new program is called App Insights, and it’s now fully operational after spending a year in beta. The program allows third-party marketers to buy T-Mobile customer data and centers around a key piece of information that it has unique access to: what apps you use.
Customer data is anonymized, and it’s pooled together with others of similar interests and behaviors, so companies can’t buy a specific user’s app history. Still, it’s creepy. The company’s advertising segment touts this offering loud and clear on its website, with the phrase “Apps speak louder than words” splashed across the top of the page. It also invites prospective clients to “leverage app insights, the strongest indicator of consumer intent.” That’s gross. Thankfully, you can opt out.
T-Mobile offers an Android and iOS app called “Magenta Marketing Platform Choices” that allows you to see which companies have your data and opt out entirely. You can also use App Choices if you don’t want to, you know, download a T-Mobile app to opt out of T-Mobile app tracking. According to Ad Exchanger, iOS users are excluded from the program even if they’ve opted in to app tracking.
This kind of creepy behavior from carriers isn’t new, and it’s not likely to get better. With companies like Google and Apple allowing people to opt out of tracking more easily, marketers are looking for different ways to peek into your online habits. Wireless carriers have eagerly jumped in to provide that information, and T-Mobile is only the latest to do so.
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