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Ethiopia is building its own social media platforms to rival Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp




Ethiopia will soon launch its own social media platform to rival Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, the state communications security agency said on Monday.

In June, days before national elections, Facebook said it had removed a network of fake accounts in the country of 112 million that targeted domestic users, according to a report by Business Insider.

Facebook said the fake accounts were linked to individuals associated with the Ethiopian government. Facebook, however, refused to comment on Shumete’s accusations.

Speaking on the development, Shumete told Reuters that the agency wants to reduce reliance on foreign technology firms that meddle in the country’s politics. However, it does not plan to block the global services. He added that Ethiopia drew inspiration from China, which bars US social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, encouraging citizens to use homemade alternatives.

Ethiopia’s cracking down in Tigray.

On November 4th, 2020, the observatory NetBlocks released network data from Ethiopia confirming an Internet disruption in the Tigray region. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of a military campaign against Tigrayan rebels on Facebook and Twitter, and in the hours that followed, phone lines and Internet access across the country were shut down.

With the start of the war, it was in the government’s interest to maintain total control over the narrative. However, several human rights groups have criticised the Ethiopian government for unexplained shutdowns of Internet services. They cited many economic and humanitarian concerns contributing to the gradual worsening of the situation on the ground, adding that the war has destabilised the populous country in the Horn of Africa, leaving thousands of people dead with 350,000 others living in famine conditions.

Shumete declined to comment on a timeline, budget and other details about the country’s progress on the social media platforms. However, he told Reuters, “The rationale behind developing technology with local capacity is clear … Why do you think China is using WeChat?”

He also said Ethiopia had the local expertise to develop the platforms and would not hire outsiders to help.



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Science and Technology

Why you will not be able to send nudity on Instagram




Instagram is testing a new way to filter out unsolicited nude messages sent over direct messages, confirming reports of the development posted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi earlier this week. The images indicated Instagram was working on technology that would cover up photos that may contain nudity but noted that the company would not be able to access the photos itself, TechCrunch is reporting.


The development was first reported by The Verge and Instagram confirmed the feature to TechCrunch. The company said the feature is in the early stages of development and it’s not testing this yet.

“We’re developing a set of optional user controls to help people protect themselves from unwanted DMs, like photos containing nudity,” Meta spokesperson Liz Fernandez told TechCrunch. “This technology doesn’t allow Meta to see anyone’s private messages, nor are they shared with us or anyone else. We’re working closely with experts to ensure these new features preserve people’s privacy while giving them control over the messages they receive,” she added.

Screenshots of the feature posted by Paluzzi suggest that Instagram will process all images for this feature on the device, so nothing is sent to its servers. Plus, you can choose to see the photo if you think it’s from a trusted person. When the feature rolls it out widely, it will be an optional setting for users who want to weed out messages with nude photos.

Last year, Instagram launched DM controls to enable keyword-based filters that work with abusive words, phrases and emojis. Earlier this year, the company introduced a “Sensitive Content” filter that keeps certain kinds of content — including nudity and graphical violence — out of the users’ experience.

Social media has badly grappled with the problem of unsolicited nude photos. While some apps like Bumble have tried tools like AI-powered blurring for this problem, the likes of Twitter have struggled with catching child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and non-consensual nudity at scale.

Because of the lack of solid steps from platforms, lawmakers have been forced to look at this issue with a stern eye. For instance, the UK’s upcoming Online Safety Bill aims to make cyber flashing a crime. Last month, California passed a rule that allows receivers of unsolicited graphical material to sue the senders. Texas passed a law on cyber flashing in 2019, counting it as a “misdemeanor” and resulting in a fine of up to $500.

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Science and Technology

Kenya is experiencing a massive tech brain drain within its own borders




Local tech companies in Kenya now find it challenging to recruit high-level employees. This is a result of the brain drain happening within the borders of this country, a report by Business Insider Africa show. Tech conglomerates such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are attracting the country’s best techies.

These multinationals have much higher pay grades and as such most Kenyan tech professionals are opting to work for them.

Also, an expansion of these companies operations within the country, which has prompted massive recruitment, is presenting Kenyans with financial opportunities they simply can’t turn down.

In this case, the figures tell the whole story. These big tech corporations are offering up to Ksh1.8 million ($15,037) monthly for principal tech specialists, Ksh300,000 ($2,506) to junior tech developers, Ksh500,000 ($4,177) for mid-level techies and between Ksh800,000 ($6,683) and Ksh1.3 million ($10,860) for lead and senior roles.

Major telecommunications companies and financial institutions, which have a history of being the best paying firms, have steadily lost their best talents to these tech giants.

Smaller companies in Kenya such as Wasoko, Flocash, Twiga foods, Lori Systems, and Sendy, who had invested in and trained young engineers, have lost their talents to the multinationals.

CEO of the WPP Scangroup, Patricia Ithau, said; “You know, what’s happening in this market across all of us. We have some people called Microsoft, Amazon, Google who are just mopping up our developers.”

He also noted that the solution to the problem may be to develop more talent that could serve the entire industry.

“We have a program we recruit from the university two, three months, they come in from college, and you offer them a hundred. Google tells them two hundred, there’s nothing you’re going to do. They’re going to go. And then they go from Google. Microsoft offers them three hundred, they’ll move. So until we start creating a lot more talent, it is the way of the world.” He concluded.

Tech giants like Google and Microsoft are notorious for sourcing the best talents across the globe. The high demand for their products and services calls for the best hands to be on deck. As a result, these companies spare no expense when looking for employees to join their organizations.

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Science and Technology

These are the best car phone mounts and chargers

These mobile accessories will make your smartphone a better—and safer—road trip companion.




Whether you use your phone for navigation, music, or podcasts—or are just bringing it along for the ride—the right accessories can make it the perfect passenger. A good car mount will keep it within easy reach and in view, so you don’t need to dangerously fumble for your handset and take your eyes off the road. You’ll also want to keep your device charged. We have tested a range of mounts, chargers, and other accessories that might be useful for your daily commutes.

Looking for more? Drivers should also consider putting together a Car Emergency Kit and checking out our Best Travel Mugs guide to round out the driving experience.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

First, Stay Safe

What to Consider With Car Mounts and Accessories

Before we get started here, there are a couple of things you need to think about.

Mount placement: Wherever you place your phone mount, it’s vital to ensure it does not obstruct your view of the road. Many mounts allow for dash or windshield placement, but you should check your local laws. (It’s illegal to attach mounts to the windshield in many US states.)

Cable placement: Think about where cables will run, and use cables just long enough to prevent tangles and excess. (Read our Best USB-C Cables guide for some recommendations.) Consider how to keep the end of the cable handy. (The best mounts have cable management for this purpose.) If you are using a dashcam, they usually come with a small tool you can use to push the cable into the seams of your car’s interior panels to tuck it away. That can work for charging cables too.

Keep your eyes on the road: Whether setting up navigation, picking a playlist, or doing anything that requires your attention, do it before you start driving. Once you’re on the road, use voice commands or have a passenger deal with any issues, and keep your focus on the road. Distracted driving leads to thousands of deaths every year.

A Dash Mount

iOttie Easy One Touch 5

What I like best about this phone mount is that you can use it one-handed. Adjust the bottom feet, and when you place your phone against the trigger button, the arms automatically close around it. To remove, simply press the release bars. The telescopic arm allows you to tweak the placement, and the ball joint makes it easy to set an ideal angle. This thoughtful design carries to your charging cable as well—there’s a magnetic tab you can attach to the end of your charging cord so it sticks to the back of the mount (so you don’t have to fish around for it).

In my testing, the base with the locking suction cup was very secure, even on bumpy terrain. The downside? Removing the adhesive pad from my dashboard was tricky.


A Wireless Charging Mount

iOttie Wireless Car Charger

This is the mount in my car now, and it maintains everything that’s good about iOttie’s previous mount but adds wireless charging support. You can get it with the suction cup for the dashboard or opt for a CD slot or air vent mount. It closes automatically around your phone, has adjustable feet, a rotating ball joint to angle your phone, and a quick-release bar that pokes out on both sides. The Qi wireless charging can deliver 10 watts to an Android phone or 7.5 watts to an iPhone, and your phone automatically charges when you place it in the mount and start the car. You’ll want to make sure your smartphone supports wireless charging in the first place.

All you’ll need to do is plug the supplied cable into your car’s power socket, and the other end goes into a MicroUSB port on the bottom of the mount. The car socket end handily includes a second USB-A port you can use to charge another device.


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