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Suicide Challenge Momo is Gaining Popularity: Kaspersky Lab

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A disturbing ‘suicide challenge’ game that is targeting young WhatsApp users has triggered several warnings to parents after being linked to the death of a 12-year-old girl in South America. Momo is the latest online challenge that pits children against anonymous users, who may spur them to commit violent or suicidal acts. The premise of the game is to challenge teens to communicate with an unknown user, who will send them violent and disturbing photos along with continuous threats if they do not comply with the commands and tasks, which are to be completed within a particular timeframe.

The game has spread like wildfire across social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and particularly WhatsApp. It has also been likened to ‘Blue Whale’, another suicide game that gained notoriety earlier this year, and claimed the lives of many children across Arab countries.

Commenting on this new threat, Mohammad Amin Hasbini, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab, urged parents to always be vigilant in monitoring their children’s behaviour and online activities, and who they are in communication with. This is especially critical during summertime, as with schools closed and fewer outdoor activities due to the heat, there is a marked increase in the average time that children and teens spend on their devices.

“Luckily, there are security solutions and parental control programs that can be used to monitor a child’s activity on the internet, or how much time they are spending online. However, parents should always pay close attention to any abnormal signs their child might exhibit. Some of the warning signs are poor academic performance or low concentration, sudden changes in mood, increased usage of devices at night, a sharp increase or decrease in the number of “online friends”, the appearance of “friends” with a noticeable age difference, and even the sudden deletion of their presence on social networks. Moreover, becoming aggressive, depressed, or even prone to self-harm, having less enthusiasm about things or activities they love, providing shorter answers in conversation, or showing other noticeable differences in interaction and personality can also be considered as signs.  Parents should take these signs seriously and not dismiss anything,” said Hasbini.

Although authorities are making an effort to restrict access to harmful games and content, new sources spring up equally rapidly, and it is impossible to shut down every source of the threat. There are steps parents can take to minimize the risk their children might face online:

  • Talk to them about potential threats from their online activity.
  • Get involved in your child’s online life from an early age, so she or he accepts this and gets used to you being around and active.
  • Engage in conversations about their online lives, so they feel comfortable telling you if they feel confused or sense danger.
  • The “Oversharing” phenomenon is quite common today. Children might not fully understand the threat in sharing everything online, so it’s crucial you talk to them about the dangers of oversharing in a friendly and easily-understood manner.
  • Establish a straightforward code of conduct for online activities. Always explain honestly why this is important. This code should be revisited for necessary changes as your child grows.
  • Teach your children to caution about their personal life and sharing it on social networks. If necessary, get involved to apply privacy settings that would keep their private information visible only to close friends and family.
  • Welcome the exchange of experiences: you might be more aware of online threats but your kids might be more tech-savvy. Share information and experiences and learn from each other.
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YouTube Announces New Ways for Creators to Make Money

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YouTube has introduced the next chapter in rewarding creativity on the platform. At its inaugural Made on YouTube event, YouTube shared that it’s expanding the platform’s monetization system, the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), to allow more creators to join the program, introducing new ways for creators to earn revenue through Shorts, and re-imagining the music industry and creator dynamic by opening up ads monetization for those who feature music in their videos.

Today’s announcement reflects the diversity of the platform’s growing creator community and allows its over 2M monetizing creators to make money on YouTube across any creative format. Today’s key announcement includes:

Expanding access to YPP: Starting in early 2023, Shorts-focused creators can apply to YPP by meeting a threshold of 1K subscribers and 10M Shorts views over 90 days. These new partners will enjoy all the benefits YPP offers, including ads monetization across Shorts and long-form YouTube videos. This is another option to the existing criteria where long-form creators can still apply to YPP when they reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. Creators can choose the one option that best fits their channel while YouTube maintains the same level of brand safety for advertisers. To support creators who are early in their YouTube journey, YouTube will also introduce a new level of YPP with lower requirements that will offer earlier access to Fan Funding features like Super Thanks, Super Chat, Super Stickers, and Channel Memberships.

Introducing a first-of-its-kind revenue sharing model for Shorts: With 30B+ daily views and 1.5B+ monthly logged-in users, Shorts are exploding around the world. To reward this new creative class, beginning in early 2023, we’ll be moving away from a fixed fund and doubling down on a unique revenue-sharing model for Shorts for both current and future YPP creators. Because ads run between videos in the Shorts Feed, every month, revenue from these ads will be added together and used to reward Shorts creators and help cover costs of music licensing. From the overall amount allocated to creators, they will keep 45% of the revenue, distributed based on their share of total Shorts views. The revenue share remains the same, no matter if they use music or not.

Launching Creator Music: The complexities of music licensing has meant that most long-form videos that feature music don’t result in creators being paid. To build a bridge between the music industry and creators, YouTube is introducing Creator Music, a new destination that gives creators easy access to an ever-growing catalog of music for use in their videos, while providing artists and music rights holders with a new revenue stream for their music on YouTube. Creators can now buy affordable, high-quality music licenses that offer them full monetizing potential—they will keep the same revenue share they’d usually make on videos without any music. And for creators who don’t want to buy a license up front, they’ll be able to use songs and share revenue with the track’s artist and associated rights holders. Creator Music is currently in beta in the U.S. will expand to more countries in 2023.

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, said, “The YouTube Partner Program was revolutionary when we launched it back in 2007, and it’s still revolutionary today. Over the last three years, YouTube has paid creators, artists, and media companies more than $50 billion dollars. That $50 billion dollars has changed the lives of creators around the world and enabled new voices and stories to be told. But we’re not done yet. When we introduced the YouTube Partner Program, we made a big bet: we succeed only when our creators succeed. And today, we’re doubling down. We’re introducing the next chapter in how we reward creativity on our platform by expanding access to our YouTube Partner program.”

Neal Mohan, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer, said, “YouTube’s first-of-its-kind, industry-leading Partner Program changed the game for long-form video. And now we’re changing the game again, this time by opening it up to Short-form creators and introducing revenue sharing to Shorts. This is the first time revenue sharing is being offered for short-form video on any platform at scale, adding to the 10 ways creators can already earn revenue on YouTube. It’ll be available to all of those in YPP — including the new, mobile-first creators, who will be joining the program for the first time.”

Pedro Pina, YouTube’s VP of Europe, Middle East & Africa, said, “This is a pivotal moment for both YouTube & the creative ecosystem. In times of uncertainty, we’re bringing even more revenue opportunities to more creators and artists across more formats than ever – all of this is helping turbocharge an already healthy video ecosystem in MENA.”

Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s Global Head of Music, said, “Creator Music is the future. We’re building the bridge between artists and creators on YouTube to elevate the soundtrack of the creator economy; it’s a win-win-win for artists, songwriters, creators and fans. With Creator Music, artists have a new way to get their music out into the world; fans can now discover music they love on their favorite creator’s channels, and both creators and artists will have new revenue opportunities.”

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Snap Unveils New Dual Camera Feature

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Snap Inc. has announced the availability of its newest and highly-anticipated feature – Dual Camera on the Snapchat platform. Starting today, the new Dual Camera mode will enable Snapchatters to create content using their front and back-facing cameras simultaneously. To be made available globally on iOS and later on Android, Dual Camera will expand the choices Snapchatters have to express themselves.

Dual Camera was announced earlier this year as a part of Director Mode, Snapchat’s new creator camera. To bring even more visibility and spontaneity to the tool, Dual Camera features prominently on Snapchat, with a new icon to activate the feature in the camera toolbar when users open the app. With one simple tap, Snapchatters can start creating Snaps and Stories, or more polished Spotlight videos, with double the perspective. Dual Camera will still be available in Director Mode alongside Green Screen, Camera Speed, and Jump Cut, slated to launch in the coming months.

Whether it is capturing exciting moments like rocking out at a music festival, everyday moments like real-time reactions to your favorite reality TV show with your best friends or trying your partner’s latest attempt at cooking, Dual Camera is a tool for everyone. It will have four layouts: vertical, horizontal, picture in picture, and cutout. Snapchatters will also be able to add their favorite Snapchat creative tools, including music, stickers and lenses. At launch, Dual Camera will support Lenses in post-capture, with capture mode capabilities to follow in the coming months.

Snapchat was founded on the idea that the camera supports real friendship through visual communication, self-expression and storytelling. Today, its camera is one of the most used cameras in the world. To support its community, Snap has a reward program for Spotlight creators in which it makes available millions of dollars to eligible Snapchatters who create the top Spotlight Snaps.

Here’s how you can use the Dual Camera feature:

·         Step 1: Open Snapchat

·         Step 2: Locate a new icon in the camera toolbar

·         Step 3: Tap on it to activate the feature and start creating Snaps and Stories.

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Huawei Encourages Developers to Build Socially Impactful Applications

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Blind Assistant, a mobile app developed by a team of Tunisian engineers, help the visually impaired and blind community to recognise objects, texts, and colours around them using the integrated voice-over features in the app. The tech giant introduced a ‘Best Social Impact’ category as part of the Huawei Global App Innovation Contest (Apps UP), in order to facilitate the development of experiences such as Blind Assistant that positively impact communities.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 2.2 billion people worldwide have near or far vision impairment. The differently-abled can have lower rates of workforce participation and productivity. The app’s goal is to make visually impaired individuals more independent by assisting them in identifying objects, faces, colours, and texts with the tap of a button. A visually impaired person can use Blind Assistant to easily orient themselves, eliminating the need for a visual embossed print.

“We were inspired to work on the ‘Blind Assistant’ project once we learned about Apps UP in 2021. We worked on integrating with the HMS Ecosystem and were able to launch the app on time for the competition,” said the developers of Blind Assistant Kassis Bassem and Wajih Sakka. “Since its inception, Blind Assistant played an important role in assisting the visually impaired community by enhancing their communication abilities daily.”

“Technology can play a significant role in positively influencing the community, and we are thrilled to see how mobile apps are benefiting consumers. Huawei’s Apps UP competition acts as a catalyst for the development of creative mobile apps, and Blind Assistant – the winner of the Best Social Impact App in 2021, is a testament to that fact. The app effectively demonstrates how mobile apps can promote inclusivity in the community and serve the underserved”, said, Lu Geng, Vice President of the Middle East and Africa, Huawei Global Partnerships & Eco-Development, Huawei Consumer Business Group.

Blind Assistant, is available to download via AppGallery, the default application marketplace for Huawei smart devices. Apps UP 2022 has a cash prize pool of $230,000 for Middle Eastern and African developers, with individual prize amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. Categories include the best HMS Innovation Award, Best App, Best Game, Best Social Impact App, All-Scenario Coverage Award, Tech Women’s Award, Student Innovation Award, and the newly introduced Best Arabic App. The Tech Women’s Award is open to teams with at least one female developer who is a pivotal team member or leader.

Developers can enter multiple categories and submit more than one app to boost their winning chances. To register and learn more about the Huawei Global App Innovation Contest (Apps UP), please email appsup.mea@huawei.com or visit the official Apps UP 2022 MEA page.

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