The Perfect Movie and TV Themed Getaways for Geeky Romantics

From Stranger Things to Barbie, Disney fairytales, and a Halloweentown of your own—various creative destinations have undertaken the task of transporting guests into their own movie moments. This includes the pink-on-pink mid-century vibes at Palm Springs’ Trixie Motel, and thethemed rooms at Disney Parks’Disneyland…

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X let terrorist groups pay for verification, report says

X has allowed dozens of sanctioned individuals and groups to pay for its premium service, according to a new report from the Tech Transparency Project (TTP). The report raises questions about whether X is running afoul of US sanctions.

The report found 28 verified accounts belonging to people and groups the US government considers to be a national security threat. The group includes two leaders of Hezbollah, accounts associated with Houthis in Yemen and state-run media accounts from Iran and Russia. Of those, 18 of the accounts were verified after X began charging for verification last spring.

“The fact that X requires users to pay a monthly or annual fee for premium service suggests that X is engaging in financial transactions with these accounts, a potential violation of U.S. sanctions,” the report says. As the TTP points out, X’s own policies state that sanctioned individuals are prohibited from paying for premium services. Some of the accounts identified by the TTP also had ads in their replies, according to the group, “raising the possibility that they could be profiting from X’s revenue-sharing program.”

Changing up Twitter’s verification policy was one of the most significant changes implemented by Elon Musk after he took over the company. Under the new rules, anyone can pay for a blue checkmark if they subscribe to X Premium. X doesn’t require users to submit identification, and the company has at times scrambled to shut down impersonators.

X also offers gold checkmarks to advertisers as part of its “verified organizations” tier, which starts at $200 a month. The TTP report found that accounts belonging to Iran’s Press TV and Russia’s Tinkoff Bank — both sanctioned entities — had gold checks. X has also given away gold checks to at least 10,000 companies. As the report points out, even giving away the gold badge to sanctioned groups could violate US government policies.

X didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but it appears that the company has removed verification from some of the accounts named in the TTP’s report. “X, formerly known as Twitter, has removed the blue check and suspended the paid subscriptions of several Iranian outlets,” Press TV tweeted from its account, which still has a gold check. The Hezbollah leaders’ accounts are also no longer verified.

In a statement shared by the company’s @Safety account, X said that it was reviewing the TTP report and would “take action if necessary.” 

“X has a robust and secure approach in place for our monetization features, adhering to legal obligations, along with independent screening by our payments providers,” the company wrote. “Several of the accounts listed in the Tech Transparency Report are not directly named on sanction lists, while some others may have visible account check marks without receiving any services that would be subject to sanctions.”

Update February 14, 2024, 4:52 PM ET: This story has been updated to include a statement from X.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/x-let-terrorist-groups-pay-for-verification-report-says-201254824.html?src=rss

Denis Villeneuve Had a Blast Building the Dune Lego

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PSA: Friday's the Last Day to Return Your Apple Vision Pro

This month, Apple released its first truly anticipated product in years, the Apple Vision Pro. It’s a groundbreaking device, with some of the best hardware specs and the most impressive performance of any commercial headset ever released. It’s also a $3,500 toy, one that an untold number of people seem to regret…

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X let terrorist groups pay for verification, report says

X has allowed dozens of sanctioned individuals and groups to pay for its premium service, according to a new report from the Tech Transparency Project (TTP). The report raises questions about whether X is running afoul of US sanctions.

The report found 28 verified accounts belonging to people and groups the US government considers to be a national security threat. The group includes two leaders of Hezbollah, accounts associated with Houthis in Yemen and state-run media accounts from Iran and Russia. Of those, 18 of the accounts were verified after X began charging for verification last spring.

“The fact that X requires users to pay a monthly or annual fee for premium service suggests that X is engaging in financial transactions with these accounts, a potential violation of U.S. sanctions,” the report says. As the TTP points out, X’s own policies state that sanctioned individuals are prohibited from paying for premium services. Some of the accounts identified by the TTP also had ads in their replies, according to the group, “raising the possibility that they could be profiting from X’s revenue-sharing program.”

Changing up Twitter’s verification policy was one of the most significant changes implemented by Elon Musk after he took over the company. Under the new rules, anyone can pay for a blue checkmark if they subscribe to X Premium. X doesn’t require users to submit identification, and the company has at times scrambled to shut down impersonators.

X also offers gold checkmarks to advertisers as part of its “verified organizations” tier, which starts at $200 a month. The TTP report found that accounts belonging to Iran’s Press TV and Russia’s Tinkoff Bank — both sanctioned entities — had gold checks. X has also given away gold checks to at least 10,000 companies. As the report points out, even giving away the gold badge to sanctioned groups could violate US government policies.

X didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but it appears that the company has removed verification from some of the accounts named in the TTP’s report. “X, formerly known as Twitter, has removed the blue check and suspended the paid subscriptions of several Iranian outlets,” Press TV tweeted from its account, which still has a gold check. The Hezbollah leaders’ accounts are also no longer verified.

In a statement shared by the company’s @Safety account, X said that it was reviewing the TTP report and would “take action if necessary.” 

“X has a robust and secure approach in place for our monetization features, adhering to legal obligations, along with independent screening by our payments providers,” the company wrote. “Several of the accounts listed in the Tech Transparency Report are not directly named on sanction lists, while some others may have visible account check marks without receiving any services that would be subject to sanctions.”

Update February 14, 2024, 4:52 PM ET: This story has been updated to include a statement from X.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/x-let-terrorist-groups-pay-for-verification-report-says-201254824.html?src=rss

What if Kenner's Classic Star Wars Toys Kept Going?

Two years after Star Wars (as we then knew it) came to an end with the release of Return of the Jedi, Star Wars merchandise seemingly followed. In 1985, as sales declined, Kenner closed out its Star Wars action figure line after seven years—but Star Wars nearly lived on in what could’ve been the earliest glimpses of…

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10 Nerdy Movies to Stream on Valentine's Day

It’s that time of year again! Nerdy romance is in the air, and io9 is here to share 10 movies easily found on streaming services that make for perfect Valentine’s Day viewing. As always, you won’t find any standard rom-coms here; we’re bringing sci-fi, fantasy, and horror into the mix.

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This Guy Made a Dating App Where You Can Only Date Him

“I’d never really done the online dating thing,” Los Mayers said. Mayers, an app developer living in Brooklyn, had met all of his previous partners in person the old-fashioned way. But last summer, his ex broke up with him, and newly single, he decided to give online romance a shake. Mayers spent a month on Hinge. He…

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X let terrorist groups pay for verification, report says

X has allowed dozens of sanctioned individuals and groups to pay for its premium service, according to a new report from the Tech Transparency Project (TTP). The report raises questions about whether X is running afoul of US sanctions.

The report found 28 verified accounts belonging to people and groups the US government considers to be a national security threat. The group includes two leaders of Hezbollah, accounts associated with Houthis in Yemen and state-run media accounts from Iran and Russia. Of those, 18 of the accounts were verified after X began charging for verification last spring.

“The fact that X requires users to pay a monthly or annual fee for premium service suggests that X is engaging in financial transactions with these accounts, a potential violation of U.S. sanctions,” the report says. As the TTP points out, X’s own policies state that sanctioned individuals are prohibited from paying for premium services. Some of the accounts identified by the TTP also had ads in their replies, according to the group, “raising the possibility that they could be profiting from X’s revenue-sharing program.”

Changing up Twitter’s verification policy was one of the most significant changes implemented by Elon Musk after he took over the company. Under the new rules, anyone can pay for a blue checkmark if they subscribe to X Premium. X doesn’t require users to submit identification, and the company has at times scrambled to shut down impersonators.

X also offers gold checkmarks to advertisers as part of its “verified organizations” tier, which starts at $200 a month. The TTP report found that accounts belonging to Iran’s Press TV and Russia’s Tinkoff Bank — both sanctioned entities — had gold checks. X has also given away gold checks to at least 10,000 companies. As the report points out, even giving away the gold badge to sanctioned groups could violate US government policies.

X didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but it appears that the company has removed verification from some of the accounts named in the TTP’s report. “X, formerly known as Twitter, has removed the blue check and suspended the paid subscriptions of several Iranian outlets,” Press TV tweeted from its account, which still has a gold check. The Hezbollah leaders’ accounts are also no longer verified.

In a statement shared by the company’s @Safety account, X said that it was reviewing the TTP report and would “take action if necessary.” 

“X has a robust and secure approach in place for our monetization features, adhering to legal obligations, along with independent screening by our payments providers,” the company wrote. “Several of the accounts listed in the Tech Transparency Report are not directly named on sanction lists, while some others may have visible account check marks without receiving any services that would be subject to sanctions.”

Update February 14, 2024, 4:52 PM ET: This story has been updated to include a statement from X.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/x-let-terrorist-groups-pay-for-verification-report-says-201254824.html?src=rss

Sony wants its PlayStation exclusives to come to PC earlier

Sony may shrink the gap between the launches of its PlayStation exclusives and PC ports. Company president Hiroki Totoki suggested in a post-earnings call Q&A session Wednesday (via VGC) that he wants PlayStation to go “aggressive on improving our margin performance,” with “multi-platform” games playing a significant role. He clarified in the talk that, by multi-platform, he meant on PlayStation and PC — not Xbox or Switch.

When asked about Sony’s profits not keeping up with increasing gross income, he said hardware and first-party games were two areas of focus. He noted that hardware cost reduction this console cycle was “difficult to come by,” suggesting we won’t see any permanent console price drops.

“I personally think there are opportunities out there for improvement of margin, so I would like to go aggressive on improving our margin performance,” he continued. Totoki hinted one way to get there is to cash in more on its (often critically acclaimed and commercially successful) PlayStation Studios titles, like Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and God of War: Ragnarok.

“In the past, we wanted to popularize consoles, and a first-party title’s main purpose was to make the console popular,” Totoki said in the Q&A. “This is true, but there’s a synergy to it, so if you have strong first-party content — not only on our console but also other platforms, like computers — a first-party [game] can be grown with multi-platform, and that can help operating profit to improve, so that’s another one we want to proactively work on.”

Screen from The Last of Us Part I. Joel and Ellie walk among abandoned cars in an abandoned small town.
The Last of Us Part I
Naughty Dog / Sony

That’s a clear shift from PlayStation Studios head Herman Hulst’s thoughts in 2022. He said then that PC gamers would have to wait “at least a year” before seeing first-party PlayStation games (minus live service titles) on their computers. God of War (2018) and the first Marvel’s Spider-Man had about a four-year gap between their PS4 and PC launches. The latter’s Miles Morales spin-off saw about a two-year turnaround.

On February 8, Sony launched Helldivers 2 on PS5 and Windows simultaneously. VGC notes the game led to PlayStation Studios’ highest concurrent Steam player count — beating God of War (2018), The Last of Us Part I and Horizon Zero Dawn. Helldivers 2 was developed by Arrowhead Games with Sony Interactive Entertainment publishing.

It isn’t clear if Totoki meant we can expect future PlayStation tentpoles like the upcoming Wolverine game or the ever-popular Spider-Man, God of War or various Naughty Dog franchises to appear on PC on the same day as console. But a strategy shift is underway regardless, and Totoki will have the leverage to put the plan into action: He takes over for Jim Ryan as interim CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment in April.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sony-wants-its-playstation-exclusives-to-come-to-pc-earlier-212001939.html?src=rss