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Twitter suspends account tracking Elon Musk’s jet



(Last Updated On: December 15, 2022)

Twitter Inc suspended an account tracking its owner Elon Musk’s private jet in real-time, with the billionaire threatening legal action against the account’s operator after saying his son had been mistakenly followed by a “crazy stalker”.

The suspension comes just a month after Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion in October, said his commitment to free speech extended to not banning the account, Reuters reported.

ElonJet, operated by 20-year-old university student Jack Sweeney, had tracked the movements of Musk’s private jet using data available in the public domain before the suspension.

Sweeney’s other accounts were also suspended at the time of reporting.

Twitter and Sweeney did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comments.

Musk had said in a tweet in November that his commitment to free speech “extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk”.

On Wednesday, Musk said: “Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation.”

“Doxxing” is the public release of sensitive information identifying an individual or organization, such as a home address or phone number.

“Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok,” Musk said.

The billionaire also tweeted that one of his sons, lil X, had been harassed, and linked it to the tracking accounts.

“Last night, car carrying lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood,” he said.

“Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family.”

Sweeney, a student at the University of Central Florida, who also operates similar bot accounts tracking Musk’s jet on Facebook, Instagram and Telegram, told BuzzFeed the suspension is “a surprise to many people after he publicly said he wouldn’t do it.”

“It just shows that they can play the rules however they want to, really, for whoever they want,” he said.

Separately, Twitter accounts tracking the jets of billionaire tech entrepreneurs Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates were also suspended.

Science & Technology

TikTok hits 150 mln U.S. monthly users, up from 100 million in 2020



(Last Updated On: March 21, 2023)

TikTok said on Monday the short-video sharing app now has 150 million monthly active users in the United States, up from 100 million it said it had in 2020, Reuters reported.

The Chinese-owned app confirmed the figure ahead of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s testimony set for Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

On Friday, six more U.S. senators backed bipartisan legislation to give President Joe Biden new powers to ban TikTok on national security grounds. Last week, TikTok said the Biden administration demanded that its Chinese owners divest their stake in the app or it could face a U.S. ban.

The app faces growing pressure in Washington including calls to ban the app by many in Congress who fear its U.S. user data could fall into the hands of China’s government. TikTok said in September 2021 that globally it had more than 1 billion monthly users.

Senate Intelligence Committee chair Mark Warner, who is cosponsoring legislation to give the administration more powers to ban TikTok, said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that he did not think TikTok U.S. data was safe.

“This notional idea that the data can be made safe under (Chinese Communist Party) law, just doesn’t, doesn’t pass the smell test.”

TikTok said it has spent more than $1.5 billion on rigorous data security efforts, rejects spying allegations and said “if protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access.”

The new figures are a sign of the app’s wide popularity especially among younger Americans. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Bloomberg News there could be political ramifications to banning TikTok. “The politician in me thinks you’re gonna literally lose every voter under 35, forever,” she said.

According to Reuters some TikTok content creators will come to Washington this week to make the case why the app should not be banned.

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Science & Technology

Millions of dead fish wash up amid heat wave in Australia



(Last Updated On: March 19, 2023)

Millions of fish have washed up dead in southeastern Australia in a die-off that authorities and scientists say is caused by depleted oxygen levels in the river after recent floods and hot weather, AP reported.

Residents of the Outback town of Menindee in New South Wales state complained of a terrible smell from the dead fish.

“The stink was terrible. I nearly had to put a mask on,” said local nature photographer Geoff Looney.

“I was worried about my own health. That water right in the top comes down to our pumping station for the town. People north of Menindee say there’s cod and perch floating down the river everywhere,” he said.

The Department of Primary Industries said the fish deaths were likely caused by low oxygen levels as floods recede, a situation made worse by fish needing more oxygen because of the warmer weather.

Police have established an emergency operations centre in Menindee to coordinate a massive cleanup this week.

State Emergency Operations Controller Peter Thurtell said the immediate focus was to provide a clean water supply to residents.

“There is no need for community concern as the initial assessment has determined multiple viable solutions to maintain water supply to the Menindee township and surrounds,” he said.

State agencies also started to release higher-quality water where possible to boost dissolved oxygen levels in the area.

“We’ve just sort of started to clean up, and then this has happened, and that’s sort of you’re walking around in a dried-up mess and then you’re smelling this putrid smell. It’s a terrible smell and horrible to see all those dead fish,” said Jan Dening, a Menindee resident.

Mass fish kills have been reported on the Darling-Baaka River in recent weeks. Tens of thousands of fish were found at the same spot in late February, while there have been several reports of dead fish downstream toward Pooncarie, near the borders of South Australia and Victoria states.

Enormous fish kills occurred on the river at Menindee during severe drought conditions in late 2018 and early 2019, with locals estimating millions of deaths.

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Science & Technology

AWCC rolls out 4G internet services in north-east zone of Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: March 17, 2023)

Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) officials in the north-east zone of the country say they have rolled out 4G internet services in four districts of Takhar province and in three districts of Kunduz province.

“Now, with 3G and 4G services in the centers of provinces and districts, Afghan Wireless Telecommunication Company intends to expand 3G and 4G services in other parts of the districts of the north-east zone in the new [1402 solar] year,” said Khir Mohammad Mubariz, director of the northeast zone of AWCC.

Mubariz said that in the new year they plan to cover many districts in this area with 4G internet services and that the company is committed to providing quality services to the people of Afghanistan.

“In addition to these centers in four provinces of the north-east zone, we have 4G standard services in three districts of Kunduz province, and in the same way, we offered 4G standard services to our customers in four districts of Takhar province last year,” he said.

Meanwhile, the residents of the districts where 4G internet services have been activated welcomed the development after suffering poor internet quality for years. Now, however, they have fast, quality internet access following AWCC’s initiative.

One resident said the Khwaja Ghar district in particular had faced ongoing network connection problems but “now 4G services have been activated by Afghan Wireless Company and people are very happy.”

“Afghan Wireless Company has provided such a facility, 4G services are activated, people’s [internet] problems are solved and people can communicate online,” said another resident.

The residents of the northeastern provinces have urged the company to roll out quality services to all the districts in the area.

Afghan Wireless Telecommunication Company meanwhile says it also plans to roll out 4G services to districts in Badakhshan in the near future.

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