Twitter Lite is now available in 21 more countries


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Many of us want to engage with the rest of the global society, whether we live in major cities with blazing fast mobile connections or areas where data is prohibitively expensive or slow. To help bridge the gap for those in the latter regions, Twitter released its Lite app, which also takes up far less space on devices than the full Twitter app (the install size is just 3MB).

Since launching Lite last year, Twitter has gradually rolled it out to more locales and, as of today, people in 21 more countries can use the app. Those nations are Argentina, Belarus, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Romania, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Yemen and Zimbabwe. People in those nations (and a couple dozen more) can grab the app from Google Play Store.

Alongside the expansion, Twitter has added push notifications to Lite. The feature joins bookmarks, threaded conversations, night mode and settings to control which images and videos are automatically displayed. Twitter claims content loads quickly in Lite, even when connectivity is limited to 2G or 3G speeds. While bringing its service to more people is a positive step, there’s a business incentive for Twitter to help more people read and post tweets — the company saw a dip in the number of monthly active users last quarter.

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Google search knows where you were even if you disabled Location History


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Earlier today, the Associated Press published a report detailing how Google can log users’ locations even if they’ve opted out of the company’s Location History feature. The report indicated that if you want to entirely opt out of Google location tracking, you’ll need to access and opt out of a second feature as well, one called “Web & App History.”

Before getting into the details, here’s a statement Google provided the AP (the company had not responded to our requests for comment as of publication time): “There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services. We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

The Verge received a similar statement, but one that says “we make sure Location History users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions.” That last phrase appears to be referring to Web & App history, though Google wasn’t clear on that.

If indeed you want to turn off all location tracking, it’ll take a bit of work. For starters, you’ll definitely want to disable the Location History feature. Despite it’s broad-sounding name, that’s a very specific feature that creates a timeline of where you’ve been based on your mobile phone location. While you might have assumed turning that off would disable Google location-tracking across all its services, that isn’t the case.

After disabling Location History, turn off “Web & App History” — but note that your experience using Google’s services will be significantly different going forward. For starters, none of your search history will be saved, anywhere. Some might find that useful, but in the case of products like Google Maps, it also makes things a little less user-friendly. The app won’t have visibility into past searches you’ve made in Maps; it’ll instead only show recent searches you’ve made on your phone itself. That also means that Maps won’t know where you are when you look for directions in a browser.

Overall, it seems that the primary location-gathering aspect related to “Web & App History” comes from Google searches. When that setting is turned on, Google can provide more “relevant” info. There’s no doubt that having Google be aware of your location can be handy when you do a search, but if you truly want off the grid, make sure to disable this feature.

It’s worth noting that even after you’ve turned these location features off, Google results still might use your search history to make a guess about where you are. For example, searching for “pizza near me” was still pulling up results in my neighborhood, and it also knows where I am when I type in “weather.” So, to erase your entire Google footprint, you’ll want to go into the “My Activity” page where you can see everything you’ve done that touches Google services. Searches that grabbed your location will have the small location pin icon next to them; delete those to cover up your tracks. Finally, you’ll also want to make sure you disable location services on your smartphone for any apps (Google or otherwise) that you don’t want to access your location.

You can see your Google history at myactivity.google.com; clicking on “activity controls” on the left-side menu will present options for disabling Web & App History as well as your Location History. I spent a lot of time digging through my history today and came away fairly unconcerned about the data Google had collected through my search history. It’s far from a complete picture of where I’ve been, but I’m an iOS user. Something like the weather widget that’s the default on all Pixel phones would be enough to give Google a pretty good map of your travels when Web & App Activity is turned on.

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Trump once referred to Nepal as 'nipple' during a meeting

Other Trump gaffes include calling Bhutan
Other Trump gaffes include calling Bhutan “button.”
Image: Olivier Douliery/getty images

Welcome to another day living under the Trump administration.

According to a Politico report published on Monday, during a 2017 briefing to prep for a meeting with the prime minister of India, President Donald Trump called the country of Nepal “nipple” and laughed when he referred to the country of Bhutan as “button.” 

Trump’s cultural gaffe was confirmed by two sources with “knowledge of the meeting,” per Politico. A White House representative told Politico that people present at the 2017 meeting “don’t remember” the president’s “nipple” remark. 

The report details Trump’s “diplomatic faux pas” during his time in office, including the time he wanted to call Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the afternoon in Washington, D.C. — which was the middle of the night in Tokyo. 

As “a person close to Trump” told Politico:

“When he wants to call someone, he wants to call someone. He’s more impulsive that way. He doesn’t think about what time it is or who it is.”

The report also revealed Trump’s painfully awkward comments during internal staff meetings. During a briefing before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2017 visit, Trump offered to “set him up with somebody” when he found out that Modi and his wife are estranged. During the same meeting, he was confused by Nepal and Bhutan’s geographic locations between India and China.

“He didn’t know what those were,” a source “familiar with the meeting” told Politico. “He was like, ‘What is this stuff in between and these other countries?'”

Trump’s ignorant remarks aren’t new — in January, the Washington Post reported that the president faked an Indian accent, imitating Modi. He also one referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and several African nations as “shithole countries.” 

Knowing Trump’s track record, is anyone really surprised by his comments?

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Ruby Rose is the latest celebrity driven off Twitter by abuse

It’s only been a few days since Ruby Rose was cast as “Batwoman” for the CW series Arrowverse, but the Australian actor has already had to quit Twitter after a stream of abusive messages. Much of the backlash has focused on accusations that Rose — who identifies as gender fluid and is a prominent LGBTQ activist — isn’t “gay enough” to play the role of Kate Kane (aka Batwoman) who is a lesbian in the comic books. Some others took issue with the fact that, unlike the character in the comics, Rose isn’t Jewish. Still others simply questioned her acting ability, leading to the creation of #recastbatwoman campaign on social media.

Before quitting Twitter Rose dropped a few missives, and seemed particularly annoyed by claims that her sexuality or gender identity weren’t appropriate for the character. “Where on earth did ‘Ruby is not a lesbian therefore she can’t be batwoman’ come from — has to be the funniest most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. I came out at 12? And have for the past 5 years had to deal with ‘she’s too gay’ how do y’all flip it like that? I didn’t change…”

Her tone however quickly changed from incredulous to plain disappointment. “When women and when minorities join forces we are unstoppable… when we tear each other down it’s much more hurtful than from any group… I just wish women and the LGBT community supported each other more, My wish was we were all a little kinder and more supportive of each other…”

Rose ended by saying she’s taking a break from Twitter to focus all her energy on future projects. “If you need me,” she said, I’ll be on my Bat Phone.” Rose, of course, isn’t the first celebrity to be ran off of Twitter and other social media platforms by sexist, misogynist and bigots who discriminate based on religion. Daisy Ridley (Star Wars) and Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) have both unplugged from apps like Twitter and Instagram following harassment, threats and online abuse.

For years, Twitter (which did not reply to our request for comment) has been trying to clean up its platform, by adding filters and making it possible to hide tweets from people you don’t follow. But Rose’s case shows that it still has a lot of work to do. This also comes at a time when Twitter is facing backlash for not banning Alex Jones, the far-right windbag who’s being shunned by almost every major tech company for spreading dangerous conspiracies.

As for Rose, she’s still active on Instagram, though her account is now only accepting comments from people she knows and follows. It’s unclear when or if she’ll return to Twitter and, honestly, you can’t blame her if she decides not to. Sadly she probably won’t be the last celebrity to quit the site because of trolls who disguise themselves as “fans.”

Images: The CW/CBR

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Netflix chooses Mark Millar's 'Prodigy' as its second comic book


Rafael Albuquerque/Netflix

Netflix already has a second comic book lined up mere weeks after its first one hit stores. The service has unveiled Prodigy, a Mark Millar-penned comic book due in both digital and paper forms on December 5th. The series revolves around Edison Crane, the “world’s smartest man,” who has virtually everything he could want but is fueled by an endless drive that leads him to solve problems for governments around the planet. As the artwork from Batman visualizer Rafael Albuquerque suggests, Crane will have to rely on both his mind and some firepower to get things done.

The news comes a year after Netflix bought Mark Millar’s publishing company, Millarworld, and less than a month after it unveiled the first video productions based on Millar’s work. Netflix isn’t wasting time, then. And that’s necessary to some degree. Now that Disney will stop offering Marvel movies on Netflix, the service risks running low on fresh superhero content. This won’t make you forget Marvel’s absence, but it could reduce the temptation to drop Netflix if you mainly stayed for the comic-based material.

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