Posts with «author_name|karissa bell» label

The Odysseus spacecraft has become the first US spacecraft to land on the moon in 50 years

The Odysseus spacecraft made by Houston-based Intuitive Machines has successfully landed on the surface of the moon. It marks the first time a spacecraft from a private company has landed on the lunar surface, and it’s the first US-made craft to reach the moon since the Apollo missions.

Odysseus was carrying NASA instruments, which the space agency said would be used to help prepare for future crewed missions to the moon under the Artemis program. NASA confirmed the landing happened at 6:23 PM ET on February 22. The lander launched from Earth on February 15, with the help of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Your order was delivered… to the Moon! 📦@Int_Machines' uncrewed lunar lander landed at 6:23pm ET (2323 UTC), bringing NASA science to the Moon's surface. These instruments will prepare us for future human exploration of the Moon under #Artemis.

— NASA (@NASA) February 22, 2024

According to The New York Times, there were some “technical issues with the flight” that delayed the landing for a couple of hours. Intuitive Machines CTO Tim Crain told the paper that “Odysseus is definitely on the moon and operating but it remains to be seen whether the mission can achieve its objectives.” Odysseus has a limited window of about a week to send data back down to Earth before darkness sets in and makes the solar-powered craft inoperable.

Intuitive Machines wasn’t the first private company to attempt a landing. Astrobotic made an attempt last month with its Peregrine lander, but was unsuccessful. Intuitive Machines is planning to launch two other lunar landers this year.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Reddit files for IPO and will let some longtime users buy shares

After years of speculation, Reddit has officially filed paperwork for an Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange. The company, which plans to use RDDT as its ticker symbol, will also allow some longtime users to participate by buying shares.

In a note shared in the company’s S-1 filing with the SEC, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said that many longtime users already feel a “deep sense of ownership” over their communities on the platform. “We want this sense of ownership to be reflected in real ownership—for our users to be our owners,” he wrote. “With this in mind, we are excited to invite the users and moderators who have contributed to Reddit to buy shares in our IPO, alongside our investors.”

The company didn’t say how many users might be able to participate, but said that eligible users would be determined based on their karma scores while “moderator contributions will be measured by membership and moderator actions.”

The filing also offers up new details about the inner workings of Reddit’s business. The company had 500 million visitors during the month of December and has recently averaged just over 73 million “daily active unique” visitors. In 2023, the company brought in $804 million in revenue (Reddit has yet to turn a profit). The document also notes that the company is “exploring” deals with AI companies to license its content as it looks to expand its revenue in the future.

Earlier in the day, Reddit and Google announced that they had struck such a deal, reportedly valued at around $60 million a year. “We believe our growing platform data will be a key element in the training of leading large language models (“LLMs”) and serve as an additional monetization channel for Reddit,” the company writes.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Reddit is licensing its content to Google to help train its AI models

Google has struck a deal with Reddit that will allow the search engine maker to train its AI models on Reddit’s vast catalog of user-generated content, the two companies announced. Under the arrangement, Google will get access to Reddit’s Data API, which will help the company “better understand” content from the site.

The deal also provides Google with a valuable source of content it can use to train its AI models. “Google will now have efficient and structured access to fresher information, as well as enhanced signals that will help us better understand Reddit content and display, train on, and otherwise use it in the most accurate and relevant ways,” the company said in a statement.

Access to Reddit’s data became a hot-button issue last year when the company announced it would start charging developers to the use its API. The changes resulted in the shuttering of many third-party Reddit clients, and a sitewide protest in which thousands of subreddits temporarily “went dark.” Reddit justified the changes, in part, by saying that large AI companies were scraping its data without paying. In a statement, Reddit noted that the new arrangement with Google “does not change Reddit's Data API Terms or Developer Terms” and that “API access remains free for non-commercial usage.”

The deal comes as Reddit is expected to go public in the coming weeks. Neither Google or Reddit disclosed the terms of their arrangement but Bloomberg reported last week that Reddit had struck a licensing deal with a “large AI company” valued at “about $60 million” a year. That amount was also confirmed by Reuters, which was first to report Google’s involvement.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Meta’s Oversight Board will now hear appeals from Threads users, too

Meta’s Oversight Board is expanding its purview to include Threads. The group announced that Threads users will now be able to appeal Meta’s content moderation decisions, giving the independent group the ability to influence policies for Meta’s newest app.

It’s a notable expansion for the Oversight Board, which up until now has weighed in on content moderation issues related to Facebook and Instagram posts. “Having independent accountability early on for a new app such as Threads is vitally important.,” board co-chair Helle Thorning-Schmidt said in a statement.

According to the Oversight Board, user appeals on Threads will function similarly to how they do on Instagram and Facebook. When users have “exhausted” Meta’s internal process, they’ll be able to request a review from the Oversight Board. Under the rules established when the board was formed, Meta is required to implement the board's decisions regarding specific posts, but isn’t obligated to adhere to its policy recommendations.

Adding Threads’ content moderation to the board’s scope underscores the growing influence of the Twitter-like app that launched last summer. Threads has already grown to 130 million users and Mark Zuckerberg has speculated that it could one day reach a billion users.

Officially, Threads has the same rules as Instagram. But Meta has already encountered some pushback from users over its policies for recommending content. Threads currently blocks search terms related to COVID-19 and other “potentially sensitive” topics. The company also raised some eyebrows when it said last week that it wouldn’t recommend accounts that post too much political content unless users choose to opt-in to such suggestions.

Regardless of whether the board ends up weighing in on those choices, it will likely be some time before Threads users see any changes as the result of the board’s recommendations. The Oversight Board only accepts a tiny fraction of user appeals, and it can take several weeks or months for the group to make a decision, and many more months for Meta to change any of its rules as a result of the guidance. (The board can, in some cases, expedite the process.)

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

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.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Meta takes down Chinese Facebook accounts posing as US military families

Meta has taken down a network of fake accounts that posed as US military families and anti-war activists. The fake accounts on Facebook and Instagram originated in China and targeted US audiences, according to the company’s security researchers.

Meta detailed the takedowns in its latest report on coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB). The cluster of fake accounts was relatively small — 33 Facebook accounts, four Instagram profiles, six pages and six groups on Facebook. The accounts posted about US aircraft carriers and other “military themes,” as well as “criticism of US foreign policy towards Taiwan and Israel and its support of Ukraine,” Meta wrote in its report.

The group also ran accounts on YouTube and Medium and shared an online petition “claiming to have been written by Americans to criticize US support for Taiwan.” The company’s researchers said the fake accounts originated in China, but didn’t attribute the effort to a specific entity or group. During a call with reporters, Meta’s global threat intelligence lead Ben Nimmo said that there has been a rise in China-based influence operations over the last year.

“The greatest change in the threat landscape,” Nimmo said, “has been this emergence of Chinese influence operations.” Nimmo said. He noted that Meta has taken down 10 CIB networks originating in China since 2017, but that six of those takedowns came in the last year. Last summer, Meta discovered and removed an especially large network of thousands of fake accounts that attempted to spread pro-China propaganda messages on the platform.

In both cases, the fake accounts were apparently unsuccessful at spreading their message. The latest network only managed to reach about 3,000 Facebook accounts, according to Meta, and the two Instagram pages had no followers at the time they were discovered.

Still, Meta’s researchers note that attempts like this will likely continue ahead of the 2024 election and that people with large audiences should be wary of resharing unverified information. “Our threat research shows that, historically, the main way that CIB networks get through to authentic communities is when they manage to co-opt real people — politicians, journalists or influencers — and tap into their audiences,” the report says. “Reputable opinion-makers represent an attractive target and should exercise caution before amplifying information from unverified sources, particularly ahead of major elections.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Meta is testing a trending topics feature on Threads

Meta is testing a new feature that will allow Threads users to see what kinds of conversations are trending on the platform. The app has begun testing “today’s top topics” in the United States, Mark Zuckerberg shared in a post on Threads.

The feature will surface “timely topics that others are discussing” and will appear in search and interspersed between posts in the app’s For You feed, according to Meta. Specific trends will be “determined by our AI systems based on what people are engaging with right now on Threads,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri said.

Interestingly, Threads will surface trends related to politics and elections. The company said last week that it would no longer suggest political content in its recommendations unless users choose to opt-in. But Meta has confirmed that restriction won’t apply to its trending feature. “Political content can be a topic,” a Meta spokesperson told Engadget. “We will only remove political topics if they violate our Community Guidelines or other applicable integrity policies.”

The addition of trends has been a long-requested update for many Threads users hoping to make the service more usable as a source for real-time information and updates. The feature was previously spotted in an employee version of the app, but it was unclear if Meta would roll it out more broadly considering Mosseri’s desire to avoid “encouraging” conversations about “politics and hard news."

Though AI will determine much of what is surfaced, it sounds like the Meta does plan to do some curation of what appears as a “top topic.” A team of “content specialists” will “ensure that topics do not violate our Community Guidelines or other applicable integrity guidelines, and that topics are not duplicative, nonsensical, or misleading” a Meta spokesperson said.

For now, “today’s top topics” is only a “small test” but Zuckerberg said the feature would arrive in more countries and languages “once we get it tuned up.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Instagram and Threads will no longer recommend political content

Meta will no longer recommend political content to users on Instagram or Threads, according to Instagram boss Adam Mosseri. He said that users will still see political content from accounts they follow, but the apps will no longer “proactively amplify” such posts.

The change, which will be rolling out “over the next few weeks,” will apply to public accounts in places where Meta’s recommendation algorithms suggest content or posts, like Instagram’s Reels and Explore, and suggested users on Threads.Mosseri didn’t elaborate on how Meta will determine what counts as “political,” but a Meta spokesperson said it would include election-related topics and social issues. 

“Our definition of political content is content likely to be about topics related to government or elections; for example, posts about laws, elections, or social topics,” the spokesperson said. “These global issues are complex and dynamic, which means this definition will evolve as we continue to engage with the people and communities who use our platforms and external experts to refine our approach.”


While Meta will limit its suggestions related to these topics by default, those who do want to see such content will be able to opt-in via Instagram and Threads’ settings. The company said the update won’t affect how people see posts from accounts they’ve chosen to follow. “Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to choose to interact with political content, while respecting each person’s appetite for it,” Mosseri said.

The change is the latest way Meta has tried to discourage Threads users from discussing topics it considers potentially problematic. The company blocks “potentially sensitive” topics, including vaccine and covid-related terms, from search results in Threads. Mosseri has also said that Meta doesn’t want to “encourage” users to post about “politics and hard news” in the app.

But the change could also cause a new backlash among users and creators, some of whom already believe Meta unfairly suppresses certain types of content. Meta said that people with “professional” accounts on Instagram can use the “account status” feature to check if their posts are currently considered eligible for recommendations.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Bluesky has added almost a million users one day after opening to the public

Bluesky, the open source Twitter alternative, has seen a surge in new users just one day after opening its platform up to the public. The service has gained more than 850,000 users bringing its total sign-ups to just over 4 million.

The service had been in an invitation-only beta for about a year and had grown to just over 3 million users when it officially opened to the public. It currently has close to 4.1 million sign-ups, according to an online tracker. “Things are rolling over here,” Bluesky CEO Jay Graber wrote in a post on X.

The surge in new users suggests that there is still ample curiosity about the Jack Dorsey-backed platform that began as an internal project at Twitter in 2019. It also indicated that Meta hasn’t entirely cornered the market for a text-based Twitter alternative. The company’s Threads app has grown to 130 million monthly users, Meta announced last week.

Graber has said that Bluesky intended to grow at a slower pace so that it could build it the platform, and the underlying protocol, without the added pressure sudden surges in growth can cause. Some of those concerns were borne out over the last day as the spike in activity led to some technical issues on the site, including problems with the app’s custom feeds and a brief outage overnight. The outage was resolved within a couple hours, according to the company.

Much of Bluesky’s future success will hinge on whether it can maintain new growth and keep the interest of all its new users. Threads also saw an initial spike in new users, only for it to drop-off before eventually rebounding.

Though Bluesky may look a bit like Threads or X, it’s a fundamentally different kind of platform and part of the growing movement for decentralized social media. Its open-source protocol functions like a “permanently open” API, according to Graber, and the site already has dozens of developers building their own experiences. Bluesky also offers more customization features for users, with features like custom algorithms and the ability to choose your own content moderation settings.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Meta's Threads app is getting a bookmarking feature to save posts

Threads is beginning to test a bookmarking feature to allow users to save posts, according to Instagram head Adam Mosseri. The update is beginning as a “limited test,” but the “heavily requested” feature will eventually have a permanent place on the service, the company said.

According to screenshots shared by Meta, the “save” button on Threads will look very similar to Instagram’s version of the feature. Users will be able to access their bookmarked posts from the “save” section of the app’s settings.

While the ability to save posts may not seem like the most exciting update, it will help bring a little more organization to the app. threads currently lacks direct messaging, search filtering, lists and a number of other features often requested by power users looking to replace the functionality of Twitter (now known as X).

Threads recently introduced searchable tags, but Meta has so far resisted adding chronological search or trending features. Mosseri has said chronological search could be easily gamed by spammers, though an “internal prototype” of the feature was recently spotted in the wild. Meta employees have also been spotted sharing images of a feature that looks a lot like trending topics, though it’s unclear what the company’s plans for it may be.

In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said the company “will continue listening to community feedback for ways to improve the Threads experience.” The app has climbed to 130 million monthly users, Mark Zuckerberg revealed last week. He has said that the app has the potential to be the company’s next billion-user service.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at