Posts with «celebrities» label

Netflix's latest 'The Witcher: Blood Origin' trailer teases the appearance of a certain bard

With its latest Witcher franchise spinoff scheduled to arrive on December 25th, Netflix has shared a new trailer for The Witcher: Blood Origin. The approximately two-minute-long clip expands on the teaser the company uploaded last month. After most of Netflix's past promotional material for Blood Origin focused on Michelle Yeoh's character Scian, the latest trailer gives her co-stars, including Sophia Brown and Laurence O’Fuarain, a chance to shine. It probably won't surprise you to find out they're all badasses in their own way.

Set some 1,200 years before the story of Geralt and Ciri, Blood Origin promises to give fans more insight into the creation of the first witcher. You'll want to watch the clip through to the end to catch a glimpse of Jaskier (Joey Batey). It looks like everyone's favorite bard will work alongside Minnie Driver to immortalize the exploits of Scian's band of elves. When Driver announced she was joining The Witcher franchise back in September, she said her character would play a pivotal role "in connecting Blood Origin's past with The Witcher's future."

Blood Origin comes during a period of uncertainty for Netflix'sThe Witcher. The company recently announced that Henry Cavill would not return to play Geralt of Rivia after the show's third season. Liam Hemsworth will carry the series moving forward.

Ye's Twitter account suspended again following swastika tweet

Twitter has given Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, a 12-hour suspension after he tweeted a photo of the Star of David merged with the swastika. In a public exchange on Twitter, website owner Elon Musk told the rapper that tweeting a photo of him being hosed down on a yacht is fine, but tweeting the antisemitic image is not. After that, Ye posted a screenshot of his account on Truth Social, the social media platform backed by Donald Trump, showing that his account has been limited for 12 hours for violating Twitter's terms of service. 

Ye also shared a screenshot of his private exchange with Musk, wherein the executive said: "Sorry, but you have gone too far. This is not love." In a couple of follow-up tweets, Musk said he tried his best to communicate with Ye, but the rapper still chose to violate Twitter's rule against inciting violence. Twitter suspended Ye in October for posting antisemitic messages that said he would go "death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE." His account was reinstated in November, along with other controversial personalities', such as former President Donald Trump's and Marjorie Taylor Greene's.

Shortly after he was suspended on both Twitter and Instagram in October, Ye entered a deal to acquire the "free speech" social media app Parler. "In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves," Ye said back then. Yesterday, however, Parlement announced that the acquisition will no longer push through. While Parler said that they had mutually agreed to "terminate the intent of sale" in mid-November, the news came out after Ye's guesting on Alex Jones' podcast InfoWars. During the interview, Ye went on an antisemitic tirade, wherein he denied that the Holocause had happened while praising Nazis and Hitler.

Hitting the Books: Social media's long, pointless war against sex on the internet

From the moment that people started getting nasty with Johannes Gutenberg's newfangled printing press, sexually explicit content has led the way towards wide-scale adoption of mass communication technologies. But with every advance in methodology has invariably come a backlash — a moral panic here, a book burning there, the constant uncut threat of mass gun violence — aiming to suppress that expression. Now, given the things I saw Googling "sexually explicit printing press," dear reader, I can assure you that their efforts will ultimately be in vain. 

But it hasn't stopped social media corporations, advertisers, government regulators and the people you most dread seeing in your building's elevator from working to erase sexuality-related content from the world wide web. In the excerpt below from her most excellent new book, How Sex Changed the Internet and the Internet Changed Sex: An Unexpected History, Motherboard Senior Editor Samantha Cole discusses the how and why to Facebook, Instagram and Google's slow strangling of online sexual speech over the past 15 years.

Workman Publishing

Excerpted from How Sex Changed the Internet and the Internet Changed Sex: An Unexpected History by Samantha Cole. Workman Publishing © 2022

How Sex Is Repressed Online

Human and algorithmic censorship has completely changed the power structure of who gets to post what types of adult content online. This has played out as independent sex workers struggling to avoid getting kicked off of sites like Instagram or Twitter just for existing as people—while big companies like Brazzers, displaying full nudity, have no problem keeping their accounts up.

Despite Facebook’s origins as Mark Zuckerberg’s Hot-or-Not rating system for women on his Harvard campus, the social network’s policies on sexuality and nudity are incredibly strict. Over the years, it’s gone through several evolutions and overhauls, but in 2022 forbidden content includes (but isn’t limited to) “real nude adults,” “sexual intercourse” and a wide range of things that could imply intercourse “even when the contact is not directly visible,” or “presence of by-products of sexual activity.” Nudity in art is supposedly allowed, but artists and illustrators still fight against bans and rejected posts all the time.

That’s not to mention “sexual solicitation,” which Facebook will not tolerate. That includes any and all porn, discussions of states of sexual arousal, and anything that both asks or offers sex “directly or indirectly” and also includes sexual emojis like peaches and eggplants, sexual slang, and depictions or poses of sexual activity.

These rules also apply on Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook. As the number one and two biggest social networks in the US, these dictate how much of the internet sees and interacts with sexual content.

In the earliest archived versions of Facebook’s terms of use, sex was never mentioned—but its member conduct guidelines did ban “any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, vulgar, obscene, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.” This vagueness gives Facebook legal wiggle room to ban whatever it wants.

The platform took a more welcoming approach to sexual speech as recently as 2007, with Sexuality listed as one of the areas of interest users could choose from, and more than five hundred user-created groups for various discussions around the topic. But the platform’s early liberality with sex drew scrutiny. In 2007, then–New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo led a sting operation on Facebook where an investigator posed as teens and caught child predators.

As early as 2008, it started banning female breasts—specifically, nipples. The areola violated its policy on “obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit” material. In December 2008, a handful of women gathered outside the company’s Palo Alto office to breastfeed in front of the building in protest (it was a Saturday; no executives were working).

As of 2018, Facebook lumped sex work under banned content that depicts “sexual exploitation,” stating that all references and depictions of “sexual services” were forbidden, “includ[ing] prostitution, escort services, sexual massages, and filmed sexual activity.”

A lot of this banned content is health and wellness education.

In 2018, sexuality educator Dr. Timaree Schmit logged in to Facebook and checked her page for SEXx Interactive, which runs an annual sex ed conference she’d held the day before. A notification from Facebook appeared: She and several other admins for the page were banned from the entire platform for thirty days, and the page was taken down, because an “offending image” had violated the platform’s community standards. The image in question was the word SEXx in block letters on a red background.

The examples of this sort of thing are endless and not limited to Facebook. Google AdWords banned “graphic sexual acts with intent to arouse including sex acts such as masturbation” in 2014. Android keyboards’ predictive text banned anything remotely sexual, including the words “panty,” “braless,” “Tampax,” “lactation,” “preggers, “uterus,” and “STI” from its autocomplete dictionary. Chromecast and Google Play forbid porn. You can’t navigate to adult sites using Starbucks Wi-Fi. For a while in 2018, Google Drive seemed to be blocking users from downloading documents and files that contained adult content. The crowdfunding site Patreon forbids porn depicting real people, and in 2018 blamed its payment processor, Stripe, for not being sex-friendly. Much of this followed FOSTA/SESTA.

This is far from a complete list. There are countless stories like this, where sex educators, sex workers, artists, and journalists are censored or pushed off platforms completely for crossing these imaginary lines that are constantly moving.

Over the years, as these policies have evolved, they’ve been applied inconsistently and often with vague reasoning for the users themselves. There is one way platforms have been consistent, however: Images and content of Black and Indigenous women, as well as queer and trans people, sex workers, and fat women, experience the brunt of platform discrimination. This can lead to serious self-esteem issues, isolation, and in some cases, suicidal thoughts for people who are pushed off platforms or labeled “sexually explicit” because of their body shape or skin color.

“I’m just sick of feeling like something is wrong with my body. That it’s not OK to look how I do,” Anna Konstantopoulos, a fat Instagram influencer, said after her account was shut down and posts were deleted multiple times. Her photos in bikinis or lingerie were deleted by Instagram moderators, while other influencers’ posts stayed up and raked in the likes. “It starts to make you feel like crap about yourself.”

In spite of all of this, people project their full selves, or at least a version of themselves, onto Facebook accounts. Censorship of our sexual sides doesn’t stop people from living and working on the internet—unless that is your life and work.

Ticketmaster’s Taylor Swift fiasco sparks Senate antitrust hearing

Ticketmaster's chaotic handling of Taylor Swift's tour ticket sales has brought the company under increased scrutiny, including from lawmakers. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, have announced a hearing to gather evidence on competition in the ticketing industry. They have yet to confirm when the hearing will take place or the witnesses that the committee will call upon.

Swift's fans overwhelmed Ticketmaster's systems in the gold rush for tickets to her first tour in five years. Ticketmaster says presale codes went out to 1.5 million people, but 14 million (including "a staggering number" of bots) tried to buy tickets. The company said it was slammed with 3.5 billion total system requests, four times its previous peak. When fans were able to make it to the seat selection screen, many effectively had tickets snatched out of their hands as tried to put them in their carts.

There was supposed to be a general sale for the remaining tickets last Friday, but Ticketmaster canceled that, citing "extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand." Even though the level of interest in Swift's stadium shows was evidently through the roof, Ticketmaster's management of the process has raised a lot of questions. Swift said Ticketmaster assured her and her team that it could handle the demand. However, she said the mayhem “pissed me off.”

After the presale mess, Klobuchar (who wrote to Ticketmaster to ask if the company is taking appropriate measures to provide the best service it can) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal said they were concerned about "the state of competition in the ticketing industry." Others, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for Ticketmaster's parent, Live Nation, to be broken up.

Along with selling event tickets, the company owns and operates many venues and manages several major artists. Last week, it was reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been conducting an antitrust investigation into Live Nation for several months.

“Last week, the competition problem in ticketing markets was made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets. The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “That’s why we will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike. When there is no competition to incentivize better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences.”

Ticketmaster has said it's adhering to a 2010 consent decree it has with the DOJ that allowed its merger with Live Nation to go ahead. “Ticketmaster has a significant share of the primary ticketing services market because of the large gap that exists between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the next best primary ticketing system,” it added in a statement to Deadline.

Hitting the Books: How Dave Chappelle and curious cats made Roomba a household name

Autonomous vacuum maker iRobot is a lot like Tesla, not necessarily by reinventing an existing concept — vacuums, robots and electric cars all existed before these two companies came on the scene — but by imbuing their products with that intangible quirk that makes people sit up and take notice. Just as Tesla ignited the public's imagination as to what an electric car could be and do, iRobot has expanded our perception of how domestic robots can fit into our homes and lives. 

More than two dozen leading experts from across the technology sector have come together in ‘You Are Not Expected to Understand This’: How 26 Lines of Code Changed the World to discuss how seemingly innocuous lines of code have fundamentally shaped and hemmed the modern world. In the excerpt below, Upshot Deputy Editor Lowen Liu, explores the development of iRobot's Roomba vacuum and its unlikely feline brand ambassadors.

Hachette Book Group

Excerpted with permission from ‘You Are Not Expected to Understand This’: How 26 Lines of Code Changed the World edited by Torie Bosch. Published by Princeton University Press. Copyright © 2022. All rights reserved.

The Code That Launched a Million Cat Videos 

by Lowen Liu

According to Colin Angle, the CEO and cofounder of iRobot, the Roomba faced some early difficulties before it was rescued by two events. The disc-shaped robot vacuum had gotten off to a hot start in late 2002, with good press and a sales partner in the novelty chain store Brookstone. Then sales started to slow, just as the company had spent heavily to stock up on inventory. The company found itself on the other side of Black Friday in 2003 with thousands upon thousands of Roombas sitting unsold in warehouses. 

Then around this time, Pepsi aired a commercial starring comedian Dave Chappelle. In the ad, Chappelle teases a circular robot vacuum with his soft drink while waiting for a date. The vacuum ends up eating the comedian’s pants—schlupp. Angle remembers that at a team meeting soon after, the head of e-commerce said something like: “Hey, why did sales triple yesterday?” The second transformative moment for the company was the rapid proliferation of cat videos on a new video-sharing platform that launched at the end of 2005. A very specific kind of cat video: felines pawing suspiciously at Roombas, leaping nervously out of Roombas’ paths, and, of course, riding on them. So many cats, riding on so many Roombas. It was the best kind of advertising a company could ask for: it not only popularized the company’s product but made it charming. The Roomba was a bona fide hit. 

By the end of 2020, iRobot had sold 35 million vacuums, leading the charge in a booming robot vacuum market.

The Pepsi ad and the cat videos appear to be tales of early days serendipity, lessons on the power of good luck and free advertising. They also appear at first to be hardware stories— stories of cool new objects entering the consumer culture. But the role of the Roomba’s software can’t be underestimated. It’s the programming that elevates the round little suckers from being mere appliances to something more. Those pioneering vacuums not only moved, they decided in some mysterious way where to go. In the Pepsi commercial, the vacuum is given just enough personality to become a date-sabotaging sidekick. In the cat videos the Roomba isn’t just a pet conveyer, but a diligent worker, fulfilling its duties even while carrying a capricious passenger on its back. For the first truly successful household robot, the Roomba couldn’t just do its job well; it had to win over customers who had never seen anything like it. 

Like many inventions, the Roomba was bred of good fortune but also a kind of inevitability. It was the brainchild of iRobot’s first hire, former MIT roboticist Joe Jones, who began trying to make an autonomous vacuum in the late 1980s. He joined iRobot in 1992, and over the next decade, as it worked on other projects, the company developed crucial expertise in areas of robotics that had nothing to do with suction: it developed a small, efficient multithreaded operating system; it learned to miniaturize mechanics while building toys for Hasbro; it garnered cleaning know-how while building large floor sweepers for SC Johnson; it honed a spiral-based navigation system while creating mine-hunting robots for the US government. It was a little like learning to paint a fence and wax a car and only later realizing you’ve become a Karate Kid. 

The first Roombas needed to be cheap—both to make and (relatively) to sell—to have any chance of success reaching a large number of American households. There was a seemingly endless list of constraints: a vacuum that required hardly any battery power, and navigation that couldn’t afford to use fancy lasers—only a single camera. The machine wasn’t going to have the ability to know where it was in a room or remember where it had been. Its methods had to be heuristic, a set of behaviors that combined trial and error with canned responses to various inputs. If the Roomba were “alive,” as the Pepsi commercial playfully suggested, then its existence would more accurately have been interpreted as a progression of instants—did I just run into something? Am I coming up to a ledge? And if so, what should I do next? All conditions prepared for in its programming. An insect, essentially, reacting rather than planning. 

And all this knowledge, limited as it was, had to be stuffed inside a tiny chip within a small plastic frame that also had to be able to suck up dirt. Vacuums, even handheld versions, were historically bulky and clumsy things, commensurate with the violence and noise of what they were designed to do. The first Roomba had to eschew a lot of the more complicated machinery, relying instead on suction that accelerated through a narrow opening created by two rubber strips, like a reverse whistle. 

But the lasting magic of those early Roombas remains the way they moved. Jones has said that the navigation of the original Roomba appears random but isn’t—every so often the robot should follow a wall rather than bounce away from it. In the words of the original patent filed by Jones and Roomba cocreator Mark Chiappetta, the system combines a deterministic component with random motion. That small bit of unpredictability was pretty good at covering the floor—and also made the thing mesmerizing to watch. As prototypes were developed, the code had to account for an increasing number of situations as the company uncovered new ways for the robot to get stuck, or new edge cases where the robot encountered two obstacles at once. All that added up until, just before launch, the robot’s software no longer fit on its allotted memory. Angle called up his cofounder, Rodney Brooks, who was about to board a transpacific flight. Brooks spent the flight rewriting the code compiler, packing the Roomba’s software into 30 percent less space. The Roomba was born.

In 2006 Joe Jones moved on from iRobot, and in 2015 he founded a company that makes robots to weed your garden. The weeding robots have not, as yet, taken the gardening world by storm. And this brings us to perhaps the most interesting part of the Roomba’s legacy: how lonely it is. 

You’d be in good company if you once assumed that the arrival of the Roomba would open the door to an explosion of home robotics. Angle told me that if someone went back in time and let him know that iRobot would build a successful vacuum, he would have replied, “That’s nice, but what else did we really accomplish?” A simple glance around the home is evidence enough that a future filled with robots around the home has so far failed to come true. Why? Well for one, robotics, as any roboticist will tell you, is hard. The Roomba benefited from a set of very limited variables: a flat floor, a known range of obstacles, dirt that is more or less the same everywhere you go. And even that required dozens of programmed behaviors. 

As Angle describes it, what makes the Roomba’s success so hard to replicate is how well it satisfied the three biggest criteria for adoption: it performed a task that was unpleasant; it performed a task that had to be done relatively frequently; and it was affordable. Cleaning toilets is a pain but not done super frequently. Folding laundry is both, but mechanically arduous. Vacuuming a floor, though—well, now you’re talking. 

Yet for all the forces that led to the creation of the Roomba, its invention alone wasn’t a guarantee of success. What is it that made those cat videos so much fun? It’s a question that lies close to the heart of the Roomba’s original navigation system: part determinism, part randomness. My theory is that it wasn’t just the Roomba’s navigation that endeared it to fans—it was how halting and unpredictable that movement could be. The cats weren’t just along for an uneventful ride; they had to catch themselves as the robot turned unexpectedly or hit an object. (One YouTuber affectionately described the vacuum as “a drunk coming home from the bar.”) According to this theory, it’s the imperfection that is anthropomorphic. We are still more likely to welcome into our homes robots that are better at slapstick than superhuman feats. It’s worth noting that the top-of-the-line Roomba today will map your rooms and store that map on an app, so that it can choose the most efficient lawnmower-like cleaning path. In these high-end models, the old spiral navigation system is no longer needed. Neither is bumping into walls. 

Watching one of these Roombas clean a room is a lot less fun than it used to be. And it makes me wonder what the fate of the Roomba may have been had the first ever robot vacuum launched after the age of smartphones, already armed with the capacity to roll through rooms with precise confidence, rather than stumble along. It’s not always easy, after all, to trust someone who seems to know exactly where they are going.

Elon Musk says he will unban Donald Trump after Twitter poll

A few weeks after he took over Twitter, Elon Musk has fulfilled one of his early promises for the platform by reinstating Donald Trump’s account. The former president, who is running for the White House for a third time, will once again be allowed to tweet. On Friday night, Musk tweeted a poll asking people to vote on whether Twitter should reinstate the former President, who recently just revealed that he's running for the country's highest office again in 2024. "Vox Populi, Vox Dei," the website's new owner said in a follow-up tweet. Twenty-four later, Musk has closed the poll and has announced that Trump will indeed be reinstated based on the results.

The people have spoken.

Trump will be reinstated.

Vox Populi, Vox Dei.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2022

The option to reinstate the former President won with 51.8 percent of the 15,085,458 votes. While the poll was ongoing, Musk said that it was getting one million votes per hour.

Soon after Musk assumed control, he pledged to form a moderation council before reversing any permanent Twitter account bans. On November 18th, Musk reinstated a few accounts, including those belonging to Kathy Griffin and Jordan Peterson. At the time, he said no decision had been made about Trump.

Twitter booted Trump off the platform in early 2021 after he broke rules against inciting violence. He violated Twitter's civic integrity policy by expressing support for the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6th last year. His account was initially suspendedfor 12 hours. A couple of days later, in his final days in office, Twitter permanently suspended Trump's personal account. Trump has been unable to use the platform since, despite his attempts to skirt the ban and a failed lawsuit that sought to have his access restored. It took Elon Musk to buy Twitter for Trump to get his account back.

Trump's return may be as much of a business decision on Musk's part as much as anything. Earlier this week, a Reuters report suggested that many of Twitter's heaviest users have moved away from the platform to the likes of Instagram and TikTok. Musk himself has noted that many of the most-followed Twitter accounts don't tweet often.

For better or worse, Trump is a prominent figure and his tweets commanded attention. Whether advertisers will be glad to see Trump back remains to be seen. Just ahead of officially assuming control of Twitter, Musk sought to soothe any concerns by stating that "Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!”

In the wake of his actions surrounding January 6th, Meta blocked Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts. As things stand, that suspension is set to expire on January 7th, 2023 — just as the 2024 election cycle gets into full swing. 

Since being deplatformed from major services, Trump has turned his attention to smaller social networks, including his own app, Truth Social. Trump had pledged that he wouldn't return to Twitter, but with 88 million followers there, he commanded an audience almost 22 times the size of the one he has on Truth Social (a platform that, for what it's worth, Musk has described as "essentially a right-wing echo chamber").

Twitter has gone through enormous changes since Musk took over the company. He has slashed the headcount by turfing out thousands of employees and contractors, as well as some dissenters. Several top executives are among those who've departed. Around 1,200 more are said to have left after refusing to commit to Musk's vision of a "hardcore" Twitter 2.0 that would require working "long hours at high intensity." Trump's return won't exactly help to steady the ship.

Mariella Moon contributed to this post.

Elon Musk begins unbanning some high-profile Twitter accounts, starting with Jordan Peterson and Kathy Griffin

Elon Musk is acting on his vow to rethink permanent bans on Twitter users. Twitter has reinstated the accounts of three controversial users, including conservative satire site Babylon Bee, conservative author (and former YouTube personality) Jordan Peterson and comedian Kathy Griffin. A decision about former President Donald Trump has "not yet been made," Musk said, although the CEO previously said he would reverse Trump's ban.

The action comes as part of "Freedom Fridays," according to Musk. However, it also appears to contradict Musk's previous pledge to form a moderation council before undoing bans or otherwise making significant content decisions. The council was supposed to ensure that Twitter's policies reflected a wide range of viewpoints.

Kathie Griffin, Jorden Peterson & Babylon Bee have been reinstated.

Trump decision has not yet been made.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022

Both Babylon Bee and Peterson were banned earlier this year for violating Twitter's hate speech rules protecting transgender people. Griffin, meanwhile, was banned for responding to Twitter's messy pay-for-verification rollout by impersonating Musk. As you might imagine, these actions are likely to have critics. LGBTQ rights advocates like GLAAD supported internet bans on Peterson this summer due to his "hateful and false narratives," for example.

The tech mogul warned that some content would still be subject to severe restrictions. Hate and other negative tweets would be "max deboosted & demonetized," he said. While this wouldn't apply to whole accounts, it would make offending tweets invisible unless you knew to look for them, and would prevent Twitter earning revenue from that material. Free speech at Twitter didn't mean "freedom of reach," Musk added.

The combination of lifted bans and a new moderation policy reflects Musk's attempts to balance his personal desires with commercial realities. While he has argued that Twitter should be a free speech haven where bans are very rare, he has also tried to reassure advertisers worried their promos might appear next to hate speech and other objectionable tweets. In other words, Musk may still have to clamp down on toxic content even if its creators are now allowed on his platform.

The DOJ was reportedly investigating Ticketmaster before the Taylor Swift debacle

The Department of Justice has reportedly opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation, the parent of Ticketmaster, to determine if the company has abused its power in the live music industry. The investigation is said to have been ongoing over the last several months. The New York Times reported on the investigation after Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen fans had an excessively difficult time trying to buy tickets for those artists' tours.

The DOJ's antitrust division has been asking music venues and stakeholders in the ticketing market about the industry and Live Nation’s practices, according to the report. The agency is said to be looking into whether Live Nation holds a monopoly in the live music space.

The company owns and/or operates many venues, including the House of Blues, and it runs festivals like Lollapalooza and Download. It sells tickets to those places and events through Ticketmaster. Live Nation also manages dozens of notable artists.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010 after gaining approval from the DOJ. The agency imposed some conditions on the deal, such as Live Nation having to sell some parts of its business. For a 10-year period, Live Nation was prohibited from threatening to keep tours away from venues that don't use Ticketmaster. In 2019, the DOJ determined that Live Nation broke that condition, and it extended the merger agreement provision period to 2025.

Bringing things up to date, Swifties (and bots) crashed Ticketmaster on Tuesday as they attempted to snag tickets for the megastar's first tour in five years during a pre-sale. Ticketmaster said a load of more than 3.5 billion system requests caused havoc.

"The site was supposed to open up for 1.5 million verified Taylor Swift fans," Greg Maffei, the CEO of Live Nation's biggest shareholder Liberty Media, told CNBC. "We had 14 million people hit the site, including bots, which are not supposed to be there.”

Fans waited in queues for hours and when they were finally able to select a seat, many were still unable to grab tickets. In many cases, tickets were essentially snatched out of customers' hands as they tried to put them in their cart. A general sale for the remaining tickets was supposed to take place on Friday, but Ticketmaster canceled it "due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand."

The chaos led to calls to break up Live Nation, including from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar expressed concern over " the state of competition in the ticketing industry," as Reuters notes.

Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in.

Break them up.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 15, 2022

"I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could," Swift wrote in an Instagram Story on Friday. "It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them."

This is far from the first time people had a chaotic experience while trying to get tickets to see a major artist. Blink-182 and Paramore tours sold out almost instantly. Ticketmaster's controversial dynamic pricing system led to some fans paying thousands of dollars for Bruce Springsteen tickets — even before those sought-after tickets hit secondary markets.

Engadget has contacted Live Nation for comment. The Department of Justice doesn't comment on ongoing investigations.

Jeff Bezos plans to give most of his money to charity

Former Amazon chief Jeff Bezos is the latest tech CEO hoping to be known for his philanthropy. The Amazon founder told CNN in an interview that he intends to give most of his net worth (currently $124 billion) to charity during his lifetime. Most of it will go toward either countering climate change or supporting those who can create "unity" for humanity. While Bezos shared few details, he and partner Lauren Sánchez said they were "building the capacity" to give this fortune to others and hope to make the most of the investment.

Before the revelation, Bezos announced a $100 million donation to singer and literacy advocate Dolly Parton. The executive previously pledged $10 billion over the course of a decade to the Bezos Earth Fund, which aims to drive political and technological solutions to human-made climate change. Bezos' ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, has already given away about $4 billion to organizations in the past several months.

We’ve just announced a new Courage and Civility award recipient — @DollyParton, who leads with her heart, and will put this $100 million award to great use helping so many people. She joins prior awardees, @VanJones68 and @Chefjoseandres. Congrats, Dolly!

— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) November 12, 2022

The strategy is familiar. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is well-known for donating to charities and scientific research through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and (along with Warren Buffett) founded The Giving Pledge to encourage billionaires to contribute at least half of their money to good causes. In 2015, Meta co-founder Mark Zuckerberg promised to donate 99 percent of his company shares, then worth $45 billion, to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The Facebook creator signed The Giving Pledge in 2010. Bezos hasn't signed the pledge, although this move would qualify.

As with other tech CEOs making large donations, though, Bezos faces criticism over his legacy. Amazon has repeatedly fought climate legislation, and saw its emissions spike in 2021 despite a commitment to reducing its environmental impact. And while he has argued that Amazon needs to treat its employees better, the rough warehouse working conditions at the heart of the issue emerged under his watch.

There are also questions as to why he waited until now to give most of his money to charity. While he has often made charitable pledges, he has also poured funds into side projects that haven't done much to advance humanity, at least not in the short term — sending rich people into space with Blue Origin, for example. As with Gates and Zuckerberg, there's a concern Bezos is trying to mend his reputation by offloading most of his wealth.

Chris Rock's upcoming comedy special will be Netflix's first-ever livestream

Netflix is finally ready to dip into livestreaming months after word emerged of its plans. The service has confirmed that Chris Rock will debut a comedy special live on the service sometime in early 2023. He's the "first artist" to receive the distinction, the company says, and the stream will be available worldwide.

The firm revealed its live show strategy following a Deadlinescoop this May. At the time, Netflix said it would focus on unscripted material like stand-up specials, competition shows and an upcoming Netflix is a Joke festival. In theory, you could vote on a reality TV series or watch a raw comedy gig with mistakes intact.

Chris Rock is about to make history as the first artist to perform live on Netflix!

The legendary comedian, writer, director, and actor’s newest comedy special will premiere live — globally — in early 2023 on Netflix!

— Strong Black Lead (@strongblacklead) November 10, 2022

The expansion isn't a shock when some of Netflix's main rivals have at least some form of livestreaming in place. Disney+ livestreamed Oscar nominations in February, and will air live episodes of Dancing With the Stars this fall. Others focus heavily on sports. Amazon Prime Video broadcasts weekly NFL matches, for example, while Apple TV+ has Friday Night Baseball. These offerings give you a reason to either join a service or stay subscribed when you've exhausted the usual on-demand fare.

Netflix also hasn't been shy about experimenting with different formats beyond its linear movies and TV shows. It has offered trivia shows and other interactive programming, and is diving further into mobile games. Livestreams could help Netflix further diversify its content and help it avoid a repeat of this year's subscriber losses.