Twitter Rejects Claims It Snoops on Private User Data Including Direct Messages

Twitter has rebuffed claims by a conservative media outlet that its staff monitor users’ private data, including direct messages sent over the social network (via TechCrunch).

Earlier this week, Project Veritas, which hosts sting operation-style videos produced by self-proclaimed “guerrilla journalist” James O’Keefe, posted footage that appears to show Twitter engineers admitting that teams of employees access users’ data.

In one brief clip, a senior network security engineer appears to say that the social media company would be able hand over President Donald Trump’s data, including deleted tweets and direct messages, to the Department of Justice, subject to a subpoena.

Last week, Twitter criticized Project Veritas in a public statement for its “deceptive” and “selectively edited” report.

We deplore the deceptive and underhanded tactics by which this footage was obtained and selectively edited to fit a pre-determined narrative. Twitter only responds to valid legal requests and does not share any user information with law enforcement without such a request.

Referencing its privacy policies and terms of service which explain how it holds and stores information that users choose to share, Twitter said it is “committed to enforcing our rules without bias and empowering every voice on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules”.

Project Veritas has been criticized in the past for using underhand and deceitful methods in its investigations. In November last year, one of its undercover employees was caught trying to bait reporters at The Washington Post by falsely claiming to be a sexual assault victim of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. 

Twitter regularly reveals the number of legal requests it receives and responds to in its biannual transparency report. The company received 2,111 government information requests in the U.S. and produced at least some information for 77 percent of them during the period between January 1 and June 30, 2017.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: Twitter

Discuss this article in our forums

Amazon Starts Taking Pre-Orders from U.K. Customers for Echo Spot

Amazon began taking pre-orders from U.K. customers for its Alexa-powered Echo Spot speaker on Tuesday. Announced along with all-new Echo models in September 2017, the compact display-and-speaker unit has only been available in the U.S. before now.

The Spot is capable of standard Amazon Echo functions like controlling smart home devices and streaming music, but can also show users additional information like song lyrics, weather forecasts, and the time on its 2.5-inch display.



The circular unit can also play content from Amazon Video and YouTube, just like its bigger brother, the Echo Show.

The Echo Spot costs £120, although Amazon is currently offering a discount of £20 per unit when two are bought together (£200). Pre-orders are expected to ship on January 24, which means the entire Echo family will be available to U.K. customers from then on.

The Echo dot was the top-selling Amazon device over the 2017 holiday season, as well as “the best-selling product from any manufacturer in any category across all of Amazon,” according to the e-commerce company.

As Amazon’s Alexa devices continue to dominate the smart speaker market, Apple has plans to release its own music-focused smart speaker device, called HomePod, early this year.

HomePod will be controlled mainly through the user’s voice using Siri, and include access to Apple Music and other expected smart speaker functionalities, like asking about the weather, traffic, setting reminders, timers, and more.

Note: MacRumors may benefit from affiliate links clicked in this article

Discuss this article in our forums

YouTube Currently Testing New Dark Mode for Mobile iOS App

YouTube appears to be in the testing phase of adding a new dark theme for its official iOS app, according to reports.

Reddit user Dean Cobb revealed on Monday night that a new dark mode was already live as an option in the Settings section of the app after updating to version 13.01.4.

Dark mode via Redditor amievengabereal


However, as of this morning, rollout of the feature still seems to be limited to a handful of users, suggesting a selective server-side activation on YouTube’s end.

App Store release notes for YouTube version 13.0.1 make no mention of the dark mode addition either, but we’ll update this article if the rollout gains pace anytime soon.

YouTube is a free download for iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link]

Tag: YouTube

Discuss this article in our forums

Mazda Remains Committed to Introducing CarPlay But Still Won’t Say When

Toyota and Lexus today confirmed that CarPlay will be available in select 2019-and-later vehicles, making Mazda one of the only recognizable automakers—if not the only—without support for Apple’s in-car software platform in the United States.



Many of our readers commented or tweeted to ask if and when Mazda will ever support CarPlay, so we reached out to the company for an update. MacRumors received the following statement from Mazda spokesperson Jacob Brown today ensuring that it still plans to offer CarPlay… eventually.

We remain committed to introducing the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technologies to our vehicles, designing them to interface with our MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system in a manner that promotes a focus on the driving experience. We cannot provide timing or any additional details at this time.

Mazda made a similar promise a few times last year. Last March, for example, the automaker told Cars.com that CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility was in the works, and noted the software platforms would be available in both new and older-generation vehicles with its Mazda Connect system.

Mazda Connect appears to have debuted in some 2013 model year vehicles, so a wide range of Mazda vehicles should eventually support CarPlay and Android Auto if and when the company finally fulfills its promise. Of note, like Toyota, Mazda has been listed as a committed CarPlay partner on Apple’s website since 2014.

A survey last year indicated that an increasing number of customers consider CarPlay a must-have feature, so like Toyota, it may be worthwhile for Mazda to begin supporting Apple’s software platform sooner rather than later.

CarPlay is already available in hundreds of vehicle makes and models around the world, including Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, BMW, MINI, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Acura, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Volkswagen, Volvo, and many others.

As an update to Toyota’s announcement, a spokesperson said the automaker doesn’t have any plans to support CarPlay in pre-2019 vehicles at this time, even though models like the 2018 Camry and 2018 Sienna have its Entune 3.0 system.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: Mazda

Discuss this article in our forums

WeChat Users Again Allowed to Send Tips After Apple and Tencent Reach Deal

Apple and Tencent, the company that owns the popular WeChat messaging app, have reached a deal that will let WeChat users resume sending in-app tips to content creators, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Apple first asked Chinese social networking apps to disable tipping functionality back in May 2017 as it violated App Store rules. Tipping, Apple said, was a form of in-app purchase that should be subjected to the same fees as other in-app purchases.



In June, Apple officially updated its App Store Review Guidelines and began allowing tipping, but as an in-app purchase, ensuring the company received its full 30 percent cut. Another tweak was made in September, however, officially allowing Apple users to send monetary gifts to other users without Apple taking a cut.

Tencent initially refused to reimplement tipping as an in-app purchase because in WeChat, tipping is a free service provided to customers to build engagement, with Tencent receiving no portion of the money.

Tipping will soon resume in WeChat, though, as WeChat creator Allen Zhang said on Monday that the company had reached an accord with Apple. Details are scarce, but Zhang said WeChat will tweak its platform so tips are paid to individual content creators.

“In the past, companies like Apple might have had a difficult time understanding China-specific features,” Mr. Zhang said, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by Tencent. “We now all share a mutual understanding and we’ll soon bring back the “tip” function.”

With little detail available on the deal established between Tencent and Apple, it’s not clear if Apple will be receiving a cut of tips sent between WeChat users, but the tipping feature should soon be returning to the app.
Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Sued Over Meltdown and Spectre in U.S. as iPhone Slowdown Lawsuits Now Total 45

Apple faces its first legal action over Meltdown and Spectre in the United States, even though the vulnerabilities were found to affect nearly all computers and other devices, according to court documents reviewed by MacRumors.



Meltdown and Spectre are serious hardware-based vulnerabilities that take advantage of the speculative execution mechanism of a CPU, allowing hackers to gain access to sensitive information. All modern Intel, ARM, AMD, and Nvidia processors are affected, with many patches and mitigations already released.

Anthony Bartling and Jacqueline Olson filed a class action complaint against Apple last week in a U.S. district court in San Jose on behalf of anyone who purchased a device with an ARM-based processor designed by Apple, ranging from the A4 to A11 Bionic chips used in iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV models.

The complaint alleges that Apple has known about the design defects giving rise to the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities since at least June 2017, and could have disclosed details to the public more promptly.

An excerpt from the complaint:

ARM Holdings PLC, the company that licenses the ARM architecture to Apple, admits that it was notified of the Security Vulnerabilities in June 2017 by Google’s Project Zero and that it immediately notified its architecture licensees (presumably, including Apple) who create their own processor designs of the Security Vulnerabilities.

The complaint added that it is unlikely Apple would be able to fully and adequately release fixes for Meltdown and Spectre without the performance of its processors decreasing by between five and 30 percent.

Apple addressed Meltdown in macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 and iOS 11.2, while Spectre mitigations were introduced in a macOS 10.13.2 supplemental update and iOS 11.2.2, both of which were released early last week. The vulnerabilities have also been addressed in older versions of macOS and OS X.

Despite one dubious claim that Apple’s patch for Spectre resulted in a significant performance decrease on one developer’s iPhone 6, Apple said its testing indicated that its mitigations had no measurable impact on its Speedometer and ARES-6 tests and an impact of less than 2.5 percent on the JetStream benchmark.

The complaint expects at least 100 customers to be part of the proposed class, with the combined sum of compensatory and punitive damages expected to exceed $5 million if the case proceeds to trial.

A group of Israelis have filed a request with the Haifa District Court to file a class action lawsuit against Apple, Intel, and ARM over Meltdown and Spectre as well, according to local news publication Hamodia.

iPhone Slowdown Lawsuits Continue to Mount

Apple continues to face an increasing number of lawsuits that either accuse the company of intentionally slowing down older iPhones, or at least of failing to disclose power management changes it made starting in iOS 10.2.1.



In the United States, the iPhone maker now faces at least 39 class action complaints as of January 15, according to court documents compiled by MacRumors. Additional lawsuits have been filed in France, Israel, Russia, Korea, and Vietnam, with another pending in Canada, bringing the total to 45.

Many of the lawsuits demand Apple compensate all iPhone users who have experienced slowdowns, offer free battery replacements, refund customers who purchased brand new iPhones to regain maximum performance, and as Apple has already promised, add more detailed info to iOS about a device’s battery health.

We’ve already answered many frequently asked questions about Apple’s power management process, and covered the issue extensively, so read our past coverage for more information about the matter.

Tag: lawsuit

Discuss this article in our forums